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Pakistan initiates inquiry into deadly plane crash

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An inquiry has been launched into Friday’s plane crash that left 97 people killed in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi, the country’s aviation minister said on Saturday.

Apart from the investigation board formed by the government, a team from the aircraft’s makers will also visit the crash site for investigation, and the plane’s black box will be sent for decoding to further help the probe, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told a media briefing, adding that the report will be made public within three months after which stern action will be taken against those found guilty.

He also announced a compensation of 1 million rupees (about 6,227 U.S. dollars) each for the families of the 97 deceased passengers.

Talking to Xinhua, Meeran Yousuf, media coordinator of the health minister of Sindh province with Karachi as its capital city, said that all the 97 people were the passengers of the ill-fated plane and 21 of them have been identified and handed over to relatives while identification of the rest is underway.

“We have requested the families of the deceased people to cooperate with us for DNA test to identify the remaining bodies, and currently samples are being taken for the test. It will take 21 days to identify the bodies through the test after which they will be handed over to the families,” she added.

She said the plane fell in a street, and 17 houses were damaged after its wings and wreckage hit them, adding that the families of the affected houses have been shifted to various state-owned accommodations, and they will be compensated later.

Two people survived the crash including an engineer who got burn injuries, and the president of the Bank of Punjab who got multiple fractures but the condition of the two is stable, she said.

“The bank’s president was sitting close to the emergency exit, and he controlled his nerves to quickly open the exit door after the plane crashed while the engineer was sitting on the back seat and when he saw the door opening, he restored his conscious and quickly jumped off the burning plane. Both of them were later shifted to hospital,” Yousuf added.

The crashed plane belongs to the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and according to Director Management of Operations PIA Jawad Haider, the plane was not fully loaded due to COVID-19 safety measures.

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.

The Pakistani government has suspended domestic flight operations in March this year due to its measures against the COVID-19 spread. The government resumed the domestic flight operations on May 16.

(XINHUA)

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Pakistan firmly opposes politicization of COVID-19 virus: president

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Pakistani President Arif Alvi said here on Wednesday that his country firmly opposes the politicization of COVID-19 virus by some countries attempting to blame and pressure China.

Alvi made the remarks during a meeting with a visiting Chinese military medical expert team.

The president said his country stands with the Chinese government and people.

The president thanked China for its medical assistance and support in fighting the pandemic and also hailed China‘s efforts for the international cooperation against the virus, saying that China has taken effective measures which led to a major and positive result in controlling the pandemic.

He said the military medical expert team has been working hard in Pakistan and visited local hospitals to guide medical staff to treat patients contracted with the virus, noting that the consistent efforts made by the team shows the deep friendship between the two countries.

During the meeting, the medical team briefed their work to the Pakistani side, shared Chinese experiences on battling the virus and exchanged views on further cooperation to curb the pandemic.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing emphasized said that the COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge and China will continuously provide support to Pakistan.

The 10-member military medical team arrived in Islamabad on April 24 to help Pakistan fight the pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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Pakistan court defers blasphemy judgement on death row appeal

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A court in Pakistan on Wednesday deferred its judgement on an appeal by a Christian couple held on death row for six years following a conviction on blasphemy charges, a defence lawyer said.

Shafqat Masih and his wife Shughufta Masih, were sentenced to death in 2014 for sending blasphemous text messages to their Muslim colleagues, lawyer Saiful Malook said.

The Lahore High Court had been expected to announce a verdict on the couple’s appeal, but the judge said more time was needed to examine new evidence.

The date for next hearing is due to be announced in the coming days.

The court ordered the prosecution to re-examine the faulty evidence used to frame the couple for blasphemy, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan.

The couple, parents of four young children, denied having sent the messages, and claimed they had been framed after a work related dispute with their Muslim colleagues, Malook said.

A prosecutor matched the mobile phone numbers from which the messages were sent with the couple’s identity, and used this as the main evidence in the case, the lawyer said.

But the couple claimed their identity documents were stolen from the company for the purpose of buying mobile numbers to frame them for the crime.

Mobile phone companies no longer sell numbers without electronic thumbprints, but this was not the case in 2013 when the couple were arrested, said Asim Khan, an employee working for Ufone, a telecom company.


Edited By: Halima Sheji (NAN)

 

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Pakistani charity organization distributes food to people impacted by COVID-19

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Volunteers of a Pakistani charity organization arrange charity food boxes amid COVID-19 pandemic in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, on June 1, 2020. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that people should learn living with COVID-19 by taking precautionary measure to avoid contracting it till its vaccine is made. (Xinhua/Ahmad Kamal)

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Pakistani capital to impose fine up to 18 USD on general public for not wearing mask

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The Islamabad district administration has announced to impose a fine of up to 3,000 rupees (about 18 United States dollars) on people for not wearing face masks at public places, in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19, the Pakistani capital’s deputy commissioner (DC) said Monday.

Wearing mask was already mandatory for the employees of factories, shopping malls and other stores ever since they were allowed to operate after ease in lockdown by the government last month, but now it is also mandatory for the general public under the directives of the health ministry, DC Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat told Xinhua.

Earlier on Saturday, Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza said that the government has made it mandatory for general public to wear masks in mosques, markets, shopping malls, on public transport, trains and commercial flights, and in other crowded areas to avoid the spread of the disease.

The DC said that initially an awareness campaign will be launched for which special teams have been formed, which will visit the city on daily basis and tell those who are not wearing masks to follow the rules, and after a few days fine will be imposed on those who do not cooperate with the authorities and keep on ignoring the directives of the government.

Shafqaat said that health experts have told them that the virus transmission can be stopped by 75 percent by wearing masks, and they are hopeful to control the spread of the virus by encouraging people to adopt it as their lifestyle.

The number of COVID-19 cases is at rise in the country including in the capital. A sharp surge in the number of disease infected people has been witnessed since the ease in lockdown by the government.

According to data released by the country’s health ministry on Monday, 72,460 people have been tested positive of the disease and 1,543 died of it. Islamabad has reported a total of 2,589 cases, and according to hospital sources, most of the patients in the capital are being quarantined at their homes due to their stable condition.

(XINHUA)

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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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