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In farewell meeting, PM Shehbaz thanks COAS Bajwa for tackling Pakistan’s ‘crises’

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  • Outgoing COAS holds farewell meetings with PM, president.
  • COAS Qamar Bajwa set to retire on November 29 (tomorrow).
  • PM Shehbaz commends his services in strengthening country.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday praised outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa for efficiently dealing with the ‘crises’ in the country during his six-year-long tenure.

COAS Bajwa is set to retire on November 29 (tomorrow) and will hand over the “baton of command” to Gen Asim Munir, who was appointed to succeed him last week.

As he gets ready to bid farewell to arms after serving as COAS from 2016-2022, General Bajwa met PM Shehbaz and President Arif Alvi today.

During the meeting, PM Shehbaz lauded the outgoing chief’s services for the Pakistan Army, national defence, and national interests, a statement from the PM’s Office read.

“The army, under the leadership of Gen Bajwa, has rendered exemplary services during various crises — including the removal of Pakistan from the FATF’s (Financial Action Task Force) grey list, coronavirus pandemic, and floods,” the prime minister said.

The armed forces crushed the menace of terrorism with valour and bravery under Gen Bajwa’s leadership, the premier said as he noted that he took charge as the army chief during “one of history’s toughest moments”.

“Gen Bajwa also played a key role in making Pakistan’s defence impregnable. [His] leadership in a complex regional situation set the direction for dealing with security challenges.”

The prime minister also appreciated the army chief’s services in terms of geo-economics as he noted that all political forces would have to sign on a “charter of the economy” to ensure that Pakistan becomes a strong economic force.

“You got the honour of leading the world’s best army,” the prime minister told COAS Bajwa.

In response, the outgoing chief thanked the prime minister for his full cooperation in the execution of national affairs. 

Before meeting the prime minister, the army chief paid a farewell call on President Dr Arif Alvi at the Aiwan-e-Sadar, a statement from the President’s Secretariat said.

President Arif Alvi (left) meets Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Aiwan-e-Sadar in Islamabad on November 28, 2022. — Presidents Secretariat
President Arif Alvi (left) meets Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Aiwan-e-Sadar in Islamabad on November 28, 2022. — President’s Secretariat

In the meeting, the president commended Gen Bajwa’s services in the field of defence and also appreciated his services to the country and the Pakistan Army.

The president expressed best wishes for Gen Bajwa in his future endeavours.

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Pakistan

4 dead, 12 injured as sucide blast rips through Hangu mosque

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  • Incident takes place within parameters of Police Station Doaba. 
  • Two suicide bombers were involved in attack, says Hangu DPO.
  • 12 people, rescued from rubble, shifted to nearby hospital. 

HANGU: A blast ripped through a mosque in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu, local officials confirmed Friday, leaving three dead — including a policeman — and 12 injured.

The incident took place within the parametres of Police Station Doaba during the Friday sermon — a time when scores of believers are gathered at a mosque for their weekly prayer. 

Hangu District Police Officer Nisar Ahmed said 30-40 people were under the rubble — as the mosque’s roof caved in — and an operation was underway to rescue them.

Ahmed said two suicide bombers were involved in the attack — one targeted the gate of the police station, and the other blew himself up inside the mosque.

The 12 people, rescued from the rubble, have been shifted to a nearby hospital, he said.

Caretaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Azam Khan, taking notice, directed officials to enforce an emergency in all hospitals of the city as he sought a report on the blast from law enforcers.

The police officials said that two militants tried entering the police station and started firing at the gate. They added that one of the terrorists was killed at the gate by the police in retaliatory fire.

Moreover, two policemen were also injured during the firing, officials of the law enforcement agency said, adding that the other militant blew himself up inside the mosque.

The timely action by the police resulted in fewer casualties following the blast, they added. 

This was the second terror attack to hit Pakistan in a single day as earlier today, a suicide blast in Balochistan’s Mastung district killed at least 35 people including a police officer while injuring over 45.

The explosion took place near the mosque where people were gathering to mark Eid Miladun Nabi — the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

For the past year now, Pakistan has been gripped by a spate of terror attacks, with Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa particularly being under the radar of militants targeting security forces and civilians to deteriorate peace.

Security forces, however, continue to conduct operations against terrorists to eliminate terrorism from the country in its resolve to strengthen the sacrifices of its soldiers.

Earlier this month, a report compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) stated a sharp increase recorded in militant attacks across the country in the month of August with 99 terror incidents reported.

This, according to the report, was the highest number recorded in any single month since November 2014. These attacks have resulted in 112 deaths and 87 injuries, mostly targeting security forces personnel and civilians.

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One-month deadline for illegal foreign nationals to be announced soon

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  • Major countrywide crackdown to be launched by LEAs.
  • Around 1.1 million Afghan refugees illegally reside in Pakistan.
  • Surge in street crime in capital linked with illegal Afghans.

ISLAMABAD: The government will soon announce a one-month deadline for all illegal foreign immigrants, including Afghans, to leave the country or face the music.

After the one-month deadline, a major countrywide crackdown will be launched by the law-enforcement agencies to identify and deport such illegal immigrants, the vast majority of whom are said to be Afghans.

Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti will announce the policy in a few days time, an informed source said. 

The decision at the highest level has already been taken not to let Pakistan become a haven for illegal immigrants, many of whom are not only involved in criminal activities but are also part of the smuggling mafia, the source added.

It is said the authorities have already arrested many illegal Afghan immigrants who were doing illegal dollar trade at the cost of the country’s economy. A large number of such illegal foreign nationals are also doing different businesses in several major cities including the federal capital. The surge in street crime in Islamabad is also linked with the influx of illegal Afghans.

There are said to be around 1.1 million Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan illegally. 

It is said as many as 400,000 Afghans entered Pakistan illegally since the return of the Afghan Taliban to Afghanistan in August 2021. There are another 700,000 Afghans identified who have been living in the country illegally.

Media reports suggest that 1.1 million Afghan refugees neither possess any visa nor any valid documents, allowing them to stay in the country. Most of these illegal refugees were involved in anti-state and criminal activities.

Therefore, they would be sent back at the earliest, said a report, adding the Afghan Taliban government was also informed about Pakistan’s decision.

Islamabad has hosted millions of refugees for decades, and at one point five million Afghan refugees were residing in Pakistan. 

Some estimates suggest there are still close to four million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. However, the count of individuals possessing valid refugee cards, as per official records, is considerably lower.

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Pakistan

HEC announces Commonwealth Scholarships for masters, PhD

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In a positive development for students, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has announced Commonwealth Scholarships for masters and PhD programmes for the year 2023. 

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) provides the UK government’s Commonwealth scholarship scheme led by international development objectives. 

The CSC has funded over 30,000 individuals to study in the UK and gain skills, acquire knowledge, and build networks to tackle global development challenges

Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) students can apply for the scholarships till October 17 (Tuesday) on the CSC portal.

The HEC’s website said that 26 nominations are available for masters, 30 for PhD and 10 for teaching faculty PhD.

Applicants are advised to visit the links to apply for the masters, PhD and teaching faculty (PhD) scholarships. 

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