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Landslide damages roads in Murree, disrupts traffic flow

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RAWALPINDI:

A landslide damaged a road near Aliot, disrupting traffic on the Rawalpindi-Murree-Kashmir highway for traffic for four hours.

The highway department removed the debris from the road, opening it for traffic on Monday.

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Landslides have also caused trees and poles to fall in Murree, causing traffic jams on major roads. Due to traffic jams, tourists and commuters have to face severe hardships.

Like other parts of the country, heavy rains have lashed Murree, Galiyat and adjacent mountain areas, causing landslides and flooding.

Snowfall in the mountains has also caused huge mudslides to fall onto the road. Mudslides make the road muddy, causing severe problems for tourists on the slippery roads.

Heavy rains also caused severe damage to Mall Road. The rain also caused displacing tiles at GPO Chowk and link roads, which not only affected the traffic flow but also caused serious problems to pedestrians.

Like the entire country, Murree and its surroundings are experiencing heavy rains. The temperature has dropped to 16 degrees in Murree.

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NHA, Rescue 1122, Civil Defence and other departments have been instructed to remain on high alert during monsoon rains. The district administration said that all departments concerned were trying to provide the best services to the tourists in Murree. It said that fallen trees and landslides disrupted traffic flow temporarily but it was restored with the help of heavy machinery.

Meanwhile, the previous government’s decision to make Murree the first tourism district of Punjab has been reinstated, with the status of the tehsil to be elevated to the level of district next month.

Former Member of National Assembly (MNA) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Sadaqat Ali Abbasi told The Express Tribune that approval for declaring Murree as the province’s new tourism district had first been given by the erstwhile government in February.

He said that practical steps had already been taken ahead of the formal implementation of the decision, with two new police stations were established, while the police department in Murree had been upgraded to the level of Kohsar Police Division along with the appointment of an official of the Superintendent of Police (SP) rank.

However, the change of governments in April had resulted in the new regime revoking the notification, thereby putting it on hold indefinitely.

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The decision has now been reinstated, with Abbasi confirming that discussions have been held regarding the same with Chief Minister Pervez Elahi.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2022.



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High on ‘mad honey’, disoriented bear rescued in Türkiye

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ISTANBUL:

A disoriented brown bear cub, believed to have been intoxicated after eating an excessive amount of “mad honey,” was rescued in northwestern Türkiye’s Duzce province on Thursday.

Footage showed the bear wobbling and whining as she sat belly-up in the back of a pick-up truck, after people rescued the visibly-debilitated animal from the forest.

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Mad honey, or “deli bal” in Turkish, is a type of rhododendron honey that can have hallucinogenic effects.

The bear was brought to a vet, where she was receiving treatment and would likely be released into the wild in the coming days, local authorities said, adding that she was in good condition.

The agriculture ministry called on Turks on Twitter to come up with a name for the bear.



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Activists demand safeguard of citizens’ rights

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KARACHI:

The civil society and human rights activists called upon the government on Thursday to safeguard all citizens’ rights irrespective of their religion and protect their life and property.

The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, envisioned Pakistan to become a peaceful country where all citizens had the right to enjoy equality and were free to practice their faiths.

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They were addressing a joint press conference at the Karachi Press Club concerning the country’s observance of the National Day of Minorities. Chairperson, Sindh Commission on Status of Women Nuzhat Shireen, MPA Naveed Anthony, Urban Resource Centre Zahid Farooq, The Knowledge Forum Naghma Iqtidar and a minorities’ rights activist Zafar Iqbal addressed the press conference.

The speakers said that the federal government has notified the curriculum for religious education solely for non-Muslim students for Grade I-V and VI-VIII, which comprises content from seven religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Baha’i, Kalash, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism.

Therefore, the provincial government must adopt a curriculum for religious education, develop textbooks and engage teachers to teach minority students the subject in schools, they suggested.

They urged the government to take action against those who take the law into their hands and target minorities. They added that the state is responsible for protecting the life, honour and property of the people from the minority communities.

Nation Building

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Sindh Minister for Minority Affairs Giyan Chand Essrani on Thursday said August 11 was observed as the National Day of Minorities to pay tribute to the minority community for their services in establishing Pakistan and nation building.

In his message on the National Day of Minorities, Giyan Chand said the minority community is an integral part of the country.

“We consider the land our mother, and Pakistan is our mother. We are proud of our country”, he said. The minister said Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Parsi communities have an essential role in the country’s development. He said Pakistan is a safe country for minorities. If doubts prevail, one should observe the plight of the minorities in the world’s largest democracy India.

Freedom to practice religion

Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab said that August 11 provides an opportunity to renew commitment to protect the rights of minorities.

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“The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had guaranteed the protection of the rights of minorities in the country, under which minorities in Pakistan have all kinds of legal rights,” the administrator said.

Wahab said that the minority community has a fundamental role in the development and prosperity of Karachi, Sindh province and Pakistan. “Five per cent quota is reserved for minorities in government jobs, while seats are reserved for minorities in the Senate, National and Provincial Assemblies so that they can have representation,” he added.



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Khar lauds reforms to improve Pakistan’s AML/CFT regime

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Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar on Thursday chaired a meeting of the National FATF Coordination Committee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.

The minister was given detailed briefings on recent legal, policy and administrative actions to improve the effectiveness of Pakistan’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Khar expressed satisfaction with the trajectory of reforms and appreciated the collective, system-wide efforts in bringing Pakistan’s AML/CFT regime at par with international standards, which remains a top priority of the government.

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The meeting was attended by senior officers from the National FATF Secretariat, ministries of finance, foreign affairs, interior, law and justice, State Bank of Pakistan, Financial Monitoring Unit, and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, National Counter-Terrorism Authority, Federal Investigation Agency, Anti-Narcotics Force, and the National Accountability Bureau.

Earlier in June this year, the global dirty money watchdog announced that Pakistan had substantially completed its two action plans, covering 34 items, as part of a bid to get off the grey list on which it has been since 2018 – a decision that would end the threat of Islamabad being put on the black list.

Also read: Pakistan all but exits grey list

The FATF, while kicking off the process to remove Pakistan from the grey list, had said an on-site visit was warranted to verify that reforms had begun and were being sustained, as well as that the necessary political commitment remained in place to sustain improvement in the future.

The Pakistani authorities had said that the global body will send a mission to Pakistan next month to determine the veracity of the government’s claim that it has fully implemented all the 34 conditions that the FATF had set in February 2018 and then in June 2021. Pakistan had been asked to implement the conditions in 15 months but it took around four years due to the complexity of the issues.

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The FATF’s decision will now require commitments from all the Pakistani stakeholders to prove to the FATF upcoming mission that no serious deficiency remains in its AML and CFT regimes.

The FATF handout noted that since June 2018, Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and Asia Pacific Group to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies.



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