You are here: Home » National (page 3)

Category Archives: National

Feed Subscription

Dozens killed as bus collides with oil tanker in Pakistan

پاکستان کے جنوبی شہر کراچی کے قریب بس اور آئل ٹینکر کے حادثے میں ہلاک ہو نے والوں کی تعداد 57 ہو گئی ہے۔ صوبہ سندھ کی انتظامیہ نے بتایا کہ حادثے کا شکار ہونے والی بس کراچی سے شکار پور جا رہی تھی کہ گلشن حدید کے پاس ایک آئل ٹینکر سے جا ٹکرائی۔ ایک سینیئر پولیس افسر راؤ محمد نےبتایا کہ حادثے کی تحقیقات شروع کر دی گئی ہیں۔کراچی کے جناح ہسپتال میں ڈاکٹر سیمی جمالی نے بتایا کہ انہیں 57 لاشیں پہنچائی گئی ہیں۔ ڈاکٹر جمالی کے بقول لاشوں کی شناخت صرف ڈی این اے ٹیسٹ سے ہی ممکن ہے۔

At least 57 people, including women and children, have been killed after a bus crashed into an oil tanker in southern Pakistan. The accident led to a fiery blaze, making rescue attempts difficult. The overloaded bus was on its way to Shikarpur from Pakistan’s commercial capital, Karachi. Senior police officer Rao Muhammad Anwaar said the bus “hit the oil tanker ... Read More »

A subdued Christmas in Peshawar: A call for unity

Pakistan's Christian community is observing a somber Christmas this year to show solidarity with the victims of the Peshawar attack. DW analyzes why the inter-faith harmony is needed in the country more than ever. "I bought new clothes to celebrate Christmas, but I am not going to wear them," said seven-year-old Michael. The resident of Peshawar, the capital city of the restive northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told DW it was not a time to rejoice. "We feel saddened over the killings of so many children in the attack on the Army Public School last week. We stand with their families and relatives." More than 140 people, mostly children, were killed in a militant attack on an army-administered school in Peshawar on December 16. The Islamist Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) outfit claimed responsibility for the assault. It took the Pakistani commandos several hours to break the school siege and free the hostages. The attack led to widespread condemnation of the Taliban both locally and internationally. A large number of Pakistanis demanded the government take decisive action against all Islamist groups in the country once and for all. 'We can never forget' Peshawar's Christians offered special prayers for the school victims and their families in the city's churches on Christmas Eve. "We can never forget the young students and the trauma of their parents as we observe a subdued Christmas today," an elderly Christian woman told DW at a special ceremony organized by the Peshawar Church in the memory of the December 16 victims. Some 29 survivors of the school attack are still in hospitals. The city's medical sources told DW the condition of some of the wounded kids was critical. "It was the most painful incident in the history of our city," said Nazir, another participant of the church ceremony. No solidarity from Muslims Pakistan's Christians, who make up less than a two percent of the Islamic country's 180 million population, rarely receive this kind of support from the majority Sunni population. Last year in September, just two months before Christmas, Peshawar's Christians were burying their own dead. On September 22, two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the courtyard of Peshawar's All Saints church, killing 82 and leaving as many injured. The attack on the church in the northwestern Pakistani city is believed to be the deadliest ever against the Christian community. No Sunni cleric held memorial services for the deceased. For decades, the All Saints church symbolized religious harmony in the Islamic Republic and was revered by Christians and Muslims alike. But in the past four or five years, Pakistan has witnessed an unprecedented surge in Islamic extremism and religious fanaticism. Islamist groups, including the Taliban, have repeatedly targeted religious minorities in the country to impose their strict Shariah law on people. Not only that, Christians and other minorities have been attacked and mistreated by common Pakistanis numerous times for allegedly insulting Islam or the prophet Muhammad. In November, a young Christian couple was beaten to death by a mob in the small town of Kot Radha Kishan in the eastern Punjab province, a political stronghold of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The angry crowd, which alleged that Shehzad and Shama desecrated a copy of their holy book, the Koran, subsequently burned their bodies in a brick kiln where the couple worked. A forgotten case Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, has been languishing in prison for more than five years. The 49-year-old mother of five was arrested in June, 2009 after her neighbors complained that she had made derogatory remarks about Islam's prophet, Muhammad. A year later, Bibi was sentenced to death under the Islamic Republic's controversial blasphemy law despite strong opposition from the national and international human rights groups. The slim hope that the Pakistani judiciary might pardon Bibi and eventually release her was dashed in November when the Lahore High Court (LHC) ruled to uphold her 2010 death sentence. "We must not let the story of Asia Bibi go unnoticed. The fact that she has been in prison for five years doesn't mean that it shouldn't be news anymore. We need to keep up the pressure and make sure that her story is told and retold. That's the least that we owe to her," Dr. Clare Amos, a Program Executive and Coordinator for the Geneva-based World Council of Churches' inter-religious dialogue and cooperation program, told DW. Amos added that the issue of violence in Pakistan should not be looked at in isolation. Political and religious solidarity "First they came for the Shiites. I did not speak out, because I was not a Shiite. Then they came for the Christians. I did not speak out, because I was not a Christian. Then they came for the Peshawar children, and I didn't speak out again, because they were not my children. Soon they will come and attack my children," Shah Ahmed, a Karachi-based social activist, told DW, echoing the famous anti-Nazi statement made by German pastor Martin Niemöller. Ahmed said people should forget their differences and stand up against terrorism. "What happened in Peshawar was so brutal that it cannot be explained in words. These barbarians, the Taliban, will kill us all if we don't act now," Ahmed said. Jibran Nasir, a leader of the #ReclaimYourMosques movement, which began after the Peshawar attack and has now spread to several Pakistani cities, believes it is high time that all political and religious parties unite against the menace of terrorism. "People ask us, what if our campaign gets hijacked by a political party? We say we are welcoming all parties to come and own this movement," Nasir wrote on his Facebook page.

Pakistan’s Christian community is observing a somber Christmas this year to show solidarity with the victims of the Peshawar attack. DW analyzes why the inter-faith harmony is needed in the country more than ever. “I bought new clothes to celebrate Christmas, but I am not going to wear them,” said seven-year-old Michael. The resident of Peshawar, the capital city of ... Read More »

Pakistan resumes executions after six-year pause

Pakistan has carried out the first executions since the government ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty this week. They come as the country steps up efforts to combat an Islamist insurgency. Two convicted militants were hanged on Friday in Pakistan, just days after the government lifted a six-year ban on the death penalty following a brutal terror attack on a school earlier this week in which 149 people died, most of them children. "Yes, two militants, Aqil - alias Coctor - Usman and Arshad Mehmood have been hanged in Faisalabad jail," Shuja Khanzada, Home Minister of central Punjab province, where the executions took place, told AFP news agency. Aqil led a militant attack on the Pakistani military's headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009, while Mehmood was convicted of involvement in an attempted assassination of former President Pervez Musharraf in 2003. Pakistan imposed a de facto ban on executing civilians in 2008, although prisoners continue to receive death sentences, with rights group Amnesty International estimating that more than 8,000 prisoners are currently on death row in the country. Prison officials have said that at least 17 militants convicted on terror charges will be executed in the coming week. Deterrent effect questioned The government ended the moratorium on the death penalty for terror-related cases on Wednesday in response to the attack by Taliban militants on an army school in the city of Peshawar one day earlier. The lifting of the ban came as Pakistani political and military leaders voiced their resolution to stamp out the country's Islamist insurgency. The United Nations has, however, called on Islamabad to reinstate the ban, saying that "the death penalty has no measurable deterrent effect on levels of insurgent and terrorist violence" and "may even be counter-productive."

Pakistan has carried out the first executions since the government ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty this week. They come as the country steps up efforts to combat an Islamist insurgency. Two convicted militants were hanged on Friday in Pakistan, just days after the government lifted a six-year ban on the death penalty following a brutal terror attack ... Read More »

Bombing on India-Pakistan border claims dozens of lives

پاکستان کے شہر لاہور کے قریب واہگہ بارڈر پر ایک خود کش دھماکے کے نتیجے میں کم از کم اڑتالیس افراد ہلاک ہو گئے ہیں۔ پولیس کے مطابق اتوار کی شام ہونے والے اس حملے کے نتیجے میں کم از کم ستّر افراد زخمی ہوئے۔ لاہور پولیس کے ایک اہلکار مشتاق سکھیرا کے مطابق پاکستان اور بھارت کے درمیان واہگہ بارڈر پر ہر شام ہزاروں افراد جمع ہوتے ہیں۔ خبر رساں دارے ڈی پی اے کے مطابق انہوں نے مزید کہا کہ یہ حملہ ایسے وقت ہوا جب پاکستان بھر میں سکیورٹی فورس محرم کے حوالے سے ہائی الرٹ پر ہیں۔ پولیس اہلکار اجمل بٹ کے مطابق یہ حملہ بظاہر ایک جواں سال لڑکے نے کیا جس نے اپنے جسم سے دھماکا خیز مواد لگا رکھا تھا۔ ٹیلی وژن پر دکھائے گئے مناظر میں ایمبولینسوں کو دھماکے کے مقام کی جانب جاتے ہوئے دکھایا گیا ہے جبکہ زخمیوں اور لاشوں کو لاہور کے ہسپتالوں میں منتقل کیا جا رہا ہے۔ پولیس اہلکار سکھیرا نے بتایا ہے کہ مرنے والوں میں رینجرز کے کم از کم دو اہلکار شامل ہیں۔ واضح رہے کہ پاکستان کی فوج کی جانب سے افغان سرحد سے ملحق قبائلی علاقے شمالی وزیرستان میں شدت پسندوں کے خلاف آپریشن شروع کیے جانے کے بعد دہشت گردی کی يہ بدترین کارروائی ہے۔

A blast near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore has left dozens of people dead, according to local officials. Police say a suicide bomber carried out the attack. At least 45 people were killed in eastern Pakistan on Sunday when a bomb exploded near the city of Lahore. “According to initial information it was a suicide attack,” Reuters news agency ... Read More »

What did the Islamabad protests achieve? What did the Islamabad protests achieve?

For months, thousands of protesters thronged Pakistan's capital demanding that the government resign amid vote-rigging claims. But while Nawaz Sharif held on to power, he is now a weakened PM, says Michael Kugelman. For 65 days, anti-government protesters staged a massive sit-in in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. At the peak of the movement - led by former cricket star Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri - some 70,000 people were demanding that the government of democratically-elected PM Nawaz Sharif step down amid accusations of incompetence and rigging last year's parliamentary vote. For months, the protesters camped out in front of the parliament building, after being led by Qadri and opposition leader Khan from the eastern city of Lahore to the capital on August 14 - Pakistan's Independence Day. There were clashes with the police as protesters ransacked the state television headquarters, causing a temporary lapse in transmission. On August 30 the demonstrators burst through security barricades and clashed with security forces outside parliament. The authorities responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Three people were killed in the melee and hundreds were injured. But the attempt to overthrow the government failed. Qadri officially ended his sit-in in Islamabad on October 21, and while Khan's supporters remain camped out, it is unclear what political impact this will have. However, Michael Kugelman, Pakistan analyst at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, says in a DW interview that the movement already got what it wanted by weakening and discrediting the Sharif-led government. DW: Is the protest movement basically over now that Qadri ended his sit-in? Michael Kugelman: For all intents and purposes this game has been over for a number of weeks, when the protest leaders got their wish for a weakened and discredited government. The anti-government movement has repeatedly said it intends to bring down the government, but in reality its leaders will be satisfied that it has been weakened, even if it remains in power. Why did the movement ultimately fail to overthrow the government? There are various reasons. One is the stubbornness of the government, and particularly Prime Minister Sharif, which refused to back down. Another factor is the Pakistani security establishment, which did not - perhaps contrary to the views of many anti-government protestors, including the leaders themselves - pressure the government to step down. It's not as easy now as it was decades ago to remove governments in Pakistan. There are stronger legal obstacles, and the military simply has no stomach for seizing power once again. So what we had, in the end, was heightened expectations from the protestors coupled with more subdued sentiments from the security establishment. The upshot? The government, though weakened, was able to pull through and survive. How important was the fact that the entire parliament decided to support Sharif? This was one of the little-reported "good" stories from the anti-protest movement, for which coverage has otherwise largely revolved around how the military was able to cut the government down to size. In this case, we had a victory for democracy in that different parliamentary parties rallied around Sharif in a show of force against extrajudicial efforts to bring down the government. The ironic thing, of course, is that Sharif himself has never shown much appreciation for the parliament himself - even during the height of the protests; he rarely appeared in the legislature. What was unique about these protests? In many ways these were part of an ongoing story that materializes repeatedly in Pakistani history - one characterized by efforts, likely orchestrated to some extent by the security establishment, to mobilize the masses on the street to pressure the government. What was different this time was that democratization has progressed significantly, with the notion of a coup never really taken seriously - even when the protests briefly became violent several weeks back. What was also different - in a good way - was how there was a strong diversity of protestors, and particularly many women. This is something many commentators took note of. On the other hand, though, these protests were really quite farcical. You had a purported peoples' movement to bring about large-scale change that was likely guided, to some extent, by the Pakistani security establishment. Even when the protestors stopped coming out in Islamabad, Khan and Qadri continued to make blustery and frequently bizarre speeches - to a crowd characterized more by empty chairs than screaming partisans. How come did the army decide not to intervene or take power? Did Sharif pay a political price for this? The army's days of coups are over - for now. It is very concerned about its global image - not just because of its sponsorship of militants, which is an old story, but because its veneer of invincibility has been shattered by militant attacks on military bases and by the discovery of Osama Bin Laden living in Pakistan. Launching a coup would not exactly bolster its image. Also, things are so bad in Pakistan now that the army simply has no desire to be burdened by such matters. This could change one day, but for now, I don't think we need to worry about coups. Could the fact that the government was not overthrown be regarded as a victory for democracy in Pakistan? Absolutely. If this had happened decades ago, during periods of weak civilian rule, then the government would likely have been gone like clockwork. That the government has survived is, in some ways, a testimony to deepening democratization. At the same time, however, the fact that a civilian government elected on a huge mandate has now become a shell of its former self is a big setback for democracy. What impact did the protests have on Pakistan politics? In some ways, not too much has changed. The military has always been the most important political player in Pakistani politics, and now its omnipotence has only become more entrenched. As always, the military - by brokering talks and by putting itself in position to benefit from the protests - was right in the middle of everything, exploiting the situation for maximum advantage. There are some notable consequences. One is that Sharif, who seemed so strong when elected by a huge margin last year, is a weakened figure. The military, by mediating between recalcitrant sides with a seemingly steady hand, has perhaps regained some of its trust from a wary population. Meanwhile, Imran Khan may have lost support. Many of his partisans were turned off by his often-raving speeches, and by how long he drew out his protest. Yes, he continues to be able to mobilize people on the streets, as he's done at several marches around Pakistan in recent weeks. But he likely damaged his future electoral prospects, which arguably reached a high water mark during the 2013 election. Did the protests achieve anything in terms of launching an investigation into vote rigging? The ruling party has claimed it will take some sort of action. However, it has been vague, and it's unclear what will happen. Presumably, though, Qadri had enough assurance that the government would act in that he decided to halt his protest. Where are Qadri and Kahn expected to go from here? Khan will return to what he does best - bringing people out on the streets. And meanwhile, we can assume that he'll continue to position himself for Pakistan's next elections. One thing he likely won't do is seek introspection. He will likely be full speed ahead. Such is his nature. As for Qadri, he claims he will be expanding his "revolution" across the country, and he may well launch more protests as Khan will. Still, if the past is precedent, we can expect Qadri to soon return to his home in Canada - and wait for the next opportunity to come back to Pakistan to cause trouble for the Pakistani government. Michael Kugelman is senior program associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.

For months, thousands of protesters thronged Pakistan’s capital demanding that the government resign amid vote-rigging claims. But while Nawaz Sharif held on to power, he is now a weakened PM, says Michael Kugelman. For 65 days, anti-government protesters staged a massive sit-in in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. At the peak of the movement – led by former cricket star Imran Khan ... Read More »

Amid Taliban threats, Pakistan hits record polio cases

With three months left in 2014, Pakistan has already detected a one-year record number of polio cases. Health officials have discovered 202 cases from January to October 3. After confirming polio in eight children Friday, Pakistan has broken its own 14-year-old record of highest cases in a year, Rana Mohammad Safdar, a senior official at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad, said on Saturday. The previous modern record had stood at 199 cases in 2000 - though that represented 366 days, rather than just nine months. "We are sad to announce that the number of polio cases is now all-time high in Pakistan," Safdar told The Associated Press news agency on Saturday. Polio remains endemic in just three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The highly contagious virus transmits best in unsanitary conditions, making vaccination necessary. Safdar said that health officials had launched another nationwide anti-polio drive earlier in the week in an attempt to get all of Pakistan's 34 million children vaccinated. "New polio cases are surfacing because of those children who could not be immunized against the disease in tribal regions," Safdar told AP. "We were expecting this alarming increase in polio cases." The number of cases reached a low of 28 in 2005 but rose to 198 in 2011, with 93 cases recorded in 2013. As Pakistan moves into its post-monsoon period, officials fear the final figure for 2014 could rise as high as 250. The highly infectious disease affects mainly children younger than 5 years old and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours, with some cases being potentially fatal. 'Alarming increase' The Taliban has banned immunizations and killed about 60 polio workers or police escorting them in Pakistan since 2012. The group increased attacks after it became known that Dr. Shakil Afridi had offered a program of hepatitis vaccinations in the northwestern city of Abbottabad as a cover for his CIA-backed effort to obtain DNA samples from children at a local compound where Osama bin Laden lived. US Navy Seals went on to kill the al Qaeda leader there in 2011. "All these cases were recorded in the areas where we have security problems," Saira Afzal Tarar, Pakistan's deputy health minister, told the private TV channel Express News. Officials said the strain of the virus most prevalent in Pakistan had spread to neighboring Afghanistan, which has recorded a total of seven cases this year.

With three months left in 2014, Pakistan has already detected a one-year record number of polio cases. Health officials have discovered 202 cases from January to October 3. After confirming polio in eight children Friday, Pakistan has broken its own 14-year-old record of highest cases in a year, Rana Mohammad Safdar, a senior official at the National Institute of Health ... Read More »

Pakistan’s economy battered by floods and political unrest

Devastating floods and weeks of political turmoil have dealt a heavy blow to Pakistan's already struggling economy, with damages potentially adding up to tens of billions of dollars, as analyst Athar Hussain tells DW. Talks to end a month-long sit-in by anti-government protesters in Pakistan remain deadlocked after authorities arrested dozens of demonstrators. The South Asian country has been facing political turmoil over the past weeks ever since opposition politicians Imran Khan and Tahir-ul Qadri led mass demonstrations against the democratically elected government of PM Nawaz Sharif, whom they accuse of incompetence and rigging last year's parliamentary vote. The ongoing unrest is also the reason why China's President Xi Jinping postponed a trip to the country this week, a visit in which both nations were expected to sign deals worth 34 billion USD. Moreover, monsoon floods ravaged more than 3000 villages in parts of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and the Punjab province, in which more than 300 people are reported to have died. Athar Hussain, Director of the Asia Research Centre at the London School of Economics, says in a DW interview that while the ongoing protests have effectively almost totally paralyzed the functioning of the government, the floods have devastated parts of the country's agricultural heartland, a key area for economic growth which could lead to billions of USD in damages. But in order to tackle the key issues undermining growth, the government must implement reforms, he adds. DW: What impact have the weeks-long protests had on Pakistan's economy? The protests have completely paralyzed the working of the central government in Islamabad. Many of the government's ministries cannot function, and the prime minister is working from his country house rather than the capital. But it is important to point out that the turmoil hasn't had much of an economic impact as the Pakistani government hadn't been doing much to improve the economy even before the protests kicked off. So the shutdown of government has not had a drastic effect on the state of the economy. Chinese President Xi Jinping postponed his visit to Pakistan due to anti-government protests. 34 billion USD of deals were scheduled to be signed during Xi's visit. What effect is this likely to have on Pakistan's economy? China is Pakistan's largest trading partner and Beijing is interested in a stable Pakistan mainly because it wants to maintain a balance in South Asia – particularly between New Delhi and Islamabad. But it is not easy - Pakistan is facing grave social and economic problems. So the postponement of Xi's trip will obviously aggravate things, and the deals between Beijing and Islamabad will be delayed. Having said that, in terms of bilateral trade China is important for Pakistan, but not so much the other way around. Parts of the country, especially in the east and northeast have been ravaged by floods. What damage have they inflicted in economic terms? Growth in the agricultural sector has been severely affected given the vast area covered by the floods and the importance of the Kashmir and Punjab area as Pakistan's "bread basket." The flooding has damaged the province's canal system which is used to irrigate the lands. According to the preliminary estimates, 20 to 30 million people have been affected by the latest inundation. Agriculture accounts for a significant part of the country's GDP, so we are looking at damages potentially adding up to billions of US dollars. In this context we must also take into account that thousands of farmers in the flood-hit areas were still recovering from the devastating impact of last year's floods. These are mostly poor peasants who lost everything and are now faced an ever bigger challenge. On top of that, the people in the region are now faced with the risk of disease due to countless bloated livestock carcasses floating in the floodwaters. What are the foremost challenges currently facing Pakistan's economy? Every kind of major challenge you can think of. For example, Pakistan has experienced record population growth and significant migration to urban areas in the past years. However, the country hasn't been able to provide employment to a huge part of the labor force. There is also the problem of underinvestment in infrastructure. Pakistan has thus far been unable to generate economic growth out of its increased urbanization. On top of that, many of the country's industrial clusters are not environmentally friendly and have weak infrastructure services. As a result, the country's GDP growth has been weak and its industrial sector cannot compete with a number of under-developed countries. Moreover, all forecasts say that Pakistan will be worse-affected by climate change in the coming years. How willing are foreign companies to invest in Pakistan given the current political turmoil and the country's history of coups? Social and political conditions in Pakistan work against long-term commitments from foreign investors. The political parties that govern the country are responsible for failing to create a situation where the economy can expand. For example, most politicians don't even pay taxes and create loopholes in the legislation as political favors to the country's rich and powerful. An indirect factor deterring investors is the country's strategic location in South Asia. Because of its geopolitical importance, Islamabad has been able to get foreign aid easily, which allows it to keep postponing economic reforms and partly hampers economic development. What does the government need to do to get the economy back on track? There is no short-term solution; the government has to undertake reforms. The country needs to invest a lot in its infrastructure, but for that Islamabad needs to generate more revenue. While everyone agrees that Islamabad needs to collect more taxes, the current political culture is not helping, as already explained. But most importantly, Pakistan must continue with the democratic process to get back on track. Good governance will not come immediately; it has to develop. The only good thing about the current political crisis is that it seems that nobody wants a military coup in Pakistan. Professor Athar Hussain is the Director of the Asia Research Centre at the London School of Economics.

Devastating floods and weeks of political turmoil have dealt a heavy blow to Pakistan’s already struggling economy, with damages potentially adding up to tens of billions of dollars, as analyst Athar Hussain tells DW. Talks to end a month-long sit-in by anti-government protesters in Pakistan remain deadlocked after authorities arrested dozens of demonstrators. The South Asian country has been facing ... Read More »

Pakistan authorities prepare explosives to battle floods

Pakistani authorities have readied explosives to potentially divert swollen rivers as they battle ongoing floods that have claimed 450 lives in the region. The Indian government has faced anger at its slow response. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said late Thursday that more than 1.8 million people were affected by the raging torrents in Pakistan and India - a figure that included both those stranded at home and those who fled after the floods hit. The floodwaters were moving downstream through Pakistan's Punjab province, inundating huge swathes of farmland in the country's breadbasket and most prosperous areas. The Pakistani army on Thursday planted explosives in preparation for breaching three strategic dykes to divert waters away from the southern Punjab cities of Muzaffargarh and Multan, a major agricultural center of two million people and the main hub for Pakistan's important cotton industry. Similar drastic measures were taken on Wednesday to protect the city of Jhang, further upstream, where 10,000 people were evacuated overnight, according to senior rescue official Rizwan Naseer. Between 300,000 and 400,000 people remained stranded in Indian-administered Kashmir, where phone lines had been down for days. Food and water supplies were running low, although the floods had begun to recede. Anger at slow response In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting on the disaster after there were reports of victims attacking emergency workers as anger over the slow pace of the rescue effort boiled over. Angry residents waiting for days to be rescued and for relief materials threw stones at rescue helicopters in several areas of Srinagar, forcing the Air Force to scale back its operations, NDTV news channel reported. "Unless the flood waters recede completely, and we are able to reach all the submerged areas, we cannot be sure about the exact death toll in these floods," Zee television channel quoted a local official in Jammu and Kashmir state capital Srinagar as saying. The armed forces and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had rescued more than 96,000 people and operations were continuing, a Defense Ministry release said.

Pakistani authorities have readied explosives to potentially divert swollen rivers as they battle ongoing floods that have claimed 450 lives in the region. The Indian government has faced anger at its slow response. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said late Thursday that more than 1.8 million people were affected by the raging torrents in Pakistan and India – a ... Read More »

Pakistan lawmakers meet as political crisis worsens

پاکستانی دارالحکومت میں پاکستان عوامی تحریک اور پاکستان تحریک انصاف کی جانب سے دھرنے جاری ہیں۔ حکومت نے دارالحکومت کے ریڈ زون میں سکیورٹی کی تشویشناک صورتحال کے سبب غیر ملکی سفارتکاروں کو شہر میں نقل وحرکت کے دوران محتاط رہنے کی ہدایت جاری کی ہے تاہم منگل دو ستمبر کو دفتر خارجہ کی جانب ذرائع ابلاغ پر نشر ہونے والی ان خبروں کی تردید کی گئی جن کے مطابق حکومت نے اسلام آباد میں غیر ملکی سفارتخانوں کو بند کرنے کا کہا ہے۔ بیان کے مطابق دفتر خارجہ کو نہ سفار ت خانوں کی بندش کے بارے میں کوئی ہدایت موصول ہوئی اور نہ ہی ایسی کوئی ہدایت جاری کی گئی ہے۔ دفتر خارجہ کے اس بیان کے مطابق حکومت نے اپنی ذمہ داری کو مد نظر رکھتے ہوئے سکیورٹی ایجنسیوں کو اسلام آباد میں سفارتی مشنوں کی حفاظت کے لیے ضروری حفاظتی تدابیر کرنے کی ہدایت کی ہے۔

Pakistan’s parliament has met for emergency talks as the country’s political crisis continues unabated. Premier Nawaz Sharif is refusing to bow to protester demands for his resignation. Tuesday’s joint parliamentary session of both houses – the National Assembly and the Senate – in the capital Islamabad is an attempt to rally support behind Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He is facing ... Read More »

Crisis in Pakistan could become unmanageable

The ongoing political crisis in Pakistan is hurting the country's economy. The nuclear-armed nation's powerful army is concerned, and so is the West. A greater turmoil could become unmanageable for everyone. Not many people in Pakistan expected the anti-government protests to last this long: 19 days and counting. The protesters, who claim that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power through rigged elections, have one key demand: the premier must resign from his post. Sharif and his ministers had hoped the demonstrations would die down, or that the opposition leaders – cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and Pakistani-Canadian Sunni cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri – would eventually compromise and end the sit-in outside the parliament building in the capital Islamabad. None of that happened. The protests turned violent, the Islamic Republic's powerful military chief, Raheel Sharif, stepped in as a mediator, and a number of other political groups joined Khan and Qadri in demanding Sharif's ouster. Experts fear that things are getting out of control in the country. Hundreds of protesters briefly seized the state broadcaster, Pakistan Television (PTV), on Monday, thus intensifying the political crisis. The army was called in to disperse the violent demonstrators. The security forces managed to regain control of the PTV building after few hours. Over the weekend, Pakistani police clashed with thousands of demonstrators marching on the official residence of the prime minister. At least three people were killed and hundreds wounded when the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Khan's and Qadri's supporters. The ongoing violence prompted the top generals of the nuclear-armed state to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday, August 31. The army – which has directly ruled the nation for more than three decades collectively – voiced support for democracy, but also "expressed concern." Pakistani military – back in charge But many people in the country think the army's "concern" is part of the script that the generals have written themselves. Pro-democracy activists believe Khan and Qadri have the full backing of the army, which is wary of Sharif's cordial moves towards the country's regional arch-rival India. The PM and the army are also not on the same page over the Islamic Republic's Afghanistan policy, nor on the future of Pervez Musharraf, former military chief and ex-president, who is currently detained. The military, which has been in control of the country for most of its recent history, enjoyed limited power during the five years former President Asif Ali Zardari was in office. The generals fear that if Sharif remains in power, they may further loose grip on the country's defense and foreign policy. But the protests against the incumbent government, which came into power after winning a landslide victory in the May 2013 general elections, have put the army back in the driving seat. "It seems that history is repeating itself in Pakistan," Siegfried O' Wolf, a South Asia expert at Heidelberg University, told DW. "There is a possibility that the military could once again use the so-called 'doctrine of necessity' to intervene in the political process. However, this does not mean there will be a direct takeover, but the army will definitely curtail the civilian government's decision-making power," he added. Arshad Mahmood, an Islamabad-based social activist, is critical of the army's role in the conflict. "It is the military's constitutional responsibility to support the elected government. The statement that the generals issued after Sunday's meeting encouraged the protesters. I think the army definitely wants big changes in the government, if not a coup." Ali K. Chishti, a security analyst in Karachi, also thinks the chances of a direct military coup are quite low: "The military does not like PM Sharif and his government's attempts to assert the civilian authority, but at the same time it is skeptical of both Khan and Qadri and their leadership skills. So, will the military topple the government? I think it will find a middle way," the expert told DW. But some say the military has already cut Sharif down to his size. Abdul Agha, an Islamabad-based analyst, told DW that "I would call it a symbolic coup," adding that the military did not need to intervene directly now. Is it up to Sharif now? The pressure is on the prime minister now. The political impasse is hurting the country's already weak economy. Should the PM resign to end the crisis and let an interim government hold fresh elections? "Nawaz Sharif is head of an elected government. An extra-constitutional and enforced resignation would have an extremely negative impact on the future of democracy in Pakistan," O' Wolf said. Chishti says no one in Pakistan resigns voluntarily. "PM Sharif remains adamant that he won't stand down, and from what I know of him, it would really be an extraordinary situation that would force him to leave office." But activists like Mahmood believe that Sharif should hold his ground and not surrender to the opposition's blackmailing. "If he is forcefully removed, the world will see how the popular mandate of an elected government was violated by a handful of people." West is concerned Western nations have been cautiously watching the crisis in the Islamic state. They have so far not directly commented on the turmoil. But to say that they are not concerned about the future of an unstable nuclear-armed Islamic state would be naïve. Islamist groups, including the Taliban and al Qaeda, have been weakened after a decade-long western operation in neighboring Afghanistan, but the militants are still strong in Pakistan and have safe havens in the country's semi-governed northwestern areas. A bigger chaos in the country could become unmanageable not only for the Pakistani state but also for the international community. "European governments would most likely not intervene in Pakistan's domestic political issues, however, the difficulties in the context of the US-Afghan bilateral security agreement might force Washington to draw decisive attention on the happenings in Islamabad," believes O' Wolf.

The ongoing political crisis in Pakistan is hurting the country’s economy. The nuclear-armed nation’s powerful army is concerned, and so is the West. A greater turmoil could become unmanageable for everyone. Not many people in Pakistan expected the anti-government protests to last this long: 19 days and counting. The protesters, who claim that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power ... Read More »

Scroll To Top