‘Third’ of Pakistan under water as flood aid efforts gather pace
- Rains that began in June unleash worst flooding in more than decade.
- Authorities and charities struggle to accelerate aid delivery to more than 33 million people affected.
- United Nations announces launch of formal $160 million appeal on to fund emergency aid.
SUKKUR: Aid efforts ramped up across flooded Pakistan on Tuesday to help tens of millions of people affected by relentless monsoon rains that have submerged a third of the country and claimed more than 1,100 lives.
The rains that began in June have unleashed the worst flooding in more than a decade, washing away swathes of vital crops and damaging or destroying more than a million homes.
Authorities and charities are struggling to accelerate aid delivery to more than 33 million people affected, a challenging task in areas cut off because roads and bridges have been washed away.
In the south and west, dry land is limited, with displaced people crammed onto elevated highways and railroad tracks to escape the flooded plains.
“We don’t even have space to cook food. We need help,” Rimsha Bibi, a schoolgirl in Dera Ghazi Khan in central Pakistan, told AFP.
Pakistan receives heavy — often destructive — rains during its annual monsoon season, which are crucial for agriculture and water supplies.
But such intense downpours have not been seen for three decades.
Pakistani officials have blamed climate change, which is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather around the world.
“To see the devastation on the ground is really mind-boggling,” Pakistan´s climate change minister Sherry Rehman told AFP.
“When we send in water pumps, they say ´Where do we pump the water?´ It´s all one big ocean, there´s no dry land to pump the water out.”
She said “literally a third” of the country was under water, comparing scenes from the disaster to a dystopian movie.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan needed more than $10 billion to repair and rebuild damaged infrastructure.
“Massive damage has been caused… especially in the areas of telecommunications, roads, agriculture and livelihoods,” he told AFP Tuesday.
The Indus River, which runs along the length of the South Asian nation, is threatening to burst its banks as torrents of water rush downstream from its tributaries in the north.
Pakistan as a whole had been deluged with twice the usual monsoon rainfall, the meteorological office said, but Balochistan and Sindh provinces had seen more than four times the average of the last three decades.
The disaster could not have come at a worse time for Pakistan, where the economy is in free fall.
Appealing for international help, the government has declared an emergency.
Aid flights have arrived in recent days from Turkey and the UAE, while other nations including Canada, Australia and Japan have also pledged assistance.
The United Nations has announced it will launch a formal $160 million appeal on Tuesday to fund emergency aid.
Pakistan was already desperate for international support and the floods have compounded the challenge.
Prices of basic goods — particularly onions, tomatoes and chickpeas — are soaring as vendors bemoan a lack of supplies from the flooded breadbasket provinces of Sindh and Punjab.
There was some relief on Monday when the International Monetary Fund approved the revival of a loan programme for Pakistan, releasing an initial $1.1 billion.
Makeshift relief camps have sprung up all over Pakistan — in schools, on motorways and in military bases.
In the northwestern town of Nowshera, a technical college was turned into a shelter for up to 2,500 flood victims.
They sweltered in the summer heat with sporadic food aid and little access to water.
“I never thought that one day we will have to live like this,” said 60-year-old Malang Jan.
“We have lost our heaven and are now forced to live a miserable life.”Aid efforts ramped up across flooded Pakistan on Tuesday to help tens of millions of people affected by relentless monsoon rains that have submerged a third of the country and claimed more than 1,100 lives. The rains that began in June have unleashed the worst flooding in more than a decade, washing away swathes of vital crops and damaging or destroying more than a million homes.
Geo News journalist picked up from residence in Karachi’s Model Colony
- 2 police vans and double-cabin vehicles came to pick Anjum, area residents say.
- Police and plainclothes personnel entered home at gunpoint, Anjum’s brother says.
- Personnel also took away DVR of CCTV camera in neighbourhood.
Geo News producer Zubair Anjum was picked up by police officers from his residence in Karachi’s Model Colony area, his family confirmed on Tuesday.
According to residents of Anjum’s neighbourhood, two police vans and double-cabin vehicles arrived at his house near the Model Colony intersection and took him away.
The producer’s brother, Wajahat Anjum, said police and plainclothes personnel entered their home wielding firearms, while family members were also manhandled during the episode. The motive behind the arrest, however, remains unknown.
“They asked for Zubair bhai and took him away at gunpoint. They also took along his mobile phone,” he said, explaining the incident.
He also mentioned that the personnel also took away the digital video recorder (DVR) of the CCTV installed in Anjum’s neighbourhood.
Detailing the incident with reporters, Anjum’s brother said: “The police did not give any reason for the arrest. They did not even let him wear his slippers. We repeatedly kept asking what the matter was.”
He added that some personnel were in uniform and others were masked, except for one. “They all had TT pistols in their hands,” Wajahat said.
The case of Anjum’s disappearance has been registered at the Model Colony Police Station.
Meanwhile, the Korangi senior superintendent of police said his force had no information about Zubair Anjum’s arrest. He added that no police station or unit has reported taking the media person into custody.
“Police from stations in the Korangi district have not arrested Anjum. We are investigating the incident,” he said, adding that details are being taken from Anjum’s brother.
Governor reacts to journalist’s arrest
Reacting to Anjum’s arrest, Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori said he has been looking into the case since last night.
He added that the police has not arrested the journalist and asked law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter. “Such arrests should be stopped now,” he added.
Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami’s mayoral candidate in Karachi, also demanded the Geo News producer’s immediate release.
Commission for the Protection of Journalists and other Media Practitioners (CPJMP) has summoned an emergency meeting at the request of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ).
Meanwhile, the Karachi Press Club has also demanded that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, and Inspector-General of Sindh Police (IGP) Ghulam Nabi Memon take notice of Anjum’s ordeal.
PM Office to ‘strictly use only refillable water containers’ from today onwards
On World Environment Day, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed his office and federal government entities to “strictly use only refillable water containers” as a reflection of his government’s “commitment to fighting pollution”.
The premier issued the directives while announcing the federal cabinet’s approval of the “Single Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations 2023”. He added that it would kick-start the country’s “journey to reduce plastic waste”.
“The new regulation will phase out single-use plastic items throughout Islamabad. We will also be introducing an action plan for its implementation,” PM Shehbaz added.
The premier also urged all provincial governments and the public at large to join the Centre “in reducing and help to beat plastic pollution in Pakistan”.
World Environment Day is an initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually on June 5 since 1973.
“World Environment Day is the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people across the world,” says the UN. This year’s host for the day is Côte D’Ivoire.
‘Plastic pollution’: Pakistan calls for global action
Earlier today, in a message on the occasion of World Environment Day, PM Shehbaz emphasised the urgent need to combat plastic pollution under the global theme “Beating Plastic Pollution”.
He stressed Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to combat plastic pollution and embark on a journey of plastics reduction.
He said that his government has taken several steps to take the country on the path to sustainable use of resources.
PM Shehbaz acknowledged that Pakistan has actively participated in crucial international and national level discussions to develop a comprehensive, legally binding instrument aimed at ending plastic pollution, with a target date set for 2024.
The government of Pakistan recognises the significance of ensuring inclusivity and equity within the agreement, emphasizing the need for the treaty to prioritize so that no one is left behind.
The prime minister also called upon all stakeholders, including citizens, businesses, civil society organisations, and the media, to renew their commitment to the fight against plastic pollution and preserving the planet’s biodiversity for future generations.
He emphasised the importance of empowering local communities, supporting recycling initiatives, and promoting a circular economy that minimises plastic waste.
President directs COMSATS to let student complete degree
ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has directed COMSATS University to allow its student, whose admission had been cancelled, to complete his education.
The admission of Hammad bin Zain at COMSATS had been cancelled after three and a half years of studies at the varsity, at a point where he had already completed seven out of eight semesters.
A statement issued by President’s secretariat’s press wing said that Zain’s admission made in the year 2017, had been cancelled on the ground that he was not eligible it as he hadn’t obtained the required marks.
“It was surprising that the administration of the university could make such a huge error by granting him admission and then informing him, after a lapse of 3.5 years, that he was not eligible for admission,” the statement quouted President Alvi as saying.
He said that the student paid his requisite fees for eight semesters and diligently completed the semester course.
“Justice demanded that COMSATS should rectify the situation by allowing the student to complete his degree program,” he added.
The order was passed in light of a representation filed by Zain against the orders of the federal ombudsman. Zain had filed a complaint against COMSATS before the ombudsman, stating that it was the responsibility of the university to check the eligibility criteria and that he should have been denied admission in 2017, if he did not meet the requirements.
The ombudsman, in its decision, did not provide any relief to the complainant and only ordered COMSATS to conduct an inquiry into the whole situation and hold the guilty officials responsible for their negligence.
The president, while accepting Zain’s representation, quashed the federal ombudsman’s decision by observing that the student was studying in the BS (Business Administration) program and had already completed 3.5 years of his degree program.
“Since there was no allegation of misrepresentation against him, the student should not be made to suffer for the negligence committed by the university’s administration,” President Alvi stated.
He noted that the student’s time, money and efforts would be wasted due to the cancellation of his admission, while directing the university administration to restore Zain’s admission and report compliance to the federal ombudsman.
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