Pakistani PM visits injured soldiers in Dera Ismail Khan a day after suicide attack

Pakistani PM visits injured soldiers in Dera Ismail Khan a day after suicide attack
Pakistan Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar (second left) shakes hands with a soldier injured in a militant attack at a military checkpoint in Darban town the day before, in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, on December 13, 2023. (PID)
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Updated 13 December 2023
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Pakistani PM visits injured soldiers in Dera Ismail Khan a day after suicide attack

Pakistani PM visits injured soldiers in Dera Ismail Khan a day after suicide attack
  • 23 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a suicide blast in northwestern Dera Ismail Khan on Tuesday
  • PM Kakar praises soldiers’ conviction, says perpetrators of ‘terrorism’ have already lost the war

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Wednesday visited Pakistani soldiers who were injured in a deadly suicide attack in the northwestern Dera Ismail Khan district a day earlier, vowing the South Asian country will win its war against militants. 

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), six militants carried out a deadly attack in the early hours of Tuesday in the general area of Daraban when they targeted a military post with an explosive-laden vehicle. The military’s media wing said 23 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the attack. 

Kakar visited the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dera Ismail Khan to inquire after the health of the Pakistani soldiers injured in the blast, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said. 

“They are fighting a lost war and we are fighting a war already won by us, Alhamdulillah,” Kakar told media outside the hospital. 

Kakar said he was impressed with the conviction showed by Pakistani soldiers, who were determined to fight militants even while they were injured. He said those supporting the war against “terrorism” would stand victorious in this world and the hereafter. 

“If they carry out one attack we will march 10 steps ahead,” Kakar vowed. “If they take 10 steps, we will advance by 100 steps. This is the war of the winners and we are with the winners, here in this world and in life hereafter.”

The Pakistani prime minister said the whole nation stood united against militants and had resolved to defeat the evil in all its forms and manifestations.

Tuesday’s attack was claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, pointing to the ability of the militant network to generate extreme violence in the country’s frontier region with Afghanistan.

The TTP, which shares the same ideology of the Afghan Taliban but are a separate group, have launched some of the deadliest attacks against Pakistan’s security forces since over a decade-and-a-half. Suicide blasts and attacks on security forces have increased in Pakistan’s western regions bordering Afghanistan ever since a fragile truce between the TTP and Islamabad broke down in November 2022. 

Pakistan has blamed the Afghan Taliban government for not taking action against militants, alleging that they use Afghan soil to launch attacks on Pakistan. Kabul has strongly denied the allegations. 


Government to build consensus on Pakistan’s new anti-terrorism operation— ​defense minister

Government to build consensus on Pakistan’s new anti-terrorism operation— ​defense minister
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Government to build consensus on Pakistan’s new anti-terrorism operation— ​defense minister

Government to build consensus on Pakistan’s new anti-terrorism operation— ​defense minister
  • ​Defense minister says government to present plan for “Azm-e-Istehkam” operation in parliament for debate
  • Says Pakistani government not considering large-scale operation like previous ones that displaced populations 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday clarified that the government will build a consensus on a new anti-terrorism operation to eliminate militants from the country, assuring the opposition that its reservations over the matter will be addressed.

Pakistan’s top national security forum on Saturday announced a new anti-terrorism operation titled, “Operation Azm-e-Istehkam,” or Resolve for Stability, against militants after a meeting of the Central Apex Committee on the National Action Plan (NAP). The meeting was attended by senior military leaders and top government officials from all provinces, including the PTI-backed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur.

However, the PTI and Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), two key political parties in the militancy-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, have rejected the military operation, accusing the government of not taking the opposition on board about the new military operation. Leaders of both parties have denounced the anti-terrorism operation, calling on the government to take all political stakeholders into confidence on it. 

“This [operation] will go through its process before it is enforced,” Asif told reporters at a news conference. “It will be presented in the cabinet today after which there will be a discussion on it in the House. A consensus of the House on it will be built.

“The opposition parties and the government’s allies will be given a suitable amount of time to debate it and their questions and reservations will be answered.”

Asif said the government did not want to achieve any “political objectives” through the operation. Rather, he said it wanted to combat the surge in militancy in the country and eliminate it for good. 

The minister called on politicians, the media, judiciary and armed forces to support the operation. He said KP Chief Minister Gandapur did not express any reservations about Operation Azm-e-Istehkam during the apex committee’s meeting on Saturday. 

“In fact, he also said indirectly that we will support this action, which will be mainly implemented in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan,” Asif said. 

NO LARGE-SCALE OPERATION 

In a statement released on Monday night, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif cleared the air about Azm-e-Istehkam, saying that the government is not considering a “large-scale military operation” that would cause locals to be displaced. 

“Azm-e-Istehkam is a multi-domain, multi-agency, whole of the system national vision for enduring stability in Pakistan,” a statement from Sharif’s office said. “It is meant to reinvigorate and re-energize the ongoing implementation of the Revised National Action Plan, which was initiated after the national consensus across the political spectrum.”

He said the new anti-terrorism operation will include political, diplomatic, legal and information prongs, apart from already continuing operations by law enforcement agencies. 

Pakistan has witnessed a surge in militant attacks in recent months, many of them claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which pledges allegiance to, and gets its name from, the Afghan Taliban, but is not directly a part of the group that now rules Afghanistan. Its stated aim is to impose Islamic religious law in Pakistan, as the Taliban have done in Afghanistan.

Islamabad blames the recent uptick in attacks on Afghanistan, saying TTP leaders have taken refuge there and run camps to train militants to launch attacks inside Pakistan. Kabul says rising violence in Pakistan is a domestic issue for Islamabad and it does not allow militants to operate on its territory.


Heat wave-like conditions to prevail in Karachi today, says Pakistan’s chief meteorologist

Heat wave-like conditions to prevail in Karachi today, says Pakistan’s chief meteorologist
Updated 25 June 2024
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Heat wave-like conditions to prevail in Karachi today, says Pakistan’s chief meteorologist

Heat wave-like conditions to prevail in Karachi today, says Pakistan’s chief meteorologist
  • Mercury soared to 41 degrees Celsius in Karachi on Monday, says chief meteorologist
  • Says Karachi will witness a drop in temperature from Wednesday onwards 

KARACHI: Heat wave-like conditions will prevail in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi today, Tuesday, the country’s Chief Meteorologist Sardar Sarfaraz said, as the metropolis continues to brave the scorching heat that saw temperatures rise to over 40 degrees Celsius this week.

According to Sarfaraz, Karachi recorded a temperature of 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday. Temperatures last month rose above 52.2 degrees Celsius (125.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, the highest reading of the summer and close to the country’s record high.

Extreme temperatures throughout Asia over the past month were made worse most likely as a result of human-driven climate change, a team of international scientists have said.

“The heat wave-like situation in Karachi since the past two days will also prevail today,” Sarfaraz told a private news channel. “The temperature can rise to 40 degrees Celsius or above that today.”

Visitors cool off on a hot summer afternoon in Keenjhar Lake, in Thatta district, Sindh province on June 23, 2024. (AFP)

The meteorologist, however, said Karachi was likely to experience a drop in the temperature from Wednesday onwards. 

“One or two degrees will drop in Karachi and the temperature will [go as high as] 38 degrees,” he said. “The remaining days of June in Karachi will be like this but the very intense heat that has been prevailing since the past two days, that will decrease.”

Sarfaraz said Karachi was experiencing severe heat due to the presence of a low-pressure weather system near India’s Gujarat city, which suspended the sea breeze to Karachi. 

Media reports have claimed that at least 17 people were killed from the sweltering heat in Karachi on Sunday. The head of Pakistan’s largest charitable organization, the Edhi Foundation, told Arab News that from June 21-24, 427 bodies were brought to the Edhi morgue in Karachi. 

A volunteer (C) sprays water on commuters to cool off during a hot summer day along a street in Karachi on June 24, 2024. (AFP)

However, he said there was no way of knowing whether these people had died from the heat wave or not. 

“The Edhi morgue is full of dead bodies,” Faisal Edhi, the head of the organization, told Arab News. “The routine [of dead bodies daily received] is 30 to 35 bodies.”

Muhammad Zeeshan, a Karachi resident, blames climate change effects for the surge in temperature, and the government for not taking action to protect the people. 

“This is happening in Europe, they have faced intense heat but they have taken steps about it,” Zeeshan told Reuters on Monday. “But here, it is sad that government has not taken any effective measures. People are suffering from load shedding (power outages) by the K-Electric (power company) that continues till midnight every day.”

– With additional input from Reuters


FlyDubai to launch flights to Pakistan’s Islamabad, Lahore cities from July 1

FlyDubai to launch flights to Pakistan’s Islamabad, Lahore cities from July 1
Updated 25 June 2024
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FlyDubai to launch flights to Pakistan’s Islamabad, Lahore cities from July 1

FlyDubai to launch flights to Pakistan’s Islamabad, Lahore cities from July 1
  • FlyDubai first started operating flights to Pakistan in 2010 with the launch of flights to Karachi 
  • Return Business class fares from Dubai to Islamabad start from $1497, Economy class fares from $353

ISLAMABAD: Dubai-based carrier flydubai this week announced it would launch flights to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and its eastern city Lahore starting from July 1, saying the move would offer passengers from the UAE and the region “more convenient options” for travel. 

In a press release on Monday, flydubai said flights to the Islamabad International Airport (ISB) and Allama Iqbal International Airport (LHE) will operate daily from Terminal 2 at the Dubai International (DXB). 

Flydubai first started operating flights to Pakistan in 2010 with the launch of flights to the southern port city of Karachi. In addition to Islamabad and Lahore, the carrier also serves flights to Faisalabad, Karachi, Multan, Quetta and Sialkot cities of Pakistan.

“Pakistan has long been an important market for flydubai,” Hamad Obaidalla, chief commercial officer at flydubai, was quoted as saying in the press release. “Since 2010 when we first started operations to the market, we have seen sustained demand for travel and with the start of our daily services to Islamabad and Lahore, we look forward to offering passengers more opportunities to explore Dubai, the GCC region and beyond on the flydubai network.”

“As our flights will be operated by our fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, we are confident that passengers will enjoy an enhanced travel experience with our onboard product,” Sudhir Sreedharan, senior vice president of commercial operations (UAE, GCC, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent) at flydubai, said. 

The press release said passengers traveling with flydubai can enjoy “internationally-inspired menus” and hours of immersive entertainment in the Business class while passengers in the Economy class can enjoy optimized space and comfort.

As per the airline, the return Business class fares from DXB to ISB start from AED 5,500 ($1497) and Economy class fares start from AED 1,300 ($353). Return Business class fares from ISB to DXB start from Rs400,000 ($1436) and Economy class fares start from Rs120,000 ($430). 

Return Business class fares from DXB to LHE start from AED 5,500 (1497) and Economy class fares start from AED 1,200 ($326), the airline said. It added that return Business class fares from LHE to DXB start from Rs400,000 ($1436) and Economy class fares start from Rs 120,000 ($430). 


Pakistan’s KP province has repatriated over 300,000 foreigners since deportation drive last year— CM

Pakistan’s KP province has repatriated over 300,000 foreigners since deportation drive last year— CM
Updated 25 June 2024
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Pakistan’s KP province has repatriated over 300,000 foreigners since deportation drive last year— CM

Pakistan’s KP province has repatriated over 300,000 foreigners since deportation drive last year— CM
  • KP government providing all possible facilities to foreigners leaving Pakistan voluntarily, says CM Ali Amin Gandapur
  • Pakistan launched deportation drive last year after spike in bombings it blamed on Afghan nationals without evidence

ISLAMABAD: The government in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province has repatriated over 300,000 foreign nationals since last year, Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur said this week according to state media, as Pakistan continues its deportation drive that it says is aimed at expelling “illegal immigrants” from the country. 

The government launched a deportation drive last year after a spike in suicide bombings which the Pakistan government, without providing evidence, has blamed on Afghan nationals. Islamabad also says Afghans are involved in smuggling, militant violence and other crimes. 

A cash-strapped Pakistan navigating record inflation, alongside a tough International Monetary Fund bailout program last year, had also said undocumented migrants had drained its resources for decades.

Pakistan’s state broadcaster Radio Pakistan confirmed last week Islamabad had deported over 620,000 Afghan nationals in total since last year’s deportation drive. 

“More than three hundred thousand foreigners from the province have been repatriated to their native countries,” Gandapur told a delegation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday, according to Radio Pakistan. 

The KP chief minister assured the delegation that the provincial government was providing all possible facilities to foreigners who are voluntarily leaving for their countries. He said the KP government is willing to provide health care facilities to Afghan nationals if the UNHCR issues health cards for them. 

Until the government initiated the expulsion drive last year, Pakistan was home to over four million Afghan migrants and refugees, of which around 1.7 million were undocumented, as per government figures. 

Afghans make up the largest portion of migrants, many of whom came after the Taliban took over Kabul in 2021, but a large number have been present since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Islamabad insists the deportation drive is not aimed specifically at Afghans but at all those living illegally in Pakistan.

In October 2023, Pakistan announced phase one of the “Illegal Foreigners’ Repatriation Plan” with a 30-day deadline for “undocumented” aliens to leave the country or be subject to deportation, putting 1.4 million Afghan refugees at risk.

In phase two of the “repatriation plan,” around 600,00 Afghans who held Pakistan-issued Afghan citizenship cards (ACCs) will be expelled while phase three is expected to target those with UNHCR-issued Proof of Registration (PoR) cards.

Earlier in April, the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) issued a notification validating the extension of the PoR card till June 30 this year.

Before the deportation drive, people used to daily cross the Pak-Afghan border back and forth for business and personal purposes.

The drive has led to a spike in tensions between Pakistan and the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan. The Taliban deny militants are using Afghan soil to launch attacks, calling Pakistan’s security challenges a domestic issue.


Azm-e-Istehkam not a ‘large-scale military operation,’ clarifies PM Sharif amid growing criticism

Azm-e-Istehkam not a ‘large-scale military operation,’ clarifies PM Sharif amid growing criticism
Updated 25 June 2024
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Azm-e-Istehkam not a ‘large-scale military operation,’ clarifies PM Sharif amid growing criticism

Azm-e-Istehkam not a ‘large-scale military operation,’ clarifies PM Sharif amid growing criticism
  • PM Sharif says new military operation to instill new spirit and drive in implementation of National Action Plan
  • Calls on stakeholders to appreciate “positive step,” demands end to “unnecessary debate” over the issue 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif this week clarified that the government’s new anti-terrorism operation will not be a large-scale military operation that would cause people to be displaced, amid growing opposition by Pakistani political parties who accuse authorities of not taking them into confidence on the matter. 

Pakistan’s top national security forum on Saturday announced the Operation Azm-e-Istehkam, or Resolve for Stability, campaign after a meeting of the Central Apex Committee on the National Action Plan (NAP) that was attended by senior military leaders and top government officials from all provinces, including the PTI-backed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur.

However, the PTI and Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), two key political parties in the militancy-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, have rejected the military operation. Leaders of both parties have called on the government to take lawmakers into confidence about the new operation. 

In a statement released by his office on Monday night, Sharif said Operation Azm-e-Istehkam is being “misunderstood” and compared to previous military operations such as Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Rah-e-Nijat. He said militants in these operations were killed for creating “no-go areas” in the country and for challenging the writ of the state, adding that they caused massive displacement of the population. 

“There are currently no such no-go areas in the country as the ability of terrorist organizations to carry out large-scale organized operations inside Pakistan has been decisively defeated by past armed operations,” Sharif was quoted as saying. 

“Therefore, no large-scale military operation which would require population displacement is being contemplated,” he added. 

The statement clarified that Operation Azm-e-Istekam is a multi-domain, multi-agency and national vision to bring about sustainable peace and stability in the country. 

“Its objective is to instill a new spirit and drive in the ongoing implementation of the revised National Action Plan, which was launched after a national consensus in the political arena,” the statement added. 

The PMO said the operation would mobilize military operations that have already been launched against militants and aim to eliminate them out of the country for good. It said this would ensure a secure environment for the country’s economic progress and prosperity. 

Sharif said everyone should welcome this “positive step” by the government, saying it had been taken with collective wisdom and after forming a political consensus among various stakeholders. He called for putting an end to “unnecessary debate” on the issue. 

Speaking to a private news channel on Sunday, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said a consensus was reached on the new military operation between all stakeholders during the apex committee’s meeting last week. He said the decision to launch Operation Azm-e-Istehkam had not been “finalized.”

“It will go through the process,” Asif said. “It will go to the cabinet [for approval] then it will be presented in the house and the house will be briefed on it.”

Pakistan has witnessed a surge in militant attacks in recent months, many of them claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which pledges allegiance to, and gets its name from, the Afghan Taliban, but is not directly a part of the group that now rules Afghanistan. Its stated aim is to impose Islamic religious law in Pakistan, as the Taliban have done in Afghanistan.

Islamabad blames the recent uptick in attacks on Afghanistan, saying TTP leaders have taken refuge there and run camps to train militants to launch attacks inside Pakistan. Kabul says rising violence in Pakistan is a domestic issue for Islamabad and it does not allow militants to operate on its territory.