Pakistan search for missing Japanese climbers called off after body recovered

In this screengrab, taken from a handout video released by Pakistan Adventure Tour on June 18, 2024, rescue officials recovered body of Japanese climber from Spantik Peak in Shigar, Gilgit Baltistan. (Reuters/ Pakistan Adventure Tour)
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Updated 19 June 2024
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Pakistan search for missing Japanese climbers called off after body recovered

  • The climbers, Ryuseki Hiraoka and Atsushi Taguchi, went missing on June 10 while climbing 7,027-meter Spantik Peak
  • Pakistan is home to five of the world’s tallest mountains that loom above 8,000 meters, including K2 and Nanga Parbat

ISLAMABAD: A search operation in northern Pakistan to locate a Japanese climber, who went missing along with another one, has been called off after one body was recovered, the Pakistan Adventure Tour company said on Tuesday.
The climbers, Ryuseki Hiraoka and Atsushi Taguchi, went missing on June 10 while climbing Spantik Peak, which stands at 7,027 meters above the sea level.
On June 15, the civil administration of the Gilgit-Baltistan region in northern Pakistan confirmed one body had been found.
The search for the second climber continued with the help of a team, including two Pakistan Army helicopters, crewed by high-altitude climbers and experts.
“We tried our best and continued search for the second body but we could not see it because a lot of snow had fallen there and there were lots of crevasses there,” said local climber and member of search team, Imtiaz Sadpara, at a news conference at Deputy Commissioner’s office in Shigar.
Spantik, more popularly called the Golden Peak, is largely viewed as more accessible and straightforward. The Japanese climbers were attempting to summit it in the Karakoram Range.
Pakistan is home to five of the world’s tallest mountains that loom above 8,000 meters, including K2 and Nanga Parbat that are known for their treacherous climbs.
Last Sunday, Pakistan’s army rescued Estonian climber Saama Marie who injured her leg whilst attempting to climb the Nanga Parbat peak in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Marie last updated followers on her Facebook account on June 9 that she had camped on the slope of Ganalo at an altitude of 4,900 meters. There had been no update from her since then.
In a video shared by Pakistani state broadcaster PTV, two men were seen carrying an injured Marie to a Pakistani 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.
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 till late August.
— With input from Reuters


PCB chief to attend upcoming ICC meet with spotlight on Champions Trophy hosting rights

Updated 16 sec ago
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PCB chief to attend upcoming ICC meet with spotlight on Champions Trophy hosting rights

  • PCB Chairman Mohsin Naqvi to represent Pakistan at ICC’s annual conference on Monday

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Mohsin Naqvi is scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka today, Sunday, to attend a key International Cricket Council (ICC) conference where discussions are likely to revolve around whether Pakistan will fully host the ICC Champions Trophy tournament next year or not. 

Pakistan is set to host the Champions Trophy tournament scheduled to be played in the country from February to March 2025. However, doubts have been cast on whether Pakistan will host the entire tournament on its soil with India expected to refuse to travel to its neighboring country for the event. 

No Indian cricket team has played in Pakistan since the 2008 Asia Cup. Relations between the two governments have deteriorated steadily since then, especially after the Mumbai terror attacks the same year.

Pakistan was forced to settle for a “hybrid” model last year when the Indian team refused to tour Pakistan for the Asia Cup. India played its Asia Cup matches in Sri Lanka, including the final, in Colombo. However, Pakistan’s cricket team toured India later in 2023 to take part in the 50-over World Cup. 

“PCB Chairman Mohsin Naqvi will arrive on a brief one-day tour in Sri Lanka today,” the board said in a statement. 

“Chairman PCB will take part in the important ICC meeting tomorrow [Monday].”

The conference, which commenced on Friday, has brought together over 220 delegates from 108 ICC member countries from across the world, covering regions such as Africa, the Americas, Asia, East Asia Pacific, and Europe.

The gathering of cricket administrators and stakeholders from around the globe will provide the platform for discussions on the strategic direction of the sport, governance, and the development of cricket worldwide.

While the Champions Trophy hosting is not officially part of the conference’s agenda, both PCB and BCCI are expected to collide over the matter in discussions.


Pakistan’s opposition alliance announces countrywide protest on July 26 for ex-PM Khan’s release

Updated 21 July 2024
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Pakistan’s opposition alliance announces countrywide protest on July 26 for ex-PM Khan’s release

  • Ex-PM Khan has been in jail since last August on charges his party dismisses as “politically motivated“
  • Six-party opposition alliance demands judicial commission to probe recent shooting at Bannu rally 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s six-party opposition alliance, the Tehreek Tahafuz Ayeen-e-Pakistan (or the Movement to Protect the Constitution of Pakistan) announced this week it would hold a countrywide protest on July 26 to demand the release of former prime minister Imran Khan and other “political prisoners” in the country. 

Khan, who ruled the country as prime minister from 2018 to 2022, 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. 

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’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party says it has been facing a crackdown and mass arrest of its members for standing by Khan. Pakistani authorities deny the allegations.

“Opposition alliance of Tehreek Tahafuz Ayeen-i-Pakistan (TTAP) announced to hold a countrywide protest on Friday (July 26) for the release of all political prisoners including PTI Founding Chairman Imran Khan and reclaiming the stolen mandate,” a press release issued after the alliance’s meeting on Saturday said. 

The six-party alliance comprises the PTI, the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and Balochistan National Party (Mengal), as well as three religious parties: Jamaat-e-Islami, the Sunni Ittehad Council and Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen

Khan’s party also claims that the national election held in February this year was heavily rigged to keep him and the PTI away from power. Pakistan’s government and election regulator have rejected these allegations. 

’INDEPENDENT JUDICIAL COMMISSION’

Separately, the alliance also called for the formation of an independent judicial commission to probe a recent shooting at a Bannu rally in northwestern Pakistan that triggered a stampede and resulted in casualties and injuries to several. 

At least two persons were killed and more than 20 injured after gunfire triggered a stampede at the procession attended by tens of thousands of people in the northwestern city on Friday. 

The demonstration was held at a time when Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan, has witnessed a surge in attacks on security forces, government officials and anti-polio vaccination teams in recent weeks.

The shocking increase in daily attacks led the residents of the area to demand peace only a few days after 10 soldiers were killed by militants in Bannu’s cantonment area.

“They demanded that an independent judicial commission should be constituted immediately to probe into the deaths and injuries caused by the firings on Bannu Aman [Peace] March,” the statement read. 

The alliance stressed the need for a judicial commission to probe the incident, saying it should be headed by a serving judge. The alliance said the judge should be “free from any external pressure” to ensure a transparent investigation into the Bannu incident. 

The press release added the meeting criticized senior police and provincial administration officials, saying they had “miserably failed in restoring peace in the province” and must be dismissed.


All Pakistani students in Bangladesh safe, confirms foreign office 

Updated 21 July 2024
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All Pakistani students in Bangladesh safe, confirms foreign office 

  • Deadly clashes between students, law enforcers broke out in Bangladesh this week over allocation of government jobs 
  • Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson says Pakistani students in Bangladesh have been shifted to safe accommodations

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch this week confirmed that all Pakistani students were safe in Bangladesh and had been shifted to safe locations in the country, following days of deadly clashes between protesters and law enforcers over the allocation of government jobs. 

The protests, led by students which began weeks ago but escalated sharply this week, represent the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since she won a fourth consecutive term in office after elections in January.

Bangladesh media outlets have reported different figures over the number of people killed in the clashes, with some saying the riots caused the deaths of 17 people while others reported 23 dead. The government on Friday imposed a nationwide curfew and ordered the deployment of troops to maintain order. 

“Our mission in Dhaka is in contact with all students,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in a statement on Saturday. “The deputy head of mission has visited Chittagong to meet the students there as well. All students are safe.”

Baloch said the Pakistani high commission in Bangladesh has shifted students to safe accommodations in the country. 

“These include the high commission, the ambassador’s residence and some other safe locations,” she said. 

The deadly protests in Bangladesh have highlighted cracks in the country’s governance and economy and the frustration of young graduates who face a lack of good jobs.

The protesters are demanding an end to a quota system that reserves up to 30 percent of government jobs for relatives of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971 against Pakistan.

They argue the system is discriminatory and benefits supporters of Prime Minister Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and they want it replaced with a merit-based system.

But Hasina has defended the quota system, saying that veterans deserve the highest respect for their contributions to the war regardless of their political affiliation.

The Bangladeshi leader is credited for bringing stable growth to Bangladesh, but rising inflation — thanks in part to the global upheaval sparked by the war in Ukraine — has triggered labor unrest and dissatisfaction with the government.


Pakistan’s disaster management authorities warn of floods in Sindh, Punjab from next week

Updated 21 July 2024
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Pakistan’s disaster management authorities warn of floods in Sindh, Punjab from next week

  • Heavy monsoon rains killed 24, injured 80 in Punjab last weekend, as per official figures
  • Monsoon rains expected to lash parts of Sindh, Punjab from Monday to Thursday next week

ISLAMABAD: The Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMA) in Pakistan’s Sindh and Punjab provinces have warned of flash floods in the country’s two provinces from next week amid a forecast of heavy rains, state broadcaster Radio Pakistan reported on Sunday. 

Heavy monsoon rains have lashed Punjab and Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces this week. At least 24 people were killed and 80 injured in Punjab last weekend as heavy rains lashed many parts of the province, official figures said.

“Provincial Disaster Management Authorities of Punjab and Sindh have warned of flash floods in various cities of the provinces due to heavy monsoon rains, likely to start from tomorrow till Thursday,” Radio Pakistan reported.

PDMA Punjab spokesperson said floods were expected in Punjab’s cities of Rawalpindi, Attock, Jhelum, Chakwal, Mandi Bahauddin, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Sheikhupura, Sialkot, Narowal, Sahiwal, Jhang, and Toba Tek Singh, among others. 

As per Pakistan’s Meteorological Department, rains and thunderstorms are likely to occur in Sindh’s Tharparkar, Umarkot, Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Hyderabad, Tando Mohammad Khan, Tando Allah Yar, Matiari, Kambar, Shadad kot, Kashmore, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Ghotki, Sukkur, Thatta and Sajawal districts.

“The spokesperson said PDMA issued an alert for the administration of these cities to take necessary precautions,” Radio Pakistan said. 

The spokesperson urged the public to follow the government’s instructions and take necessary precautionary measures to avoid any damage.

Pakistan is recognized as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change effects in the world. 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. 


Over 70 local businesses show interest in collaborating with Chinese firms relocating to Pakistan

Updated 21 July 2024
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Over 70 local businesses show interest in collaborating with Chinese firms relocating to Pakistan

  • Government says Chinese firms in textile, medical, plastic and leather sectors will be brought to Pakistan
  • PM Sharif says the transfer of Chinese industries will improve economy, create jobs and strengthen exports

ISLAMABAD: More than 70 local businesses have expressed interest in collaborating with Chinese firms planning to shift their industrial units to Pakistan, according to a briefing given to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during a meeting on Saturday to review progress on bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

The meeting was a continuation of the prime minister’s five-day visit to China last month, during which he interacted with investors and participated in wide-ranging business-to-business engagements.

Sharif also met top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, and discussed the possibility of enhancing cooperation under the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Apart from that, he visited Chinese agricultural zones and reached an understanding to send Pakistani students interested in learning advanced techniques to increase crop yield amid mounting concerns related to climate change.

“A comprehensive roadmap for the transfer of Chinese industries to Pakistan was presented to the meeting,” said a briefing given to the prime minister according to an official statement released after the meeting. “Collaboration with Chinese companies will be established to transfer Chinese textile, medical and surgical instruments, plastic and leather industries to Pakistan.”

“Seventy-eight Pakistani companies have initially expressed deep interest in collaborating to transfer Chinese industries to the country,” it added.

Sharif was also told that a comprehensive plan to send 1,000 students to China for advanced agricultural training at government expense had been completed.

“The first batch of students will be sent to China at the start of this academic year,” the statement said. “The next batch will be sent to China’s advanced agricultural universities after learning the Chinese language in Pakistan for which the plan has been completed.”

The prime minister said that China was a long-standing friend that had always helped Pakistan in difficult times.

“The Chinese leadership is committed to further increasing investment in Pakistan,” he continued. “The transfer of Chinese industries to Pakistan will improve the national economy, create new employment opportunities and increase Pakistan’s exports.”