Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif chaired meeting to review the state of internal security and implementation of National Action Plan at PM House today.

13906594_1661255630862139_39523380948358283_nPrime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif chaired meeting to review the state of internal security and implementation of National Action Plan at PM House today.
The meeting discussed at length the internal security situation of the country and different aspects of the National Action Plan. The Prime Minister lauded the performance of Law Enforcement Agencies in maintaining peace and security in the country. Terrorists and extremists elements are receding from the country due to the countless sacrifices rendered by our valiant Law Enforcement Agencies, unflinching resolve of the entire nation and efforts of the federal and provincial governments, the Prime Minister stated.
Extremist ideology is a global threat; being the frontline state in war on terror, Pakistan confronted the blowback of terrorists for several years. No other country has suffered to the extent Pakistan has been affected socially and economically while fighting the scourge of terrorism and extremism, the Prime Minister stated.
The world has acknowledged that the overall security situation of the country has significantly improved due to the ongoing National Action Plan and Operation Zarb-e-Azb and, the Prime Minister noted with satisfaction. The Prime Minister said that the federal government will facilitate the provincial governments by effective coordination and intelligence sharing through the federal agencies. The gains in the National Action Plan and operation Zarb-e-Azb and progress achieved so far will be consolidated through well coordinated and concerted efforts at the federal and provincial levels with the backing of the national resolve, the Prime Minister reiterated.
We will make Pakistan secure for every ethnicity and religion; the country has embarked upon a right track and we will enable every citizen to reap the benefits of a secure, stable and prosperous Pakistan, the Prime Minister stated.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Finance Mr. Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Interior Ch. Nisar Ali Khan, National Security Advisor Lt Gen (R) Nasser Khan Janjua, DG ISI Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, DG IB Mr. Aftab Sultan and other senior government officials.

Noose tightened around terrorists, says army chief

579ed525ef74c.jpgCHITRAL: Youth can play a key role in the fight against terrorism and in efforts to bring prosperity to the country, Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif said in a speech at the closing ceremony of the Shandur festival on Sunday.

“The noose has been tightened around terrorists and their facilitators and the day is not far off when the country will become a haven of peace, prosperity and progress,” he said.

Gen Raheel gave away trophies, awards and prizes to the wining and runner-up teams and players.

“The Shandur festival not only attracts domestic and foreign tourists but also gives a loud message to terrorists that we cannot be intimidated into shunning our traditions,” the army chief said.

He reaffirmed the military’s determination to eliminate terrorism and expressed confidence that the country would soon become an icon of peace and progress.

He assured the people of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan that the army would spare no effort in relief and rehabilitation work in the event of natural disasters.

Gen Raheel said since programmes like Shandur festival attracted tourists, they were a boon to the region’s economy.

CHITRAL LIFT TROPHY: In the final played between teams from Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Chitral won 11 goals to five.

By the first half, GB were leading 5-3. But in the second half Chitral turned the tables by scoring eight goals and defending stoutly to thwart all attempts at their goal.

Shahzada Sikandar, the Chitral captain, was the leading scorer with three goals. Nasrullah, from the same side, was adjudged man of the match.

During the interval, supporters of the two teams danced to a tune featuring a flute and trumpets.

A contingent of the Army’s Special Services Group exhibited a free fall jump from a height of 18,000 feet.

Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafizur Rahman presented a cloak to the army chief. Colonel Nizamuddin, Commandant of the Chitral Scouts, presented him a souvenir.

Among others present on the occasion were Chitral Nazim Maghfirat Shah, Shahzada Iftikharuddin, a member of the National Assembly, and several members of local bodies.

A large number of polo fans from Chitral and GB thronged the venue and the vast spaces around the ground were packed to capacity.

Hashim Khan, a retired polo player, said although he had been visiting the Shandur festival since its inception in 1982, he could not recall a better turnout than at Sunday’s event.

He attributed the overwhelming response to an improvement in the road network during the Musharraf era and a lapse of four years since the last event.

Our Gilgit correspondent adds: Besides polo matches, contests were held in paragliding, jumping, horse dance and tug of war.

Programmes featuring local music and folk dance were the hallmark of the three-day festival.

The Shandur festival is held every year from July 7 to 9 on the world’s highest polo ground — 12,000 feet above sea level.

This year the festival was not held on the usual dates because of Eidul Fitr.

‘Most IS men in Afghanistan are TTP fighters’

isis.jpgWASHINGTON: Almost 70 per cent of the fighters of the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Afghanistan are Pakistani Taliban who joined IS after having been forced out of their country, says a top US commander.

Gen John W. Nicholson, who commands the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, also said that although the United States had been fighting in Afghanistan for 15 years, a dozen terrorist groups were still operating in the country.

“In the case of Islamic State Khorasan province, the majority of the members are from the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” said the general while briefing Washington-based journalists at the Pentagon earlier this week. Many of these terrorists were forced out of Pakistan by the Zarb-i-Azb military operation, he added.

Gen Nicholson said that many IS fighters in Nangarhar province came from Pakistan’s Orakzai tribal agency. “And they were former members of the TTP, complete with their leadership, who wholesale joined Islamic State, pledged bayt (allegiance) to Islamic State and joined them earlier this year,” he said, adding that 70pc, roughly, of those fighters were from the banned TTP and many of them were Pakhtuns from Orakzai.

Gen Nicholson said the IS, also known by Arabic acronym Daesh, militants were exporting their radical ideology from their bases in Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan and other countries in the region.

“Daesh is only one of nine US-designated terrorist organisations here in Afghanistan,” he said. “Additionally, there are three other violent extremist organisations.”

Alarmed by the increasing influence of these militant groups, the United States recently resumed its air strikes in Afghanistan. The Air Force Times reported on Friday that since last month there had been a dramatic increase in the US air strikes on militant targets in Afghanistan.

“Strikes against Afghan targets hit a 2016 high this month, specifically between July 19 and 25, when more than 70 munitions were employed,” Lt Col Chris Karns, spokesman for the US Air Forces Central Command, told the newspaper. F-16s, MQ-9s and B-52s conducted most of the operations.

“These groups are the principal focus of our counterterrorism mission,” Gen Nicholson said, adding that besides Daesh and the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan were also operating. Some fighters from both groups have now migrated over to join Daesh.

Gen Nicholson said Daesh was involved in last Saturday’s attack in Kabul that left more than 80 civilians dead.

He said Daesh controlled around 10 districts in Nangarhar province in December last year. But since January, when President Barack Obama authorised US forces to participate in counterterrorism attacks, the group has been forced to retreat from some of the areas.

Gen Nicholson said the increasing influence of Daesh in Afghanistan had also led to clashes between them and the Afghan Taliban, contributing to Daesh’s retreat from some areas. “So, now since January, their area has shrunk to…parts of three or four districts in southern Nangarhar.”

He said the US forces were now working with Afghan security forces to reclaim significant portions of the territory that was previously controlled by Daesh. Many Daesh commanders and soldiers were killed in these joint operations and their key infrastructure capabilities and logistical nodes were destroyed, he added.

“Daesh fighters are retreating south into the mountains of southern Nangarhar. We will continue to stay after Daesh until they are defeated here in Afghanistan,” Gen Nicholson said.

He explained that this “critical fight” was part of a larger global strategy against the IS and coincided with ongoing operations in Iraq and Syria. He said there were an estimated 3,000 IS fighters in Afghanistan in January, many of them members of other terrorist groups that changed allegiance.

13 PIA employees held on charge of heroin smuggling

LAHORE: At least 13 employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have been arrested in connection with a failed bid of smuggling 6kg of heroin to Dubai from Lahore.

“Some PIA emplaoyees have been taken into custody in connection with the heroin smuggling to Dubai. If found guilty, strict action will be taken against them,” PIA spokesman Daniyal Gilani told Dawn on Sunday.

A PIA flight was to leave for Dubai on Saturday from the Allama Iqbal International Airport when the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) received information that a huge quantity of heroin was being smuggled through the flight.

ANF personnel searched the plane and recovered 6kg of heroin (worth over Rs60 million) from its toilet.

Official sources said the ANF suspected that such a huge quantity of heroin could not be concealed in the plane without the connivance of a number of employees.

“A joint team of PIA Vigilance, ANF and Customs has taken at least 13 employees of the national flag carrier into custody on suspicion of being part of a gang involved in the heroin smuggling. More PIA employees are also likely to be arrested soon in the light of the investigation,” an official told Dawn.

He said that one of the suspected passengers was also offloaded from the flight before it was allowed to leave for its destination three hours behind scheduled departure.

The authorities concerned are alarmed at the incident and may introduce some special measures to stop this heinous trend. Recently, similar incidents were also reported from Isamabad and Karachi airports.

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of cases in which PIA employees have been caught smuggling different items, including drugs, cigarettes, mobile phones, illegal passports and laundered money. In some cases, the PIA employees were caught at Pakistani airports while in some others they were intercepted and arrested in European countries.

The PIA has declared a zero-tolerance policy in such cases and fired those employees who were found involved in such crimes in the past.

Two doctors from Punjab suspected of having Congo fever cleared, discharged

KARACHI: The provincial health authorities announced on Sunday that the two suspected Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) patients, who were under treatment at a private hospital, had been discharged after their laboratory reports came back negative.

The two patients, both doctors at a hospital in Punjab, had come to Karachi for treatment with their senior colleague, a surgeon who was tested positive for Congo virus and died a day earlier.

“Both doctors, Dr Owais and Dr Alam, were tested negative and have been discharged from the Aga Khan University Hospital,” said focal person of the provincial health department Dr Syed Zafar Mehdi, while rejecting reports that there was one CCHF positive patient at the AKUH. No further details on their cases were available, he added.

The three doctors worked at the Bahawal Victoria Hospital (BVH) in Bahawalpur district and operated on a female student nurse, a CCHF positive case.

The young woman, Ms Nadia, hailing from Lodhran, died during treatment over two weeks ago at the BVH, while Dr Sagheer Sameejah, Dr Owais and Dr Alam were suspected of having contracted the Congo virus and were referred to the AKUH.

Two patients died of Congo virus in Karachi last year while four persons suffering from the same disease recovered.

Meanwhile, the health secretary is due to chair a meeting on Monday on infection control with focus on Congo preparedness. The meeting will be attended by officials including medical superintendents of all government hospitals.

Contact with infected patients

Raising concern over these cases, health experts have called upon the government to make infection control protocols a mandatory part of healthcare settings. They also urged the concerned authorities to carry out investigations into these cases and medically examine all those who recently came into contact with the CCHF positive patients.

Infection control measures at health settings, they said, had assumed greater significance in today’s age and time. These protocols are important not only for the sake of preventing infection transmission but also for minimising the chances of hospital acquired infections, and tackling the challenge of antibiotic resistance.

“Little information is available as to how the female student nurse contracted the disease. Her family members should be carefully examined for the CCHF infection,” said Dr Altaf Ahmed, executive member of the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan.

The people who travelled with the CCHF positive patient, he said, should also be examined.

The tick-borne virus of the CCHF, he pointed out, was primarily transmitted to people from ticks and livestock animals, while human-to-human transmission could also occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of the infected person.

“Small droplets containing infectious virus particles are generated by coughing and sneezing, and can be transmitted if the patient is not wearing a mask or something that could prevent the spread of germs,” he said.

According to him, the government should legislate on infection control, establish infection control departments at all healthcare facilities, approve a certified course on infection control, and provide the staff with required training.

Chief executive officer Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre and consultant physician on infectious diseases, Dr Faisal Sultan, however, believes that institutional commitment and continued training is more important than mere legislation.

“We have often seen that legislations don’t materialise into actions on the ground. Infection control, I think, is everybody’s job,” he said, adding that putting in place infection control standard precautions in healthcare was doable.

The subject of infection control at health facilities, he said, was the responsibility of the Punjab Healthcare Commission, which was operational.