Pakistan News

RAWALPINDI: Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha on Sunday asked the district administration of Murree to ensure safety arrangements for tourists and locals during expected rain and snowfall in Murree.
According to the forecast of the Meteorological Department, heavy snowfall is expected in Murree with strong winds and thundershowers on Monday.
It also warned that snowfall may disrupt and cause closure of roads in Murree, Galiyat, Naran, Kaghan, Dir, Swat, Kohistan, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Shangla, Astore, Hunza, Skardu, Neelum valley, Bagh, Poonch and Haveli.
Tourists are advised to remain extra cautious during the spell. Temperatures are likely to fall (2-4)°C after the spell.
A Met Department official said that a westerly wave is affecting western and upper parts of the country and likely to intensify during the next 24 hours. He said that on Monday, rain-wind/thunderstorm is expected in Islamabad, Potohar region, Kashmir and GB.
The commissioner inspected check posts of the local police and traffic police on Express Highway and inquired about the number of vehicles entering Murree and the traffic advisory given to passengers.
He asked all police personnel to be on alert and remain in constant touch with the control room, adding that the district administration should implement an emergency plan and every department should perform its responsibility. He said that all snow removal machinery should be kept on a standby and attendance of staff should also be ensured.
Last year, more than 22 people died in Murree because their vehicles were trapped on snow-covered roads and they remained stranded in their cars. This year, the provincial government has already chalked out a plan in December to tackle heavy snowfall in the hill station.
The assignments had been divided in different provincial departments and local administration. The deputy commissioner will monitor the situation along with district police officer and executive engineer of Highways.
According to the plan, the clearance of roads will be the responsibility of the highway department and National Highway Authority (NHA) will clear the Expressway. Forest department will ensure the trimming and clearance of fallen trees and Rawalpindi Waste Management Company (RWMC) will clean city streets.
Motorway police will perform duties of traffic management on the Expressway while traffic management and parking on all other roads will be the responsibility of the traffic police.
A central control room and 13 facilitation centres have been set up for the convenience of tourists, besides 30 CCTV cameras have been installed for continuous monitoring of roads and traffic.

ISLAMABAD: Before his departure to Lahore for forensic tests, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday complained of “custodial torture”, and filed a plea seeking his medical examination. The former minister filed an application before Kohsar police station’s magistrate. The PTI mouthpiece, who was arrested on Wednesday under sedition charges for allegedly threatening members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) during a media talk, was taken to Lahore by the Islamabad police and was likely to be shifted back to the federal capital on Monday (today) after his tests were conducted. Before leaving for Lahore, Mr Chaudhry told reporters that police were not conducting his medical tests and thus committing a violation of his constitutional rights. He recalled that police had mentally and physically tortured PTI leaders Senator Azam Khan Swati and Shahbaz Gill also. In his photogrammetry test to be conducted in Lahore, his voice would be matched in a forensic laboratory. Reportedly, photogrammetry is the science and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of electromagnetic radiant imagery and other phenomena. Mr Chaudhry has already been interrogated and questioned during his initial physical remand. He was asked why he gave such a statement regarding the ECP and its members/staff, including Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja. Judicial Magistrate Waqas Ahmed Raja in his order issued on Saturday had directed the Islamabad police to produce the former minister before his court on Monday (today) upon the expiry of his remand. On the other hand, a senior official of Islamabad police claimed that Fawad Chaudhry was not facing the strict interrogations as faced by his colleagues Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill earlier.

ISLAMABAD: PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry was remanded into physical custody by the same judge who, a day ago, had sent him on judicial remand to Adiala Jail.
Saturday’s development came after a busy day at the sessions court where the PTI leader, counsel, prosecution and media scurried between courts where matters related to the case were pending.
On Friday, Judicial Magistrate Waqas Ahmed Raja sent the PTI leader on a 14-day judicial remand. He had passed the order after rejecting the police plea to extend his physical remand.
Mr Chaudhry — whose face was covered with a cloth — was prese­nted before District and Sessions Judge Tahir Mehmood under tight security, where the prosecution had filed an appeal against Friday’s decision to grant his judicial remand.
Prosecutor Tahir Kazim argued the investigation team had conducted a voice-matching test of the suspect and his custody was required for a photogrammetric test. The counsel for Mr Chaudhry, Dr Babar Awan, contended the case was based on mala fide intentions and the allegations levelled in the FIR were false, frivolous and baseless.
PTI leader detained at CIA centre; Imran writes to CJP to intervene
After hearing the arguments, Judge Mehmood set aside the judicial magistrate’s order and sent the matter back to him for a fresh hearing.
In his order, Judge Mehmood referred to the verdicts of Lahore and Islamabad high courts over the law related to granting physical remand.
The judge was of the view that the police should be given a fair chance of investigation and the earlier order of the judicial magistrate was erroneous.
Following the order, Magistrate Raja took up the matter again.
After the magistrate struck down the police’s request to extend Mr Chaudhry’s physical remand on Friday, the PTI leader had filed an application before Additional District and Sessions Judge Faizan Haider Gillani for post-arrest bail.
After his remand was granted, Mr Chaudhry was taken to the Criminal Intelligence Agency (CIA) building where he was detained, Dawn has learnt.
The matter, which was adjour­ned till Jan 31, has now technically become infructuous since the court had granted Mr Chaudhry’s custody to the police.
Imran writes to CJP
PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday wrote a letter to the chief justice to “rescue” Mr Chaudhry and save him from “inhuman treatment” meted out to party leaders Senator Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill.
The letter appealed to Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial to safeguard Mr Chaudhry’s constitutional rights during custody so that his dignity and honour would be protected.
The former prime minister has said custodial torture was a violation of Articles 9, 10(A) and 14 of the Constitution.
“Two of our senior party office bearers Azam Swati (senator) and Shahbaz Gill were subjected to custodial torture. My worry is that Fawad Chaudhry will be subjected to similar inhuman treatment…,” the letter stated.
“As the custodian of the Constitution… I request you to ensure that the honour and dignity of Mr Fawad Chaudhry is not violated while in police custody.”
Contempt petition
Separately, a petition has been filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) for contempt proceedings against the Punjab and Islamabad police chief for not producing Mr Chaudhry before court’s directions.
Nabeel Shahzad, a cousin of Mr Chaudhry, filed the petition pleading the LHC on Jan 25 ordered the police to produce the PTI leader after he was arrested by the FIA in Lahore.
The petitioner said the two police chiefs deliberately defied the court’s repeated directions and took Mr Chaudhry to Islamabad instead of producing him.
Wajih Ahmad Sheikh in Lahore, Ikram Junaidi and Munawer Azeem also contributed to this report

At least 39 people were killed after a passenger coach fell into a ravine in Balochistan’s Lasbela on Sunday morning, according to officials.
Lasbela Assistant Commissioner Hamza Anjum, while confirming the incident, told that the vehicle, with nearly 48 passengers on board, was travelling from Quetta to Karachi.
“Due to speeding, the coach crashed into the pillar of a bridge while taking a U-turn near Lasbela. The vehicle subsequently careened into a ravine and then caught fire,” he said.
Anjum added that three people, including a child and a woman, have been rescued alive. However, he feared that the number of casualties could increase.
Meanwhile, Saad Edhi of Edhi Foundation told that 17 bodies have been recovered from the accident site so far, adding that they have been moved to the hospital.

Eni said on Wednesday that the delivery of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo to Pakistan LNG Limited that was scheduled for February has been disrupted due to an event of force majeure.
The Italian major has a 15-year deal to supply Pakistan LNG with one cargo a month from 2017 to 2032.
“February LNG delivery disruption is beyond the reasonable control of ENI and due to an event of force majeure. ENI does not benefit in any way from the situation,” said the company in a statement to Reuters.
“All the previous disruptions in LNG delivery suffered by ENI have been caused by the LNG supplier who didn’t fulfill the agreed obligations. Also in these cases, ENI did not take advantage or benefit in any way from these defaults and applied all contractual provisions to manage such disruptions.”
Pakistan has struggled to procure spot cargoes of LNG amid elevated global gas prices, which spiked to record highs last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
LNG shipments to Pakistan under long-term deals are insufficient to match the country’s rising fuel demand.
Pakistan LNG, a government subsidiary that procures LNG from the international market, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pakistan imported nine billion cubic metres (bcm) of LNG last year, according to Refinitiv data, down nearly 20 per cent from 11.2 bcm in 2021.

WASHINGTON: The United States has reiterated that Pakistan can purchase oil from Russia at a discounted price even though it has not signed a Washington-backed price-cap on Russian petroleum products.
US State Department’s spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a Tuesday afternoon news briefing that Pakistan can also take advantage of the concessions Washington has given to other countries for buying oil from Russia.
“So, we have encouraged countries to take advantage of that, even those countries that have not formally signed on to the price cap, so that they can acquire oil in some cases at a steep discount from what they would otherwise acquire from, in this case, Russia,” Mr Price said.
On December 3, 2022, G7 and EU countries set a price-cap of $60 per barrel on Russian oil to prevent Moscow from using the revenues to finance its war against Ukraine.
Since, Europe and the United States no longer import crude oil from Russia, the controlled purchase would only affect third countries, like Pakistan. Islamabad has not yet signed the accord, mainly because Pakistan does not import oil from Russia.
Mr Price said the US approach to the purchase of oil from Russia has been laid out in the price-cap mechanism that it worked out with other countries around the world, including the G7.
“And the virtue of the price cap is that it allows energy markets to continue to be resourced while depriving Moscow of the revenue it would need to continue to propagate and fuel its brutal war against Ukraine,” the US official said.
“We have made the point that we have very intentionally not sanctioned Russian oil. Instead, it’s now subject to the price cap.” The US, he said, has been very clear that now was not the time to increase economic activity with Russia.
“But we understand the imperative of keeping global energy markets well resourced, well supplied, and the price-cap, we believe, provides a mechanism to do that,” he added.
On Friday, Minister for Economic Affairs Ayaz Sadiq, and Russia’s Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov said at a joint news conference in Islamabad that they hope to sign an oil deal by late March, enabling Pakistan to buy Russian oil at discounted rates.
A joint statement issued after their talks said that the two sides reached an in-principle agreement on the supply of Russian crude oil and oil products to Pakistan, with technical details to be finalised in March at the latest.
“We have decided that it would be a good idea for Pakistan to approach Gazprom and Novatek, two largest LNG-producing companies, in late 2023 to discuss the conditions” for buying LNG, the Russian minister said.
Energy-starved Pakistan imports approximately 430,000mt of motor gasoline, 200,000mt diesel and 650,000mt crude oil at a cost of $1.3 billion per month.
Market observers earlier this month warned Pakistan may face fuel shortages in the near future as importers struggle to secure dollars to close deals. The country’s foreign exchange reserves have dwindled to their lowest levels in almost nine years.
Buying oil from Russia at a discounted price could ease the pressure.

ISLAMABAD: The genomic sequencing of the only poliovirus, detected from the sewage water in Pakistan during the current year, shows that the virus belongs to Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
The Type-1 Wild Poliovirus (WPV1) in an environmental sample was detected in Lahore district (Gulshan Ravi, ES site) during the current month.
The genomic sequencing is a process to decipher the genetic material found in an organism or virus. Sequences from specimens can be compared to help scientists track the spread of the virus, how it is changing and how those changes may affect the public health.
In first week of January environmental samples were collected from 38 cities of Pakistan. Of these samples, 37 were found negative at the National Institute of Health (NIH). The cities declared negative for presence of the virus included Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Qilla Abdullah, Quetta, Karachi and Southern KP region.
The sewage samples are important in detecting the virus’ prevalence in a country. If the virus is found in samples collected from any area, it is called positive. These samples are a basic parameter to determine the success of polio campaigns. The presence of the poliovirus in sewage also shows low immunity in children and they are at risk of catching the virus.
According to a statement issued by the NIH, the virus found in Gulshan Ravi had links to a poliovirus found in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan in November last year.
Federal Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel said that Pakistan and Afghanistan were together in their fight against polio virus.
“While the isolation of the virus is a cause of concern, it is excellent to note that it was detected promptly. This timely detection of the virus in the environment is crucial in protecting the children from being paralysed by the poliovirus,” he said.
“The only way to stop the virus is to vaccinate all children under the age of five. It is critically important that parents and caregivers, particularly in Lahore, ensure that their child is vaccinated in the February round,” Mr Patel said.
The nationwide immunisation campaign that concluded on Jan 20 vaccinated children in the Lahore division, while additional campaigns will also be conducted in February and March to address the outbreak.
Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), said that it was not unexpected since Pakistan and Afghanistan were considered as one epidemiological block in which polioviruses moved across borders because there was widespread population movement.
“In the past year, we have worked very closely with the Afghanistan programme and treat the virus in either country as our own. Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan can be free of poliovirus until both countries stop its transmission,” Dr Baig said.
The last polio case found in Lahore was in July 2020, but the virus has been periodically detected in its sewage water. Last year, four environmental samples were found positive for wild poliovirus in Lahore district.
In 2022, 20 children were paralysed by the virus in the country — all of them belong to the southern districts of KP. Of the 20 children, 17 were from North Waziristan, two from Lakki Marwat and one from South Waziristan.

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