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Key aide of Pakistan’s Imran Khan resigns amidst standoff with army



(Last Updated On: May 25, 2023)

A key aide of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday he was quitting politics, dealing a further blow to the embattled ex-premier’s party as a standoff with the military intensified, Reuters reported.

Former Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s resignation is the latest – and highest profile – in a string of departures from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which the civilian government on Wednesday threatened to ban.

“I have decided to take a break from politics, therefore, I have resigned from party position and parting ways from Imran Khan,” Chaudhry said in a post on Twitter.

The former information minister spent days in detention after violent protests swept the country this month after the detention of Khan on corruption charges, read the report.

Chaudhry condemned the protests by Khan’s supporters, who attacked military installations, including army headquarters, and government buildings.

Khan says the corruption allegations were fabricated and that his associates are being forced out under duress from the government and the military in a manoeuvre to dismantle his party before elections scheduled later this year.

He has been embroiled in a tussle with the military since he was removed from power last year in a parliamentary vote which he says was orchestrated by the country’s top generals. The military denies this.

Khan is Pakistan’s most popular leader according to local polls, while the military is its most powerful institution, having ruled directly or overseen governments throughout Pakistan’s 75-year history, Reuters reported.

The face-off has raised new fears about the stability of the nuclear-armed South Asian country of 220 million people as it struggles with its worst economic crisis in decades.

Chaudhry is the second former federal minister to leave Khan. On Tuesday, former Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari announced she was leaving politics, citing health concerns, after spending 12 days in detention.

Most of the top leaders of the PTI have been taken into custody. A number of former parliamentarians and mid-tier leaders have quit the party or politics entirely over the last few days.

Another key aide, former Finance Minister Asad Umar also announced on Wednesday, hours after he was released from detention, that he was resigning from his party position of secretary general.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told reporters on Wednesday that the government is considering banning the PTI for attacking the “very basis of state” and this could not be tolerated.

A ban would be likely to further enrage Khan’s supporters and exacerbate the confrontation with the military establishment.

PTI party lawyer Ali Zafar said any such step would be challenged in court. He said an entire party cannot be blamed for acts committed by individuals.

Khan, 70, became prime minister in 2018 with the tacit support of the military, though both sides denied it at the time. But he later fell out with the generals after being seen as having tried to interfere in key promotions in the security sphere.

After being removed from power last year, Khan has been campaigning for a snap general elections, rallying supporters across the country. But the prime minister who replaced him, Shahbaz Sharif, has rejected calls for a poll ahead of the due date late this year.

Khan has said the corruption charges were made up to banish him from politics.

He was detained on May 9 but was later freed on bail.

In an address on Wednesday, Khan said he would form a negotiating committee that will offer to talk with state authorities to seek a way out of the impasse, Reuters reported.

He said if that committee was convinced the matter could be resolved by him stepping aside from politics or from not holding snap elections, he would comply.


Pakistan, Russia launch direct shipping service



(Last Updated On: May 30, 2023)

Pakistan and Russia have launched a direct shipping service, for their first time in their bilateral trade history, which Islamabad and Moscow hope will boost trade ties between the two countries.

On Saturday, following an inauguration ceremony, a cargo ship carrying 36,000 tons of goods left Karachi port for St Petersburg. The ship is expected to arrive in the Russian port city in 18 days.

Later this week, a tanker carrying Russian crude oil is expected to reach Karachi.

Pakistan’s minister of state for petroleum and energy, Musaddik Malik, told the media that this is the first direct shipping line between the two countries.

“We want to make it clear Pakistan is not in anyone’s camp. We try to do trade with the USA, we are told we are in the USA camp. We do business with China, we are told we have aligned with China. The truth is we are only doing what is in the interest of Pakistan,” Malik said.

“We are only trying to get cheap oil for our energy needs from Russia,” he said.

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Over 3,600 boxes of silkworms distributed to Herat farmers this year



(Last Updated On: May 29, 2023)

Herat Directorate of Agriculture and Livestock says more than 3,500 boxes of silkworms have been distributed to farmers this year in Zinda Jan, Injil, Guzara and Pashtun Zarghun districts of the province.

This directorate has said that 80 percent of silk work is done in Zinda Jan district.

“We were able to grow about 3,600 boxes with the help of institutions, about 80 percent of which we have grown in Zinda Jan district,” said Khalil Ahmad, general director of Herat agriculture directorate.

“About 20 percent of silkworms have been grown in Injil, Guzara and Pashtun Zarghun districts, which has had good results and the financial status of the farmers has improved.”

The local officials said most work in the silk industry is done by women.

“Almost 60 percent of the silk industry is done by women,” said Ahmad Shah Qawami, head of the silk workers’ union for Zinda Jan district.

This year, the families who are engaged in raising silkworms hope to have good production, now that the silk season is over and many are working to separate the silk thread.

However, the farmers are not satisfied with this year’s market conditions.

“The silk market is weak this year, it was good last year, it was very advanced,” said a silk worker.

The silk industry in Herat has a history dating back 600 years, and many families have preserved this ancient profession.

Silkworms usually feed on the leaves of mulberry trees, which grow in these regions. The industry also provides a livelihood to hundreds of men and women in the area.

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Two die of Congo fever in Balkh Central Hospital



(Last Updated On: May 28, 2023)

Two patients died of Congo fever in Abu Ali Sinai Balkhi Hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif city, health officials said.

Reports of an outbreak of Congo fever have been recorded in a number of provinces in the north of the country.

Najibullah Tawana, head of public health of Balkh, announced the death of two people in the meeting of sectorial coordination to prevent and reduce diseases between humans and animals in the province.

“Last week, 10 cases of Congo disease were confirmed in Faryab and Jawzjan and [patients were] transferred to Abu Ali Sina Balkhi seminary hospital, but two of them have died,” said Tawana.
Meanwhile, Mawolavi Mohammad Nasim Abid, the deputy mayor of Mazar-e-Sharif, said that they monitor the cleanliness and compliance of butchers every day, and that animals are slaughtered in slaughterhouses built by this department.

According to him; standard facilities have been established for the slaughter of chickens to prevent the spread of various diseases.

Mawolavi Zabihullah Noorani, the head of Balkh culture and information, also asked the media to inform the people about the prevention of this disease and inform them about the harm of this deadly disease.

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