Saturday, May 23, 2020

97 dead, only two survive PIA plane crash

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

According to the final plane crash figures provided by the Sindh health department late on May 22, only two persons survived and the remaining 97 were confirmed to have died.

Sajjad Gul was the pilot of the plane while Usman Azam was the first officer. Farid Ahmed Chaudhary, Abdul Qayyum Ashraf, Malik Irfan Rafiq, Madeeha Erum, Amna Irfan and Asma Shahzadi were the other members of the crew on board. 

There were a total of 99 people on board the unfortunate PIA flight which crashed into houses near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. The only two survivors were Zafar Masud and Muhammad Zubair. 

The department officials revealed that 66 bodies were brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) while the remaining 31 were taken to the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK). Only 19 of the 97 bodies could be identified. 

The media coordinators of the department continued updating the information of casualties since late afternoon until releasing the final tally late at night.

Meanwhile the Additional IG Karachi has nominated Junaid Ahmed, SSP, Korangi, as the central focal person for DNA collection and matching while DSP Rustam Nawaz and DSP Aftab Alam have been appointed as the focal person at the CHK and the JPMC respectively.

Coronavirus Update: Sindh reports 959 more cases

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Amid fear of renewed rising trend in the wake of relaxation in lockdown, the COVID-19 new infection rate in Sindh remained almost stationary last week as the provincial health department on May 22 confirmed another 959 infections across the province besides four related deaths. 

According to official data, the province’s new infection rate dipped to 16.13% after two consecutive days above 18.50%.

Sindh’s new daily infection rate during the last week (May 16 to 22) on average was recorded 16.59%, while the overall provincial COVID-19 infection rate was recorded at 13.88%, against the country’s 11.36% since February 26 when the lethal epidemic was confirmed for the first time in the country. 

In the meantime, the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his interaction with media on May 22, said that Sindh and the country were passing through a very critical phase of the coronavirus pandemic, which demanded utmost care and preventive measures like social distancing and observing Eid-ul-Fitr with simplicity. 

According to Sindh health department daily COVID-19 summary, four patients, including a woman, died in Karachi, taking the provincial tally of COVID-19 deaths to 340. The deceased persons aged from 56 to 78. 

Karachi also reported 827 new cases during the last 24 hours ending at 8 am on May 22, followed by Ghotki (45), Sukkur (14), Thatta (13), Shikarpur (10), Hyderabad (7), Jamshoro (6), Kambar Shadadkot (5), Shaheed Benazirabad (3), Khairpur (3), Larkana (3), Sanghar (2), Kashmore (2) while Badin, Sujawal, Dadu, Matiari and Umerkot reported one case each. 

Meanwhile, 149,566 samples were tested by various laboratories across the province, out of which 20,883 were detected COVID-19 infected. About 75% of the cases were found in people above 50 years.

International Day for Biological Diversity: our solutions are in nature

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“Never before since the adoption of this day in year 2000 by United Nations it was more relevant than today, since the day falls amidst the deadly disaster of COVID-19 has brought to human being to make us realize the focus on bio-diversity.”

This was stated by Senator Nisar Memon, a former federal minister, in his message on the International Day for Biological Diversity being observed on May 22. 

“The theme for 2020 ‘Our solutions are in nature’ is very appropriate given the fact that we are battling pandemic. It says it all. If we had recognized the importance of biological diversity, we would perhaps have avoided the loss of thousands of lives and jamming of global order,” he recognized. 

“It is hoped post pandemic, we shall emerge victorious by going closer to nature, adopt our lives in line with natural processes and coexist with other living beings. After all, the planet belongs to all and we must co-habit giving back the space of others we have occupied,” the former federal minister for Information & Broadcasting thought. 

“We have lost a lot and must reflect how we will repair, reorient and reconstruct our lives to build a future of life in harmony with nature. As the ecosystem affects our health, water, food and life we must rethink how we shall live in harmony with nature. The United Nations estimate that around 25% of all animals and plants species are threatened with extinction globally. Therefore, we must create awareness and build momentum to protect life in this planet,” he asserted. 

“The countries observe a week identifying various segments for the needed action but we in Pakistan are preoccupied in day to day issues without realizing our indifference will cost us lives and quality of life in future. The governments in centre and provinces could have launched e-visits to zoos, parks, forests, aquariums, museums and libraries to bring citizens specially youth closer to nature, animals, plants, ecosystems which are pieces of the biodiversity jigsaw. With that we would have united the people and also taken them away from the sufferings of pandemic apart from most needed disengagement from current low-level politics,” he pointed out. 

“If leadership in Islamabad had realized that all efforts on bio-diversity would mean healthy living conditions, richer varieties of food, clean drinking water for our people and way to achieve seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) they would have been seen busy highlighting it. They should know SDG-2 is Zero Hunger, SDG-3 Good Health and Well-being, SDG-10 Reducing Inequalities, and SDG-12 Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG-13 Climate Actions, SDG-14 Life below Water, and SDG-15 Life on Land,” he added. 

“All knowledge-based societies have programmes. Can our leadership stand up and tell the nation where they stand on this count of governance?” he questioned.

US stocks could soon be reaching for highs all over again

By Syed Sajid Aziz in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The analysts at the Citigroup have reckoned that the US stock markets will deliver among the steepest recoveries in their history over the next year and returning to levels from before March's coronavirus lockdowns more than twice as fast as after the 2008 financial crisis. 

It has been forecast by the bank that the S&P 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average index would stand at 3,160 points and 28,400 points respectively in June 2021, up about 7 per cent and 15.5 per cent from current levels. 

The forecast is being considered among the most bullish among US market forecasters, many of whom are forecasting next to no gains for the next 12 months. 

The Citigroup's forecast would see the two indexes recoup 81 per cent and 90 per cent of the losses they suffered from February's record peaks in 465 days. The equivalent recovery after the 2008 crash took the S&P 500 1,107 days and the Dow 1,288 days. 

The optimistic targets reflected expectations for improved economic performance next year and in 2022.

"Embedded in the forecast is an expectation for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments that lift many of the hindrances to 'back to normal' practices that still are in place currently. While some industries could face permanent long-term damage, the Great Pause will reverse itself as time progresses," analyst Tobias Levkovich noted.

Trump orders reopening houses of worship

By Syed Sajid Aziz in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The US President, Donald Trump, has ordered the states to allow churches to re-open from stay-at-home restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus outbreak, vowing override any governor who refused.

"The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now. If they don't do it I will override the governors. Churches would be declared essential services under CDC guidelines,” President Trump said in a statement while talking to reporters at the White House. 

It, however, remained unclear if the US President had the power to override state orders to close churches or limit the size of services. 

He has shown increasing exasperation with state social distancing regulations that have collapsed the US economy, as he desired Americans to return to normal economic and social life. 

The recommendations for restarting activities by religious organizations weren't part of the CDC suggestions for opening workplaces, schools and restaurants released over the weekend, though they had been included in a draft first reported by the Associated Press. 

The communication had given detailed suggestions for social distancing, hygienic practices and symptom-checking that were in many cases tailored to the organization and its activities.

World leaders condole tragic plane crash in Karachi

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Many international leaders took to social media to express their shock and grief as the news of the plane crash in Karachi on May 22 spread like wildfire. 

The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, offered condolences, saying that Canadians were keeping Pakistanis in their thoughts. 

“The news from Pakistan this morning is devastating. To the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the crash of PK 8303, and to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, our hearts go out to you. Canadians are keeping you in our thoughts today,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle. 

The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, also expressed his condolences over the tragic incident, tweeting: “Deeply saddened by the loss of life due to a plane crash in Pakistan. Our condolences to the families of the deceased, and wishing speedy recovery to those injured.” 

The Afghanistan President, Ashraf Ghani, tweeted: “My heart goes out to the families of victims who lost their lives in the PIA plane crash in Karachi. I offer my sincere commiserations to the people and the government of Pakistan. Afghans stand with you in this moment of grief.” 

The Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, in his message, extended condolences to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and the country's people over passenger plane crash which killed dozens on board and ground. He also expressed solidarity with the families of the victims.

PIA plane crashes in Karachi's residential area

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane which was coming from Lahore crashed in Karachi on May 22 with 98 people on board which included seven crew members. 

Flight PK 8303 went down at Jinnah Garden in Model Colony, a residential area in the vicinity of the Jinnah International Airport as the Airbus A-320 plane, carrying 91 passengers and seven crew members, was approaching the runway. 

According to the initial report released by the Sindh health department, 66 people were confirmed to have died as a result of the tragic incident while the list shared by the airlines mentioned that there were 51 men, 31 women and nine children aboard the aircraft. 

The airline officials stated that the pilot had reported technical issues while the witnesses said that the aircraft, flying from Lahore, attempted to land two or three times before hitting a mobile tower and crashing into houses of the densely populated residential area near the airport. 

The Bank of Punjab (BOP), Chief Executive, Zafar Masud, was among the lucky passengers to have survived the crash. He was taken to a nearby hospital for a first-aid from where he was moved to another hospital where his condition was declared stable by the doctors. Later he was visited by the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah. 

The other fortunate survivor Muhammad Zubair was also found in a stable condition as he appeared in a television interview, narrating the tales of horror of the passengers of the ill-fated plane.

China grieved over PIA plane crash

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

China declared on May 22 to be standing by Pakistan side in the time of Sadness following passenger plane crashed in Karachi. 

“We have learned with heavy heart that a PIA plane crashed close to Karachi Airport,” the Chinese embassy at Islamabad said in a statement. 

“Our hearts go out to all families who lost their loved one today,” the statement added. 

Meanwhile, both electronic and print media in China highlighted the plane crash news with heavy heart.

There were conflicting reports about the plane crash that had left Lahore for Karachi. The plane was schedule to land around 1430 hours at the Jinnah International Airport where it crashed just a minute before landing. 

The initial reports suggested that the crash took place because of the alleged failure of functioning of landing gear as well as being hit by birds to both of aircraft engines.

Aviation ministry to probe PIA plane crash

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The deeply saddened Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Air Marshal Arshad Malik, announced that the ministry of aviation would oversee the inquiry into the PIA plane crash on May 22.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi, where the national carrier's afternoon flight, coming from Lahore, crashed just before landing at the Jinnah International Airport, emphatically declared that the aircraft was technically sound. 

"The aviation ministry will oversee an inquiry into the incident. We want the inquiry report to be completed as soon as possible but we cannot say when. We do not wish to interfere with the inquiry in any way. We will need two to three days to complete the operation," he said, adding that his team stood with the government of Pakistan, the armed forces, and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). 

The PIA chief confirmed that 99 people, including passengers and air crew, were aboard the flight and he had reports of 19 dead in Civil Hospital and 22 in other hospitals at the time of the press conference. 

He revealed that the pilot had established a final landing approach and the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) control room gave him a green signal to go ahead.

"The pilot then did a go-around saying he’s preparing for a second approach. Now what was the reason for the go-around? Please do not have any suspicions or doubts. Nothing can be said till the black box is retrieved," he stated. 

"Something happened there and there can only be ambiguities until we receive the voice and data recorders. I say this with responsibility that when it is received, we'll know whether there was a technical fault, some other issues, some outside activity or bird hit,” the Air Marshal added. 

"When the plane lowered down, the ATC asked the pilot if there was an issue and the pilot responds, 'Yes, I am facing a problem,' after which the communication gets cut off,” he revealed. 

The PIA helmsman declared that the families of the victims were welcome to come and stay at the airport hotels which had been vacated. “All affected persons are going to be accommodated in airport hotels and other government facilities in Qasr-e-Naz," he said. 

"The plane crash-landed in a street; there was damage to the nearby houses but thankfully no building collapsed," he noted.

Nisar Memon urges going back to basics

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“When a person, nation or humanity is beset with problem; the commonly tried and tested approach is to go to the root cause of the problem to understand, analyze and find solution to fix it. This is what is done in knowledge based organized societies with strong but firm, selfless but truthful, visionary but practical leadership,” Senator Nisar Memon, a former federal minister, remarked in his latest newspaper article.

“We have all witnessed the handling of coronavirus (COVID-19) by Islamabad leadership. The pandemic in Pakistan is rooted through the import of it by our own nationals coming from USA and Iran initially. If Islamabad had analyzed it in time, we would have saved many a lives lost already and saved thousands from its painful contact and millions from the short term and long term mental agony, physical inconvenience and economic hardship,” he opined. 

“The capability and capacity in Islamabad for cool rational thinking without bias is now an open secret. It has been recorded by media, including all pervasive social media, that the leadership viewed COVID-19only with one lens and that of politics,” he added. 

“The rest followed and explains the lack of Islamabad cooperation with provinces sans Punjab province which appears to have direct rule of Islamabad, not through the Governor Rule as provided in Article 232/234 of the constitution of Pakistan but by informal arrangement. The results are very visible,” the former Minister pointed out.

“A closer look at our history indicates, if we had paid attention to identifying the root cause of issues as they came along we would not have questions like: why our public health and education not responsive to need of the hour, why our economy is based on alms, why our governance is weak, why despite strong bureaucracy we are unable to provide services to common man from Karakoram to Keti Bander, why we have conflicts between institutions and subsequent interference, why we have indigenously developed strategic weapons but yet for research on water, food and energy we are dependent on outside the country, why we hire consultants for even telling us what our vision should be, why we are producing leaders which sooner or later we renounce and show them the door. The list of why, why goes on,” he continued. 

“This is because: our value system has and is eroding; our education system is not based on science and technology; institutions have and are decaying; our parliament is not what was envisaged; we have laws but enforcement is nonexistent, compromised or selective; our judiciary is unable to provide speedy justice to common man; perpetually there is a ruling class and a ruled one; our society has visible conflict of interest at the highest offices and people violating constitution are not taken to task,” Senator Nisar Memon explained. 

“We all know, the value system starts from home and built up by schooling therefore the fundamental right to education must be enforced and the education system aligned with our value systems and science to meet the needs of the time. We need well placed government priorities replacing old colonial systems. The political reforms should begin with political parties followed by electoral reforms to get high quality competent representative elected to assemblies,” he suggested.