Dr Asim Hussain admitted to hospital after health scare

KARACHI: Former federal minister and close aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari, Dr Asim Hussain, was admitted to a private hospital for treatment after complaining of heart problems on Tuesday.

Sindh’s Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Senior Minister for Information Nisar Ahmed Khuhro visited Dr Asim in the cardiovascular unit, said the CM’s spokesman.

Qaim Ali Shah ordered the director of National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases to provide complete medical help to Dr Asim Hussain.

Dr Asim was remanded for 90 days to Rangers custody in August after the paramilitary force had contended that they had credible information regarding the PPP leader’s involvement in terrorism related activities as well as embezzlement of funds.

Last week, a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court issued a notice to the sector commander of the Ghazi Rangers in a contempt of court application filed by the wife of Dr Asim Hussain for disobeying the court’s order, Dawn Newspaper reported.

Dr Zarina Hussain in her application said that the court had directed the Rangers authorities to get his medical tests conducted in the presence of his wife and daughter.

However, she said, neither she was being allowed to visit her ailing husband, nor was he being provided proper medical treatment in custody.

Earlier, the bench had rejected her plea for shifting Dr Hussain to a hospital for treatment after a law officer of the paramilitary force stated that the detainee was being provided all necessary medical care in custody.

She said that her husband was suffering from serious ailments such as diabetes and hypertension and needed medical attention, so he should be admitted in a hospital.

Dr Asim’s arrest came in what has been described as the first major action against the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership during the ongoing Karachi operation.

On August 26, over 12 personnel in plain clothes belonging to the Federal Investigation Agency and an intelligence outfit had arrived at the HEC office and the man leading them introduced himself to Dr Asim and asked him to accompany them. Dr Asim was then taken to an undisclosed location for questioning.

Next day, he was produced before an antiterrorism court which was informed that the Rangers had detained him for 90 days for questioning.

In 2009, Dr Asim was elected Senator from Sindh on a PPP ticket. He served as the minister of petroleum and natural resources and then the prime minister’s adviser with the same portfolio until 2012.

After the 2013 general elections, the PPP government in Sindh made him chairman of the provincial HEC.

He is also believed to be close to the top leadership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

Muslim pilgrims mass in Makkah for Haj

MAKKAH: Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world began moving on Tuesday from the holy city of Makkah to nearby Mina for the start of Haj.

560127aed6fe6Almost two million people are expected to take part in this year’s pilgrimage, undeterred by a crane collapse in Makkah earlier this month that killed 109 people and injured nearly 400 at Islam’s holiest site.

“It is a gift from God that He has chosen us to come here,” said Walaa Ali, a 35-year-old Egyptian pilgrim with tears in her eyes. “I am so happy to be here.”

Nearby, both men and women sat side by side listening to preachers explain the history and rituals of the hajj, one of the world’s largest annual gatherings.

This year’s Haj begins against a backdrop of increased jihadist violence, a surge of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus and with Saudi Arabia at war in Yemen.

The first day of Haj is known as Tarwiah Day, when pilgrims traditionally watered their animals and stocked water for their trip to Mount Arafat, about 10 kilometres southeast of Mina.

Nowadays pilgrims spend their time there in prayer and reciting the Quran.

The climax of Haj season is on Arafat Day, which falls on Wednesday.

With the start of Haj, pilgrims enter ‘ihram’ ─ a state of purity in which they must not wear perfume, cut their nails, or trim their hair or beards.

During ‘ihram’, men wear a seamless two-piece shroud-like white garment, symbolising resurrection and emphasising unity regardless of social status or nationality. Women must wear loose dresses exposing only their faces and hands. They are following the 1,400-year-old tradition of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).

Haj is among the five pillars of Islam and every capable Muslim must perform the pilgrimage at least once in their life.

Previously marred by stampedes and fires that killed hundreds, it had been largely incident-free for the past decade after safety improvements.

But on September 11, during severe winds, a construction crane toppled into a courtyard of Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

Saudis, Iranians, Nigerians, Malaysians, Indonesians and Indians were among the dead.

‘Terror’ threat

Authorities say they are on the alert for possible attacks by the extremist self-styled Islamic State group, which has carried out bombings targeting mosques in the kingdom in recent months.

Security forces have taken “measures to prevent terrorist groups from exploiting hajj season to carry out acts of sabotage,” said interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki.

The ministry says 100,000 police have been deployed to secure Haj.

“We take all possibilities into consideration during Haj. This includes the kingdom being targeted by terrorist organisations,” Turki told AFP.

Saudi Arabia is also at war this year, leading an Arab coalition conducting air strikes and supporting local forces in Yemen against Houthi rebels since March.

Most Yemeni pilgrims performing the Haj this year are already residing in the kingdom.

Among other challenges facing Saudi authorities this year is potential transmission of the deadly MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The capital Riyadh saw a jump in infections last month. But health officials have insisted that so far no MERS infections have been recorded among pilgrims.

Saudi Arabia is the country worst affected by MERS, with 528 deaths since the virus appeared in 2012. The health ministry has mobilised thousands of health workers to help secure a virus-free pilgrimage.

Also read: IS attacks in Saudi Arabia raises security concerns for Haj

Haj in numbers

Haj is one of the world’s largest annual gatherings. Here are some figures illustrating its scale:

  • Almost 1.4m pilgrims from around the world have already arrived. A total of about 2m, including hundreds of thousands from within the kingdom, are expected.
  • The world’s largest Muslim-populated nation, Indonesia, has sent more than 168,000 pilgrims.
  • 80 per cent of international pilgrims come in official Haj delegations from their countries. The other 20 pc come with tourism companies.
  • About 100,000 police have been deployed to secure Haj, maintain safety of pilgrims, and manage traffic and crowds.
  • The health ministry has mobilised 25,000 additional healthcare workers. To care for ailing pilgrims it has 5,000 beds, including 500 for intensive care. There are eight “seasonal hospitals” which complement permanent medical facilities.
  • 12 new plasma screens, each more than two metres wide, will broadcast messages to pilgrims outside the Grand Mosque, the Saudi Gazette reported.
  • The Grand Mosque is being expanded by roughly 400,000 square metres (4.3-million-square-feet) which is the equivalent of more than 50 football pitches.
  • The average spending for every pilgrim coming from abroad is between $4,600 to $5,000 during Haj season, according to Maher Jamal, chairman of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • 740 fire hydrants and 800 taps are connected to a 100-kilometre water network, helping to ensure fire safety at Mina, where fireproof tents can accommodate 2.6m pilgrims.

Four army officers including DG ISPR Asim Bajwa made three-star generals

ISLAMABAD: A high-level promotion board on Tuesday approved promotion to the rank of Lieutenant-General of four Major-Generals including Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major-General Asim Bajwa.
The board headed by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif also promoted Major-General Amir Riaz, Major-General Sadiq Ali and Major-General Umar Farooq Durrani.
Under Bajwa’s leadership, the army conducted military operations in the South Waziristan tribal region to eliminate militancy and restore peace.Prior to his appointment as DG ISPR in 2012 by then COAS Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Bajwa was posted in Dera Ismail Khan as a g5600eba18c9b0eneral officer commanding.
Major General Amir Riaz was appointed the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) back in 2013.Prior to that, Bajwa had served as the deputy military secretary under Pervez Musharraf.

Riaz, formerly a head of the 111 Brigade, was also among the witnesses against fellow officer Brigadier (retd) Ali Khan who was convicted for having links with banned organisation Hizbut Tahrir (HuT)

According to a report published in the BBC, Riaz was promoted to the rank of Major General following his statement against Brigadier Ali. According to the report, Ali had tried to recruit Riaz in HuT, but had failed.

While Major General Durrani is serving as Vice Chief of General Staff and Major General Sadiq is General Officer commanding Bahawalpur

The newly-promoted three-star generals will be posted to new positions within the next two months by the Pakistan army.

The attack on Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Badaber camp earlier in the day was planned and controlled from Afghanistan.

PESHAWAR: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major-General Asim Bajwa on Friday said that the attack on Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Badaber camp earlier in the day was planned and controlled from Afghanistan.

55fc0b2dd9890The DG ISPR held a press conference following the attack on PAF Badaber camp earlier in the day and provided details of the attack and follow-up actions by security forces.

According to the details given by ISPR in its press conference, the attack on the PAF installation started at around 5am, when the terrorists arrived on Inqalab road, and dismounted from their vehicle near the gates of the base.

“After dismounting, the terrorists used rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and automatic rifle fire to breach the gates and gain entry into the PAF base,” said Bajwa.

He elaborated by adding that as soon as the terrorists entered the facility, they met stiff resistance from the PAF guards who were stationed to guard the base.

“The terrorists then split in to two groups, with one group heading towards the administrative area of the base while the other group headed towards technical area,” added the ISPR head.

Major-General Bajwa said that the terrorists were under continuous fire from security forces, and the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) reached within ten minutes and managed to contain the attackers in a relatively small area of the base.

“Once the terrorists entered the facility, they were contained within 50 metres of either side of the gate, and were not able to advance towards their objectives.”

The head of the ISPR confirmed that the ensuing firefight took place within the small area which also housed the base’s mosque, which “unfortunately became a target for the attackers, and they rushed in and opened fire on the people present for morning prayers.”

“At least 29 people have been martyred — 23 from air force, three from army and three civilians,” AFP quoted Bajwa as saying. The ISPR spokesperson said that 29 people were also wounded during the attack

The DG ISPR explained to the media personnel present that the ensuing attack on those present in the mosque and a barracks building next to the mosque caused the most casualties during the attack.

Maj Gen Bajwa also praised the media for its objective reporting and informing the people regarding the developments announced by the ISPR in a timely manner.

Three suspects arrested

TAXILA: Three suspects were picked up in a joint search operation launched by the police, the law enforcement agencies and the sensitive agencies in various parts of Hassanabdal.

55f240790a5a3Supervised by the army, the search and combing operation was launched in rural and urban areas to check the presence of terror suspects especially around the Gurdwara Punja Shaib.

Two DSP, two Inspectors, six SIs, 80 constables and 4 policewomen and officials of different law enforcement agencies, sensitive agencies participated in the operation.

During house to house search, three suspects were picked up along with illegal weapons and narcotics.