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Relentless rains kill 23 in Sindh, Balochistan



  • Flow of traffic remains suspended on interprovincial highways; power supply and mobile networks cut off 
  • PMD forecasts more heavy rains in Sindh and Balochistan over next 48 hours.
  • PM Shehbaz directs NDMA and PDMA to pace up relief operations in affected areas at the earliest.

The incessant torrential rains pounding Sindh with flash flooding in Dera Ghazi Khan, Balochistan’s Lasbela and adjoining areas killed another 23 and left scores of people injured and hundreds displaced on Thursday, while traffic remained suspended across interprovincial highways, The News reported.

The heavy rains in most parts of Sindh, including Thatta, Dadu, Khairpur Nathan Shah, Sukkur, Jacobabad, Larkana, and Hyderabad paralysed communication systems, prompting Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to direct the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) to expedite relief and rehabilitation activities in the flood-affected areas of southern Sindh.

In a provincial breakup of the rising death toll, as many as 14 people died as a result of rain-related accidents in Khairpur and Qambher, six persons including four children died in different parts of DG Khan and three died as a result of flash-flooding in Balochistan’s Lasbela district and adjoining areas.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people were left stranded without tents under the open sky by the torrential rains following the large-scale destruction of their mud houses while the incessant heavy rains paralysed Thatta, Dadu, Khairpur Nathan Shah, Sukkur, Jacobabad, Larkana, Hyderabad and other.

The constant downpour prevented the respective city administrations to resume their relief and rehabilitation service. Fuel shortages were also reported hampering the drainage of stranded rainwater as many villagers remained marooned in the water and needed rescue. The failure to drain water from the marooned villages has raised the spectre of infections and diseases.

Exceptionally strong flash flooding in Koh-e-Suleman range displaced 0.7 million population of DG Khan, besides killing six people. As many as thousands of families were stranded after 200 small, large villages were badly hit in the rain. The flash flooding also suspended traffic between Dera Ghazi Khan and Quetta, Balochistan and Punjab and also between Peshawar and Karachi on the Indus Highway

The power supply and cell phone networks remain suspended in flood-hit areas. In a related development, heavy rains caused flash flooding in the Lasbela district and adjoining areas. With three more deaths in, the death toll in Balochistan rose to 205, while 81 suffered injuries according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA). The situation in other districts has not improved yet as Musakhail, Zhob, Pishin, Qila Saifullah, Qila Abdullah, Nasirabad and Lasbela were still receiving torrential rains for the past two days.

According to officials, hundreds of mud houses were damaged in Qila Saifullah, Muslim Bagh, Musakhail, Kohlu, Dera Bugti and other areas due to incessant rains. A total of 18 bridges and 690 km of roads have been damaged amid the rains. PDMA and rescue authorities are carrying out operations in flood-affected areas. Traffic on Quetta-Karachi National Highway remained suspended even after five days as flood water is still flowing over the highway.

The Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD) has forecast more heavy rains in Sindh and Balochistan in the next 48 hours with urban flooding and flash flooding across hill torrents in KP, South Punjab and Balochistan.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) to carry out relief and rehabilitation activities in the flood-affected areas of southern Sindh.

Expressing deep sorrow over the loss of life and property caused by the monsoon rains, the prime minister directed the NDMA and PDMA to pace up relief operations in the affected areas at the earliest. The PM stressed ensuring the rescue of the people on a priority basis and instructed them to provide financial assistance of Rs 50,000 to each family.

He emphasised an immediate supply of food and clean water to the victims besides ensuring them facilities of accommodation and medicines. The prime minister also instructed the authorities to be vigilant in the wake of potential flooding besides taking necessary measures.

According to Inter-services Public Relations, the Pakistan Army troops remained busy in relief activities in Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Naseerabad and Lasbela. The army medical teams were providing medical care to the affected people.

Meanwhile, the United States announced a $1 million grant in support of Pakistan’s efforts to address floods and other natural disasters that have caused heavy loss of life and property across the country.

In a tweet, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We stand by Pakistan in hard times and offer our support to flood victims. In addition to $100,000 in immediate relief, the US announced $1 million to build resilience against natural disasters, and we continue to work together to mitigate future impacts of the climate crisis.

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Haj 2024: Pakistanis to get ‘free SIMs with internet’




Caretaker Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Aneeq Ahmed said Tuesday that the government would provide free-of-cost mobile SIMs with roaming internet packages to Pakistanis performing Haj in 2024.

In conversation with a private news channel, the caretaker minister said abayas would also be given to female pilgrims, having a Pakistani flag on the backside, and 13kg suitcases would be given to all.

The minister called the reduction of around Rs100,000 in the Haj cost a “historic step” taken by the caretaker government, noting that a further Rs50,000 would be slashed and the amount would be refunded to the people in their accounts.

He said a new mobile application has been designed to assist pilgrims, which will provide navigation support and enable constant communication between pilgrims and relevant officials.

Initially available in English and Urdu, the application will later incorporate various regional languages, he said, adding, that the app would also provide digital training programmes to every pilgrim.

The minister also disclosed a project that Haj ministry, with the collaboration of the education ministry, has planned to convert city mosques into schools to enroll out-of-school children where the mosques’ imams would play a leading role.

The minister said that mosques will play their role as community centers in every city areas, adding that imams will resolve community issues as well after offering prayers.

He said that haj ministry is taking all four provinces on board and enhancing the connectivity of mosques.

While describing another project, the minister said that his ministry with the collaboration of the health ministry has another project in the works, in which medical clinics will also be part of mosques.

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Three education board chairmen, several officers sacked in Sindh




KARACHI: Sindh caretaker Chief Minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqir Thursday approved the removal of three chairmen of education boards and ordered the sacking of several officers, Geo News reported, citing notifications from the CM House.

The interim chief executive removed the chairpersons of the Board of Intermediate Karachi, Sindh Technical Board, and Larkana boards. He also ordered the sacking of secretaries and controller examinations of BIEK, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, and Larkana boards.

Moreover, Larkana, Sukkur, Nawabshah, and Board of Secondary Education Karachi’s audit officers were also removed from their posts.

The Sindh government has also sought permission from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to appoint new personnel to the now-vacant positions — as interim rulers need the body’s approval for hiring people.

In the letter addressed to the commission, the government has also said that in several education boards across the province, top posts are being operated on “stop-gap” arrangements and in order for these departments to function better, permanent appointments need to be made.

According to the notifications available with Geo News, Justice (retd) Baqir has removed BIEK Chairman Dr Prof Naseem Memon and appointed him as the Board of Intermediate & Secondary Education Larkana’s (BISEL) chairman — where he will serve till June 30, 2024.

Zaheeruddin Bhutto, interim controller of examination of BIEK, was removed from his post effective immediately, while BIEK Secretary Kashif Siddiqui was also sacked — and he will return to his previous position.

Zahid Lakho, the audit officer of BIEK, was also stripped of his additional charge of the board’s secretary.

BISEL Chairman Sikandar Ali Miraj has also been removed with immediate effect, and he will be returning to his original post of Inspector of Instruction.

BISEL Controller Examination Nadeem Soomro has been removed from his position and directed to report to the Human Settlement and Social Housing Department.

On the instructions of the caretaker CM, Syed Aqash Shah was relieved of the charge of BISEL’s acting secretary.

Hyderabad board’s secretary Shaukat Khanzada was also removed from his post and directed to report to the college education department. Zahiruddin Sheikh, the audit officer of the Hyderabad board, has been sacked and asked to report to the board’s head office.

Ghulam Mustafa was removed from the post of BISEL’s audit officer and directed to report to the post of deputy controller.

Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Sukkur (BISES) Secretary Mohammad Salman has been removed and asked to report to the deputy secretary’s office. BISES Controller Examination Dr Abdul Fateh Mehr has been removed and asked to report to the secretary’s office.

The caretaker chief minister has also removed Ghulam Qadir Dharijo, the audit officer of BISES, and directed him to report to the chairman’s office.

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Punjab to shut down school, colleges in Punjab’s smog-hit areas on Friday, Saturday




  • Lahore, Gujranwala among cities hit by smog.
  • Markets and restaurants to open for work at 3pm on Fri and Sat.
  • Govt offices to remain open on Fri; will start work at 3pm on Sat.

LAHORE: All schools, colleges and universities will remain closed on Friday and Saturday, as Punjab on Thursday notified measures to curb smog across the province as it impacts the daily life of citizens.

Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi, who chaired a high-level meeting of the Punjab Cabinet Anti-Smog Committee today, announced the provincial government’s decision during a presser in Lahore.

The smog-hit cities include Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Sahiwal, Sargodha, Kasur, Sheikupura, Hafizabad, Narowal, Nankana Sahib and Sialkot.

Markets and restaurants, he added, will open for work at 3pm on Friday and Saturday, while all kinds of businesses will have to be closed on Sunday. 

“Markets can remain open till night. We don’t want anyone to suffer loss, but they will have to adjust according to the situation.”

CM Punjab said offices will remain operational on Friday but will open for work at 3pm on Saturday. These measures, the chief minister added, are being taken as Air Quality Index (AQI) levels are higher in the morning and decrease with time.

The government will also install towers to clear smog in Lahore for which, CM Punjab said, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed.

He added that the government will also provide electric bikes to 10,000 students on subsidy to curb the use of regular motorcycles which cause air pollution for which a committee has been formed to finalise suggestions. Meanwhile, government employees will also be provided e-bikes on lease.

CM Punjab said the government is considering measures for artificial rain if clouds approach Lahore on November 29. 

However, that will only happen if a “specific kind of cloud” moves towards the city. The government has also decided to double the amount of water being sprinkled on the streets.

The chief minister said the main Mall Road on Sunday will only be open for bicycle users from morning till 5pm. Some of the measures, CM Naqvi said, have been taken symbolically, some are long-term, while others have been taken to break the peak of pollution in the city and province.

He also urged people to wear masks to protect their health.

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