PM orders immediate rebuilding of girls school bombed by militants in northwestern Pakistan

PM orders immediate rebuilding of girls school bombed by militants in northwestern Pakistan
Pakistani girls arrive for class at a school in Mingora, a town in Swat valley, on October 9, 2013, the first anniversary of the shooting of Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban. (AFP/File)
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Updated 10 May 2024
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PM orders immediate rebuilding of girls school bombed by militants in northwestern Pakistan

PM orders immediate rebuilding of girls school bombed by militants in northwestern Pakistan
  • Attackers beat up school guard before setting off explosives at private Aafia Islamic Girls Model School in North Waziristan
  • Pakistan witnessed multiple attacks on girls schools until 2019, especially in Swat Valley and elsewhere in northwest

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday ordered that a girls school bombed by militants this week in a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban should be immediately rebuild, vowing to provide women with equal opportunities for education.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack late Wednesday that targeted the only girls school in Shawa, a town in the North Waziristan district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

Suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who have targeted girls schools in the province in the past, saying that women should not be educated.

The TTP group was evicted from northwest Pakistan’s Swat and other regions in recent years after successive military operations. The TTP are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in 2021. The Taliban takeover in neighboring Afghanistan has emboldened the Pakistani Taliban, the Pakistan government says. 

“Prime Minister directed to immediately identify the people involved in the incident and ensure that they are punished,” a statement from Sharif’s office said, adding that the PM had instructed that the part of the school destroyed in the attack be “immediately” rebuilt at government expense.

“The nefarious ambitions of terrorists to stop the education of girls will never be allowed to succeed,” the statement quoted Sharif as saying. “Terrorist elements who are trying to create obstacles in the education of the daughters of the nation will be brought to justice.”

Pakistan witnessed multiple attacks on girls schools until 2019, especially in the Swat Valley and elsewhere in the northwest where the Pakistani Taliban long controlled the former tribal regions. In 2012, the insurgents attacked Malala Yousafzai, a teenage student and advocate for the education of girls who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the latest incident, police said the attackers first beat up the school guard before setting off the explosives at the private Aafia Islamic Girls Model School, which has 150 students.

In a statement, Abdullah Fadil, the UNICEF representative in Pakistan, said the “destruction of a girls’ school in a remote and underserved area is a heinous crime detrimental to national progress.” He cited Sharif’s statement on Wednesday declaring an education emergency and pledging to work toward enrolling 26 million out-of-school children.

With inputs from AP


Pakistan’s Sirbaz Khan scales Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen

Pakistan’s Sirbaz Khan scales Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen
Updated 5 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Sirbaz Khan scales Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen

Pakistan’s Sirbaz Khan scales Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen
  • Khan is the first Pakistani to summit 11 out of 14 ‘eight-thousanders’ without using supplementary oxygen
  • He was part of ‘Imagine Nepal 2024 Everest Expedition,’ which included 14 international climbers, 18 sherpas

KHAPLU, GILGIT-BALTISTAN: Pakistani mountaineer Sirbaz Khan on Tuesday achieved another milestone by successfully scaling the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest, without supplementary oxygen, Pakistani and Nepalese expedition organizers said.
Born and raised in Ali Abad village in Pakistan’s mountainous Hunza district, Khan has previously summited 13 of the 14 peaks in the world above the height of 8,000 meters, including K2.
He was part of the ‘Imagine Nepal 2024 Everest Expedition’ team, which included 14 international climbers and 18 sherpas who reached the 8,849-meter-high summit on Tuesday morning, according to the Imagine Nepal tour company and the Alpine Club of Pakistan.
“Congratulations to Sirbaz Khan on successfully summiting Mount Everest 8,848.86 meters (29,031.69 feet) without the use of supplemental oxygen,” Karrar Haidri, secretary-general of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, said in a statement.
The team of 14 international climbers and 18 sherpas summitted Everest in “various hours between NPT 5:15 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on the morning of 21 May 2024,” the Imagine Nepal tour company said in a Facebook post.
Khan’s family celebrated the feat in Pakistan, according to his younger brother, Shahbaz Khan.
“We are very happy because today Sirbaz summited Everest without supplementary oxygen. We are celebrating this moment and especially our mother is very excited. There is an environment of festivity at our home,” Shahbaz told Arab News over the phone.
“Whenever he [Sirbaz] starts his summit push, we offer special prayers for him. Because you know, we can’t trust the mountains. However, when he summits, we celebrate. Now we are also offering prayers for his safe descent.”
Khan planned to summit the 8,027-meter Shishapangma peak — the last of the 14 peaks above 8,000 meters — but had to delay the expedition as China did not open the mountain to international climbers, according to his brother.
He also climbed Everest in 2021 and is the first Pakistani to climb 11 out of 14 ‘eight-thousanders’ without oxygen support. Khan had summitted only Annapurna and Kangchenjunga peaks using oxygen support.
“Congratulations @sirbazkhan_mission14 for climbing Everest without supplemental oxygen and a personal sherpa. He is now the only Pakistani to climb 11 peaks without Oxygen,” Naila Kiani, a Pakistani woman climber, said in an Instagram post.
“Sirbaz is the second [Pakistani after] Sajid Ali Sadpara to climb Everest without O2, following our younger brother @sajidalisadpara, who climbed it last year. Sirbaz is also the only Pakistani to climb Everest twice. Climbing Everest without oxygen is a true test of human grit. Congratulations, Ustad.”


PTI leader Raoof Hassan injured in attack outside private news channel office in Islamabad

PTI leader Raoof Hassan injured in attack outside private news channel office in Islamabad
Updated 13 min 5 sec ago
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PTI leader Raoof Hassan injured in attack outside private news channel office in Islamabad

PTI leader Raoof Hassan injured in attack outside private news channel office in Islamabad
  • Hassan remained vocal and presented his party position after the May 9 riots that followed ex-PM’s detention
  • PTI calls the attack ‘very shameful and reprehensible’ as the opposition stages a walkout from Pakistan’s Senate

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said on Tuesday one of its senior leaders, Raoof Hassan, was injured in an attack carried out by unknown people after he arrived at the office of a private news channel in Islamabad.
Hassan, who has served as the PTI spokesperson, gained political prominence following a crackdown on the party after the May 9 riots, which erupted in the wake of Khan’s brief detention on corruption charges.
The crackdown resulted in the incarceration of top PTI leadership, many of whom continue to remain behind bars. Despite these circumstances, Hassan was vocal, addressing news conferences and passionately advocating for his party’s position.
“Very shameful and reprehensible,” the PTI said in a social media post after the attack. “Central Information Secretary Rauf Hassan attacked by unknown persons outside the office of a private channel.”


The party also shared Hassan’s video in which one can see blood coming out of his face as he walks into a building.
The news of the incident quickly spread around the federal capital, prompting the opposition to stage a walkout from the Senate.


Experts warn of health risks as Pakistan braces for severe heatwave

Experts warn of health risks as Pakistan braces for severe heatwave
Updated 38 min 59 sec ago
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Experts warn of health risks as Pakistan braces for severe heatwave

Experts warn of health risks as Pakistan braces for severe heatwave
  • The meteorological department says temperatures may rise up to 50°C in parts of Pakistan in the coming days
  • Health experts say heatstroke can damage brain, heart and kidneys, leading to serious complications or even death

KARACHI: Experts on Tuesday warned of health risks and advised people to limit time spent in harsh sunlight as Pakistan is poised to experience some of the hottest weather conditions in the coming days.
According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), a heatwave is expected to hit parts of Pakistan this week, with temperatures in certain areas of the southern Sindh and eastern Punjab provinces potentially surging past 40°C.
The PMD also warned of glacial lake outburst floods in the country’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province due to rising temperatures.
In previous years, heatstroke, which occurs when the body temperature rises to 104°F (40°C) or higher due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures or physical exertion in the heat, has been reported by dozens.
“Without prompt care, heatstroke can damage the brain, heart, kidneys and other organs, leading to serious complications or death,” Dr. Naseem Salahuddin told Arab News, adding it was always important to act immediately and cool down the body of a heatwave victim.
“Extreme heat can damage the temperature control center in the brain,” she said, urging caution during high temperatures.
On Tuesday, as of 2 PM, temperature in Jacobabad and Mohenjo Daro reached 47°C, while it was 45°C in Sibbi, Lasbela, Rahimyar Khan, Hyderabad, Khairpur and Bhakar.
“The temperature is expected to further rise from tomorrow, with the upper regions of Sindh experiencing up to 50°C,” Dr. Sardar Sarfaraz, Pakistan’s chief meteorologist, said, noting the heatwave would affect settlements in upper Sindh and Punjab provinces.
With temperatures expected to rise further in coming days, Dr. Qaiser Sajjad, a health expert and former secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association, emphasized social awareness was crucial to avoid health problems in such extreme weather.
“People should not spend too much time in the sun,” he said. “If it is essential to go out, the body should be completely covered.”
In June 2015, Pakistan experienced the worst heatwave in the country’s south, especially in its port city Karachi, where over 2,000 people died of dehydration.
Dr. Sajjad recalled the cases where patients, after receiving first-aid, instead of moving to the shade or discontinuing work, went back to perform labor and died shortly thereafter.
“If a person has suffered heatstroke, he or she should be taken to a cold place and not allowed to work, even if they seem to recover,” he said, adding people should pour water on their head in such a case.
He pointed out since climate change had made the weather more extreme, every household should keep umbrellas which should be used by its members to shield themselves from the sun.
“An umbrella should be a must,” he said. “Water intake should be increased to 22 glasses daily to keep the body hydrated.”
Dr. Sajjad also noted that people should consume fresh vegetables and fruits after washing with clean water and avoid dining outside.
“Prevention is better than cure,” he continued. “We don’t see as many deaths now as we unfortunately witnessed during the 2015 heatwave because there was no awareness then. More awareness can keep citizens safe.”


At SCO foreign ministers moot, FM Dar highlights Pakistan’s location as trade and transit hub

At SCO foreign ministers moot, FM Dar highlights Pakistan’s location as trade and transit hub
Updated 21 May 2024
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At SCO foreign ministers moot, FM Dar highlights Pakistan’s location as trade and transit hub

At SCO foreign ministers moot, FM Dar highlights Pakistan’s location as trade and transit hub
  • The SCO is a major trans-regional organization and its member states collectively represent nearly half of world population
  • Dar apprises the SCO meeting of Pakistan’s priorities, including promoting connectivity, poverty alleviation and cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Ishaq Dar, Pakistan’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, on Tuesday addressed a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers in Kazakhstan, where he highlighted Pakistan’s geostrategic location as a trade and transit hub, the Pakistani foreign ministry said.
Dar arrived in Astana, Kazakhstan on Monday to represent Pakistan at the two-day meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers. Founded in 2001, the SCO is a major trans-regional organization spanning South and Central Asia, with China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan as its permanent members.
The meeting comes at a time when Pakistan is making rigorous efforts to increase bilateral trade and investment with a number of countries and has aimed to enhance its role as a pivotal trade and transit hub connecting the Central Asian republics with the rest of the world, leveraging its strategic geographical position.
Addressing the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting, Dar explained Pakistan’s priorities as the current Chair of SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG), including promoting connectivity, development of transport links, youth empowerment, poverty alleviation and enhanced practical cooperation among SCO member states.
“The Deputy Prime Minister said that Pakistan’s geostrategic location offers an ideal trade and transit hub for the SCO region,” the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement. “He underlined the significance of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for regional connectivity and economic integration.”
CPEC, part of President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, is a $65 billion network of roads, railways, pipelines and ports in Pakistan that aims to connect China to the Arabian Sea and help Islamabad expand and modernize its economy.
The project spans several phases, each with distinct goals and impacts on the region. The first phase began in 2015 and mainly focused on building critical infrastructure, particularly in the transportation and energy sectors. The second phase expands the focus to include industrial cooperation, agricultural development and the promotion of social and economic development.
The second phase is also expected to include the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), efforts to boost green energy production like hydropower and solar energy, and initiatives to modernize agriculture and increase exports.
On a visit to China this month, Dar said Pakistan and Beijing needed to finalize modalities for other countries to be part of the multi-billion-dollar corridor as Islamabad seeks to attract foreign investment into Pakistan.
“As we embark on phase two of CPEC we look forward to developing corridors of growth, livelihood, innovation, green development, and inclusivity to carry forward our shared vision of making CPEC an inclusive and transparent project,” Dar said. “We also need to finalize the modalities for third party participation in CPEC.”
Pakistan, faced with low foreign exchange reserves, currency devaluation and high inflation, has been pushing for an increase in bilateral trade and investment, with Islamabad seeing a flurry of high-level exchanges from diplomats and business delegations in recent weeks from Saudi Arabia, Japan, Azerbaijan, Qatar and other countries.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has vowed to rid the South Asian country of its chronic macroeconomic crisis through foreign investment and efficient handling of the economy.


Pakistan set to launch multi-mission communication satellite on May 30 with Chinese support

Pakistan set to launch multi-mission communication satellite on May 30 with Chinese support
Updated 21 May 2024
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Pakistan set to launch multi-mission communication satellite on May 30 with Chinese support

Pakistan set to launch multi-mission communication satellite on May 30 with Chinese support
  • Suparco describes the scheduled launch as a stepping stone in transforming the country into a ‘digital Pakistan’
  • The satellite will also play a role in the socio-economic uplift of the country due to the communication technologies

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s national space agency on Tuesday announced its plan to launch a multi-mission communication satellite, PAKSAT MM1, from China next week, describing the initiative as a “hallmark of technological cooperation” between the two countries.
Earlier this month on May 3, the Pakistani satellite iCUBE-Qamar (ICUBE Q) was launched aboard China’s Chang’e-6 lunar mission from Hainan, China. A major milestone in Pakistan’s space exploration efforts, the satellite successfully entered the moon’s orbit on May 8, and shortly after began transmitting the first images from lunar orbit.
The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) now plans to launch the communication satellite with Chinese assistance on May 30.
“PAKSAT MM1 was conceived keeping in sight the growing needs of the country in the broad-spectrum of communication and connectivity,” Suparco said in a statement, adding the device will play a crucially important role in the socio-economic uplift of the country due to its advanced communication technologies.
The statement further noted the communication satellite would serve as a stepping stone in the country’s transformation into a “digital Pakistan.”
The statement also informed the launch ceremony would be broadcast live from Suparco’s offices in Islamabad and Karachi.
Established in 1961, Suparco manages Pakistan’s space program, enhancing the nation’s capabilities in satellite communications, remote sensing and meteorological science.