Government runs awareness campaign as Pakistan in grips of ‘severe’ heat wave

Government runs awareness campaign as Pakistan in grips of ‘severe’ heat wave
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) staff monitor heat weather conditions at their office in Islamabad on May 23, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 24 May 2024
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Government runs awareness campaign as Pakistan in grips of ‘severe’ heat wave

Government runs awareness campaign as Pakistan in grips of ‘severe’ heat wave
  • First wave to last till May 30, second to begin from June 7-8 followed by third one in last week of June 
  • Heat wave to persist in Sindh province until June 3, to break in Punjab after June 4, Met office says

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is running an awareness campaign in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) amid an ongoing heat wave this month, state-run media reported as the Pakistan Meteorological Department predicted day-time temperatures to “remain above normal” in June also. 
Pakistan has been experiencing severe climatic changes due to global warming in recent years which has led to frequent heat waves, untimely rains and droughts.
On May 21, authorities had urged people to stay indoors ahead of a heat wave which is expected to last until the end of the month. An estimated 18 million students are also unable to attend classes because Pakistan’s most populous province Punjab ordered shutting down schools this month due to rising temperatures.
Chief Meteorologist Dr. Sardar Sarfaraz has also warned that the heat wave would “intensify” from May 23 onwards.
“Ministry of Climate Change and the NDMA are spreading mass awareness for the public through adopting preventive measures and to reduce its impacts through issuing adviseries, public service messages, ring back tone and awareness campaigns through television, radio and social media platforms,” Radio Pakistan reported.
Addressing a press conference, the Prime Minister’s Coordinator on Climate Change Romina Khurshid Alam said 26 districts of the country were in the grips of a heat wave since May 21. 
Alam said the first wave would last till May 30, the second would begin from June 7-8 and the third one in the last week of June. 
May and June were recorded as the “hottest and driest” with higher monthly average temperatures, she added, appealing to the masses, especially children and elderly, to adopt preventive measures.
She noted that the severity of heat waves had increased rapidly during the past few months with 13 districts of Sindh, nine of Punjab and four districts of Balochistan experiencing “severe heat.”
“Global warming is impacting the entire world, and we are seeing its effects in the form of these frequent and intense heat waves,” the official said, blaming deforestation and unsustainable environmental practices for the harsh weather conditions. 
“Public awareness campaigns through various media outlets are ongoing to educate people on the health risks and preventive measures.”
Alam said heat waves were accelerating the process of glacier melting and the risk of forest fires, advising the public to remain cautious in national parks, avoid discarding cigarette butts, leave vehicle windows slightly open, and ensure access to drinking water.
“NO RESPITE”
The NDMA is also urging people to stay hydrated and wear light-colored clothing to minimize the effects of heat and farmers to carry out agricultural activities keeping in mind the prevalent weather conditions. 
Met Department data showed Jacobabad, Dadu and Mohenjo Daro as the hottest places across the country, with temperature in these cities surging from 49°C on Wednesday to 50°C on Thursday. 
“The cities of Jacobabad, Dadu and Mohenjo Daro are known to have 50°C in May. Jacobabad had 52°C in April in 2022,” the chief meteorologist said.
“Harsh weather is likely to persist at least till June 3. There is no possibility for respite, at least for Sindh. The heat spell may break in parts of Punjab but that, too, after June 4.”
Climate change-induced extreme heat can cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and hyperthermia. It can make certain chronic conditions worse, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular disease and diabetes-related conditions, and can also result in acute incidents, such as hospitalizations due to strokes or renal disease.
According to the Global Climate Risk Index, nearly 10,000 Pakistanis have died while the country has suffered economic losses worth $3.8 billion due to climate change impacts between 1999 and 2018. A deadly heat wave that hit Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, the capital of Sindh, claimed 120 lives in 2015.
In 2022, torrential monsoon rains triggered the most devastating floods in Pakistan’s history, killing around 1,700 people and affecting over 33 million, a staggering number close to the population of Canada. Millions of homes, tens of thousands of schools and thousands of kilometers of roads and railways are yet to be rebuilt.


‘Important to show respect,’ says Pakistan pacer Rauf after spat with fan 

‘Important to show respect,’ says Pakistan pacer Rauf after spat with fan 
Updated 31 min 52 sec ago
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‘Important to show respect,’ says Pakistan pacer Rauf after spat with fan 

‘Important to show respect,’ says Pakistan pacer Rauf after spat with fan 
  • Video of Rauf charging angrily at a fan in the US goes viral on social media 
  • Pakistan Cricket Board chairman warns of legal action if fan doesn’t apologize

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani pacer Haris Rauf urged fans to respect cricketers and their families after a video of his spat with a fan went viral on social media, days after Pakistan failed to qualify for the second round of the ICC T20 World Cup 2024. 

In a video that has gone viral on social media, Rauf can be seen talking to a few people as he stands with his wife somewhere in the United States. One of the men uses an expletive against Rauf at which the fast bowler can be seen rushing across a hedge toward the group as one of the men tries to stop him. 

The video appears to be shot in the United States. Pakistan’s last group-stage match at the T20 World Cup being held in the USA and West Indies was played in Lauderhill against Ireland. The green shirts won the fixture narrowly but were unable to qualify for the Super Eight stage of the tournament, having lost to minnows US and arch-rivals India earlier this month. 

Pakistan’s poor performance in the megaevent has enraged cricket fans and commentators alike. Many of them have called on skipper Babar Azam to resign and urged the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to probe the national team’s hapless performance in the tournament. 

“As public figures, we are open to receiving all kinds of feedback from the public. They are entitled to support or criticize us,” Rauf wrote on social media platform X. 

“Nevertheless, when it comes to my parent and my family, I will not hesitate to respond accordingly. It is important to show respect toward people and their families, irrespective of their professions.”

PCB Chairman Mohsin Naqvi took to social media to address the “appalling” incident, warning that such acts would not be tolerated. 

“Those who are involved must immediately apologize to Haris Rauf, failing which we will pursue legal action against the individual responsible,” he wrote on X. 

Compared to other Pakistani pacers, Rauf fared better in the T20 World Cup. The fiery pacer, known for clocking above 150 km/h on pitches that favor bounce and speed, grabbed seven wickets in four bowling innings, at an economy rate of 6.73. 


Pakistan’s ‘ambitious’ budget strengthens prospects for IMF deal— Fitch

Pakistan’s ‘ambitious’ budget strengthens prospects for IMF deal— Fitch
Updated 18 June 2024
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Pakistan’s ‘ambitious’ budget strengthens prospects for IMF deal— Fitch

Pakistan’s ‘ambitious’ budget strengthens prospects for IMF deal— Fitch
  • Pakistan unveiled tax-heavy $67.76 billion federal budget last Wednesday 
  • American ratings agency Fitch says inflation, interest costs to decline next year 

KARACHI: Pakistan’s “ambitious” FY25 federal budget strengthens its prospects of securing a financial bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), American credit rating agency Fitch said on Tuesday, noting that it would narrow the country’s fiscal deficit but will cost its growth. 

Pakistan unveiled the much-awaited Rs18.877 trillion ($67.76 billion) federal budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 last Wednesday. The tax-heavy budget is expected to play a pivotal role in Islamabad’s negotiations with the IMF as the South Asian country desperately tries to avert a macroeconomic crisis. 

While inflation has dropped down to a 30-month low of 11.8 percent, Pakistan still needs the IMF’s financial assistance package to shore its foreign reserves and stabilize its weak currency. 

“Pakistan’s ambitious FY25 budget strengthens prospects for an IMF deal,” Fitch said in a press release. “It is uncertain whether fiscal targets will be hit, but even assuming only partial implementation of the budget, we forecast the fiscal deficit will narrow.”

Fitch said narrowing the fiscal deficit would reduce external pressures on Pakistan, though at a cost to the country’s growth. The rating agency said that as per its forecast, based on partial implementation of the budget, Pakistan will project a primary surplus of 0.8 percent, on shortfalls in revenue generation and an overshoot in current spending, partly offset by under-execution in development spending. 

“We believe tight policy settings may depress growth more than the government expects, and have reduced our growth forecast to 3.0 percent for FY25, from 3.5 percent, despite some improvements in short-term indicators of economic activity,” Fitch said. 

The American rating agency noted that Pakistan’s government debt looks set to decline to 68 percent of GDP by FYE24 due to high inflation and deflator effects, offsetting soaring domestic interest costs.

Fitch said it expects inflation and interest costs to decline, with economic growth and primary surpluses driving government debt/GDP gradually lower. 

It noted that Pakistan’s central bank cut policy rates for the first time in five years on June 10 by 150 points to 20.5 percent.

“We now forecast FY25 inflation at 12 percent, and the FYE25 policy rate at 16 percent,” it added. 

Fitch described external liquidity and funding as still Pakistan’s key credit challenges, despite stable debt dynamics. It said that while Pakistan may secure a new IMF deal, sustaining the tight policy settings necessary to keep external financing needs in check and to maintain compliance with a new EFF could become “increasingly challenging.”

Fitch noted that Pakistan’s external position has improved since February, adding that exchange rate reforms have attracted remittance inflows back to the official banking system while “strong” agricultural exports have also helped. 

“However, Pakistan’s projected funding needs still exceed reserves, at about USD20 billion per year in FY24–FY25, including maturing bilateral debt that we expect will continue to be rolled over,” the rating agency said. 

“This leaves Pakistan exposed to external funding conditions and policy missteps. Pakistan’s ‘CCC’ rating, affirmed in December 2023, reflects high external funding risks amid high medium-term financing requirements.”


18 killed in road accidents across Pakistan’s Punjab on first day of Eid 

18 killed in road accidents across Pakistan’s Punjab on first day of Eid 
Updated 18 June 2024
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18 killed in road accidents across Pakistan’s Punjab on first day of Eid 

18 killed in road accidents across Pakistan’s Punjab on first day of Eid 
  • Over 1,900 accidents reported across Punjab on first day of Eid Al-Adha, says Rescue 1122 service
  • Most accidents were reported in Lahore, where 418 people sustained injuries in 382 accidents

ISLAMABAD: Eighteen people were killed in various accidents across Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province during the first day of Eid Al-Adha, a rescue service confirmed on Tuesday. 

People from various parts of the country travel to their native cities and villages to meet family members during the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha. Road accidents in Pakistan, where traffic rules are rarely followed, are common especially during these holidays. 

“As many as 18 people died in different road accidents across the province on the first day of Eid Al-Adha,” the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said. 

“According to Rescue 1122, the rescue team responded to 1903 accidents in Punjab on the first day of Eid and provided first aid treatment to 2089 people.”

As per the rescue service, most of the accidents were reported in the eastern city of Lahore, where 418 people sustained injuries in 382 different accidents. One hundred and twenty-five accidents were reported in Faisalabad, 120 in Multan, and 108 in Gujranwala cities on Monday. 

At least 173 incidents of fire were reported at scattered places in the province, the state-run media said. 

Thirty-three fire incidents were reported in Lahore on the first day of Eid Al-Adha. Fire incidents were also reported in Rawalpindi, Attock, and Faisalabad cities of Punjab.

“Rescue 1122 spokesperson Farooq Ahmed urged citizens to contact the department in case of any emergency,” APP said. 


Religious leader succumbs to gunshot wounds, three killed in northwest Pakistan over Eid holiday 

Religious leader succumbs to gunshot wounds, three killed in northwest Pakistan over Eid holiday 
Updated 18 June 2024
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Religious leader succumbs to gunshot wounds, three killed in northwest Pakistan over Eid holiday 

Religious leader succumbs to gunshot wounds, three killed in northwest Pakistan over Eid holiday 
  • Maulana Mirza Jan of Jamiat Ulama-e-Pakistan Fazl party was shot by unidentified gunmen last Thursday
  • North Waziristan’s district administrator confirmed three bodies were found in the Mir Ali area on Tuesday morning

PESHAWAR: The senior leader of a prominent religious party succumbed to his wounds while three others were found dead in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, officials confirmed a day after the Pakistani Taliban announced a temporary ceasefire with the federal government. 

Maulana Mirza Jan, the president of the Wana chapter of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Pakistan Fazl (JUI-F) party, was shot by unidentified persons last Thursday. A close aide of the JUI-F party’s chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, Jan was receiving treatment at a hospital in Wana since then. 

Separately, North Waziristan’s district administrator confirmed three bodies were found in the Mir Ali area on Tuesday morning, adding that they had been killed by “unknown miscreants.”

“A strong voice of the tribal areas who also fought for them at every front, president of the JUI-F’s Wana chapter who was injured a few days earlier in a firing incident, Maulana Mirza Jan, has passed away after succumbing to his wounds,” the JUI-F said in a statement. 

Jan’s funeral prayers would be offered in Wana on Wednesday, June 19 at 09:00 a.m., the party added.

The development takes place a day after the Pakistani Taliban or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced a three-day ceasefire with the government in Islamabad from June 17-19 for Eid Al-Adha. 

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban. They have been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021.

In recent months, the Pakistani Taliban have claimed a number of attacks and are suspected by officials in several others, mainly in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province that borders Afghanistan.

Pakistan has witnessed a spike in militant violence in its two western provinces, KP and Balochistan, since the Pakistani Taliban called off their fragile, months-long truce with the government in November 2022.

Pakistan says Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are giving shelter to TTP fighters across the unruly border. The Afghan Taliban government insists it doesn’t allow anyone to use Afghan soil for violence in any country.


On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 

On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 
Updated 11 min 6 sec ago
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On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 

On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 
  • After months of record inflation, many Pakistanis will be struggling to afford animals at prices starting from around $350
  • But expensive animals whose price can go beyond $10,000 are the ultimate symbol of social prestige and generosity 

KARACHI: For most of the year, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood remains serene, a peaceful urban retreat of high-rise residential apartments and markets. 

But as Eid Al-Adha approaches, the quiet streets start bustling with activity as makeshift stalls and tents pop up, each equipped with soft bedding, special lights and fans in the service of special guests – expensive or ‘premium’ sacrificial animals. 

The prized animals, whose price can range between $3,000 and $11,000, are mostly raised on cattle farms outside the city, and moved to the Civil Lines neighborhood in the weeks ahead of Eid, giving the area a festival-like atmosphere.

Many people in Pakistan like to buy expensive sacrificial animals on Eid, as purchasing larger or more premium animals is seen as a mark of prestige and generosity. The preference for costly animals is also influenced by the desire to fulfill the religious obligation with the best possible offering.

“There is no price for passion,” Muhammad Mustafa, a student at the Institute of Business Administration whose family is associated with the cattle business, told Arab News.

“Everyone performs this [ritual] according to their budget in my opinion, so the prices of animals in our area can go above Rs2 million [$7,180] or Rs3 million [$10,770].”

These prices are sharp for Pakistan, where after months of record inflation, many will be struggling to afford even regular sheep at prices starting from around $350. But the expensive animals are also the ultimate symbol of social prestige in a country where the GDP per capita does not exceed $1,600.

“FUNFAIR”

Karachi, a city of over 20 million people, hosts the country’s largest cattle market on its outskirts, where animals from across Pakistan are put up for sale, as well as 21 other smaller bazaars.

However, what sets Civil Lines apart from other neighborhoods is not just the availability of expensive animals but also the large number of people who raise high-value breeds on farmhouses.

Mustafa is one of those who strikes deals with cattle farmers in advance, providing them with a calf, which is raised for a year or two until it becomes eligible for sacrifice, a determination based on the count of its teeth— two or more.

“It has four teeth, so we raised it for almost two years. It grabs its proper strength, catches its life, catches its round shape, so it feels attached to the heart, so we people sacrifice it,” he said as he gestured toward his cow that neighbors and friends had come to call “Black Beauty” and which is valued at Rs1 million ($3,588).

Connoisseurs also hire caretakers to look after the animals and provide them with customized and specially prepared feed and shelter in waterproof tents equipped with fans, cushioning and special lighting. 

Various local and international breeds of animals can be found in Civil Lines, including Sahiwal, Australian and Sibi breeds, with visitors stopping to take selfies with the beautiful cows and goats. 

“It’s about half-past midnight, and people here descend with their families after 10 o’clock and also serve their animals,” said Maaz Liaquat Abdullah, who works in the construction business. “The whole place becomes a funfair,.”

Abdul Rauf Shivani, a banker, attributed the popularity of high-priced animals in Civil Lines to the community’s “deep pockets.”

“What people do is basically they try to bring in the animals for sacrifice and they also try to give comfort to animals and make sure that they are actually in a very safe area,” Shivani added.

And while adults in the area typically buy expensive cows, children often opt to raise goats. 

One such kid was Mohammad Yahya, 6, who said he had raised his male goat at a farmhouse in Mirpur Khas in Sindh and affectionately called him Chanchanu.

“He runs very fast, he doesn’t come under control,” Yahya said as he placed some grass in front of his goat.

Around him, children led their animals along the streets.

“Most of the population living here is from the Memon community,” said Abdullah, the construction business professional, “who have the love for animals in their genes, especially the love for sacrificial animals.”