Pakistan dispatches seventh consignment of relief goods for Gaza as death toll from Israel’s war tops 30,000

Pakistan dispatches seventh consignment of relief goods for Gaza as death toll from Israel’s war tops 30,000
Diplomats and Pakistan’s disaster management authority officials dispatch relief goods to Gaza via cargo ship from Karachi on February 25, 2024. (NDMA)
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Updated 26 February 2024
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Pakistan dispatches seventh consignment of relief goods for Gaza as death toll from Israel’s war tops 30,000

Pakistan dispatches seventh consignment of relief goods for Gaza as death toll from Israel’s war tops 30,000
  • Israel’s relentless bombing and ground assaults continue despite ceasefire calls from rights groups and governments
  • Pakistan’s latest assistance, sent via cargo ship, contains 300 tons of blankets, tents, medicines and tinned food items

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday dispatched a seventh consignment of relief goods for Palestinians in Gaza, the country’s disaster management authority said, amid continuing air and ground assaults by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s war on Gaza has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Thousands more have been injured as Israel continues to ignore calls for a ceasefire from rights groups and governments around the world, amid warnings from the United Nations (UN) of an outbreak of disease and starvation.

To mitigate the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) dispatched another consignment of relief goods through a cargo ship, which would be delivered via Port Said in Egypt.

“The government of Pakistan has dispatched the seventh batch of relief goods to the people of Gaza by a cargo ship,” the NDMA said in a statement. “The relief package consists of 300 tons of essentials, including blankets, basic food, and other essential items.”

Officials of the Pakistani foreign ministry, NDMA, and the Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan, Ahmad Jawad Rabei, attended the sending-off ceremony at the South Asia Pakistan Terminal in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi.

The South Asian country has previously sent six flights, carrying 330 tons of relief goods, including blankets, tents and food items, for Palestinians in Gaza.

“Pakistan will continue to support and help its brothers and sisters in times of trouble,” the NDMA said.


Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks

Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks
Updated 8 sec ago
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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 22 min 5 sec ago
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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.”


Pakistan’s iconic former bureaucrat Roedad Khan passes away at 101

Pakistan’s iconic former bureaucrat Roedad Khan passes away at 101
Updated 21 April 2024
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Pakistan’s iconic former bureaucrat Roedad Khan passes away at 101

Pakistan’s iconic former bureaucrat Roedad Khan passes away at 101
  • 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: Former Pakistani bureaucrat Roedad Khan passed away on Sunday at the age of 101, marking the end of a civil servant who had witnessed the country’s various political ups and downs since it gained independence in 1947. 

Khan, who passed away in Islamabad, will be laid to rest after the midday Zuhr prayers at the H-11 graveyard in the city, local media reports said. 

“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.


Pakistan holds by-polls in 21 constituencies amid partial suspension of cellular services

Pakistan holds by-polls in 21 constituencies amid partial suspension of cellular services
Updated 21 April 2024
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Pakistan holds by-polls in 21 constituencies amid partial suspension of cellular services

Pakistan holds by-polls in 21 constituencies amid partial suspension of cellular services
  • Polling is being held on seats vacated by candidates or in constituencies where election had been postponed in Feb.
  • Jailed ex-PM Khan’s party terms the mobile service shutdown ‘illegal, unconstitutional and a plan to rig the results’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is holding by-elections on 21 national and provincial seats today, Sunday, amid suspension of mobile phone networks in parts of Punjab and Balochistan provinces.

The by-polls are the first major electoral exercise since the Feb. 8 national election in Pakistan, which were marred by a nationwide mobile network outage and result delays, leading to accusations that the vote was rigged and drawing concern from rights groups and foreign governments.

Polling began at 8am and will continue till 5pm for five National Assembly seats, 12 Punjab Assembly seats, and two seats each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies. They were left vacant due to postponement of polls in Feb. or were vacated by lawmakers, who won multiple seats.

On Saturday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), which regulates Internet in the country, said the decision to keep cellular services suspended in specific districts of Punjab and Balochistan on April 21-22 was taken on the directions of the interior ministry.

“This decision has been taken to safeguard the integrity and security of the electoral process,” the regulator said in a statement on Saturday.

The by-polls are likely to witness a fierce competition between candidates backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) opposition party and rival political groups.

Reacting to the PTA’s announcement on Saturday, the PTI said the suspension of mobile phone services in districts where by-polls were being held was “unconstitutional and illegal.”

“The Internet shutdown is unconstitutional, illegal and shameful, and a plan to rig the results,” it said, urging supporters to come out in large numbers to cast their votes to thwart these plans.

The federal government has authorized the deployment of civil armed forces and Pakistan Army to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in peaceful conduct of by-polls.

In its code of conduct, the ECP said troops should not respond on their own to “an apparent irregularity” outside a polling station and bring the matter to the knowledge of the presiding officer for any necessary legal action.

The security forces were also directed not to “interfere in the counting process in any manner” and perform their duty outside the polling stations diligently, so that the counting process could be completed in a peaceful manner.