Find out what’s happening in Pakistan with 7 news updates
1. Murree tragedy: Opposition demands resignation from Prime Minister and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar
On Monday, the opposition urged the formation of a judicial committee to determine who was responsible for the Murree snowstorm catastrophe, which claimed 23 lives on Jan 8 and asked for Prime Minister Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to resign.
Shehbaz Sharif, the leader of the PML-N, slammed the administration as he blamed them for insufficient precautions to deal with visitors in Murree, and was backed by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on this stance. Since the Pakistan Meteorological Department issued a weather warning, Sharif believed that the local authority should have taken all necessary precautions to deal with any emergency. Fawad Chaudhry responded that Sharif should not have made politics out of tragedy and pointed out that besides Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, no other political party was involved in the rescue and relief efforts carried out by other departments.
2. After President Alvi, Shireen Mazari tests positive for Covid-19
On Jan 10, Shireen Mazari, the Federal Minister for Human Rights, quarantined herself after she tested positive for Covid-19, amid fear of a fifth wave of the pandemic fueled by the highly contagious Omicron form.
President Arif Alvi was tested positive for Covid-19 for the second time last week, he states on his Twitter account, “I’ve had a sore throat for about 4-5 days and it’s getting better.” President Alvi claims that he experienced a minor fever for a few hours, two nights before he tested positive. He also advised citizens to exercise precautions and adhere to established SOPs.
On Jan 9, Pakistan reported a positivity rate of 3.16%, highest during the Omicron wave, with Karachi reaching a new high of 15%. In Mirpur and Lahore, the situation began to deteriorate, with the positive ratios reaching 7.6% and 5.3%, respectively, which added to over 1,500 infections recorded in the country, the most since Oct 2, 2021.
3. In a bid to save Rs8 billion, PIA to reduce its personnel to 220 employees per aircraft
On Jan 10, a Pakistan International Airlines representative stated that airline intends to reduce the number of staff per aircraft in order to save up to Rs 8 billion as part of ongoing reforms, the national flag carrier has reduced the number to 220 employees per flight this year.
According to PIA CEO, Air Marshal Arshad Malik, the reduction in personnel numbers will save up for the the airline annually, without jeopardizing efficiency or quality. This action, according to the spokesperson, will bring the airline up to international aviation requirements as they got rid of of false degree holders and terminated employees on disciplinary grounds.
4. The Green Line BRT is now functional in Karachi and will operate for 15 hours a day
The much-anticipated federally subsidized mass transit project, the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), finally went live in Karachi on Jan 10 and will continue to function for 15 hours a day.
Citizens travelling between Surjani Town and Numaish Chowrangi will now have access to a new and more pleasant mode of transportation. Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the project on December 10, 2021, and the service began limited operations for citizens on Dec 25, 2021.
The bus project used to run for four hours a day during trial operations, but now that commercial operations have begun, the service will function for 15 hours a day. The maximum one-way ticket is Rs55, and the lowest one-way fare is Rs15.
5. Karachiites ‘might’ face load-shedding as K-Electric spokesperson reports lack of gas supply
Following minimal gas supply problems, Karachi residents might also face power load shedding as K-Electric announced on Jan 10 that it is experiencing a gas supply constraint from Sui Southern Gas Company.
According to a statement made by a K-Electric official, the SSGC is now supplying only 35 MMCFD gas, causing considerable difficulties. He informed that requisite amount of gas was not returned so temporary load control will be implemented in Karachi now, citing gas pressure concerns at several power plants as an negative factor for power generation capacity.
6. Islamabad to use Electronic Voting Machines for its LG elections, says Shibli Faraz
Senator Shibli Faraz, the Federal Minister for Science and Technology, announced on Jan 10 that the local government elections in Islamabad would be held using electronic voting machines as directed by Pakistan’s Election Commission.
According to the minister, Faraz would have a set of EVMs delivered to the Election Commission by next week for testing purposes so that it can train its personnel and communicate its findings. Faraz stated: “The legislation relating to EVMs has been completed, and we are now in the implementation phase.” The ECP has communicated its Faraz’s requirements, including the number of EVMs required for the local government elections in Islamabad. According to the law, local government elections in Islamabad will be take place in April 2022.
Why it matters:
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s objective, according to the minister, is to hold uncontested, accurate, and transparent elections in the country, and EVM technology would meet all of these conditions.
7. PPP to hold ‘tractor trolley’ march on Jan 21 to show its support for Pakistan’s farmer community
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has called for a tractor trolley march on Jan 21 to show support for farmers. Syed Hassan Murtaza, Secretary General of the Punjab People’s Party, made the statement at a press conference on Jan 10.
Murtuza stated that PPP would not submit to any government restrictions or bans. Farmers in an agriculture country, he claims, are in peril, and PPP’s leadership will not abandon them. He further went on that if farmers took to the street, it could reduce government’s chances of survival. Murtuza warned that he will force the government to comprehend farmers’ difficulties, “Every country helps its farmers, but Pakistan is the only one where the government exploits them.”
While extending an invite for the march to PML-N as well, Murtaza shamed the government for supporting the sugar, wheat, fertiliser, education, and health mafias which resulted in inflation. He claims that the government’s financers made Rs5 billion via corruption in all of these areas.