Pakistani communication satellite successfully enters earth’s orbit — national space agency

The screengrab taken from China News Service via Reuters shows Pakistani communication satellite PAKSAT MM1 being launched into space in Xichang, China on May 30, 2024. (China News Service/Reuters)
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Updated 07 June 2024
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Pakistani communication satellite successfully enters earth’s orbit — national space agency

  • PAKSAT MM1 is equipped with latest communication equipment to help provide high-speed Internet across Pakistan
  • On May 3, Pakistan also launched its first satellite, ICUBE-Q, into space aboard China’s Chang’e-6 lunar mission

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s latest modern communication satellite, PAKSAT MM1, has successfully entered the earth’s orbit, the country’s national space agency confirmed on Friday, more than a week after its launch with China’s assistance.
The launch of PAKSAT MM1 from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center was broadcast live by Islamabad and Karachi offices of the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) on May 30.
Suparco spokesperson Maria Tariq said the satellite successfully entered its intended orbit on June 5.
“PAKSAT MM1 was positioned at an altitude of 38,786 kilometers with its location 38.2 degrees east of the earth’s orbit,” Tariq said in a statement.
“Following its arrival in the orbit, the satellite’s solar panels have been activated.”
Tariq noted that the five-ton PAKSAT MM1 satellite was equipped with latest communication equipment, which would help provide high-speed Internet across Pakistan.
Various tests would be conducted on the satellite to ensure its functionality and health in the orbit, she added.
The launch of PAKSAT MM1 came weeks after Pakistan launched its first satellite, ICUBE-Qamar or ICUBE-Q, into the space aboard China’s Chang’e-6 lunar mission from Hainan, China on May 3.
A major milestone in Pakistan’s space exploration efforts, the satellite successfully entered the moon’s orbit on May 8, and began transmitting the first images shortly afterwards.


Ex-PM Khan party activist Sanam Javed walks free after court declares her arrest ‘illegal’

Updated 18 July 2024
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Ex-PM Khan party activist Sanam Javed walks free after court declares her arrest ‘illegal’

  • Javed has been in jail since last year on charges of inciting people to violence over Khan’s brief arrest in May 2023
  • Islamabad High Court earlier this week ordered her release from prison, directed authorities not to arrest her again

ISLAMABAD: Sanam Javed, a leading activist of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party finally walked free on Thursday after an Islamabad court declared her arrest “illegal” and allowed her to relocate to her home in Punjab province, her lawyer confirmed. 
Khan’s arrest in a graft case on May 9, 2023, saw hundreds of his supporters allegedly pour into the streets across the country, ransacking military and other properties. Thousands, including Javed, were arrested in the aftermath and some were tried by military courts after the authorities promised to bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice.
Javed has been in detention for over a year, facing charges in a dozen cases since the riots on May 9, 2023. 
Thursday’s decision by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) followed the earlier relief Javed received on Monday when the high court ordered her release and instructed police and other law enforcement agencies not to arrest her again.
“The IHC has declared the arrest of Javed illegal and forbade to arrest her again in any case registered till today (July 18),” her lawyer Ali Ashfaq told Arab News.
Balochistan Police this week sought Javed’s arrest in a similar case registered last year after which her father, Javed Iqbal Khan, filed an application in the IHC challenging the legality of her detention.
In his judgment, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb stated that Pakistan’s attorney-general (AGP) assured the court that “Javed shall not be arrested in any case” and that the Balochistan Police shall not press its request before Islamabad’s court for Javed’s transfer to Balochistan. 
The judgment also said Javed is at liberty to travel to her home in Punjab. However, Justice Aurangzeb warned the PTI activist that she ought to exercise utmost caution and discretion in her social media statements. 
Ashfaq said Javed was arrested in 12 different cases, 11 of which were registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Of these, seven were registered in Lahore, three in Sargodha, and one in Gujranwala.
He said the court also questioned the legality of numerous police cases based on a single allegation leveled in different locations.
“On July 15, the court ordered that she should not be removed from the jurisdiction of Islamabad and should not be arrested in any other case,” he said.
Ashfaq said the court had asked the AGP to appear in person and justify that everything that had been done was according to law.
“Today, I received a message from the Attorney General about half an hour before the court session and met him in his office, where he assured me that to resolve this issue, Javed would not be arrested anywhere in Pakistan,” Ashfaq added.
He said authorities have assured him that police cases against Javed in Islamabad and Balochistan would be quashed.
“While four police cases have been discharged, in the other eight cases she is on bail and we will face trial proceedings in the concerned courts,” he said.
‘POLITICALLY MOTIVATED CASES’
The PTI says it has been facing a crackdown and mass arrest of its members for standing by Khan, who has been in jail since August last year. Pakistani authorities deny the allegations.
Last week, Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were arrested by Pakistani authorities in a case involving the illegal sale of state gifts, after a court accepted their appeals against a ruling that they had violated the country’s marriage law and ordered their immediate release.
Khan and his wife were sentenced to seven years in prison and fined in February by a court that ruled their 2018 marriage broke the law. Bushra was accused of not completing the waiting period mandated by Islam, called “Iddat,” after divorcing her previous husband and marrying Khan.
The ex-premier has been in jail after being convicted in four cases since last August. Two of the cases have since been suspended and he was acquitted in a third, so the Iddat case was the only one keeping him in prison.
Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan says the cases against him are “politically motivated,” aimed at keeping him from returning to power. Pakistani authorities deny this.


Pakistan’s disaster management authority launches WhatsApp channel as rains threaten floods, landslides 

Updated 18 July 2024
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Pakistan’s disaster management authority launches WhatsApp channel as rains threaten floods, landslides 

  • “Tayyar Pakistan” or Ready Pakistan will provide real-time alerts, updates and preparation tips to users, says state media
  • Pakistan’s disaster management authority has warned of flash floods, landslides due to heavy monsoon rains this month 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top disaster management authority has launched an official WhatsApp channel titled “Tayyar Pakistan” or Ready Pakistan to provide real-time alerts, updates and preparation tips for emergencies, state media reported on Thursday, as the country braces for heavy monsoon rains this month. 
The South Asian country is recognized as one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change effects. Unusually heavy rains in June 2022 triggered flash floods in many parts of the country, killing over 1,700 people, inflicting losses of around $30 billion, and affecting at least 30 million people.
Scientists and experts attributed the floods to the adverse effects of climate change. Pakistan also suffered a severe heat wave last month, which saw temperatures in some regions rise to above 50 degrees Celsius.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has warned that heavy monsoon rains are likely to trigger landslides, mudslides and flash floods in many parts of the country. 
“As part of ongoing efforts, an official WhatsApp channel ‘Tayyar Pakistan’ has been launched by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA),” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan reported. 
“It is dedicated to providing real-time disaster alerts, updates, and preparedness tips.”
The statement said people can stay informed about potential hazards, receive timely notifications and take proactive steps to protect themselves and their communities through the WhatsApp channel. 
Earlier this week, the NDMA issued a glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF) alert for Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the mountainous northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan.
It also launched the “Pak NDMA Disaster Alert” mobile app to ensure “effective community engagement and timely risk communication” as Pakistan braces for heavy downpours this monsoon season.
Pakistan’s prime minister this month formed a high-level government committee to deal with potential emergencies that can arise due to heavy rains.


Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today

Updated 18 July 2024
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Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today

  • Four Pakistani nationals were among six killed when gunmen opened fire at Shia Mosque in Oman this week
  • All four Pakistani nationals to be brought back to the country today via Pakistan International Airlines’ flights

KARACHI: The bodies of four Pakistani nationals killed in a mosque attack on Muscat this week will be brought back to the country today, Thursday, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson confirmed. 
Six people were killed when three gunmen, all brothers and of Omani nationality, opened fire on people in a Shia Muslim mosque in Muscat on Monday evening. 
The six people killed by the gunmen were four Pakistani nationals, an Indian, and a police officer responding to the attack, which militant group Daesh later claimed responsibility for. Pakistan described the assault as a “terror attack” while Oman police said the gunmen were “influenced by misguided ideas.”
“The bodies of the Pakistanis martyred in the Muscat attack will arrive in Pakistan today via PIA flights,” a spokesperson of the airline said in a statement. 
It said Sulaiman Nawaz’s body will reach Lahore via PIA flight PK 230 at 5:00 p.m. while Syed Qaiser Abbas Bukhari’s body will be brought back to the country via PIA flight PK226 from Muscat to Karachi. From there, it will be flown to Lahore by flight PK 302, the spokesperson said. 
Ghulam Abbas and Hasan Abbas’ bodies will reach Islamabad from Muscat by PIA flight PK 292 at 1:00 p.m., the spokesperson said. 
“All steps have been taken to hand over the bodies of the martyred to their relatives immediately after they return to Pakistan,” the spokesperson said. 
Daesh’s operations have indicated the group is attempting a comeback after it was crushed by a US-led coalition following its occupation of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.
It also inspired lone-wolf attacks in the West.
Any inroads in Gulf Arab oil producers such as Oman would raise fears in Washington and the region which has long viewed militant groups as a major threat.
Dozens of people at the mosque in Oman were wounded with around 30 people treated at local hospitals, including for gunshot wounds.
Monday evening marked the beginning of Ashura, an annual period of mourning, which many Shia Muslims mark publicly, to commemorate the 7th-century death of Hussain, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 
The attack was largely unprecedented in Oman, where most of its citizens follow the Ibadi Muslim faith that shares many similarities with mainstream Sunni Islam. Oman has a small but influential Omani Shia population. 
Like other Gulf countries, there is a large and significant foreign workforce in Oman too.
Additional inputs from Reuters


Pakistan’s national airline announces direct Umrah flights from Quetta, Faisalabad to Jeddah

Updated 18 July 2024
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Pakistan’s national airline announces direct Umrah flights from Quetta, Faisalabad to Jeddah

  • Flights from Quetta and Faisalabad to Jeddah to operate twice a week, says Pakistan International Airlines
  • Every year, thousands of Pakistanis travel to Islamic places of worship in Saudi Arabia for Umrah pilgrimage 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s national flag carrier announced on Thursday it would operate direct Umrah flights from the country’s Quetta and Faisalabad cities to Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah in a bid to facilitate pilgrims in the two cities. 
Thousands of Pakistanis travel to Saudi Arabia each month to visit the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah for the Umrah pilgrimage. Umrah is a voluntary Islamic pilgrimage to the Islamic sites in Saudi Arabia. A shorter version of the Hajj, it is voluntary and can be performed throughout the year. 
“PIA has announced direct flights from Quetta and Faisalabad to Jeddah on the strong insistence of pilgrims,” a spokesperson of the airline said in a statement. 
“Direct flights from Faisalabad and Quetta will be operated from August 6.”
The national airline’s spokesperson said two flights each from Quetta and Faisalabad to Jeddah would be operated per week. 
Balochistan Governor Sheikh Jafar Khan Mandokhail thanked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for backing the initiative. 
He said people in Balochistan previously had to travel to Karachi two days in advance to avail a direct Umrah flight to Saudi Arabia. Mandokhail said direct flights from Quetta to Jeddah will facilitate Baloch pilgrims in their travel. 
“And when they [passengers from Balochistan] returned they had to stay for a couple of days in Karachi to wait for a flight or another mode of transportation to return [to Balochistan],” he said.


In effort to combat narcotics, Pakistan to conduct National Drug Survey after 11 years

Updated 18 July 2024
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In effort to combat narcotics, Pakistan to conduct National Drug Survey after 11 years

  • Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi directs authorities to finalize matters related to drug survey within 15 days
  • Survey to include data from homes, educational institutions and slums, says narcotics control ministry 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Thursday approved holding a fresh National Drug Survey after a gap of 11 years, the Ministry of Narcotics Control confirmed, vowing that the exercise would help effectively combat the menace of narcotics across the country. 
Pakistan’s government conducted the last drug survey in 2012-13 which revealed that approximately six percent of the population – or 6.7 million people – had used a substance other than alcohol and tobacco in the preceding year.
The fresh survey will gather reliable information on the extent to which the Pakistani population is using drugs and facing related disorders.
“The National Drug Survey will be conducted in the country after 11 years,” Federal Minister for Narcotics Control and Interior Minister Naqvi was quoted as saying in a statement by the narcotics control ministry.
“It is very important that the drug survey should be comprehensive and accurate.”
The minister tasked authorities to finalize matters related to the survey within 15 days, stressing that data on drug users should be collected from homes, educational institutions and also slums.
Naqvi directed the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to jointly formulate a strategy, including the nature of the data required, the sample format and also the timeline for conducting the survey.
The minister vowed that authorities will not compromise on the issue of drugs as it concerns the nation’s future, adding that comprehensive decision-making related to narcotics would only be possible if the survey results were authentic.
“International development organizations should also be contacted for their cooperation in conducting the survey,” Naqvi was quoted as saying. 
Earlier in March, Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) said it achieved a “monumental victory” in the battle against drug trafficking by intercepting the largest consignment of methamphetamine, popularly called “ice” in the South Asian country’s history.
ANF and Pakistan Coast Guard personnel have also lost their lives in land and sea operations against narcotics traffickers in numerous operations over the years.