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Cataclysmic floods in Pakistan kill over 1,100, including 380 children

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  • United Nations describes floods as “unprecedented climate catastrophe” while appealing for aid.
  • Pakistan receives nearly 190% more rain than 30-year average so far this year.
  • Guterres to head to Pakistan next week to see effects of catastrophic floods.

CHARSADDA: Torrential rains and flooding have submerged a third of Pakistan and killed more than 1,100 people, including 380 children as the United Nations appealed for aid on Tuesday for what it described as an “unprecedented climate catastrophe.”

Army helicopters plucked stranded families and dropped food packages to inaccessible areas as the historic deluge, triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rains, destroyed homes, businesses, infrastructure and crops, impacting 33 million people, 15% of the 220 million-strong South Asian nation.

The country has received nearly 190% more rain than the 30-year average in the quarter through August this year, totalling 390.7 millimetres (15.38 inches). Sindh province, with a population of 50 million, was hardest hit, getting 466% more rain than the 30-year average.

“One third of the country is literally under water,” Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman told Reuters, describing the scale of the disaster as “a catastrophe of unknown precedent”.

She said the water was not going to recede anytime soon.

At least 380 children were among the dead, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told reporters during a briefing at his office in Islamabad.

“Pakistan is awash in suffering,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message, as the United Nations launched an appeal for $160 million to help the South Asian nation. “The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids — the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding.”

Guterres will head to Pakistan next week to see the effects of the “unprecedented climate catastrophe,” a UN spokesperson said.

He said the scale of the climate disaster commanded the world’s collective attention.

Nearly 300 stranded people, including some tourists, were airlifted in northern Pakistan on Tuesday, a state-run disaster management agency said in a statement, while over 50,000 people were moved to two government shelters in the northwest.

“Life is very painful here,” 63-year-old villager Hussain Sadiq, who was at one of the shelters with his parents and five children, told Reuters, adding that his family had “lost everything.”

Hussain said medical assistance was insufficient, and diarrhoea and fever common at the shelter.

Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the northern valley of Swat and reviewed rescue and relief operations, saying that “rehabilitation will take a long, long time.”

The United States will provide $30 million in support for Pakistan’s flood response through USAID, its embassy in Islamabad said in a statement, saying the country was “deeply saddened by the devastating loss of life, livelihoods, and homes throughout Pakistan.”

‘Obligation to help’

Early estimates put the damage from the floods at more than $10 billion, the government said, adding the world had an obligation to help Pakistan cope with the effects of man-made climate change.

The losses are likely to be much higher, said the prime minister.

Torrential rain has triggered flash floods that have crashed down from northern mountains, destroying buildings and bridges, and washing away roads and standing and stored crops.

Colossal volumes of water are pouring into the Indus river, which flows down the middle of the country from its northern peaks to southern plains, bringing flooding along its length.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said hundreds of thousands of people were living outdoors without access to food, clean water, shelter or basic healthcare.

Guterres said the $160 million he hoped to raise with the appeal would provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency education and health support.

‘Not enough aid’

Prime Minister Sharif said that amount of aid would need “to be multiplied rapidly,” pledging that “every penny will reach the needy, there will be no waste at all.”

Sharif feared the devastation would further derail an economy that has already been in turmoil, possibly leading to an acute food shortage and adding to skyrocketing inflation, which stood at 24.9% in July.

Wheat sowing could also be delayed, he said, and to mitigate the impact of that, Pakistan was already in talks with Russia over wheat imports.

General Akhtar Nawaz, chief of the national disaster agency, said at least 72 of Pakistan’s 160 districts had been declared calamity-hit.

More than two million acres (809,371 hectares)of agricultural land were flooded, he said.

Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan had become ground zero for global warming.

“The situation is likely to deteriorate even further as heavy rains continue over areas already inundated by more than two months of storms and flooding,” he said.

Guterres appealed for a speedy response to Pakistan’s request to the international community for help, and called for an end to “sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change.”

“The extreme monsoon flooding tells us that there is no time to waste, the climate tipping point is here,” said Rehman, the climate change minister, adding Pakistan is looking for the developed world to not let it pay for other countries’ carbon-backed development.

Pakistan

Terrorist who martyred two ISI officials in Khanewal gunned down in IBO

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  • Terrorist was at large after killing security officials.
  • Security forces conduct joint operation to nab militant.
  • Niazi succumbs to injuries after being injured in fire exchange.

A terrorist who martyred Naveed Sadiq and Nasir Hussain — the director and inspector of the Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) Counter-Terrorism Wing — was gunned down by law enforcement agencies on Monday in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Kurram Agency.

The slain terrorist, identified as Umar Niazi, was at large after he martyred the two ISI officials on January 3.

The security agencies arrested the terrorist with serious injuries following an exchange of fire. Niazi succumbed to his injuries after a while.

Intelligence agencies nabbed the terrorist before he could slip into Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, the terrorist martyred ISI officials Sadiq and Hussain when they were at a local hotel in Khanewal, Punjab.

Sadiq, meanwhile, was martyred in Khanewal at a time when he was on a mission to take down the network of a banned outfit operating from Afghanistan.

South Punjab Additional Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Sahabzada Shahzad Sultan said the perpetrators were on a motorcycle.

Both officials were posthumously awarded the Hilal-e-Shujaat and Tamgha-e-Shujaat.

Sadiq, who headed the ISI’s CTD wing, was awarded the Sitara-e-Shujaat on March 23, 2021, in recognition of his bravery and courage against anti-national elements.

He joined the police force as a sub-inspector in 2002. After appearing for a high-level exam in 2009, he was appointed to the ISI, the premier intelligence agency, as the assistant director.

During his tenure, the spy agency official exposed key networks of banned outfits. After months of efforts, he gained access to the high command of Daesh. He also neutralised the terrorists after raiding and finding their ambush site in Faisalabad.

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Islamabad court decides to indict Imran Khan in Toshakhana case

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ISLAMABAD: A local court in Islamabad has decided to indict Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case.

The court has set February 7 as the date for the indictment of the PTI chairman. 

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Pakistan

Blast in Balochistan’s Kachhi leaves one injured

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  • Blast takes place in Kachhi district.
  • Police say explosives were placed on roadside.
  • Balochistan under constant terror attacks recently.

In yet another terror incident in the restive province of Balochistan, at least one person was injured after an explosion took place in the Kachhi district of the province, police said on Monday. 

The police told media persons that the explosives were placed on a roadside.

Balochistan has been under constant terror attacks recently with several incidents taking place in the province. 

Bolan incident

Recently, at least 18 people were injured after a remote-control bomb detonated on a railway track in Bolan, forcing the train’s engine and seven carriages off the track.

Railway authorities said that the injured had been shifted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Sibi.

The Jaffer Express train was travelling from Machh to Sibi, when the blast occurred, local authorities said.

“A relief train was dispatched from Sibi to rescue passengers of the train and bring them to Sibi safely. Passengers on the Jaffer Express coming from Peshawar to Machh were stopped at Sibi and are now being brought to Quetta via buses,” they added.

According to Deputy Commissioner Kachhi Agha Samiullah, the blast was carried out by a remote-control device.

On the other hand, the carriages of the derailed train are being lifted from the railway track.

Terror attacks

In the annual report issued by the Centre for Research & Security Studies (CRSS), Balochistan suffered from 110 attacks last year, becoming the second most vulnerable province in the country.

Over 250 people lost their lives in terrorist attacks and counter-attacks, whereas over 200 sustained serious injuries in the province.

The last month of the year witnessed over two dozen attacks in quick succession, and that became one-fourth of the total fatalities that occurred in Balochistan, a province which has just 6% of the country’s population.

According to reports, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA), the terrorist organisations, are mainly involved in terror incidents in the area-wise largest province of the country. In Balochistan, at least 14 major attacks took place mostly on security forces targets.

Security forces remained the primary target of terrorist attacks in the province.

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