The News – Pakistan slams extrajudicial killing of 13 Kashmiris by Indian troops

Islamabad – Pakistan, 02 June 2020. Pakistan slams the extrajudicial killing of 13 Kashmiris in a single day by Indian troops in Indian-occupied Kashmir, a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

The ministry said Pakistan was deeply concerned over unabated extrajudicial killings of Kashmiri youth in fake encounters and so-called “anti-infiltration” operations.

“While the international community is preoccupied with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, India is busy intensifying its brutalisation of the Kashmiri people,” it said, adding that the killing of the Kashmiris speaks volumes about Indian government’s continuing crimes against humanity.

“To hide these crimes, the Indian authorities use the oft-repeated, unsubstantiated allegations of ‘training’ and ‘infiltration’ of Kashmiri resistance fighters,” the Foreign Office said.

“India must realise that its malicious propaganda carries no credibility with the international community. The RSS-BJP combine stands exposed before the world for its illegal and inhuman actions and extremist ‘Hindutva’ agenda.”

The Foreign Office added, “India must realise that neither can its brutalisation break the will of the Kashmiri people nor can its anti-Pakistan propaganda divert attention from India’s state-terrorism and egregious violations of human rights in occupied Kashmir.”

It added the martyrdom of each Kashmiri will further fortify people’s resolve for freedom from Indian occupation.

“Kashmiris will never give up their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the UNSC resolutions and the leadership and people of Pakistan will never flinch in their commitment of full support for the Kashmiris towards that end.”

The Foreign Office further urged the international community to take immediate steps to stop India from committing serious crimes against the Kashmiri people and hold it accountable under international law and relevant human rights Conventions.

The Tribune – Sikh doctor dies due to coronavirus in northwest Pakistan

Dr Phag Chand Singh retired as deputy medical superintendent four years ago

Peshawar – Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 01 June 2020. A Sikh doctor, who was tested positive for the novel coronavirus, died at a hospital in northwest Pakistan on Monday, officials said.

Dr Phag Chand Singh was on ventilator at a private hospital in the provincial capital Peshawar since last four days, they said. He was cremated on Monday.

Dr Singh had obtained the MBBS degree from the Khyber Medical College in 1980 and was decorated with a gold medal by former president Zia-ul Haq.

He started his career as a medical officer in the Nowshera district hospital in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and stayed in the district for three decades. He retired as a deputy medical superintendent four years ago.

His ancestral village was Pirbaba Badshah Kalay in Buner district.

Dr Singh was famous for his honesty and he used to provide free treatment to poor patients. He is survived by his wife, two sons, Dr Gurmeet Kumar and Dr Jaitan Kumar, and daughter Dr Sweety.

Deputy Commissioner Nowshera Shahid Ali Khan said Singh’s son Dr Jaitan Kumar was the head of the district corona cubic response team.

Dr Kumar was tested positive for coronavirus and officials believe Dr Singh might have contracted the disease from his son or during interaction with patients at his private clinic.

Leaders of the minority Sikh community, Suresh Kumar and Ashok Kumar, paid rich tributes to Dr Singh and praised his services to society.

The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients rose to 73,868 with 10,027 cases in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Dawn – Navigating an unsettled world

Op/Ed Maleeha Lodhi, 01 June 2020. In an unsettled world where strategic tensions between big powers are mounting, Pakistan faces daunting foreign policy challenges in a turbulent global and regional environment.

The pandemic has injected greater volatility into an international landscape already afflicted by threats to multilateralism, trade and technology wars between big powers and attempts by regional powers to reshape the rules of the game in their neighbourhood.

Understanding the dynamics of a world in disarray where unilateral actions and rejection of international norms by big powers and populist leaders hold sway is important as they have implications for the pursuit of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Four key policy areas pose immediate challenges and have to be simultaneously addressed:
1) Navigating the US-China confrontation
2) Dealing with occupied Kashmir and managing relations with an implacably hostile India
3) Helping Afghanistan win the peace but also preparing for less hopeful scenarios
4) Balancing relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Rising tensions between the US and China have a direct bearing on Pakistan. Even as Islamabad does not want this stand-off to affect its relations with either of the two countries, that is easier said than done.

What has been described as a new cold war will intensify in a US election year when President Donald Trump has made China-bashing a central plank of his re-election campaign.

He is both playing off a bipartisan political consensus and fortifying anti-China public sentiment that preceded the pandemic and has been strengthened by it.

Pakistan faces daunting foreign policy challenges in a turbulent environment.

The pandemic has also reinforced US plans to reduce economic dependence on China by reconfiguring or diversifying global supply chains and pursuing a more overt contain-China policy.

When this gets underway it may result in India emerging as a stronger economic partner of Washington.

This will also bolster the longer-standing American strategy to project India as a strategic counterweight to China especially as India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems willing to play that role.

The implications for Pakistan of the US-India entente are already evident by Washington’s tepid response on Kashmir and continuing augmentation of India’s military and strategic capabilities.

Thus, closer US-India relations will confront Pakistan with a regional environment of greater strategic imbalance.

Concern about CPEC and China’s Belt and Road Initiative has prompted frequent US criticism of these megaprojects.

A White House report sent last month to Congress is more explicit, asserting that BRI will give China “undue political influence and military access”.

Statements by American officials that CPEC will impose a heavy debt burden on Islamabad represent unsubtle though vain efforts to drive a wedge between Pakistan and China.

While Islamabad will want to avoid getting in the cross hairs of US-China friction it is obvious that Pakistan’s strategic future lies with China.

CPEC is emblematic of China’s aim to strengthen Pakistan, economically and strategically, and must be our overriding priority.

Pakistan’s relations with China remain on a positive trajectory but will need regular reinforcement. Close consultation with Beijing on key global and regional issues, including Afghanistan, will be important.

Ties with the US have improved, but lack substantive content. For now, the main commonality is Afghanistan.

That too will be tested in coming months when hurdles are encountered in the fragile Afghan peace process. Nevertheless, it is important to keep engagement on a positive track while accepting the limits of the relationship.

On Afghanistan, Pakistan should extend whatever assistance it can to the much-delayed peace process, still facing a host of challenges.

The recent Eid ceasefire between the Taliban and Kabul and the accord between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah have however brightened prospects.

What Pakistan’s establishment must come to terms with is President Trump’s intention to pull out US troops regardless of whether intra-Afghan talks advance or produce a negotiated end to the war.

The latest indications of this are the US military withdrawal proceeding ahead of schedule and Trump’s reiteration that it was time for Afghans “to police their own country”.

Washington’s stance is unlikely to change if Trump loses the November election to Joe Biden as they have similar views on disentangling the US from its costly involvement in Afghanistan.

Islamabad thus needs to think long term and prepare for different scenarios that might emerge in Afghanistan keeping in view machinations by regional countries acting as spoilers in Afghanistan’s peace effort.

Pakistan’s most imposing challenge however will remain managing relations with India where the Modi government is bent upon crushing the Kashmiri resistance by unprecedented levels of repression and orchestrating anti-Muslim sentiment and pogroms in India.

Dialogue with Delhi is ruled out by its brutal and illegal actions in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where even medical services have been denied during the pandemic, and India’s refusal to discuss the issue.

Aggressive moves by India on the Line of Control and covert actions in Balochistan represent a toxic mix that have sent tensions soaring with Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s repeated warnings about a possible false flag Indian operation underlines the growing danger.

Faced with this, Pakistan will have to avoid any engagement for the sake of engagement with India unless Pakistan’s concerns are accommodated in future talks. This is hard to see under Modi.

On Kashmir, Pakistan needs a strategic approach and a sustained diplomatic campaign, not an on-off approach. Tweets are not a diplomatic strategy. Noise is not a policy.

A strategy for a changed global environment should preserve our principled stance while mobilising international support for a peaceful Kashmir settlement.

This means pushing the boundaries at the international level. For a start, a virtual meeting of OIC foreign ministers should be sought, taking advantage of the rising concern among many OIC countries about India’s anti-Muslim actions.

Once the situation permits, Pakistan should also seek a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council exclusively on occupied Kashmir to refocus world attention on the egregious human rights violations there.

Space limits detailed consideration of policy towards the Middle East.

Most importantly, Pakistan should deftly balance its relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who remain locked in a tense stand-off, and stay the course on a policy that avoids being drawn into their rivalry, however challenging it may be given Pakistan’s increased financial reliance on Riyadh.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, UK and UN.

Dawn – Provisional investigation report on PIA plane crash to be made public by 22 June – Ghulam Sarwar

Islamabad – Pakistan, 28 May 2020. Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Thursday said that a provisional investigation report on last week’s plane crash, as well as previous crashes, will be made public by June 22 during the upcoming parliamentary sessions.

He made these remarks during a press conference in Islamabad, where he revealed that the prime minister met the inquiry board and directed them to conduct a thorough inquiry into the causes of the air crash.

A PIA plane, Airbus A-320, carrying 99 people on board, had crashed into a residential area near Karachi airport last week, resulting in 97 casualties.

“There have been 12 plane crashes in our recent history, including the one last week. And when I briefed the prime minister on these accidents, he inquired as to why their investigative reports never come out on time,” said Sarwar, adding that Prime Minister Imran’s “main concern” right now is to ascertain the causes of these delays.

“As the aviation minister, I will, therefore, try my best to release a provisional investigation report during the parliamentary sessions by 22 June,” Sarwar said.

He added that the said report will reveal not just the reasons for the recent crash in Karachi but will also “briefly” touch upon the reasons for the delay in the reports of previous air crashes.

He added that the forthcoming report will be “a free and fair” one because the members of the inquiry board were answerable to Allah.

The aviation minister also revealed that an 11-member team, comprising experts from Airbus and representatives from the French government and the engine manufacturers, had reached Karachi on 26 May.

“They [the members of the team] are currently investigating the causes of the air crash. And they will share their findings with our inquiry board,” Sarwar said.

DNA identification

Sarwar said that 51 dead bodies have been identified and handed over to the families until now and that the identification process will continue until all the results from the DNA tests have been received.

“It will take some time for all the bodies to be identified. But once that process is completed, we will hand over all the remaining dead bodies to the grieving families,” he said.

Reiterating the government’s support for the grieving families and of those residents who were directly affected by the crash, Sarwar said that he understands that monetary compensation isn’t enough to recompense for the loss of the grieving families.

“We have announced that families of those who were killed would receive Rs1 million each while the two survivors would be given Rs500,000 each. But we know this isn’t enough and therefore we will not rest until we have conducted a thorough inquiry into the crash,” he said.

Sarwar said that the causes of the accident were a concern for the entire country and not just of those whose families had lost their loved ones.
“We are all deeply concerned as to why these crashes keep happening,” he said.

The federal aviation minister also said that the government would offer compensation to the residents of the area whose houses were impacted by the crash.

“I met many aggrieved people on the ground when I visited the accident site,” Sarwar said, as he announced that the government will start the rehabilitation process in the area once experts have concluded their estimates.

He paid tribute to the “passion and bravery” of the civilian volunteers who assisted the recovery operation on the day of the crash. The aviation minister also urged people not to speculate on the causes of the air crash.

“I think the entire country should wait, be patient and wait for inquiry board to release their report.”

Responding to a question on whether there was a technical fault that caused the accident, Sarwar requested TV anchors and journalists to refrain from discussing the technical aspects of the crash, saying that only the experts could answer their queries.

“Look, if there was a technical fault in the plane, it must have been recorded. In other words, we will find out one way or the other soon,” Sarwar said.

“Voice and data records have been found. I believe one was found earlier today. French authorities will take these records back to France to decode them. There are technical questions that you or I can’t answer. So we will wait for experts to tell us,” he added.

Sarwar also said that the domestic flight operation has not been impacted in the aftermath of the accident.

“No, the domestic operation continues as usual. And PIA is also repatriating stranded overseas Pakistanis. In fact, we will soon increase the number of domestic flights,” Sarwar concluded.

Aljazeera – Karachi plane crash: Black box recovered, says airline

Worst air disaster in Pakistan since 2012 killed at least 97 passengers and crew members.

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 23 May 2020. The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site of a plane crash that killed at least 97 passengers and crew members in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 was flying from Lahore to Karachi when it went down around 09:45 GMT on Friday. The Airbus A320, which had 99 people aboard, crashed into a crowded residential district of the southern city after twice trying to land at the airport.

“The black box had been found late yesterday, we are handing it over to the inquiry board,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan said on Saturday, clarifying both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were located.

Health ministry spokeswoman Meeran Yousuf told Al Jazeera by telephone that 66 bodies were kept at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi’s largest government hospital, and 31 at Civil Hospital Karachi, another leading state-run hospital.

Two male passengers survived the crash.

“After it hit and I regained consciousness, I saw fire everywhere and no one was visible,” passenger Mohammad Zubair, 24, said from his hospital bed in a video clip circulated on social media.

“The cries were everywhere and everybody was trying to survive. I undid my seat belt and I saw some light and tried to walk towards it. Then I jumped out.”

Zubair suffered burns but was in a stable condition, a health ministry official said. The airline named the other survivor as the president of the Bank of Punjab, Zafar Masud.

Dozens killed in Pakistan passenger plane crash

Seconds before the crash, the pilot told air traffic controllers he had lost power from both engines, according to a recording posted on, a respected aviation monitoring website.

“Our plane [an Airbus] A320 which was coming from Lahore to Karachi was on final approach,” said PIA chief Arshad Malik in a video message released after the crash.

“The last words we heard from our pilot were that there is a technical problem and he was told on final approach that he has both runways available to him to land on. But the pilot decided that he wanted to go around.”

The plane then rapidly lost altitude and crashed short of the runway into the Model Colony neighbourhood, witnesses told local media.

Dense plumes of black smoke rose above houses in the narrow streets of the neighbourhood, with television footage showing several buildings crushed from the impact of the aircraft.

Parts of the plane, including the emergency exit door, were strewn in the streets.

Airbus said the jet first flew in 2004 and was fitted with engines built by CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and France’s Safran.

Worst air disaster in years

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan announced soon after the crash that there would be an inquiry,

The country only last week resumed domestic flights it had suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many people travelling for the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

This year’s holiday is expected to fall on Sunday or Monday in the country, subject to the sighting of the moon.

Friday’s crash is the worst air disaster in Pakistan since 2012, when a Bhoja Air passenger aircraft, a Boeing 737, crashed in the capital, Islamabad, killing 127 people.

Dawn – Survey to assess damage caused by plane crash in Model Colony begins

Imran Ayub

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 24 May 2020. As rescue workers, security officials and local volunteers completed the tiring job of retrieving bodies from the rubble of the ill-fated Pakistan International Airlines plane that crashed on Friday afternoon, authorities on Saturday start assessing the damage caused by the incident on the ground and counted some 19 houses in Model Colony whose structures had been damaged badly.

Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said that a committee assigned by him was conducting a survey and had almost completed its job.

He replied in the affirmative when asked about any compensation to the owners of the damaged houses, but said the final assessment report would determine the details.

“None of the houses was completely destroyed or damaged,” the commissioner told Dawn. “Parts of some house, 15 or so, were damaged. In most of the cases, upper parts of the houses were damaged where their concrete structure was hit by the crashed plane. Fortunately, the structures mostly remained intact.”

He said there were also some vehicles parked in the street of the particular Model Colony area where the PIA crashed. A team would also take their details into account while compiling a report, he said.

Commissioner says government to provide compensation to repair damaged houses

Meanwhile, he requested all bereaved families of the victims of the crash to visit the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi University, for DNA sampling. First priority is to be given to parents of the victims, second to their children and third to their siblings, he added.

Governor, aviation minister visit

Earlier, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan visited the site of the plane crash in Model Colony and inspected the damage caused due to the incident.

PIA chief executive officer Arshad Malik, members of the National and Sindh assemblies were also with him.

The governor met with the locals and volunteers engaged in rescue and relief work. PIA chief Arshad Malik informed the governor that all bodies were recovered from the wreckage while two persons were rescued alive after the crash.

He appreciated the quick response of the armed forces and Pakistan Rangers carrying out rescue work.

“On the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan Qasr-e-Naz and Airport Hotel of the PIA have been reserved for legal heirs of crash victim and families who lost their houses in the incident for their accommodation,” he said while talking to reporters.

“On PM’s directives, Rs one million each would be given to the heirs of deceased, while the amount of insurance compensation would also to be paid. It is a miracle that no life was lost on the ground despite the fact that plane crashed in a thickly-populated area.”

Later, the Sindh governor visited the Askari-IV residence of Ansar Naqvi, a senior journalist and director news of a private TV channel, who was among the victims of the plane crash.

“The Sindh governor expressed his condolences to Shehryar and Shazin, sons of the deceased journalist,” said a statement issued from the Governor House.

“The plane crash is a big tragedy and is a great shock especially to the families of the victims. Ansar Naqvi was a senior journalist as well as a very good man who was always ready to teach his juniors.”

He also visited the residence of Yahya Polani, the owner of Polani Travels, and offered condolences to him on the death of his nephew Zain Polani, his wife and three children in a plane crash.

“It’s a great shock to the Polani family as an entire family has [been] affected in the incident,” the statement quoted Governor Ismail as saying.

The News – PIA plane crash: Punjab Forensic Science Agency teams arrive in Karachi

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 22 May 2020. Three teams from the Punjab Forensic Science Agency arrived in Karachi on Saturday to collect DNA samples from the victims of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash, reported Geo News.

All but two of the 99 people on board the PIA plane were killed when it crashed into Karachi’s Model Colony neighbourhood, a residential area near the airport.

Among the survivours were the chief executive of the Bank of Punjab and a young engineer. No casualties were reported on the ground.

Head of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency Dr Tahir Ashraf told Geo News three teams comprising forensic scientists were in Karachi to collect DNA samples from the plane crash victims.

“The teams will start collecting samples from today,” Dr Ashraf said.

He added, the teams will collect samples from the bodies and the victims’ parents, siblings or children to identify the victims.

“As soon as the samples reach Lahore, we will work day and night to get the result out as soon as possible. The result of the DNA test will be available in 24 hours,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, the Sindh Health Department confirmed that 66 bodies had been shifted to Jinnah Hospital, of which 20 bodies were of women and 43 of men. Three bodies of children had also been brought to the hospital.

The provincial health department said 50 bodies at the hospital were yet to be identified, while 16 bodies had been identified.

The health department further said that the remaining 31 bodies had been moved to Civil Hospital, of which six bodies were of women and 25 of men. It said 28 of bodies kept at the hospital have yet to be identified while the process of identification had been completed for three.

Separately, rescue officials said some bodies had later been shifted from the Civil and Jinnah Hospitals to an Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth and the Chhipa morgue at FTC.

“DNA samples were taken from the bodies before being shifted to the morgues,” officials said, adding that 96 bodies were at the morgues, while one had been handed over to the deceased’s relatives.

Dawn – JIT formed to probe Waziristan honour killings

Pazir Gul

Miramshah – North Waziristan – Pakistan, 20 May 2020. The Bannu regional police officer has constituted a four-member joint investigation team for probing the honour killing of two teenage girls, whose ‘objectionable’ video went viral lately.

The police have so far arrested four suspects, including the video recorder and the one, released on social media.

North Waziristan district police officer Shafiullah Gandapur will supervise the JIT, whose members include DSP Shahid Adnan, sub-inspectors Mir Sahib Khan and Mohammad Nawaz and assistant sub-inspector Farman Ali.

DPO Gandapur told reporters that the police had arrested Umer Ayaz, who had recorded the video and was seen in it; Fida Mohammad, a friend of Umer Ayaz with whom he had shared the video and suspected him of making it viral; father of one of the girls, Radwal Khan, and a cousin of the girls Roohuddin.

He said the alleged killer, Mohammad Aslam, who was also a cousin of the girls aged 16 and 18 respectively, had gone into hiding and the police were making efforts for his early arrest.

Video recorder among four held, suspected killer at large

The DPO said the police had also contacted cybercrime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency with a request for the deletion of the objectionable video from different websites.

He said the central character, Umer Ayaz, 28, was married and had two children.

Mr Gandapur said as the family had been keeping the issue a secret, it was a challenging case for the police.

“None of the family members had approached the police, so the SHO registered the FIR of the occurrence as the complainant,” he said.

The DPO said provincial police officer Sanaullah Abbasi was taking keen interest in the case. He said the district police were in contact with Karachi police for the tracing of the suspected killer as he used to live there before the killings.

Mr Gandapur said another woman seen in the 52 seconds video was the suspected killer’s wife, who seemed to be spared by the family, as she wasn’t found to be doing anything objectionable.

He said the girls’ family had migrated from South Waziristan area due to the Rah-i-Nijat military operation against militants before settling in Shamplan Garyam village of North Waziristan area.

The DPO added that the family of the deceased girls claimed that the video was filmed around a year ago.

He said Umer Ayaz revealed during investigation that he had only shared the video with friend Fida Mohammad, so he was suspected of making the video viral on social media.

The DPO added that due to sensitivity of the issue, the JIT comprised trained police officers to look into every aspect of the killings.

The girls were killed on 14 May, while the Razmak police station registered its FIR on 15 May.

Initially, the FIR included Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code but later, Pakistan Penal Code’s Section 311 dealing with fasad fil ard (mischief on earth) and Section 201 (causing of the disappearance of evidence) and Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act’s Section 19 (unauthorised interception of a transmission) were included in it.

Dawn – Seven soldiers martyred in two separate terror attacks in Balochistan: ISPR

Ghalib Nihad

Balochistan – Pakistan, 19 May 2020. Seven soldiers have been martyred in two separate terror attacks in Balochistan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Tuesday.

According to the ISPR statement, terrorists targeted a vehicle of the Frontier Corps (FC) in Mach using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), claiming the lives of six Pakistan Army soldiers.

The martyred soldiers were identified as Naib Subedar Ihsan Ullah Khan, Naik Zubair Khan, Naik Ijaz Ahmed, Naik Maula Bux, Naik Noor Muhammad and Abdul Jabbar.

In a separate incident at Kech, another soldier, Sipahi Imdad Ali was martyred in an exchange of fire with militants.

Earlier this month, five FC soldiers and one officer were martyred after their vehicle was targeted with an IED near the Pakistan-Iran border.

In a tweet, the military’s media wing said the security personnel were returning from patrolling in Buleda, 14 kilometres from the Pakistan-Iran border, to “check possible routes used by terrorists in the mountainous terrain of Makran”.

As they were returning, their vehicle was targeted with a remote controlled IED, it added.

The Tribune – Pakistan’s first Sikh woman journalist among top 100 influential Sikhs under 30

Islamabad – Pakistan. 16 May 2020. Pakistan’s first Sikh woman journalist has been named among 100 most influential Sikh personalities under 30 years of age in the world by a UK-based global Sikh organisation.

Manmeet Kaur, 25, has been selected for the award by ‘The Sikh Group’, a global organisation recognising people of Sikh faith from around the world, the Express Tribune reported.

She will receive her award next year at a ceremony in Britain.

A resident of Peshawar, Kaur is also a social activist, who has received awards in Pakistan for highlighting issues faced by minorities and women.

She has expressed happiness that her name was included in the category of influential Sikh personalities around the world.

“Those who work hard will reap the rewards and it is a great honour for my family to visit the UK and represent Pakistan,” she was quoted as saying.