Joyous welcome for rescued Pakistani families

KARACHI: A PIA aircraft safely brought to Karachi on Sunday night 502 Pakistanis and a senior diplomat from the war-torn Yemeni city of Hodeida. The Boeing 747 Jumbo also carried a pet cat owned by a female passenger, a source in the national flag-carrier said.

55187b6c445e6 13024_10155372190930442_7325667733002562353_n 10434367_10155372190935442_3510143347717636391_n 10473574_10155372192780442_5997018972923843448_n 11081055_10155372192840442_5627331698264131945_n 11082573_10155372190940442_7751797237201947915_nCries, sighs and jubilation ran on the anxious faces of dozens of families waiting for hours outside the international arrival lounge of the Jinnah Terminal when they saw the status about the much-awaited plane blaring as ‘Landed’.

Every family had a story to tell, but they had a uniformly happy climax when they saw passengers coming out of the arrival lounge one by one.

However, the families were annoyed at a raucous group of PML-N workers whose sloganeering and occupation of all gates denied them the ultimate happiness by getting the first sight of their beloved ones coming out.

“Why are they politicising such a purely humanitarian matter?” asked Khurram who was hugged by his minor daughter waiting for his mother-in-law coming from Yemeni capital Sanaa.

“Their aggressive attitude shows they want to get our votes for saving our loved ones,” he said bitterly.

Katherine, 55, was waiting for her 28-year-old daughter Nida Andleeb, 28, and son Sunil, 27, who worked as nurses in a hospital in Sanaa.

“We have talked to them all the time till they boarded the plane. We even heard the sound of explosions as loudly as it was happening right here,” she said.

Imran Victor, husband of Andleeb and himself a male nurse in Sanaa till six months earlier, said he returned to Karachi because of some domestic problems, but now he was hugely worried about his wife and brother-in-law because of Saudi strikes on Yemen.

He said that reaching Hodeida from Sanaa was possible through a difficult five-hour mountainous track and the journey was even difficult when the security situation was so fragile.

“But, they made it,” he smiled.

Nafeesa, a resident of Korangi, said her husband Abdul Aleem was a boiler operator at an oil installation in Yemen and the security conditions in the Arab country had worried her a great deal.

The airport was full of television cameras and journalists that virtually outnumbered security officials and even the families.

The families were also not happy by the forced tactic of employees of the PIA’s Air League, an affiliate of the ruling PML-N, as they had been asked to hold large banners inscribed with slogans thanking the prime minister and the PIA administration for getting their relatives back home.

PIA officials said 150 of the 502 passengers belonged to Karachi and other cities of Sindh. The rest would be taken by another plane to Lahore and then Islamabad.

A PIA spokesman said another aircraft was ready to leave for Yemen to bring back more stranded Pakistanis.

The officials said they got confirmation of 100 more Pakistanis reaching Hodeida from Sanaa. Another flight will be on its way on Monday morning to lift the rest of Pakistanis from the southern Yemeni city.

The officials said the aircraft had been available since Saturday but could not take off for Yemen for want of permission from the Foreign Office in Islamabad. Besides, they said, around 200 Pakistanis were stranded in Aden city where airport was not accessible, but the city’s port was free.

They said a Pakistan Navy frigate left Karachi on Sunday morning for the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden to take part in the evacuation operation.

A navy statement said the ship would be readily available in the Gulf of Aden to respond to any situation according to the national requirements.

It said the naval forces, because of their inherent attributes of rapid mobilisation, reach and their endurance coupled with sealift capability “are extremely useful in the humanitarian assistance/evacuation operations”.

Clarke reveals Test aim after grand success

MELBOURNE: Australia captain Michael Clarke said his next target after winning the World Cup in his last One-day International on Sunday was to take his team back to the top of the Test rankings.

5518ab8a3cf94Australia are currently second in the ICC’s Test rankings, six ratings points behind South Africa.Clarke said he had not made up his mind about playing in various Twenty20 leagues around the world due to his Test commitments.

But leaving the 50-over format will give Clarke an opportunity to concentrate on the five-day game.

“My next task is to try and get Australia back to the number one position in Tests,” he told reporters after Sunday’s match. “We have a busy period ahead with tours of the West Indies and then on to England for the Ashes.

“I hope my retirement from one-day cricket will prolong my Test career. I am only 33 and hope I have a few more years left in the game.”

“I have not thought about playing in the T20 leagues,” he said. “I just wanted to concentrate on the World Cup. Now that it is over, I will get time to think over it.

“But I am very excited about Test cricket. I don’t want to rush to any decisions about other things.”

Clarke scored 7,981 runs at an average of more than 44 including eight centuries and a best of 130 in his 245 One-day Internationals.

He added signing off from the shorter format by winning the World Cup was the ideal way for him to bow out of ODI cricket.

“There are no such things as fairytales in sport but this is as close as it gets,” he said.

“There was a lot of pressure and expectation playing in front of our own crowds. But the boys soaked up that pressure well. Mentally we were ready for the final.”

Clarke praised his bowling unit after the left-arm pace trio of Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner and Mitchell Johnson shared eight wickets on Sunday to set up the emphatic victory.

“Our bowlers won us the World Cup,” he said. “There is no doubt that Starc deserved the man of the series award for his 22 wickets. Starc and the whole bowling unit have done a great job.

“Our bowling in every single game has been exceptional. I think being aggressive and going for wickets was a good strategy. ”

Clarke lauded New Zealand, who enjoyed an unbeaten run of eight consecutive victories. “New Zealand deserve credit for the way they played in the World Cup,” he said.

PTI’s Sultan Mahmood defeats N-backed PPP candidate

MUZAFFARABAD: Barrister Sultan Mahmood of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) defeated Chaudhry Mohammad Ashraf of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) by about 3,000 votes in a nerve-racking by-election on Sunday, once again proving to be an indomitable contestant in the Mirpur area of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

Barrister Sultan Mahmood of PTI talks to reporters after his victory in by-election for LA-3, Mirpur-III, on Sunday.
Barrister Sultan Mahmood of PTI talks to reporters after his victory in by-election for LA-3, Mirpur-III, on Sunday.

AJK Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice Munir Ahmed Chaudhry told NNP by telephone that according to unofficial results from all the 111 polling stations of LA-3, Mirpur-III, Mr Mahmood had polled 15,485 votes against 12,559 by Mr Ashraf.

The PML-N nominee had withdrawn from the contest in favour of the PPP candidate.

“The polling was held in a peaceful atmosphere,” the CEC said.

He praised the Rangers, local administration officials and police personnel for maintaining law and order in the highly charged constituency.

The seat had fallen vacant after Mr Mahmood had resigned from the Legislative Assembly, a day before joining PTI on Feb 5 as its regional chief.

Ever since the announcement of election schedule, Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed and a majority of his cabinet members had camped themselves in Mirpur and tried to woo voters by offering development schemes and donations.

In a dramatic development on Friday, the PML-N pulled out its candidate in favour of Mr Ashraf reportedly on a request made by former president Asif Ali Zardari to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to do so in order to “promote the policy of reconciliation under the spirit of the Charter of Democracy”.

However, the move failed to pay dividends as most of the PML-N workers did not vote for Mr Ashraf, which ultimately benefited Mr Mahmood who clinched a comfortable victory in what was initially termed a close fight.

Thousands of people thronged the election office of Mr Mahmood at Mian Mohammad Road and shouted vociferous slogans to celebrate his victory.

55188085d8aa6Mr Mahmood thanked the people of Mirpur for reposing trust in him and the PTI in the face of “temptations and coercions by the governments in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad”.

“We have taken two wickets from one ball,” he said, in a reference to the PPP and PML-N.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan called Mr Mahmood to congratulate him.

The constituency has seen voting in seven general elections since 1985 and Mr Mahmood has emerged victorious in all but one of them.

Altaf takes back decision to resign as MQM chief

KARACHI: Within a span of a few hours, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain withdrew his earlier decision to sever ties with the party on Monday.

5518b6f72ae89The MQM chief had tendered his resignation to party leadership on Monday morning, saying he was not able to bear the burden of leading the party any longer.

He had asked the party lawmakers to elect a new party chief by evening, drawing cries of disapproval from party activists.

Altaf’s resignation had drawn emotional pleas and chants from MQM workers who urged him to take back his decision.

The MQM leader had made the announcement during a telephonic address to party leaders at MQM’s Nine-Zero headquarters.

“I will not be leading MQM from now on,” the MQM chief said.

Also read: Altaf Hussain takes back decision to sever ties with MQM

He also asked the party leaders to dissolve the MQM completely and devote themselves to charitable services.

“You can lead the party from now on, my best wishes are with you,” Altaf told the MQM activists.

Altaf said he had been abused frequently on television talk shows but that he will not hear such words any longer since he is dissociating himself from MQM. He further said whoever attempts to use foul language against him will use it against the whole nation.

The MQM supremo was also highly critical of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and categorically denied all allegations Imran Khan has directed towards him.

Altaf said Imran ridiculed him when he cried on the murder of MQM politician Dr Imran Farooq.

Take a look: Altaf Hussain regretful over use of harsh language against LEAs

The MQM chief said Imran had promised during his sit-ins against the government to not go home until ‘change’ has been brought, however his revolution and containers both vanished after he got married.

Altaf said the PTI chief had called him the murderer of TV reporter Wali Khan Babar but that he had not even heard about Babar prior to his murder. He said he only “found out Babar was a TV reporter after he got killed”.

He also addressed Imran’s criticism of the length of his telephonic addresses. The MQM supremo said Imran is irked by his two-hour long speeches but he should answer why media gave such extensive coverage to his protracted sit-ins.

The MQM chief said Imran accuses him being a “coward” for living in a foreign country.

“I have been living in exile for past 25 years only for the sake of party workers,” he said.

Altaf also warned that if an attempt was made to tamper the results of coming by-election in NA-246 — Karachi’s Azizabad constituency which is also regarded as a bastion of the MQM — the consequences will not be pleasant and democracy may see its end.

The PTI, which is preparing to stand in the by-polls for NA-246, has expressed optimism that it will “win by a large margin”.

He further said it was a matter of shame that MQM activists and leadership did not take notice of the foul language aimed at him until he pointed it out.

Altaf’s resignation drew cries of disapproval from party leaders who urged the supremo to give them “one more chance” .

When Altaf appeared determined to stick to his decision to resign as MQM chief, MQM MNAs announced their resignation from the assembly.

He also addressed Pakistan’s decision to support Saudi Arabia and its allies in their military offensive against Houthi militia in Yemen saying that Pakistan has fought five wars till the present, but no one ever offered to help Pakistan.