US, Sindh province launch $9 million initiative to combat tuberculosis in Pakistan 

US, Sindh province launch $9 million initiative to combat tuberculosis in Pakistan 
In this handout photograph, taken and released by US Embassy in Pakistan, official sign agreement as US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome and Sindh Minister for Health and Population Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho launched a collaborative initiative in Karachi on May 23, 2024, aimed at addressing tuberculosis, a significant health challenge in Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: US embassy)
Short Url
Updated 23 May 2024
Follow

US, Sindh province launch $9 million initiative to combat tuberculosis in Pakistan 

US, Sindh province launch $9 million initiative to combat tuberculosis in Pakistan 
  • TB cases have risen in Pakistan by 42.5 percent in last three years with 47,000 people dying of the illness in 2023
  • TB remains world’s leading infectious disease killer, Pakistan ranks fifth among high TB burden countries

KARACHI: US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome and Sindh Minister for Health and Population Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho launched a collaborative initiative on Thursday aimed at addressing tuberculosis (TB), a significant health challenge in Pakistan. 
TB cases have risen in Pakistan by 42.5 percent in the last three years with 47,000 people dying of the illness in 2023, according to official data, undermining the government’s plans to stamp out the disease by 2035 in the face of inadequate resources for screening and treatment.
Despite being preventable and treatable, TB remains the world’s leading infectious disease killer, sickening 10.6 million people and taking 1.3 million lives annually. Pakistan ranks fifth among high TB burden countries. 
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) leads the US government’s global TB efforts, working with partners around the world including Pakistan, prioritizing local community involvement and recognizing its critical role in ensuring sustainable and effective outcomes.
“Funded by USAID, the newly launched program, named the Tuberculosis Local Organization Network (TB-LON), is an investment of $9 million over five years,” the US embassy said in a statement.
“Its primary goal is to provide expert guidance and resources for Pakistan to effectively tackle TB. Through direct engagement with affected communities and individuals, the program will tailor solutions to meet specific needs. TB-LON will treat more TB cases in Sindh and significantly reduce the number of people affected by the disease.”
“Tuberculosis is not just a disease affecting millions in Pakistan; it’s an illness that disrupts lives, livelihoods, and communities,” Blome was quoted in the statemet as saying. 
“Pakistan ranks fifth among countries with the highest rate of TB, but I am proud to say, we are changing that with this groundbreaking $9 million initiative that will provide expert guidance and resources to help eradicate TB, exemplifying our constant commitment to the resilient people of Sindh.”
 Dr. Pechuho expressed appreciation for the ongoing support from the US government and reaffirmed the Sindh government’s commitment to enhancing health care services. 
“We are confident that our joint efforts in addressing critical health challenges will bring a positive change in the lives of people of Sindh,” she added, emphasizing the importance of joint efforts in addressing critical health challenges.
In Pakistan, TB cases registered an increase from 272,990 in 2020 to 474,981 in 2023, with a treatment success rate of more than 90 percent, according to official data. The disease killed 48,000 people in 2021, 46,000 in 2022, and 47,000 people in 2023. Currently, there are a total of 608,000 TB cases registered with the National TB Control Program, according to data collected by Arab News in April this year.


Police in Oman attribute mosque attack that killed six, including four Pakistanis, to local citizens

Police in Oman attribute mosque attack that killed six, including four Pakistanis, to local citizens
Updated 13 sec ago
Follow

Police in Oman attribute mosque attack that killed six, including four Pakistanis, to local citizens

Police in Oman attribute mosque attack that killed six, including four Pakistanis, to local citizens
  • Police say the three gunmen, who targeted the mosque, were killed after they offered resistance to security personnel
  • Attack claimed by Daesh is viewed as an attempt by the militant group to make a comeback after being crushed by the US

DUBAI: The three gunmen who shot and killed six people at a Shi’ite Muslim mosque in Oman in an attack claimed by Daesh this week were all Omani nationals, police said on Thursday.
The assault began on Monday evening at the Ali bin Abi Talib Mosque in the Wadi Al-Kabir neighborhood of Oman’s capital Muscat as Shi’ite Muslims gathered.
The Royal Oman Police said the three gunmen were brothers and “were killed due to their insistence on resisting security personnel.” It said that police investigations had indicated the three gunmen were “influenced by misguided ideas.”
The six people killed by the gunmen were four Pakistani nationals, an Indian, and a police officer responding to the attack, which Daesh later claimed responsibility for.
Pakistan has labelled the assault a terror attack.
Daesh on Tuesday said that three of its “suicide attackers” fired on worshippers at the mosque on Monday evening and exchanged gunfire with Omani security forces until morning.
The Sunni militant group also published what it said was a video of the attack on its Telegram site. It has claimed responsibility this year for high-profile attacks in Russia and Iran which inflicted mass casualties and is active in Afghanistan. It had not claimed an assault on the Arabian Peninsula for several years until the attack in Oman.
DAESH SEEKS COMEBACK
Its operations have indicated the group is attempting a comeback after it was crushed by a US-led coalition following its occupation of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.
It also inspired lone-wolf attacks in the West.
Any inroads in Gulf Arab oil producers such as Oman would raise fears in Washington and the region which has long viewed militant Islamist groups as a major threat.
Dozens of people at the mosque in Oman were wounded with around 30 people treated at local hospitals, including for gunshot wounds.
Monday evening marked the beginning of Ashura, an annual period of mourning, which many Shi’ite Muslims mark publicly, to commemorate the 7th century death of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The observation of Ashura has sometimes triggered sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in some Middle East countries.
The attack was largely unprecedented in Oman, where most of its citizens follow the Ibadi Muslim faith that shares many similarities with mainstream Sunni Islam. Oman has a small but influential Omani Shi’ite population. Like other Gulf countries, there is a large and significant foreign workforce in Oman too.


Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes

Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes
Updated 38 min 33 sec ago
Follow

Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes

Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes
  • Ambassador Jadoon tells UNSC Pakistan opposes a global order dominated by a few powerful states
  • He calls for a more just and democratic world through adherence to the principles of the UN Charter

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan criticized the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) this week for failing to apply its core principles to regions like Palestine and Kashmir, highlighting the non-implementation of its own resolutions to address protracted disputes around the world, during an open debate on multilateral cooperation.

Both regions have striking similarities, particularly regarding themes of foreign occupation and the right to self-determination. The UN has passed several resolutions in the past, advocating for peaceful solutions to the two protracted disputes, though geopolitical interests and regional dynamics have complicated these efforts.

Additionally, both regions have reportedly been focal points for human rights violations, including allegations of excessive use of force, restrictions on movement and suppression of political rights.

Presenting Pakistan’s perspective, Ambassador Usman Jadoon described the multilateral cooperation as “indispensable” for addressing global challenges.

“He expressed regret that the UN Security Council has failed to ensure universal implementation of the core principles of the UN Charter and its own resolutions, such as those related to Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir,” said an official statement shared by the country’s permanent mission to the UN on the social media on Wednesday.

He rejected any world order, whether unipolar, bipolar or multipolar, which was dominated by a few powerful states, saying such arrangements contradicted the principle of sovereign equality among nations.

“A just, democratic and sustainable world is achievable only through consistent adherence to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter,” he added.

Reiterating his own country’s commitment to comprehensive multilateral cooperation, he said such approach “must be comprehensive, inclusive, and equitable.”

He also called for reforms to the global financial, trade and technology architecture, saying they would ease “the suffering of a billion people in the Global South and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”


Two dead, several injured in northwest Pakistan amid monsoon rains, flood warning

Two dead, several injured in northwest Pakistan amid monsoon rains, flood warning
Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

Two dead, several injured in northwest Pakistan amid monsoon rains, flood warning

Two dead, several injured in northwest Pakistan amid monsoon rains, flood warning
  • Pakistan’s disaster management body expects recent spell of monsoon rains to continue until July 21
  • The loss of life was caused in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda region due roof collapse amid heavy rains

PESHAWAR: Two people were killed and several others injured in the recent spell of rains in Pakistan’s northwest, an official statement released on Thursday confirmed, with the provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) administration expressing sorrow over the development.

The recent loss of life followed an alert issued by Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) warning of floods in KP, Punjab and other parts of the country due to monsoon rains.

Pakistan experienced devastating floods in 2022, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,700 people and causing extensive damage to houses, farmlands and public infrastructure.

It is also considered among one of the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change, despite contributing minimally to global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Two people were killed and several others injured as roofs of houses collapsed due to heavy rains in Shabqadar, Charsadda,” said the statement released by the KP government.

It also noted that Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur extended condolences and sympathies to the families of the deceased.

He directed the relevant district administration to provide timely medical assistance to the injured and ensure immediate relief to the affected.

The NDMA forecast rains and thundershowers a day earlier in the upper regions of the country from July 16 to 21 with occasional gaps.

It noted that rain could exceed 50 millimeters and cause flooding in local streams.

“The NDMA has issued instructions to all relevant departments to take necessary precautions to mitigate the possible effects of flooding and extreme weather,” the alert said.

“The public is advised to take precautions to avoid flooding and to ensure their safety from lightning strikes,” it continued. “Avoid going outside during bad weather and keep a safe distance from electrical poles and wires.”

The NDMA also announced the launch of its cellphone app, available on Google Play Store and iOS App Store, to help the public get timely alerts, adviseries and guidelines.


Rampant drug use fuels divorce rate, ruins hundreds of families in coastal Karachi village

Rampant drug use fuels divorce rate, ruins hundreds of families in coastal Karachi village
Updated 9 min 40 sec ago
Follow

Rampant drug use fuels divorce rate, ruins hundreds of families in coastal Karachi village

Rampant drug use fuels divorce rate, ruins hundreds of families in coastal Karachi village
  • Rehri Goth has a population of nearly 70,000 and is primarily home to ethnic Sindhi fisherfolk
  • The coastal village has been a hub for drug peddlers, with addicts often lining its shabby streets

KARACHI: Maryam Ameer’s world fell apart when her 22-year-old son, an addict, threatened his wife with divorce. His words brought back painful memories from 20 years ago when her husband abandoned her due to his own drug use.

Ameer fought through years of hardship alone to raise her two sons, but now history seemed to be repeating itself, only with different characters and the same underlying cause of her suffering: the rampant flow of drugs into her coastal village in Karachi.

Rehri Goth, with a population of nearly 70,000, is primarily home to ethnic Sindhi fisherfolk and dates back to the 13th century. The coastal village has become a hub for drug peddlers in recent decades, with hundreds of addicts often lining its shabby streets.

“He says ‘I will divorce my wife too,’” 40-year-old Ameer said, taking a sigh and pausing her sewing machine, her sole source of income in all these years. “There is no one who may put an end to drugs [in this village]. [The lives of] Our sons are being destroyed because of this.”

Her voice tinged with grief as she recalled the moment her husband abandoned her.

“Life has been ruined for all women just because of these men,” she added. “They are not willing to quit this addiction.”

The rising divorce rate in Rehri Goth alarmed social worker Nawaz Ali, who married a woman divorced by an addict. This prompted him to conduct a manual survey in all eight neighborhoods of the village, uncovering some shocking facts.

“I compiled a list that included the names of 850 [divorced] women,” Ali told Arab News, adding: “There is no place [in this neighborhood] where you will not find divorced women.”

In a recent incident, Ali said a 14-year-old girl committed suicide after her parents forced her to marry a boy who was a drug addict.

Arab News interviewed around 20 women in the coastal town who were divorced by their drug-addicted husbands.

“My husband left me. He was also addicted,” said 29-year-old Shahida, who goes by a single name.

Her husband divorced her last week, leaving their infant daughter in her lap. Shahida’s elderly father, who catches crabs and other seafood for a living, now bears their expenses.

“It’s very difficult to manage the expenses of children,” she said.

While interviewing these women last Sunday, Arab News witnessed drug transactions openly taking place in the streets of Rehri Goth, but none of the addicts agreed to speak about the drug distribution network in the locality.

“Here, this whole area is infested with drugs. Wherever I sit, it’s a den of drugs,” said Mushtaq Ahmed, a police officer administering a drug rehabilitation center run by the Sindh police in Rehri Goth. “If you look around, you’ll see drugs being sold everywhere.”

Frequent police actions have failed to dismantle the network of drug peddlers and most of them vanish in the narrow streets at the sight of the law enforcers, according to Ahmed.

Kashif Aftab Ahmad Abbasi, senior superintendent of police (SSP), said they had “zero tolerance” for drug peddlers in Karachi’s Malir district, where Rehri Goth is located. He cited various drug busts in June, including seizures of 704 grams of ice, 3.41 kilograms of heroin, 52.189 kgs of charas and 51 bottles of wine, with cases registered against the offenders.

Nevertheless, drug dealers continue to occupy the streets, significantly affecting the community, particularly women.

“We don’t produce it at home, someone is supplying it from the outside,” said Hurmat Muhammad Rafiq, a social worker in her 40s who launched a campaign against the menace of drugs after her own son became an addict. “Someone or the other is supplying it. That’s why this [drug addiction] is growing.”

In addition to drugs, Rafiq said, early marriages were also contributing to the rising divorce rate in the area.

“Don’t marry off children at a young age. Let them grow up first, then arrange marriages for them,” she urged, after discussing a campaign plan with women in the neighborhood. “If they get married now [at an early age], within five to six months, they end up divorced.”

The men, who were addicted to drugs, had no regard for their wives, according to Rafiq.

“The husband comes back after smoking a cigarette, exhales smoke, and asks the wife if there is food or not. [She] says no, he kicks her and says, ‘I divorce you’,” she recounted.

“What is that poor woman supposed to do now?”


Global financial information service warns political risk could threaten Pakistan’s economic gains

Global financial information service warns political risk could threaten Pakistan’s economic gains
Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

Global financial information service warns political risk could threaten Pakistan’s economic gains

Global financial information service warns political risk could threaten Pakistan’s economic gains
  • Fitch’s BMI says another flood or drought in Pakistan may pose a significant risk to the country’s agricultural economy
  • It says if the current government is replaced, Pakistan will be run by technocrats instead of moving toward fresh polls

ISLAMABAD: A leading international financial information service warned on Wednesday Pakistan’s current political turmoil could derail its fragile national economy, despite recent improvements in macroeconomic indicators.

The warning was issued by Business Monitor International (BMI), part of Fitch Group, in a comprehensive country risk report on Pakistan, including 10-year forecasts extending to 2033.

The report noted the country’s economic activity in the last fiscal year was stronger than most analysts had expected.

However, it also highlighted several internal and external risk factors that could impact the ongoing economic efforts of Pakistan’s current coalition administration.

“The country’s fragile political situation could ... derail the recovery,” the BMI report noted. “While Pakistan’s establishment parties were successful in creating a new coalition government following the February election, the strong electoral performance of independent candidates backed by jailed opposition leader Imran Khan suggests that there is significant dissatisfaction with the current political elite. Another round of protests in urban areas could disrupt economic activity.”

The report also maintained Pakistan’s economy remained prone to other shocks.

“Given that 40 percent of Pakistanis work in agriculture, another flood or drought would pose a significant risk to the economy,” it added.

The BMI report said Pakistani policymakers were likely to miss their ambitious budget targets, though they would manage to narrow the deficit, “slipping from 7.4 percent in FY2023/24 to 6.7 percent of GDP in FY2024/25.”

It also predicted that the current government would remain in power over the coming 18 months and succeed in pushing through with the fiscal reforms recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“In the unlikely event that the government is replaced,” it continued, “the most likely alternative is a military-backed technocratic administration rather than fresh elections.”