Flash floods kill 22 in Azad Kashmir

People collect their belongings from their house that collapsed due to flooding in Neelum Valley of Pakistani controlled Kashmir, Monday, July 15, 2019. Pakistan says many people are missing and feared dead after heavy rains triggered flash floods in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. Ahmed Raza Qadri, the Pakistani minister for disaster management in the disputed territory, says the flooding late on Sunday also caused much destruction and damage in the village of Lesswa in Neelum Valley. (AP Photo)
Updated 16 July 2019

Flash floods kill 22 in Azad Kashmir

  • Heavy rains damaged dozens of houses in the area
  • Pakistan army partakes in rescue operations

ISLAMABAD: Heavy rains and flash floods killed at least 22 people in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, an official from the State Disaster Management Authority of Azad Kashmir told Arab News on Tuesday.
Flash floods caused by a heavy cloud burst adversely impacted Leswa Village in the Neelum Valley on Monday night, with more than 150 houses, shops and mosques impacted in the area, Ahmed Raza Qadri, Minister for State Disaster Management Authority of Azad Kashmir said.
Rescue teams comprising officials of district administration, disaster management authority and local police are conducting search and rescue operations in the area, Qadri added. 
According to the Azad Kashmir government’s media wing, the missing persons include two Frontier Works Organization (FWO) personnel, nine locals and 11 others who were visiting the area preaching in the mosques.
Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has expressed deep concern and grief over the loss of precious lives and property due to the flooding.
“On ground rescue and relief operations headed by the Deputy Commissioner Neelum are underway in which teams from the State Disaster Management Authority and AJK-Red Crescent have been mobilized to assist the local administration,” Khan said.
He added that the district administration is also working closely with teams from the Pakistan army to assist in the rescue operations. 
Neelam Valley is a popular tourist destination located near the Line of Control (LoC) — the de facto border that splits Kashmir between Pakistan and India.

Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

Updated 14 November 2019

Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

  • New skills-based system to be launched from next month
  • Will include India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Starting next month, Saudi Arabia will introduce a new skilled foreign manpower program that will eventually include Pakistan, a senior official at the Saudi labor ministry said this week. 

Nayef Al-Omair, head of the vocational examination program at the Ministry of Labor, said on Tuesday in Riyadh that the ministry was categorizing the tasks and the structure of some professions for visa-issuing purposes.

Under the new policy, visas would be issued only after skill tests and the previous system would be gradually phased out. 

The new scheme would be optional for one year starting December 2019 after which it would become compulsory, Al-Omair said. The new program would first be applied to manpower recruited from India due to its large size in the Saudi market.

Eventually, the program will cover seven countries, including India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Workers belonging to these states constitute 95 percent of professional manpower in the Kingdom’s local market.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.6 million Pakistani expats those have been a vital source of foreign remittances.

Last year the country received $21.8 billion in remittances out of which $5 billion were remitted by Pakistani nationals working in Kingdom.

According to the Pakistani ministry of finance, there was a major decline in manpower export to Saudi Arabia where only 100,910 emigrants proceeded for employment in 2018 as compared to 2017, a drop of 42,453 emigrants.

However, Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, special assistant to the Pakistani prime minister on overseas Pakistanis, said in an interview earlier this month that Saudi Arabia had agreed to increase the share of the Pakistani labor force in the multi-billion dollar New Taif City development.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have formed working groups to develop procedures for this transfer of manpower. Pakistani groups will visit the Kingdom in the coming months to finalize arrangements.