Saturday, July 25, 2009

Security developments in Pakistan, July 25

ISLAMABAD - Security forces killed 13 militants in clashes in the northwestern Swat valley and the nearby Buner district in the past 24 hours, the military said in a statement on Saturday. Independent verification of casualty figures is unavailable.

* LAKKI MARWAT - A suspected suicide attack wounded five policemen and eight civilians in the northwestern town of Lakki Marwat, police official Habibullah said.

LOWER DIR - Security forces killed 16 militants in Lower Dir on Friday, paramilitary officials said of the northwestern district where troops have been battling insurgents for nearly three months.

QUETTA - Security agencies killed a suspected terrorist and arrested seven, including an Arab national, during a raid on a house in the southwestern Quetta city on Saturday, intelligence officials said. Suicide jackets, arms and explosives were also seized.

MIRANSHAH - Two Pakistani helicopter gunships on Saturday fired at a suspected house near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan border, killing a woman and wounding three, witnesses said.

MIRANSHAH - Pakistani Taliban shot dead an Afghan refugee in a village south of Miranshah, accusing him of being a U.S. spy and dumped his body on a roadside with a threat -- anyone spying for the United States will meet a similar fate, witnesses and intelligence officials said on Saturday.

KOHAT - Seven policemen were wounded while trying to defuse an improvised explosive device planted on a roadside along the Indus Highway in the northwestern region of Kohat on Saturday, security officials said.

Asfandyar to meet Nawaz on NWFP renaming

ISLAMABAD: Central President of Awami National Party (ANP) Asfandyar Wali Khan is likely to meet PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif within next few days in a bid to get his support as well as to create consensus for changing the name of NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa.

According to sources, as there is a consensus among majority of the members of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms on the issue of renaming the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa, therefore, the ANP has decided to get the support of the PML-N, and Asfandyar Wali will soon meet Nawaz Sharif in this regard.

The meeting is expected on the return of Mian Nawaz Sharif from London next week. Presently, the PPP, MQM, JUI-F, JWP, NP and BNP-A are in favour of renaming the province as Pakhtunkhwa while the PML-N, Jamaat-e-Islami and PML-Q are opposing it.

The ANP is set to raise the issue in the upcoming meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms that is scheduled for Tuesday (July 28). The ANP wanted that its demand should be incorporated in the constitutional amendments, the sources said. The sources said the ANP wished that once it got the support of the PML-N, the name of the province would be changed with consensus rather than majority.

TB outbreak in camps – a new source of worry

Around 340 new cases of Tuberculosis have been detected amongst those displaced from the war-affected areas. This has become a source of worry for TB control authorities as their centers in Malakand closed down when the military operation began in the area. As a result, treatment of the existing TB patients was stopped and the contagious disease spread rapidly among other IDPs.

While talking to DawnNews, Deputy Manager National TB Control Program Dr Ubaid said besides the normal patients of TB, cases of Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR TB) rose at an alarming rate.

More than 300,000 new cases of TB were detected in 2008 in Pakistan, among which 15,000 were those of MDR-TB.

He asserted that TB is a curable disease and the health department and its subsidiaries are working to eradicate the menace. Among the total cases detected, 944 were those who had already been infected before coming to the camps. An additional number of 340 patients became infected after their arrival at relief camps.

This statistics were revealed at a seminar organized by the NWFP TB Control Program in Peshawar.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Ubaid said previous cases of TB have been retrieved and the patients are back on medication, meanwhile new cases that have been diagnosed have also started their treatment.

Apart from pediatric medicines, TB authorities have ensured that anti-TB medicines are also available at all camps, he added.

‘Uninterrupted treatment is the fundamental requirement of successful treatment of TB,’ he said. ‘Any interruption or delay could lead to serious complications.’

More than 23,000 patients have been treated under the NWFP TB control Program this year; however, 17,000 people are still deprived of treatment.

Pakistan ranks eighth among the countries with the highest burden of tuberculosis in the world and is responsible for 5.1 per cent of the total national disease burden.