Posts Tagged ‘Flood’

Hurricane Florence smashes into US East Coast, rescuers scramble

Hurricane Florence smashed into the US East Coast on Friday with howling winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surges as emergency crews scrambled to rescue hundreds of people stranded in their homes by flood waters.

Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and dangerous.

The port city of Wilmington woke on Friday to the sound of exploding electrical transformers with strong gusts throwing street signs and other debris as well as water in all directions, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

The storm officially made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15 am (1115 GMT), the National Hurricane Centre said.

Ken Graham, the NHC’s director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path. “The longer you have this hurricane wind flow, the longer you push that water well inland,” he said.

Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes. Video footage showed parking lots in the riverfront town of New Bern turn into shallow lakes of dirty gray water as heavy rain fell.

New Bern Police Lt David Daniels said early Friday morning that between 150 and 200 people had been rescued so far, with others still waiting for help.

“Currently 150 awaiting rescue in New Bern,” City Hall said on Twitter.

Nearly 300,000 customers in North Carolina were meanwhile reported to be without power as the outer band of the storm approached.

In its 1200 GMT advisory, the centre said Florence was packing winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph) and moving northwest at six miles per hour (10 kilometers per hour).

It added the greatest threats to life came from storm-surges while “catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding” was expected, with some areas receiving up to 40 inches of rainfall.

In a display of the early effects of the storm, one flood gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, showed 10 feet (three metres) of flooding, the NHC said.

With winds picking up along the coastline earlier on Thursday, federal and state officials had issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the “once in a lifetime” weather system.

“This storm will bring destruction,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. “Catastrophic effects will be felt.”

Monster storm surge expected

The NHC said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended nearly 195 miles out.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: “Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that’s what we’re about to see,” he said.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.

Myrtle Beach, a South Carolina beach resort, was deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.

‘I’m not worried at all’

Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather with his dog Canelo.

“The shelters are not taking dogs,” Ramirez said. “I’m not leaving him here.”

In Wilmington, residents who had decided not to evacuate were lining up to get ice from a vending machine — $2 for a 16-pound (7.2-kilo) bag.

“I have no generator,” said Petra Langston, a nurse. “I learned from the past to keep the ice in the washing machine.”

Perched on the porch of his home, carpenter Tony Albright was calmly awaiting Florence’s arrival, beer in hand.

“I built this house myself, so I’m not worried at all, I know it’s solid,” he said. “I charged the batteries of my electronic devices, I have beers and video games.”

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 14, 2018 at 2:25 pm

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Number of hungry people has risen to 820m, says UN report

NEW YORK: There is new evidence signalling that the number of hungry people in the world is growing and rose around 820 million in 2017, according to the United Nation’s “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 report” released on Tuesday.

The report also highlighted that there was limited progress in addressing the multiple forms of malnutrition, ranging from child stunting to adult obesity, putting the health of hundreds of millions of people at risk.

With hunger on the rise over the past three years, returning to levels from a decade ago, the report warned that more must be done and urgently if UN’S Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of hunger eradication is to be achieved by 2030.

The UN said the situation is worsening in South America and most regions of Africa, while the decreasing trend in undernourishment that characterised Asia seems to be slowing down significantly.

The annual UN report found that climate variability affecting rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and climate extremes such as droughts and floods are among the key drivers behind the rise in hunger, together with conflict and economic slowdowns.

“The alarming signs of increasing food insecurity and high levels of different forms of malnutrition are a clear warning that there is considerable work to be done to make sure we ‘leave no one behind’ on the road towards achieving the SDG goals on food security and improved nutrition,” the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in their joint foreword to the report.

“If we are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, it is imperative that we accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people’s livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes,” the leaders said.

Analysis in the report shows that the prevalence and number of undernourished people tend to be higher in countries highly exposed to climate extremes.

Undernourishment is higher again when exposure to climate extremes is compounded by a high proportion of the population depending on agricultural systems that are highly sensitive to rainfall and temperature variability.

Temperature anomalies over agricultural cropping areas continued to be higher than the long-term mean throughout 2011–2016, leading to more frequent spells of extreme heat in the last five years.

The nature of rainfall seasons is also changing, such as the late or early start of rainy seasons and the unequal distribution of rainfall within a season.

The harm to agricultural production contributes to shortfalls in food availability, with knock-on effects causing food price hikes and income losses that reduce people’s access to food, the report said.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018

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Sarfraz wants Pakistan to post 300-plus in every Asia Cup game

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket captain Sarfraz Ahmad on Monday expressed his satisfaction at the team’s preparations for the upcoming Asia Cup and said his desire is to see his team setting winning targets of 300-plus in every match of the event.

Talking to journalists here on Monday before the Pakistan team’s departure for the UAE, which is scheduled in the wee hours on Tuesday, Sarfraz said:” Our preparations went well in the hectic camp set up in Lahore amid hot weather. We did five days practice and then played one practice match and assessed the shortcomings.”

“In the UAE, due to hot weather and humidity, it is hard to bat in the night under floodlights and so every team will be keen to bat first,” he said. “I want my batsmen to score 300-plus while batting first as our bowling attack is really good and quite capable of defending it.”

“First priority is to get early momentum in the Asia Cup as we got it in the ICC Champions Trophy in the matches against Sri Lanka and South Africa and successfully carried it till the final,” he recalled.

“Indeed, the match against India is important and if both the teams play the final then it will be a great spectacle.”

Sarfraz admitted that besides India all other teams were also strong and no one should take any team lightly. “I looked at the list of the players of all the teams and feel that every team is competitive. Hong Kong has qualified after winning the final of the qualifying round while Afghanistan is also carrying a good number of talented players. So we have to take every contest seriously if we want to win the cup,” observed Sarfraz.

To a questions regarding his own poor performance with the bat, Sarfraz said he is doing his best to improve in every game improving get over the lean patch. “In Zimbabwe, I tried hard and showed improvement in batting. Inshallah, I will try to perforwell with the bat in the coming days,” he said.

It may be mentioned here that chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had also expressed his concern about Sarfraz’s poor run with the willow.

Moreover, replying to a question about not grooming a second wicketkeeper as his replacement in case of any injury, Sarfraz said it was not necessary to groom a wicketkeeper with the national team. “Muhammad Rizwan and M Hasan are being groomed with the national A team as wicketkeepers,” he disclosed. “The A teams have a hectic schedule of activities in coming two and half months in the UAE against different teams. And in case of injury to me, the team can call any of them as both the teams will be in the UAE for most of the remaining year,” he said.

“Besides, since the time I have been elevated to captaincy, Pakistan have never played a full series of four rr five Tests But whenever we will be playing a long series, we will surely take along a second wicketkeeper,” he added.

Sarfraz admitted that since the World Cup is drawing nearer, Pakistan team will have to find a winning combination and show better results in the Asia Cup.

He said seasoned all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez is still part of the World Cup’s pool of players and whenever the team would need him he would get his place in the team.

Sarfraz denied that he had gained weight and claimed that his last fitness test proved to be quite good.

About India’s decision to give rest to their captain Virat Kohli, Sarfraz said it was their own decision. However, when asked if he would consider taking rest at some point of his career, he replied: “It is just the start of my career, so there should be no question about taking rest at this stage.”

To a question he said pitches in the UAE were expected to be slow and the spinners could play a vital role there.

He praised the work of the foreign coaches and trainers and said the team is showing definite improvement in all departments of the game including fitness and fielding.

He said though Pakistan lacked fast bowlers who could bowl at nearly 150km, Pakistan had a very good mix of genuine pacers and medium pacers to challenge any team.

Meanwhile, the PCB retained almost the same team management for the Asia Cup and Talat Ali Malik will continue to act as manager.

The team management comprises Talat Ali Malik (manager), Mickey Arthur as head coach, Azhar Mahmood as bowling coach and Grant Flower as batting coach while Grant Bradburn will be the fielding coach. Grant Luden is the team trainer while thep physio is Cliffe Deacon. Assistant manager of the team is Manzoor Rana while Talha Butt is the analyat. Security Manager of the team is Azam Khan and media manager is Emmad Hameed.

The Asia Cup is being held in the UAE from Sept 15 to 28. Besides Pakistan and India, the other participating teams are Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 11, 2018 at 6:25 am

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PM Imran Khan offers humanitarian assistance for people in India’s flood-hit Kerala state

Prime Minister Imran Khan, on behalf of people of Pakistan, on Thursday offered to provide humanitarian assistance in the wake of devastating floods in the Indian state of Kerala.

The premier said this as he extended “prayers and best wishes to those who have been devastated by the floods in Kerala, India”.


Meanwhile, more than 1.3 million people have now been packed into temporary camps in Kerala as more people entered relief camps to escape the devastation carried out by the floods, which have left at least 420 dead and missing so far, are fast receding.

Earlier in the day, the leaders of flood-stricken Kerala state angrily hit out at India’s national government for ,rejecting a $100 million aid, offer from the United Arab Emirates.

The New Delhi government infuriated the Kerala administration by rejecting the cash offer from the wealthy Gulf state.

About 50,000 homes have been destroyed, according to one Kerala legislator, and people are flocking to the camps as the scale of the desolation is revealed by receding waters.

A total of 1,028,000 people were now recorded in about 3,200 relief camps across the state.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 23, 2018 at 10:25 pm

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Flood-stricken Kerala angry after India rejects UAE $100m offer

Leaders of flood-stricken Kerala state angrily hit out at India’s national government Thursday for ,rejecting a $100 million aid offer from the United Arab Emirates, as more people entered relief camps to escape the devastation.

More than 1.3 million people have now ,packed into temporary camps, even though the floods, which have left at least 420 dead and missing, are fast receding.

The New Delhi government infuriated the Kerala administration by rejecting the cash offer from the wealthy Gulf state.

Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaac accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of adopting a “dog-in-the-manger” policy by refusing the money.


The communist minister added in a Twitter attack that if the right wing national government takes a “negative stance” on the UAE offer “they should compensate Kerala”.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan called for “high level” talks with the national government on the dispute.

There are an estimated three million Indians in the UAE, with many from Kerala which has a large Muslim population.

India’s foreign ministry announced late Wednesday, however, that the government would stick to its policy of “meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts” and not accept money from foreign governments.

It added that outside money could only be donated through Indian-origin individuals or foundations.

India has a record of refusing foreign aid after disasters, turning down foreign help after the 2004 tsunami, which killed thousands in India. Experts said Indian governments want to prove they can handle any emergency themselves.

The UAE offer was higher than the $97 million so far given by the central government to handle the floods which state authorities estimate have caused damage worth more than $3 billion.

They say 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of roads have been destroyed or damaged, while estimates of the number of houses to be rebuilt vary from 20,000 to 50,000.

Many of the new arrivals in relief camps are people who have returned to their homes to find them uninhabitable.

One 68-year-old man committed suicide on Wednesday after seeing the state of his home at Kothad in Ernakulam district. A 19-year-old boy took his own life earlier this week because his school certificates were destroyed by the floods, police said.

Vijayan said there were now 1.34 million people in 3,300 relief camps, up 300,000 in two days.

In another sign of the extent of the chaos, the reopening of Kochi international airport, the state’s main airport, has been put back three days to August 29.

However Tom Jose, the state’s top civil servant, told AFP the situation across the state had improved with only isolated pockets of water remaining.

“If it does not rain in the coming days then we can start getting back on track soon,” he told AFP after an aerial tour of flood-ravaged areas.

“Rescue operations are almost complete. Our priority now is to provide relief and rebuild the damaged infrastructure,” he added.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - at 12:25 pm

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Goals galore as Pakistan thump Thailand 10-0 in Asian Games opener

Pakistan national hockey team kicked off their Asian Games campaign in style, thumping Thailand 10-0 in their match played at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Sports Complex in Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday.

The national team took their team to open their account, with the opening goal not coming till the last minute of the opening quarter when Tauseeq Arshad converted a penalty corner.

That first breach of the goal opened up the floodgates as Pakistan scored thrice in the second quarter.

They kept up their scoring spree in the second period as well, finding the net an astonishing six times to finish the game with an overall 10-0 win.

Atiq Arshad was the most prolific of all scorers as he hit a hat-trick of goals. His sibling Tauseeq was among the trio who scored a brace each.

Mubashar Ali was the odd man out among all the goalscorers, with him scoring just once in the goal-fest.

Next up for the Green Shirts is Oman, whom they face off with on Wednesday.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 20, 2018 at 3:25 pm

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106 die in Kerala floods as Indian state faces ‘extremely grave’ crisis

Hundreds of troops led a desperate operation to rescue families trapped by mounting floods in India’s Kerala state Thursday as the death toll reached 106 with nearly 150,000 left homeless.

Helicopters airlifted stranded victims from rooftops and dam gates were thrown open as incessant torrential rain brought fresh havoc to the southern state that is a major international tourist draw.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state now faces an “extremely grave” crisis with more downpours predicted. The region’s main airport has been ordered closed until August 26.

The state, famed for palm-lined beaches at resorts such as Bekal and tea plantations, is always battered by the annual monsoon but this year’s damage has been the worst in almost a century.

The death toll had jumped to 106 late Thursday, a state disaster management official told AFP.

Media reports said up to 30 more people were feared dead in landslides and rivers that burst their banks, flooding scores of villages.

At least eight people were killed when an irrigation dam burst and a landslide hit three houses in the town of Nenmara, Palakkad district, authorities said.

Vijayan said 80 dams have reached danger levels and appealed to the population not to ignore evacuation orders.

Army and coastguard helicopters, lifeboats and navy diving teams have been brought to the stricken state where an extra 540 troops were deployed on Thursday.

More are due in coming days.

The army said helicopters carried out scores of rescue operations. They also dropped food and water and appealed for victims to stand in open fields or on rooftops away from trees so helicopters were not damaged during rescue efforts.

One state official said more than 1,330 camps have been opened across Kerala and 147,000 people had sought shelter by Thursday evening.

“At least 6,500 people are stranded in different parts of Kerala and the situation in three districts is particularly grim,” a separate state disaster management official told AFP.

Floods have also hit other states, including Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, where eight people at a popular picnic spot were swept away by a sudden surge of water.

‘Please help’

In Kerala families could be seen paddling boats provided by the military, while in some areas families commandeered local wooden boats to ferry themselves to safety.

The government says 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of Kerala roads have been destroyed or damaged and hundreds of homes lost.

It has ordered the opening of gates at 34 dams and reservoirs where water levels reached danger levels.

Indian television broadcast images of cars and livestock washed away in the floods while men and women waded through chest-high waters that flowed through village streets.

Many used social media to send rooftop distress calls, some with video.

A member of parliament from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, shared on Twitter an appeal for help made by a woman who said she was trapped on the third floor of a temple with phone batteries running out.

“Over 36 people including myself and family stranded here. Phone network and charge finishing please help in any possible way,” Devika Sreekumar said in the Facebook post.

Greeta Mathew pleaded for help for her family in a Twitter message.

“Anybody reading this,PLZ HELP. My relatives are stuck on the upper floor of house with an 8 months pregnant lady, in Edayaranmula, Pathanamthitta dist. All rescue control rooms’ numbers busy. No rescue team reached yet. No contact with family since last evening,” she said.

North and central Kerala has been worst hit by the floods but all 14 of the state’s districts have been put on “red alert” as heavy rain is predicted for several days.

In the main city of Kochi, the international airport will remain closed until at least August 26, authorities said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday on Twitter that he has ordered the defence ministry “to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala”.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 16, 2018 at 9:25 pm

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Rains improve river flows, water level in major reservoirs

ISLAMABAD: Recent rains have improved river flows, which have subsequently enhanced storage in major reservoirs of the country, and are likely to cause high to very high flood in the River Chenab at some major headworks, including Marala, Khanki and Qadirabad.

“According to latest hydrological conditions River Chenab at Marala, Khanki and Qadirabad is likely to attain high flood level in next 36 hours,” says a forecast issued by the Flood Forecasting Division (FFD) of the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

An official of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) endorsed that the Marala, Khanki and Qadirabad might attain “very high flood (VHF)” level.

The designed capacity at these stations is about 1.1 million cusecs. When these stations attain 400,000-cusec level, the situation is described as VHF in terms of danger classification.

Showers expected in parts of Punjab today; wet spell to continue till tomorrow

Meanwhile, the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) has advised the Punjab irrigation department and all other concerned organisations dealing with flood management to ensure required precautionary measures as per their contingency plans to prevent loss of precious human lives, besides damage to private and public property.

The wet spell is likely to continue up to 16th of this month, the FFC said.

It reported the River Chenab flowing at medium-flood level in Khanki-Qadirabad reach and low-flood level at Marala on Tuesday morning. It said the River Kabul was also flowing in low flood in Warsak-Nowshera reach. All other main rivers i.e. Indus, Jhelum, Ravi and Sutlej are currently flowing normal.

The two major reservoirs — Tarbela and Mangla — had achieved water levels 10.77 feet and 77.10 feet below their respective maximum conservation levels of 1,550 feet and 1,242 feet. The total combined live storage of the three reservoirs — Mangla, Tarbela and Chashma — was reported at 7.897 million acre feet (MAF), which is 57.72 per cent of the total storage capacity of 13.681MAF.

The total amount of water stored is, however, much lower than that of the same period last year when it stood at 12.88 MAF, or 38.66pc higher.

The FFC said Monday’s trough of westerly wave over northern parts of Pakistan lied over Kashmir on Tuesday and seasonal low also lied over north-western Balochistan and its trough extending north-eastwards. Also, moderate moist currents from Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal are penetrating into upper parts of the country and a monsoon low has developed over north-western Bay of Bengal.

Under the influence of the current weather system, the FFD has predicted scattered thunderstorm and rain with isolated heavy falls over the upper catchments of Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej rivers and over Lahore, Rawalpindi and Gujranwala divisions of Punjab on Wednesday.

Scattered thunderstorm and rain with isolated moderate falls may also occur over the upper catchments of Indus and Jhelum rivers and over Sargodha, Faisalabad and Sahiwal divisions over the next 24 hours.

The FFC said the high-flood level could also be witnessed in local nullahs and tributaries of Ravi and Chenab rivers over the next 24 hours while water level in River Sutlej was likely to increase.

Irsa said water level in the major reservoirs was continuously improving as total flows at rim stations were recorded at 564,500 cusecs on Tuesday against total outflows of 461,600 cusecs, leaving about 102,900 cusecs for conservation.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2018

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Minister suspects foreign involvement in opposition to Kalabagh dam

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Minister for Water Resources Ali Zafar suspects foreign involvement in the opposition to the construction of the Kalabagh Dam (KBD) and has asked the incoming government to work on building a consensus on it.

Speaking at a news conference, the minister said India was watching Pakistan’s inaction over the construction of the KBD — as well as other dams — and was violating river rights. He said the anti-KBD conferences arranged abroad were better organized and seemed far better funded than the seminars held in Pakistan.

Editorial: ,Beyond Kalabagh dam,

He said India ,constructed the Kishanganga Hydropower Project, in violation of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT) and then even went on to alter the project design after sharing it with Pakistan. The minister said that New Delhi was also planning to begin working on the Ratle Hydropower project as well as other dams, violating the treaty.

Zafar says following Indus Waters Treaty, India built 400 dams while Pakistan could not make KBD

He said he had studied the Ratle Hydropower Project and Pakistan’s case against its construction was strong. Pakistan wanted the World Bank to constitute an arbitration court on the issue and it would be an important challenge for the incoming government to compel the WB to fulfil its responsibility.

In response to a question, the minister said the reversal of the IWT was neither possible nor in the interest of Pakistan but good news is that China, Turkey, Russia and many other nations understand Pakistan’s case against India and the World Bank would have to constitute a court of arbitration.

Mr Zafar said that following the IWT, India had managed to build about 400 dams and reservoirs on the eastern rivers — Sutlej, Bias and Ravi — while Pakistan had not even managed to build the KBD. Even the 15.1 million acre feet (MAF) storage from Tarbela and Mangla dams dropped to 13MAF.

He said it was strange that the KBD, which was part of the 1960 plan, had not been built so far due to lack of consensus among the provinces and disagreements that kept on increasing over the time. But it is bizarre and extremely unfortunate that we haven’t even been able to construct other such reservoirs and dams.

“It (KBD) is very important. It is life — and it should be built as a priority,” the caretaker minister said, adding Pakistan had been declared a ‘water scarce country’ because its per capita water availability had dropped to 1,000 cubic metres.

He said the caretaker government had considered advice from international experts, and after discussions with various domestic departments, finalised a 10-point reform package for Pakistan’s water priorities.

He said lining of the canals could save up to 6.5MAF — that is almost equal to any of the two existing dams, and that is much cheaper than building one.

Mr Zafar deplored that Pakistan was still employing 200-year-old agriculture techniques including mechanisms to manage flooding.

The minister said it was ironic that nations were irrigating their deserts with modern techniques, while Pakistan was wasting even clean drinking water.

He said that the top priority for the new government for the water sector reforms should be the construction of the Kalabagh, Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams. He said that efforts must be made to resolve critical issues such as compensation, resettlement and the demarcation of the power house of the Diamer-Basha dam.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 7, 2018 at 7:26 am

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Your agenda, Mr. Prime Minister

Illustration by Leea Contractor

Illustration by Leea Contractor

Eos offers the incoming prime minister an agenda of some critical issues confronting Pakistan today — what should be the priorities for the new government and what to do about them.


By ,Khurram Husain,

It is now well known that the incoming government has inherited an economy with sharply depleting foreign exchange reserves.

Its first priority, whether it likes it or not, will be to make arrangements for “near term” inflows of foreign exchange, in the language of the State Bank.

In this regard, it will be walking in the footsteps of all incoming governments for at least the past 30 years, all of which took oath in a time of depleting foreign exchange reserves.

All of them began their terms with accession to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme. And for all of them, their economic possibilities were constrained by the terms of that program. This government will be no different in that sense.

After its “near term” arrangements for foreign exchange inflows, meaning an IMF program or a large short term loan from a friendly foreign power (which is highly unlikely), the government will need to take stock of the fiscal situation.

The FY-2018 ended with a larger than expected fiscal deficit, and the new fiscal year began with sharply reduced tax rates announced by the last government in its last budget. The budget contains one lever that the new government can use to raise revenues rapidly, should it feel the need, and that is a tax on oil prices.

The last budget created the space to rapidly increase revenues from oil, but this will impart an inflationary jolt to the economy as well as fuel immediate perceptions of the government being “anti people”.

The government might find it has to take that risk, just like its predecessors had to, because the circular debt in the power sector could well force its hand.

The next step after taking stock of the foreign exchange and fiscal situation, will be the power sector where receivables are already back to the levels they were at when the PML-N government was sworn in back in 2013.

Keeping the power sector running will be the third big priority for the new government, and this time the sector is more complex due to the heavy involvement by the Chinese as well as the new LNG imports.

Gas pricing as well as power sector liquidity management are different now than they have been for government’s past, and getting a quick handle on both these matters will be a priority for the new finance as well as energy ministers, who will need the close attention of the prime minister and the cabinet for many of the decisions they will need to see through.

Foreign borrowing, domestic taxes and power and fuel pricing reforms will consume at least the first year of the new government.

Along with this, ensuring continuity in CPEC, should the government decide for this, will also be important and a challenge to execute during a time when expenditures will be under extreme pressure.

This government is therefore unlikely to chart out an economic policy that is very different from the ones that came before it.

The writer is Dawn’s Business Editor. He tweets ,@KhurramHusain,

Security and foreign policy

By ,Ejaz Haider,

Pakistan faces two challenges in the twin domains of foreign and security policies: deteriorating regional situation and emergence of new global/regional alliances; terrorism and violent extremism.

The first is a function of inter-state relations, the second a problem of non-state actors and, in some cases, state actors using and exploiting non-state actors to wage sub-conventional, proxy wars.

The emergence of new alliances is a direct result of China’s rising power, its projection in the East and South China seas and the United States’ ‘Pivot to Asia’ to balance and counter China. This is where the foreign policy options will take the lead.

The terrorism and violent extremism, as also the use of non-state actors by hostile states, calls for a security policy and response that requires harnessing all elements of the state’s coercive apparatus and integrating it with the foreign policy.

A word about the relationship between foreign and security policies: they are interlinked and each complements the other.

However, during periods of peace, the security policy takes a backseat and acts as a subset of foreign policy. During crises, conflicts and wars, the security policy takes the lead to create more favourable space for diplomacy.

Equally, diplomacy continues to work towards offsetting the causes of conflict to ease the pressure on the security policy.

Corollary 1: policies in these two areas must be integrated. Any disconnect between the two can lead to undesirable situations.

Corollary 2: the two policy areas in the case of Pakistan have often been out of sync with civilian principals moving on a different track from how the military perceives and responds to the threats. The worst example of this was the Kargil operation in 1998/99.

Corollary 3: this situation is owed to the imbalance of civil-military relations in this country.

By the time these lines are read, the July 25 election result will be out and one of the contesting parties will be putting together a coalition.

From the instability, polarisation and engineering we have seen in the run-up to the polls and what we will likely see in its aftermath, these two crucial areas will witness neglect.

While the sherpas will continue their work, the civilian principals will find it hard to get their act together, do a policy review and give a policy direction.

Not good but that’s the reality.

Exhibit: while the army is operating under Ops Raddul Fasad (eliminating disruption), political engineering, as also passive neglect, has seen extremist Barelvi and other denominational groups morph into political parties contesting elections.

The argument that it is better to pull them in the mainstream tends to ignore the fact that they bring their exclusionary discourse to the hustings.

One of the biggest security (also foreign policy) challenges is to change the discourse. Tactical political considerations have put paid to that.

Afghanistan, India and Iran, three neighbours, offer their own security and foreign policy challenges.

The new government will need to review current approaches and set direction. If Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf comes to power, its team will be new to the task and will need at least six to eight months to get a grip on things. And this presupposes that stability will return after the elections.

The military has its operational strategy chalked out, but in the absence of an integrated policy direction from the new government, it will continue to ‘satisfice’ instead of optimising. Killing terrorists is a necessary but not sufficient condition for succeeding in this nonlinear war.

The new alliances, with the rise of China and countermoves by the US, are a classic example of structural realism — i.e., the ordering principle of international relations is anarchy. In other words, there cannot be a unipole.

The US emerged as one in 1991. That episode is ending. The middle and small powers will have to adjust to that. That adjustment requires innovation. Innovation requires making smart policy choices. Smart policy choices require institutional harmony, stability and synergy.

None of that has been on display and it won’t be, post-elections.

The writer is executive editor at Indus News and writes on defence and security. He tweets ,@ejazhaider,


By ,Omar S. Cheema,

The first step in finding solutions to Pakistan’s energy woes is some honesty in admitting the extent of the problem.

Energy poverty particularly in rural areas, frequent power outages in towns and cities, the infamous scourge of load-shedding, comparatively high electricity generation costs, a large financial drain from fuel imports, all remain Pakistan’s unsolved thorny issues.

Electricity demand is a dynamic beast, always on the move, fluctuating throughout the day and changing across the seasons.

Therefore, you require a portfolio of electricity supply resources, that can also be dynamically orchestrated to deliver electricity where and when it’s needed at an affordable price.

Instead of the top-down electricity architecture (transmission and distribution grids) that has been plagued by a variety of problems in Pakistan, there is an opportunity to develop forward-looking, sustainable electricity infrastructure from the bottom up through mini/micro-grids.

Mini-grids smoothly fit into the top-down grid network (if it exists at the location) but can autonomously work on their own, disconnected from the rest of the network, to deliver reliable, uninterrupted electricity to its consumer base.

This alternative bottom-up set-up typically comprises renewable energy sources, hybrid configurations with back-up fuel generators that may run on biogas, energy storage, demand response technology, and power sharing controls.

The advantages are numerous: can be more accurately sized for the local urban or rural population it will serve, there are less physical energy losses, energy theft becomes more difficult, greater resilience to power outages, better demand management, more eco-friendly electricity generation, and far more swiftly commissioned.

The capital financing of the mini-grid can also be more carefully tailored to the buying power of the community it serves. There is less risk of a mismatch between supply and demand, both technically and financially.

But while new technology options make a clean energy transition increasingly favourable in terms of the economics, national energy security and independence, the main hurdle is sociological, organisational inertia in the public and private sector. This hurdle is not just peculiar to Pakistan.

The big banks tend to prefer mega projects, though there are noteworthy, commendable exceptions. It’s a decision about the amount of work involved versus the payoff, how the transactional fees scale with the project size.

The same logic applies to most foreign donors. Politicians prefer the sound of larger numbers as it makes for better publicity.

The bureaucratic layers in Pakistan are seldom specialists in the field, au fait in the latest technology through painstaking research, and have little incentive to take the risk of going against the flow.

Grandiose claims and a spending binge on nominal MW power capacity is not what counts but delivering electrical energy output to consumers is.

The ability of the electric power plants to sustainably deliver the kWh, both technically and financially, is always contingent on several factors. For a renewable energy plant, it will depend on the natural climate resource, and for a thermal power plant on the fuel and freshwater supply among other operational factors.

The new government cannot assume that just because it has splurged scarce financial capital on MW capacity, the kWh demand will be affordably and reliably delivered to consumers — there is a lot more to it.

The solutions for closing Pakistan’s electricity gap are available, it’s up to the next government to turn the leaf and deliver a new, beneficial and sustainable energy future for the country.

The writer is a renewable energy and technology commercialisation expert based in London. He tweets ,@Vivantive,


By ,Mosharraf Zaidi,

The education crisis in Pakistan has changed a lot over the last five years. There are still millions of out of school children, but a very tiny percentage of them are primary school kids. The enrolment problem is now squarely a middle and high school level problem.

Financing is still far from being nearly adequate, but the sheer size of education allocations today dwarfs what was allocated five years ago. In addition to continuing to increase allocations, government must find ways to make each rupee last longer, and achieve more.

Unlike at any previous time in history, teachers are recruited through merit based standardized tests in all four provinces and at the federal level. Yet pre-service and on-the-job training remain largely inadequate, when juxtaposed with the skills that Pakistani children require.

Government schools and madrassahs have increasingly become the exclusive domain of the poor, whilst expensive private schools have forged ahead with new programmes like robotics and artificial intelligence.

All of the key challenges that Pakistan faces in terms of education suffer from a more fundamental, structural problem. They are viewed through a service delivery or a development lens. But the truth of the matter is that the learning and skills crisis in Pakistan is an issue of grave economic and security consequences.

What does the incoming government need to do to tackle the learning and skills crisis? In the short run, four key things.

First, it must consolidate the national platform that is used to measure and report on the state of education. The federal government’s Academy for Education Planning and Management, and the National Education Assessment System need to be streamlined and merged in order to establish a single, comprehensive clearinghouse for education statistics that measure not only the inputs to the education sector, but also the outcomes they generate in terms of learning and skills.

Second, it must establish vertical programmes that buttress existing provincial financing for education in areas of special need.

The newly merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the lowest ranking districts in Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Southern Punjab all merit special spending programmes to uplift their ability to offer high quality government schools. Transportation programmes for girls to attend middle and high schools, and special facilities to enhance science laboratories are among quick wins that can be achieved through topping up provincial programmes with federal vertical grants.

Third, it must embark on a rapid programme of school upgradation that allows all four provinces to substantially expand their capacity to offer children the opportunity to continue their education in government schools beyond class five.

The steep drop off in enrolment at the end of primary school is a supply side problem that can only be overcome through an expansion of supply. This expansion must privilege quality as much as it does access.

Fourth, it must invest aggressively on reading, mathematics and science. Pakistan will participate in the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2019.

An aggressive programme to develop maths and science skills will be required to ensure that the country performs well in TIMSS.

Such an outcome will reinforce a cycle of improved investments in maths and science, and eventually help sustain a virtuous cycle of heavy investments, and high quality outcomes in learning and skills in Pakistan.

The education crisis does not have quick fixes, but it does demand a constant readjustment of the tactics used to tackle it.

Though Pakistan has progressed since 2013, it still has a long way to go. The only way to continue the progress is to adopt new and innovative approaches at every stage. The 2018 election and a new government represent an ideal opportunity to do so.

The writer is the founder and campaign director of Alif Ailaan, an NGO that campaigns for universal education in Pakistan. He tweets ,@mosharrafzaidi,


By ,Dr Umer Ayub,

The one glaring absence from various party manifestos these elections is the absence of a national health policy.

Health is perhaps the most key concern of the people of Pakistan. And a health policy serves as the brain of a complex system of doctors, medical institutions, universities and colleges, and even, associated industries such as the pharmaceutical sector. Without a brain, a body cannot function.

And in Pakistan, this is why the health sector is in the doldrums because it has been deprived of its brain power.

Before the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, health was a federal subject. This meant that all policy decisions were made at a central level.

Provinces were, therefore, to follow the line set by the federal government and to institute policies that were drafted at the Centre.

The government of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that had assumed power in 2008 was working towards the formulation of a national health policy under then health minister, Sherry Rehman.

But then came the 18th Amendment and health was devolved to the provinces. The federal government was now to transfer funds to provincial governments and let them make their own decisions.

Health programmes were then devolved, which meant that one province didn’t have to keep up with what another was doing.

This dynamic birthed many other problems, as a result of which, the ministry of health services coordination was created. The dichotomies became worse, however, and it became a difficult proposition for provincial and federal governments to keep pace with the demands of the health sector.

This is the history and the context.

Today, we need to have differentiated provincial health policies but no political actor has paid attention to this sector.

What we expected were health policies catered to the particular needs and demands of each provincial health sector. What we got was naught.

It follows, therefore, that the new government ought to first rationalise the dichotomies that have crept into the system following the 18th Amendment, and then, to help provinces devise a health policy that caters to its need.

This means that some provinces might need more heart centres or kidney centres; others might see a greater need for mental health facilities or trauma centres.

Some initiatives will be more pressing than others or need more funding than others; the federal government will have to ensure that it provides provincial governments with the necessary support.

The government will then also have to ensure that if it is handing money to provinces for certain projects, it is used properly and effectively.

Then comes the issue of medical education and public practice. The public sector has been reeling from underfunding for many years now, and as the population pressures grow, hospitals and universities have been struggling with funds and facilities.

This needs to be aggressively tackled, else the burden of treating swathes of people will only lie with some hospitals and not others. In turn, this means more pressure on doctors and limited facilities — a recipe for disaster in the public sector.

Last but not the least, there is a need to rein in pharmaceutical companies. The same life-saving drug, for example, is available for 400 rupees and for 2,000 rupees. The distinction made is in terms of quality control of drugs.

This issue, in fact, goes beyond pricing. It is also an issue of how drugs are sourced and sold. Prevalent practices today see medicines lose potency before they are administered. This is playing with ordinary citizens’ lives and needs immediate redress.

The writer is a former president of the Pakistan Medical Association

Water and environment

By ,Ali Tauqeer Sheikh,

The first order of business for the new federal and provincial governments will be to expand the discourse on Pakistan’s water challenge and to bring the implementation of the National Water Policy (NWP) to the forefront.

While the federal government will have an important coordinating role, the action will need to be on the ground – in the provinces and by the provinces and, for the most part, from the provincial budgets.

As a start, the provinces will need to formally develop and operationalize their respective water, environment and climate change policies. Some provinces have already moved faster than others.

Since there are no formal coordination mechanisms in place, provincial irrigation, environment and climate departments have often worked in isolation from each other and from their counterpart federal ministries and concerned departments from other provinces.

Once sworn in, all provincial governments will need to initiate a three tier process of aligning their respective policies i) within the province, ii) between the provinces and iii) with the federal government.

The challenge of implementing NWP in the provinces is steep.

To begin with, provincial water portfolios need to be aligned with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international commitments that Pakistan has made, such as the Paris Agreement and the Sundai Framework, for meeting national-level targets, reporting requirements, and to attract international financing.

More specifically, institutional capacities at the federal and provincial levels are dismally weak, roles are unclear, and coordination between domestic, commercial and agricultural uses is virtually non-existent.

System losses in all these three sectoral uses are almost 60 percent of water consumption by each sector.

Subsidies in each sector abound and are bleeding the national economy and tearing apart the social fabric in terms of equity, access and vulnerabilities to water prone hazards and disasters.

The biggest risk is that the need to introduce cost recovery and agricultural taxes will get buried in the tall reform agendas unless the provincial chief ministers stand up and champion legislations on water efficiency through water pricing.

Ironically, the discourse on water issues in the country has traditionally been dominated by generations of engineers who seek large investments at the federal level typically at the cost of provinces.

Pakistan’s water table needs to create space for social scientists, economists and hydrologists – in addition to the private sector, academia and think tanks in order to give sufficient attention to water-environment-climate nexus.

Inclusion of these stakeholders and women in the water discourse by the new governments will enable Pakistan to move towards equitable benefit-sharing of resources between upper and lower riparians: with China in Upper Indus Basin on managing the access to water from melting glaciers; with India on negotiating environmental flows in all five rivers of Indus Water Treaty to address climate change induced water variabilities; and, with Afghanistan on equitable benefit sharing of Kabul River basin, a source of 20 percent of our surface water.

The internal environmental challenges are even harder: stand up for rivers’ right to life by protecting them from encroachments and pollutants; use lakes and wetlands for groundwater recharging and mitigating floods; ensure year-round supply of sufficient water to protect the Indus Delta from dying and the country’s coastline from seawater intrusion.

In all, the new governments in Islamabad and in the provinces will have the responsibility to stop the demoralizing perception that Pakistan is a water scarce country and to take deliberated steps to make Pakistan a water secure country.

The writer is CEO of LEAD Pakistan, an Islamabad-based think-tank specialising on environment and water issues


By ,Anis Haroon,

The new government that assumes power needs to contend with a new reality: the Pakistani woman of 2018.

This is the thirteenth time that the nation is going to national polls. But this time, women are in the job market in much greater numbers, they are earning salaries, and they are running households all by themselves.

The new government, therefore, has to realise that women or their progress can’t be halted or pushed back. Instead, it is high time to take stock of the real problems that Pakistani women are facing today.

The women’s agenda in Pakistan in 2018 is all about equal opportunities and equal rights. And irrespective of whether we talk about urban women or rural, about traditional women or modern ones, equal opportunities and rights are a pervading theme for women, and indeed, for the various minorities that exist in our country.

Family structures have changed over the past decade or so, which means that more often, women are expected to put in multiple work shifts to ensure that their households run smoothly.

This means that a working woman spends eight to 12 hours working outside the home, then puts in a work shift when she comes home and has to cook and clean, and another shift to ensure that the children are not neglected in any way.

In innumerable cases, women are so overburdened with family concerns that they are eventually domesticated and removed from the public sphere altogether. And while the ecosystem of the family chugs along this way, the life, hopes and ambitions of a woman become an afterthought.

And yet, Pakistan’s gender gap has been reduced from 11 million to eight million. This is despite the fact that the rules of the labour market are skewed against women and their systemic exploitation is entrenched. Clearly, an agenda for women needs to involve some substantive law-making for the betterment of society at large.

Take, for example, the proposed Domestic Violence Act. Although domestic violence is a major concern for women across various sectors, the law was sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for ratification and they rejected it.

This is the same CII which rejected DNA testing as evidence in cases of sexual violence. Put another way, discriminatory laws are advocated by those in the CII and they ensure that reform is not possible. This is despite the fact that the CII can only make recommendations but not enforce them.

It is for the same reason that women rights activists are perturbed about proscribed organisations contesting elections from across Pakistan.

These elements have challenged women’s empowerment and agency ever since Fatima Jinnah stepped to the fore. If they are mainstreamed, and their ideology and psyche remains the same, are women-friendly laws under danger?

But this is the larger picture. Break it down further, and more substantive issues emerge. For rural women, for example, it is important to have land rights.

For urban women, concerns of strengthening procedures to deal with harassment or workplace discriminations are important. Similarly we can talk about humane and just maternity leaves and paternity leaves. When we come to minorities, the issue of forced conversion of women and girls in Sindh still lingers on.

Women don’t want piecemeal measures. We are only demanding the rights that are enshrined in the Constitution as well those outlined in the international pacts that Pakistan is signatory to. Wherever discriminatory laws exists against women, to repeal them.

And wherever opportunities are being reduced for women, to ensure their equal participation and voice.

The first step needs to be taken at the top and our hope is that the new government will be an active advocate for women’s betterment in this country.

The writer is a former chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women. She tweets ,@anisharoon4,

Media and culture

By ,Hasan Zaidi,

If one thing has become clear over the last couple of years, it is that the space for freedom of expression, particularly critical expression, is becoming progressively constrained in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. We have seen this in the restrictions put on the freedom of the news media to report, on the ability of people to voice an opinion in the press and on electronic media, as well as in the physical threats to people holding a point of view at odds with the state-sponsored narrative.

The curtailment of freedoms is coming not just at the hands of radicalised groups who use brute power and threats to intimidate voices opposed to them, but also at the hands of seemingly unaccountable state operatives and their proxy media outlets who often amplify distorted propaganda.

This is supremely ironic for a democratic dispensation in a country which has struggled through military dictatorships precisely for a more inclusive federation and for diverse voices to at least be heard.

Despite the wider dispersal of alternative platforms such as the internet and social media, there is also irony in that the technology that spurs greater democratic participation in civic life is also more prone to be surveilled and centrally controlled or simply shut off — as we have seen in the banning of a number of online sites and in the extended bans previously on Facebook and YouTube.

The government that comes in as a result of the July 25 elections will have to first of all recognise that diversity of opinion and particularly critical debate over national issues is the sine qua non of a healthy democracy. There is simply no getting away from this basic fundamental tenet.

But beyond that, if it is actually desirous of advancing democracy in the country and taking it out of the hands of a few arbiters of ‘national interest’, it will have to proactively ensure the existing freedoms enshrined in Pakistan’s constitution are protected and to institutionalise such freedoms.

Article 19 of Pakistan’s constitution guarantees that “Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press.” The new government will have recognise that if freedom means anything, it is to be critical of those in power.

As such it will have to make any unlawful restrictions or undue pressures placed on the media a cognizable offence — there is no doubt that by itself such legislation will not stem the rot, but it will send a strong message of support to an embattled media and put others who would indulge in such things on notice.

The Right to Information acts should be strengthened all over the country with automatic fallback towards transparency in the case of non-compliance from all official departments. Advertising from government departments should be placed under the audit of independent public bodies that can ascertain that such advertising is not being misused to favour particular media houses.

It should also reconstitute the electronic media regulatory body PEMRA to make it fully independent of the government. In addition, it should increase the burden of proof for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to restrict any website with clear time-bound exit clauses for any such restriction.

In an increasingly interconnected and technologically advancing world where the flow of information is the greatest currency and accessibility is often just a matter of technological workarounds, it is simply silly to pretend that people can be denied access to alternate sources of information and entertainment.

More importantly, the government needs to trust the wisdom of the people that elected them to power and provide creative outlets for dissent and discussion, particularly for women, the youth, and marginalized communities.

The government should remove restrictions such as bureaucratic NOCs required for public performances of theatre and music, increase funding for libraries, art and public spaces that bring people together, and reconstitute film censor boards as age certification boards.

A vibrant cultural policy is one that understands that the government’s job is to facilitate expression rather than restrict it. A dynamic Pakistani culture can only impact the world if it is first allowed to impact Pakistan itself and a culture of tolerance for other viewpoints is cultivated.

The writer is Dawn’s Magazines Editor. He tweets ,@hyzaidi,

Published in Dawn, EOS, July 29th, 2018

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Palestinian teenager jailed for slapping Israeli soldiers leaves prison

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi left prison on Sunday after an ,eight-month sentence for slapping, two Israeli soldiers, an episode captured on video that made her a ,symbol of resistance for Palestinians,, a prison service spokesman said.

Assaf Librati told AFP Tamimi, 17, and her mother, who was also jailed over the incident, were being driven by Israeli authorities from a prison inside Israel to a checkpoint leading to the occupied West Bank, where they live.

“They just left the prison,” Librati said.

Israeli authorities provided conflicting information on which checkpoint they were being taken to.

They were first expected to arrive at a checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank, but there were later indications they would be taken to a crossing at Rantis.

Both Tamimi and her mother were sentenced to eight months in an Israeli military court following a plea deal over the December incident which the family said took place in their yard in Nabi Saleh in the West Bank.

Video of it went viral, leading Palestinians to view her as a hero standing up to Israel’s occupation. Her now-familiar image has been painted on Israel’s separation wall cutting off the West Bank. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has praised her and social media has been flooded with support.

But for Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations. They point to a series of previous such incidents involving her, with older pictures of her confronting soldiers widely shared online. Many Israelis also praised the restraint of the soldiers, who remained calm throughout, though others said her actions merited a tougher response.

Embassy protests

Tamimi was arrested in the early hours of December 19, four days after the incident. She was 16 at the time.
Her mother Nariman was also arrested, as was her cousin Nour, who was freed in March.

Israel’s military said the soldiers were in the area on the day of the incident to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.

The video shows the cousins approaching two soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

Ahed Tamimi is the most aggressive of the two in the video.

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them. They then move backwards after Nariman Tamimi becomes involved.

The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Relatives say that a member of the Tamimi family was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired during those protests.

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Thousands marooned after glacier melt flooding in GB

GILGIT: With large swathes of cultivated and other land coming under water, floodwaters and landslides blocking several vital roads and thousands of people getting marooned, flooding caused by ,rapid melting of glaciers, has wreaked havoc across Gilgit-Baltistan.

Two people were killed when a family was hit by floodwaters, sources said on Thursday.

Police said that floodwaters from the Gonarforam stream hit a mother, her daughter and her son in the Goharabad valley of Diamer district. The mother and daughter, identified as Shaheen Begum and Zainab, drowned.

Part of Karakoram Highway submerged by water

Only the daughter’s body had been recovered so far, the sources said. The son, who survived but received injuries in the incident, was shifted to the district headquarters hospital in Chilas.

A woman was killed and her son injured when a suspension bridge collapsed in the Niat valley of Diamer district, sources said. The reason behind the incident could not be ascertained immediately.

Floodwaters from the Gonarforam stream also blocked the Karakoram Highway and inundated large tracks of cultivated land. Traffic between Gilgit-Baltistan and the rest of the country remained suspended as a result.

Flooding and land erosion badly hit the road leading to and from the Hisper valley of Nagar district, thus severing its link with the rest of the country.

Landslides also damaged crops and water channels in the Daskin valley of Astore district.

Floodwaters from rivers and streams blocked link roads, marooning people living in remote parts of Gilgit, Diamer and Baltistan divisions.

Floodwaters continued to pour out of the Batsuwat Nullah in the Ishkoman valley of Ghizer district. The flow of the Immit river has been blocked, creating an artificial lake. The upstream areas remained cut off from the rest of the country for the second day on Thursday. People of ten villages were badly affected as a result.

The deputy commissioner of Ghizer, Shuja Alam, said that because of landslides rescue operations could not be launched in the upstream areas. However, tent villages had been set up in the downstream areas. Food and relief supplies had also been dispatched to those areas.

He said that water was spilling over from the artificial lake, thus reducing the risk of a massive lake burst. A red alert had been issued for the people living in the downstream areas.

“As soon as the flooding and landslides will stop we will be able to access the affected areas,” Mr Alam said.

The artificial lake had inundated an area spanning about two kilometres, submerging more than 30 houses, cattle farms, vehicles and infrastructure, he said.

The local administration was in contact with the people living in the upstream areas, he added.

Meanwhile, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman has taken notice of the situation.

According to a press release issued by the Chief Minister House, Mr Rehman had directed the disaster management authority and the Ghizer administration to take emergency measures to save people from impending dangers and to provide relief to those already affected by the calamity.

The chief minister instructed the heads of all the departments concerned to immediately launch rescue and relief works.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2018

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Glacier melt creates artificial lake in Gilgit

GILGIT: A small glacier melt has swollen Barsuwat Nullah in the Ishkoman valley of Ghizer district, Gilgit-Baltistan, creating an artificial lake and blocking the flow of the Immit River.

The water has submerged more than 30 houses, cultivated land, a link road and cattle farms and washed away over a dozen vehicles and hundreds of cattle head in the upstream areas.

The Barsuwat area lies at a distance of 60km from Gahkuch, the district headquarters of Ghizer district. The Ishkoman valley is situated near the Pakistan- Afghanistan border area.

Houses, cultivated land flooded

Deputy Commissioner of Ghizer Shuja Alam said that the Barsuwat glacier started melting on Tuesday at about 7pm. Water from the melting glacier, containing mud and stones, fell into Barsuwat Nullah and caused flooding. The nullah ultimately falls into the Immit River whose flow has been blocked and the stagnant water has created an artificial lake similar to Attabad Hunza lake, disconnecting upstream villages from other areas.

The Immit River finally joins the River Indus in the Gilgit area.

According to the DC, an area spread over about 2km has been flooded and around 10 small villages including Barsuwat, Berth, Yazbeen and Qarandan, consisting of 180 households (600 individuals), have been completely cut off from other areas.

The road link to the upstream areas has been cut off at Bilhanz as around 150-meter section of the road has been washed away.

Mr Alam said around 31 houses (24 upstream and 7 downstream) had been affected and the families living in these houses shifted to safe locations.

Hundreds of kanals of cultivated land have been submerged and crops damaged.

The DC said the details of the impact of the disaster would appear only after assessment of the damage.

According a press release issued by the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA), a team of administration officials along with GBDMA staff has reached the location of the river blockade. Tents for the displaced families have been sent to Barsuwat and a medical team with medicines has been directed to reach the Bilhanz dispensary. Food has been sent for the stranded people.

Representatives of volunteer organisations have also moved to the river blockade site to participate in relief activities Replying to a question, Mra Alam said the Barsawut glacier melted every two to three years in summer. In 2015 also, the glacier had melted and the water had blocked the river, causing difficulties to the local people.

This year also the current heatwave has caused the melting of the glacier.

Sources said that water level was increasing at the river blockade site, which might pose a threat to the people living along the river in Ghizer and Gilgit areas.

People living downstream, particularly those living at vulnerable places along the river in the Gilgit area, have been warned to shift to safe places if the artificial lake starts overflowing.

When contacted, Director of the GB Environmental Protection Agency Shehzad Shigri told Dawn that these types of incidents were linked with climate change.

According to him, this year snow has fallen late season. Usually snow falls in October to January and converts into glaciers which are not affected by heatwave.

The snow falling in February to March cannot convert into glaciers and when heat rises in summer, the snow starts melting, resulting into floods and avalanches.

Mr Shigri said temperature pattern had changed in the region as climate change had affected the fragile environment of the region.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018

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CJP tells govt to generate funds for dams through water pricing

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has asked the government to generate funds for construction of future dams through water pricing and contended that 25 per cent funds required for a major reservoir could be ,acquired from people,.

“Water pricing mechanism should be improved to get revenue for construction of dams,” the chief justice conveyed, according to minutes of a recent meeting, to the ministries of planning, water resources, energy, law and justice, climate change and the cabinet division, besides professional and technical agencies and provincial governments.

Presiding over the meeting of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) attended by senior representatives of the ministries, Indus River System Authority, National Engi­neering Services Pakistan, Water and Power Develop­ment Authority (Wapda) and Indus Water Commis­sion and private experts, the chief justice said the issue of water scarcity had reached an alarming level that was fatal to the lives and livelihood of the citizens of Pakistan.

He said resolution of the issue was “responsibility of the executives and failure to discharge this responsibility has resulted in taking up of this issue by the superior judiciary as breach of fundamental right i.e. right to life”.

The Planning Commission told the meeting that the national water policy approved by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had identified 30-40 areas for urgent works that would take four to five years to achieve all goals. It recommended a six-month action plan and noted that Pakistan had limited water resources of its own as all water was coming from neighbouring countries.

“It is the need of the time to devise a strong mechanism to defend our water resources to get our fair share out of trans-boundary water,” the commission quoted the water policy as saying and added that Pakistan was losing each and every case at the forums of World Bank and international arbitrations due to wastage of water and hence construction of dams was being prioritised.

It was argued that wastage of available water was the main cause of its scarcity which had to be addressed by improved water administration, pricing and punishments. “It is equally important to fix the price and tax water and take necessary legal action against the violators and defaulters,” the commission said.

Chief Justice Nisar asserted that the judiciary would find a solution to the water shortage in the country. He said it was very crucial because he had been told by experts during the course of hearing of a related case that Pakistan could not survive in this situation of water scarcity and that all research reports showed Pakistan was going to face severe shortage of water or even out of water by 2024.

Therefore, the CJP told the participants, new dams had to be constructed without further overburdening the nation with the curse of debts and the “apex court will also extend financial support but subject to submission of action plan”. He contended that “1/4th expenses on construction of a dam can be acquired from the people of Pakistan”.

He said every construction settlement and housing societies should have water sewerage systems and asked for an action plan to address the issue of waste water management.

Former Wapda chairman and provincial minister Shamsul Mulk reported that 60-70 million acre feet (MAF) of water was going to the sea due to non-availability of dams and the country would have no water in future if this continued. He called for building small, medium and large dams to save water and asserted that Kalabagh dam was crucial to the country and its importance could not be overlooked.

Mr Mulk contended that if Kalabagh dam was not constructed, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would not be able to get its share of water in future and reiterated that this dam “is the only cheapest power generation source in the country and due to its non-construction, Pakistan is losing Rs196 billion every year”.

He explained that one MAF of water contributed $2bn to the United States economy while in Pakistan it contributed $600 million. “Therefore, if 60 MAF water is wasted, this results in $36bn losses annually and if the average is taken for 70 years then it equals $2.520 trillion,” the former Wapda chief said.

The LJCP meeting’s minutes revealed that the chief justice, Shamsul Mulk and all other stakeholders “unanimously resolved that Kalabagh dam, without any doubt, is indispensable to meet water and electricity needs of the country”.

Former director of Kalabagh dam Engineer Mumtaz Ahmed criticised the performance of the Indus Water Commissioner for Pakistan for “underperforming” and being “a mud of corruption” and requested the CJP to constitute a judicial commission for a probe into the matter. He alleged that black sheep and traitors were working in the system as Pakistan had lost the case against construction of Kishanganga dam and could be defeated again.

Syed Mehr Ali Shah, the Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters, said the country had suffered $19bn losses over the past six years due to floods and $38bn losses since 1950. He said that 1.3 million tube wells had drastically reduced the groundwater level while 40pc of extracted water was hazardous to health. He suggested that tube well be brought under the legal framework and taxation and pricing system.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018

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Encroached drains, poor waste management put Karachi at risk of urban flooding

KARACHI: Massive encroachments over all major drains, including their outfall points, and the absence of a system to manage solid waste that finds its way into these channels continue to be Karachi’s Achilles’ heel, putting the city at the risk of flooding in monsoon, experts warned on Saturday.

Sharing their concerns over the city’s vulnerability to flooding, they said that Karachi’s weak infrastructure could not withstand heavy downpour and it might face a far more serious situation than what was recently experienced in Lahore where rain-related incidents not only caused extensive damage to infrastructure, but also led to 15 deaths.

“Lahore had 177mm rain but Karachi can’t withstand even 100mm of rain. There would be deluge everywhere,” said Mohammad Yunus representing the Urban Resource Centre.

According to him, Karachi’s main civic problem remains a lack of waste management and heavy encroachments over all major drains.

“Over the past decade, all major storm-water drains of the city [over 40 in number] have been encroached upon and concrete structures, including housing colonies, banks, shops and even markets, have been built over these channels,” he said.

A proper mechanism is needed for waste collection and disposal to save drains from clogging

He referred to encroachments on the land owned by the Karachi Port Trust and development of infrastructure by the Defence Housing Authority as well as by the KPT that resulted in closure of discharge points of city’s natural drains.

Most flyovers and underpasses in the city, he said, lacked a drainage system and the local municipality had to use motor pumps to drain out accumulated rainwater.

“Local officials often argue that rainwater will follow its natural route and discharge on its own. But, this is not how things work. You have to design the infrastructure in a way that helps prevent accumulation of water,” he said.

Drains’ cleaning brings no major improvement

Replying to a question about a recent drive of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to clean up drains, he said so far it couldn’t bring a significant improvement.

One reason was the absence of relevant machinery with the KMC.

Salim Alimuddin, an expert on city’s drainage system who is associated with the Orangi Pilot Project, was of the view that while the government had done some work and laid new drainage lines where there was a need, the actual problem was that the outfall points of drains remained either encroached or clogged.

“No work has ever been done to clear drains’ outfall points. The major outfall points are located in KPT’s jurisdiction. Besides, the construction of markets and other establishments over drains is a serious obstacle in clearing passage of rainwater as these channels couldn’t be de-silted,” he said, adding that the government should have bound project developers to keep a few outlets for the purpose of removing sludge while they were constructing raised infrastructure over drains.

Mr Alimuddin was also critical of prolonged delays shown by the government in cleaning up drains which, he said, should be done at least two to three times in a year.

“Also, it’s time a proper mechanism is developed for collection and disposal of solid waste, most of which presently ends up in drains and clogs them,” he said.

He also suggested immediate removal of construction material/debris lying along the routes of Orange and Green line bus projects that could aggravate public inconvenience in monsoon.

Prof Raza Mehdi of the NED University of Engineering and Technology’s urban and infrastructure engineering department said Karachi’s civic conditions were as poor as they were last year and apparently no work had been done to address rain-related issues.

“There is no short-term solution and a holistic approach is required to bring improvement in civic conditions, including efforts to create awareness on proper waste collection and disposal,” he said.

KMC gets Rs500m to clean 23 drains

When contacted, KMC’s senior director (coordination) Masood Alam explained that the civic body had started cleaning drains and the work was going on at a fast pace across the city.

“We are focusing on 23 major drains with the help of maximum human and financial resource available to us,” he said, adding that though the total amount requested for the work was Rs1.28 billion, the KMC had received Rs500 million.

Mr Alam, however, warned that the purpose of the whole exercise would be defeated if the connecting distributaries feeding the big drains remained clogged.

“Those come under the jurisdiction of respective district municipal corporations. Having said that, meetings are being held with all stakeholders and the KMC is doing its best despite heavy encroachments,” he claimed.

He rejected an impression that the drains were only cleaned in the monsoon season and said that they were periodically cleaned but the matter attracted media attention only in the context of the rainy season.

According to him, proper management of solid waste can help minimise risk of flooding. Right now, 60 per cent garbage ends up in drains.

“Garbage is constantly being dumped into drains. If this waste is managed and recycled, we can also reap a lot of other benefits,” he said.

All storm-water drains in the city had turned into sewage drains and there were no channels left carrying only rainwater, he said.

KPT to install sewage treatment plant

A KPT spokesperson said that the port authorities were not responsible either for managing drains or the waste coming through them.

“We are directly being affected by this waste [though we are not generating it]. However, the KPT has committed to a Supreme Court-mandated commission to install a plant to treat the waste coming from three drains into the sea,” he said.

He declined to comment on encroachment and infrastructure over KPT’s land.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2018

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Death toll from heavy monsoon rains in Lahore rises to 15

The death toll from ,two days of heavy monsoon rains, in upper parts of the country has risen to 15, officials said on Wednesday.

The heaviest rains seen in Lahore since 1980 continued into Wednesday, flooding streets and causing some residents to join small demonstrations against local authorities.

Rescue officials and police confirmed the death toll, saying most deaths were caused by electrocution and homes caving in.

The city’s submerged stre­ets and widespread power breakdowns exposed the lack of preparedness of civic departments to deal with the monsoon downpour.

A portion of The Mall, near the recently dug underground station of the Orange Line Metro Train, caved in on Tuesday because of heavy rainfall, forming two large craters on a newly-constructed stretch of Mall Road, near the General Post Office intersection.

Rainwater kept draining into the yawning gaps that opened up, threatening the foundations of the multi-billion-rupee underground rail station and the adjacent historic buildings.

The Flood Forecasting Division in Lahore said the rain spell was likely to subside today (after 24 hours) in upper parts of the country and after 48 hours in south Punjab. Scattered winds and thunderstorms, with isolated heavy rainfall, are expected over upper catchments of all major rivers along Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions over the next 24 hours.

Pakistan has long struggled to cope with the annual monsoon rains, which trigger flash floods and mudslides that destroy homes.

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Caretakers not taking care of rains: Shahbaz

LAHORE: PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif has said the caretaker government does not appear to be ready to deal with torrential rains.

“In my tenure we used to manage the city during such rains. Drains have to be cleaned ahead of rainy season,” Sharif said asking where had been the Punjab government’s machinery during the last 24 hours.

“It is the duty of the caretaker government to manage things,” he added.

Take a look: ,Heavy downpour causes streets to flood in Lahore,

Talking to reporters here on Tuesday, the PML-N president said those who did nothing in their province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) during the last five years were criticising the PML-N.

He said during his tenure he would make a comprehensive plan to ,deal with monsoon season,.

Sharif also started election campaign at his constituency NA-132 in Lahore. He visited different areas of NA-132 and addressed the party workers.

Speaking on the occasion, the PML-N president claimed that his party would win the July 25 polls. He said the election would be between those who performed in five years and who only did politics of allegations.

PML-N spokesman Marriyum Auranzeb criticised ,PTI chairman Imran for doing political point scoring, over the rain issue. She expressed her grief over the rain-related deaths.

PERVAIZ ELAHI: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid senior central leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has said defective planning of the Shahbaz’s administration had turned Lahore into a ‘river’.

Mr Elahi said Shahbaz’s false claim in Karachi about turning Lahore into Paris had been exposed. “The difference between show-off schemes and plans for welfare of the people is visible. Today’s rain has exposed Shahbaz’s defective measures in Lahore and other parts of Punjab. Rescue 1122 did a commendable job,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2018

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