Pakistani politician writes to Hamas chief, condoles over death of sons in Israeli strike

Pakistani politician writes to Hamas chief, condoles over death of sons in Israeli strike
This handout picture provided by the Iranian foreign ministry on February 13, 2024, shows Hamas' political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh preparing to welcome the Iranian Foreign Minister in Doha. (AFP/File)
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Updated 12 April 2024
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Pakistani politician writes to Hamas chief, condoles over death of sons in Israeli strike

Pakistani politician writes to Hamas chief, condoles over death of sons in Israeli strike
  • The killings came as talks dragged on in Cairo for a temporary ceasefire and hostage release deal
  • Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman calls Israel’s targeting of families of Hamas leaders ‘admission of failure’ 

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, head of the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) religious party, has written a letter to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh to condole over the death of his three sons in an Israeli strike in Gaza, the JUI said on Thursday.

Israel confirmed the killings that came as talks in Cairo for a temporary ceasefire and hostage release deal dragged on without signs of a breakthrough.

Speaking to Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, Haniyeh suggested the strike, which also killed four of his grandchildren, was an attempt to shift Hamas’s negotiating stance.

In his letter to the Hamas chief, Rehman said targeting families and children of Hamas leaders was an “admission of failure” by Israel.

“The blood of these martyrs will not go in vain,” he stated. “We support Hamas’ efforts in fight [against Israeli occupation of Palestine].”

The Pakistani politician said his party condemned the targeting of hospitals and refugee camps by Israel. He called on the international community to end the oppression and violence on the Palestinians forever.

Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

Rehman’s statement came amid talks, mediated by the United States, Egypt and Qatar, which have been ongoing in Cairo since Sunday.

Despite calls for a ceasefire, Israel has carried out strikes in the Gaza Strip, particularly in the south of the territory, witnesses say.

The war broke out with Hamas’s October 7 attack against Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,482 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.


Security of Chinese workers tops agenda as Islamabad, Beijing hold key investment meeting

Security of Chinese workers tops agenda as Islamabad, Beijing hold key investment meeting
Updated 29 sec ago
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Security of Chinese workers tops agenda as Islamabad, Beijing hold key investment meeting

Security of Chinese workers tops agenda as Islamabad, Beijing hold key investment meeting
  • Joint Cooperation Committee is main decision-making body for CPEC and convenes annually
  • Five Chinese workers, Pakistani driver were killed in suicide attack on their vehicle on March 26

KARACHI: Pakistan and China are holding a virtual meeting of the 13th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) today, Friday, with the security of Chinese organizations and personnel working in the South Asian nation expected to be at the top of the agenda. 
China is a major ally and investor in Pakistan but both separatist and other militants have attacked Chinese projects over recent years and killed Chinese personnel, including five Chinese workers who perished in a suicide attack Mar. 26 while they were on their way to the Dasu hydropower project in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The hydropower project falls under the ambit of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of China’s Belt and Road Initiative through which it has pledged more than $65 billion for road, rail and other infrastructure developments in the South Asian nation of 241 million people.
Beijing has also over the years readily provided financial assistance to bail out its often-struggling neighbor, including in July last year when China granted Pakistan a two-year rollover on a $2.4 billion loan, giving the debt-saddled nation much-needed breathing space as it tackled a balance-of-payments crisis.
“The 13th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has formally started with a one-minute silence in honor of the Chinese officials who lost their lives in a recent suicide bomb blast,” Pakistan’s planning ministry said in a statement on X.
“Chinese workers in Pakistan are heroes of Pakistan, whose contributions significantly support the realization of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative.”
The JCC is the main decision-making body for CPEC, which convenes annually. The MoU to launch CPEC was signed between Pakistan and China on July 5, 2013. Pakistan has said more than 50 projects worth $25 billion under the CPEC umbrella have been completed since. 
But Chinese projects and interests have also increasingly come under attack in recent years. The Dasu assault in March was the third major one in a little over a week on China’s interests and followed a Mar. 20 attack on a strategic port used by China in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where Beijing has poured billions of dollars into infrastructure projects, and a Mar. 25 assault on a naval air base, also in the southwest. 
Both attacks were claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the most prominent of several separatist groups in Balochistan.
Dasu, the site of a major dam, has been attacked in the past, with a bus blast in 2021 killing 13 people, nine Chinese among them, although no group claimed responsibility, like the Mar. 26 bombing.
Pakistan is home to twin insurgencies, one mounted by religiously-motivated militants and the other by ethnic separatists who seek secession, blaming the government’s inequitable division of natural resources in southwestern Balochistan province.
Chinese interests are mostly under attack primarily by ethnic militants seeking to push Beijing out of mineral-rich Balochistan, but that area is far from the site of the Mar. 26 bombing.
On Thursday, Pakistan’s top economic body approved $2.5 million in compensation for families of Chinese workers who were killed in the Mar. 26 Dasu attack.


Authorities demolish part of Imran Khan’s Islamabad party office for ‘violating’ bylaws

Authorities demolish part of Imran Khan’s Islamabad party office for ‘violating’ bylaws
Updated 44 min 45 sec ago
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Authorities demolish part of Imran Khan’s Islamabad party office for ‘violating’ bylaws

Authorities demolish part of Imran Khan’s Islamabad party office for ‘violating’ bylaws
  • Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf calls move ‘patently illegal and unlawful’
  • PTI has complained of a widening state-backed crackdown on the party

ISLAMABAD: Local authorities on Thursday razed part of the Islamabad office of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) over what they said was a “violation” of building by-laws, with the party calling on the top court to restrain authorities from doing ‘irreparable’ damage. 
Officials and staff of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) arrived at the PTI Central Secretariat in the G-8/4 sector along with heavy machinery late on Thursday night and removed two shipping containers placed outside the building, as well as took down a guard room and a fence. They then sealed the office for alleged violations of city building bylaws.
“CDA operation over violations of building by-laws and to eliminate illegal constructions and encroachments,” the authority said on X. “Encroachments and illegal constructions on a plot by a political party in Sector G-8/4 are being removed.”
Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, a senior spokesperson for the PTI and close Khan aide, said the party was neither served a notice, nor granted the opportunity for a hearing.
“This is patently illegal and unlawful,” he said in a statement. “We don’t have time to file a petition at this point of time. The Hon’ble CJ SCP [chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan] may consider this message as an urgent application and direct Islamabad administration to refrain from causing such irreparable loss to the party.”
The PTI says it has been facing a state-backed crackdown, especially after May 9 last year when alleged Khan supporters ransacked government and military properties after the leader’s brief arrest on graft charges. 
Hundreds of PTI supporters and leaders were arrested following the riots and many continue to remain behind bars as they await trial. The military has also initiated army court trials of at least 103 people accused of involvement in the violence. Many close Khan aides have since deserted him, due to what is widely believed to be pressure from the army, which denies interfering.
Khan, who was ousted in a parliamentary no-trust vote in April 2022, has been in jail since last August and convicted in four cases. He and the PTI say the May riots have been used as a ruse by political rivals and the military to weaken the party, which is arguably the most popular in Pakistan. Khan also says all cases against him are politically motivated and accuses the country’s powerful military and his political rivals of trying to keep him out of politics, an allegation they both deny.


Pakistan considers changing women’s passport policy amid row over including husband’s name

Pakistan considers changing women’s passport policy amid row over including husband’s name
Updated 58 min 14 sec ago
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Pakistan considers changing women’s passport policy amid row over including husband’s name

Pakistan considers changing women’s passport policy amid row over including husband’s name
  • NADRA allows women to retain father’s name on CNICs but passport authorities mandate changing to husband’s name 
  • Lawyer Khadija Bukhari has petitioned court saying women be allowed to retain father’s name whether married or divorced 

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government is considering modifying its passport policy for married and divorced women, a senior official said on Thursday, after a lawyer petitioned a local court against the requirement to include the husband’s name on the travel document. 
Lawyer Khadija Bukhari has pointed out the contrition in the policies of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the Directorate General Immigration & Passports (DGIP) regarding married women.
The former allows women to retain their father’s name even after marriage while updating their marital status on their Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC), but the passport authority has made it mandatory to change the name from father to husband. However, because the passport is made on the basis of NADRA data, a woman who has not switched to her husband’s name on her CNIC must get a new CNIC made reflecting the change before she can be issued a new passport.
Speaking to Arab News, Bukhari said she had her husband’s name included in her CNIC data in order for their marriage to be registered with NADRA, but later decided to retain her father’s name in the second column of her CNIC.
“So, there was no problem with that. But once I went to the passport office when my passport expired, they said, ‘We cannot renew your passport because your CNIC has not been updated’,” she told Arab News.
“By that it was meant that ‘You’re supposed to be wife of someone, you cannot remain a daughter if you want to get a passport. So first go back to NADRA, get your CNIC changed and reflect that you are the wife of someone and then we will process your application’.”
Bukhari argued that if NADRA didn’t have a problem with women retaining their father’s name then why did the passport authority have a separate policy. 
Immigration and Passports Director-General Mustafa Jamal Kazi told Arab News it was currently a “legal requirement” for a married woman to have her husband’s name on her passport as the document was used internationally and must comply with international agreements, unlike NADRA-issued CNICs that were used only in Pakistan.
“These rules are driven through the act of parliament and secretary interior has constituted a committee under his chairmanship to solve this issue. The committee will look into the passport policy concerning the condition of a married woman’s passport bearing her husband’s name instead of her father’s name,” Kazi said. 
“The committee was tasked with addressing discrepancies between the policies of the National Database and Registration Authority and the passport issuing authority regarding married women.”
Kazi said the solution to the problem, which he also intended to present to the government committee, was to add another column to the passport to include the name of a woman’s ex-husband, the father of their children, in case of divorce.
“We need all the details in our database because for international verifications different countries send the data of Pakistani citizens to us and we need to verify from every aspect,” he said. 
“Therefore, we need all the information and concealing facts can cause problems for them [women] at a later stage.”


IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says

IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says
Updated 24 May 2024
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IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says

IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says
  • The IMF has opened discussions with Pakistan on a new loan program after Islamabad last month completed a short-term $3 billion program
  • An IMF team, led by mission chief Nathan Porter, concluded discussions with the authorities on Thursday after arriving in Pakistan on May 13

ISLAMABAD: An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission and Pakistan have made significant progress toward reaching a staff-level agreement for an extended fund facility, the global lender said on Friday.
The IMF has opened discussions with Pakistan on a new loan program after Islamabad last month completed a short-term $3 billion program, which helped stave off a sovereign debt default.
An IMF team, led by mission chief Nathan Porter, concluded discussions with the authorities on Thursday after arriving in Pakistan on May 13, the lender said in a statement.
“The mission and the authorities will continue policy discussions virtually over the coming days aiming to finalize discussions, including the financial support needed to underpin the authorities’ reform efforts from the IMF and Pakistan’s bilateral and multilateral partners,” Porter said.
Pakistan is likely to seek at least $6 billion under the new program and request additional financing from the IMF under the Resilience and Sustainability Trust.
Ahead of the discussions, the IMF had warned that downside risks for the Pakistani economy
remained exceptionally high.
“The authorities’ reform program aims to move Pakistan from economic stabilization to strong, inclusive, and resilient growth,” Porter added.


Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club

Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club
Updated 24 May 2024
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Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club

Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club
  • Saqib Lateef retired, from army in 2012, had various jobs before embracing life of physical fitness and martial arts
  • BJJ revolves around smaller, weaker person defending against stronger opponent through leverage, weight distribution

ISLAMABAD: Saqib Lateef stood out at Islamabad’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) training club this week, moving on the black mat with a grace and precision that defied his 59 years of age, and which have turned him into an inspiration for the younger athletes who train at the facility. 
After retiring from the Pakistan army as a colonel in 2012 and transitioning through various jobs, Saqib Lateef discovered his passion for physical fitness and martial arts, particularly BJJ, a hybrid self-defense system based on traditional Japanese Jujitsu and Kodokan Judo and involving grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds.
“I have turned 59 and my own weight is 74 kg and I am 5 feet 10 inches in height,” Lateef told Arab News between fights. “So, I have sparred [fought] with all of them [younger athletes], people who are on the mat. They have got a lot of different weights, and I can take on anyone of them.”
BJJ revolves around the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger, heavier opponent by using leverage and weight distribution, taking the fight to the ground and using a number of holds and submissions to defeat them.
“I always test my limits, that how can I engage with younger people on the mat,” Lateeq said, explaining the fundamentals of BJJ.
“So, they are faster than me, and they are more resilient than me, and they have got more physical power. So it was a challenge for me to have a submission [defeat opponent] but in this old age, I can do submissions on them.”
“You don’t end up knocking someone off his face or drawing blood or causing a brain contusion,” added Osama Ahmed Aitzaz, who owns the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club, the only one in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which he opened last year after returning from Australia. 
“With this [BJJ], you just take the person to the ground. So we learn that stuff, how to take down a person and then there’s not much damage done.”
“ALL AGES, ALL SIZES”
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was first developed in 1925 by Brazilian brothers Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., and Hélio Gracie, after Carlos was taught a hybrid of traditional Japanese Jujitsu and Kodokan judo by a traveling Japanese judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda, in 1917. Later on, the Gracie family developed their own self-defense system Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, changing the face of unarmed combat by turning the confused chaos of ground fighting into a dynamic science of joint locks, chokes and strangles.
“Matter of fact, the person who developed this, what we call now Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, they were of the stature of being old and being skinny and fighting against a bigger and a stronger opponent,” Aitzaz, a blue belt, four-stripe practitioner of the discipline, told Arab News. 
“So Jiu-Jitsu welcomes all ages, all sizes … It does not just give you physical strength but also mental strength.”
The trainer applauded Lateef’s commitment and skill, saying his presence in the fighting arena had a positive impact on others.
“We love him, he puts us all to shame, especially the young ones,” Aitzaz said, smiling. “He gives me a bit of a reason to say [to younger participants], ‘Hang on, look at this fella, he’s 59. You have no excuse.’ So yeah, it’s perfect. We love him.”
For Lateef, the sport is not just about self-defense or combat but also about learning patience and bringing positivity into his life, which he also advises others to do. 
“People [who are] redundant, doing nothing, and sitting and watching TV, and eating, and with a bad lifestyle, [these] people should change their lifestyle, do some physical activities,” Lateef said as he prepared to tackle an opponent. 
“The more physical activity there is, the less ailments there will be … You should focus on how much you give physically to your body, because once you physically engage your body, then positiveness comes out of your body.”