Doctors treat hundreds of victims of heatstroke in Pakistan after heat wave hits the country

Doctors treat hundreds of victims of heatstroke in Pakistan after heat wave hits the country
Patients of heatstroke receive treatment at a hospital in Karachi on May 23, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 23 May 2024
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Doctors treat hundreds of victims of heatstroke in Pakistan after heat wave hits the country

Doctors treat hundreds of victims of heatstroke in Pakistan after heat wave hits the country
  • Authorities want people to stay indoors and avoid travel, though laborers say they don’t have a choice
  • State-run ambulances are now carrying bottled water, ice to provide emergency heatstroke treatment

ISLAMABAD: Doctors treated hundreds of victims of heatstroke at hospitals across Pakistan on Thursday after an intense heat wave sent temperatures above normal levels due to climate change, officials said.
Temperatures soared as high as 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) the previous day in Mohenjo Daro. The city, known for its archaeological sites, is in southern Sindh province, which was badly hit by climate-induced monsoon rains and devastating floods in 2022. The heat wave is forecast to continue for at least a week.
Authorities have urged people to stay indoors, hydrate and avoid unnecessary travel. But laborers say they don’t have a choice because they need to work to feed their families.
“Pakistan is the fifth most vulnerable country to the impact of climate change. We have witnessed above normal rains, floods,” Rubina Khursheed Alam, the prime minister’s coordinator on climate, said at a news conference in the capital, Islamabad.
Doctors say they treated hundreds of patients in the eastern city of Lahore, while scores of people were brought to hospitals in Hyderabad, Larkana and Jacobabad districts in the southern Sindh province.
“The situation has been getting worse since yesterday, when people affected by heat started coming to hospitals in the Punjab province,” said Ghulam Farid, a senior health official. Pakistan has set up emergency response centers at hospitals to treat patients affected by the heat.
The state-run ambulance service is now carrying bottled water and ice to provide emergency treatment to victims of the heat, health officials said.
Heatstroke is a serious illness that occurs when one’s body temperature rises too quickly, potentially causing some to fall unconscious. Severe heatstroke can cause disability or death.
This year, Pakistan recorded its wettest April since 1961, with more than double the usual monthly rainfall. Last month’s heavy rains killed scores of people while destroyed property and farmland.
Daytime temperatures are soaring 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit) above May’s temperatures, raising fears of flooding in the northwest because of glacial melting.
The 2022 floods caused extensive damage in Sindh and Baluchistan provinces, as 1,739 people were killed across the country.
Currently, Pakistan’s southwest and northwestern areas are also experiencing the heat wave.
Authorities have shut schools for a week in Punjab. In the city of Lahore people were seen swimming in the roadside canals. Pakistan says despite contributing less than 1 percent to carbon emissions, it is bearing the brunt of global climate disasters.
Alam said recent erratic changes in weather patterns were the result of man-made climate change.


In picturesque Saidpur village, nearly 60-year-old goat market is go-to on Eid and beyond

In picturesque Saidpur village, nearly 60-year-old goat market is go-to on Eid and beyond
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In picturesque Saidpur village, nearly 60-year-old goat market is go-to on Eid and beyond

In picturesque Saidpur village, nearly 60-year-old goat market is go-to on Eid and beyond
  • Traders raise goats throughout the year at market in 500-year-old Saidpur village to sell during Eid Al-Adha holiday and beyond 
  • Unlike other cattle markets specifically set up ahead of Eid, the Saidpur bazaar is busy even during and after the religious festival 

ISLAMABAD: Underneath a large canopy in the luscious Margalla Hills of Islamabad, the sound of goats munching on dried grass and hay filled the air earlier this month as eager buyers jostled around them.

This is Islamabad’s famous goat, lamb and sheep market in the 500-year-old Mughal-era Saidpur village, famous for its cobblestone streets, ancient temples, handicraft stores and quaint eateries.

But before, during and after the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, Saidpur is also the go-to for anyone in the market for the best quality goats and sheep. 

Traders set up shop here in large tents around the year but ahead of the annual Eid Al-Adha holiday, hordes of buyers frequent the market in search of the cattle of their choice. 

“During Eid days, most of the work happens in 4-5 days, a few days before Eid, then on Eid day and during Hajj,” Malik Naseer, a trader at the market, told Arab News. “In four days, god willing, we are able to sell up to 300 animals.”

Customers check the weight of a goat at a livestock market in Islamabad on June 14, 2024, ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. (AFP/File)

Unlike other cattle markets specifically set up ahead of Eid in Islamabad and other cities in Pakistan, the Saidpur bazaar is busy throughout the year and even during and after Eid.

“After Eid sacrifice, people buy goats for charity, to cook at home, for weddings,” a resident of the area, Chaudhry Yamin, said. “Almost all the residents of Islamabad purchase goats from here. You can get good animals from here and get them cheaper also compared to other markets. And its also close [to residential areas].”

“AS OLD AS ISLAMABAD”

Trader Malik Jahangir said the market was as old as Islamabad itself. 

“We have been in this business for the last 60 to 65 years,” he told Arab News as a customer inspected a goat at Jahangir’s tent. “Since the establishment of Islamabad [in 1967], we have been providing animals to the people of the city for their benefit.” 

Customers check the weight of a goat at a livestock market in Islamabad on June 14, 2024, ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha. (AFP)

Goats at the Saidpur market are brought there from various Pakistani cities such as Bahawalpur, Talagang, Khushab, Swat and the Azad Kashmir region and different breeds come with different price tags. 

And raising them is an expensive affair, Jahangir said, as feed alone cost Rs200-300 [$0.72-1.08] daily. 

But prices this year were still lower than previous years, he contended, with the consumer price index (CPI) in May rising 11.8 percent from a year earlier, the lowest reading in 30 months and below the finance ministry’s projections.

“Previously, people were selling at around Rs. 1400 to Rs. 1500 ($5) per kilogram but this year we are selling at Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1300 ($4.5) per kilogram,” Jahangir said. 

Customers disagreed about the low prices. 

“The traders are good here as they bring goats from regular markets to sell here and we have a good experience here but this time I am feeling that prices are very high,” customer Khalid Paracha said. 

“As meat rates are also high and animal prices are also high, we have come here on two visits but not been able to make a deal.”


On Eid Al-Adha, animal accessories are all the rage 

On Eid Al-Adha, animal accessories are all the rage 
Updated 17 June 2024
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On Eid Al-Adha, animal accessories are all the rage 

On Eid Al-Adha, animal accessories are all the rage 
  • Animal traders decorate bulls, lambs and goats to make them stand out and fetch higher prices
  • Customers buy animals, then purchase anklets, bells and colorful collars from decoration stalls

ISLAMABAD: Ashraf Khan picked up a colorful anklet and showed it to a customer from a range of collars, beads, bells and other ornaments at his stall of animal accessories at the Sangjani cattle market on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

The 33-year-old, who sets up a makeshift stall at the market every year, said the demand for animal accessories went up just as the demand for animals and their prices surged ahead of the major Islamic festival, marked by devout Muslims by slaughtering animals and sharing the meat with family and the poor.

Khan, who has been selling animal accessories for the last several years, said his clients not only included members of the public, but also traders who wanted to adorn their cows, sheep and bulls before putting them up for sale in order to better attract customers and fetch higher prices.

“We receive goats, lambs and bulls [at our decoration stall],” Ashraf said. “It takes Rs1,000 to Rs1,500 ($3-5) to decorate a goat with different types of materials. Decorating bulls ranges from Rs2,000 to Rs2,500 ($7-8).”

The 33-year-old sources ornaments from Islamabad’s twin city of Rawalpindi and sets up his stall in the Sangjani capital market a week before Eid.

“The price tag depends on the number and quality of items,” Khan said. 

Naik Muhammad, who brought 50 lambs to sell at Sangjani market, said a lamb cost him around Rs25,000 ($90) this year and he was looking to sell it for between Rs85,000 to Rs95,000 ($305-$341).

“The purpose of decoration is that customers like them more and the rates get better,” Muhammad said. “When customers like the animal then we can ask rates of our choice.”

Alamgir Khan, a fruit vendor in Islamabad, purchased a lamb for Rs77,500 ($278) after haggling with sellers for around three hours and brought it to Khan’s stall to buy accessories for decoration.

“We have spent some money on its decoration to make it look beautiful and then the children at home will see it and be happy, and that is a rewarding thing,” Alamgir told Arab News. “This is an animal for sacrifice, it should be adorned.”


Pakistan among big nuclear arms spenders amid swelling global tensions — studies

Pakistan among big nuclear arms spenders amid swelling global tensions — studies
Updated 17 June 2024
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Pakistan among big nuclear arms spenders amid swelling global tensions — studies

Pakistan among big nuclear arms spenders amid swelling global tensions — studies
  • Spending for 2023 by the nuclear-armed states jumped more than 33 percent from the $68.2 billion spent in 2018
  • SIPRI says “we have not seen nuclear weapons playing such a prominent role in international relations since Cold War”

GENEVA: Nuclear-armed countries hiked spending on atomic weapons arsenals by a third in the past five years as they modernized their stockpiles amid growing geopolitical tensions, two reports showed on Monday.

The world’s nine nuclear-armed states jointly spent $91 billion on their arsenals last year, according to a new report from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

That report, and a separate one from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), indicated that nuclear weapons states are dramatically scaling up spending as they modernize and even deploy new nuclear-armed weapons.

“I think it is fair to say there is a nuclear arms race under way,” ICAN chief Melissa Parke told AFP.

Wilfred Wan, head of SIPRI’s weapons of mass destruction program, meanwhile warned in a statement that “we have not seen nuclear weapons playing such a prominent role in international relations since the Cold War.”

SIPRI’s report showed that the total estimated number of nuclear warheads in the world actually declined somewhat to 12,121 at the start of this year, from 12,512 a year earlier.

But while some of that included older warheads scheduled to be dismantled, it said 9,585 were in stockpiles for potential use — nine more than a year earlier.

And 2,100 were kept in a state of “high operational alert” on ballistic missiles.

Nearly all of those were held by the United States and Russia, but China was for the first time believed to also have some warheads on high operational alert, SIPRI said.

“While the global total of nuclear warheads continues to fall as Cold War-era weapons are gradually dismantled, regrettably we continue to see year-on-year increases in the number of operational nuclear warheads,” SIPRI director Dan Smith said.

The spending surge reported by ICAN appeared to back that up.

The report showed that in 2023 alone, nuclear weapons spending worldwide jumped by $10.8 billion from a year earlier, with the United States accounting for 80 percent of that increase.

The US share of total spending, $51.5 billion, “is more than all the other nuclear-armed countries put together,” said ICAN.

The next biggest spender was China, at $11.8 billion, followed by Russia, spending $8.3 billion.

Britain’s spending meanwhile rose significantly for the second year in a row, swelling 17 percent to $8.1 billion.

Spending for 2023 by the nuclear-armed states — which also include France, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea — jumped more than 33 percent from the $68.2 billion spent in 2018, when ICAN first began collecting this data, it said.

Since then, the nuclear armed states have spent an estimated total of $387 billion on the deadly weapons, the report showed.

Parke slammed “the billions of dollars being squandered on nuclear weapons” as “a profound and unacceptable misallocation of public funds.”

She highlighted that that money was more than what the World Food Programme estimates is needed to end world hunger.

“And you could plant a million trees for every minute of nuclear weapons spending,” she said.

“These numbers are obscene, and it is money that the state says is going toward weapons that... will never be used,” she said, pointing to the nuclear deterrence doctrine.

The investments are not only wasteful but also extremely dangerous, she warned.

“What happens when deterrence fails?“

Geneva-based ICAN won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its key role in drafting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which took effect in 2021.

Seventy countries have ratified it to date and more have signed it, although none of the nuclear weapons states have come on board.

“Instead of investing in Armageddon, the nine nuclear-armed states should follow the example of almost half the world’s countries and join the treaty... and make a real contribution to global security,” said Alicia Sanders-Zakre, a co-author of Monday’s ICAN report.


Karachi’s professional butchers are the real heroes of Eid Al-Adha 

Karachi’s professional butchers are the real heroes of Eid Al-Adha 
Updated 17 June 2024
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Karachi’s professional butchers are the real heroes of Eid Al-Adha 

Karachi’s professional butchers are the real heroes of Eid Al-Adha 
  • Butchers are booked in advance by customers ahead of Eid holiday 
  • Seasonal butchers also use the holiday to make some extra income 

KARACHI: Qayamuddin Qureshi, a 70-year-old butcher affectionately known as Qamo Bhai, works year-round near Jubilee Chowk in the Old City Area of Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi. 

But ahead of Eid Al-Adha each year, the third-generation butcher’s phone rings off the hook as customers call him for advance bookings to visit their homes and slaughter cows, sheep and goats to mark the annual religious holiday.

The demand for professional butchers surges on Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, traditionally marked by the slaughter of animals, whose meat is shared with family members and the poor, while amateur and seasonal butchers also try to make an extra buck during the holiday season.

“People book us [professional butchers] in advance and those who book in advance get the benefit of this early reservation,” Qureshi, a self-described ‘man of his word’ who has been working as a butcher since the age of 10, told Arab News, as he cut up a piece of meat at a shop in Hassan Ali Hothi Market. 

“By the grace of Allah, I am a family butcher... and this is our second and third generation in the profession … I do a lot of work, execute the job in the best manner and make customers satisfied and that’s why they keep calling me back again.”

Last year, Pakistanis sacrificed over six million animals worth $1.9 billion during the three-day Eid Al-Adha festival, according to estimates shared by the Pakistan tanners’ association.

“What we earn during the three days [of Eid Al-Adha] is enough to eat for the six months,” Qureshi said.

Earlier this month, the Meat Merchants Association in Karachi announced the official rates for animal slaughtering services during Eid, with the price for cows set at around $70, for goats at $32 and camels at $144. Amateur butchers often charge as low as $18.

The service charges are highest on the first day of Eid.

“There is a lot of demand for the first day. For example, a cow that costs about a million rupees would be slaughtered for Rs50,000 on the first day,” Qureshi said, adding that the charges gradually decreased by the third day.

Muhammad Naseem Qureshi, another longtime butcher, said he had many returning customers. 

“You can’t find good butchers,” he said. “So the people catch us by themselves. They know that we are good butchers.”

Naseem said he was now refusing orders as his services were fully booked. 

“We have so much work that we have to refuse people,” he said. “We have a ‘Housefull’ sign displayed outside.”

SEASONAL BUTCHERS

Old hands like Qureshi said amateur butchers were easy to identify, particularly though their “tools and slaughtering skills.” 

“They slaughter and work on one animal with the help of four people, but a professional butcher works on the animal alone,” he said. 

But with butchers in such high demand over Eid, not everyone gets to book the craftsman of their choice, particularly as the professionals charge more. 

“The animals are also very expensive,” Karachi resident Hajji Noshad said. “We are [often] compelled to bring in unprofessional butchers who mostly ruin the meat and our sacrifice.”

But for seasonal butchers, Eid Al-Adha is too good an opportunity to let go to generate some extra income.

“We have a family business of sanitary hardware,” Saeed Akbar Ali, who works as a butcher over Eid, told Arab News.

“The job of butcher we do... we slaughter 10-12 animals a day... to meet the expenses for Eid.”


Pakistan joins Muslim world in celebrating Eid Al-Adha, the ‘Feast of Sacrifice’

Pakistan joins Muslim world in celebrating Eid Al-Adha, the ‘Feast of Sacrifice’
Updated 17 June 2024
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Pakistan joins Muslim world in celebrating Eid Al-Adha, the ‘Feast of Sacrifice’

Pakistan joins Muslim world in celebrating Eid Al-Adha, the ‘Feast of Sacrifice’
  • The Pakistan government has announced a three-day holiday for Eid, from Monday to Wednesday
  • Over six million animals valued at around $1.9 billion were sacrificed during the three-day holiday last year

ISLAMABAD: Muslims in Pakistan started celebrating Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, on Monday with food and prayers for the people of Gaza and Kashmir, facing “brutal foreign occupation” but fighting for their right to self-determination.

One of the most important Islamic holidays, Eid Al-Adha is a joyous occasion on which food is a hallmark and during which devout Muslims buy and slaughter animals and share the meat with family, friends and the poor. The revered observance coincides with the final rites of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

As the day began, top leaders shared wishes with the Pakistani people, with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif both urging the nation to “reaffirm their commitment to the values of brotherhood, sacrifice, and selflessness on this occasion.”

“Sharif said the day serves as an occasion to unite the people and foster the bonds of brotherhood and fraternity as well as to look after the less fortunate among us and make them part of our collective celebration,” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan reported. 

“He said on this Eid day, we pray for our Palestinian and Kashmiri brothers and sisters who are bravely facing brutal foreign occupation but remain steadfast in their struggle to achieve their right of self-determination.”

A girl with henna patterns on her hand looks towards a sacrificial animal being slaughtered, as she accompanies her father during Eid al-Adha celebrations in Karachi, Pakistan on June 17, 2024. (REUTERS)

The Pakistani military and its top leaders also extended wishes to all Pakistanis on the occasion of Eid.

“This sacred event embodies the spirit of sacrifice for the greater good. On this auspicious day, we are indebted to our martyrs and ghazis [warriors] for the independence and peace which prevail in the country, and pay tribute to their ultimate sacrifices,” the army’s media wing said. 

“May Allah Almighty continue to bestow His blessings upon Pakistan and protect it from the nefarious designs of its adversaries, Ameen.”

Muslim devotees offer Eid al-Adha prayers at the Eidgah ground in Rawalpindi on June 17, 2024. (AFP)

The Pakistan government has announced a three-day holiday for Eid, from Monday to Wednesday.

According to tanners associations, over six million animals valued at approximately Rs531 billion ($1.9 billion) were sacrificed during the three-day Eid festival in 2023. As many, if not more, animals are expected to be sacrificed this year.

Muslims greet each other after offering Eid al-Adha prayers at the Eidgah ground in Rawalpindi on June 17, 2024. (AFP)