Safety of Pakistanis of ‘paramount importance’: Army chief on deportation of illegal immigrants

Safety of Pakistanis of ‘paramount importance’: Army chief on deportation of illegal immigrants
Pakistan army chief General Asim Munir addresses the passing out parade of cadets of the 147th PMA Long Course at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, Pakistan, on April 29, 2023. (ISPR/File)
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Updated 26 October 2023
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Safety of Pakistanis of ‘paramount importance’: Army chief on deportation of illegal immigrants

Safety of Pakistanis of ‘paramount importance’: Army chief on deportation of illegal immigrants
  • Pakistan has set Nov. 1 as deadline for illegal immigrants to voluntarily leave or face deportation
  • Pakistan’s army chief says security of Pakistanis ‘cannot be allowed to be compromised at any cost’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army chief General Syed Asim Munir said on Thursday the safety and security of every Pakistani citizen is of “paramount importance” which cannot be compromised, as the South Asian country gears up to forcibly repatriate illegal immigrants from next month.

Officials in Islamabad earlier this month set Nov. 1 as the final deadline for illegal immigrants in the country to leave voluntarily or face deportation, following a spike in militant attacks predominantly attributed to Afghan nationals.

Pakistan’s Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said earlier this month that since January, out of the 24 suicide attacks that took place in Pakistan, 14 were carried out by Afghan citizens.

Pakistan’s decision has been criticized by local and international rights groups, who have urged Islamabad to ensure repatriation is voluntary and carried out in a safe manner.

“On the subject of repatriation and deportation of illegal foreigners, COAS expressed ‘Safety and security of each Pakistani is of paramount importance which cannot be allowed to be compromised at any cost,’” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army’s media wing, said in a statement.

Munir was speaking to participants of the National Security Workshop, an annual event held at the National Defense University in Islamabad. Participants included parliamentarians, senior civil and armed forces officers, and civil society representatives, the ISPR said.

The army chief said Pakistan’s security and intelligence units have fought militancy “in an exemplary manner.”

“Success will be ours InshAllah with the continued support of the people of Pakistan,” Munir said.

He spoke about various measures being taken by the caretaker administration and the armed forces to curb illegal activities such as smuggling, power theft and narcotics.

“Army is fully engaged in enabling National and Provincial responses in different domains in step with other institutions of the state for the collective good of the people of Pakistan,” the statement added.

To ward off concerns Pakistani authorities would treat illegal immigrants harshly, Bugti announced the establishment of “holding centers” across the country on Thursday to respectfully accommodate illegal citizens with essential amenities before they are deported.

The minister said these centers would provide food and medical facilities to people. He also offered “full assurance” that women, children and elderly people would be kept respectfully at these facilities.


Alibaba’s e-commerce giant with presence in Pakistan, other South Asian countries, announces layoffs

Alibaba’s e-commerce giant with presence in Pakistan, other South Asian countries, announces layoffs
Updated 18 sec ago
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Alibaba’s e-commerce giant with presence in Pakistan, other South Asian countries, announces layoffs

Alibaba’s e-commerce giant with presence in Pakistan, other South Asian countries, announces layoffs
  • In memo to staff, Daraz says it is laying off employees to “adopt a more streamlined and agile structure” across the group
  • Daraz did not mention number of people affected by layoffs in Pakistan, Bangladesh and countries were it conducts operations

KARACHI: Alibaba-owned e-commerce platform Daraz Group has announced layoffs across the group to “adopt a more streamlined and agile structure,” acting Chief Executive Officer James Dong said on Tuesday in an internal memo to employees reviewed by Reuters.

The memo did not mention the number of people affected by the layoff. Daraz declined to comment on the percentage or absolute number of employees impacted across its operations in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

“Reluctantly, we will bid farewell to many valued members of the Daraz family,” the memo to staff said.

Last year, Daraz told Reuters it employed 3,000 employees across its geographies, prior to the e-commerce marketplace cutting its workforce by 11 percent due to difficult market conditions, the Ukraine crisis, supply chain disruptions, soaring inflation, higher taxes and fewer government subsidies, among other reasons.

“Despite our efforts to explore different solutions, our cost structure continues to fall short of our financial targets. Facing unprecedented challenges in the market, we must take swift action to ensure our company’s long-term sustainability and continued growth,” Dong was quoted as saying.

He added that the group plans to focus on proactively improving consumer experience by diversifying offerings of value-for-money products, expanding product categories and enhancing operational efficiency of sellers on its platform.

In January, the e-commerce group appointed James Dong as acting CEO, replacing outgoing CEO Bjarke Mikkelsen.

Pakistan and Bangladesh are the group’s biggest markets, outgoing CEO Mikkelsen said last year.

Founded in 2012 in Pakistan as an online fashion retailer, Daraz was later acquired by Chinese Internet giant Alibaba in 2018.

The business covers four key areas – e-commerce, logistics, payment infrastructure and financial services. It has more than 30 million shoppers, 200,000 active sellers and over 100,000 brands, the company told Reuters.
 


Pakistan claims shooting down Indian Army drone for ‘intruding’ into its airspace 

Pakistan claims shooting down Indian Army drone for ‘intruding’ into its airspace 
Updated 5 min 3 sec ago
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Pakistan claims shooting down Indian Army drone for ‘intruding’ into its airspace 

Pakistan claims shooting down Indian Army drone for ‘intruding’ into its airspace 
  • Pakistani forces shot down drone near de facto border that divides Kashmir between two countries, says state media 
  • Pakistan often claims downing unmanned Indian spy drones in Kashmir, where the two sides often trade fire as well

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s state-run media said on Tuesday that the country’s army had shot down an Indian “spy” drone in the disputed Kashmir territory on Sunday, alleging it had “intruded” into the country’s airspace.

The state-run media said Pakistani forces, at 12:55 p.m. local time on Sunday, shot down a quadcopter that belonged to the Indian Army. It said that the drone was “spying” in the area near the Line of Control— a de facto border that divides the disputed Kashmir region between India and Pakistan. 

Pakistan often claims downing unmanned Indian spy drones in Kashmir, where the two sides often trade fire as well.

“Pakistan Army has shot down Indian spying quadcopter that intruded into country’s airspace along the Line of Control,” Radio Pakistan said in a report, adding that its remains were discovered on Monday. 

“An insignia of the Indian Army can be seen in the pictures which confirms that the quadcopter belongs to the Indian Army.”

Relations between Pakistan and India have been strained over the internationally disputed Kashmir territory since August 2019, when New Delhi revoked Muslim-majority Kashmir’s decades-old semi-autonomous status. The Modi-led government’s decision triggered anger in Indian-administered Kashmir and in Pakistan.

Five years earlier on Feb. 27, 2019, Pakistan said it shot down two Indian warplanes in Kashmir and captured a pilot in response to an airstrike by Indian aircraft targeting militants in Pakistan. India had said the strikes targeted Pakistan-based militants responsible for a suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian troops in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir. Pakistan denies involvement in the episode. 

Since gaining independence from the British in 1947, the two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars. Out of these, two were fought over Kashmir which both claim in full but administer only parts of. 


Shootout in northwestern Pakistan leaves senior police officer, two militants dead

Shootout in northwestern Pakistan leaves senior police officer, two militants dead
Updated 27 February 2024
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Shootout in northwestern Pakistan leaves senior police officer, two militants dead

Shootout in northwestern Pakistan leaves senior police officer, two militants dead
  • Shootout between police and militants took place in northwestern city of Mardan, says police official 
  • Pakistani Taliban have routinely targeted security forces in northwestern province bordering Afghanistan

PESHAWAR: Pakistani police raided a militant hideout in the country’s northwest early Tuesday, triggering an intense shootout in which a senior police officer was killed and two others were wounded, a local police official said.

Two militants were also killed in the exchange of fire in Mardan, a city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Hidayat Ullah told reporters.

Ullah identified the slain police superintendent as Ijaz Khan, who led the raid. Ullah provided no further information about the slain militants, saying officers were still investigating.

The Pakistani Taliban, known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, routinely target security forces in the northwest bordering Afghanistan. The TTP are a separate group but they are allies of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout.


Desperate for a win, Lahore take on table-toppers Multan in PSL clash today

Desperate for a win, Lahore take on table-toppers Multan in PSL clash today
Updated 27 February 2024
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Desperate for a win, Lahore take on table-toppers Multan in PSL clash today

Desperate for a win, Lahore take on table-toppers Multan in PSL clash today
  • Lahore Qalandars have lost five matches on the trot in this year’s Pakistan Super League tournament 
  • Multan Sultans top the PSL points table with four wins out of a total of five matches so far 

ISLAMABAD: Defending champions Lahore Qalandars, desperate for their maiden Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 win, will lock horns with table-toppers Multan Sultans today, Tuesday, at the Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore. 

While the Qalandars may be the reigning PSL champions, skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi’s side has fared poorly this month. The Qalandars have lost five matches on the trot and without a single point, remain at the bottom of the PSL points table. 

The Sultans, on the other hand, top the PSL points table with four wins out of five matches under skipper Muhammad Rizwan. The Sultans prevailed over the Quetta Gladiators, winning a close clash by 13 runs to stay at the top of the table. They have eight points from five matches at a net run rate of +0.781. 

“Ringing in to check if you’re coming to the Qaddafi Stadium Lahore, tomorrow, to cheer for us as we take on the home side,” the Sultans wrote on social media platform X on Monday. 

The Sultans have a strong team in the form of Rizwan, who is in form with the bat and provides an aggressive start to the team in the powerplay overs. David Willey and right-arm medium pacer Mohammad Ali have pitched in to take vital wickets for the Sultans this PSL. Slogger Iftikhar Ahmed provides ample support to the Sultans toward the final overs of the match. 

The Qalandars’ otherwise potent bowling attack has been somewhat toothless in the absence of fiery pacer Haris Rauf, whose shoulder injury has ruled him out of the tournament, and Afghan spin maestro Rashid Khan. Skipper Afridi has failed to take the first over wickets he was famous for while explosive opening batter Fakhar Zaman has also lacked form. 

The Qalandars will look toward stellar batter Rassie van der Dussen, who smashed a 50-ball century against Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday, to provide some inspiration for their first win of the tournament on Tuesday.

The match begins at 7:00 p.m. Pakistan Standard Time. 

Squads:

Lahore Qalandars

Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, David Wiese, Sikandar Raza, Abdullah Shafique, Zaman Khan, Mirza Baig, Rashid Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Sahibzada Farhan, Mohammad Imran, Ahsan Bhatti, Dan Lawrence, Jahandad Khan, Syed Faridoun, Shai Hope, Kamran Ghulam, Rassie van der Dussen, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Tayyab Abbas

Multan Sultans

Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Ihsanullah, Faisal Akram, Dawid Malan, Reeze Hendricks, Reece Topley, Tayyab Tahir, Shahnawaz Dahani, Mohammad Ali, Usman Khan, Yasir Khan, Chris Jordan, Aftab Ibrahim, David Willey, Johnson Charles, Muhammad Shahzad
 


US says wants Pakistan election fraud investigations ‘wrapped up as soon as possible’

US says wants Pakistan election fraud investigations ‘wrapped up as soon as possible’
Updated 38 min 30 sec ago
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US says wants Pakistan election fraud investigations ‘wrapped up as soon as possible’

US says wants Pakistan election fraud investigations ‘wrapped up as soon as possible’
  • State Department official says Washington wants to see a government move forward in a way that reflects “will of the Pakistani people“
  • Political parties in Pakistan have held countrywide protests against alleged manipulation of the results of this month’s general elections

ISLAMABAD: The United States wants to see investigations into the alleged irregularities of this month’s national polls in Pakistan wrapped up “as soon as possible,” a State Department spokesperson said this week, amid protests in the South Asian country against this month’s controversial elections. 

The Feb. 8 general elections in Pakistan were marred by a nationwide shutdown of mobile phone services and an unprecedented delay in the announcement of the results. Various political parties in the country, especially former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, have accused Pakistani authorities and the country’s election regulator of manipulating results to benefit other political factions. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the caretaker government have vehemently denied the allegations. Both have urged political parties to seek redressal of their grievances from the courts and relevant forums instead of taking the law into their own hands. 

Washington has repeatedly called on Pakistan to investigate rigging allegations and has raised concerns over restrictions on digital platforms. Pakistani social media users have only managed to access platform X intermittently since Feb. 17 when a senior government official made a public admission of manipulating votes in the elections, triggering a politically charged debate across the country.

“With respect to investigations into reported irregularities, we want to see those investigations proceed,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told a media briefing on Monday. “We want to see them wrapped up as soon as possible.”

The general elections of Feb. 8 were not only controversial but also indecisive, as they concluded with no party emerging as a clear winner and strong enough to form a government on its own. Independent candidates backed by Khan’s PTI bagged the highest number of seats. 

However, as they were not allowed to contest polls from their party’s platform, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) emerged as the party that bagged the most seats in the country, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Despite the rigging allegations, the PPP and PML-N have agreed to join forces to form a coalition government in the economically troubled country. 

 When asked whether Washington welcomed the formation of a new government in Pakistan despite the rigging allegations, Miller said it was a “Pakistani process led by Pakistanis,” adding that the US was “not a party to it.”

“We want to see a government move forward in a way that reflects the will of the Pakistani people,” he said. 

Protests against alleged rigging in Pakistan will be a cause for concern as the nuclear-armed country grapples with an economic crisis and rising militant violence.

Pakistan narrowly averted sovereign default last summer through a last-gasp $3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the lender’s support ends in March, following which a new, extended program will be needed.

Negotiating a new program, and at speed, will be critical for the new government, which will take over an economy beset by record high inflation and slow growth caused by tough reforms.