12 Killed As Flooding Paralyses Pakistan’s Karachi

Pakistani residents wade through flood waters after heavy monsoon rains in Hyderabad on July 31, 2019, some 160km east of the southern port city of Karachi. AKRAM SHAHID / AFP

 

At least 12 people were killed as monsoon rains lashed Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, officials and charity groups confirmed Wednesday, while flooding also triggered power outages and overwhelmed the metropolis’s fragile infrastructure.

Authorities said the deaths occurred largely due to electrocutions caused by ill-maintained power lines even as large segments of the city suffered hours-long outages that lasted up to a day in some areas.

According to the Edhi Foundation – which oversees a vast rescue services operation in Karachi — up to 15 people were killed during the recent bout of flooding.

However, government hospitals in the city said only 12 people had died in recent days in flood-related incidents.

Outrage simmered in the city after a video went viral on social media showing two children who had been allegedly electrocuted by a power line that had fallen into a puddle.

“The electricity company must be held responsible for the children’s death as safety and security is its responsibility,” said Faisal Edhi, who heads the Edhi Foundation.

Dr Seemi Jamali — director of the state-run Jinnah Postgraduate Medical University — confirmed that nine people were “brought dead” to the hospital because of electrocutions.

Another three bodies, including the children from the video shared online, were taken to the city’s Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, a doctor on duty at the facility confirmed to AFP.

The megacity of some 20 million has been inundated with heavy rains since Monday, flooding residential areas and bringing large swathes of Karachi’s perennially traffic-congested streets to a halt.

“We are living without electricity and water for the past three days and no official rescue came,” said 24-year-old resident Qaiser Khan.

Hundreds have been killed across South Asia this monsoon season and tens of thousands displaced by the heavy rains.

While the annual rains are crucial to replenishing water supplies in the impoverished region, they often turn deadly.

22 Students Injured In Pakistan Accident

Pakistan on the map. Credit: Google Map

 

Twenty-two students of a religious seminary in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region were injured when the tractor-trailer they were travelling aboard overturned, officials said Sunday.

The incident happened in Kot village on the outskirts of Dargai tribal district.

“The students aged 9 to 16 years were going to a picnic when their tractor-trolley turned turtle injuring 22 students,” said Inayat-ur-Rehman, a doctor at the hospital where the students were treated.

He blamed driver negligence for the accident.

Local police confirmed the accident.

Pakistan has one of the world’s worst records for fatal traffic accidents, blamed on reckless driving, poor roads and badly maintained vehicles.

Trump Mocked For Tweet On Arrest Of Mumbai Attacks Suspect

Pakistanis on Thursday mocked US President Donald Trump’s claim that the alleged Mumbai attacks mastermind had been arrested “after a ten-year search” while he was actually in the public eye for much of the decade.

Hafiz Saeed, a firebrand cleric accused by Washington and New Delhi of being behind the 2008 attacks, was taken into custody on Wednesday, days ahead of a trip by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington for his first meeting with Trump.

“After a ten-year search, the so-called ‘mastermind’ of the Mumbai terror attacks has been arrested in Pakistan. Great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

But Saeed, who heads the UN-designated terrorist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and has a $10 million US bounty on his head, has never been missing.

Instead, when he has not been in the custody of the Pakistani authorities, he has courted the limelight, giving public speeches and televised interviews and even attempting to launch a political party to contest last year’s general election.

Among the wave of social media users pointing this out to Trump were journalists highlighting the easy access they have been given to Saeed over the years.

“It’s Hafiz Saeed. Not Jason Bourne” tweeted Pakistani news anchor Amber Shamsi.

“I also interviewed Hafiz Muhammad Saeed for @AJEnglish back in 2015 at a JuD-run mosque and school in Islamabad. Did not take a lot of finding that time, either,” added Al Jazeera’s Islamabad-based correspondent Asad Hashim.

“Finding him was never an issue. He operated freely and was highly visible,” wrote Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, adding that Trump should “immediately fire whoever gave him the wrong information”.

The US Foreign Affairs Committee also hit back at the president, citing the eight times Saeed has been arrested — and released — by Pakistani authorities since 2001.

“Let’s hold the (applause) until he’s convicted,” tweeted the committee on its official account.

Saeed’s freedom to move around Pakistan has enraged India for years, with Delhi repeatedly calling for his prosecution over his alleged role in the 2008 attack that killed more than 160 people.

Many linked his latest detention to Khan’s visit with Trump. The pair are to meet in Washington on July 22.

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has frequently singled out Islamabad for failing to rein in extremists and being an unfaithful partner in the fight against militants.

“Hafiz Saeed was definitely not on the run when I met him at home in Lahore in 2013. His liberty, or lack of, is often a function of international pressure on Pakistan over its support for militancy,” tweeted New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh.

The move against Saeed also comes as Pakistan is facing a potential blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — an anti-money-laundering monitor based in Paris — for failing to do enough to combat terror financing.

AFP

One Survivor, Nine Bodies Pulled Out Of Pakistan Mine

Pakistani relatives carry the coffin of a coal miner from a hospital in Quetta on July 16, 2019, following a coal mine accident. BANARAS KHAN / AFP

 

Pakistani authorities said Tuesday they had rescued one miner who survived two days trapped in a coal mine after a fire that killed nine other workers in central Pakistan.

An electrical short circuit sparked the blaze on Sunday at the mine east of Quetta, the capital of oil and mineral-rich Balochistan province.

Eleven miners were working around 4,000 feet (1,200 metres) underground at the time. One was quickly saved but poisonous carbon monoxide gas hampered rescue efforts.

Officials confirmed on Tuesday that just one of the remaining ten had been discovered alive.

“We have found nine dead bodies,” Abdullah Shahwani, a top provincial official for the industry, told AFP.

The surviving miner was critically injured, he said.

Provincial government spokesman Liaquat Shahwani confirmed the toll.

The coal mine is run by the state-owned Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation.

Most coal mines in the impoverished province are notorious for poor safety standards and facilities, and similar deadly accidents have occurred in the past.

AFP

Pakistan Train Collision Kills 11, Injures 78

 

At least 11 people were killed and nearly 80 injured when two trains collided in central Pakistan early Thursday, officials said.

The incident took place in Rahim Yar Khan district in Punjab province when a passenger train coming from the eastern city of Lahore rammed into a goods train that had stopped at a crossing, a senior government official said.

A senior Pakistan Railways official gave AFP the toll, adding: “We fear the death toll will rise as rescue teams are still cutting (through) the wreckage.”

Earlier, local police officer Omar Salamat told TV channel Geo News that dozens had been taken to nearby hospitals.

“The condition of three to four passengers is critical,” he said.

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Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where the railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.

TV footage from the site showed the heavily damaged train engine and carriages, as emergency workers and local people used metal-cutting tools and heavy cranes.

Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, the country’s minister for railways told TV channel Aaj that an investigation had been launched to determine the causes of the incident.

Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted his condolences, adding: “Have asked Railways Minister to take emergency steps to counter decades of neglect of railway infrastructure & ensure safety standards.”

Also on Thursday at least nine passengers were killed and 22 injured when a speeding bus overturned near the capital Islamabad, a police official said, while a landslide in the northwestern Swat valley killed six people, all from one family.

AFP

Pakistan Train Collision Kills Nine, Injures 66

 

At least nine people were killed and more than 60 injured when two trains collided in central Pakistan early Thursday, officials said.

The incident took place in Rahim yar Khan district in Punjab province when a passenger train coming from the eastern city of Lahore rammed into a goods train that had stopped at a crossing, a senior government official said.

“At least nine dead bodies have been retrieved,” local police officer Omar Salamat told TV channel Geo News.

Salamat said 66 passengers were injured in the accident and had been taken to nearby hospitals.

“The condition of three to four passengers is critical,” he said.

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Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where the railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement, and lack of investment.

TV footage from the site showed the heavily damaged train engine and carriages, as emergency workers and local people used metal-cutting tools and heavy cranes.

Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, the country’s minister for railways told TV channel Aaj that an investigation had been launched to determine the causes of the incident.

In June, three people were killed when two trains collided in southern Sindh province.

AFP

At Least Four Dead, 21 Missing After Pakistan Boat Capsizes

 

At least four people have been killed and 21 still missing after a boat capsized in northwest Pakistan, officials said Thursday, with a rescue operation continuing as hopes for finding survivors fade.

The boat was carrying passengers along the Indus River from Shangla to Haripur district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Wednesday when it overturned.

“There were 38 people on the boat when the incident occurred and 13 people saved their lives by swimming to the shore,” local police official Zahid Ullah told AFP.

“We have retrieved four dead bodies from the river including two women and children,” he said.

“The flow of the water is very fast the river is very deep which has dimmed the chances of survival, however, we will continue the rescue operation till the last individual is found,” he added.

READ ALSO: Collapsed Wall Kills 22 In Mumbai Monsoon Chaos

Senior police official Muhamamd Ali Babakhel said the accident took place in a remote location with little communication, meaning officials did not learn of it until well after it happened.

“People only came to know about the incident when a second boat carrying passengers passed through the area,” he told AFP.

“The rescue operation is still going on but there are little chances of survival,” he said.

Babakhel said the locals in the northern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa use boats for travelling because the roads in the area are unpaved and it saves them time.

Three Killed As Pashtun Activists Clash With Pakistan Military

Pakistan on the map. Credit: Google Map

 

Three activists from a civil rights movement were killed Sunday as they clashed with the Pakistani troops in a restive tribal region near the Afghan border, the military said.

The Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM) has rattled the military since it burst onto the scene earlier last year with a call to end alleged abuses by security forces targeting ethnic Pashtuns in the restive tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, both members of parliament, led a group that attacked a check-post in Boyya in North Waziristan tribal district to “exert pressure for the release of a facilitator of suspected terrorists,” the military said in a statement.

It said five army soldiers sustained injuries after the group opened direct fire.

“In exchange of fire, three individuals who attacked the post lost their lives and 10 got injured,” it added.

“Ali Wazir along with eight individuals has been arrested while Mohsin Javed (Dawar) is at large after inciting the crowd,” the statement said.

North Waziristan, once plagued by militancy and unrest, is where Washington believes that Pakistan is providing safe haven to militant groups including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

The army has carried out multiple operations in the region, and security there and across Pakistan has dramatically improved in recent years.

But the military maintains a heavy presence there still, and the PTM has unleashed festering anger over the alleged abuses against Pashtuns across the country, including enforced disappearances and targeted killings.

The movement remains peaceful, but has been notable for its direct verbal attacks on the armed forces in a country where such criticism is largely seen as a red line.

Pashtuns are a fiercely independent ethnic group that straddle both sides of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

They account for roughly 15 percent of Pakistan’s population, with a majority of the 30 million-strong group living in the northwest and a significant population in the southern port city of Karachi.

Five Dead In Pakistan Luxury Hotel Attack

 

 

Five people including a soldier were killed after gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in the southwestern Pakistani city of Gwadar, the centrepiece of a multi-billion dollar Chinese infrastructure project, the military said Sunday.

The soldier was among security forces who rushed to the five-star Pearl Continental Hotel after the attack on Saturday.

During the attack “5 individuals got Shaheed (martyred) including 4 hotel employees and a Pakistan Navy soldier,” the military said in a statement. One of the hotel staff killed was a security guard shot at the entrance.

Six others were injured including four security service officers and two hotel staff members.

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The military said all three terrorists had been killed. Local police had earlier claimed there had been four attackers.

A Baloch separatist group, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter.

Prime minister Imran Khan said the attack was a bid to “sabotage prosperity”.

“Such attempts especially in Balochistan are an effort to sabotage our economic projects and prosperity. We shall not allow these agendas to succeed,” Khan said in a statement issued by his office.

The Chinese embassy in Islamabad also strongly condemned the incident.

‘The next Dubai’

The Pearl Continental, part of Pakistan’s largest five-star hotel chain, is the only luxury hotel in Gwadar, frequented by foreign and Pakistani business delegations as well as diplomats.

It sits isolated on a ridge overlooking the Arabian Sea port city that was formerly a small fishing village, but now touted by officials as “the next Dubai” thanks to the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Part of China’s Belt and Road initiative, CPEC seeks to connect the western Chinese province of Xinjiang with Gwadar, with the development of the port as the plan’s flagship project.

Gwadar will provide China with safer and more direct access to the oil-rich Middle East than the waterway trade route it currently uses through the narrow Malacca Straits.

But it has also drawn its share of attacks — particularly from separatists who have long complained that residents of Pakistan’s poorest and largest province do not receive a fair share of profits from its resources.

The BLA has targeted Chinese workers in Pakistan multiple times, including during a brazen daylight attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi which killed four people in November last year.

At the time, the BLA branded Beijing “an oppressor”.

Balochistan is tightly guarded by the Pakistani military, who have been targeting insurgents there since 2004. The army has been repeatedly accused by international rights groups of abuses there, but denies all allegations.

The attack was the second deadly attack in a prominent Pakistan city this week, after a suicide blast claimed by the Pakistani Taliban at one of the country’s oldest and most popular Sufi shrines killed at least 12 people in the eastern city of Lahore.

AFP

Suicide Blast Kills At Least 10 At Popular Shrine

Pakistani security officials examine the site of a bomb blast outside a Sufi shrine in Lahore on May 8, 2019.  ARIF ALI / AFP

 

A suicide blast at one of Pakistan’s oldest and most popular Sufi shrines killed at least 10 people and wounded 24 in the eastern city of Lahore Wednesday, police said, in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

The blast — which a faction of the militant group claimed by email — occurred near the entrance gate for female visitors to the 11th-century Data Darbar shrine, one of the largest Sufi shrines in South Asia, as the country marks the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Wreckage of vehicles littered the pavement near the shrine as first responders rushed to the scene and armed security forces fanned out in the area.

“As we crossed the road a blast took place in front of us,” witness Ritat Shahid told AFP.

She described seeing pieces of flesh fall in front of her, and added that the blast “sounded so big that we felt like our ears will burst”.

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The emergency room at the Mayo Hospital in Lahore was crowded with the wounded, and people searching for loved ones, an AFP reporter saw.

Among them was Azra Bibi, whose son Muhammad Shahid cares for visitors’ shoes — which must be removed before entering. He has been missing since the blast, she said.

“They are not Muslims,” she told AFP, referring to the attackers. “They even targeted worshippers.”

The shrine has long been home to colourful Sufi festivals and a prime destination for the country’s myriad Muslim sects, making it a soft target for militant attacks.

It has been targeted previously, in a 2010 suicide attack which killed more than 40 people.

Since then the area has been increasingly hemmed in by heavy security, with visitors forced to pass through several layers of screening before they can enter the complex.

Sufi worshippers, who follow a mystical strain of Islam, have frequently been the target of bloody attacks in Pakistan by Islamist militants — including the Islamic State group — who consider their beliefs, and rituals at the graves of Muslim saints, as heresy.

Senior police official Muhammad Ashfaq told a press conference that the security personnel at the shrine were targeted.

Three police officials, two security guards and five civilians including a child were among the dead, Punjab province chief minister Usman Buzdar said.

 Busy shrine 

Pakistan’s push against extremism was stepped up after the country’s deadliest-ever attack, an assault on a school in Peshawar in 2014 that left more than 150 people dead — mostly children.

Since then, security has dramatically improved, but militants retain the ability to carry out major attacks.

Major urban centers such as Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city and the provincial capital of its wealthiest province, Punjab, are not immune.

An attack in the city in March last year left nine people dead, while a major blast targeting Christians celebrating Easter in a park in 2016 killed more than 70 people.

Critics have long argued the military and government crackdown has not addressed the root causes of extremism in Pakistan, where hardline Muslim groups often target religious minorities.

The Data Darbar complex contains the shrine of Saint Syed Ali bin Osman Al-Hajvery, popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh. Originally from Afghanistan, he was one of the most popular Sufi preachers on the subcontinent.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine each spring to mark his death anniversary, while it is also crowded weekly with worshippers listening to qawwali, a traditional form of Islamic devotional music.

AFP

Pakistan Police Arrest Doctor After ‘Infecting’ 90 Persons With HIV Syringe

Festac
File photo

At least 90 people, including 65 children, are believed to have been infected with the HIV virus in Pakistan by a doctor using a contaminated syringe, officials said Friday.

“We have arrested a doctor after receiving complaints from the health authorities,” said Kamran Nawaz, the local police chief heading the case in the southern city of Larkana.

“We are told that the doctor also has HIV,” he said.

Authorities were first alerted last week after 18 children from a town on the outskirts of the city tested positive for the virus, which causes AIDS, prompting health officials to carry out wider screenings.

Dozens more infections were found.

“More than 90 people have tested HIV positive and the number of children is around 65,” Dr Abdul Rehaman, a district health official in Larkana, told AFP.

A second official confirmed the outbreak, although gave slightly different figures.

Authorities said they traced the outbreak to a single doctor, who appears to have been using a contaminated syringe on patients.

Azra Pechuho, Sindh province’s health minister, confirmed his arrest.

“The blood of the parents of the infected children was also tested, but their results were negative,” Pechuho added.

Officials have since launched an even larger testing and education drive.

Pakistan is considered a low prevalence country for HIV, but the disease is expanding — mostly among intravenous drug users, sex workers and migrant labourers returning from the Gulf.

AFP

Gunmen Kill 14 Bus Passengers In Pakistan

 

Gunmen killed at least 14 people after forcing them to disembark from buses in Pakistan’s Balochistan, officials said Thursday, in the latest attack claimed by separatists in the restive southwestern province.

The attackers, who numbered around two dozen, were wearing uniforms of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, provincial home secretary Haider Ali told AFP.

They “stopped buses on the Makran Coastal Highway and gunned down 14 people”, he said, adding that the four vehicles were travelling to the port megacity of Karachi from the coastal town of Ormara.

The gunmen identified non-Baloch passengers by their identity cards and shot them, he said. All the victims are believed to be Pakistani, with a naval official and a coast guard member among the dead.

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The attack was claimed by a Baloch separatist group. A militant spokesman denied that any civilian passengers had been killed and said the group had only targeted coast guard and navy service members.

Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s poorest province and the largest by landmass, with Islamist as well as ethnic Baloch separatists active there.

Pakistani security forces have been targeting insurgents in the province since 2004, and have also been repeatedly accused by international rights groups of abuses there. The military denies the allegations.

Provincial home minister Mir Zia Langov told AFP a full-scale investigation had been launched into the attack, and authorities are trying to track down the gunmen, who he said had fled the scene.

“Such incidents are intolerable and we will not spare the terrorists who carried out this dastardly attack,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also condemned the killings in a statement from his office.

 Poorest province 

The attack came less than a week after a suicide blast claimed by the Islamic State group in the provincial capital Quetta killed 20 people.

Balochistan is also host to a number of major projects under the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The massive infrastructure project seeks to connect the western Chinese province of Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan.

But it has also drawn its share of attacks, particularly by separatists who have long complained that residents do not receive a fair share of profits from the province’s resources.

Violence in Pakistan has dropped significantly since the country’s deadliest-ever militant attack, an assault on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014 that killed more than 150 people — most of them children.

But militants still retain the ability to carry out attacks, and analysts have long warned that Pakistan is yet to tackle the root causes of extremism.

AFP