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The truth behind Pakistan’s homemade cable car system



A harrowing incident involving eight people, including children, left them stranded in a cable car precariously suspended above a ravine in Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

For many, the footage of the chair lift hanging 274 meters (900 feet) above the ground is the stuff of nightmares. However, makeshift cable cars are a common sight in eastern Mansehra and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, extending to Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan in the north.

In regions lacking infrastructure and with vast distances between essential amenities like schools, these cable cars, often hastily assembled with scrap metal, are born out of necessity. Local communities, driven by the absence of alternatives and the cost-effectiveness, build them – often illegally.

Improvised cable cars

These improvised contraptions take various forms. Some are crafted from the upper portion of a pickup truck, with vehicles like Suzukis converted into large cabins for transporting people and livestock. Ropes connect them to the cable, which may also consist of scrap iron.

While undeniably perilous, these cable cars serve a crucial purpose. They are used to traverse rivers and reduce travel time between valleys in mountainous terrain. In Allai, the region where the recent incident occurred, there is no road infrastructure or basic facilities.

Consequently, a local resident received permission from the city administration to construct the cable car, as confirmed by the police to BBC News. Locals refer to it as “Dolly,” connecting the village of Jangri to Batangi, where the local school is situated.

This cable car drastically cuts travel time. What would ordinarily entail a two-hour walk can now be accomplished in just four minutes by using the cable car.

Significant costs

Beyond convenience, affordability is a key factor contributing to the popularity of the Allai cable car. It is significantly cheaper than road travel, with fares starting as low as 20 PKR (£0.053; $0.067), varying according to the distance covered.

According to local resident Mohabbat Shah, people are willing to take the risk with these cable cars. As long as there have been no issues with a particular cable car before, it remains a viable transportation option for people navigating the region. He explained that a one-way trip costs only 10 rupees per person, while booking a cab for the same journey could cost up to 2000 rupees (£18.91; $24.09).

While this particular cable car has not faced any challenges to date, others across Pakistan have experienced accidents. In 2017, an illegal cable car crashed in Murree, Punjab, resulting in the tragic deaths of 11 passengers as it plunged into a ravine. Last December, local media reported a rope snapping incident in Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where 12 children had to be rescued while en route to school, leaving them stranded 61 meters over a river.

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COP28: Global effort to phase out fossil fuels



World leaders at COP28 have intensified their commitment to combat climate change by embarking on a bold initiative to phase out fossil fuels.

The United Nations climate talks, held in a virtual format due to ongoing pandemic concerns, saw representatives from nearly 200 countries coming together to address the urgent need for action on the climate crisis.

The decision to focus on ending fossil fuel use marks a significant departure from previous climate negotiations.

Countries have traditionally grappled with setting emissions reduction targets, but this year’s conference places a strong emphasis on the need to transition away from the reliance on coal, oil, and natural gas. Experts argue that this shift is critical to limiting global temperature rise and avoiding the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Key highlights of the COP28 agreement include setting ambitious deadlines for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, promoting renewable energy sources, and encouraging the development of green technologies.

The conference also established a fund to support developing nations in their transition away from fossil fuels, recognizing that these countries often face the greatest challenges in achieving sustainability.

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Russian police raid Moscow gay clubs



Russian authorities conducted raids on several gay clubs in Moscow, according to reports from various media outlets.

The raids have sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ+ community and have raised concerns about the ongoing crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia.

Eyewitnesses and clubgoers describe a heavy police presence during the raids, with officers reportedly detaining patrons and staff members.

The reasons behind these raids remain unclear, but they have ignited a fierce debate on social media and within human rights organizations.

International LGBTQ+ rights advocates are calling on the Russian government to address these actions and protect the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ individuals in the country.

The raids have also drawn attention to Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda” law, which has been criticized for its potential to fuel discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people.

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UK delays Jeff Zucker’s Telegraph deal for inquiry



The UK government has decided to put a hold on the proposed acquisition of The Telegraph newspaper by media mogul Jeff Zucker’s conglomerate.

According to a recent report, this decision has been made in order to conduct further investigations into potential regulatory concerns surrounding the deal.

The move comes amidst growing concerns over media consolidation and its impact on media diversity and competition.

The government aims to ensure that the acquisition would not result in a concentration of media power that could potentially stifle independent journalism and diverse voices in the industry.

This decision has sparked debates about the balance between media ownership and the preservation of media plurality in the UK. Supporters of the deal argue that it could lead to much-needed investments in The Telegraph, while critics worry about the potential for Zucker’s conglomerate to wield too much influence over the media landscape.

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