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Relentless Balochistan rains kill over 100, destroy thousands of homes

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  • Over 6,000 homes destroyed in Balochistan.
  • Rains in Sindh kill as many as 93 people, over 100 in Balochistan.
  • PM Shehbaz Sharif forms committee to assess damages.
  • Armed forces continue rescue operations.

QUETTA: The recent monsoon spell in the country pummelled Balochistan, leaving destruction in its way as more than 100 people lost their lives and thousands of homes were completely destroyed.

Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Azai Aqili, in a press conference on the rains’ devastation Thursday, told journalists that as many as 111 people have lost their lives so far as heavy downpour continues to hit the province.

The chief secretary said that the rains completely tore down 6,077 houses and more than 10,000 homes were partially damaged — and these are just the official statistics.

Aqili said that 16 dams sustained minor or major damages during the rains, while crops and gardens stretching over two acres of land were also harmed.

Residents clear the debris of a damaged house due to heavy monsoon rainfall at the Aghbarg area in Quetta, on July 20, 2022. — PPI
Residents clear the debris of a damaged house due to heavy monsoon rainfall at the Aghbarg area in Quetta, on July 20, 2022. — PPI

“The recent monsoon spell brought more than 500% [as compared to earlier] rain and also severely damaged 2,400 solar panels,” the chief secretary said.

He noted that 10 districts in Balochistan were affected due to the rains, but fortunately, the situation at the Kech river was under control. The province’s top official also mentioned that 650km of roads were damaged in the rains.

What’s the situation of roads, repair work?

The route from Karachi to Quetta has been closed for heavy traffic, he said, urging people to refrain from unnecessary travel — as it was in their best interest.

The chief secretary said that the Pakistan Army, Frontier Constabulary, and civil administration were conducting rescue operations, but damaged roads are hampering the efforts.

Aqili mentioned that 17,000 people have been rescued so far and rescue operations are underway to move 2,000 people to secure locations. The top official added that the leaves of all government employees have been cancelled in the wake of the disastrous rains.

During the presser, a National Highway Authority official mentioned that the Hub Bridge was built in 1962 and after the heavy rains filled the dam, it overflowed and in turn, damaged the bridge. He said that new bridges will be constructed on an “emergency basis” in Hub.

Repair works are also underway on N-25 and M-8 roads, he added.

But Balochistan’s plight might not end there as the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast more rains in the province.

The PMD said from July 27 to 31, rains and thundershowers are expected to hit Quetta, Chaman, Harnai, Zhob, Ziarat, Barkhan, Loralai, Bolan, Kohlu, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbella, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Sibbi.

Sindh rain kills 93, destroys over 2,000 homes

In a briefing to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during a high-level meeting on rains, Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali said informed that 93 people lost their lives and 59 were injured in the July rains.

The chief minister said that the province recorded 369% more rains this year and Karachi — the economic capital of the country that was paralysed for some days during the rain — received 556mm rains.

Girls use a temporary raft across a flooded street in a residential area after heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 26, 2022. — AFP
Girls use a temporary raft across a flooded street in a residential area after heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 26, 2022. — AFP

CM Shah said that almost all districts received rain in the three spells that hit the province, and among the 93 deaths that were recorded in Sindh, 47 were children.

He said that 15,547 homes received minor damages and 2,807 houses were completely destroyed. Crops stretching over 89,213 acres were severely damaged, CM Shah said.

PM forms committee to assess rain damage

In light of the devastation, the prime minister has constituted a committee to assess the damage caused by monsoon rains and floods, according to Radio Pakistan.

Chairing a meeting in Islamabad, he said the committee comprising of federal ministers should visit all the affected areas in the next four days.

The prime minister said short, medium, and long-term plans will be formulated in the light of the recommendations of the committee on the fourth of next month.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a committee meeting in Islamabad, on July 28, 2022, to review the damages caused by rains across the country. — PM Office
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a committee meeting in Islamabad, on July 28, 2022, to review the damages caused by rains across the country. — PM Office

PM Shehbaz announced to enhance the compensation of injured people from Rs50,000 to Rs200,000.

Official present during the meeting informed the participants that so far, 356 people have died across the country due to floods and rains.

Apart from Balochistan and Sindh, the officials said one person was killed in Islamabad 69 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 76 in Punjab, eight in Gilgit-Baltistan, and six in Azad Kashmir, while the number of injured people is 406.

Army’s rescue operation

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), in a statement, said that two army aviation helicopters have been flown from Karachi to Othal, and Lasbella areas.

“These helicopters had attempted [to fly] during last 48 hours, but could not fly due to bad weather conditions. The helicopters will now shift stranded people to safer places and also transport necessary relief items,” it said.

Gawadar’s general commanding officer visited the Othal area to oversee rescue and relief efforts, while the senior local commander at Khuzdar will also visit flood-affected areas of the district today.

Ground rescue and relief teams are busy in Othal, Jhal Magsi shifting people to safer places and provision of food and water to local residents, the ISPR said.

Troops use a water pump to remove water from a flooded residential area following heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 26, 2022. — AFP
Troops use a water pump to remove water from a flooded residential area following heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 26, 2022. — AFP

The military’s media wing said that doctors and paramedics are providing medical care to affected people. Moreover, it said that coastal highway has been opened for all kinds of traffic.

“Efforts are in hand to repair the damaged communication infrastructure and restore utilities. The protection bund in Turbat which was breached has been repaired.”

In Punjab, the ISPR said that troops are assisting civil administration in relief efforts in Dera Ghazi Khan after flash floods and hill torrents.

Army officials oversee ASA pumping stations and the main drain of the city along with WASA officials as the city administration prepares before heavy rains in Hyderabad, on July 20, 2022. — INP
Army officials oversee ASA pumping stations and the main drain of the city along with WASA officials as the city administration prepares before heavy rains in Hyderabad, on July 20, 2022. — INP

Two medical camps have been established by the army to provide medical care to residents affected due to floods, it added.

For Sindh, the ISPR said that apart from de-watering efforts in Karachi, troops are busy in relief efforts in Jamshoro and Gharo areas.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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