News Archive


Relief operations continue in quake zone

MANSEHRA: The central relief coordinator of Al Khidmat and former Karachi city Nazim Naimatullah Khan Advocate said that Jaamat-i-Islami would not leave the quake survivors alone and the relief activities by Al Khidmat Foundation would continue till the normalization of situation.He was talking to quake survivors in the villages of Dehari and Thor of district Batgram. 

Naimatullah said that Jaamat Islami to build 10,000 shelter homes and construction of these shelters underway in the affected areas. The locals informed him that Al Khidmat Foundation had distributed C.I. sheets among the quake victims for construction of shelter homes.

Snowfall, rains forecast in quake zone today

ISLAMABAD: The Meteorological Department has predicted rains and snowfall in quake-hit areas on Saturday. Land sliding may create obstacles in relief activities. The affected areas included Muzaffarabad, Rawla Kot, Bagh , Neelum Valley, Balakot, Manshera, Batgram, Kaghan, Naran and adjacent areas. The Met department predicted light showers in the isolated places of Balochistan, Frontier , Punjab, Western Sindh and Kashmir and snowfall in mountainous areas within 24 hours. Thick fog also forecast in these areas. 

Quake to badly hit balance of payments

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan has identified four major areas of the national economy, which would be badly affected by the earthquake-related flows into the country.

These sectors include trade and services account, income account, current transfers and capital and financial account, the central bank said in its first quarter (July-Sept) report released on Friday.

Analysing the overall effect of the devastating Oct 8 earthquake on the balance of payments of the country, the central bank said quake-related imports would have a bad impact on the trade and services account.

The import of medicines, fuel, tents, tarpaulin, blankets, construction machinery and material is expected to rise in the wake of the ongoing relief and future rehabilitation operations.

This, according to the central bank, would have an adverse effect on the services account due to the rise in freight charges.

The SBP said the (foreign) inflows would continue for a number of years, adding the income account would also witness higher net interest payments on external debt once the loans so far pledged by the international community were realised.

The resident foreign currency accounts are also expected to see higher inflows as direct aid flows to the NGOs are likely to be deposited in that account. Official transfers are also expected to rise with the inflow of committed cash grants.

Project grants and non-food aid, however, did not have a material adverse impact on debt sustainability indicators, the State Bank said.

Medical superintendents rule out pilferage of donations for quake victims

RAWALPINDI: Administrations of the three teaching hospitals have maintained a foolproof record of donations and relief goods reaching them for October 8 quake survivors, leaving no room for pilferage, all the three medical superintendents claimed while talking to ‘The News’ here Friday.

For the treatment of quake victims the three hospitals including Rawalpindi General Hospital, Holy Family Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital (Civil Hospital) have utilised nearly 50.5 per cent of resources from the budget allocated to them by the government in routine while around 49.5 per cent from donations, ‘The News’ has learnt.

In the wake of the massive earthquake, the hospitals received huge donations by Pakistani and foreign individuals, local welfare associations and non-governmental national and international organisations. The medical superintendents strongly rejected the doubts among public that administrations at all levels were involved in any pilferage.

Medical Superintendent at Holy Family Hospital Dr. Mohammad Husain Baloch told ‘The News’ Friday that he had formed a special team under supervision of Professor of Medicine at Rawalpindi Medical College Dr. Mohammad Umar to manage a proper record of donations with necessary check and balance.

"We have not left even zero per cent chance of pilferage. Two deputy medical superintendents at Holy Family Hospital stores are members of the team that strictly monitor donated medicines, equipment (medical instruments including external and internal fixators) and food items. We keep the whole record of donations updated and computerised," Dr. Baloch said. He said that he had already sent the detailed list of donated items to Principal RMC/ Allied Hospitals Professor Dr. Mohammad Mussadiq Khan.

Medical Superintendent at Rawalpindi General Hospital Dr. Habib Ahmed Khan said that though his staff was highly committed, even then he made special arrangements for keeping donations’ record completely transparent. "I myself looked into the whole process of computerisation of donated items," he said.

He said that Additional Medical Superintendents (AMS) at RGH Dr. Shahzad Rehan and Dr. Khalid Randhawa supervised the donations made in the form of monetary funding while AMS Dr. Fauzia monitored the donations in the form of daily use commodities for victims made by national and international organisations and individuals. "AMS Dr. Shahid Butt is monitoring the equipment donations while pharmacist Nadia Choudhary with a strict check and balance system is monitoring the donations, we have been receiving in the form of medicines," he said.

Responding to a query, Dr. Habib said that they have sent one list of donations received by them at RGH to principal office almost a month back and updating the list as well, "as we are still receiving donations," he said.

Medical Superintendent at District Headquarters Hospital Dr. Khalid Iqbal Malik said that pilferage would only be possible if they have not opted computerised system of receiving donations. "We enter every thing, received as a donation, into a computerised list soon after we receive it. I myself is supervising the whole operation along with a special team," he said.

Responding to a query, he said that his hospital had already sent a list of received donations to principal office while still updating another list in case of any new donation. "We have already brought into the principal’s notice that how much resources we have utilised from allocated budget and how much from donations for the treatment of quake survivors," he said.

Volunteers briefed on basic techniques to help mentally disturbed quake victims

RAWALPINDI: Experts, psychiatrists delivered lectures to volunteers Friday on the first day of a two-day training workshop on mental health and psychosocial relief for October 8 quake survivors at the Institute of Psychiatry & World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at Rawalpindi General Hospital here.

Head of the Institute of Psychiatry Professor Dr. Fareed Aslam Minhas inaugurating the workshop stressed the need for services from psychiatrists, psychologists and trained psycho-sociologists at this crucial hour, in the post disaster era. He tried to make volunteers aware of various basic techniques involved in treating and handling earthquake survivors who have been suffering from various mental disorders at different levels.

Nearly 20 volunteers attended the training workshop. All these volunteers belonging to different colleges and universities have already been working in the worst hit remote areas of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) and Hazara Division. Most of them have already been engaged helping professionals mostly from medical field in Kotli, AJK during rescue and rehabilitation process.

Mental Health Officer at WHO Dr. Khalid Saeed through his lecture highlighted a number of modern but basic techniques that are being used these days for psychosocial first aid to population after a disaster in the world.

The experts briefed the volunteers on various mental disorders like stress related disorders, acute stress reactions, anxiety, adjustment and panic disorders, the most commonly mental sufferings developed in maximum number of diagnosed psychiatric victims so far. Dr. Fareed Minhas, Dr. Khalid Saeed, Dr. Munir Slatch and Dr. Asad Tameezuddin are facilitating the workshop.

Dr. Minhas told ‘The News’ Friday that they are training the participants for working specifically in the remote and worst hit areas where most of the population have been suffering with mental illness. "October 8 quake, as I have already said time and again, not only involves health sector but also affects people from various other key sectors of life like education and social welfare. Mental health relief efforts should be given high attention at both the national and international levels," he said.

"We are severely lacking psychiatrists in Pakistan and in such circumstances, training to volunteers on the subject would help professionals treating thousands of victims suffering from mental disorders," Dr. Minhas said.

Meeting reviews provision of healthcare facilities in quake-hit

PESHAWAR: Ordering for establishment of efficient linkages among EDOs of the quake-affected districts of the province and health directorate for quick transmission of information, the NWFP Minister for Health, Inayatullah has warned that EDOs failing to communicate required data to the department in time would be dealt properly.

He issued these directives while presiding over a high level meeting convened to review provision of health services and efforts taken for rehabilitation of the damaged health infrastructure in the quake-hit areas in the Committee Room of Health Secretariat Peshawar Friday. Provincial secretary for heath, DG health services, EDOs of the concerned districts and representatives of WHO, UNICEF, Save the Children Fund, UNFPA and GTZ participated the meeting.

The meeting was informed that health services were being provided regularly in the affected areas while immunisation and sanitation were being given proper attention to avert outbreak of epidemic in the area. It was further disclosed that not only sites were identified for restoration of health facilities in these areas but list of priorities was also prepared in this regard. The meeting was briefed that WHO and UNICEF would jointly construct 40 prefabricated hospitals in the affected districts of the province, while some other donor agencies had also pledged to restore the health facilities in the earthquake-hit areas.

The meeting was also informed that Save the Children would distribute tents, blankets and household kits among 124 lady health workers in tehsil Allai district Battagram whose houses had been damaged due to earthquake.

PBF plans to help establish school in quake-affected area

KARACHI: The Pakistan Bridge Federations (PBF), with the collaboration of The Citizens Foundation (TCF), plans to set up a school in the Northern Areas of the country, devastated by the October 8 earthquake.

Rehana Saigol, President, PBF, during an exclusive interview with ‘The News’ on Friday, revealed the federation, which has announced to hold an Individual Pairs Tournament in aid of the earthquake victims here at the Karachi Gymkhana on January 4, has the plans to help build a school in the affected areas.

"The PBF members are of the opinion that we should be coming up with something of a lasting contribution for the earthquake victims. And we’ve come to the conclusion that building a school there would help the area people in some way. Ideally we would like to have a secondary school but we may even settle with a primary school at this stage if adequate funds are not raised in near future," she disclosed.

"We haven’t set any target for the January 4 event but we hope to raise a decent amount. Similarly we look forward to receiving a substantial donation through the fund-raiser being organised by the World Bridge Federation (WBF) later in January," Rehana said.

She acknowledged the support of the legendary Zia Mahmood in motivating the bridge community to contribute generously to the noble cause. Zia, currently in Karachi, has volunteered to play with or against all the players who register in the Individual Pairs event at the Karachi Gymkhana on Wednesday. Although the entry fee would be Rs. 500 per person, the participants will be urged to donate generously to PBF Earthquake Relief Fund.

When enquired about the costs for developing a school in Northern Areas, Rehana said something around rupees five million was needed for setting up a primary school.

"We’ll continue holding fund raisers for the earthquake victims even after the January events of the PBF and the WBF. We are aware of the fact that a huge amount of fund is needed for the rehabilitation of the people in the affected areas. So we’ve planned to hold events for generating funds through the coming year (2006)," she added. "As soon as the funds are with us, we would approach the TCF which is a professionally managed, not-for-profit organisation, having the desired infrastructure to build and operate schools," she stated.

Established in August 1995, the TCF was set up by a group of citizens, concerned by the dismal state of education in Pakistan. The TCF runs its network of well-managed, purpose-built schools in urban slums and rural areas across Pakistan and serves all persons and communities on a completely non-discriminatory basis.

The TCF’s mission is to promote mass-scale quality education at the primary and secondary levels in an environment that encourages intellectual, moral and spiritual growth.

TCF is currently headed by Lt Gen Syed Pervez Shahid, who has had an outstanding record in academics as well as in extra-curricular activities, ever since his stay as a student at Cadet College Petaro.