Category - Asia: South-West

South-West Asia

Pakistan heat wave claims hundreds of lives

CNN, By Ralph Ellis & Sophia Saifi, June 23

Islamabad – Hundreds of people have died in a three-day heat wave affecting Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, according to local media reports.

A spokesperson from the Sindh province Ministry of Health told CNN that 323 people had died in Karachi as a result of the heatwave.

The ministry also told CNN that the number of patients treated for heat stroke in Jinnah hospital, the largest in the city, is 2.360.

Others, unable to make it to a hospital, may have died at home. At least one city morgue, CNN affiliate Geo.tv has reported, has been overwhelmed with the numbers of dead.

Death tolls in local media reports vary.

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

The London Review of Books, By Seymour M. Hersh, May 21

It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? He was hiding in the open. So America said.

The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders – General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI – were never informed of the US mission. This remains the White House position despite an array of reports that have raised questions, including one by Carlotta Gall in the New York Times Magazine of 19 March 2014. Gall, who spent 12 years as the Times correspondent in Afghanistan, wrote that she’d been told by a ‘Pakistani official’ that Pasha had known before the raid that bin Laden was in Abbottabad. The story was denied by US and Pakistani officials, and went no further. In his book Pakistan: Before and after Osama (2012), Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, wrote that he’d spoken to four undercover intelligence officers who – reflecting a widely held local view – asserted that the Pakistani military must have had knowledge of the operation. The issue was raised again in February, when a retired general, Asad Durrani, who was head of the ISI in the early 1990s, told an al-Jazeera interviewer that it was ‘quite possible’ that the senior officers of the ISI did not know where bin Laden had been hiding, ‘but it was more probable that they did [know]. And the idea was that, at the right time, his location would be revealed. And the right time would have been when you can get the necessary quid pro quo – if you have someone like Osama bin Laden, you are not going to simply hand him over to the United States.’
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Now, drones to be used to disperse mobs in Lucknow

PTI, April 3

LUCKNOW – Drones will soon perform a special task in the state capital apart from functioning as eyes in the sky with the Lucknow Police planning to use them for dispersing mobs.

These little unmanned mini-choppers are already in use in various sensitive parts of Uttar Pradesh for taking aerial snaps, but for the first time the hi-tech gadget will be used to control unruly crowds.

“We have purchased five drone cameras with capacity of lifting two kg weight. They can be used to shower pepper powder on an unruly mob in case of any trouble,” Senior Superintendent of Police Yashasvi Yadav told PTI here today. […]

Lucknow Police will probably be the first in the country to have such hi-tech surveillance gadget, he said, adding drones will assist not only in checking crimes but also in keeping a track of criminals.
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India Tries Evacuating Citizens in Yemen

New York Times, By Hari Kumar & Ellen Barry, April 5

New Delhi — India used small boats this weekend to ferry some of its citizens to a naval destroyer anchored near Aden, Yemen, as an operation to evacuate about 4,000 Indians from Yemen’s war zone entered a difficult phase.

The Indian ship was not able to dock in Aden because of shelling, so the small boats carried people in groups of about 30, said Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesman for India’s External Affairs Ministry. About 2,000 Indians have now been transported out of Yemen, but the deteriorating conditions there mean that no more evacuations from Aden will be possible, he said.

“It’s been a hard task, and as the situation worsens, the time available to us lessens,” he said. “Difficult situations now are becoming more difficult as time passes.”

Experts raise alarm as plague kills dozens in Madagascar

CNN, By Laura Smith-Spark & Lucy Pawle, February 1

An outbreak of the plague has killed dozens in Madagascar, and experts fear those numbers could go up.

At least 119 cases were confirmed by late last year, including 40 deaths, the World Health Organization said in a statement.

And the disease is taking an alarming turn.

“The outbreak that started last November has some disturbing dimensions,” the WHO said this week. “The fleas that transmit this ancient disease from rats to humans have developed resistance to the first-line insecticide.”

Pakistan to execute 500 militants after moratorium lifted

RTÉ, December 22

Pakistan has announced plans to execute around 500 militants in coming weeks, after the government lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases following a Taliban school massacre.

Six militants have been hanged since Friday amid rising public anger over an attack last Tuesday’s which left 149 people dead including 133 children.

The attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar was the deadliest terror attack in Pakistani history, leading to the ending of the six-year moratorium on the death penalty.

A senior government official said the interior ministry has finalised the case of 500 convicts who have exhausted all avenues of appeal.

India lawmakers demand Modi speak on mass conversion to Hinduism

AP, December 22

New Delhi – Opposition lawmakers, charging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done little to stop hard-liners in his party from forcibly converting religious minorities to Hinduism, threw Parliament into an uproar Monday, with the upper house of Parliament adjourned after descending into shouting matches.

Right-wing Hindu groups allied to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party whose members are overwhelmingly BJP members have conducted a series of ceremonies across India over the past week to convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.
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India Takes First Step to Sending Astronaut to Space

The Wall Street Journal, December 18

It’s been a pretty amazing year for India’s space agency: reaching Mars orbit at first attempt and on a tight budget then clubbing together with the United States for future explorations of the Red planet. On Thursday morning the Indian Space Research Organization wrapped up 2014 with the successful launch of a rocket that will help it discover if it has the capacity to put an Indian astronaut into space, and bring them home again.

The rocket that lifted off from southern India at 09:32 Indian Standard Time carried an un-manned crew capsule that scientists wanted to ensure could re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere without burning up.

The so-called crew-module atmospheric re-entry experiment is part of India’s plan to send a person into space within the next eight years. The capsule separated from the rocket successfully at 126 kilometers above the Earth’s surface and re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere as hoped and deploying parachutes. It was expected to land in the Bay of Bengal and be recovered by the Indian Coast Guard.

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