Pakistan bans public gatherings in largest province as ex-PM Khan’s party announces protests

In this file photograph, taken on February 11, 2024, Pakistan police patrol in Lahore. (REUTERS)
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Updated 21 June 2024

Pakistan bans public gatherings in largest province as ex-PM Khan’s party announces protests

  • Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party called for nationwide protests on Friday to demand his release from prison
  • Punjab government imposes ban on public gatherings, rallies, protests, sit-ins and demonstrations for seven days

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Punjab government imposed a ban on all kinds of public gatherings throughout the province on Friday after jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party called for nationwide protests to demand his release.
In a video statement earlier this week, PTI leader and former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser urged Khan supporters to come out on the streets across the nation on Friday to demand Khan’s release from prison.
The former prime minister has been in jail since August 2023 after he was convicted by a local court on corruption charges. Khan denies the allegations, saying they are politically motivated to keep him and the PTI away from Pakistani politics.
“It has been observed that in view of the prevailing law and order situation and security threats, any gathering/ assembly is likely to provide soft targets to terrorists and miscreants,” a notification issued by the Punjab Home Department said.
“Which not only pose serious security threats but is also likely to cause threat to public at peace and order as well as inconvenience to public at large.”
The notification said the government was imposing Section 144, which empowers the administration to ban any activity in the general interest of the public for a specific time period, across Punjab for a period of seven days.
The notification said assemblies, gatherings, sit-ins, rallies, processions, demonstrations, protests and other such activities have been prohibited across the province effective immediately.
PTI leader Raoof Hasan criticized Punjab government’s “shameful” decision in a post on social media platform X.
“It reflects how mortified they are of the person of @ImranKhanPTI & his vision of an independent & sovereign Pakistan where its people would become the true arbiters of their fate,” Hasan wrote.
Khan’s tensions with the government and Pakistan’s powerful military came to a head on May 9 2023 when angry supporters took to the streets and attacked government and military installations following his brief detention in a land corruption case.
The move sparked a nationwide crackdown launched by the government against Khan’s party which saw several PTI leaders and supporters rounded up in jails. Many Khan aides announced parting ways with him following the crackdown on his party. Pakistan’s military announced it would try those involved in the May 9 violence in military courts.
Khan initially said the protests were a natural reaction by his supporters but later distanced himself from it, blaming Pakistan’s intelligence agencies for instigating the riots. Pakistan’s military and government rubbished his allegations.

12 dead, 27 injured due to rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s Punjab 

Updated 14 July 2024

12 dead, 27 injured due to rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s Punjab 

  • Five children, four women and three men among 12 dead, says disaster management authority 
  • Authority warns citizens against traveling unnecessarily in bad weather, says rains to continue till July 15

ISLAMABAD: Twelve people were killed while 27 others were injured in rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province in a day, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said in a report on Saturday, as the country braces for torrential monsoon rains in various parts of the country. 

Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change effects. 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 and killed at least 1,700 people, displaced millions and inflicted billions of dollars in losses.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) this month warned that the country’s Sindh and Punjab provinces could face an “emergency” situation due to torrential rains this monsoon season. 

Torrential rains were reported in Punjab’s Lahore, Sargodha, Toba Tek Singh, Faisalabad, Kot Addu and Bahawalpur cities on Friday, a PDMA spokesperson confirmed. 

“Yesterday, 12 people were killed while 14 houses were affected and 27 citizens were injured due to torrential rains,” the PMDA said in a report. 

“The deceased persons included five children, three women and four men. In Narowal and Multan, three citizens were killed from lightning strikes.”

The PDMA spokesperson said that as per the Punjab government’s directives, relatives of the deceased will be provided financial compensation. 

It added that monsoon rains in Punjab are expected to continue till July 15 and that the flow of water in the province’s rivers and barrages was at the normal level for the time being. 

The disaster management authority urged people to avoid unnecessary traveling during the current weather. 

“Avoid touching electric wires and poles,” it said. “In emergency situations, call on PDMA’s flood helpline 1129.”

Earlier in April, heavy rains triggered landslides and flash floods in Pakistan, leaving 92 people dead and another 116 wounded. Pakistan’s eastern province of Punjab also 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 will generate alerts and update guidance for organizations and individual responders in national and provincial languages, Pakistan’s state media had said.

It said the alerts would help people and responders implement disaster management plans, keeping them ahead of the crises before they strike.

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

Updated 14 July 2024

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.”

India beat Pakistan to clinch World Championship of Legends cricket tournament 

Updated 14 July 2024

India beat Pakistan to clinch World Championship of Legends cricket tournament 

  • India chases Pakistan’s 157-run target with five wickets in hand, five balls to spare
  • Ambati Rayudu scores 30-ball fifty, Anureet Singh returns figures of 3-43 for India 

ISLAMABAD: India beat arch-rivals Pakistan in Birmingham on Sunday by five wickets to clinch the World Championship of Legends tournament inspired by impressive performances from Ambati Rayudu and Anureet Singh. 

The World Championship of Legends cricket tournament features retired cricketers taking part in a T20 cricket tournament. This year’s edition features teams from Pakistan, India, England, Australia, West Indies and South Africa. 

Batting first, Pakistan managed to put up 156/6 from their 20 overs. Former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik top-scored from his side by scoring 41 runs from 36 balls. The only other notable contribution came from Kamran Akmal, who scored 24 runs from 19 balls. 

In response, India achieved the target at the loss of five wickets and in the 20th over of the match, with five balls to spare. 

“Congratulations India Champions,” the WCL account posted on Instagram. “What a finish to the first season of World Championship of Legends.”

Singh kept the Pakistani batters at bay, returning figures of 3-43 while Rayudu top-scored with 50 runs from 30 balls. Pakistan’s Aamer Yamin returned figures of 2-29 while Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz and Malik each took a wicket. 

India Champions qualified for the final after defeating Australia Champions by 86 runs in the second semifinal which was played at the County Ground in Northampton on Friday.

Pakistan Champions, meanwhile, won the first semifinal against the West Indies Champions at the County Ground, Northampton on Friday. 

Pakistani religious scholars call for tolerance, interfaith harmony during Muharram

Updated 14 July 2024

Pakistani religious scholars call for tolerance, interfaith harmony during Muharram

  • Pakistani religious scholars vow to cooperate with law enforcers to ensure peace in Muharram
  • Militant outfits have frequently targeted Muharram processions led by Shia Muslims in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani religious scholars this week called on the masses to implement the code of conduct of the “Paigham-e-Pakistan” decree to ensure tolerance and interfaith harmony during the Islamic month of Muharram. 

Islamic scholars from various denominations in Pakistan jointly drafted a condemnation of religious militancy and sectarian violence in the country over five years ago in January 2018.

The initiative, named “Paigham-e-Pakistan,” came amid rising attacks by the proscribed militant network, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which justified violence against civilians and security forces in the name of religion.

“Ulema-Masaykh of different religious schools of thought has stressed to ensure implementation on the Paigham-ePakistan Code of Conduct to ensure peace and religious harmony during the month of Muharram-ul-Harram and to eradicate the menace of extremism, terrorism and intolerance from the country,” a press release issued by the country’s leading scholars on Saturday said.

Scholars affiliated with various Islamic sects said the country’s religious leadership will “fully cooperate” with law enforcement agencies and ensure coordination not to support any scholar found violating this code of conduct.

“The religious scholars also vowed to cooperate with the government machinery and with the law enforcement agencies and resolved to fully endorse the code of conduct,” the statement said. 

Pakistan has historically experienced sectarian violence during Muharram, a significant month for Shia Muslims who observe mourning rituals to commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) grandson in the Battle of Karbala.

Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, is the holiest event in the Shia Muslim calendar and sees hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims take part in religious gatherings and processions to mourn the passing of Imam Hussain.

Attacks targeting these religious processions have taken place in the past, stoking sectarian tensions. 

The Paigham-e-Pakistan decree denounces sectarian violence and refutes an “extremist and fundamentalist mindset.” It calls upon religious scholars to educate people between what is right and wrong, and states that only the state has the jurisdiction to determine whether one is an infidel or not.

Pakistan PM condemns ‘shocking’ assassination attempt on Trump

Updated 14 July 2024

Pakistan PM condemns ‘shocking’ assassination attempt on Trump

  • Trump shot in ear in apparent assassination attempt during Pennsylvania rally
  • PM Sharif hopes for Trump’s early recovery, expresses sympathies with injured

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday condemned the apparent assassination attempt on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally, describing it as a “shocking development.” 

Trump was immediately rushed off stage by security guards after being shot in the ear during a campaign rally in Butler, Pennsylvania. The shooter and a bystander were killed while two spectators were also injured in the incident, officials confirmed. 

Video footage showed Trump grimacing as the shots rang out and clutching a hand to his ear, with blood visible on his ear and cheek. The US Secret Service said Trump was “safe and being evaluated” after the incident occurred.

“Just learnt that former President Trump was shot at an election rally,” Sharif wrote on social media platform X. “This is a shocking development.” 

The Pakistani prime minister said he condemned violence in politics. 

“Wish the former President swift recovery and good health,” he added. 

Hours after the incident took place, Trump said it was “incredible” that the attack took place in the United States.

“I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin,” the former US president wrote on his TruthSocial network.

With the attack sending shock waves around the world, US President Joe Biden condemned the incident and said he hoped to speak to Trump soon.

Trump, who served as president from 2017-2021, easily bested his rivals for the Republican nomination early in the campaign and has largely unified around him the party that had briefly wavered in support after his supporters attacked the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, attempting to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

The businessman and former reality television star entered the year facing a raft of legal worries, including four separate criminal prosecutions. He was found guilty in late May of trying to cover up hush money payments to an adult actress, but the other three prosecutions he faces — including two for his attempts to overturn his defeat — have been ground to a halt by various factors including a Supreme Court decision early this month that found him to be partly immune to prosecution.