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Four, including three Chinese nationals, killed in Karachi University blast

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  • Incident occurred near Confucius Institute inside University of Karachi.
  • In Charge of CTD Raja Umar Khattab confirms it was a suicide attack.
  • Four people, including a Chinese national, sustained injuries.

KARACHI: Four people, including three Chinese nationals, were killed while four others sustained injuries in a car explosion on the premises of the University of Karachi. 

According to the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), it was a suicide blast and was carried out by a burqa-clad woman. 

(Top left to bottom left) Director of the Confucius Institute Huang Guiping, teachers Ding Mupeng and Chen Sai lost their lives in the blast. Meanwhile, Wang Yuqing (bottom right) sustained injuries. — Rana Javaid
(Top left to bottom left) Director of the Confucius Institute Huang Guiping, teachers Ding Mupeng and Chen Sai lost their lives in the blast. Meanwhile, Wang Yuqing (bottom right) sustained injuries. — Rana Javaid

The explosion occurred at 1:52pm in a van near the Confucius Institute — a Chinese language teaching centre at Karachi University. Following the blast, rescue and security agencies rushed to the location and cordoned off the areas, initiating rescue operations.

The deceased Chinese nationals have been identified as the director of the Confucius Institute Huang Guiping, Ding Mupeng, Chen Sai, and their Pakistani driver, Khalid.

Police sources said the van entered the premises through the Maskan gate of the university, they said.

Of the four people who sustained injuries, two have been identified as Chinese national Wang Yuqing and a security guard named Hamid. All of them are currently hospitalised and are receiving treatment. 

Meanwhile, the bodies of the deceased have been shifted to Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital for an autopsy. 

The explosion was initially reported to have been caused by a gas cylinder. However, the police later said that the blast could have been a suicide attack. Sources further added that the victims were returning to the Confucius Institute from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA).

‘It was a suicide attack’

In Charge of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Raja Umar Khattab confirmed that it was a suicide attack and a burqa-clad woman seen in the CCTV footage was responsible for it.

“A separatist group has also claimed responsibility for the attack,” Khattab said, adding that the terrorists, after surveillance, targeted the vehicle carrying the foreigners. 

He added that Rangers personnel were escorting the vehicle on their motorbikes when the explosion occurred. 

“The explosive material used in the blast does not seem to be local-made,” Khattab said, adding that the explosive material consisted of steel ball-bearings and was contained in a schoolbag. 

Meanwhile, a police report said that about three to four kilogrammes of explosives were used in the blast. 

Earlier, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) East Muqaddas Haider, while speaking to Geo News, had said that it is the bomb disposal squad’s responsibility to determine the nature of the blast, adding that the process of identification was underway. 

‘Adequate security arrangments’

Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said the bomb disposal unit was determining the nature of the blast and would soon release the report.

“…four people who have been injured are being treated at different hospitals, while the bodies of the deceased have been shifted to Chippa mortuary,” Memon told journalists.

The police official lamented that the people who were killed in the blast were teachers — three foreigners and one Pakistani. He added that it was too early to say who was behind the blast.

The metropolis police chief said “security arrangements were adequate” in the varsity, and in case of a lapse, it will be reviewed and worked upon.

CM Sindh takes notice; meets Chinese consul general

Taking notice of the incident, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed the deputy commissioner (DC) East and Superintendent of Police (SP) east to reach the spot of the blast immediately.

The Sindh CM issued directives to shift the injured to the Dow University Hospital, situated near the University of Karachi. He directed officials to ensure the provision of all facilities to prevent any casualties.

The chief minister has also asked the Karachi commissioner for a detailed report of the blast.

CM Shah also reached the Chinese Consulate and briefed the consul general on the explosion at the University of Karachi.

He expressed deep sorrow and grief over the demise of three Chinese nationals in the explosion and assured the consul general of a thorough probe into the blast.

Shah vowed that the suspects involved in the blast will be brought to justice. “Some conspirative elements do not like the Pakistan-China partnership,” he said, adding that the elements will be dealt with an iron hand.

The chief minister said that the government assigns great value to the services of Chinese expatriates in the country and the province. 

The Chinese Li Bijian thanked the chief minister for his visit and said he was in contact with the families of three Chinese nationals killed in the blast. “Whatever decision is taken in respect of shifting the dead bodies back to China would be informed to the Sindh government,” Li Bijian said.

Condemnations pour in

Strongly condemning the explosion, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives.  

“I am deeply grieved on the loss of precious lives including of our Chinese friends in the heinous attack in Karachi today. My heartfelt condolences go to the bereaved families. I strongly condemn this cowardly act of terrorism. The perpetrators will surely be brought to justice,” he tweeted.

PM Shehbaz also made a telephone call to Sindh CM and assured him of full cooperation in the blast-related investigations. The prime minister directed the chief minister to ensure the best medical facilities for the injured.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf and Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram have also condemned the blast.

Condemning the blast, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed his sorrow over the incident and sent heartfelt condolences to the people of China on behalf of Pakistan.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan also condemned the blast and said demanded a thorough investigation into the matter. He also sent his condolences to the bereaved family members of the deceased. The former premier demanded the Sindh government provide adequate facilities to the injured.

Foreign Office spokesperson also expressed strong disapproval of the attack and said that the government and people of Pakistan extend their deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of victims who lost their lives in the incident.

“The law enforcement agencies are investigating the incident to apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice. Local authorities are also providing all possible assistance to the injured,” the FO said in a statement.

“The cowardly incident is a direct attack on the Pakistan-China friendship and ongoing cooperation. Pakistan and China are close friends and iron brothers. Pakistan attaches great importance to the safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects, and institutions in Pakistan.”

“Extremely sorry for the loss of precious lives in today’s attack on Chinese Nationals in Karachi. Testing times as Enemies of #Pakistan are targeting our Forces & Friends from Borders to Khi, We must continue to work for a peaceful & prosperous Pakistan in order to defeat them,” wrote Maritime Minister Faisal Subzwari.

Karachi University had expressed security concerns beforehand

According to sources, the University of Karachi had sent a letter to the Confucius Institute and had expressed concerns related to the security of the foreign teachers.

In the letter, which was sent to the institute 26 days ago, the university had written that the foreign teachers were often seen travelling outside of the university premises without accompanying security personnel.

Four, including three Chinese nationals, killed in Karachi University blast

“In case of any mishaps, the university security will not be responsible,” the letter said.

University suspends classes

Following the incident, the University of Karachi, in a notification, announced the suspension of classes on Wednesday, April 27.

Four, including three Chinese nationals, killed in Karachi University blast

Pakistan

Funds invested in real estate used for cancer care: Shaukat Khanum Trust

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  • Invested $3m in endowment funds in real estate: SKMT. 
  • Endowment funds used to provide cancer care: spokesperson.
  • SKMT investments are audited by third parties, says spokesperson. 

LAHORE: Following controversy on Imran Khan’s comments in court, the management of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) clarified that they invested $3 million in an endowment fund in a real estate project in Oman so they can be used to provide quality cancer care, The News reported on Monday .

The clarification came in response to news items regarding the usage of SKMT funds in real estate by its founder Imran Khan. The SKMT said that its funds have never been misused or “diverted”, by its chairman, Imran Khan, or any other individual

An SKMT spokesperson said that all its funds, including those invested in its endowment fund, are used only to support its mission of providing world-class care to cancer patients.

“As is common for many charity organisations, SKMT created an endowment fund to provide financial security and to cater for expenses in the long term. This endowment fund is supervised by an investment committee, with all investments made by the fund upon the recommendations of this committee. The chairman does not, and has never, made investment decisions in isolation,” the spokesperson said. 

He added, “It is crucial to point out that only non-Zakat funds are invested in this manner, with all Zakat collected being utilised on direct patient care within the year in which it is collected.”

On investment in real estate, the spokesperson said: “In 2008, an amount of US$3 million was invested by the endowment fund in a real estate project in Oman. The investment allowed for an early exit, with a 100% capital guarantee on the investment. In 2015, SKMT exercised its early exit option and the entire amount of US$3 million was duly recovered.”

He added the trust has already shared details of this investment, and recovery of its funds with the public numerous times. Although the investment did not generate a profit in dollar terms, it certainly did in rupees, since the difference in exchange rate referred to in the article in question worked in favour of SKMT, he added.

The spokesperson added: “As with all other financial transactions, all investments made by SKMT and its Endowment Fund are duly audited and reported, with financial reports being made publicly available through the Shaukat Khanum website. Both the initial investment, and its subsequent return were reflected in the organisation’s financial reports, and continue to be publicly available.”

Complete data of all contributions are held and audited by autonomous third parties to guarantee compliance with all relevant laws, not only within Pakistan, but in all jurisdictions where funds are collected on behalf of the SKMT, or to support it.

The spokesperson said that over 30 years, the trust treated more than 45,000 to 50,000 cancer patients every year at SKMT hospitals in Lahore and Peshawar, most of whom would have been unable to access highly specialised cancer treatment elsewhere. It is strictly because of its strong clinical, administrative and governance systems that the SKMT became only the second institution in the world to gain Enterprise Accreditation from the US-based Joint Commission International in September 2022.

The spokesperson added that allegations aiming to sow doubt in their donor’s minds are equivalent to playing with patients’ lives.

The official added that the cost of providing cancer care is continuously on the rise, and despite brittle financial conditions, the management of SKMT is committed not only to providing state-of-the-art cancer treatment to all its patients but also to defending an excellent reputation for financial transparency.

The News reported on Sunday that the PTI Chairman Imran Khan admitted that he invested funds worth $3 million donated to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) in a housing project.

The revelation was made during a hearing of an Rs10 billion defamation case filed against Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Saturday. The former prime minister appeared in the court from his Lahore residence in Zaman Park via video link.

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Massive power breakdown hits Pakistan

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  • Minister says power generation units are temporarily shut in winter at night.
  • Says frequency variation in national grid triggered outage.
  • Says ministry trying to restore power in next 12 hours.

LAHORE/KARACHI/QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: A countrywide power breakdown, triggered by a “frequency variation” in the national grid early Monday morning, has left large parts of the country including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta without electricity. 

Power Minister Khurrum Dastagir, while talking to Geo News, said that the power generation units are temporarily shut down in winter at night as an economic measure to save fuel costs.

“When the systems were turned on at 7:30am this morning one by one, frequency variation was reported in the southern part of the country between Jamshoro and Dadu. There was a fluctuation in voltage and power generating units were shut down one by one due to cascading impact. This is not a major crisis,” said the federal minister as the country plunged into darkness for the second time in four months.

The minister said that his ministry has started restoring some grid stations in Tarbela and Warsak. 

“Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and some grids of Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) have already been restored,” claimed the minister.  

Talking about the breakdown in Karachi, the minister said that the matter in the port city is complicated as it has a complete electric supply system.

A shopkeeper speaks with a customer (not pictured) at a medical store during a country-wide power breakdown in Karachi, Pakistan January 23, 2023. — Reuters
A shopkeeper speaks with a customer (not pictured) at a medical store during a country-wide power breakdown in Karachi, Pakistan January 23, 2023. — Reuters

“We provide K-Electric about 1,000-1,100 megawatts routinely, however, it will be restored within a few hours. It is not certain how long will it take to sort this issue. However, my target is to restore electricity in the country in the next 12 hours,” said the minister. 

Before the energy ministry’s announcement, different power distribution companies had confirmed the breakdown.

According to Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO), the two transmission lines have tripped leaving 22 districts of Balochistan, including Quetta without power.

Karachi power update

Meanwhile, K-Electric spokesperson Imran Rana said that at approximately 7:34am today, the national grid experienced a loss of frequency, affecting the power supply to multiple cities across Pakistan

“This has also cascaded to KE’s network affecting power supply to Karachi,” Rana said, adding the KE’s network is safe and protected.

“Our teams are actively monitoring the situation and enabling restoration efforts.”

An IESCO spokesperson said that its 117 grid stations were without electricity.

Meanwhile, PESCO also confirmed the outage in areas where it supplies electricity. 

This is the second time within four months that a country was hit by a major power breakdown.

NEPRA takes notice

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), in a statement, said that it has taken “serious notice” of the power outage and directed the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) to submit a “detailed report”.

The statement also said that the regulator has previously imposed fines on similar outages in the 2021 and 2022. It also shared that NEPRA has consistently issued directives and recommendations on tackling such events in future.

Previous breakdown 

In October of last year, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta, Multan, and Faisalabad were hit by a power outage.

At that time, the power minister said that nearly 8,000 megawatts of power went offline.

Back then, Dastagir had said that the simultaneous faults in two power lines, which had triggered the breakdown, at the same time was concerning for the government. He had also announced that an in-depth inquiry was ordered and promised action.

A timeline of power breakdowns in Pakistan

The country’s generation and distribution network has suffered eight major power breakdowns during the last nine years.

In 2014 and 2017, nationwide blackouts were caused by a fault in Tarbela Power Station while fog, frequency variation and the Guddu Power Plant fault were blamed for breakdowns in 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Every time the party in power announced to conduct a comprehensive probe and vowed to rectify the issues but nothing has happened despite multiple inquiries.

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Pakistan

Karachi weather update: What’s the latest forecast?

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Karachiites will have to bundle themselves up as the weather will be dry and cold at night in the next 24 hours, the weather department said Friday. 

According to the forecast by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the mercury in the port city is expected to hover around 10 to 12 degrees Celsius in the next 24 hours. 

The Met department said that the cool winds are blowing from the northeast at a speed of seven to 10 kilometres per hour. The level of humidity in the city is 48%.

During the last 24 hours, the lowest temperature in Karachi was recorded at 14°C.

Weather countrywide 

Meanwhile, in Balochistan, the intensity of the cold has increased due to snowfall in different areas. Consequently, a travel emergency has been imposed on Khojak Pass. 

A day earlier, the weather department predicted rain with snowfall in the upper parts of the country during the coming days.

“Met Office informed that a westerly wave affecting North Balochistan, is likely to grip upper parts on January 20 (night) and may persist till January 25 with occasional gaps,” the statement read. 

It further said that light to moderate rain-wind with snowfall over the hills (isolated hailstorm) is expected in Kashmir, Gilgit- Baltistan, Murree, Galliyat, Islamabad, Pothohar region, Kohistan, Swat, Dir, Chitral, Manshera, Haripur, Abbottabad, Karak, Charsada, Peshawar, Nowshera, Swabi, Buner, Bajaur, Kurram, Waziristan, Kohat, Bannu, Sargodha, Mianwali, Khushab, Bhakkar, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Lahore, Kasur, Sialkot, Narowal, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib from January 21 to January 24 with occasional gaps.

Light rain and drizzle is also expected in Multan, Sahiwal, Okara, Pakpattan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Layyah, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahimyar Khan, Sukkur and Dera Ismail Khan on January 20-21, the Met department said. 

Meanwhile, rain-wind — moderate to isolated heavy snowfall — is expected in Kashmir, Neelum valley, Muzaffarabad, Poonch, Hattian, Bagh, Haveli, Sudhanoti, Kotli, Bhimber, Mirpur), Murree, Galiyat, Chitral, Dir, Swat, Malakand, Kohistan, Mansehra and Abbottabad from January 23-25. 

What are the possible impacts?

Due to the heavy snowfall, there may be a closure of roads in Murree, Galiyat, Naran, Kaghan, Dir, Swat, Kohistan, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Shangla, Astore, Hunza, Skardu, Neelum valley, Bagh, Poonch and Haveli during the forecast period. 

“Landslides in Upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan may also occur during the forecast period,” it said. 

The office said that the tourists are advised to remain extra cautious during the spell, adding that temperatures are likely to fall significantly after the spell.

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