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‘Second life’: Helicopters rescue the stranded from Pakistan valleys

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  • Up to 200,000 people are stranded in remote Pakistan valleys.
  • Army and govt helicopter missions have rescued hundreds of panicked tourists and locals.
  • Deputy commissioner for Swat says stricken tourists have made up majority of evacuations.

SAIDU SHARIF: Up to 200,000 people are stranded in remote Pakistan valleys after the unrelenting floods of the past week — with helicopters the only way of reaching them.

Unprecedented rain in the Swat Valley turned rivers into raging torrents that washed away roads and bridges, cutting off tourists and residents from nearby towns, even as the water receded.

Army and government helicopter missions have rescued hundreds of panicked tourists and locals — some urgently needing medical help.

“It feels like I have got a second life,” said tourist Yasmin Akram, a diabetic who was airlifted to Saidu Sharif’s airfield from the Kalam valley with her 12-year-old daughter and husband.

The traffic police officer watched in despair as the hotel they fled in the middle of the night was swallowed by the Swat river, taking with it a young boy.

“I witnessed this all with my own eyes,” she said. “Since then I haven’t slept.”

Her husband, dazed from exhaustion, said he ran out of medication for his kidney condition after Kalam was cut off.

“When I arrived here it was like being given a new life,” said Muhammad Akram, an official with the Punjab government.

Their two adult sons were left behind, with priority given to the sick, women and children.

The stunning Swat Valley, known locally as the “Pakistani Switzerland”, is a popular tourist spot because of its majestic mountains, lakes and rivers.

‘Challenges are immense’ 

Junaid Khan, the deputy commissioner for Swat, told AFP that stricken tourists have made up the majority of evacuations.

Government officials and doctors have been airlifted into the valleys to identify those most in need of rescue.

Locals are willing to stay behind if food and medical supplies are guaranteed, said Khan.

Thousands of food aid packages have already been delivered — some dropped from the back of a helicopter when crowds of people reaching for the aircraft made it impossible to land.

“We’ve reached areas that no other organisations and aid groups have been able to,” Khan said at Saidu Sharif’s airfield, where some of the rescue missions are being coordinated.

Locals are hurrying to create makeshift landing pads for the helicopters — with the first established on grounds surrounding a mosque in Mankyel.

It could be days before roads leading to the mountains and valleys are repaired.

“The challenges are immense but the hope is very high in this region which has seen the worst of earthquakes and floods,” said Khan.

So far 21 deaths have been reported in the area’s valleys — mostly as a result of collapsed houses — but a handful of people were washed away by floods.

A helicopter supplied by the provincial government’s chief minister — not built for rescue missions — has helped to pull more than 350 people from villages, carrying up to double the recommended number of passengers.

Army helicopters have collected hundreds more.

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Explanation: The increase in inflation in the United States would cause electricity costs in Pakistan to rise.

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Electricity contracts between Independent Power Plants (IPPs) and the federal government not only involve capacity costs, but also have a significant impact on the economy and the financial well-being of the population. These contracts are closely linked to the inflation rate and the value of the US dollar.

Startling disclosures have emerged regarding the exorbitant electricity tariffs in Pakistan. The Council of Economic and Energy Journalists Sage, representing the institute, provided a briefing to leading journalists in Karachi.

According to the information provided, the electricity rate component in Pakistan experienced a 253 percent increase from 2019 to 2024 as a result of inflation in America.

The data presented in the briefing indicates that the capacity charges in Pakistan were Rs3.26 per unit in 2019 and climbed to Rs10.34 per unit in 2024.

The capacity charges imposed on the public incorporate the effects of both US inflation and domestic inflation.

Due to the rise in the country’s interest rate, the interest payment for energy has climbed by 343% during a span of four years. Over the course of four years, the working capital of IPPs caused a 716 percent increase in the cost of power per unit.

The electricity rate has increased by 12 to 20 percent, with 70 percent of the charges being capacity charges.

SDPI experts recommended the government to adopt a centralised tariff policy rather than a universal electricity tariff strategy.

The power generation capacity amounts to 23,000 megawatts.

As a result of the increase in solar power generation in the country, the capacity charges will have an additional adverse impact on the residents.

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Business

Significant surge in the price of gold in Pakistan

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On Friday, the price of gold in Pakistan continued to increase.

According to the All-Pakistan Gems and Jewellers Sarafa Association, the price of 24-karat gold per tola has risen by Rs2,200, reaching Rs249,000.

The price of 10-gram 24-karat gold increased by Rs1,886, reaching a total of Rs213,477. On Thursday, the cost of 10 grammes of 22-karat gold was Rs195,687.

The global gold market likewise had a rising trajectory. As per APGJSA, the worldwide rate was $2,404 per ounce, showing a decline of $24 during the course of the trading day.

The local market witnessed constant silver prices at Rs2,900 per tola.

Market observers attribute the increase in gold prices to other variables, such as volatility in the global market, currency exchange rates, and economic conditions. The ongoing surge in gold prices is likely to impact investment choices and consumer behaviour in the near future.

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Court ruling: PTI to overtake all other parties in the National Assembly

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Eight independents and 84 Sunni Alliance members mean that the PTI will likely have 92 legislators in the National Assembly, according to sources.

PTI’s strength in the Lower House is expected to surge to 114 members if it regains the 22 reserved seats it previously lost.

As for the PML-N, they have 108 members in the National Assembly; PPP has 68; MQM has 21; JUI-F has 8; PML-Q has 5; and IPP has 4.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the distribution of reserved seats, the 77 extra seats meant for women and minorities were taken away from the PML-N, PPP, MQM, and JUI.

The electoral commission had on May 13 suspended the 77 Sunni Ittehad Council reserved seats on directives from the Supreme Court. 22 National Assembly seats and 55 provincial assembly seats are among the contested seats.

There are eleven seats from Punjab and eight from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the National Assembly that are up for debate among women. The suspended seats also include three seats that are designated for minorities. In the National Assembly, the PPP received five seats, the JUI received three, and the PML-N received fourteen of the 22 heavily contested seats.

There are no longer any allocated seats for minorities or women in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, with 21 seats for women. In addition to the JUI-F, the PML-N was allotted seven seats, the PPP seven, and the ANP one.

The Supreme Court’s decision has suspended the three minority seats and the 24 reserved seats for women in the Punjab Assembly. The PML-N received 23, the PPP received 2, the PML-Q received 1, and the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party received 1 in Punjab.

There are now no longer any designated seats in the Sindh Assembly for women and minorities. MQM was allotted one reserved seat out of these, and the PPP two.

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