Saudi delegation inspects facilities at Karachi airport for Makkah Route initiative

Special Saudi delegation inspects facilities at Karachi airport for Makkah Route initiative
Pakistani officials brief Saudi officials about the airport terminal at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on April 21, 2024, as 2-member delegation from Saudi Arabia visits Karachi for Makkah Route Initiative’s expansion to ease Hajj journey. (Photo courtesy: CAA)
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Updated 22 April 2024
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Saudi delegation inspects facilities at Karachi airport for Makkah Route initiative

Saudi delegation inspects facilities at Karachi airport for Makkah Route initiative
  • The initiative allows for the completion of immigration procedures at the pilgrims’ country of departure
  • More than 60% of Pakistani pilgrims on government program are likely to benefit from the initiative this year

KARACHI: A two-member delegation from Saudi Arabia on Sunday visited the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi to inspect facilities there for the Makkah Route initiative aimed at facilitating local Hajj pilgrims, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said.
Launched in 2019, the initiative allows for the completion of immigration procedures at the pilgrims’ country of departure. This makes it possible to bypass long immigration and customs checks upon reaching Saudi Arabia, which significantly reduces the waiting time and makes the entry process smoother and faster.
Pakistani pilgrims performing Hajj under the government scheme have been availing this facility at the airport in Islamabad for the last couple of years. But the government wants the initiative to be extended to other cities as well.
The two-member delegation, which was accompanied by officials of the Saudi consulate, was warmly welcomed by PCAA officials upon arrival at the Karachi airport.
“The purpose of their visit was to inspect the airport’s facilities and discuss the arrangements for the Route to Makkah project,” the PCAA said in a statement. “During their visit, APM (airport manager) provided the delegation with a comprehensive tour of the airport’s facilities.”
The delegation showed particular interest in the entry process for intending pilgrims and the allocation of immigration space, according to the PCAA. Other key points discussed were related to the allocation of an immigration hall, and differentiating between government and private scheme pilgrims.
Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry last month announced completion of a survey for the Makkah Route initiative at the Karachi airport ahead of the Hajj season.
The South Asian country expects more than 60 percent of pilgrims performing Hajj this year to benefit from the initiative. People opting for the private Hajj scheme can also avail the facility, given the tour operators providing them services have contacted the Pakistani religious ministry for the purpose.
Saudi Arabia last year restored Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims and abolished the upper age limit of 65 years. More than 81,000 Pakistani pilgrims performed Hajj under the government scheme in 2023, while the rest used private tour operators.
This year’s pilgrimage is expected to run from June 14 till June 19.


PM Sharif expresses grief after bus accident in southwestern Pakistan kills 28

PM Sharif expresses grief after bus accident in southwestern Pakistan kills 28
Updated 8 sec ago
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PM Sharif expresses grief after bus accident in southwestern Pakistan kills 28

PM Sharif expresses grief after bus accident in southwestern Pakistan kills 28
  • The incident took place in Washuk district when a Quetta-bound bus fell into a ravine after one of its tires burst
  • Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif instructs the authorities to provide all possible medical assistance to the injured

KARACHI: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed grief over a traffic accident in the southwestern Balochistan province on Wednesday after a bus lost control and fell into a ravine, killing at least 28 people.
Fatal accidents are common in Pakistan, where traffic rules are rarely followed and roads, particularly in many rural and mountainous areas, are in poor condition.
Such incidents are particularly common in Balochistan where single carriage roads connect various cities and even some highways lack modern safety features.
“In this difficult time, we stand with the grieving families and express our heartfelt sympathy,” Sharif was quoted as saying by a statement circulated by his office.
The statement said the prime minister instructed the relevant authorities to provide all possible medical assistance to the injured and prayed for their speedy recovery.
Speaking to Arab News, Muhammad Ismail Mengal, the assistant commissioner in Baseema, where the incident occurred, said the bus was traveling from Gwadar to Quetta.
“When it reached Kalghali in the Baseema sub-division of Balochistan’s Washuk district, one of its tires burst, causing the bus to fall down [from the mountainous highway],” he continued. “As a result, 28 people, including three women and three children, died, while 27 others were injured.”
“Four of the injured are in critical condition, for whom a Pakistan Army helicopter will arrive shortly to airlift them to Quetta,” he added. “The remaining injured have been transferred to CMH [Combined Military Hospital], Khuzdar.”
Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti also expressed sorrow and regret over the incident.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of valuable lives in the bus accident,” he said. “We share the grief of the relatives of the deceased.”


Pakistan military vows to support security initiatives for UN troops on peacekeepers’ day

Pakistan military vows to support security initiatives for UN troops on peacekeepers’ day
Updated 38 min 53 sec ago
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Pakistan military vows to support security initiatives for UN troops on peacekeepers’ day

Pakistan military vows to support security initiatives for UN troops on peacekeepers’ day
  • The military says it is currently contributing 3,000 soldiers to UN missions in high-risk international environments
  • Pakistan has contributed 235,000 troops to peacekeeping operations in 29 countries since 1960, losing 181 soldiers

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan military said on Wednesday the country would continue to support initiatives aimed at increasing the security of United Nations forces deployed in high-risk environments, in a message commemorating International Peacekeepers’ Day while highlighting its contribution of 3,000 troops currently serving in such missions.
UN peacekeeping operations are vital since they help maintain security in conflict zones by intervening in disputes, protecting civilians and helping to build a sustainable peace in post-conflict areas. These missions operate under the mandate of the United Nations Security Council, and their roles can include monitoring ceasefires, securing safe delivery of humanitarian aid and assisting in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.
The troops for these missions are assigned by UN member states. Pakistan is one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping, with its officials and troops currently deployed in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Cyprus, Western Sahara and Somalia.
According to an official statement issued by the military media wing, ISPR, Pakistan has contributed 235,000 troops to UN peacekeeping operations in 48 missions in 29 countries since 1960.
“Pakistan is proud of its long-standing commitment to UN peacekeeping,” the ISPR said. “Our peacekeepers have demonstrated exceptional courage, professionalism and dedication to promoting peace and stability in conflict-ridden regions. Overall, 181 Pakistani peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.”
“Pakistan also remains committed to United Nations Uniform Gender Parity Strategy (UGPS) of United Nations for enhanced representation of women in uniform, Secretary-General’s Action for peace (A4P) initiative, which seeks to improve the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations by enhancing their capacity, coherence and responsiveness,” it continued. “Additionally, Pakistan also supports initiatives aimed at improving the safety and security of UN peacekeepers, particularly those serving in high-risk environments.”
The statement added that Pakistan’s contributions to UN peacekeeping were a testament to its commitment to international peace and security, adding that Pakistani peacekeepers would continue to uplift of local communities in troubled regions.


Dermatologists urge caution as heat wave threatens skin health in Pakistan

Dermatologists urge caution as heat wave threatens skin health in Pakistan
Updated 46 min 18 sec ago
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Dermatologists urge caution as heat wave threatens skin health in Pakistan

Dermatologists urge caution as heat wave threatens skin health in Pakistan
  • Arab News spoke to two dermatologists to understand how people can protect their skin in extreme heat conditions
  • Sunburn, hyper-pigmentation and flaring of existing skin conditions like acne, eczema or rosacea identified as primary risks

ISLAMABAD: Doctors this week warned of a significant threat to dermatological health in Pakistan as the South Asian nation on the searing edge of climate change faces an intense heat wave that is expected to continue well into June in some parts of the country.
This month and the next, temperatures could go as high as 55 C (131 F), weather forecasters have warned. The World Health Organization says the optimum air temperature for the body is between 18C and 24C. Any hotter and the risks rise.
Against this background, Arab News spoke to two dermatologists to understand how people can protect their skin in extreme heat conditions.
“Avoid going out in peak sun hours,” Dr. Kamran Qureshi, an expert in aesthetic medicine and anti–aging, told Arab News “Cleanse, tone and moisturize your skin. Wear a sunblock that suits you.”
Sunburn, hyper-pigmentation, and flaring of existing skin conditions like acne, eczema or rosacea are the primary risks, Dr. Qureshi added, advising drinking water, applying sunblock and wearing a hat and using an umbrella when going out.
Explaining best practices for hydrating the skin during extreme heat, the dermatologist said drinking fluids and consuming antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables could keep the skin healthy while applying aloe vera-based products could help soothe irritated skin.
Another Islamabad-based dermatologist, Dr. Mohsin Kaira, explained that excessive sunlight had different effects on varying skin types. The heat tended to make the skin produce more oil, leading to breakouts and shininess for people with oily skin and dehydration, flakiness and increased sensitivity for those with dry skin. 
Additionally, individuals with pre-existing skin conditions like eczema could face flare-ups during hot weather, Dr. Kaira said, advising them to keep their living spaces cool, wear loose clothes, use a humidifier, moisturize frequently, take cold showers and stay away from products containing alcohol, fragrances and chemicals.
“People with sensitive skin are prone to irritation, redness and sunburn,” Dr. Kaira, who works as a researcher at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences and as a consultant aesthetics Dermatologist at a private clinic in Islamabad, told Arab News. “Heat accelerates aging, leading to wrinkles and loss of elasticity with people having mature skin.”
He warned that all skin types were susceptible to sunburn which caused peeling and long-term skin damage, while prolonged sun exposure also increased the risk of skin cancer.
When asked about recommended sunscreens, he advised a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 to be reapplied every two hours.
Dr. Kaira identified day timings of 10 am to 4 p.m. when direct sunlight needed to be avoided and recommended water-rich foods such as cucumbers, watermelons, strawberries, oranges and anti-oxidant heavy foods like berries, tomatoes, and carrots.
The dermatologist said certain types of fabrics and colors could also provide better protection against ultraviolet rays:
“Darker colors and bright shades like red, black, and navy absorb more UV radiation, preventing it from reaching the skin in comparison with light colors such as white or pastels that tend to be less protective.”


T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain

T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain
Updated 29 May 2024
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T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain

T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain
  • The first match of the series was also wiped out, before England won the second T20 by 23 runs
  • The weather condition in England has jeopardized the T20 World Cup preparations for both teams

CARDIFF, Wales: The T20 World Cup preparations of England and Pakistan were further hurt after the third match of their warmup series was abandoned Tuesday without any play possible in Cardiff because of rain.
The first match of the series was also wiped out, before England won the second T20 by 23 runs in Edgbaston on Saturday.
The fourth and final match of the series is at The Oval in London on Thursday. Bad weather is forecast then, too.
The T20 World Cup begins on Saturday in the United States and the Caribbean, with England’s opening match against Scotland in Barbados on June 4 and Pakistan playing for the first time on June 6 against the US.


Pakistan court likely to announce verdict today on pleas against ruling ex-PM Khan violated marriage law

Pakistan court likely to announce verdict today on pleas against ruling ex-PM Khan violated marriage law
Updated 29 May 2024
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Pakistan court likely to announce verdict today on pleas against ruling ex-PM Khan violated marriage law

Pakistan court likely to announce verdict today on pleas against ruling ex-PM Khan violated marriage law
  • Khan, wife Bushra sentenced to seven years in prison in February by court that ruled their 2018 marriage illegal
  • Bushra is currently serving out two prison sentences at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail where Khan is also incarcerated

ISLAMABAD: A district and sessions court in Islamabad is expected to announce its verdict today, Wednesday, on appeals challenging seven-year jail sentences each for former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Khan for violating the country’s marriage law.
Khan and his wife were sentenced to seven years in prison and fined in February by a court that ruled their 2018 marriage broke the law. Bushra was accused of not completing the waiting period mandated by Islam, called “Iddat,” after divorcing her previous husband and marrying Khan.
The Khans signed their marriage contract, or “Nikkah,” in January 2018 in a secret ceremony seven months before the former cricket superstar became prime minister for the first time. There was controversy over whether they had wed before the Iddat period was complete. After initial denials of the marriage, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf confirmed it weeks later.
The Khans both deny wrongdoing.
“The court will announce the judgment on May 29 (Wednesday),” the Pakistani media reported after the last hearing exactly a week ago.
Bushra is currently serving out two prison sentences at Adiala Jail where Khan is also incarcerated. In January, both were sentenced to 14 years in prison in a case that relates to accusations they undervalued gifts from a state repository and gained profits from selling them while Khan was prime minister from 2018-22.
CASES
Khan was first jailed after being handed a three-year prison sentence in August 2023 by the Election Commission for not declaring assets earned from selling gifts worth more than 140 million rupees ($501,000) in state possession and received during his premiership. In January, Khan and Bushra were handed the 14-year jail terms following a separate investigation by the country’s top anti-graft body, or NAB, into the same charges involving state gifts.
An anti-graft court in Islamabad also handed Khan a 10-year jail term in January for revealing state secrets, a week before national elections on Feb. 8. The ruling on his marriage to Bushra and a seven-year sentence each for both also came ahead of the polls.
Khan has also been indicted under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism law in connection with violence against the military that erupted following his brief arrest related to a land graft case on May 9. A section of Pakistan’s 1997 anti-terrorism act prescribes the death penalty as maximum punishment. Khan has denied the charges under the anti-terrorism law, saying he was in detention when the violence took place.
Khan’s convictions, which mean he is banned from holding public office, ruled the 71-year-old out of the February general elections. Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan says all cases against him are motivated to keep him out of politics.
SPIRITUAL LEADER
Bushra’s ex-husband, Khawar Maneka, to whom she was married for about 30 years, brought a criminal complaint against the Khans.
Khan has often called Bushra his spiritual leader. She is known for her devotion to Sufism, a mystical form of Islam.
Born Bushra Riaz Watto, she changed her name to Khan after her marriage. Her husband and followers commonly refer to her as Bushra Bibi or Bushra Begum, titles that denote respect in Urdu.
Khan’s two previous marriages — to Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of tycoon James Goldsmith, and television journalist Reham Nayyar Khan — ended in divorce.