Five people were killed and two others were injured after a truck crashed into a container in Dera Ismail Khan district, northwestern Pakistan.Pakistani media reported that the accident occurred when a truck crashed into a container near the town of Drazanda in Dera Ismail Khan district, killing five people, including two children, and wounding two others.Road accidents are common in Pakistan due to lack of infrastructure, poor vehicle maintenance and reckless driving.
Veteran Pakistani actor Zia Mohyeddin passed away today in Karachi at the age of 91. The legendary actor, author, broadcaster, and showman passed away Monday morning in Karachi in a hospital where he had been on life support.Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif posted a tribute to Zia Mohyeddin on Twitter and offered his condolences.The Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar also mourned his loss and tweeted "@PakinQatarjoins Pakistanis and literary aficionados across the world to mourn the loss of maestro #ZiaMohyeddin. The late actor, poet, narrator, was a cultural icon whose contributions to the #Urdu language are immense."Born in Faisalabad on June 20, 1931, Mohyeddin was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and on his return to Pakistan, he produced, directed, and acted in numerous plays.Mohyeddin delivered some of his most memorable performances throughout his lifetime in the Hollywood epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Behold the Pale Horse (1964) and Bombay Talkie (1970).Owing to his countless contributions to the field of theatre, he was awarded with the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2003 and the Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2012.
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf died at the age of 79 following a prolonged illness, media wings of the Pakistani President Secretariat and Prime minister announced Sunday.Pakistani President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif expressed their condolences over the death of Musharraf, the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported.Musharraf served as president of Pakistan from 2001 and 2008.
Pakistan is gripped by a major economic crisis, with the rupee plummeting, inflation soaring and energy in short supply as IMF officials visit to discuss a vital cash injection.Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for months held out against the tax rises and subsidy slashing demanded by the International Monetary Fund, fearful of backlash ahead of elections due in October.But in recent days, with the prospect of national bankruptcy looming and no friendly countries willing to offer less painful bailouts, Islamabad has started to bow to pressure.The government loosened controls on the rupee to rein in a rampant black market in US dollars, a step that caused the currency to plunge to a record low. Artificially cheap petrol prices have also been hiked."We're at the end of the road. The government has to make the political case to the public for meeting these (IMF) demands," former World Bank economist Abid Hasan told AFP."If they don't, the country will certainly default and we'll end up like Sri Lanka, which will be even worse."Sri Lanka defaulted on its debt last year and endured months of food and fuel shortages that sparked protests, ultimately forcing the country's leader to flee overseas and resign.In Pakistan, time is of the essence, with Nasir Iqbal from the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics warning the economy had already "virtually collapsed" due to mismanagement and political turmoil.- Cost-of-living crisis -The IMF delegation will arrive on Tuesday to a nation in panic, still reeling from unprecedented floods that submerged a third of its territory.The world's fifth-biggest population has less than $3.7 billion in the state bank -- enough to cover just three weeks of imports.It is no longer issuing letters of credit, except for essential food and medicines, causing a backlog of thousands of shipping containers at Karachi port stuffed with stock the country can no longer afford.Industry has been hammered by the imports block and massive rupee devaluation. Public construction projects have halted, textiles factories have partially shut down and domestic investment has slowed.In downtown Karachi, dozens of day labourers including carpenters and painters wait with their tools on display for work that never comes."The number of beggars has increased and the number of labourers has decreased," said 55-year-old mason Zafar Iqbal, who was eating biriyani from a plastic bag donated by a passerby."Inflation is so high that one cannot earn enough."At the petrol pump, a widow with her son said every few hundred rupees (75 cents) of fuel for their motorcycle was precious, with the pair only eating two meals a day."The cost is so high that we eat our breakfast late and the second meal at around seven, with nothing in between," said Ulfat, who declined to give her second name.- Political mayhem -Pakistan is locked in an endless cycle of servicing external debt.State Bank governor Jamil Ahmed last month said the country owed $33 billion in loans and other foreign payments before the end of the fiscal year in June.A diplomatic offensive has seen $4 billion rolled over by lending nations, with $8.3 billion still on the negotiating table.Meanwhile, Pakistan is battling severe energy shortages -- with capacity drained by poor infrastructure and mismanagement -- compounding the misery of businesses and citizens.Last week the whole country was plunged into a day-long blackout because of a fault in the national grid that followed a cost-cutting measure.State petroleum minister Musadik Malik told reporters in Islamabad that imports of Russian oil would start in April, paid for in currencies of "friendly countries" in a mutually beneficial deal.The tumbling economy mirrors the country's political chaos, with former prime minister Imran Khan heaping pressure on the ruling coalition in his bid for early elections while his popularity remains high.Khan, who was ousted last year in a no-confidence motion, negotiated a multi-billion-dollar loan package from the IMF in 2019.But he reneged on promises to cut subsidies and market interventions that had cushioned the cost-of-living crisis, causing the programme to stall.It is a common pattern in Pakistan, where most people live in rural poverty, with more than two dozen IMF deals brokered and then broken over the decades."Even if Pakistan avoids default, the underlying structural factors that triggered the current crisis -- one exacerbated by poor leadership and external global shocks -- will still be in place," tweeted political analyst Michael Kugelman, the director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington."Barring difficult, large-scale reforms, the next crisis could be just around the corner."
Lehaz Ali Police officers were among at least 47 killed and 150 wounded in a blast at a mosque inside a highly sensitive Pakistan police headquarters on Monday, prompting the government to put the country on high alert.The attack happened during afternoon worship in the provincial capital of Peshawar, close to former tribal areas along the Afghan border where militancy has been steadily rising.A frantic rescue mission was underway at the mosque, which had an entire wall and some of its roof blown out by the force of the blast."Many policemen are buried under the rubble," said Peshawar police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan, who estimated between 300 and 400 officers usually attended prayers at the mosque."Efforts are being made to get them out safely," he added. Bloodied survivors emerged limping from the wreckage, while bodies were ferried away in ambulances as the rescue operation continued."It's an emergency situation," Muhammad Asim Khan, a spokesman for the main hospital in Peshawar, told AFP, adding that at least 47 had been killed and 150 wounded.As darkness fell, at least four men were still trapped in the wreckage, visible through cracks in the concrete, alongside bodies yet to be recovered."We have given them oxygen so that they don't have problems in breathing," said Bilal Ahmad Faizi, a spokesperson for the rescue organisation 1122.The police headquarters in Peshawar is in one of the most tightly controlled areas of the city, housing intelligence and counter-terrorism bureaus, and is next door to the regional secretariat.Provinces around the country announced they were on high alert after the blast, with checkpoints ramped up and extra security forces deployed, while in the capital Islamabad snipers were deployed on buildings and at city entrance points."Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan," said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in a statement."Those fighting against Pakistan will be wiped out from the face of earth."Officers said the blast came from the second row of worshippers, with bomb disposal teams probing the possibility of a suicide attack.Shahid Ali, a policeman who survived, said the explosion took place seconds after the imam started prayers."I saw black smoke rising to the sky. I ran out to save my life," the 47-year-old told AFP."The screams of the people are still echoing in my mind," he added. "People were screaming for help."The drastic security breach came on the day United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan had been due to visit Islamabad, although the trip was cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather.Pakistan is also preparing to host an International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation on Tuesday as it works towards unlocking a vital bailout loan to prevent a looming default.The security situation in Pakistan -- once plagued by bombings until a major military crackdown that began in 2014 largely restored order -- has deteriorated since the return of the Afghan Taliban in Kabul.Islamabad has accused the new rulers of failing to secure their mountainous border, allowing militants to travel back and forth without being detected.The biggest threat comes from a resurgent Pakistani Taliban, a separate movement from the Afghan Taliban but with a similar ideology, which has sharply increased low casualty attacks on police and security forces.Meanwhile, the regional chapter of the Islamic State -- whose numbers were bolstered by prison breaks in Afghanistan in 2021 -- claimed an attack on a minority Shiite mosque in Peshawar that killed 64, Pakistan's deadliest terror attack since 2018.Detectives said the bomber was an Afghan exile who had returned home to train for the attack.In the south of the country, authorities say the porous border with Afghanistan has helped aid a separatist movement in Balochistan.
The death toll from a blast at a mosque inside a police headquarters in northwest Pakistan on Monday has risen to at least 47, a hospital spokesman said.Muhammad Asim Khan from Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital said more than 150 people had also been wounded, while senior government official Shafiullah Khan told AFP the death toll was expected to rise even further as bodies were still being pulled from the rubble.la-sjd-ecl/jts/smw
Pakistan's ministry of finance announced on Sunday petrol and diesel prices would rise by 35 rupees ($0.1400) a litre after the country's currency value plummeted this week when price caps were removed.The decision came days before an International Monetary Fund mission will visit Pakistan later this month to discuss the stalled ninth review of the country's current funding programme.Last week, the Pakistani rupee lost close to 12% of its value after the removal of price caps that were imposed by the government but which were opposed by the IMF.Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said at a press conference on Sunday he hoped the announcement would dispel speculation on social media of a higher price hike or that petrol supplies would run dry. He said the hike was recommended by oil and gas authorities due to the higher cost of buying energy in the global market."We will have to take the rise in international oil prices and the devaluation of the rupee into account," he said."This rise is being done immediately on the recommendation of the oil and gas regulatory authority who said there were reports of artificial shortages and hoarding of fuel in anticipation of price rises - hence this price rise is being done immediately to combat this."The day before, Reuters witnesses reported some petrol stations had long lines outside as residents filled their tanks due to speculation that prices would soon rise.Pakistan is in the midst of a balance of payments crisis and the plummeting value of the Pakistani rupee will push up the price of imported goods. Energy comprises a large part of Pakistan's import bill.A successful IMF visit is critical for Pakistan, which is facing an increasingly acute balance of payments crisis and is desperate to secure external financing, with less than three weeks' worth of import cover in its foreign exchange reserves.
At least 40 people died when a bus plunged off a bridge in southwestern Pakistan and burst into flames, a government official said Sunday."The dead bodies...are beyond recognition," Hamza Anjum, a senior official of Lasbela district in Balochistan province, said at the accident site.Anjum said three survivors had been rescued and the bus was reportedly carrying 48 passengers when it hit a pillar on the bridge and careened off course.Ramshackle highways, lax safety measures and reckless driving contribute to Pakistan's dire road safety record.Passenger buses are frequently crammed to capacity and seatbelts are not commonly worn, meaning high death tolls from single vehicle accidents are common.According to World Health Organization estimates, more than 27,000 people were killed on Pakistan's roads in 2018.
An aide to former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was arrested on Wednesday for criticising election officials, police said, the latest case brought against the opposition as it tries to force early polls.Fawad Chaudhry, who was information minister under Khan, was detained in a pre-dawn raid on his home in the eastern city of Lahore.Chaudhry is accused of having "harassed and intimidated" election commission officials and their families in televised comments on Tuesday, according to a police report shared by his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.The charges, lodged in the capital Islamabad, also say he is being held under sedition legislation because he "tried to cause an impediment in the election process of the state".Khan's populist PTI government was ousted by a vote of no-confidence in April 2022 after his coalition partners switched allegiance.Fresh elections are due no later than October, with Pakistan mired in political and economic uncertainty.PTI is pushing for early polls, holding rallies, pulling out of parliament and dissolving the two provincial assemblies it controls in a bid to force the government's hand.Khan and other PTI leaders have been caught up in a slew of court cases, a common hurdle facing opposition groups, which rights monitors say are orchestrated to shut them out of office.The police report shared by PTI cites Chaudhry describing the Election Commission of Pakistan as "clerks" signing off the orders of the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif."If you are so weak then better you should pack up and go home," he said, according to police.Chaudhry earlier told reporters: "We warn the election commission, its members and their families that, if the series of abuses against us continues, you will have to pay back."Pakistani politicians regularly trade ugly, personal barbs, invoking each others' families in mud-slinging speeches.Khan, a former cricket star, was turned out of office as the economy slid backwards and he lost the backing of the military establishment, which is considered the true powerbroker in Pakistan.Khan was shot in the leg at a political rally in November and blamed the assassination attempt on an army officer and Sharif, without offering evidence.The nation of more than 220 million is in dire economic straits with runaway inflation, scant foreign exchange reserves and stalling bailout talks with IMF lenders.
Seven people died and more than 15 others were injured, as a result of a bus collision with a truck in Balochistan province, southwestern Pakistan.Pakistani media reported Monday that the accident occurred last night, when a passenger bus collided with a truck near Qila Saifullah in Balochistan province, killing seven people and injuring more than 15 others, indicating that all the dead and injured were taken to hospital.Road accidents are common in Pakistan due to lack of infrastructure, poor vehicle maintenance, and reckless driving.
Pakistan's government has ordered all malls and markets to close by 8:30pm among other measures in a new energy conservation plan, the defence minister said on Tuesday, as the country grapples with an economic crisis.The country's foreign exchange reserve levels barely cover a month's worth of imports, most of which are accounted for by energy purchases from abroad, with funds expected under an International Monetary Fund programme having been delayed.Khawaja Asif told journalists that measures approved by the cabinet aims to save the cash-strapped country about 62 billion Pakistani rupees ($273.4 million).He said additional immediate measures included shutting wedding halls by 10 p.m. daily. He added that some market representatives had pushed for longer hours, but the government decided that earlier closure was needed.Asif also said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered all government departments to reduce electricity consumption by 30%. ($1 = 226.7500 Pakistani rupees)
A suicide bomber killed at least one police officer Friday when he detonated a device after his car was stopped in the Pakistan capital, officials said, the first such attack in the city for years.Islamabad has largely been spared the low-level attacks carried out in the country's megacities of Lahore and Karachi, and also along the border areas near Afghanistan.Senior police official Sohail Zafar Chattha said officers had been following a suspicious taxi occupied by a male driver and a woman passenger."They were stopped and the long-haired man was asked to come out," Chattha told AFP at the scene."He came out, but quickly went back inside and pressed a button that blew up the car."He said the fate of the passenger was not certain, but a policeman was confirmed dead and six people were wounded -- including four officers.Pakistan was for a time plagued with almost daily bomb blasts across the country, but security vastly improved after a military crackdown that began in 2016.Violence against security officials has risen in the northwestern border areas with Afghanistan over the past year -- blamed on militant groups linked to the Pakistan Taliban.Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), separate from the Afghan Taliban but with a similar hardline Islamist ideology, called off a stop-start ceasefire with the government in November.A crowd that gathered after Friday's Islamabad blast were quick to blame the group, though no claim has yet been made."TTP is doing all this... how can they claim that they are Muslims?" said Qasda, who only gave her first name.Haji Mohammad Saeed, 60, a retired government official, said authorities should end all negotiations with the group: "They are taking advantage of this dialogue and causing violence."
Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan yesterday welcomed the government’s offer to launch a judicial commission to investigate the attack in which he was shot in the leg on Thursday. Khan made the remarks in a video broadcast live on social media from a hospital in the eastern city of Lahore, where he was receiving treatment after being shot during a protest march three days earlier in what he and supporters called an assassination attempt. The government has said it will investigate the shooting. Khan said his supporters’ long march towards the capital calling for early elections, which was disrupted by the attack, would re-start tomorrow but that he would not join in person while he recovered from his injuries. Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will lead the rally in coming weeks in the eastern province of Punjab, Khan said. The former premier, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April, said he would join the rally in 10 to 14 days’ time when it reached the city of Rawalpindi, a short drive from the capital Islamabad. In the meantime, he would address the march by video link each day, he said. The rally began late last month in Lahore but was cut short six days later when Khan was shot in the leg as he waved to crowds from a container mounted on a truck leading the protest. Khan has accused three people of devising a plan to assassinate him, naming Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and intelligence official Major-General Faisal Naseer. He did not provide evidence for his claim, which was strongly denied by the government and military. Sharif on Saturday said that Khan was making “baseless allegations” but that the government had requested the country’s chief justice to form a judicial commission to investigate the claims. The former prime minister left the hospital yesterday, a senior aide said, three days after being shot in the legs in a failed assassination attempt. The shooting — and Khan’s accusation that his successor Shehbaz Sharif was involved — have significantly raised the political temperature in a country that has been on the boil since he was ousted in April. Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry told AFP that Khan “has been discharged” and a local TV channel showed him wearing a blue hospital gown as he left the Lahore clinic by wheelchair. One man is in custody following the attack, which government officials have said was the work of a lone gunman and “a very clear case of religious extremism”. In an apparent confession video leaked by police to media, the sole suspect said he tried to kill Khan because his convoy was interrupting the call to prayer, which summons Muslims to mosques. Khan, however, insists two shooters were involved, and speaking to reporters from hospital on Friday claimed Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and a senior intelligence officer were behind the plot. Khan, a legendary former cricketing superstar and Pakistan’s only ODI World Cup -winning captain, became prime minister in 2018 on a ticket promising to block the dynastic families that have historically ruled Pakistan, and to end corrosive corruption. He was ousted by a vote of no confidence in April as the economy languished and he lost the backing of the all-powerful military, considered the kingmakers in the south Asian nation. Since then Khan has campaigned for a snap election, with a series of raucous marches and rallies, while claiming he was pushed out of power in a conspiracy orchestrated by the United States. Analysts say the assassination attempt and Khan’s accusations have pushed Pakistan into a “dangerous phase”. “It is a perilous situation,” said academic and political analyst Tauseef Ahmed Khan, who is also a board member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Former prime minister Imran Khan said on Friday that he would resume his protest march to Islamabad after recovering from an assassination attempt, as his supporters staged nationwide protests that blocked major roads. He was shot in the leg on Thursday as he waved to crowds from a container mounted on truck from where he was leading a protest march on the capital to press for early elections and calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Sharif led a coalition of parties that ousted Khan from office through a parliamentary vote in April. “I will give a call to march on Islamabad once I get better,” Khan, a former international cricket star-turned-politician, said in a live address yesterday from a hospital in Lahore where he has been receiving medical treatment. He said two shooters had tried to assassinate him, in a country with a history of politically motivated violence. He said one person was killed and 11 others were injured in Thursday’s attack in Wazirabad, about 170km (106 miles) southeast of Islamabad. Punjab Health Minister Yasmeen Rashid, a doctor and member of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, told Reuters that two bullets hit Khan, wounding him in the shin and thigh. Khan accused three people of devising the plan to assassinate him, naming Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and intelligence official Major-General Faisal Nasser. “These three decided to kill me,” he said, without providing evidence for his claim. Sanaullah rejected the allegations and said the coalition government had demanded an independent investigation. Sharif also condemned the shooting and ordered an investigation. The military’s media office did not respond to a request for comment on the allegation. It previously condemned the shooting. Khan’s address came after his supporters came out on the streets of major cities yesterday, blocking major roads and clashing in some places with security forces. Some supporters gathered at the place where Khan was wounded and urged the former premier to resume his march on Islamabad. In Lahore, the capital of Punjab state in the east, large groups of protesters burnt tyres and blocked roads. Some threw stones at the gate of the Punjab provincial governor’s office, destroying security cameras and barriers, witnesses said. Khan’s backers also blocked roads in the northwestern city of Peshawar, while local television channels showed police using tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Islamabad and the southern city of Karachi. The interior minister told reporters that he is concerned that a video statement, widely carried by local media, in which a man presented as the alleged shooter said he was motivated by religious reasons to attack Khan could inspire others.
The Bank of England raised interest rates by the most since 1989 yesterday but it also warned that Britain faced a long recession and told investors borrowing costs were likely to go up by less than they expect. The BoE increased Bank Rate to 3% from 2.25% even as it said Britain’s economy might not grow for another two years, a slump longer than during the 2008-09 financial crisis. The pound fell sharply and was down about 2% against the US dollar yesterday, touching its lowest since mid-October when Britain was in a political crisis triggered by former prime minister Liz Truss’ tax-cutting plans. On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve also hiked rates by 75 basis points but signalled US borrowing costs were likely to rise more than anticipated to crush inflation. That contrasted with the BoE’s message yesterday. “We can’t make promises about future interest rates but based on where we stand today, we think Bank Rate will have to go up by less than currently priced in financial markets,” Governor Andrew Bailey said, in an unusually blunt message. The BoE said it now expected inflation will hit a 40-year high of around 11% during the current quarter. But it also thinks the economy has entered a recession that could mean it contracts in both 2023 and 2024 and shrinks by 2.9% in total. Unemployment would rise steadily to 6.4% by late 2025, nearly doubling from a current 3.5%, its lowest rate since the mid-1970s. Yesterday’s rise in borrowing costs — the biggest in 33 years apart from a failed attempt to support the pound on Black Wednesday in 1992 — was in line with economists’ expectations in a Reuters poll, but was not unanimous. Two policymakers, Silvana Tenreyro and Swati Dhingra, voted for smaller increases of a quarter and half a percentage point respectively. The majority of the nine-member Monetary Policy Committee said rates would need to rise higher still, although probably not as high as the 5.2% that was priced into financial markets when the BoE finalised its forecasts. “Further increases in Bank Rate might be required for a sustainable return of inflation to target, albeit to a peak lower than priced into financial markets,” the BoE said, offering unusually specific guidance to investors. Earlier yesterday, markets were expecting Bank Rate to peak at around 4.75%.After its announcement, that peak had fallen to under 4.7% in September next year. “The Committee continues to judge that, if the outlook suggests more persistent inflationary pressures, it will respond forcefully, as necessary,” the MPC added, echoing its previous guidance. Central banks across the Western world are responding to similar challenges. Inflation has rocketed over the past year due to residual labour shortages and supply-chain bottlenecks since the Covid pandemic and — in Europe’s case — a big increase in energy bills since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Britain’s new finance minister Jeremy Hunt said the “government’s number one priority is to grip inflation, and today the Bank has taken action in line with their objective to return inflation to target”. The BoE has faced weeks of political and financial market chaos since its last rate rise on September 22. Just a day later, then-prime minister Truss’s government launched an unfunded £45bn ($52bn) package of tax cuts that received a damning response from investors that pushed sterling to a record low against the dollar and forced the BoE to prop up the bond market to help pension funds. Truss had to resign after 44 days in office. Markets are now more stable, with British government borrowing costs broadly back to where they were before the turmoil. On Tuesday, the BoE was able to begin selling bonds from its £838bn quantitative easing stockpile.The BoE’s policymaking is made especially tricky by a lack of clarity over future government policy.
Reflecting the turbulent global markets, a day after the US rate hike, the Qatar Stock Exchange yesterday saw its key barometer plummet more than 131 points and capitalisation erode in excess of QR7bn. The insurance and industrials counters witnessed higher than average selling pressure as the 20-stock Qatar Index lost 0.98% to 12,306.07 points but recovering from an intraday low of 12,280 points. The foreign institutions’ weakened net buying interests had its influence in the market, whose year-to-date gains truncated to 5.85%. About 66% of the traded constituents were in the red in the main bourse, whose capitalisation saw QR7.27bn or 1.05% decrease to QR687.2bn, mainly on the back of large and small cap segments. The Islamic index was seen declining slower than the other indices in the market, which saw a total of 0.08mn exchange traded funds (sponsored by Masraf Al Rayan and Doha Bank) valued at QR0.33mn changed hands across 12 deals. Trade turnover fell amidst higher volumes in the main market; while the venture market saw an increased turnover and trade volumes. The local retail investors were seen bullish in the bourse, which saw no trading of sovereign bonds. The foreign retail investors were increasingly net buyers in the main market, which saw no trading of treasury bills. The Total Return Index shed 0.98% to 25,206.82 points, All Share Index by 0.88% to 3,936.28 points and Al Rayan Islamic Index (Price) by 0.78% to 2,705.03 points. The insurance index tanked 1.9%, industrials (1.42%), banks and financial services (0.85%), consumer goods and services (0.71%), real estate (0.23%) and transport (0.02%); while telecom was up 0.07%. Major losers in the main market included Ahlibank Qatar, QLM, Aamal Company, Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding, Widam Food, Commercial Bank, Doha Bank, QIIB, Salam International Investment, Industries Qatar and Mazaya Qatar. In the venture market, both Al Faleh Educational Holding and Mekdam Holding saw their shares depreciate in value. Nevertheless, United Development Company, Baladna, Qatari German Medical Devices, Medicare Group and Mannai Corporation saw their shares appreciate in value. The Gulf institutions’ net profit booking grew markedly to QR5.91mn compared to QR1.58mn on November 2. The foreign institutions’ net buying decreased considerably to QR15.12mn against QR88.51mn the previous day. However, the local retail investors turned net buyers to the tune of QR8.27mn compared with net sellers of QR8.52mn on Wednesday. The foreign individuals’ net buying expanded noticeably to QR6.31mn against QR1.07mn on November 2. The Gulf individuals’ net selling declined significantly to QR3.6mn compared to QR37.55mn the previous day. The domestic institutions’ net profit booking fell perceptibly to QR17.75mn against QR35.33mn on Wednesday. The Arab retail investors’ net selling eased marginally to QR2.45mn compared to QR3.01mn on November 2. The Arab institutions had no major net exposure against net buyers to the tune of QR0.18mn the previous day. Total trade volume in the main market grew 11% to 118.85mn shares, while value shrank 14% to QR407.31mn and deals by 11% to 16,622. The venture market saw trade volumes double to 0.18mn equities and value soar 55% to QR1.02mn but on 56% decline in transactions to 20.
Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was shot in the shin yesterday when his anti-government protest convoy came under attack in the east of the country in what his aides said was a clear assassination attempt by his rivals. Khan, ousted as prime minister in a parliamentary confidence vote in April, was six days into a protest procession bound for Islamabad, standing and waving to thousands of cheering supporters from the roof of a container truck, when the shots rang out. Several in his convoy were wounded in the attack in Wazirabad, nearly 200km from the capital. Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said a suspect had been arrested. “It was a clear assassination attempt. Khan was hit but he’s stable. There was a lot of bleeding,” Fawad Chaudhry, a spokesperson for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, said. “If the shooter had not been stopped by people there, the entire PTI leadership would have been wiped out.” Another Khan aide, Asad Umar, said doctors had told him that their leader was out of danger. In a video statement, Umar said Khan believed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and intelligence official Major-General Faisal Naseer were behind the attack. Umar did not provide any evidence to back the allegation. Aurangzeb, who speaks for the government, did not respond to a request for comment on the allegation. Sharif condemned the shooting and ordered an immediate investigation. The military’s media wing did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegation against Naseer. In a previous statement, the military called the shooting “highly condemnable”. Khan, 70, had accused the military of backing the plan to oust him from power. Last week, the military held a news conference to deny the claims. “I heard a burst of bullet shots after which I saw Imran Khan and his aides fall down on the truck,” witness Qazzafi Butt said. “Later, a gunman shot a single shot but was grabbed by an activist of Khan’s party.” In purported footage of the shooting, being run by multiple channels but unverified by Reuters, a man with a handgun is grabbed from behind by one of the people at the gathering. He then tries to flee. TV channels showed a suspected shooter, who looked to be in his twenties or thirties. He said he wanted to kill Khan and had acted alone. “He (Khan) was misleading the people, and I couldn’t bear it,” the suspect said in the video. The information minister confirmed the footage was recorded by police. No one has yet been charged with the attack. Khan – who was after his removal from office convicted by Pakistan’s election commission of selling state gifts unlawfully, charges that he denied – had been whipping up large crowds on his way to Islamabad in a campaign to topple Sharif’s government. One member of Khan’s party said there were reports one person had been killed in the attack. Handsome and charismatic, Khan first grabbed international attention as a cricketer in the early 1970s. First known as an aggressive fast-paced bowler with a distinctive leaping action, he went on to become one of the world’s best all-rounders and a hero in cricket-mad Pakistan, captaining a team of wayward stars with bleak prospects to one-day World Cup victory in 1992. His first wife, Jemima Goldsmith, who lives in Britain, expressed relief on Twitter. “The news we dread...Thank God he’s okay,” she wrote. “And thank you from his sons to the heroic man in the crowd who tackled the gunman.” Local media yesterday showed footage of Khan waving to the crowd after being evacuated from his vehicle after the shooting as people ran and shouted. He was taken to hospital in Lahore as protesters poured out on to streets in some parts of the country and PTI leaders demanded justice. PTI colleague Faisal Javed, who was also wounded and had blood stains on his clothes, told Geo TV from the hospital: “Several of our colleagues are wounded. We heard that one of them is dead.” Since being ousted, Khan has held rallies across Pakistan, stirring opposition against a government that is struggling to bring the economy out of the crisis that Khan’s administration left it in.
Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan won another National Assembly seat in a weekend by-election, officials said yesterday, as he leads a “long march” of thousands of supporters to Islamabad. Khan, a retired international cricket star and philanthropist, has been demanding an early general election since being controversially ousted in April by a no-confidence vote, heaping pressure on the government. His latest win in the northwest of the country was confirmed by the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP). “We didn’t even run an election campaign for Imran Khan there, but he won with a big margin,” Fawad Chaudhry, a senior Khan aide and former information minister, told private TV channel HUM News. The ECP ruled this month that Khan had failed to properly declare the value of gifts he received from foreign leaders while in office. Lawyers initially said the ruling amounted to a five year disqualification from office, but later backtracked. The matter is now before the courts, which last week allowed Khan to contest the latest by-election. It is one of several legal battles Khan has been entangled in since his exit and comes after he won six out of eight seats in a by-election earlier this month. Individuals can stand in multiple constituencies in Pakistan elections and choose which to forfeit if they win more than one. “It is established now that his support has become nationwide,” political analyst Hasan Askari told AFP. “For the common man, the benchmark of a government’s success is livelihood and the economy, and the present government has not succeeded in these fields.” Khan was voted into power in 2018 on an anti-corruption platform by an electorate weary of dynastic politics. But his falling out with a military accused of helping his rise sealed his fate. Since then, he has railed against the establishment and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government, which he says was imposed on Pakistan by a “conspiracy” involving the United States. The political wrangling has overshadowed relief efforts following the devastating floods that left a third of the country under water — and a repair bill of at least $30bn. Pakistan’s economy also remains in a dire state, with high inflation, a nose-diving rupee and dwindling foreign exchange reserves. Khan is currently leading thousands of supporters in a convoy of cars, trucks and buses from Lahore to reach the capital Islamabad on Friday in an effort to press the government to call an early election. His impending arrival has the capital on edge, with hundreds of shipping containers positioned at key intersections, ready to block marchers should they try to storm the government enclave.
A female journalist was crushed to death by a vehicle carrying former prime minister Imran Khan in an accident in eastern Pakistan yesterday as he led a convoy along with his supporters towards the capital, party officials and journalists said. The incident prompted Khan to halt the “long march” that he is leading towards Islamabad to pressure the federal government into calling snap elections. His convoy started from the eastern city of Lahore, and is expected to reach Islamabad on Friday. “Shocked & deeply saddened by the terrible accident that led to the death of Channel 5 reporter Sadaf Naeem during our March today,” Khan said on Twitter. Khan said yesterday’s activities planned by his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had been cancelled. Journalist Qazzafi Butt, who witnessed the incident, told Reuters that Sadaf, 40, lost her balance has she tried to climb onto Khan’s truck to get a sound bite from the former premier. The wheel of the truck ran over her head as she fell on the road, he said. PTI leader Mussarat Jamshed Cheema confirmed that Sadaf was run over by vehicle. Local police officials did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment. The incident occurred as Khan’s convoy was near the city of Gujranwala, 220km from Islamabad. He plans to hold political gatherings in cities along the route to Islamabad to build support. Since being ousted in April through a parliamentary vote, Khan has held rallies across Pakistan, stirring opposition against a government that is struggling to bring the economy out of the crisis. PTI has said Khan was willing to negotiate with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition government if it announced a date for a snap election. The government says polls will be held as scheduled in October or November next year. Khan says he is not willing to wait.
A Pakistani known for being the oldest detainee at the US-run Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba was released to his home country on Saturday, the South Asian country's foreign ministry said. The secretive US military prison once housed hundreds of suspected militants captured by US forces during America's so-called "war on terror" following the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda in 2001. Businessman Saif Ullah Paracha was detained in 2003 in Thailand and accused of financing the jihadist group, but he has maintained his innocence and claimed a love for the United States. Like most detainees at Guantanamo, Paracha -- aged 75 or 76 -- was never formally charged and had little legal power to challenge his detention. "The Foreign Ministry completed an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate repatriation of Mr. Paracha," Pakistan's foreign office said in a statement on Saturday. "We are glad that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family." Paracha's arrival comes after US President Joe Biden last year approved his release, along with that of another Pakistani national Abdul Rabbani, 55, and Yemen native Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman, 41. The statement from the Pakistani foreign ministry did not mention Rabbani. Biden is under pressure to clear out uncharged prisoners at Guantanamo and move ahead with the trials of those accused of having direct ties to Al-Qaeda. Among the roughly 40 detainees left are several men who allegedly had direct roles in 9/11 and other Al-Qaeda attacks. Paracha, who studied in the United States, had an import-export business supplying major US retailers. US authorities accused him of having contact with Al-Qaeda figures, including Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. In 2008, Paracha's lawyer said the businessman had met bin Laden in 1999, and again a year later, in connection with the production of a television programme. Reprieve, a UK-based human rights charity, described Paracha as a "forever prisoner".