Saudi cadet bags gold medal as fresh batch graduates from Pakistan Military Academy

Saudi cadet bags gold medal as fresh batch graduates from Pakistan Military Academy
Passing Out parade of cadets of 149th PMA Long Course, 14th Mujahid Course, 68th Integrated Course and 23rd Lady Cadet Course at Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul on April 20, 2024. (Photo courtesy: Military's media wing)
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Updated 21 April 2024
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Saudi cadet bags gold medal as fresh batch graduates from Pakistan Military Academy

Saudi cadet bags gold medal as fresh batch graduates from Pakistan Military Academy
  • Forty-nine cadets from “friendly countries” graduate from Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, says army
  • The PMA provides initial training to Pakistani cadets and recruits from friendly countries such as Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army awarded the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Overseas Gold Medal to a Saudi cadet in recognition of his performance, as a fresh batch of local and international cadets graduated from the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) on Saturday, the army’s media wing said. 

General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, was the chief guest at the passing out parade of the 149th PMA Long Course at the academy in Kakul. General Metin Gürak, the chief of the Turkish general staff who is on an official visit to Pakistan, was the guest of honor at the ceremony. 

Gen. Mirza reviewed and spoke to cadets at the parade while General Gürak presented the awards to the distinguished cadets, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. 

“The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Overseas Gold Medal was awarded to Friendly Country Senior Under Officer Fahad Bin Aqil Al Towarqi Al Fallaj from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the ISPR said. 

The army’s media wing said 49 cadets from “friendly countries” also graduated at the ceremony. The coveted Sword of Honour was awarded to Academy Senior Under Officer Muhammad Nauman Abdullah. 

The President’s Gold medal was awarded to Company Senior Under Officer Muhammad Abdullah Javed of the 149th PMA Long Course, the army’s media wing said. 

“Since its inception, PMA has remained the cradle of leadership and center of excellence for cadets joining the premier institution of Army,” Gen. Mirza was quoted as saying by the ISPR. 

“Over the years, PMA has also trained scores of foreign cadets whose brilliant performance in their respective Armies stands testament to the professional ethos of PMA.”

 The PMA in Kakul, Abbottabad, provides initial training to Pakistan Army cadets and recruits from friendly countries, including Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy fraternal relations, leading the two countries to cooperate in trade, defense and other vital sectors. 

The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates and serves as the cash-strapped South Asian country’s largest source of remittances. 


Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35

Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35
Updated 8 sec ago
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Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35

Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35
  • The attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah
  • Israel’s army confirmed the strike and said it hit a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas militants

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip: Palestinian health workers said Israeli airstrikes killed at least 35 people Sunday and hit tents for displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, and “numerous” others were trapped in flaming debris. Gaza’s Health Ministry said women and children made up most of the dead and dozens of wounded.

The attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population had sought shelter before Israel’s incursion earlier this month. Tens of thousands of people remain in the area while many others have fled.
Footage from the scene of the largest airstrike showed heavy destruction. Israel’s army confirmed the strike and said it hit a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas militants. It said it was investigating reports that civilians were harmed. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was in Rafah on Sunday and was briefed on the “deepening of operations” there, his office said.

A Palestinian wounded in an Israeli bombardment on the Gaza Strip is brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, on May 26, 2024. (AP) 

A spokesperson with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said the death toll was likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continued in Rafah’s Tal Al-Sultan neighborhood about two kilometers (1.2 miles) northwest of the city center.
The society asserted that the location had been designated by Israel as a “humanitarian area.” The neighborhood is not included in areas that Israel’s military ordered evacuated earlier this month.
The airstrike was reported hours after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months in a show of resilience more than seven months into Israel’s massive air, sea and ground offensive.
There were no reports of casualties in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January. Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility. Israel’s military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from Rafah and “a number” were intercepted, and the launcher was destroyed.
Earlier Sunday, dozens of aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel under a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month. Israel’s military said 126 aid trucks entered via the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing.
But it was not immediately clear if humanitarian groups could access the aid — including medical supplies — because of fighting. The crossing has been largely inaccessible because of Israel’s offensive in Rafah. United Nations agencies say it is usually too dangerous to retrieve the aid. The World Health Organization last week said an expanded Israeli incursion in Rafah would have “disastrous” impact.”
“With the humanitarian operation near collapse, the secretary-general emphasizes that the Israeli authorities must facilitate the safe pickup and delivery of humanitarian supplies from Egypt entering Kerem Shalom,” the spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
Egypt refuses to reopen its side of the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side is handed back to Palestinians. It agreed to temporarily divert traffic through Kerem Shalom, Gaza’s main cargo terminal, after a call between US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
The war between Israel and Hamas has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and fighters in its count. Israel blames civilian deaths on Hamas because the militants operate in dense, residential areas.
Around 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine.
Hamas triggered the war with its Oct. 7 attack into Israel, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized some 250 hostages. Hamas still holds some 100 hostages and the remains of around 30 others after most of the rest were released during a ceasefire last year.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel must take over Rafah to eliminate Hamas’ remaining battalions and achieve “total victory” over the militants, who recently regrouped in other parts of Gaza.
The war has also heightened tensions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Palestinian authorities on Sunday said Israeli forces shot dead a 14-year-old boy near the southern West Bank town of Saeer. The Israeli army said the Palestinian male was shot dead after trying to stab Israeli forces at Beit Einun Junction.
Southern Gaza largely cut off from aid
Southern Gaza has been largely cut off from aid since Israel launched what it called a limited incursion into Rafah on May 6. Since then over 1 million Palestinians, many already displaced, have fled the city.
Northern Gaza receives aid through two land routes that Israel opened during global outrage after Israeli strikes killed seven aid workers in April.
A few dozen trucks enter Gaza daily through a US-built floating pier, far below the 150 trucks a day that officials hoped for. Aid groups say 600 trucks a day are needed.
Israeli man detained over mutiny threat
Israel’s military said it had detained a suspect over a widely circulated video in which a man dressed as a soldier threatens mutiny. The man says tens of thousands of soldiers were ready to disobey the defense minister over his suggestion that Palestinians should govern Gaza after the war, and pledged loyalty to Netanyahu alone.
Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the man has been removed from reserve duty. It was not clear when or where the video was made. The prime minister’s office released a brief statement condemning all forms of military insubordination.


Pakistan’s Hajj mission enforces ‘zero tolerance policy’ for negligence by assistants

Pakistan’s Hajj mission enforces ‘zero tolerance policy’ for negligence by assistants
Updated 4 min 40 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Hajj mission enforces ‘zero tolerance policy’ for negligence by assistants

Pakistan’s Hajj mission enforces ‘zero tolerance policy’ for negligence by assistants
  • Hajj is one of five pillars of Islam, required to be undertaken by every able Muslim at least once
  • Pakistan is due to send as many as 550 Hajj assistants to Saudi Arabia by the end of this month

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Hajj mission has enforced a “zero tolerance policy” for negligence on the part of hundreds of assistants appointed to facilitate local pilgrims during the annual pilgrimage, Pakistani state media reported on Sunday, citing a senior official.
Pakistan has a Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims this year. Of them, 63,805 pilgrims will be performing the pilgrimage under the government scheme, while the rest would be accommodated by private tour operators, according to the Pakistani religious affairs ministry.
This year, Pakistan is due to send 550 Hajj assistants and 400 doctors and paramedical staff to Saudi Arabia to make sure the whole process, including their food, transportation and accommodation in the Kingdom, is managed efficiently.
“Zero tolerance policy is being observed for supporting staff (Mouvineen) in their duties to serve the intending pilgrims,” the Radio Pakistan broadcaster quoted Asghar Ali Yusufzai, the Pakistan Hajj mission director for accommodation and transport of pilgrims, as saying at a press conference in Makkah.
“An effective system has been put in place to evaluate the performance of Hajj supporting staff and service providers, who are duty-bound to serve intending Pakistani Hajj pilgrims.”
Yusufzai emphasized that the policy applied to both Pakistan-based assistants or contractors, who were hired to provide accommodation, food and transportation to Pakistani pilgrims.
The Hajj mission has rented 141 residential buildings in three localities, including Al-Azizia, Batha Quraish and Al-Naseem neighborhoods, according to the official.
More than 270 latest buses have been arranged for the movement of Pakistani pilgrims from the airport to their accommodations, for five-time prayer in the Grand Mosque and for other Hajj-related travel between Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah.
Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage that has been in practice for over 1,400 years. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, and requires every adult Muslim to undertake the journey to the holy Islamic sites in Makkah at least once in their lifetime, if they are financially and physically able. This year’s pilgrimage is expected to run from June 14 till June 19.
In the first phase of Pakistan’s pre-Hajj flight operation, a total of 34,316 Pakistanis reached Madinah by May 23 through 146 flights, according to Pakistani authorities.
As many as 114 flights will be transporting another 34,422 Pakistanis to Jeddah till June 9.


In powerful display of solidarity, disabled Pakistanis rally in Karachi to demand ceasefire in Gaza

In powerful display of solidarity, disabled Pakistanis rally in Karachi to demand ceasefire in Gaza
Updated 26 May 2024
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In powerful display of solidarity, disabled Pakistanis rally in Karachi to demand ceasefire in Gaza

In powerful display of solidarity, disabled Pakistanis rally in Karachi to demand ceasefire in Gaza
  • The rally, jointly organized by the Disabled Welfare Association and Jamaat-e-Islami, called for boycott of Israeli products
  • Protesters with disabilities said those who were not disabled had no excuse to not come out in support of Palestinian people

KARACHI: Hundreds of persons with disabilities on Sunday rallied in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and urged people with no disabilities to come out onto the streets for the cause, in a powerful display of solidarity with the Palestinians amid Israel’s war.
The war broke out in Gaza after Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, which killed more than 1,100 people, in response to the deteriorating condition of Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation.
Israel launched a retaliatory offensive, widely viewed as disproportionate, in which more than 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have lost their lives, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Sunday’s rally in Pakistan’s biggest city of Karachi was jointly organized by the Disabled Welfare Association (DWA) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) religio-political party.
“If all our persons with disabilities can participate in such gatherings, then why those, who are not disabled, are not coming out of their homes,” said Shaina Ali, who attended the rally in a wheelchair.
“They are not even sparing the women and children there,” she said, urging Pakistanis to completely stop using Israeli products.
She praised the Western world for coming out in large numbers in support of the Palestinians.
“We are sitting here hoping for good from other countries,” Ali said, questioning fellow Pakistanis, “What are you doing for Gaza?“
Dr. Rahat, a disabled elected councilor of the JI, said people with disabilities sent out a strong message against the “genocide” of the Palestinians by coming out in large numbers.
“Our presence in large numbers here shows that every Pakistani is out there to support the people of Palestine who are faced with genocide,” he said, addressing the attendees.
Rehan Gohar, a DWA official, said these persons with disabilities had come out to support Gaza in the face of Israel’s war.
“Our message to the Muslims of Gaza is that they should not lose hope,” he said, urging Muslims around the world to unite for Palestine.
Noor-ul-Ain, a 14-year-old protester, said she was out on the street so that the Palestinian Muslims could get their just rights.
“In Palestine, they are also martyring children. Our effort is to make sure our voices reach there so that the [Palestinian] Muslims can get their rights,” she said.
“The rulers must stop Israel’s war.”
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.
In recent months, the South Asian country has repeatedly raised the issue of Israel’s war on Gaza at the United Nations through its permanent representative, Ambassador Munir Akram.


Pakistan conveys ‘deep appreciation’ to Norway for decision to recognize Palestine as a state

Pakistan conveys ‘deep appreciation’ to Norway for decision to recognize Palestine as a state
Updated 26 May 2024
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Pakistan conveys ‘deep appreciation’ to Norway for decision to recognize Palestine as a state

Pakistan conveys ‘deep appreciation’ to Norway for decision to recognize Palestine as a state
  • Ireland, Spain and Norway this week said they would formally recognize Palestine as a state on May 28
  • The additions would bring the total number of countries recognizing the Palestinian state to nearly 150

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday held a telephonic conversation with his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store and conveyed his “deep appreciation” for Norway’s landmark decision to recognize the State of Palestine, Sharif’s office said.
The prime ministers of Ireland, Spain and Norway announced on Wednesday they would formally recognize Palestine as a state on May 28, following recent recognitions by Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas. The additions have brought the total number of countries recognizing the Palestinian state to nearly 150.
During his conversation with PM Store, Sharif emphasized the importance of the two-state solution as the key to lasting peace in the Middle East and expressed his hope that Norway’s decision would encourage other countries to follow suit, paving the way for a full membership of the United Nations (UN) for the State of Palestine.
“This principled decision by Norway would send a strong message of hope and solidarity to the brave Palestinian people who have been enduring Israel’s brutality and suffering over seventy-five years of occupation and oppression,” Sharif was quoted as saying by his office.
The Pakistan premier welcomed the International Court of Justice’s decision on Friday to order Israel to stop its assault on Gaza and Rafah, and called for its “full and effective implementation.”
The case against Israel was initiated by South Africa in December 2023, where it labeled Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip as “genocidal,” asserting that they intended to destroy the Palestinian people in ways specified under the 1948 Genocide Convention.
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.
In recent months, the South Asian country has repeatedly raised the issue of Israel’s war on Gaza, launched last October, at the United Nations through its permanent representative.
During Sunday’s conversation, both Pakistani and Norwegian prime ministers reiterated their commitment to strengthening bilateral ties in various sectors, including trade, investment, education, and renewable energy.
“They also recognized the important role played by Norwegians of Pakistani origin in creating a vital connection between Pakistan and Norway and contributing to the economic development of both nations,” Sharif’s office said.
“The two leaders agreed to remain in touch and to meet soon, possibly on the margins of the UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] session later this year.”
The Pakistan premier also extended an invitation to PM Store to undertake an official visit to Pakistan at his earliest convenience.


Pakistan asks Afghanistan to hand over militants involved in Dasu attack on Chinese nationals

Pakistan asks Afghanistan to hand over militants involved in Dasu attack on Chinese nationals
Updated 26 May 2024
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Pakistan asks Afghanistan to hand over militants involved in Dasu attack on Chinese nationals

Pakistan asks Afghanistan to hand over militants involved in Dasu attack on Chinese nationals
  • Five Chinese workers were killed in the attack on Mar. 26 while they were on way to Dasu hydropower project in Pakistan’s northwest
  • Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi says militants operating in Afghanistan have been specifically compromising security of Chinese nationals

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Sunday demanded the Afghan interim government to hand over Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants involved in a suicide attack that killed five Chinese nationals and their driver in Pakistan’s northwest in March.
China is a major ally and investor in Pakistan but both separatist and other militants have attacked Chinese projects and personnel in recent years, including five Chinese workers who perished in the suicide attack on Mar. 26 while they were on their way to the Dasu hydropower project in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The Dasu hydropower project falls under the ambit of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project 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.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Naqvi said Pakistan’s relations with China were very important and both countries supported each other economically, politically and diplomatically, however, the cross-border threat from Afghanistan was becoming increasingly dangerous for regional security.
“We want good relations with Afghanistan, but this is only possible if they too support us and won’t let their soil be used for terrorism against us,” he said. “It is important that these terrorists present there, they [Afghan government] must arrest them, hold a trial against them or hand them over to us.”
The Dasu assault in March was the third major one in a little over a week on China’s interests.
It 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.
Naqvi said militants operating in Afghanistan were specifically compromising the security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan.
“Pakistan has raised this issue with the interim Afghan government and pressed them to rein in these terrorists operating there, but so far we are not receiving any positive results,” he said, adding that Islamabad was making “all-possible arrangements” to ensure the security of Chinese nationals working in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s counter-terrorism chief Rai Tahir, who was also present at Sunday’s presser by Naqvi, said authorities had arrested 11 militants who were involved in the Dasu suicide bombing that killed five Chinese engineers. The investigation and evidence showed the militants had been taking instructions from TTP leaders in Afghanistan, he said.
Pakistan has witnessed a surge in militant attacks in its western regions that border Afghanistan, particularly after the TTP called off its months-long, fragile truce with the Pakistani government in November 2022.
Last year, Islamabad ordered all illegal immigrants to leave Pakistan by Nov 1, triggering an exodus of foreigners, mostly Afghans, from the country.
Pakistan brushed off calls from the United Nations (UN), rights groups and Western embassies to reconsider the expulsion plan and said many of these Afghan nationals had been involved in militant attacks and in crimes that undermined the security of the country. Kabul denies the accusations and says Pakistani security is a domestic problem.