Bodies of 11 Pakistanis arrive from Libya

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Moving scenes were witnessed outside the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Moving scenes were witnessed outside the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Moving scenes were witnessed outside the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Moving scenes were witnessed outside the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
Updated 14 February 2018

Bodies of 11 Pakistanis arrive from Libya

RAWALPINDI: The bodies of 11 Pakistanis arrived on Wednesday at Benazir Bhutto International Airport from Libya in a special plane.
Their names were Ikram-ul-Haq, Muhammad Qasim, Waleed Akram, Mirza Ghulam Fareed, Tanzeel-ur-Rehman, Muhammad Aziz, Luqman Ali, Kashif Jamil, Azmat Bibi, Mazhar Hussain and Farhan Ali.
They were among 16 Pakistanis who died on Feb. 2 when a boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya.
Weeping relatives of the deceased arrived at the airport with ambulances to take the bodies to their hometowns. They demanded that the government take action against people-smugglers.
Bashir Chaudhry, the cousin of a deceased family, said Ismail Khan drowned along with his wife Azmat Bibi and their two children. Only Bibi’s body was recovered.
“The family was planning to settle in Spain. That’s why they risked their lives,” he told Arab News.
“They were poor, and Ismail couldn’t find a job in Pakistan despite his best efforts for the last two years.”
Khan paid a hefty amount to people-smugglers, Chaudhry said, adding: “People who wish to go to Europe for better jobs should learn a lesson from this incident.”
The bodies were brought from Jeddah via Saudi Arabian Airlines. The deceased are from the Mandi Bahauddin, Gurjat, Sargodha, Faislabad, Sialkot and Rawalpindi districts of Pakistan.
The bodies of two more Pakistanis will be flown later after completion of due process by Libyan authorities.
Ghulam Akbar told Arab News that his brother Mirza Fareed is survived by five children who are now bound to lead a “miserable life.”
Akbar said: “The government should take strict action against people-smugglers.” He urged parents not to send their children abroad via illegal means.
Sajjad Haider Khan, director of the Libyan Crisis Cell of Pakistan’s Foreign Office, said bringing the bodies back was difficult due to a lack of direct flights from Libya.
“Gullible people are an easy target for people-smugglers,” he told Arab News. “People-smugglers have spread their tentacles across the globe, and they’re well organized.”
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested dozens of people-smugglers in recent months, he said.
There is a need to create public awareness about the risks and dangers involved in going to Europe via illegal routes, he added.
“Europe isn’t a paradise,” he said. “People should try to find jobs in Pakistan instead of paying hefty amounts to smugglers and risking their lives.”
Thousands of Pakistanis risk their lives each year to travel to Europe in search of better jobs with the help of people-smugglers. Most end up in jail or dead.
In November last year, 20 people trying to cross the Pakistan-Iran border illegally, with help from smugglers in both countries, were killed by militants in Turbat, Balochistan.
According to an FIA report issued in December last year, 6,767 Pakistanis entered Europe illegally via Iran in 2017 alone, while 27,749 were deported — 18,810 from Iran, 4,401 from Turkey and 4,538 from EU countries.
“Pakistani nationals are among the 10 most-detected nationalities that attempt irregular migration to the European Union and Australia,” the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report published in July 2013.


India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

Updated 54 min ago

India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

  • Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate
  • Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones

SRINAGAR: Text messaging services were blocked in Indian Kashmir just hours after being restored when a truck driver was killed by suspected militants and his vehicle set ablaze, authorities said Tuesday.
Separately Indian officials said that a 24-year-old woman died in the latest exchange of artillery fire with Pakistan over their de-facto border dividing the blood-soaked Himalayan region.
Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate.
Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones on Monday, following a 72-day blackout in the restive northern territory imposed after New Delhi scrapped the region's semi-autonomous status.
The seven million-plus people of the Kashmir Valley — the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule — are still cut off from the Internet, however.
Authorities said SMS services were cut again on Monday night following the attack on the driver of a truck carrying apples in Shopian.
Residents said two masked gunmen told the driver to use his truck to block the road, but it skidded and got stuck.
“The gunmen then fired at the truck and set it on fire,” a witness told AFP.
Apples are a sensitive issue in Kashmir, which exports vast quantities of the fruit to markets across India.
Many orchard owners say they are refusing to harvest this year to protest against the government’s move to scrap Kashmir’s autonomy.
Indian authorities say that militants — backed by arch-rival Pakistan — have been intimidating farmers and businessmen.
The latest death from Pakistani artillery fire over the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir brings the number of fatalities on the Indian side to three in the past four days, the Press Trust of India reported.
Two Indian soldiers were killed in two separate incidents on Friday and Sunday, PTI said. It was unclear if there were any fatalities from Indian fire on the Pakistani side.
Also on Tuesday, police arrested 13 women activists in Srinagar after they staged a protest calling for civil liberties and the release of detainees.
The women, wearing black armbands, were arrested for “breaching the peace” and for a contravening a ban in place since early August on public gatherings of more than four people, police said.
They included the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, one of several hundred local politicians, lawyers and others in custody since early August, mostly without charge.
Abdullah, 81, was formally arrested in mid-September under the highly contentious Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows someone to be held for up to two years without charge, and which has been used widely in Kashmir in recent years.
Rebels have been fighting for three decades some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or to join Pakistan which also controls part of the region and, like India, claims it in full.