109 killed in flash floods across Pakistan: NDMA
Torrential rains, floods continue to ravage Chitral
Indus in very high flood at Guddu, high flood Taunsa, Sukkur
ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: At least 109 people were killed and 46 others were injured on Saturday as floods ravaged different parts of the country, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) revealed.
Fifty people were killed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 14 died in Balochistan, 21 in Punjab, 19 in Azad and Jammu Kashmir and five in Gilgit-Baltistan as a result of heavy flooding.
Around 2,705 houses were also damaged, leaving almost 700,000 people affected.
Meanwhile, the Sindh government has requested the army to remain on standby following reports of floods gaining strength in the province.
Chairing a meeting on Saturday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah directed Chief Secretary Mohammad Siddique Memon to write a letter to the army regarding the issue.
“Medium flooding had been predicted, but unremitting rains water gushing from Koh Suleman mountains has deteriorated the situation and there is high flooding at Guddu Barrage, where more than 0.7 million cusecs water is passing through,” an official said during the meeting, which was attended by representatives of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).
The meeting was also informed that around 250,000 people have been affected because of floods across Sindh. The chief minister asked PDMA officials to make necessary arrangement for flood victims by providing them food, tent and other necessary items. “Rs5 million should be released to each deputy commissioner without any delay so that these arrangements can be made,” he said.
Director General PDMA Salam Shah said more than 200 tents have been provided to victims, while medical camps have also been set up.”
The chief minister also visited Guddu Barrage to assess the arrangements. A CM House spokesperson said the chief minister would hold a meeting with irrigation officials at Guddu and visit Tori Bund, Sukkur Barrage and Shenk Bund.
Meanwhile, a new spate of flash floods caused by torrential rains on Saturday wreaked havoc in most parts of the already damaged district of Chitral, including Kalash valley, sweeping away dozens of homes, and destroying roads and crops.
Floods also washed away a Kalash tribe traditional maternity home, known as Bashalani, where several women and infants were present, in Bumburate area of the valley.
Local people shifted the newborns and women to safety; no causality was reported.
The flooding also swept away five hotels including one managed by Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, seven shops and standing crops in Bumburate and other areas of the valley.
The affected areas in Chitral include Barenis, Mroi, Gahirat, Zaini, Singor, and Mozhgol, where initials reports suggest flash floods destroyed dozens of houses, shops and standing crops. However, no casulty was reported.
Heavy rains began late last night, triggering flash floods that damaged 15 houses, link roads and bridges in Khot area of sub-division Mustuj, and compelled local residents to leave their homes for safety.
Residents also complained of shortage of food, medicines and other basic items due to blockage of roads leading to the area at Kuragh.
Life in sub-division Mustuj, Lot Koh and Kalash valley has been completely paralysed, as major roads leading to the areas have remained inaccessible owing to flooding since two weeks now.
Flooding in Drosh completely inundated the main road linking the area to other parts of the country.
At least 32 people, including women and children, have died since torrential rains began in Chitral almost two weeks ago.
According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, the most affected areas in Chitral is union council Mulkhow and sub-division Mustuj, where 23 people have been killed.
At least 10 people have died in Saht, eight in Uthol, two people each in Broze, Gohkir, and Lone, and one person each in Reshun, Ayun, Hingel, Green Lasht, and Warinjun.
Floods have also killed more than 3,600 cattle in the affected district till now.
Another report said, the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) on Saturday said that the River Indus was flowing in very high flood at Guddu, high flood at Taunsa & Sukkur and medium flood in Kalabagh-Chashma reach.
The low lying / riverine areas along the River Indus in Punjab (Bhakkar, Layyah, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, D.G. Khan & Rahimyar Khan districts) and Sindh province (Ghotki, Kashmore, Shikarpur, Sukkur, Khairpur & Larkana districts) would be affected by the flood.
According to daily FFC report on Saturday, the River Kabul was also flowing in medium flood in Warsak-Nowshera reach while the River Swat at Charsadda Road Bridge and the River Ravi at Sidhnai Barrage were in low flood. Other main rivers including Jhelum, Chenab and Sutlej were flowing normal.
Osama’s relatives reportedly killed in private jet crash in UK
LONDON: A private jet crashed in southern England on Friday, killing four people on board, a spokesman for Britain’s Hampshire police service said, while Saudi and British media said the passengers were relatives of deceased Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
A spokeswoman for the British police told Reuters: “There were no survivors, unfortunately. There were four people onboard including the pilot”, but she did not provide their identities. Without confirming the identities of the victims, the Saudi Ambassador to Britain, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, offered condolences on the embassy’s official Twitter account to the bin Laden family, a prominent Saudi Arabia clan with vast business interests. “His royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, the ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to the United Kingdom, offered his condolences to the sons of the late Mohammed bin Laden and their relations for the grave incident of the crash of the plane carrying members of the family at Blackbushe airport,” he said in the tweet. The Saudi embassy said it was working with British authorities to investigate the incident and to ensure the speedy handover of the bodies for funerals and burials in the kingdom. - Reuters
US special envoy lauds Gen Raheel for Afghan peace talks
ISLAMABAD: United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Dan Feldman on Saturday lauded Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif for his role in bringing together all parties to hold peace talks between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban, Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asim Bajwa said on Twitter.
The visiting envoy met Gen Raheel at Army House and discussed Afghanistan as well as security and stability in the region. Feldman hoped with all sincerity that talks would resume again soon in order to bring lasting peace in the region.
Last month, Pakistan said it is ready to facilitate dialogue between the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban.
“Pakistan is ready to play any possible role in the reopening of dialogue between Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government where ever it is being planned,” Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz had said during the first ever meeting of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee at Parliament House.
The first round of what Islamabad described as the 2+2+1 or the Murree Peace Process was held on July 7. Pakistan’s foreign office in a statement at the end of the night-long deliberations said participants recognised the need to undertake confidence-building measures in order to engender trust among all stakeholders.
In the first round, the Afghan government side was led by its deputy foreign minister, Hekmat Khalil Karzai, while the Taliban delegation was led by Mulla Abbas Durrani.
Following the death of Taliban chief Mullah Omar that could deepen an already intense internecine turf war within the insurgent group, the Foreign Office on Thursday had announced the postponement of second round of Afghan peace talks.
“In view of the reports regarding the death of Mullah Omar and the resulting uncertainty… the second round of the Afghan peace talks… is being postponed,” a brief FO statement had said hours after its spokesman had at the weekly media briefing said that Islamabad was geared to hold the talks.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan regretted the postponement of the dialogue and hoped that the meeting would be rescheduled soon.
The meeting between Taliban and Afghan government representatives in the presence of officials from Pakistan, China and the United States was scheduled to be held in Pakistan on Friday.
Awaiting response from India on Chanda Bibi’s arrest: FO
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office Spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah on Saturday said that Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit is in constant touch with Indian Ministry of External Affairs on the issue of Chanda Bibi’s detention. It may be noted that Chanda Bibi was caught in Jalandhar by Indian Railway Police for allegedly travelling on Samjhauta Express without ticket and passport.
The FO spokesperson further stated that the Indian authorities have yet to provide details regarding her detention. Situation will become clear once all information on the incident is provided from the other side.
Fauzia alias Chanda Khan, who claimed to be 27, had boarded Samjhauta Express from Wagah station in Pakistan, reached Attari and then again boarded the train to Delhi. She was de-boarded at Jalandhar station around 10pm on Thursday when she could not produce a ticket and other relevant documents.
She claimed that she was in India to visit dargahs and meet actors Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. She was produced in an Amritsar court that remanded her in two-day police custody. - NNI
Afghan Taliban leaders to re-elect Mullah Omar’s successor
Mullah Akhtar vows to fight on
PESHAWAR: Following the death of Mullah Omar, dissident Afghan Taliban leaders have formed a ‘shura’ or council, to elect a new chief after controversy surfaced over the election of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, a council’s member said Saturday.
Mansoor, the former aviation minister in the Taliban government, was elected this week after the Taliban formally confirmed their supreme leader Mullah Omar had died of a protracted illness.
A senior member of the powerful leadership council, while speaking to The Express News, said that the council will give Akhtar Mansoor some time to “give up” the top position.
“If he refuses, the council could elect a new leader,” he added.
As differences within the Taliban ranks emerged, the new Taliban chief called for unity. The Taliban released audio files of Mansoor’s speech to the meeting after his election.
Taliban faced split after the confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death, who had kept the movement united during his life.
Mullah Omar’s family has announced it will not “support any group” if the leaders failed to agree on the chief in “unanimity”.
The family in a statement declined to back Akhtar Mansoor who was one of the trusted leaders of Mullah Omar and the founding member, according to senior Taliban leaders.
“The Ameerul Momineen (leader of the faithful) had always desired unity and understanding and he had, to a large extent, succeeded to maintain unity. We want to consult and respect opinion of the ulema, Mujahideen, and those renowned personalities in the election of the new chief who had played important role in the foundation of the Islamic Emirate,” Omar’s family said in a statement.
The election with consensus will be homage and respect to the desire of Mullah Omar, the statement added.
“We will serve the new leader if he is elected with consensus but will not support anyone including Mullah Akhtar Mansoor if the leaders failed to demonstrate unity,” Omar’s family said.
Meanwhile, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor called for unity in the movement in his first audio message released Saturday.
“We should all work to preserve unity, division in our ranks will only please our enemies, and cause further problems for us,” he said in the recording released by the group.
In the 33-minute message, the new Taliban chief also says the insurgency will continue and advises his followers not to pay attention to rumours spread about the Taliban campaign.
“Our goal and slogan is to implement Shariah and an Islamic system, and our jihad will continue until this is done,” he said in the message. The audio message from Mansoor also mentioned peace talks with the Afghan government, though it was not clear whether he supported them.
Kabul held talks last month with the Taliban in an attempt to work towards a peace process for the war-ravaged nation, though the second round of talks that had been expected in Pakistan on Friday was postponed following the announcement of the death of Mullah Omar.
Pakistan, Turkey agree to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation
ISLAMABAD: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met in Islamabad Saturday and agreed to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation aimed at fighting the possible threat from militant group Islamic State and other such organisations. Erdogan landed in Islamabad along with his wife Saturday evening for a brief stopover on his way back from Indonesia. He was received by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Begum Kulsoom Nawaz at the Nur Khan base.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, federal ministers Ishaq Dar and Khawaja Asif, Advisor on National Security Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to the PM Tariq Fatemi were also present at the airport.
A contingent of Pakistan Air Force presented Erdogan with an honorary salute on his first visit to Pakistan since assuming the office of Turkey's president.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier visited Lahore and Islamabad in December 2013 as the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey. Saturday's meeting marks the seventh time Erdogan has visited Pakistan in the last decade, signifying substantial growth and strengthening of relations under his government. PM Nawaz also hosted a dinner in honour of the visiting dignitary.
Turkey has very recently upped the momentum of its fight against IS and PKK — after a week of deadly violence in Turkey the authorities blamed on the organisations.
Withholding tax: Traders at odds over strike
KARACHI: Traders are at odds over observing a shutter-down strike on Saturday against the withholding tax imposed on banking transactions by non-tax filers.
A faction of traders have dismissed Saturday’s strike and called for one to be held on August 5.
Some traders in Karachi were observing a strike Saturday while others have announced that they will observe one on August 5.
Traders of Quetta, Rawalpindi have announced that they will also observe a strike on August 5.
Over in Lahore traders were observing a strike on Saturday and shops in major markets are closed.
Several cities across the country are observing a shutter-down strike Saturday. These include Peshawar, Nowshera, Hangu and Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In Punjab the strike was observed in Sargodha, Faisalabad, Mianwali and other cities.
In Sindh the cities traders have kept businesses shut were Sanghar, Nawabshah and others.