Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest

Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest
Pakistan Army personnel patrol stand guard outside a distribution center of polling materials in Peshawar on February 7, 2024. (AFP/File)
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Updated 29 February 2024
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Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest

Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest
  • An official statement says the militants were involved in violent activities against North Waziristan’s residents
  • The Pakistani security forces also recovered weapons, ammunition and explosives from the dead militants

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s security forces killed six militants in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in the country’s northwest on Wednesday, saying they were involved in violent activities against the civilian population in the area.

Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in militant activities since Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a proscribed conglomerate of armed factions, called off a fragile ceasefire with the government in November 2022.

The violence has largely been confined to the western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan that share frontier with the neighboring state of Afghanistan.

The country’s security forces and law enforcement agencies have carried out several operations in recent months to deal with militants in places like North Waziristan where the recent engagement with the militants took place.

“During the conduct of operation, intense fire exchange took place between own troops and the terrorists,” the military’s media wing, ISPR, said in a statement, adding that this led to the killing of six militants.

“Weapons, ammunition and explosives were also recovered from the killed terrorists, who remained actively involved in numerous terrorist activities including target killing as well as extortion & abduction of innocent civilians,” it added.

The ISPR said one of the Pakistani soldiers who participated in the operation also got injured.

It informed the Pakistani forces started a “sanitization operation” to find other militants who might have taken refuge in the area.

Pakistan’s North Waziristan district was once described as the hub of militancy before the government launched a clear-and-hold military operation to reclaim the territory.


Malala Yousafzai faces backlash for Clinton musical co-credit

Malala Yousafzai faces backlash for Clinton musical co-credit
Updated 19 min 44 sec ago
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Malala Yousafzai faces backlash for Clinton musical co-credit

Malala Yousafzai faces backlash for Clinton musical co-credit
  • Malala Yousafzai co-produced “Suffs” musical with Hillary Clinton, which depicts American women’s struggle for right to vote
  • Yousafzai has been condemned by some for partnering with Clinton, an ardent supporter of Israel’s war on Palestine

LAHORE: Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai faced a backlash in her native Pakistan on Wednesday, after the premier of a Broadway musical she co-produced with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The musical, titled “Suffs” and playing in New York since last week, depicts the American women’s suffrage campaign for the right to vote in the 20th century.

However Yousafzai, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, has been condemned by some for partnering with Clinton, an outspoken supporter of Israel’s war against Hamas.

Pakistan has seen many fiercely emotional pro-Palestinian protests since the war in Gaza began last October.

“Her theater collaboration with Hillary Clinton — who stands for America’s unequivocal support for genocide of Palestinians — is a huge blow to her credibility as a human rights activist,” popular Pakistani columnist Mehr Tarar wrote on social media platform X.

“I consider it utterly tragic.”

Whilst Clinton has backed a military campaign to remove Hamas and rejected demands for a ceasefire, she has also explicitly called for protections for Palestinian civilians.

Yousafzai has publically condemned the civilian casualties and called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The New York Times reported the 26-year-old wore a red-and-black pin to the “Suffs” premier last Thursday, signifying her support for a ceasefire.

But author and academic Nida Kirmani said on X that Yousafzai’s decision to partner with Clinton was “maddening and heartbreaking at the same time. What an utter disappointment.”

Israel’s military offensive has killed at least 34,262 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

The war began with an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of around 1,170 people, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Clinton served as America’s top diplomat during former president Barack Obama’s administration, which oversaw a campaign of drone strikes targeting Taliban militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan’s borderlands.

Yousafzai earned her Nobel Peace Prize after being shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban as she pushed for girl’s education as a teenager in 2012.

However the drone war killed and maimed scores of civilians in Yousafzai’s home region, spurring more online criticism of the youngest Nobel Laureate, who earned the prize at 17.

Yousafzai is often viewed with suspicion in Pakistan, where critics accuse her of pushing a Western feminist and liberal political agenda on the conservative country.


Pakistan’s foreign minister stresses early resumption of PIA flights to Europe

Pakistan’s foreign minister stresses early resumption of PIA flights to Europe
Updated 39 min 42 sec ago
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Pakistan’s foreign minister stresses early resumption of PIA flights to Europe

Pakistan’s foreign minister stresses early resumption of PIA flights to Europe
  • Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar meets EU ambassador to discuss bilateral ties, trade and matters of mutual interest
  • PIA flights to Europe and the UK have been suspended since 2020 following Pakistan’s infamous pilot license scandal

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday stressed the resumption of direct flights from the country’s national airline to Europe, the foreign ministry said, in his meeting with EU Ambassador Riina Kionka during which both sides discussed bilateral relations, trade and matters of mutual interest. 

PIA flights to Europe and the UK have been suspended since 2020 after the EU’s Aviation Safety Agency revoked the national carrier’s authorization to fly to the bloc following a pilot license scandal that rocked the country. The issue resulted in the grounding of 262 of Pakistan’s 860 pilots, including 141 of PIA’s 434.

Kionka and Dar discussed Pakistan-EU bilateral ties and important issues of mutual interest during their meeting, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said. Dar told Kionka Pakistan views the EU as a “valued partner” and an important factor of stability during the current volatile times. 

“FM emphasized the significance of direct flights between Pakistan and European countries in view of large diasporas,” MoFA said. “In this regard, he stressed on the need for an early resumption of PIA flights to Europe.”

Both sides also expressed satisfaction over the “significant progress” of Pakistan-EU institutional mechanisms and resolved to maintain the upward trajectory of their relations by increasing their high-level interactions.

“FM vowed to further strengthen the existing strategic partnership in all areas, inter alia, trade, migration, climate change,” MoFA said. 

“The EU side assured their full cooperation to Pakistan in achieving the objectives of economic diplomacy.”

The EU is Pakistan’s second most important trading partner, accounting for over 14 percent of the country’s total trade and absorbing 28 percent of Pakistan’s total exports. Pakistani exports to the EU are dominated by textiles and clothing.

Pakistan’s GSP+ status is a special trade arrangement offered by the EU to developing economies in return for their commitment to implement 27 international conventions on human rights, environmental protection and governance. 


Pakistan, Egypt among countries who pay most in surcharges to IMF— report 

Pakistan, Egypt among countries who pay most in surcharges to IMF— report 
Updated 24 April 2024
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Pakistan, Egypt among countries who pay most in surcharges to IMF— report 

Pakistan, Egypt among countries who pay most in surcharges to IMF— report 
  • Indebted member countries paid about $6.4 billion in surcharges between 2020-2023, says report by US think tanks 
  • Surcharges do not hasten repayment, instead punish countries already struggling with liquidity constraints, critics say

Countries, mostly middle and lower-income, have been burdened by surcharges on top of interest payments on their borrowings from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), widening global inequities, according to a report by US think tanks. 

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Indebted member countries paid about $6.4 billion in surcharges between 2020-2023, the report from Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center and Columbia University’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue released on Tuesday showed.
And the number of countries paying these surcharges has more than doubled in the last four years.
The IMF is expected to charge an estimated $9.8 billion in surcharges in the next five years, according to an earlier report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Critics of the policy argue that surcharges do not hasten repayment and instead punish countries already struggling with liquidity constraints, increase the risk of debt distress and divert scarce resources that could be used to boost the struggling economies.
BY THE NUMBERS
Countries such as Ukraine, Egypt, Argentina, Barbados and Pakistan pay the most in surcharges, the report showed, accounting for 90 percent of the IMF’s surcharge revenues.
These surcharges, levied on top of the fund’s increasingly steeper basic rate, are IMF’s single largest source of revenue, accounting for 50 percent of total revenue in 2023.
KEY QUOTES
“IMF surcharges are inherently pro-cyclical as they increase debt service payments when a borrowing country is most need of emergency financing,” Global Development Policy Center’s director Kevin Gallagher said.
“Increasing surcharges and global shocks are compounding the economic pressure on vulnerable countries.”
CONTEXT
Data published by the Institute of International Finance earlier this year showed global debt levels hit a record of $313 trillion in 2023, while the debt-to-GDP ratio — a reading indicating a country’s ability to pay back debts — across emerging economies also scaled fresh peaks.
IMF shareholders agreed last week on the importance of addressing challenges faced by low-income countries, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday.


ICC names Pakistan’s Sana Mir as Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier ambassador

ICC names Pakistan’s Sana Mir as Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier ambassador
Updated 24 April 2024
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ICC names Pakistan’s Sana Mir as Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier ambassador

ICC names Pakistan’s Sana Mir as Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier ambassador
  • Sana Mir led Pakistan in 137 of 226 international matches she played during her career
  • Mir says will guide teams and players on how to deal with pressure in the tournament

ISLAMABAD: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday named Pakistan’s former iconic cricketer Sana Mir as its ambassador for the upcoming Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier tournament. 

Former skipper Mir, considered widely as Pakistan’s best woman cricketer to date, will keep a keen eye on the tournament which would see 10 women’s teams battle it out for two spots at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2024. 

The first four matches of the tournament will take place tomorrow, Thursday, which is scheduled to go on till May 7. 

The 10 teams have been divided into two groups of five, with the top two from each group entering the semifinals. The winning semifinalists confirm a trip to Bangladesh for the T20 World Cup later this year.

“ICC named Sana Mir, who represented Pakistan in 226 international games, 137 of them as skipper, as the ambassador of the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier on Wednesday, 24 April,” the cricket regulatory body said in a post on its website. 

Mir told ICC the tournament would provide an excellent opportunity for fans to witness exciting cricket. 

“The women’s game has become more and more competitive in recent years,” Mir said. “And the 10 nations involved in the Qualifier possess a number of quality players.”

Mir featured in several ICC tournaments during her impressive career. Her most memorable one was in the 2008 ICC Women’s Qualifying Series for the Women’s Cricket World Cup where Pakistan went all the way to the finals. 

Sana won the joint Player of the Series award for the tournament. The Pakistani icon said she aims to share her expertise and experience with the international players as ambassador. 

“My aim is to talk to the various teams and players during the Qualifier and help guide them on how to deal with the pressure of these events and what it takes to succeed,” Mir explained. 

“Pakistan had a great record in these events, and I in particular have fond memories of the 2008 edition of the 50 over World Cup qualifier event that I played.”

Mir said that while Sri Lanka and Ireland were favorites to qualify for the World Cup, others had a chance to cause major upsets too. 

“Teams like Scotland, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, and Zimbabwe surely have the potential to cause major upsets,” she said. “And make their way through to the semis and eventually to the final as well.”


Pakistan’s disaster management authority urges citizens to be cautious as heavy rains loom

Pakistan’s disaster management authority urges citizens to be cautious as heavy rains loom
Updated 24 April 2024
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Pakistan’s disaster management authority urges citizens to be cautious as heavy rains loom

Pakistan’s disaster management authority urges citizens to be cautious as heavy rains loom
  • Pakistan’s NDMA says heavy rains expected in KP, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir from Apr. 25-30
  • Disaster management authority warns administrations to prepare for emergencies in vulnerable areas from Apr. 25-30

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Wednesday cautioned citizens in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan areas against rising water levels, as it braces for heavy rains in various parts of the country from Apr. 25-30. 

A westerly wave from Apr. 25-30 is expected to bring “significant” rainfall and thunderstorms in Balochistan, KP, the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region, and Azad Kashmir, the NDMA said. 

The disaster management authority said these areas are expected to face heavy to moderate rains, windstorms, and hailstorms while it was expected to snow over high mountains.

“Residents near riverbanks and nullahs should be aware of rising water levels and evacuate if necessary,” the NDMA said. “Citizens are urged to exercise caution, avoid weak structures and waterways, and stay updated on weather conditions.”

It also urged farmers, livestock owners, tourists, and travelers to take protective measures for their safety and properties. 

The NDMA urged authorities to prepare for potential floods and landslides, especially in upper KP, Murree, Galyat, Azad Kashmir, and GB. 

“Authorities should ensure readiness to respond to emergencies, with machinery and staff pre-positioned in vulnerable areas,” it added. 

A spell of heavy rains from April 12-21 in Pakistan’s Punjab, Balochistan and KP killed over 90 people, destroying property and farmlands. Experts say the country is experiencing heavier rains than normal in April because of climate change effects.

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 consistently ranks among the world’s worst-affected countries due to climate change.