Archive for the ‘Social Services’ Category

9 Tourists killed in Pakistan

Published on June 24, 2013 by Akashma Online News

Militants kill 9 foreign tourists, 1 Pakistani

Associated PressBy ZARAR KHAN and SEBASTIAN ABBOT | Associated Press – 18 hrs ago

Associated Press/Anjum Naveed – Pakistani rescue workers unload the casket of a foreign tourist who was killed by Islamic militants from an ambulance to shift in a morgue of local hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, June 23, 2013. Islamic militants wearing police uniforms shot to death foreign tourists and at least one Pakistani before dawn as they were visiting one of the world’s highest mountains in a remote area of northern Pakistan that has been largely peaceful, officials said. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — At least a dozen Islamic militants wearing police uniforms shot to death nine foreign tourists and one Pakistani before dawn Sunday as they were visiting one of the world’s highest mountains in a remote area of northern Pakistan that has been largely peaceful, officials said.

The foreigners who were killed included five Ukrainians, three Chinese and one Russian, said Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. One Chinese tourist was wounded in the attack and was rescued, he said.

The local branch of the Taliban took responsibility for the killings, saying it was to avenge the death of a leader killed in a recent U.S. drone strike.

The shooting was one of the worst attacks on foreigners in Pakistan in recent years and is likely to damage the country’s already struggling tourism industry. Pakistan’s mountainous north — considered until now relatively safe — is one of the main attractions in a country beset with insurgency and other political instability.

The attack took place at the base camp of Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world at 8,126 meters (26,660 feet). Nanga Parbat is notoriously difficult to climb and is known as the “killer mountain” because of numerous mountaineering deaths in the past. It’s unclear if the tourists were planning to climb the mountain or were just visiting the base camp, which is located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan.

The gunmen were wearing uniforms used by the Gilgit Scouts, a paramilitary police force that patrols the area, said the interior minister. The attackers abducted two local guides to find their way to the remote base camp. One of the guides was killed in the shooting, and the other has been detained and is being questioned, said Khan.

“The purpose of this attack was to give a message to the world that Pakistan is unsafe for travel,” said the interior minister in a speech in the National Assembly, which passed a resolution condemning the incident. “The government will take all measures to ensure the safety of foreign tourists.”

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their Jundul Hafsa group carried out the shooting as retaliation for the death of the Taliban’s deputy leader, Waliur Rehman, in a U.S. drone attack on May 29.

“By killing foreigners, we wanted to give a message to the world to play their role in bringing an end to the drone attacks,” Ahsan told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

At least a dozen gunmen were involved in the attack, local police officer Jahangir Khan said.

The attackers beat up the Pakistanis who were accompanying the tourists, took their money and tied them up, said a senior local government official. They checked the identities of the Pakistanis and shot to death one of them, possibly because he was a minority Shiite Muslim, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

Although Gilgit-Baltistan is a relatively peaceful area, it has experienced attacks by radical Sunni Muslims on Shiites in recent years.

The attackers took the money and passports from the foreigners and then gunned them down, said the official. It’s unclear how the Chinese tourist who was rescued managed to avoid being killed. The base camp has basic wooden huts, but most tourists choose to sleep in their own tents.

Local police chief Barkat Ali said they first learned of the attack when one of the local guides called the police station around 1 a.m. on Sunday. The military airlifted the bodies to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, Sunday afternoon.

“We hope Pakistani authorities will do their best to find the culprits of this crime,” the Ukrainian ambassador to Pakistan, Volodymyr Lakomov, told reporters outside the hospital where the bodies were taken.

The Pakistani government condemned the “brutal act of terrorism” in a statement sent to reporters.

“Those who have committed this heinous crime seem to be attempting to disrupt the growing relations of Pakistan with China and other friendly countries,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.

Pakistan has very close ties with neighboring China and is sensitive to any issue that could harm the relationship. Pakistani officials have reached out to representatives from China and Ukraine to convey their sympathies, the Foreign Ministry said.

Many foreign tourists stay away from Pakistan because of the perceived danger of visiting a country that is home to a large number of Islamic militant groups, such as the Taliban and al-Qaida, which mostly reside in the northwest near the Afghan border. A relatively small number of intrepid foreigners visit Gilgit-Baltistan during the summer to marvel at the peaks of the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, including K2, the second highest mountain in the world.

Syed Mehdi Shah, the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, condemned the attack and expressed fear that it would seriously damage the region’s tourism industry.

“A lot of tourists come to this area in the summer, and our local people work to earn money from these people,” said Shah. “This will not only affect our area, but will adversely affect all of Pakistan.”

The area has been cordoned off by police and paramilitary soldiers, and a military helicopter was searching the area, said Shah.

“God willing we will find the perpetrators of this tragic incident,” said Shah.

The government suspended the chief secretary and top police chief in Gilgit-Baltistan following the attack and ordered an inquiry into the incident, said Khan, the interior minister.

American Perspective

Posted on September 18, 2012 by Akashma Online News

by Todd Shea

A little perspective for my fellow Americans to consider regarding the impressions they are fed by the media, and the facts and realities which are constantly withheld in what I call “the lies of omission”:
Since this story about the anti-Islam film made the World headlines, I have been in Karachi, Pakistan all week for many meetings related to my Humanitarian mission in Pakistan. Karachi is a metropolis of over 20 million people, one of the largest cities on the planet.

There are perhaps a couple thousand or less who have engaged in any violence related to the film. I have been running around all over Karachi (even in the so-called “dangerous” areas) and literally thousands of people have seen me walking around in public areas, sitting in the car at traffic lights, going for a bite to eat with friends, walking into office buildings for meetings, going to gas stations or convenience stores, feeding stray cats, playing music for kids and buying small flocks of birds from street vendors and setting them free which creates a feeling of joy for everyone within the vicinity, even if they do look at me like I’m a bit nutty.

But NO ONE has been rude or angry towards me. I haven’t changed anything about my routine and have zero security. I even happened upon a couple of the peaceful demonstrations against the film yesterday.

Not a single person has come up to me and threatened me or even so much as given me a dirty look. People greet me, smile and wave back to me and treat me with the genuine kindness and respect that any Human Being would want to be treated with.

I love Karachi. It’s a great city with great people. New York has bad and misguided people, LA and Miami and Chicago have them too, and so does Karachi. But all of these cities share so much in common because they have mostly decent ordinary people who do their best to get through each day surviving and taking care of there families.

No doubt it’s a lot tougher for most Pakistanis to take care of their families than it is for your average American, but I can assure you that if you visited Karachi, you would also find this city to be a vibrant and fascinating place with beautiful gardens, shopping malls, bustling urban commerce, and amazing waterfront eateries and a major port and transit hub for Asia and the Middle East.

There are places here that are absolutely wonderful and Americans have no idea about them because the Western media doesn’t ever tell us about them- they would rather suck up your hard earned Dollars selling hate and peddling fear to exaggerate and exploit every situation that will continue justifying unnecessary wars and destruction they eagerly cover for the gluttonous financial gain of a few powerful individuals and corporations and those who make bullets and bombs) by portraying Pakistanis and Muslims with articles about subjects such as “Muslim Rage” than to show you the overwhelming majority of the 19,998,000 Human Beings in Karachi, Pakistan who are almost universally outraged by the film but are NOT protesting violently and tearing up their own city. And based on my experience, I’m convinced it’s pretty much the same situation everywhere else in the Muslim World, otherwise it would be a much worse situation than just a relative few incidents perpetrated by a small number of violent idiots when compared to the 1.5 billion Muslims living on Planet Earth.

So rest assured, Karachi is still here- it has its big city troubles but it’s not on fire, and it will still be here tomorrow and the day after and the day after and the day after that until the fateful day that we all collectively self destruct with some kind of advanced weaponry or God finally gets tired of watching too many of us using up our energies destroying our planet and hating each other and making millions of children suffer and letting thousands die of preventable disease, hunger and poverty every day and decides to pull the plug on us all, having failed the big test.


American Musician Todd Shea has developed a reputation for being the ‘go-to guy for relief’, an accolade that has come with his unique dedication for helping out with disasters around the world from places like Sri Lanka and India to Japan and Pakistan. His life and work make for a great narrative as he traipses all over Pakistan with medicines and music to bring not only physical relief, but emotional and psychological too.

Todd Shea, an American who came to volunteer in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake, a disaster that killed 80,000 people. In 2000, Shea established a charity hospital in Kashmir called CDRS, or Comprehensive Disaster Relief Services, which provides quality healthcare services to the people in the remote and earthquake-affected areas in northwest Pakistan. And now, it has expanded to more areas of Pakistan.

Todd Shea is the Chief Operating Officer of SHINE Humanity, a US-registered nonprofit that specializes in disaster relief and long-term sustainable healthcare initiatives in developing countries. He began life as a vocalist, songwriter and guitarist. He was in
New York City on September 11th, 2001 to perform at a world famous live music establishment, CBGB’s Gallery. Instead, he ended up working at the site of the fallen World Trade Center for almost a week, assisting first responders by delivering anything
they needed to keep them going, from ice to contact lens wash and medications. Realizing that he had an ability for acquiring and coordinating needed items efficiently in a chaotic and disastrous situation, Todd put his music career on an indefinite hiatus to
work in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami, and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In October 2005, Todd was compelled to go to Pakistan immediately after the earthquake as a logistics coordinator for a Pakistan-American medical response team. After seeing the magnitude of the need and having fallen in love with Pakistan and its people during the emergency response phase, Todd founded Comprehensive Disaster Response Services (CDRS) in the Spring of 2006 and serves as its Executive Director. Todd currently works and resides in Islamabad, providing primary care and an Innovative Community- Based Healthcare Empowerment Project to different rural and disaster striken areas of Pakistan who would otherwise be without adequate healthcare services.

In April 2009, SHINE Humanity was registered in USA and Todd joined as the COO. Todd and SHINE Humanity deployed in Haiti in January 2010 and are working in Pakistan to provide relief aid to victims of the floods through mobile medical units, livelihood initiatives, and food and non-food assistance. The agency hopes to transition into longterm rehabilitation programs focussed on mother/child care in the areas served.

%d bloggers like this: