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Over 1.2m gallons of water, 72 hours battle fail to put out Karachi’s department store fire

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  • Karachi’s department store fire is still not completely extinguished.
  • The extinguishing process continues for the fourth day.
  • So far 1.2 million gallons of water has been used.

A huge fire that erupted in a superstore’s basement in a multi-storey building located near Jail Chowrangi earlier this week has still not been completely extinguished despite hectic efforts lasting for more than 72 hours (three days) and spending over 1.2 million gallons of water, Geo News reported Saturday.

The blaze that had broken out at the warehouse of the department store in the basement of the multi-storey building has left scores of families living in the residential building displaced.

On Thursday, the fire brigade had claimed that they had controlled the blaze and only a few burning patches remained to be doused, which would be achieved in a short time. However, that claim proved to be false as the fire was still not completely extinguished with flames continuing to erupt at multiple places in the extremely hot building.

Meanwhile, the fire brigade department warned that the cooling process would take at least two more days. As smoke and flames could be seen emanating from the basement, and ground and mezzanine floors of the building as well as its parking area, over a dozen fire tenders, remained busy in the extinguishing work throughout Friday, throwing water inside the building from different directions, breaking the walls and digging the footpath.

They also used foam and fire extinguisher balls to put out the flames. Whereas the fire brigade claimed that the intensity of the fire had been controlled, it also expressed the fear that the situation would turn grave in case the blaze engulfed the first floor.

“We have controlled the intensity of the fire and now the cooling process is under way, which may take at least two more days,” said Chief Fire Officer Mobin Ahmed. “Flames are erupting and will continue to erupt until the affected area is cleared completely.”

The use of excessive water posed another problem for the authorities. Ahmed said that as the fire brigade has been using water for three days to extinguish the fire, the water level has reached around five to six feet in the basement, creating difficulties for the firefighters in their operations.

The chief fire officer added that the building’s foundation had already been damaged due to the fire and now the presence of huge amount of water in the basement could further damage the building. He explained that suction pumps were being used to pull out water from the basement, due to which Kashmir Road and its surroundings had been inundated.

No arrests

Although a case was registered against the owners of the department store, the police are yet to arrest any of the suspects nominated in the FIR.

“No arrest has been made so far,” confirmed Investigations SSP Altaf Hussain. He added that the nominated suspects were trying to obtain protective bail. 

In response to a question, he clarified that the case was registered on the request of the Sindh Building Control Authority. 

“Actually, it was the prime responsibility of the SBCA to inspect the building and ensure the implementation of the laws,” the officer remarked. “Officials of the SBCA and other relevant authorities will also be in the radar of the police during the investigations.”

The blaze erupted at around 11:00am in the warehouse of the departmental store at the multi-storey building near Jail Chowrangi on Wednesday.

The management of the store tried to extinguish the fire with the available fire extinguishers and then called the fire brigade. Within minutes, smoke surrounded the entire building creating panic among the residents who rushed out. Many people living on upper floors were trapped and had to be evacuated with the help of ladders.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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