Pakistan among big nuclear arms spenders amid swelling global tensions — studies

A Pakistani-made Shaheen-III missile, that is capable of carrying nuclear warheads, are displayed during a military parade to mark Pakistan National Day, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 23, 2022. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 17 June 2024
Follow

Pakistan among big nuclear arms spenders amid swelling global tensions — studies

  • Spending for 2023 by the nuclear-armed states jumped more than 33 percent from the $68.2 billion spent in 2018
  • SIPRI says “we have not seen nuclear weapons playing such a prominent role in international relations since Cold War”

GENEVA: Nuclear-armed countries hiked spending on atomic weapons arsenals by a third in the past five years as they modernized their stockpiles amid growing geopolitical tensions, two reports showed on Monday.

The world’s nine nuclear-armed states jointly spent $91 billion on their arsenals last year, according to a new report from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

That report, and a separate one from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), indicated that nuclear weapons states are dramatically scaling up spending as they modernize and even deploy new nuclear-armed weapons.

“I think it is fair to say there is a nuclear arms race under way,” ICAN chief Melissa Parke told AFP.

Wilfred Wan, head of SIPRI’s weapons of mass destruction program, meanwhile warned in a statement that “we have not seen nuclear weapons playing such a prominent role in international relations since the Cold War.”

SIPRI’s report showed that the total estimated number of nuclear warheads in the world actually declined somewhat to 12,121 at the start of this year, from 12,512 a year earlier.

But while some of that included older warheads scheduled to be dismantled, it said 9,585 were in stockpiles for potential use — nine more than a year earlier.

And 2,100 were kept in a state of “high operational alert” on ballistic missiles.

Nearly all of those were held by the United States and Russia, but China was for the first time believed to also have some warheads on high operational alert, SIPRI said.

“While the global total of nuclear warheads continues to fall as Cold War-era weapons are gradually dismantled, regrettably we continue to see year-on-year increases in the number of operational nuclear warheads,” SIPRI director Dan Smith said.

The spending surge reported by ICAN appeared to back that up.

The report showed that in 2023 alone, nuclear weapons spending worldwide jumped by $10.8 billion from a year earlier, with the United States accounting for 80 percent of that increase.

The US share of total spending, $51.5 billion, “is more than all the other nuclear-armed countries put together,” said ICAN.

The next biggest spender was China, at $11.8 billion, followed by Russia, spending $8.3 billion.

Britain’s spending meanwhile rose significantly for the second year in a row, swelling 17 percent to $8.1 billion.

Spending for 2023 by the nuclear-armed states — which also include France, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea — jumped more than 33 percent from the $68.2 billion spent in 2018, when ICAN first began collecting this data, it said.

Since then, the nuclear armed states have spent an estimated total of $387 billion on the deadly weapons, the report showed.

Parke slammed “the billions of dollars being squandered on nuclear weapons” as “a profound and unacceptable misallocation of public funds.”

She highlighted that that money was more than what the World Food Programme estimates is needed to end world hunger.

“And you could plant a million trees for every minute of nuclear weapons spending,” she said.

“These numbers are obscene, and it is money that the state says is going toward weapons that... will never be used,” she said, pointing to the nuclear deterrence doctrine.

The investments are not only wasteful but also extremely dangerous, she warned.

“What happens when deterrence fails?“

Geneva-based ICAN won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its key role in drafting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which took effect in 2021.

Seventy countries have ratified it to date and more have signed it, although none of the nuclear weapons states have come on board.

“Instead of investing in Armageddon, the nine nuclear-armed states should follow the example of almost half the world’s countries and join the treaty... and make a real contribution to global security,” said Alicia Sanders-Zakre, a co-author of Monday’s ICAN report.


Ex-PM Khan party activist Sanam Javed arrested in Islamabad after brief release — lawyer

Updated 8 sec ago
Follow

Ex-PM Khan party activist Sanam Javed arrested in Islamabad after brief release — lawyer

  • Javed has been in jail on charges of inciting people to violence over Khan’s brief arrest in May 2023
  • Khan’s party says it has been facing mass arrest of members for standing by Khan, authorities deny it

ISLAMABAD: Sanam Javed, a member of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was arrested in Islamabad after her brief release in a case relating to street violence in Pakistan over Khan’s arrest in May last year, her party and lawyer said on Sunday.
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’s lawyer, Ali Ashfaq, said on X that she was once again arrested by the Islamabad police after being released on Sunday in a case relating to May 9 violence.
“We handed her over to police without resistance,” Ashfaq said. “This should be the way of law-abiding people and this is what we did.”


Javed was earlier released by an Islamabad court in a case registered against her by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for allegedly inciting people to violence on May 9, 2023.
The PTI woman activist has faced a number of cases based on similar charges in Lahore, Gujranwala and other cities.
On July 11, the Lahore High Court discharged her in a case relating to May 9 riots registered against her in Gujranwala. However, she was rearrested by the Islamabad police as soon as she stepped out of the Central Jail of Gujranwala on Saturday.
Khan’s PTI party 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.
On Saturday, Khan and his wife Bushra Khan were arrested by Pakistani authorities in a case involving 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.


Pakistani women married to Afghan nationals entitled to dual nationality, court rules

Updated 14 July 2024
Follow

Pakistani women married to Afghan nationals entitled to dual nationality, court rules

  • Peshawar High Court issued the verdict on 65 petitions filed by individuals who had Afghan citizenship, married Afghan nationals or had children with them
  • The petitioners moved the court after last year’s directives by Islamabad for all illegal foreigners to leave the country by November 2023 or face arrest

PESHAWAR: A high court in Pakistan has ruled that Pakistani woman married to Afghan nationals were entitled to hold dual nationality despite possessing the Afghan Citizens Card (ACC) or Proof of Registration (PoR), with a lawyer representing petitioners describing the ruling as a “landmark” development.
A two-member bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), comprising Justice Arshad Ali and Justice Wiqar Ahmad, issued the 62-page judgment, deciding 65 petitions on issues surrounding Pakistani citizenship filed by individuals who either had ACC or PoR cards, married an Afghan national or had children born to Pakistani-Afghan parents.
The decision, announced on July 9, came after a number of Pakistani and Afghan nationals filed petitions in the high court to seek relief following last year’s directives by the Pakistani government for all illegal foreigners to leave the country by November 2023 or face arrest.
“This is a landmark decision of the Peshawar High Court as several individuals were suffering for years. This is not an issue of these 65 individuals but thousands of individuals who have been suffering over some time now,” Nouman Muhib Kakakhel, one of the lawyers who represented the petitioners, told Arab News on Sunday.
“Pakistan didn’t have any dual nationality law with Afghanistan. This decision will pave the way for many to address their issues in the court.”
The verdict divided the case into four categories, including children born to Pakistani and Afghan parents with ACC or PoR cards issued in their name, Pakistanis holding an ACC who claim dual citizenship, Afghans married to Pakistani nationals seeking PoR or citizenship, and individuals who were Pakistani but were mistakenly declared Afghan and issued ACC cards.
“The situation that emerges from this analysis invariably leads one to a conclusion that a female Pakistani citizen who marries an Afghan citizen can retain dual nationality. Similarly, children born out of such wedlock can also retain their dual nationality of Pakistan as well as Afghanistan till attaining the age of 21 years,” the verdict read.
“They cannot be denied citizenship status as citizens of Pakistan for the reason that they are ACC or PoR holders. Their entry can co-exist, as such in NADRA database as well as in other databases of the government of Pakistan. Their CNICs [computerized national identity cards], if issued already, couldn’t be blocked for the reason that names of such persons have been found in the data of Afghan Citizenship or they have been found to be holders of PoRs.”
About such children, the court ruled that they would be “entitled to citizenship of Pakistan by issuance of Form B, notwithstanding the fact that they have been entered [as] ACC or PoR holders.”
The court ruled that the applications of Pakistani nationals, who had acquired ACC and PoR cards, would be “processed and decided swiftly by realizing that certain citizens of the state are also suffering and their grievances require to be remedied quickly.”
Hayat Roghani, a human rights activist, the verdict would encourage many Afghans and Pakistanis, who had been facing similar issues, to go to a court for relief.
“The Afghan refugees have lived together with Pakistani Pashtuns and have relations with each other,” he said. “The last year’s order of the Pakistan government to expel undocumented foreign nationals to their countries intensified the problems of Pakistanis too.”
Roghani noted that Pakistani Pashtuns and Afghan refugees had shared businesses and married each other, but the directives to expel foreign nationals made things difficult for them both.
“The decision of the Peshawar High Court is a precedent and many others will benefit from it in the future,” he added.


Pakistani minister, Iraqi envoy discuss possibility of free entry visas for pilgrims 

Updated 14 July 2024
Follow

Pakistani minister, Iraqi envoy discuss possibility of free entry visas for pilgrims 

  • Pakistani Shia Muslims Muharram travel to Iraq’s Najaf, Karbala cities during Muharram every year
  • Iraqi envoy assures Pakistan’s interior minister of making travel easier for pilgrims, says state media 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi discussed the possibility of free entry visas for Pakistani pilgrims into Iraq with the country’s envoy Hamid Abbas Lafta, state-run media reported. 

Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala hold tremendous significance for Shia Muslims around the world, including from Pakistan, who travel to these cities during the first two months of the Islamic lunar calendar to recall the sacrifices made by Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 

Lafta met Naqvi and Chaudhry Salik Hussain, the minister for overseas Pakistanis in Islamabad to discuss ways to improve the travel experience for Pakistani pilgrims in Iraq. 

“The discussion highlighted the possibility of free entry visas for Pakistani pilgrims and increasing the number of people allowed to visit each year,” the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported. 

Pakistan’s national airline last week launched special flights to Najaf city during Muharram for the country’s pilgrims. Pakistan said it would operate return flights for pilgrims from Najaf from July 20. 

Naqvi expressed “serious concern” about travel agents charging Pakistani pilgrims excessive fees, ensuring the Iraqi envoy he would take action against those breaking the law. 

“He also requested the Iraqi government to consider the issue of permitting Pakistani pilgrims to keep their passports while in Iraq,” the APP said. 

The Iraqi ambassador assured full cooperation in making travel easier for Pakistani pilgrims and provided a list of travel agents who had been overcharging visitors, the state media said. 

“The two sides also agreed to quickly finalize a visa waiver agreement for diplomats and officials from both countries,” APP said. 

The APP said both countries are additionally working on a deal that will make it easier for Pakistani workers to obtain work permits in Iraq.


Heavy rains leave 24 dead, 80 injured in Pakistan’s Punjab

Updated 14 July 2024
Follow

Heavy rains leave 24 dead, 80 injured in Pakistan’s Punjab

  • More heavy rains expected across the province on Monday, Tuesday
  • Authorities warn citizens against unnecessary travel in bad weather

ISLAMABAD: At least 24 people were killed and 80 others injured in rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s Punjab province over the weekend, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said on Sunday, warning of more showers in the next two days.
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) this month warned that the country’s Punjab and Sindh provinces could face an “emergency” situation due to torrential rains this monsoon season.
Torrential rains lashed Lahore, Sargodha, Toba Tek Singh, Faisalabad, Kot Addu and Bahawalpur cities of the Punjab province in the last two days, according to the Punjab PDMA.
“At least 24 people were killed and another 80 were injured due to torrential rains, while around 40 houses were damaged since Friday across the province,” Punjab PDMA spokesperson Muhammad Mazhar told Arab News.
“Tonight, there are chances of heavy rains in different districts of Punjab, with more heavy rains expected across the province on Monday and Tuesday.”
The provincial government had directed authorities to provide financial compensation to relatives of the victims, according to the PDMA spokesperson.
Mazhar urged people to maintain a safe distance from electric poles and wires, and avoid gatherings on dilapidated roofs during the forecast period.
The PDMA has asked district authorities to activate round-the-clock control rooms to monitor situation in each district.
“Municipalities and the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) have been asked to remain vigilant, especially in low-lying areas, and keep de-watering and pumping stations ready,” it said in a statement.
Monsoon rains in Punjab are expected to continue till July 15, while the flow of water in the province’s rivers and barrages is at normal level for the time being.
“In emergency situations, call on PDMA’s flood helpline 1129,” the PDMA added.
Earlier in April, heavy rains triggered landslides and flash floods in Pakistan, leaving 92 people dead and another 116 wounded.
Pakistan’s Punjab reported 21 deaths from lightning and roof collapses while the country’s southwestern Balochistan province reported at least 15 deaths from torrential rains.
The NDMA this month launched a community engagement app for Pakistanis ahead of the monsoon season. The ‘Pak NDMA Disaster Alert’ mobile app generates alerts and updates guidance for organizations and individual responders in national and provincial languages.
Large swathes of the South Asian nation were submerged in 2022 due to extremely heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers, a phenomenon linked to climate change, that damaged crops and infrastructure. killed at least 1,700 people, displaced millions, and inflicted billions of dollars in losses.


Pakistan court hands death sentence to mobile snatcher for killing Karachi youth 

Updated 14 July 2024
Follow

Pakistan court hands death sentence to mobile snatcher for killing Karachi youth 

  • Man found guilty of shooting dead 21-year-old in Sept. 2018 for resisting robbery 
  • Street crimes and mobile snatchings are rampant in Karachi, a city of 20 million people

ISLAMABAD: A sessions court in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi this week sentenced a convict to death on charges of killing a youth in 2018 for resisting robbery.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Ameeruddin sentenced to death convict Shakoor Khan on Saturday for shooting dead Sajid Hussain, 21, when he resisted Khan’s attempt to snatch his mobile phone on September 25, 2018. 

According to the prosecution, Hussain was sitting outside his home in Karachi’s Baldia Town area with his friends when Khan and his accomplice, Shoukat, attempted to rob them. Hussain resisted and a scuffle ensued following which Khan shot Hussain in the chest and fled with the accomplice. Hussain succumbed to his wounds on the way to the hospital. 

“The convict deliberately fired at the deceased from close range while the latter resisted a robbery of a mobile phone alongside co-accused,” the judge’s written order read. 

The court noted that the eyewitness testimonies, police investigation of the crime scene and medical evidence all corroborated the prosecution’s account. 

“Given these circumstances, the death penalty is a fitting punishment as a necessary measure to deter such heinous crimes of murder during robberies and to ensure that justice is served,” the order said. 

Karachi, a metropolis of 20 million that hosts the stock exchange and central bank, has for decades been beset by armed violence. While an armed campaign by the military, with help from police, paramilitary Rangers and intelligence agencies, against armed gangs and suspected militants in the city brought down murder rates after 2013, street crimes have been on the rise again since last year, with shooting deaths in muggings and robberies once again becoming a daily headline. 

The judge ordered Khan to pay compensation of Rs300,000 [$1080] to the legal heirs of the deceased. He also slapped the convict with a 20-year jail sentence for crimes committed under Sections 397 (robbery or dacoity, with an attempt to cause death or grievous hurt) and 392 (punishment for robbery) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

However, the judge said the guilty had the right to appeal against the sentence. 

The court observed that Karachi, once a vibrant city that is also the country’s commercial hub, now grapples with a “troubling surge” in crime rates, particularly mobile snatchings and robberies which are often compounded by acts of murder. 

It said that this surge in crime not only affects the sense of security of the city’s residents but also tarnishes Karachi’s long-held reputation as a prosperous urban center. 

“Stringent measures to deter crime are essential, with a focus on the swift and fair adjudication of robbery and snatching cases within the judicial system,” the court noted. 

“The imposition of appropriate and timely penalties will serve as a powerful deterrent for potential offenders.”