Afghan refugee school in Pakistan shuts down as funding falters post-Taliban takeover of Kabul

Special Afghan refugee school in Pakistan shuts down as funding falters post-Taliban takeover of Kabul
Habib-ur-Rehman (right), principal of Ghazi Amanullah Khan High School, talks to a staff member is Karachi, Pakistan, on August 16, 2023. (AN photo)
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Updated 17 August 2023
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Afghan refugee school in Pakistan shuts down as funding falters post-Taliban takeover of Kabul

Afghan refugee school in Pakistan shuts down as funding falters post-Taliban takeover of Kabul
  • Ghazi Amanullah Khan High School was closed after a German NGO refused continued funding after the fall of Kabul
  • More than 65,000 Afghans are officially registered as refugees with in Karachi, most of them living in two neighborhoods

KARACHI: In the heart of Afghan Basti, a refugee enclave located on the fringes of Karachi’s northern bypass, stands the dilapidated building of a school that became dormant soon after the shadow of Taliban rule fell over the neighboring state two years ago.

The closure of the educational facility has affected the lives of hundreds of young students, including an 11-year-old boy, Gul Ahmed, who is employed in a nearby workshop repairing bicycles for elderly members of his community.

Ahmed cannot help but yearn for a more carefree childhood with his friends and textbooks, each day passing the shuttered school on his way.

“If this school were still open, I would have had the chance to continue my education,” he said during a conversation with Arab News.




The picture taken on August 17, 2023, shows a deserted Ghazi Amanullah Khan High School in Karachi, Pakistan, on August 17, 2023. (AN photo)

Named after Afghanistan’s reformist king, Ghazi Amanullah Khan High School opened its doors in 2006 on an unpaved, litter-strewn street in the city. Funded by a German NGO, it operated under the supervision of the education ministry in the war-battered country, with the sole objective of serving Afghan refugees residing in this downtrodden neighborhood.

According to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, there are over 65,000 officially registered Afghans in Karachi. A significant portion of this population resides in Afghan Basti, while others are concentrated in a different part of the city known as the Al-Asif neighborhood.

Following the fall of Kabul in August 2021, Afghanistan faced severe financial challenges since Western government and donor agencies refused to fund the new Taliban administration or any other projects carried out by the Afghan government.

“This school remained operational for approximately twenty years,” Habib-ur-Rehman, the school’s principal, told Arab News. “It was run by a German NGO. However, with a change of government in Afghanistan, they withdrew their support.”

“We attempted to sustain it on a self-help basis,” he continued. “We managed to operate for five months but couldn’t continue without sufficient resources.”




The picture taken on August 17, 2023, shows the exterior view of Ghazi Amanullah Khan High School in Karachi, Pakistan, on August 17, 2023. (AN photo)

He noted that a team of 12 male and four female teachers were employed at the education facility when its management decided to close its doors. These faculty members were responsible for educating 430 students, including 180 young girls.

The school also offered co-education at senior levels.

As the principal guided Arab News through the building’s corridors, a haunting sense of abandonment filled the air, painting a stark picture of the silence that replaced the once-enthusiastic hustle and bustle of students.

“When I came here and saw the conditions, the situation truly pained my heart,” said Naqeeb Ullah Khan, an alumnus who completed his intermediate studies at the school.

He expressed confidence that Afghan children would return if the school’s doors were opened once again.

Haseena Qazi Khan, a former teacher of the school, now lectures at Syed Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani School, another educational facility for refugees in the Al-Asif neighborhood.

“The children are deprived,” she remarked, referring to the students who can no longer attend their school. “They often resort to labor work in cabins and shops. When I witness all of this, I feel a deep sense of regret.”




The picture taken on August 17, 2023, shows Haseena Qazi Khan, a former teacher of Ghazi Amanullah Khan, teaching students in Karachi, Pakistan, on August 17, 2023. (AN photo)

Khan added that she finds it particularly distressing to see girls dropping out due to circumstances beyond their control.

“As a woman, it doesn’t sit well with me,” she continued. “I want other girls to have the opportunity to study, just like I did.”

Syed Mustafa, principal of Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani School, acknowledged the financial vulnerability of the education institute in the face of diminishing funds.

“We encounter numerous challenges since we lack support,” he said. “Financial problems persist. If assistance doesn’t arrive in the next few months, this school might also face closure.”

Sitting in his workshop, young Ahmed reflected on how the school could have offered great opportunities for him and his friends.

“The school was good,” he reminisced. “Studying there would have been wonderful. The classes were excellent, and the teaching was brilliant.”


Pakistan’s deputy PM visits Kyrgyzstan to address concerns of Pakistani students following mob violence

Pakistan’s deputy PM visits Kyrgyzstan to address concerns of Pakistani students following mob violence
Updated 9 sec ago
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Pakistan’s deputy PM visits Kyrgyzstan to address concerns of Pakistani students following mob violence

Pakistan’s deputy PM visits Kyrgyzstan to address concerns of Pakistani students following mob violence
  • Ishaq Dar flew to Bishkek with the Kyrgyz foreign minister after their meeting on the sidelines of SCO conference in Astana
  • Pakistan continues to evacuate students even as the top officials of the two countries hold meetings to sort things out

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar arrived in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, on Tuesday to address concerns of young nationals of his country enrolled in various educational institutions of the Central Asian state who were targeted by mob violence last week.
The violence began in Bishkek on Friday night after videos of a brawl between Kyrgyz and Egyptian students went viral on social media, prompting groups of local residents to target university hostels and private lodgings of international students, including those from Pakistan.
According to official figures, about 10,000 Pakistani students are enrolled in Kyrgyzstan, with nearly 6,000 in Bishkek. The frenzied violence forced them to confine themselves for several hours in their rooms without food and drinking water, with many of them making evacuation requests online.
Dar, who is also the foreign minister of Pakistan, held a meeting with his Kyrgyz counterpart in Kazakhstan on the sidelines of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers.
“Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has arrived in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic for a working visit,” Pakistan’s foreign office announced in a statement on Tuesday. “He was invited to visit the Kyrgyz Republic by Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Zheenbek Kulubaev after their meeting yesterday in Astana, Kazakhstan on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers. The two Ministers traveled together from Astana to Bishkek.”

In this handout photograph, taken and released by Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Pakistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar (L) shakes hands with Kyrgyzstan Foreign Minister Kulubaev Zheenbek Moldokanovich in Bishkek on May 22, 2024. (Photo courtesy: MOFA)

“In Bishkek, the Deputy Prime Minister will discuss with the Kyrgyz Foreign Minister the concerns of Pakistani nationals in the Kyrgyz Republic, including the recent issues faced by Pakistani students,” it added.
Five Pakistani nationals were injured in last week’s violence. Four of them were released after receiving first aid. However, one student was hospitalized due to more serious injuries.
Dar also met with the student who remains under treatment among his other official engagements.
Pakistan has so far repatriated over 1,000 students from Bishkek after the mob violence via various flights. The evacuation process continues even as officials of the two countries try to sort things out.
The most recent flight carrying about 170 Pakistani students arrived in Multan on Wednesday morning.

In this handout photograph, taken and released by Pakistan International Airlines, officials from Pakistan's national airline welcome students arriving from Bishkek via a special PIA flight at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore on May 21, 2024, days after mobs in Kyrgyz capital attacked foreign students following a brawl with migrants. (Photo courtesy: PIA)

 


President of ex-PM Khan party released from prison after nearly a year in custody

President of ex-PM Khan party released from prison after nearly a year in custody
Updated 21 May 2024
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President of ex-PM Khan party released from prison after nearly a year in custody

President of ex-PM Khan party released from prison after nearly a year in custody
  • Pervaiz Elahi was arrested on June 1 in a case relating to alleged illegal appointments in Punjab Assembly
  • His party says the anti-corruption watchdog failed to prove Elahi had accepted any money against recruitment

ISLAMABAD: Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, president of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was released from prison on Tuesday after the Lahore High Court granted him bail in a case relating to alleged illegal appointments, the PTI said.
Elahi was arrested on June 1, 2023 after being accused of getting results of the testing service changed to have the candidates of his choice appointed in the Punjab provincial assembly.
Justice Sultan Tanvir of the Lahore High Court accepted his bail petition while presiding over a hearing of the case on Tuesday and ordered his release.
“The anti-corruption body filed the case after a delay of two years,” the PTI said in a statement. “Anti-corruption body failed to prove that Mr. Elahi had accepted any money against recruitment or his involvement in the recruitment procedure.”
Elahi has twice served as the chief minister of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province and dissolved the provincial assembly in January 2023 on Khan’s instructions, in a bid to force early nationwide elections.
His arrest on June 1 came amid a crackdown on Khan’s PTI party after violent clashes and attacks on government and military installations over Khan’s brief arrest in May 9.
Khan, who was ousted in a parliamentary no-trust vote in April, has been in jail since last August and convicted in multiple cases. Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan says all cases against him are politically motivated to keep him out of politics.


Over 1,000 relief camps set up as Pakistan braces for heatwave

Over 1,000 relief camps set up as Pakistan braces for heatwave
Updated 21 May 2024
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Over 1,000 relief camps set up as Pakistan braces for heatwave

Over 1,000 relief camps set up as Pakistan braces for heatwave
  • The Pakistan Meteorological Department said temperatures are expected to hit as high as 50°Celsius in parts of rural Sindh
  • Extreme heat in Pakistan is often coupled by deficit in power supply, with some areas experiencing 15-hour daily loadshedding

KARACHI: Over 1,000 camps have been set up across Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh in anticipation of a severe heatwave, disaster management officials said Tuesday.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department said temperatures are expected to hit as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of rural Sindh.
“These camps have been set up to provide relief to affected people, and to help reduce instances of heatstroke and other heat-related diseases,” Ajay Kumar assistant director of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) told AFP.
“They are also equipped with places of rest, water and glucose to give to people as and when these are needed,” he added.
The heatwave will affect much of the country, building over the next week.
Extreme heat in Pakistan is often coupled by deficit in power supply, with some areas experiencing up to 15 hours a day of loadshedding, according to local media.
Pakistan increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events, which scientists have linked to climate change.
Schools in the province have already postponed annual examinations scheduled for this week, including in the mega port city of Karachi, home to more than 20 million people.
PDMA Chief Meteorologist Sardar Sarfaraz said that “women who spend most of their time in the kitchen and in the fields in rural areas are the hardest hit.”
The heatwave also raises concern about the survival of livestock, Kumar added.


Pakistan religion minister applauds Saudi Arabia for innovation in facilitation of Hajj pilgrims

Pakistan religion minister applauds Saudi Arabia for innovation in facilitation of Hajj pilgrims
Updated 21 May 2024
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Pakistan religion minister applauds Saudi Arabia for innovation in facilitation of Hajj pilgrims

Pakistan religion minister applauds Saudi Arabia for innovation in facilitation of Hajj pilgrims
  • Hajj is one of five pillars of Islam and requires every Muslim to undertake the journey at least once
  • Around 26,711 Pakistani pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia ahead of the next month’s pilgrimage

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Chaudhry Salik Hussain on Tuesday met with Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah and commended the innovative reforms implemented by the Saudi authorities to facilitate Hajj pilgrims, the Pakistani religious affair ministry said.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and requires every adult Muslim to undertake the journey to the holy Islamic sites in Makkah at least once in their lifetime if they are financially and physically able.
According to Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry, 26,711 Pakistani pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia ahead of next month’s Hajj, less than two weeks after Pakistan kicked off its pre-Hajj flight operation.
Hussain arrived in Saudi Arabia last week to review Pakistan’s arrangements for Hajj pilgrims and has since toured various departments as well as met with Saudi authorities.
“Hussain appreciated the innovative and exemplary reforms of the Saudi authorities for the facilitation of Hajj pilgrims arriving in the Kingdom from across the globe,” Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry said in a statement.
The two figures had a detailed discussion regarding bilateral relations and arrangements for Hajj 2024, according to the statement. Hussain lauded the Kingdom for extending the best facilities and excellent support to the pilgrims.
He described the progress on new Pakistan Houses, which house the country’s Hajj missions, in Makkah and Madinah as “positive.”
“Saudi companies responsible for providing services under the leadership of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah are doing a good job,” Hussain was quoted as saying in the statement.
Hussain also discussed the matter of pending transport contracts for 40,000 Pakistani Hajj pilgrims facilitated by private tour operators, to which the Saudi minister assured him the matter would be resolved within the next few days.
“Pakistan’s Hajj group operators should reform and follow Saudi directives,” Hussain urged, saying his ministry would take action if pilgrims faced inconvenience due to private operators.
Pakistan has a Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims this year, of which 63,805 people will perform the pilgrimage under the government scheme, while the rest will use private tour operators. This year’s pilgrimage is expected to run from June 14 till June 19.


Buttler keen for England to show their mettle at T20 World Cup

Buttler keen for England to show their mettle at T20 World Cup
Updated 21 May 2024
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Buttler keen for England to show their mettle at T20 World Cup

Buttler keen for England to show their mettle at T20 World Cup
  • Buttler’s men went to the one-day international World Cup in India in October as double world champions but lost six of their nine matches
  • A four-match T20 series against Pakistan, whom they defeated in T20 World Cup final in Melbourne in 2022, starts at Headingley on Wednesday

LONDON: Jos Buttler wants his England team to show they are still a force to be reckoned with at the T20 World Cup after last year’s shambolic 50-over title defense left them with “dented” pride.
Buttler’s men went to the one-day international World Cup in India in October as double world champions but lost six of their nine matches to exit with a whimper.
A four-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan, the team they defeated in the T20 World Cup final in Melbourne in 2022, starts at Headingley on Wednesday.
Both teams will then travel to the tournament in the West Indies and United States.
Reflecting Tuesday on the impact of their poor showing in India, England captain Buttler said: “The pride was obviously dented and it was a really disappointing competition.
“But life moves on, it’s a chapter in the book and there’s lessons you learn but we’re presented with a new opportunity now, in a different format.
“We go to the West Indies and want to give a better account of ourselves. It’s a real honor to go to another World Cup as defending champions again but it also feels like a new time.”
Buttler was a key voice in England’s decision to pull all of their squad members back from the Indian Premier League to prepare as a collective.
The hard-hitting batsman said the IPL should not clash with international cricket.
“As England captain, my main priority is to be playing for England,” he said. “It’s really important for us to spend this time together.
“Leading into a World Cup, your number one is performing for England and it feels like this is the best preparation.
“But it’s my personal opinion there shouldn’t be any international cricket that clashes with the IPL — these games have been in the calendar a long time.”
Two of England’s 15-man squad are unavailable for the opening fixture in Leeds, with Liam Livingstone and Mark Wood both working through knee problems.
Paceman Jofra Archer will make his first England appearance for 14 months but Buttler said it was important not to expect too much from a bowler who has been plagued by injuries.
“We all know what a superstar he has been, but let’s manage those expectations,” he said. “Don’t expect too much, too soon.
“A great success would be him coming through this series with a big smile on his face and his body holding up.”
There are questions over Buttler’s own availability in the coming days, with his wife Louise expecting the couple’s third child.
The vastly experienced Moeen Ali stands by to take the reins if required.
“My family comes first. I’ll be at the birth,” Buttler said. “I don’t think they quite tell you when they’re going to come, but we’ve got a plan in place and fingers crossed everything will go well.”
England launch the defense of their T20 World Cup crown on June 4 against Scotland in Barbados.