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Pakistan PM orders those involved in violence tracked down and arrested



(Last Updated On: May 14, 2023)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday gave authorities 72 hours to identify and arrest all those involved in violent acts after former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s arrest this week sparked deadly unrest, Reuters reported.

Sharif said the cases would be tried by anti-terrorism courts.

“All available resources including technological aid and intelligence are being deployed to chase down these elements. Bringing these people to justice is a test case for the government,” said the premier.

Khan departed court premises late Friday night and headed towards his hometown Lahore amid high security, after a court granted him bail. His arrest in a land fraud case on Tuesday, which the Supreme Court ruled “invalid and unlawful” on Thursday, sparked violent protests by his supporters.

They stormed military establishments, set ablaze a state broadcaster building, smashed buses, ransacked a top army official’s house and attacked other assets, resulting in the army being deployed in multiple cities.

More than 2,800 arrests were made, while 152 police officers were injured, 74 police vehicles vandalised and set on fire, and 22 government buildings, including police stations and offices, were damaged, said the police of Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab.

At least eight people were killed in the violence, a spasm of unrest in a country that is facing economic crisis, with record inflation, anaemic growth and delayed IMF funding, read the report.

Following Sharif’s announcement, Punjab’s government released pictures of unidentified protesters involved in an attack on a military official’s residence on Wednesday.

Before leaving court on Friday, Khan welcomed the court’s bail order and said the judiciary was Pakistan’s only protection against the “law of the jungle”.

“I must say I expected this from our judiciary, because the only hope now left – the only thin line between a banana republic and a democracy is the judiciary,” he told journalists inside the court premises.

Prior to his return to Lahore, the authorities blocked off military areas there, which have been a focus for pro-Khan protests. He was welcomed back home by crowds of supporters showering his vehicle with rose petals, Reuters reported.

Khan, 70, is a cricket star-turned-politician who was ousted as prime minister in April 2022 in a parliamentary no-confidence vote and Pakistan’s most popular leader according to opinion polls. He denies the allegations of graft levelled against him.

In a virtual address to his followers on Saturday, Khan asked the Supreme Court to set up an independent investigation into the violence to uncover who was behind it, hinting his party was being framed.

He also asked his supporters to go out onto their streets on Sunday evening with placards to protest.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were inaccessible in Pakistan on Saturday, Reuters journalists said, after access was briefly restored late on Friday.

The Ministry of Interior had instructed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to suspend mobile broadband services across the country, and blocked access to the three social media networks, on Tuesday night, read the report.


Gunmen kill 9 men after abduction in southwest Pakistan



(Last Updated On: April 13, 2024)

Gunmen shot and killed nine men after abducting them from a bus in a troubled province in southwestern Pakistan, officials said on Saturday.

No one has claimed the responsibility for the Friday night attack in Balochistan province, Reuters reported.

Separatist ethnic Baloch militant groups in the mineral-rich region have been fighting for decades against the state, saying it denies them their share of regional resources.

Several gunmen intercepted the Iran-bound bus in Noshki district, taking the nine men with them after determining they were from the eastern province of Punjab, said police officer Abdullah Mengal. “All of them were travelling to Taftan,” he said.

The victims were shot at close range, he said.

Their bullet-ridden bodies were found from beneath a bridge after one and a half hour, said the district deputy commissioner, Habibullah Musakhail.

Ethnic Baloch insurgents have previously claimed responsibility for similar killings in the region, which is home to deep-water Gwadar sea port being developed by neighbouring China. The insurgents have also targeted Chinese nationals and their interests.

Beijing has invested heavily in regional development projects as part of its $65 billion pledge under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

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Indian foreign ministry advises against travel to Iran, Israel



(Last Updated On: April 13, 2024)

India advised its citizens on Friday against travelling to Iran and Israel until further notice in view of the “prevailing situation in the region”.

The advisory from the foreign ministry came amid Iran’s threats to retaliate against a suspected Israeli airstrike on its embassy in Syria this month.

Countries including the U.S. and Russia have issued similar travel advisories for their staff and citizens in the region.

India’s foreign ministry said its citizens in the two countries should observe “utmost precautions about their safety and restrict their movements to the minimum”.

It is feared that retaliation by Iran can widen the six-month old conflict between Iran-backed Hamas militants and Israel in Gaza.

The U.S. has reached out to the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Iraq, asking them to urge Iran to lower tensions with Israel, as part of its efforts to contain the conflict.



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17 killed as truck carrying pilgrims plunges into ravine in Balochistan’s Hub



(Last Updated On: April 11, 2024)

At least 17 people were killed while over 40 sustained injuries after a truck carrying pilgrims plunged into a ravine in Balochistan’s Hub district on Wednesday, officials said.

Hub Assistant Superintendent of Police Ahmed Talha Wali confirmed the death toll and injuries.
He said the truck, carrying 50 people, was en route to the Shah Noorani shrine in Khuzdar from Thatta, Dawn reported.

He said the incident took place at 10pm last night, and that critically injured people had been taken to Jam Ghulam Qadir Hospital in Hub and Civil Hospital’s Trauma Centre in Karachi.
Earlier, Manan Baloch, the Edhi Foundation’s Hub in-charge, said that the rescue operation to retrieve the bodies and injured concluded Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Munir Ahmed told AFP that the truck was speeding and that the driver lost control while negotiating a turn.

In a statement issued earlier Thursday, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti expressed sorrow over the loss of lives, according to state-run Radio Pakistan.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah visited the Civil Hospital’s Trauma Centre and met with the injured persons.

Speaking to the media outside the facility, he said 40 people had been discharged so far while five were in critical condition.”
Road accidents with high fatalities are common in the country due to lax safety measures, poor driver training and decrepit transport infrastructure.

Passenger buses and trucks are frequently crammed to capacity and seatbelts are not commonly worn, meaning high death tolls from single-vehicle accidents are common.

According to the World Health Organisation estimates, more than 27,000 people were killed on Pakistan’s roads in 2018.

In January last year, 41 people were killed when their passenger bus, which was also loaded with containers of flammable oil, plunged into a ravine in Balochistan province and burst into flames.

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