COP28 ‘great opportunity’ for Pakistan to discuss ideas on climate change — UAE envoy

Special COP28 ‘great opportunity’ for Pakistan to discuss ideas on climate change — UAE envoy
UAE Ambassador Hamad Obaid Al-Zaabi (center) gestures for a group photo with students and diplomats during the 'Green Impact Cleanup Drive' in Islamabad on September 23, 2023. (AN Photo)
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Updated 23 September 2023
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COP28 ‘great opportunity’ for Pakistan to discuss ideas on climate change — UAE envoy

COP28 ‘great opportunity’ for Pakistan to discuss ideas on climate change — UAE envoy
  • UAE embassy co-organizes cleanliness drive in Pakistan’s capital city 
  • UAE envoy says Abu Dhabi ‘working closely’ with Pakistan on climate change

ISLAMABAD: The upcoming 28th Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP) would be a “great opportunity” for Pakistan to discuss ideas on how to support countries most affected by climate change, UAE’s Ambassador to Pakistan Hamad Obaid Al-Zaabi said on Saturday.
The UAE will be the second Arab state to host the climate conference after Egypt hosted COP27 last year. The Gulf country will host the COP28 from Nov.30 to Dec. 12, with the global conference expected to attract about 70,000 people, including heads of state, government officials, international industry leaders, private sector representatives, academics, experts, youngsters, and non-state players.
Pakistan is recognized among the countries most affected by climate change around the world. In June 2022, raging floods triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers killed over 1,700 and swept away large swathes of crops and damaged critical infrastructure. Pakistan estimated damages and economic losses from the floods to be over $30 billion.
The South Asian country has been at the forefront of efforts to extract compensation from wealthy countries for nations impacted the most by climate change. During the COP27 in Egypt last year, Pakistan led a group of 134 states to push for the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund to compensate countries affected the most by climate change.
“Pakistan is one of the top five countries affected by climate change,” Al-Zaabi told Arab News at the sidelines of the ‘Green Impact Cleanup Drive,’ an event held at Islamabad’s F-9 Park. The drive was co-organized by the UAE embassy, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Serena Hotels and Ismaili Civic Pakistan.
“The Pakistani delegation who is going to participate in COP28 at Dubai Expo, it is a great opportunity for them to discuss more the ideas on how to support countries affected by climate change,” he added.
The event was aimed at promoting environmental protection, and sustainable practices, raising awareness against littering and the use of single-use plastic. Members of the diplomatic corps, civil society, students, and the public participated in the drive. 
“We are working closely with the government of Pakistan with regard to climate change and we have a lot of projects, a lot of responsibilities in this regard,” Al-Zaabi said.
He said COP28 would be a chance for the international community to gather in Dubai for “more engagement and more negotiations” to tackle climate-related challenges.
“It’s a commitment from the United Arab Emirates to continue working with the international community for the challenges of climate change and the environment,” he said.
Speaking about COP28, the UAE envoy said it would also involve a review of the Paris Agreement, adding that the international community needed to assume greater responsibilities and generate more ideas to address the impacts of climate change.
Kuwait’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Nassar Abdulrahman Al-Mutairi, expressed happiness at seeing children participate in the drive to clean Pakistan’s capital.
“A big thanks goes to you, your teachers, and your family for taking the time to participate in the cleaning of your capital. You are the future and I am sure this initiative you will pass to your own children in the future,” he told students present at the event.
Noor ul Huda Shah, a student and member of the students’ voluntary group, the Golden Jubilee Girls Guide, said she took part in the drive as it was everyone’s collective responsibility to look after the environment.
“It’s our responsibility to take care of our Earth today because, for the next generation, we are creating a safe environment,” Shah told Arab News.
“And if we do not take care of our environment today, we will suffer tomorrow.”
 


35 people killed over five days as rains continue to batter northwestern Pakistan

35 people killed over five days as rains continue to batter northwestern Pakistan
Updated 25 sec ago
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35 people killed over five days as rains continue to batter northwestern Pakistan

35 people killed over five days as rains continue to batter northwestern Pakistan
  • Main roads out of Gilgit-Baltistan blocked for third consecutive day, leaving thousands stranded 
  • Heavy snowfall brings daily life to standstill in Quetta and other northern parts of Balochistan province 

PESHAWAR: Thirty-five people have been killed and dozens injured in the last five days as rains continue to batter the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said on Monday. 

Heavy rains and snowfall last week have damaged hundreds of houses and bridges and shut off road and rail routes in several areas of Pakistan, especially in the KP province. In the country’s mountainous northern Gilgit-Baltistan, the main Karakoram Highway, Baltistan Road and other major roads remained blocked for a third consecutive day, leaving thousands of tourists, travelers, and traders stranded at various points. 

In the southwest of the country, heavy snowfall brought daily life to a standstill in Quetta and other northern parts of Balochistan, with main highways and inter-provincial roads blocked since Saturday, cutting the remote province from other parts of the country.

“During the last five days, 35 people have died and 43 people have been injured as a result of accidents due to ongoing rains across the province,” the PDMA said in a statement, providing figures for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. “346 houses were partially damaged while 46 houses were completely damaged.”

The PDMA said food and other relief items were being sent to the areas of Charsadda, Dirlower, Derapar, Malakand, Mohmand, Bannu, Khyber, Bajaur, Nowshera and Peshawar on the orders of newly appointed KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Khan Gandapur.

“Distribution of relief items underway including blankets, tents, tents, jerry cans, gas cylinders, water coolers, mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, hygiene kits, toilet kits, plastic mats, sandbags, tarpaulins,” the PDMA said, adding that the CM had ordered that “immediate steps” be taken to open closed roads. 

Large swathes of Pakistan 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 and affected over 30 million. 

Pakistan received commitments of more than $9 billion from international donors to help recover from the 2022 floods with rebuilding efforts estimated to cost about $16.3 billion, but little aid has come in so far.


Pakistan’s top rights group warns Senate against imposing social media curbs

Pakistan’s top rights group warns Senate against imposing social media curbs
Updated 04 March 2024
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Pakistan’s top rights group warns Senate against imposing social media curbs

Pakistan’s top rights group warns Senate against imposing social media curbs
  • A Pakistani senator last week submitted a resolution calling for a ban on social media websites for promoting “hatred” on basis of religion and language
  • Human Rights Commission of Pakistan decries resolution as “nonsensical, impractical,” calls on digital rights activists to mobilize against efforts to impose curbs

ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has cautioned the country’s Senate against imposing curbs on social media platforms, days after a senator submitted a resolution in the parliament’s upper house, seeking a complete ban on them for “adversely affecting” the youth. 

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi last week submitted a resolution in parliament demanding a complete ban on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. The resolution, which according to local media reports will be taken up for discussion on Monday, said social media websites are being used to promote norms against Pakistan’s culture and Islam, and to create hatred among people “on the grounds of language and religion.”

Digital rights advocates have already expressed concern over the disruption of services of social media platform X, which has been down in the country since Feb. 17. The platform continues to remain inaccessible to millions of users after it went down on Feb. 17 during countrywide protests against alleged rigging in the country. Authorities remain tight-lipped about the ban, despite a high court’s order to restore the platform in Pakistan. 

“The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly opposes the proposed @SenatePakistan resolution seeking a ban on all social media,” HRCP Chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt said in a statement on Sunday. “And warns the members of the Upper House that any such ill-judged measures that violate people’s constitutional right to freedom of expression also represent an erosion of democracy.”

He said such a resolution is “nonsensical as it is impractical,” saying it was ironic that political parties, legislators, state institutions and government representatives were using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access X since Feb. 17. 

Butt pointed out that access to social media has enabled ordinary people to earn livelihoods, hold public office holders accountable and exchange information. “Any attempt to curb digital freedoms wholesale betrays a shocking ignorance of how modern democracies and economies function,” he added. 

The HRCP chief called on Pakistan’s Senate to focus on genuine issues concerning the youth such as unemployment, access to education and rampant misogyny, rather than act as a “thought-police.” 

The rights group said where social media is to be regulated to prevent hate speech and incitement against violence toward women and minorities and ethnicities, it must be done with transparency and the measures must be designed with the civil society’s consensus. 

“HRCP calls on civil society and digital rights activists to mobilize against all efforts to impose such arbitrary curbs, including reports of a ban on all VPNs, and demands that X be restored immediately,” the statement concluded. 

Before the latest blockade on X, Pakistan experienced multiple Internet disruptions in recent weeks that made social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, X and Instagram inaccessible. Recent occurrences were on Jan. 20, Jan. 7 and Dec. 17, when Khan’s PTI party was holding virtual events. The government had blamed those disruptions on “technical glitches.”

Such shutdowns have previously had a devastating impact on Pakistan’s economy. The day after former prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest in May last year, Reuters reported that point-of-sale transactions routed through Pakistan’s main digital payment systems fell by around 50 percent according to the region’s two largest payments system operators, 1LINK and Habib Bank Limited.

According to the Internet Society’s monitor Pulse, it is becoming an increasingly common tactic for governments to shut down the Internet on a national or sub-national level to either control civil unrest, stem the flow of misinformation, sway the results of general elections or to gain strategic advantages in territories with ongoing wars.
 


Islamabad United face in-form Peshawar Zalmi at home turf in PSL clash today

Islamabad United face in-form Peshawar Zalmi at home turf in PSL clash today
Updated 04 March 2024
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Islamabad United face in-form Peshawar Zalmi at home turf in PSL clash today

Islamabad United face in-form Peshawar Zalmi at home turf in PSL clash today
  • Peshawar Zalmi edged out Islamabad United by eight runs last Monday when the two sides met 
  • Zalmi are placed at number three on the PSL points table, Islamabad United at number four 

ISLAMABAD: The in-form Peshawar Zalmi will take on former two-time Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Islamabad United today, Monday, at Rawalpindi as both sides look to improve their rankings at the PSL points table as the playoffs approach. 

The two teams faced each other exactly one week ago, on Feb. 26, where Zalmi triumphed by 8 runs after a close encounter. Skipper Babar Azam inspired his team with a heroic century off just 63 deliveries while sharing a strong opening stand with left-handed batter Saim Ayub. 

However, United came close to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat courtesy of a stellar knock by Azam Khan, before Zalmi spinner Arif Yaqoob took a fifer to ensure his team won the contest. Both teams were unable to play their respective matches on March 2 after rain canceled the fixtures. 

“Home Game Alert, #UnitedFamily! It’s time to paint the town red as we face Peshawar Zalmi tomorrow,” United wrote on social media platform X on Sunday.

United will head into the match with some confidence after they thrashed Karachi Kings at their home turf last Wednesday courtesy of a heroic 82-run knock by Colin Munro. His opening batting partner Alex Hales also provided much needed support, raising United’s hopes for a revival in this year’s PSL. 

Peshawar have three wins from six matches in the tournament so far. Zalmi have lost twice while their match against the Qalandars last week was washed off. United, on other hand, are one place below Zalmi on the PSL points table, as they have only two wins from six matches. 

For United, skipper Shadab Khan will always be a threat for any opposition to contend with while Salman Ali Agha, Naseem Shah and Hunain Shah can trouble the Zalmi batters on any given day. All-rounder Imad Wasim, who has had a dismal tournament so far, needs to find his form for his team to stand a better chance to best Zalmi in today’s encounter. 

The match begins at 7:00 p.m. Pakistan Standard Time
 
Playing XIs (probably)

Islamabad United

Colin Munro, Alex Hales, Agha Salman, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan (c), Azam Khan (wk), Jordan Cox, Faheem Ashraf, Naseem Shah, Hunain Shah, Rumman Raees

Peshawar Zalmi

Saim Ayub, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Haris, Haseebullah Khan (wk), Paul Walter, Rovman Powell, Asif Ali, Luke Wood, Naveen-ul-Haq, Arif Yaqoob, Salman Irshad


Leaders of Iran, Turkiye, China congratulate Shehbaz Sharif for winning Pakistani PM election

Leaders of Iran, Turkiye, China congratulate Shehbaz Sharif for winning Pakistani PM election
Updated 04 March 2024
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Leaders of Iran, Turkiye, China congratulate Shehbaz Sharif for winning Pakistani PM election

Leaders of Iran, Turkiye, China congratulate Shehbaz Sharif for winning Pakistani PM election
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expresses confidence in Sharif’s ability to steer Pakistan on a path of prosperity, says state media
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping says China and Pakistan will continue “traditional” friendship and cooperation under Sharif’s leadership

ISLAMABAD: The heads of state of China, Iran and Turkiye on Monday congratulated Shehbaz Sharif for winning the election for the office of Pakistan’s prime minister, vowing to strengthen their bilateral relations with the South Asian country under a new leader. 

Pakistan’s lower house of parliament on Sunday elected Sharif as prime minister for a second time, putting him back in a role he had stepped down from ahead of general elections on Feb. 8. 

Sharif, 72, secured a comfortable win over Omar Ayub of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), which features members of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, on Sunday. He secured 201 votes from Pakistani legislators while Ayub polled only 92. 
 
“Prime Minister-elect Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif receives a congratulatory telephone call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Pakistan’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement on Monday. 

“President Erdogan warmly congratulated Prime Minister-elect on his election as Prime Minister of Pakistan and expressed confidence in his ability to steer Pakistan on a path of progress and prosperity.”

The foreign office said Sharif thanked Erdogan for his congratulatory message and underscored the significance of the brotherly ties between the two countries. “The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further advance bilateral cooperation and collaboration in all fields,” the statement added. 

Hours after he had won the prime minister’s election on Sunday, the Chinese premier and president both congratulated Sharif. 

“President Xi Jinping in his message expressed the confidence that under the leadership of Shehbaz Sharif Pakistan would be able to make new and greater achievements in the cause of national development and progress,” the state-run Radio Pakistan reported. 

He stressed China and Pakistan would continue their “traditional” friendship and cooperation in various fields, the state media said. 

“Chinese Premier Li Qiang has also sent a congratulatory message to the newly-elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif,” Radio Pakistan added. 

Separately, Pakistan’s Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar congratulated Sharif on his election victory, hoping his administration would usher in prosperity for the South Asian country. 

“Congratulations to @CMShehbaz on being elected as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan,” Kakar wrote on social media platform X. “May your tenure bring prosperity, progress, and unity to our beloved nation. Amen.”

Sharif, who served previously as prime minister after ex-PM Imran Khan was ousted from office via a parliamentary vote in April 2022, will have several challenges to deal with. His main role will also be to maintain ties with the military, which has directly or indirectly dominated Pakistan since independence. Unlike his elder brother, who has had a rocky relationship with the military in all his three terms, the younger Sharif is considered more acceptable and compliant by the generals, most independent analysts say.

Sharif also takes over at a time when the new government will need to take tough decisions to steer the country out of financial crisis, including negotiating a new bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The current IMF program expires this month. A new program will mean committing to steps needed to stay on a narrow path to recovery, but which will limit policy options to provide relief to a deeply frustrated population and cater to industries that are looking for government support to spur growth.

Although defense and key foreign policy decisions are largely influenced by the military, Sharif will have to juggle relations with the US and China, both major allies. He is also faced with dealing with fraying ties with three of Pakistan’s four neighbors, India, Iran and Afghanistan. Pakistan is also facing a troubling rise in militancy, which Sharif’s government will have to immediately tackle.


In maiden speech, Pakistan PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif calls for unified stance on Gaza

In maiden speech, Pakistan PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif calls for unified stance on Gaza
Updated 04 March 2024
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In maiden speech, Pakistan PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif calls for unified stance on Gaza

In maiden speech, Pakistan PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif calls for unified stance on Gaza
  • Pakistan does not recognize Israel as a state and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders
  • Sharif says the ‘massacre’ ongoing in Gaza was never seen or heard of and yet no institution in the world could stop it

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister-elect Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday urged the people of his country to come together to present a unified stance on Gaza, amid Israel’s relentless bombing of the Palestinian territory.

Sharif’s comments came during his maiden speech in the National Assembly, the lower house of Pakistan parliament, after being voted in as the 23rd prime minister of Pakistan.

Pakistan, which does not recognize Israel, calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. 

Sharif said the “massacre” ongoing in Gaza was never seen or heard of in the entire world, and yet no institution in the world could stop the Jewish state from what he called worst cruelty and bloodshed.

“I want to say this before my honorable house [parliament], Mr. Speaker, I want to say this before you and through you, I want to say this before the whole of Pakistan that come and let us unite today,” he said.

“Let us all be united and the worst hostilities being carried out in Gaza and Palestine, the worst oppression being carried out in Kashmir, Pakistan should not only present its principled stance on them, but this house should also pass a resolution today of strong condemnation and for the rights and freedom of Kashmiris and Palestinians.”

The statement by the Pakistan prime minister-elect came as fighting between Israeli military and Hamas raged on in the Palestinian territory, amid talks in Cairo for a ceasefire.

US, Qatari and Hamas envoys traveled to Cairo for the latest effort toward a six-week truce, stepped-up aid deliveries and the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners. Their goal has been to secure a truce by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on March 10 or 11.

The war, which began on Oct. 7 with an unprecedented Hamas attack on southern Israel, has killed 30,410 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.