Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief launches winter project for flood-hit Pakistan

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief launches winter project for flood-hit Pakistan
Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Maliki, Pakistan's Minister of Religious Affairs Aneeq Ahmad and Director of KSrelief branch in Pakistan Dr. Khalid Al-Othmani gesture during the inauguration ceremony of KSrelief's winter project at the Saudi embassy in Islamabad on October 6, 2023. (Photo courtesy: X/@KSAembassyPK)
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Updated 10 October 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief launches winter project for flood-hit Pakistan

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief launches winter project for flood-hit Pakistan
  • Flood-affected Pakistanis to receive shelter and winter bags from Saudi aid agency
  • Around 100,000 people were evacuated from Punjab's flood-hit areas in August

RIYADH: The Saudi aid agency KSrelief has launched a project to distribute shelter and winter bags to flood-hit Pakistan.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that the KSrelief project had supported 350,000 people in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki said in a statement that the project was part of the Kingdom’s continued support to the people of Pakistan.

These efforts reflect “the Kingdom’s commitment, represented by KSrelief, to provide humanitarian (support) in countries and communities affected by crises, with the aim to alleviate the suffering of those in need regardless of their location,” the SPA statement said.

About 100,000 people were last month evacuated due to flooding in Punjab. The province has been reeling from historic floods that affected 33 million people and killed 1,739 last year.


Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan on Monday for three-day visit— foreign office 

Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan on Monday for three-day visit— foreign office 
Updated 40 min 52 sec ago
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Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan on Monday for three-day visit— foreign office 

Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan on Monday for three-day visit— foreign office 
  • Iranian president to arrive with his spouse and high-level delegation to discuss bilateral cooperation, says FO
  • Visit an important opportunity for Pakistan and Iran to strengthen ties rooted in history and religion, says FO

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign office confirmed on Sunday that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will visit the country from Apr. 22-24, describing his trip as an “important opportunity” for both countries to strengthen bilateral ties and enhance cooperation. 

Raisi’s visit takes place days after Iran and Israel exchanged drone and missile strikes, escalating tensions in the already volatile Middle East. 

“President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will undertake an official visit to Pakistan from 22 to 24 April 2024,” the foreign office said in a statement. 

“This will be the first visit by any Head of State to Pakistan after the general elections in February 2024.”

Pakistan and Iran are often at odds with each other over instability on their shared border, with both countries routinely trading blame for not rooting out militancy.

Tensions surged in January when Pakistan and Iran exchanged air strikes, both claiming to target alleged militant hideouts in each other’s countries. Both sides have since then undertaken peace overtures and restored bilateral ties. 

Pakistan’s foreign office said Raisi will visit with his spouse and a high-level delegation, comprising Iran’s foreign minister and other cabinet members and a “large” business delegation.

The Iranian president would meet Pakistan’s president, prime minister, Senate chairman, National Assembly speaker and visit Lahore and Karachi where he will meet the provincial leadership of the country. 

“The two sides will have a wide-ranging agenda to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran ties and enhance cooperation in diverse fields including trade, connectivity, energy, agriculture, and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign office said. 

Discussions would also focus on regional and global developments as well as bilateral cooperation to combat “terrorism,” the statement added. 

“Pakistan and Iran enjoy strong bilateral ties anchored in history, culture and religion,” the foreign office said. “This visit provides an important opportunity to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran relations.”


Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks

Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks
Updated 21 April 2024
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Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks

Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks
  • No group has yet claimed responsibility for the two attacks since Thursday
  • A recent surge in attacks in Pakistan has soured its relations with Afghanistan 

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Unknown gunmen killed two customs officers in western Pakistan, officials said on Sunday, following the killing of five other customs officials in the area in recent days.

No group has claimed responsibility for the two attacks since Thursday, which police said they were investigating.

Security in regions of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan has deteriorated in recent years. Attacks, some claimed by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) militant group, have risen, mostly targeting police and security officials.

“Customs officials were present for checks... when unknown persons opened fire,” said the district deputy superintendent of police, Muhammad Adnan, adding that two people were injured and the area on a busy highway had been cordoned off.

“Three days ago, five officials, including an officer, of the customs department, were killed in a shooting in the same area and the attackers escaped,” he said.

The rise in attacks has escalated tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban administration.

Pakistan, saying militants have been using Afghan territory to launch attacks, has called on the Taliban to take action and carried out an airstrike last month on Afghan territory.

The Taliban have denied allowing the use of Afghan soil for militancy and said Pakistan’s security issues are a domestic issue for Islamabad.


From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era

From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era
Updated 21 April 2024
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From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era

From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era
  • Opened in 1895 in Karachi, Bhagat Tarachand has over 25 branches in India
  • Founder’s family migrated to Mumbai upon the partition of British Raj in 1947

NEW DELHI/KARACHI: Some of the oldest dishes at the Bhagat Tarachand restaurant are the potato curries that Prakash Chawla’s grandfather had cooked at a small eatery in 19th-century Karachi. Nearly 130 years later, they are still on the menu, although across the border, in Mumbai.

Established by Tarachand Chawla in 1895, the restaurant started in the seaside megapolis and the capital of what is now the Pakistani province of Sindh.

It served simple meals of Sindhi roti — wheat flour bread spiced with onions and ghee — and seasonal vegetables.

Initially nameless, Chawla’s eatery soon became known after his name and the honorific “bhagat” (a noble man) that people had added to it in reverence.

“My grandfather was a generous man, and he wouldn’t let anyone go hungry, whether that person had money or not. That way ‘bhagat’ was added to his name,” Prakash told Arab News.

Bhagat Tarachand died in Karachi in 1942, a few years before the partition of the British Raj.

The undated file photo shows the chole bhatura platter from the menu of Bhagat Tarachand restaurant. (Photo courtesy: Bhagat Tarachand)

In 1947, when it was split into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, his sons, including Prakash’s father, Khemchand, moved to Mumbai on the Indian side — some 900 km away.

The family became part of one of the biggest migrations in history, which forced about 15 million people to swap countries in a political upheaval that cost more than a million lives.
 
“It was not an easy beginning after moving to India, with my father struggling to establish the restaurant in Zaveri Bazaar,” Prakash said. “It was just a six-table eatery.”

The restaurant has since been officially known as Bhagat Tarachand, in memory of its founder.

Once the business started to flourish, Khemchand’s brothers opened different branches. He remained at the original location in the historical Mumbai gold market, where Prakash started to work at the age of 19.

Nearly half a century later, he is still leading the business, has expanded it into a four-story restaurant, and new dishes to the menu.

Now one of India’s leading vegetarian restaurants, Bhagat Tarachand has 25 branches led by Prakash and his cousins across the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The most popular meal at his outlets is a vegetarian platter.

The undated file photo shows popular items from the menu of Bhagat Tarachand restaurant. (Photo courtesy: Bhagat Tarachand)

“In the vege platter, we give three types of vegetables, lentils, chapati, rice or pilav, as per your choice, one sweet dish, one crispy item, and a pickle,” he said. “It is sufficient for two people”.

Some other flavors have been there since the Karachi times: aloo matar — potato and pea curry — and aloo methi — potato and fenugreek curry.

“Those are some of the oldest dishes that we’ve been serving since at least my father remembers,” said Vishal Chawla, Prakash’s son, who helps him run the business.

“When my great-grandfather ran the restaurant, my grandfather, and even to a certain extent my father, there was no menu card. They used to write just the dish of the day ... It depended on, you know, what were the fresh vegetables available in the market.”

Setting sights on expansion to the UAE and Singapore, both of which have significant Indian diasporas, Vishal has been also thinking about his ancestral city.

But as long as India and Pakistan have a complicated relationship, even obtaining a visa is not easy. One of his uncles has already tried, but to no avail.

“I hope that our countries have better relations in the future, at least in my lifetime ... And if that becomes a possibility, I would love to reconnect with the roots of this restaurant,” he said.

“From the perspective of our restaurant and family, they are all proud that they are able to continue this legacy.”


Roedad Khan, veteran Pakistani civil servant with front-row seat to history, passes away at 100

Roedad Khan, veteran Pakistani civil servant with front-row seat to history, passes away at 100
Updated 21 April 2024
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Roedad Khan, veteran Pakistani civil servant with front-row seat to history, passes away at 100

Roedad Khan, veteran Pakistani civil servant with front-row seat to history, passes away at 100
  • Roedad Khan served with five presidents and three prime ministers during his lengthy career in civil service 
  • Khan entered civil service in 1949 and served as secretary of various ministries and adviser to prime minister

ISLAMABAD: Roedad Khan, one of the first civil servants of Pakistan and a longtime observer of the tumultuous history and politics of the 77-year-old country, passed away in Islamabad on Sunday at the age of 100.

Khan will be laid to rest today at the H-11 graveyard in Islamabad. 

“Roedad Khan passed away today at 101,” veteran journalist and anchor Hamid Mir wrote on social media platform X. 

Senior politician Mushahid Hussain Syed paid tribute to Khan in a post on X, referring to him as a “national icon and legend.”

“He lived a full life of service to Pakistan during our tumultuous periods + post-retirement,” Syed wrote, crediting him for authoring several books and championing human rights. 

“Truly a unique, multifaceted personality of our times! He will be missed by his countless admirers!“

 Khan was born on September 28, 1923, in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Mardan before the country gained its independence from British colonial India in 1947. After entering the Pakistan Civil Service in 1949, Khan’s distinguished career as a bureaucrat allowed him to serve in many prestigious roles. 

He served as the chief secretary of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province and the chief secretary of KP and was also appointed as the managing director of the state-owned Pakistan Television. He also served as the secretary of the ministries of information, labor, tourism and interior throughout various governments. 

Khan also served as the secretary-general of the interior ministry and as a former adviser to the prime minister. 

The Pakistani civil servant served with five presidents and three former prime ministers, allowing him to be a witness to the country’s political upheavals. 

He turned 100 last year on September 28, 2023.


Death toll from heavy rains surges to 78 in Pakistan’s KP, Balochistan provinces

Death toll from heavy rains surges to 78 in Pakistan’s KP, Balochistan provinces
Updated 21 April 2024
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Death toll from heavy rains surges to 78 in Pakistan’s KP, Balochistan provinces

Death toll from heavy rains surges to 78 in Pakistan’s KP, Balochistan provinces
  • Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province reports 63 deaths due to rain-related incidents since April 12
  • In Balochistan, 15 people including five children, six men and four women have been killed in rain-related incidents since April 12

ISLAMABAD/QUETTA: The death toll from rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) surged to 78 on Sunday, the disaster management bodies in both provinces said, as authorities carry out relief operations in the worst-affected districts. 

Heavy rains in Pakistan’s Punjab, Balochistan and KP provinces have inundates streets in several districts and damaged thousands of homes. 

“As many as 33 children, 15 men and 15 women are among those who died in rain-related incidents,” a report by the PDMA KP said about heavy rains that began in the province on April 12. It said the total number of injured has risen to 78. 

In Balochistan, the downpours have killed 15 people, including five children, six men and four women while the injured include 10 people. 

In a post on social media platform X on Saturday night, the PDMA said it was engaged in rescue and relief operations in District Nushki’s flood-affected areas with the Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps, district administration, and other departments. 

The current spell of showers is likely to continue till April 21, the PDMA said this week. The provincial government has released Rs110 million to be distributed among the affected families and dispatched aid, including tents, kitchen kits, blankets, hygiene kits, mosquito nets and mattresses, to the affected areas, according to the authority.

As the rains are expected to continue intermittently until April 21, the PDMA said it had already a letter to all district administrations to remain alert and take precautionary measures.

Pakistan has received heavy rains in the last three weeks that have triggered landslides and flash floods in several parts of the South Asian country.

The eastern province of Punjab has reported 21 lighting- and roof collapse-related deaths, while Balochistan, in the country’s southwest, reported 10 deaths as authorities declared a state of emergency following flash floods.

In 2022, downpours swelled rivers and at one point flooded a third of Pakistan, killing 1,739 people. The floods also caused $30 billion in damages, from which Pakistan is still trying to rebuild.