ISLAMABAD, July 27 (Reuters) – A grisly murder in the heart of Islamabad involving families from the privileged elite of Pakistani society has dominated headlines for the past week, stirring national outrage over femicides in the South Asian nation. Noor Mukadam, 27, the daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, was found beheaded in a posh neighborhood of the capital on July 20. Police have charged Zahir Jaffer, a U.S. national and scion of one of Pakistan’s wealthiest families, with murder. Investigators say the two were…Continue Reading “Grisly murder of diplomat’s daughter sparks outrage over femicides in Pakistan”

ISLAMABAD, July 16 (Reuters) – Once a week Ghulam Ahmed, 38, takes time out from his cryptocurrency consulting business to log into a WhatsApp group with hundreds of members eager to learn how to mine and trade cryptocurrency in Pakistan. From housewives looking to earn a side income to wealthy investors wanting to buy cryptomining hardware, many barely understand traditional stock markets but all are eager to cash in. “When I open the session for questions, there’s a flood of messages, and I spend hours…Continue Reading “Pakistan moves to bring cryptocurrency boom out of the dark”

ISLAMABAD, July 15 (Reuters) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets regional leaders for talks in Uzbekistan on Thursday as deteriorating security in his country raises fears of a new Afghan refugee crisis with neighbouring Pakistan already ruling out taking any more. Several million Afghans have been displaced within their country over years of war, 270,000 of them in fighting since January as U.S.-led foreign forces have been withdrawing, according to the U.N. refugee agency. With Taliban insurgents apparently intent on defeating Ghani’s Western-backed government, Afghanistan’s…Continue Reading “Afghan neighbours wary of new refugee crisis as violence surges”

ISLAMABAD, June 28 (Reuters) – Pakistani expatriate workers, desperate to obtain a Pfizer/BioNTech (PFE.N), (22UAy.DE) or AstraZeneca (AZN.L) COVID shot so they can travel to work in Saudi Arabia, stormed a vaccination centre in Islamabad on Monday, witnesses said. Saudi Arabia, which bars direct travel from Pakistan, has only approved the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna (MRNA.O) and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Anyone arriving without one of those shots is required to quarantine at a cost many Pakistani workers say they cannot afford. Pakistan has relied extensively…Continue Reading “Desperate expatriate workers storm Islamabad vaccination centre”

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Protesters calling for an end to enforced disappearances in Pakistan’s Balochistan province ended a week long sit-in in the capital on Monday, after an assurance that Prime Minister Imran Khan will meet them next month. Balochistan, where separatist militants have waged an insurgency against the state that has grown in profile as ally China develops mining there, has long been plagued by enforced disappearances. Families say men are picked up by the security forces, disappear often for years, and are sometimes found…Continue Reading “Baloch protesters end sit-in after Pakistani prime minister’s pledge to meet them”

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Alongside the usual snacks arranged on a tray balanced on one hand, Momin Khan sells face masks to passengers at a crowded bus stand in Islamabad. Most choose the snacks instead of paying six cents for a mask, he says. “It’s mostly rich people buying the masks, the poor people say we don’t have the money anyway and we will do without them,” he told Reuters. Nearby, dozens of passengers crowd into a minivan, only a handful wearing masks, as the driver…Continue Reading “Relatively spared by the coronavirus, Pakistanis drop their guard”

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – The creator of an animated film on blasphemy in Pakistan is hoping it will prompt discussion on tolerance at a time that rights advocates say hate speech on social media is increasingly triggering violence. The short film “Swipe” is about a boy obsessed with a hypothetical smartphone app that allows people to vote on whether someone should be killed for blasphemy and offers a glimpse of a stark future of what rights groups say is a worrisome present. “The screen is what…Continue Reading “Pakistani film explores social media’s role in anger over blasphemy”

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Helping to lead a mass trial for a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan, a country where anti-vax sentiment can turn lethal and conspiracy theories are endemic, Dr. Mohsin Ali has heard all kind of questions from anxious, prospective volunteers. “Is this going to take away my reproductive ability? Is this going to kill me? Is there any 5G chip in this? And, is there a conspiracy to control people en masse?” he said, recounting the sometimes bizarre doubts clouding people’s minds. “I…Continue Reading “Pakistan’s COVID vaccine drive needs antidote to conspiracy theories”

GAHKUCH, Pakistan (Reuters) – As night falls on a remote mountain road in northern Pakistan, Ijaz ul Haq, 22, is keeping his grocery store open longer than usual, hoping to cash in on a frenzied electoral campaign that has brought the nation’s interest upon this otherwise neglected region. Political parties are trying to sway voters in Gilgit-Baltistan, an impoverished, remote and rugged mountainous part of the larger Kashmir region that is also claimed by India. The country’s top politicians have turned up here to stump,…Continue Reading “As disputed Pakistan region votes, locals want share of Chinese investment boom”

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Militants have stepped up attacks on security forces in northwest Pakistan raising fears of a revival of their insurgency and a return of lawlessness as brighter prospects for peace in Afghanistan herald shifting Islamist alliances. The ethnic Pashtun border region was for years a haven for militants who fled the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. But the Pakistani military cleared out the strongholds in a 2014 offensive, driving most of the fighters into Afghanistan. But since March, al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban,…Continue Reading “Attacks surge in northwest Pakistan as Afghan peace effort brings shifting sands”