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Relentless Balochistan rains kill over 100, destroy thousands of homes



  • Over 6,000 homes destroyed in Balochistan.
  • Rains in Sindh kill as many as 93 people, over 100 in Balochistan.
  • PM Shehbaz Sharif forms committee to assess damages.
  • Armed forces continue rescue operations.

QUETTA: The recent monsoon spell in the country pummelled Balochistan, leaving destruction in its way as more than 100 people lost their lives and thousands of homes were completely destroyed.

Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Azai Aqili, in a press conference on the rains’ devastation Thursday, told journalists that as many as 111 people have lost their lives so far as heavy downpour continues to hit the province.

The chief secretary said that the rains completely tore down 6,077 houses and more than 10,000 homes were partially damaged — and these are just the official statistics.

Aqili said that 16 dams sustained minor or major damages during the rains, while crops and gardens stretching over two acres of land were also harmed.

Residents clear the debris of a damaged house due to heavy monsoon rainfall at the Aghbarg area in Quetta, on July 20, 2022. — PPI
Residents clear the debris of a damaged house due to heavy monsoon rainfall at the Aghbarg area in Quetta, on July 20, 2022. — PPI

“The recent monsoon spell brought more than 500% [as compared to earlier] rain and also severely damaged 2,400 solar panels,” the chief secretary said.

He noted that 10 districts in Balochistan were affected due to the rains, but fortunately, the situation at the Kech river was under control. The province’s top official also mentioned that 650km of roads were damaged in the rains.

What’s the situation of roads, repair work?

The route from Karachi to Quetta has been closed for heavy traffic, he said, urging people to refrain from unnecessary travel — as it was in their best interest.

The chief secretary said that the Pakistan Army, Frontier Constabulary, and civil administration were conducting rescue operations, but damaged roads are hampering the efforts.

Aqili mentioned that 17,000 people have been rescued so far and rescue operations are underway to move 2,000 people to secure locations. The top official added that the leaves of all government employees have been cancelled in the wake of the disastrous rains.

During the presser, a National Highway Authority official mentioned that the Hub Bridge was built in 1962 and after the heavy rains filled the dam, it overflowed and in turn, damaged the bridge. He said that new bridges will be constructed on an “emergency basis” in Hub.

Repair works are also underway on N-25 and M-8 roads, he added.

But Balochistan’s plight might not end there as the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast more rains in the province.

The PMD said from July 27 to 31, rains and thundershowers are expected to hit Quetta, Chaman, Harnai, Zhob, Ziarat, Barkhan, Loralai, Bolan, Kohlu, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbella, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Sibbi.

Sindh rain kills 93, destroys over 2,000 homes

In a briefing to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during a high-level meeting on rains, Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali said informed that 93 people lost their lives and 59 were injured in the July rains.

The chief minister said that the province recorded 369% more rains this year and Karachi — the economic capital of the country that was paralysed for some days during the rain — received 556mm rains.

Girls use a temporary raft across a flooded street in a residential area after heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 26, 2022. — AFP
Girls use a temporary raft across a flooded street in a residential area after heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 26, 2022. — AFP

CM Shah said that almost all districts received rain in the three spells that hit the province, and among the 93 deaths that were recorded in Sindh, 47 were children.

He said that 15,547 homes received minor damages and 2,807 houses were completely destroyed. Crops stretching over 89,213 acres were severely damaged, CM Shah said.

PM forms committee to assess rain damage

In light of the devastation, the prime minister has constituted a committee to assess the damage caused by monsoon rains and floods, according to Radio Pakistan.

Chairing a meeting in Islamabad, he said the committee comprising of federal ministers should visit all the affected areas in the next four days.

The prime minister said short, medium, and long-term plans will be formulated in the light of the recommendations of the committee on the fourth of next month.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a committee meeting in Islamabad, on July 28, 2022, to review the damages caused by rains across the country. — PM Office
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a committee meeting in Islamabad, on July 28, 2022, to review the damages caused by rains across the country. — PM Office

PM Shehbaz announced to enhance the compensation of injured people from Rs50,000 to Rs200,000.

Official present during the meeting informed the participants that so far, 356 people have died across the country due to floods and rains.

Apart from Balochistan and Sindh, the officials said one person was killed in Islamabad 69 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 76 in Punjab, eight in Gilgit-Baltistan, and six in Azad Kashmir, while the number of injured people is 406.

Army’s rescue operation

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), in a statement, said that two army aviation helicopters have been flown from Karachi to Othal, and Lasbella areas.

“These helicopters had attempted [to fly] during last 48 hours, but could not fly due to bad weather conditions. The helicopters will now shift stranded people to safer places and also transport necessary relief items,” it said.

Gawadar’s general commanding officer visited the Othal area to oversee rescue and relief efforts, while the senior local commander at Khuzdar will also visit flood-affected areas of the district today.

Ground rescue and relief teams are busy in Othal, Jhal Magsi shifting people to safer places and provision of food and water to local residents, the ISPR said.

Troops use a water pump to remove water from a flooded residential area following heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 26, 2022. — AFP
Troops use a water pump to remove water from a flooded residential area following heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 26, 2022. — AFP

The military’s media wing said that doctors and paramedics are providing medical care to affected people. Moreover, it said that coastal highway has been opened for all kinds of traffic.

“Efforts are in hand to repair the damaged communication infrastructure and restore utilities. The protection bund in Turbat which was breached has been repaired.”

In Punjab, the ISPR said that troops are assisting civil administration in relief efforts in Dera Ghazi Khan after flash floods and hill torrents.

Army officials oversee ASA pumping stations and the main drain of the city along with WASA officials as the city administration prepares before heavy rains in Hyderabad, on July 20, 2022. — INP
Army officials oversee ASA pumping stations and the main drain of the city along with WASA officials as the city administration prepares before heavy rains in Hyderabad, on July 20, 2022. — INP

Two medical camps have been established by the army to provide medical care to residents affected due to floods, it added.

For Sindh, the ISPR said that apart from de-watering efforts in Karachi, troops are busy in relief efforts in Jamshoro and Gharo areas.


‘Acute food insecurity to rise in Pakistan over next six months’




Pakistan and 21 other crisis-hit countries will witness an increase in acute food insecurity over the next six months, according to a new early warning report issued by two Rome-based UN agencies.

The report by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) calls for urgent attention to save both lives and livelihoods. It covers the period from June to November 2023.

Called ‘Hunger Hotspots — WFP-FAO early warnings on acute food insecurity’, the report identified 18 hotspots with Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen placed at the highest alert level and Haiti, the Sahel (Burkina Faso and Mali) and Sudan elevated to the highest concern levels.

“Business-as-usual pathways are no longer an option in today’s risk landscape if we want to achieve global food security for all, ensuring that no one is left behind,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in a statement.  

“We need to provide immediate time-sensitive agricultural interventions to pull people from the brink of hunger, help them rebuild their lives, and provide long-term solutions to address the root causes of food insecurity. Investing in disaster risk reduction in the agriculture sector can unlock significant resilience dividends and must be scaled up,” he added.

The report also highlighted the risk of a spill-over of the Sudan crisis raising the risk of neighbouring countries to negative impacts.

“Not only are more people in more places around the world going hungry, but the severity of the hunger they face is worse than ever,” WFP’s Executive Director Cindy McCain said in a statement.

“This report makes it clear: we must act now to save lives, help people adapt to a changing climate, and ultimately prevent famine. If we don’t, the results will be catastrophic,” McCain warned.

In addition, global economic shocks and stressors continue to drive “acute hunger” across almost all hotspots, the report added.

With unusually high global food prices, low to middle-income countries will likely be driven further into a deep crisis, it added.

Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Myanmar, which has been included in the latest report for the first time, were described as hotspots of very high concern.

“All these hotspots have a large number of people facing critical acute food insecurity, coupled with worsening drivers that are expected to further intensify life-threatening conditions in the coming months,” the report warned.

Lebanon, El Salvador and Nicaragua have all been added to the list of hotspots since the last edition was published and El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua have been included in the report again.

To avert a further deterioration of acute hunger and malnutrition, the report provides concrete country-specific recommendations on priorities for an immediate emergency response to save lives, prevent famine and protect livelihoods, as well as anticipatory action.

Humanitarian action will be critical in preventing starvation and death – particularly in the highest alert hotspots, but the report notes how humanitarian access is constrained by insecurity, bureaucratic barriers, and movement restrictions – posing a major challenge to humanitarian responders around the globe.

The report also stresses the importance of strengthening anticipatory action in humanitarian and development assistance – ensuring predictable hazards do not become full-blown humanitarian disasters.

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Punjab polls case hearing adjourned indefinitely after suo motu review law ‘comes into effect’




  • Larger bench to hear review plea under new law.
  • CJP Bandial says the situation is “interesting”.
  • Court indefinitely adjourns hearing on ECP plea.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Monday indefinitely adjourned the hearing on the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) petition against the top court’s order of holding Punjab’s general elections on May 14 after the court was apprised that a law for the review of suo motu judgements had come into effect.

The Supreme Court Review of Judgements and Orders Bill, 2023, came into force Friday after President Arif Alvi’s assent. The law states that for reviewing a suo motu judgement, a bigger bench — than the one that issued the order — will hear the case.

“In case of judgements and orders of the SC in exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184 of the Constitution, the scope of review on both facts and law, shall be the same as an appeal under Article 185 of the Constitution,” the law reads.

A three-member bench — headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — heard the plea.

This is the same bench that issued the April 4 verdict — under Article 184 (3) or the suo motu law. It had directed the commission to hold elections in Punjab in the mid of May and ordered the federal and Punjab governments to provide assistance to the ECP.

Despite the top court’s order, the federal government expressed its inability to provide funds to the election commission and the armed forces had said they could not provide security due to the ongoing law and order situation.

So even with the presence of the order, the polls did not take place on May 14.

‘Happy’ CJP

At the outset of today’s hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan told the court that a law for challenging suo motu orders has come into effect.

He added that under the new law’s section 2, the orders issued under Article 184 (3) could be appealed against.

“This law will have retrospective effect,” he noted, at which Justice Akhtar said this is why ECP lawyer Sajeel Swati is smiling.

Responding to the AGP, CJP Bandial said the situation is interesting. He added that the court understands the need for reviewing suo motu orders.

Through the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023, the government created a new “judicial jurisdiction”, the CJP noted, adding that the rulers tried intervening with the court’s administrative matters.

“But I am happy that this law [the review act] is only related to Article 184(3).”

The CJP added that “everyone” should reconsider their stance.

“After the May 9 incidents, try to find a silver lining. Try to bridge the differences. Try to bring balance and peace to the system and hold elections through the right procedure.”

Court did not invalidate commission: CJP

Moving on, the CJP told the attorney-general that he must have read the court’s judgement in the audio leaks commission case. “Keep in mind that the court did not invalidate the commission,” CJP Banidal remarked.

It may be noted that the Supreme Court Friday stayed the proceedings of the high-powered judicial commission formed to probe the audio leaks related to the judiciary, as well as the federal government’s notification on the commission’s constitution.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, when he resumed the proceedings of the audio leaks commission the next day, raised questions over the SC order stopping the judicial panel from working.

Today, CJP Bandial said that the court has to protect the independence of the judiciary.

The top judge remarked that things will not work when secret meetings take place.

“It is a historical accident that there is only one chief justice,” he added.

The CJP said that the court had seen the notifications for the Memogate Commission, Abbottabad Commission and the commissions set up in the Shahzad Saleem murder case. He said that all the judicial commissions are constituted at the will of the chief justice.

“If you want to investigate something, it should be done through proper procedures. I will not form a commission consisting myself,” he added.

The top judge also gave the option of investigations through another judge, saying that “this political temperature will not improve livelihood and law and order”.

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Pakistani surgeon sets world record in robotic surgery for women




LONDON: A Pakistani surgeon Dr Amer Raza is leading the innovative Da Vinci surgical robotic surgery for the treatment of endometriosis, which affects pregnancy for women of all ages.

Dr Raza has led a team of surgeons to perform the maximum number of complex gynaecology operations in two days at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital — setting a new record of not only using an innovative robotic technology but also doing 12 major operations in a day.

Amer Raza, a graduate of Nishtar Medical College, Multan, has not only performed the operations but also set a world record of doing 12 major operations in a day. 

Robotic surgery is the most modern type of keyhole surgery in which a surgeon operates in the patient’s abdomen through instruments controlled from a distance.

Dr Raza is a renowned expert in endometriosis, in which women suffer from pelvic pains and period pains which have a major adverse impact on conceiving. The condition not only affects the pelvic organs but also the bowel, bladder and nerves. The disease affects women from young age to old age and tens of millions of women across the world suffer from this condition.

He graduated from Nishtar Medical College, Multan, and has been trained as a laparoscopic surgeon. He is now one of the world’s leading surgeons in endometriosis and complex pelvic disease.

He is also the director of the world-class International Centre of Endometriosis Cromwell Hospital, London, and is leading a big team of multi-speciality surgeons. Dr Raza is also the Founder and Director of CCMIG Chelsea Centre of minimal access surgery, which organises national and international laparoscopic courses across the world. He travels to the Middle East, Pakistan, Africa and Europe to teach laparoscopic gynaecology courses.

An undated image of a team of doctors performing a robotic surgery. — Photo by author
An undated image of a team of doctors performing a robotic surgery. — Photo by author

Speaking to Geo News, Dr Amer Raza said: “Since COVID, our National Health Service (NHS) has been under huge pressure of long waiting times. We have pioneered the most efficient strategic planning to do the most number of operations with the help of robotics in two days. Robotics technology allows a doctor to complete the operation in a shorter time with more safety and accuracy than a conventional approach. I am very excited that we have achieved this landmark and that our efforts will help women of all age groups.

“Robotic surgery is now attracting the attention of clinicians and patients alike due to its benefits. The technique will be adopted in hospitals across the world and many robotic systems are being introduced in the health sector. Endometriosis causes debilitating symptoms including chronic pelvic pain, fatigue and fertility problems. Surgery can help to provide pain relief.”

Dr Raza said that he and his team crafted a care model in which preoperative work, surgical approach by robotics and after-operation discharge was planned. Robotic surgery allows the team to finish the operation in a relatively shorter time than a conventional laparoscopic approach, saving 30-50 minutes in each surgery to enable the team to do more operations.

“The new technique also causes less blood loss and the recovery period is significantly faster. We were assisted by a team of 20 staff members who worked very efficiently to enable us to do this,” said the British Pakistani doctor.

Dr Raza said he owes a lot to Pakistan and will be working with doctors and hospitals in Pakistan to introduce robotic technology to help women. “I look forward to working with doctors in Pakistan. Britain has thousands of doctors from Pakistan who are doing great work in the NHS. I am glad that the British press has highlighted my contribution which is a credit to Pakistan,” he said.

Dr Raza has recently been featured on Channel 4 and dozens of English papers covering his achievement and hailing it as a breakthrough for women. 

Pakistani surgeon Dr Amer Raza. — Photo by author
Pakistani surgeon Dr Amer Raza. — Photo by author

He said that one in 10 women in the UK are affected by endometriosis. There are many ways to explain the disease but primarily the inside lining of the uterus called endometrium comes outside the uterus and leads to adhesions and causing pelvic pains. 

The diseases increase in over half of the cases and cause severe debilitating problems such as bowel and ureteric issues. Endometriosis involves the ovaries in almost half the cases and can cause damage to ovaries and fertility.

According to NHS statistics, half a million women are currently on a waiting list for gynaecology treatment in the UK and more than 5,000 have been waiting more than 18 months. The organisation and strategic planning along with innovative robotic surgery is the way forward to address the huge backlog in the NHS.

Dr Raza is originally from the village of Babi in Tehsil Taunsa. He started his career at Nishtar Medical College Multan and then moved to the UK in Birmingham. He has worked in many hospitals before being employed as endometriosis and laparoscopic surgeon in Chelsea and Westminster hospitals.

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