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97 killed, 2 survive in Pakistan’s plane crash

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Rescue teams have recovered 97 bodies from the debris of a plane of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) which crashed into a residential area in the southern port city of Karachi on Friday, the Pakistani army said on Saturday.

Rescuers from the army and civil rescue groups have shifted the bodies to hospitals and also recovered two people onboard who survived in the crash, the media wing of the army, the Inter-Services Public Relations, said in a statement.

The PIA flight PK-8303 with 91 passengers and eight crew members onboard took off from the Allama Iqbal International Airport in the eastern city of Lahore at 1:08 p.m. and crashed at 2:45 p.m. local time on Friday, PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez said.

Though the plane crashed on the densely populated residential area lying next to one of the airport’s walls, no fatality was reported on the ground, said Meeran Yousuf, media coordinator of the health minister of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the provincial capital.

Some 17 people on the ground got multiple injuries, but their condition was stable, he added.

About 25 houses of the residential area were damaged in the crash, and the residents were evacuated to various places with the assistance of the civil administration, the military statement said.

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Pakistan condemns India’s declaring diplomats as persona non grata

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Pakistan condemned late on Sunday the Indian government’s decision to declare two officials of the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi as persona non grata requiring them to leave India within 24 hours.

The two Pakistani diplomats were declared persona non grata on charges of “espionage,” according to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. The two officials were apprehended by Indian law enforcement authorities for involving in espionage activities.

The Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement that the Indian action has been accompanied by a “negative pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda.”

The ministry said that the two staff members of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were lifted by the Indian authorities on Sunday on “false and unsubstantiated charges.”

“They were, however, released on intervention by the High Commission. We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges,” the statement said.

It added that Pakistan strongly rejects the baseless Indian allegations and deplores the Indian action which is in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the norms of diplomatic conduct.

The High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi has always worked within the parameters of international law and diplomatic norms. The Indian action is clearly aimed at shrinking diplomatic space for the working of Pakistan High Commission.”

(XINHUA)

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1st LD Writethru: India expels 2 officials of Pakistan High Commission on charges of espionage

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India on Sunday expelled two officials of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi after they were apprehended earlier in the day for espionage activities, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said.

They were asked to leave the country within 24 hours.

“The government has declared both these officials persona non grata for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission and asked them to leave the country within 24 hours,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Pakistan’s Charge de Affaires was issued a demarche in which a strong protest was lodged with regard to the activities of these officials of the High Commission of Pakistan against India‘s national security,” added the statement.

(XINHUA)

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Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases rise to 69,496 with 1,483 deaths

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has risen to 69,496 with 1,483 deaths, according to data updated by the country’s Health Ministry on Sunday.

A total of 3,039 new cases and 88 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, the statistics revealed.

Overall, 42,742 patients are under treatment in different hospitals while 25,271 have recovered completely, which is 36.4 per cent of the total confirmed cases.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Zafar Mirza, announced on Saturday that wearing masks at crowded places was declared mandatory to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases rise to 69,496 with 1,483 deaths

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has risen to 69,496 with 1,483 deaths, according to data updated by the country’s health ministry Sunday morning.

A total of 3,039 new cases and 88 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, the statistics revealed.

Overall, 42,742 patients are under treatment in different hospitals while 25,271 have recovered completely, which is 36.4 percent of the total confirmed cases.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza announced on Saturday that wearing masks at crowded places was declared mandatory to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

(XINHUA)

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IS militant arrested in Pakistan’s Karachi

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Pakistani law enforcement agencies arrested a suspected terrorist of Islamic State (IS) in an intelligence-based operation in the country’s southern port city of Karachi, police officials and local media said on Saturday.

According to Karachi police, the operation was conducted by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of Karachi police and the Federal Intelligence Agency late Friday night. Weapons and other sensitive materials were also recovered from the militant’s hideout.

A case has been registered against the suspect in the police station based on terrorism and other charges.

The SIU officials said that during investigation the militant has divulged that he joined the IS in 2019 and carried out extortion activities in the city with helps of his associates in the past year. Before 2019, he was affiliated with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, according to the officials.

The arrested was also taken into custody in 2013 in several terrorism-related incidents and was released later after serving his prison time, said the officials, adding raids were being carried out to arrest his accomplices.

(XINHUA)

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Pakistan’s state minister tested positive of COVID-19

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Pakistan’s State Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Khan Afridi has been tested positive for the COVID-19, the minister confirmed in his twitter post on Saturday.

“I have tested positive of COVID-19 and have isolated myself at home as per advice by medics. I need prayers and blessings,” Afridi tweeted.

The minister is the latest government official to contract the disease after National Assembly speaker, governor of south Sindh province and several other lawmakers and ministers.

COVID-19 cases are constantly on rise in Pakistan after the Pakistani government eased lockdown in order to support the economy and help low-income group to earn livelihood.

The government is expected to have a high level meeting on Sunday on the rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases and local media said that the government is mulling to impose lockdown again in the country to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Over 66,400 people have been tested positive of the disease in Pakistan whereas 1,395 died of it and 24,131 recovered from it, according to the latest statistics from local health authorities.

(XINHUA)

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Gwadar port to boost Pakistan-Afghanistan trade: Afghan envoy

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Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Atif Mashal on Friday said Pakistan’s decision to allow Afghan traders to import goods via the Gwadar port in southwestern Balochistan province will boost bilateral trade and transit ties between the two countries.

Mashal’s comments came following the arrival of a cargo ship, carrying 16,000 tons urea for transit to Afghanistan at the Gwadar port, according to China Overseas Port Holding Company which operates the Gwadar port, and Abdul Razak Dawood, advisor to Pakistani prime minister on commerce, textile, industry and production, and investment.

Pakistan last month announced to allow import of the Afghan bulk cargo of wheat, sugar and fertilizers at the Gwadar port and onward transit to Afghanistan in sealable trucks, instead of being limited to containers.

“For the first time, bagging will be done locally instead of foreign ports. Urea will be bagged and shipped on trucks to Afghanistan at Gwadar, which will generate employment for the locals. Instructions have already been passed to allocate all labor jobs to local population,” Dawood said on Twitter on Friday.

The Afghan ambassador welcomed Pakistan’s decision and appreciated efforts by the Pakistani advisor.

“This will certainly have a positive impact on Afghanistan-Pak trade and transit ties. We must extend support to each other for revival of commerce and connectivity in Central and South Asia that will surely benefit people in the region,” Mashal said in a tweet.

Pakistan announced in October last year to open the Gwadar port for the Afghan transit trade as the trade related infrastructure at the port was already to handle bulk cargoes to and from Afghanistan. The first ship carrying containers for Afghan transit trade arrived at the Gwadar port on Jan. 14, 2020.

Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan had signed a transit trade agreement in 1965 that was revised in 2010, which calls for better facilitation in the movement of goods between the two countries.

Afghan traders would previously use ports in Karachi, the commercial hub of Pakistan, for import under the transit trade agreement.

(XINHUA)

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Pakistan to resume int’l flight operations

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Pakistan will resume its international flight operations from Friday night after the government eased some of the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a notification issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Friday.

“As per decision of the Federal Government, the outbound international flights operation has been allowed with effect from 23:59 (local time) tonight,” the notification said.

Both national and foreign airlines will be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan with exception of the country’s southwest Gwadar and Turbat airports, said the notification.

The standard operating procedures (SOPs) for outbound international flights have already been issued, according to which, airlines will be required to follow the SOPs of the destination country, said the CAA, adding that disinfection of aircraft will be ensured and no congestion at airports will be allowed.

Pakistan has suspended international flight operations since March as part of the safety measure to stem the spread of COVID-19. Earlier on May 16, Pakistan resumed domestic flight operations in a phased manner.

(XINHUA)

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Pakistan to establish national cell against rising locust threat: minister

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The Pakistani government has decided to form the National Locust Control Cell against the rising attacks of the locust swarms across the country, which are posing a serious threat to the national food security, the information minister said Thursday.

Pakistan’s Information Minister Shibli Faraz told media that the government has formed national strategy against the desert locust and the proposed cell is part of it.

The minister added that the government is well aware of the current situation being faced by farmers in different regions where the desert locust swarms are attacking different crops.

“We fear that there would be a great threat of locust swarms in July this year. The government is preparing for it,” said the minister, adding that nine jets and helicopters are taking part in spraying missions against the locust, which would be increased to 15 in July.

The minister advised farmers to report about the arrival of locusts quickly to the helplines so that the authorities can spray pesticides in their region.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report last month and warned the Pakistani government of a huge level of locust raid in Pakistan if it is not controlled efficiently because locust breeding is taking place at 38 percent of the country’s total area. The report added that the locust could cause 817 billion rupees (about 5.08 billion U.S. dollars) loss to Pakistan’s agriculture production this year.

(XINHUA)

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