Over 300 Pakistani pilgrims arrive in Taftan from Iran

Over 300 Pakistani pilgrims arrive in Taftan from Iran
Over 300 pilgrims, among them women, have reached Taftan after being permitted to enter from the Pakistan-Iran border, the spokesperson for the Balochistan government said on Friday.

Liaquat Shahwani said that all those who are arriving in Pakistan from Iran will be quarantined for 10 days, saying that they will be allowed to leave only after the fulfillment of the term.

The Pakistani pilgrims were forced to leave the Iranian territory due to which they were stranded in the area between the Pakistan-Iran border, confirmed the spokesperson.

Shahwani said that all pilgrims coming from Iran to Pakistan will be screened for the coronavirus.

On Wednesday night, Pakistan confirmed its first two coronavirus cases and the victims who were diagnosed with the virus had a travel history to the country.

Earlier in the day, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said the government now has a plan to deal with the situation of pilgrims coming to Pakistan from Iran — which has been hit with the coronavirus epidemic.

Dr Mirza said he has reviewed the situation at the Taftan-Zahedan border.

During his visit, the health adviser said that the over next few days the authorities will gradually allow Pakistani ‘zaireens’ or pilgrims returning from Iran to enter the country, after full health screening.

Ninteen dead, multiple injured as passenger train collides with bus near Rohri

Ninteen dead, multiple injured as passenger train collides with bus near Rohri
A passenger train collided with a bus near Rohri, killing 19 people and injuring dozens on Friday, according to Commissioner Shafiq Mahesar.

According to the Sukkur division commissioner, women and children had also died in the accident. The injured were shifted to Taluka Hospital Rohri and Civil Hospital Sukkur.

According to reports, the Pakistan Express train was on its way from Karachi to Rawalpindi when it hit a bus at a railway crossing.

Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah expressed grief at the loss of lives via a tweet.

“Deeply saddened to learn the train accident near Sukkur Rohri Railway phatak in which 15 people were killed and several injured. My heartfelt condolences to the victims families & prayers for the injured for early recovery!” he tweeted.

“The rescue operation is underway. We have expanded the search area to one-kilometre radius around the crash site,” said the commissioner.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed shock and grief over the loss of life due to the train accident. A spokesperson of the PPP chairman said that he had directed Sindh government to provide the best medical treatment to the injured.

“Train accidents are a question mark over the federal government’s performance,” Bilawal’s spokesperson was quoted as saying. “After how many accidents will Imran Khan, who used to talk about resignations after a single accident happened, go home?”

Bilawal said that the PTI government was not concerned with the citizens’ lives.

Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar named new Sindh IGP

Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar
The federal cabinet on Friday approved the appointment of Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar as the new Sindh inspector general, effectively replacing Dr Syed Kaleem Imam.

In an official notification issued by the Establishment Division, Mahar, “a grade 22 officer serving as the inspector general of the Pakistan Railways police, has been transferred and posted as the provincial police officer, government of Sindh, with immediate effect”.

Mahar had also served as Karachi’s police chief in the past.

On January 27, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to replace Imam during a one-on-one meeting with the premier. The prime minister had given a “positive response” to the CM’s request.

The shift in the federal government’s stance came after Islamabad had categorically told the Sindh government that it could not unilaterally repatriate or transfer IG Imam.

The establishment division in a letter to the Sindh chief secretary had stated that giving charge of the inspector general of police (IGP) to an additional IG would not be compatible with a 1993 agreement between the federal government and federating units.

Earlier, the Sindh government in its January 16 letter to the establishment secretary had stated that “till the time a new IGP is posted, the government of Sindh will assign look-after charge of the post of IGP to an additional IGP (BS-21) currently working in the province”.

However, in response to the province’s letter, the federal government in its letter dated January 17 pointed out that “the look-after charge of the post of IGP Sindh cannot be assigned to any additional IGP of police working in the province being not covered under the inter-provincial agreement of 1993”.

A source at the CM House had told Dawn that the provincial government had decided to remove Imam and a special cabinet meeting was called to this effect as he was reportedly not ‘toeing’ the government’s line.

The source had said police officers nowadays considered themselves as a force and independent and so they did not follow the policy of the government.

However, a source close to IGP Imam cited several reasons for his removal.

The source revealed that the government had decided to transfer the IGP as he was not entertaining or accommodating “illegal and irregular” demands of top leadership of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and its lawmakers.

The source had added that the PPP was unhappy because the IGP did not entertain demands of posting of SHOs, DSPs at local level, registered a case against a provincial minister, exposed alleged criminal activities of party leaders and other influential persons and was not giving them space to manoeuvre.

The IGP also did not allow the provincial government to use funds allocated to police to further the interests of MPAs or government, the source had said.


PM Imran lauds performance of law minister Farogh Naseem

Federal Minister for Law Farogh Naseem called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad
Federal Minister for Law Farogh Naseem called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad here on Friday.

During the meeting, the prime minister assured his full trust and cooperation to Farogh Naseem and said that the entire cabinet stands with you. “You’re doing a great job and representing government perfectly as a law minister, said PM Imran Khan while lauding his performance.

“Entire cabinet stands with you. I appreciate your performance as a law minister,” PM Khan tells Farogh Naseem.

Matters pertaining to important legal affairs were also discussed in the meeting.

Federal Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem on February 24 refuted rumours of his resignation and opposition towards the appointment of the newly-appointed Attorney General Khalid Javed.

“Neither I am resigning from my post as law minister nor I have any reservations towards the appointment of Khalid Javed,” he said.

The law minister said that he has a brotherly relation with Khalid Javed as their fathers had a years-long relationship. “Those who say that I have an objection on Khalid Javed’s appointment are basically raising questions on their credibility,” he said.

Attorney General Khalid Javed also seconded the remarks from the law minister and said that he had a very kind relationship with Farogh Naseem’s father as he always defended him when questions are raised against him.

Meanwhile, the federal law minister also apologised with the former Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan and said that he considers him as a big brother. “I withdraw all my remarks against Anwar Mansoor,” he said.

Coronavirus: Dr Zafar Mirza says Pakistani pilgrims will be allowed to return from Iran ‘gradually’

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Friday that the government now has a plan to deal with the situation of pilgrims coming to Pakistan from Iran, which has been hit with the coronavirus epidemic.

Dr Mirza said he has reviewed the situation at the Taftan-Zahedan border.

During his visit, the health adviser said that the over next few days the authorities will gradually allow Pakistani ‘zaireens’ or pilgrims returning from Iran to enter the country, after full health screening.

He further said that the point of entry is being strengthened.

Pakistan on Sunday had sealed its border with Iran and declared emergency in border districts.

On Wednesday, Pakistan recorded its first two cases of coronavirus, with one each being in Karachi and Islamabad. The patients had returned recently from Iran.

Earlier, Dr Mirza said that the two patients were stable and their condition was improving. “Contacts traced until now and tested are all negative,” he added.

Separately, the Sindh health department cleared the family of Pakistan’s first confirmed coronavirus patient after screening.

The 22-year-old had arrived in Karachi on February 20, indicating that there were chances that the thermal screening machines at the airports for those entering the country may not have worked after all.

The machines are supposed to immediately detect higher-than-usual body temperature.

A day earlier, Iran had reported seven new deaths from the coronavirus infection in the country over the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 26 as the country struggles to contain the spread of the virus both at home and beyond its borders.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour also told a press briefing that 106 more cases of the disease had been confirmed, raising the tally of infections to 245, the highest outside China where COVID-19 originated.


Coronavirus Prevention: Govt employees urged to avoid embrace, handshakes

Govt employees urged to avoid embrace, handshakes
Amid coronavirus threat, the district administration in Islamabad has urged its employees to avoid embracing and handshakes.

In the coronavirus advisory, the employees have been barred to mark biometric attendance at offices.

The advisory has urged the citizens to avoid crowded areas and to maintain distance of two meters from those suffering from the flu.

The workers who operate computers at offices have been directed to use gloves to avoid coronavirus which may spread through breathing and coughing.

Earlier this month, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had also issued a travel advisory for its crew members working on the national flag carrier’s flights to Beijing and Tokyo.

Govt’s responsibility to decide about Pakistani students in China: CJ Athar Minallah

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah says that Govt's responsibility to decide about Pakistani students in China
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Friday remarked that it is the government’s responsibility to decide about Pakistani students who are trapped in Wuhan as the ‘situation is serious’.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah passed the remarks while hearing a petition filed by the parents of the Pakistani students stuck in Chinese city of Wuhan due to coronavirus outbreak.

During the hearing, the parents told the court that there was a “clear difference” in the stance of the government and the students trapped in China.

“The government is not giving us any answers,” said the parents.

After hearing the parents, IHC CJ remarked that the government should satisfy the parents on the measures they have taken.

“This is a serious situation and the government of Pakistan needs to make a decision on this,” added IHC CJ Athar Minallah.

Earlier in the hearing, an official of the health ministry informed the court that they have set up a committee to provide assistance to the parents.

“Do not tell me about the committee, why is Government of Pakistan irresponsible,” remarked IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah to the health official’s response. He added that all the work cannot be done by the director general of the foreign ministry.

Justice MInallah told the officials present in the court that parents were constantly complaining that the government was not listening to their concerns.

“It is not the responsibility of the foreign ministry to resolve the problem, it is the Federal Cabinet’s responsibility,” remarked the judge.

Authority ensures availability of masks and other protective items: Dr. Zafar

Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan
Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan(DRAP) is making all out efforts for prevention of coronavirus in the country.

In a statement, Spokesperson for Ministry of Health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza said that the Authority is also ensuring availability of masks and other protective items in this regard.

The Spokesperson said companies have been directed to ensure provision of masks in the market at the prices fixed in December last year. New stock of masks is also being provided in markets.

Read more: “Who said wearing mask is mandatory to get safe from coronavirus”: Justice remarked

Remember,  Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday heard plea related to shortage and inflated rates of the surgical masks amid detection of two coronavirus cases in Pakistan.

At the outset of the hearing, the lawyer of the applicant stated that prices of surgical masks are skyrocketing in the across the province, including Karachi, while there is an acute shortage too.


Accountability Court: Hamza Shehbaz’s remand extended till March 13

Hamza Shehbaz Sharif
An accountability court on Friday extended the judicial remand of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) stalwart, Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, till March 13, in assets beyond means.

Hamza Shehbaz Sharif was presented before the court of Judge Jawad-ul-Hassan under tight security.

The court had to indict PML-N leader today but due to the absence of duty judge, the Punjab Assembly opposition leader will now be inducted on March 6.

The accountability court has summoned PML-N leader to appear before the court on March 6 and extended his judicial remand including six other accused in money laundering case till March 13.

The court was then adjourned till March 6.

It must be noted that the NAB had arrested PML-N leader in the assets beyond income case on June 11, 2019, after LHC had turned down his applications for extension in interim bail.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz in assets beyond means case.

A two-member bench of LHC comprising Justice Syed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem heard the case.

Hundreds of stranded at Iran border, Pakistan decides to bring back after screening

Pakistan-Iran border remained close for the sixth consecutive day
The Pakistan-Iran border crossing at Taftan on Friday remained close for the sixth consecutive day as immigration and crossings from both sides remained halted amid confirmation of two virus cases in the country, both of whom had travelled to Iran for pilgrimage.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Balochistan, an emergency has been declared in the provincial areas bordering Iran and screening process of 270 pilgrims who returned to Pakistan was undergoing at Pakistan House in Taftan.

“The authorities have already closed down educational institutes in the province till March 15,” they said.

The PDMA further said that the authorities have prepared the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be followed for the pilgrims who will be returning from Iran.

“Currently there are hundreds of Pakistanis stranded at the Iran border and we have decided to bring them back in groups of 1000 people after screening process on a daily basis,” they said.

“Those returning will be provided with security and other travelling facilities and would be kept at the quarantine for one week to ascertain if they have any symptoms of the disease,” the PDMA said while divulging details of the SOP.

After the entire process, they would be shifted to Quetta immediately.

The PDMA has also announced to establish quarantine and isolation wards near the Taftan border crossing on an emergency basis to deal with the issue.

The provincial government has also already released an amount of Rs 200 to immediately set up isolation wards at the border crossing and sent 10 more doctors and health experts at the border area to deal with the situation.

“The authorities have already set up makeshift camps at the border crossing and provided them with food items, blankets, medicines, surgical masks and other necessary material,” they said.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have also offered to conduct screening, performing tests at suspected coronavirus patients and keeping them under scrutiny before allowing them to travel to Pakistan.