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Tales of survivors: ‘Isolation, not coronavirus, was my worst nightmare’

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GILGIT:

I’ve lived my worst nightmare. It wasn’t the coronavirus, but the prolonged treatment [read: observation] in isolation that made it a hellish experience. Imagine being confined to a tiny room with no social interaction whatsoever for almost a month. Doctors and nurses were the only visitors, who, too, would check on me once or twice a day.

If you’re sick, you need your loved-ones around you. The sense of having someone who cares about you gives you strength to fight illness. Conversely, social isolation makes you more vulnerable to sickness. Your immune system doesn’t respond properly in isolation and it takes you longer to heal.

In my case, it wasn’t me alone; my wife also shared the isolation ordeal at Mohammadabad Hospital, in Danyore, Gilgit-Baltistan. Interestingly, she didn’t have any symptoms, but tested positive for the virus. We both were in the isolation ward, while our five kids were at home – alone and worried.

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The ordeal started after a trip to Iran. My wife and I went in a group of 22 pilgrims to visit the holy shrines in Iran. We mostly stayed in Qom, though our pilgrimage also took us to Mashhad, and to neighbouring Iraq.

Tales of survivors: ‘Never before had I seen doctors dressed up like aliens’

On Feb 22, we were preparing to return to Pakistan when we heard about the outbreak of some contagious disease in Qom. Until then, I didn’t know much about the coronavirus.

On Feb 25, we took a flight for Lahore. At Tehran airport, they didn’t allow anyone to board the flight without screening. Neither of us was sick. At Lahore airport, we were screened again. We drove to Rawalpindi where we stayed for two days. While fellow pilgrims dispersed, we took a bus for Gilgit on Feb 28 and reached our village Nomal, some 15km from Gilgit city, in the evening.

In the night I felt feverish. I took it for travel fatigue, took over-the-counter fever reducers from my neighbour and tried to sleep. It didn’t help. I started having chills.

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Next morning, I called up the District Headquarters Hospital Gilgit and told medics about my travel and fever. A team of doctors immediately came to see me and my wife. We were then driven to the DHQ hospital in an ambulance. They took samples to test us for the novel coronavirus, while we were shifted to the Civil Hospital Basin. The samples were sent to National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad for PCR test because the facility wasn’t available in Gilgit-Baltistan. I lost my appetite but I tried to force-feed myself so that I could gather some energy to fight off my illness. After a couple of days, our test reports were received from NIH: both of us were positive for COVID-19.

After the diagnosis, they shifted us to the Mohammadabad Hospital, where we were to stay for the next 25 days. Interestingly, by now my fever was gone, while I had no cough, no muscle soreness, no sore throat, and no shortness of breath. My appetite returned to normal [I started eating more than I normally do]. My wife remained asymptomatic throughout all this time.

Tales of survivors: How I became Pakistan’s first COVID-19 patient

I’m a 51-year-old ex-serviceman and my wife is 45. I had heard that the coronavirus could be fatal for people of my age and older. Doctors sought to reassure me. But honestly, I wasn’t scared one bit. It is part of our faith that every living being has to die one day. I knew if I was destined to die, I’d die no matter what. But if my time is not up, this virus can never kill me.

We were tested several times during our 25-day nightmarish sojourn. We had no symptoms, but would still test positive. I’ve heard that my wife’s reports were mixed up with another patient’s at the NIH.

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Luckily, the PCR testing facility was made available in Gilgit in the meantime and we were tested locally for the first time. The results were negative and a repeat test a day later confirmed the virus was out of our bodies. It was a huge relief.

We were discharged from the hospital on March 28, but doctors said we should avoid socialising for 14 days. We’ve rented a house in Gilgit city to spend these two weeks here. It’s been five days now and we are counting the days till we are completely in the clear.

My advice to the sick: Don’t dread this virus. Keep your faith in God and power up your will, Inshallah you will defeat it. To everyone else, I say take all precautions possible. If not out of concern for the virus, then think of the ordeal isolation can create.

 (Narrated to Naveed Hussain)





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Pakistan

Imran’s right of defence struck out in defamation case

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ISLAMABAD:

Additional District Judge Lahore Chaudhry Muhammad Asif struck out the right of defence of former prime minister since concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff were not submitted on Thursday.

“This court has been left with no option except to strike out the right of defence of the defendant (Imran Khan) in this case due to non-submission of requisite replies by the defendant regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff. So, the right of defence of the defendant is hereby struck out in this case accordingly,” the order stated.

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The court asked the plaintiff to submit a list of witnesses on November 29.

It has been learned that the court has so far conducted 78 hearings of the case.

The order stated that the counsel for the defendant submitted an application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant was going to file a revised petition against the order of the court regarding the dismissal of concerned objections of the defendant.

Also read: ‘No objections’ to Imran’s helicopter landing at Parade Ground: GHQ

“From the perusal of record, it reveals that various reasonable opportunities have been provided to defendant to submit the requisite replies to concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff but the defendant has not done the needful,” it stated.

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“Vide previous order dated 17.11.2022, one more opportunity was granted to the defendant in this regard with the clarification that in case of submission of requisite replies from the defendant’s side regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff on the next date, the right of defence of the defendant shall be struck out. No lawful justification exits for the grant of further adjournment,” it added.

The court rejected the adjournment plea of Imran’s counsel.

According to details, the defamation suit states that Imran started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

Also read: President Alvi in Lahore to consult Imran over COAS appointment

​​​It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant widely circulated by media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety. The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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In his written statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him to stop pursuing the Panama Papers case.

Imran says that he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.





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Pakistan to send armed helicopter unit to UN peacekeeping mission

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UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan and Bangladesh will each be sending an armed helicopter unit to the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, which faces serious problems as several countries have withdrawn or announced plans to pull out their personnel, a UN spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said that India will supply a utility helicopter unit to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, and all three are expected to be deployed by March next year.

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“These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” the spokesman told reporters at the regular noon briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The UN continues to discuss with member states the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements” of withdrawals, he said.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA has 17,622 personnel helping the Malian government combat terrorists operating in the country.

MINUSMA is one of the deadliest operations having claimed the lives of 292 peacekeepers.

France completed its withdrawal earlier this year and it was followed by Egypt in August.

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Germany said that it was withdrawing its personnel, who numbered 595 in the latest UN roster, from MINUSMA by May next year.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Britain is also pulling out its 249 personnel.

Ivory Coast also said that it would discontinue the participation of its personnel, who numbered 898, in MINUSMA when the current deployment ends because of a separate dispute with the Mali government over the arrest of its soldiers who went there on a mission unconnected to the UN.

Despite the dangerous nature of the Minusma, Pakistani military doctors serving in Mopti, a town in the fifth administrative region of Mali. have continued to serve, earning praise for their work. They operate a state-of-the-art hospital staffed with 75 medical personnel, including 10 women and 65 men, according to the UN.

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The hospital operates 24 hours a day, every day, and they are always on alert. All specialities are covered, from pharmacy to gynaecology. However, its main purpose is to perform life-saving and urgent surgery when peacekeepers are injured, it was pointed out.





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Imran urges ‘all Pakistanis to participate’ in PTI long march

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Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistanis to participate in his party’s much-hyped long march on Saturday (Nov26) in what appears to be his final showdown with the incumbent government to force it to announce early election date.

“Dear Pakistanis, I want all of you to participate in our haqeeqi long march in Pindi at 1pm on Saturday,” he said in a short video statement.

Imran, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in April, said that only a nation which has justice in it will get real freedom. “When there is justice, there are rights. When there are rights, a nation is free. Only an independent nation is prosperous,” he went on to say.

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Read more: Interior ministry warns PTI of threats, urges postponing Pindi march

The former premier said that the nation will not stay silent until it gets real freedom. “I am coming for you despite my [health] condition and all of you need to come to Pindi for me,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Asad Umar presided over a meeting regarding the party’s preparation for the long march in Rawalpindi. Senior PTI leadership including Umar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, Ali Nawaz and others participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the overall preparations for the long march in Rawalpindi. The security plan, long march route and other significant matters came under discussion during the meeting.

The meeting was briefed that a caravan had left from Karachi for Rawalpindi whereas two others were ready to begin their journey to the garrison city from Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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A briefing was also given in the meeting regarding the accommodation of the participants.

Issues regarding the provision of all basic needs including food and accommodation to the participants of the march were also discussed in the meeting.

“The nation is fully united and eager to achieve real freedom,” Umar said, adding that the party would welcome caravans from all over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

“The captain [Imran Khan] will lead the ocean of people in Rawalpindi on November 26,” he further said.





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