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Hajj scam: Absconding building supervisor arrested in Saudi Arabia, FIA tells SC

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 10:02

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday submitted a report to the Supreme Court stating that Ahmed Faiz, an accused in the Hajj scam, had been apprehended by Saudi Authorities last week.

The Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sohail Mahmood submitted the FIA report to the court on Tuesday which is hearing a suo motu case into the 2010 Hajj scam.

The three judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja is scheduled to hear of the case on Wednesday.

A senior official in FIA confided to The Express Tribune that the report was submitted on Tuesday. The report states that Faiz, a building supervisor, who was hiding in Saudi Arabia, had been arrested. However, Saudi Authorities had yet to formally inform the Pakistani government in writing about an extradition timeline.

When the court last heard the case on December 6, 2013, it had directed the FIA to repatriate the accused.

According to the FIA report submitted to the court, the agency had published a notice in Urdu-language newspapers in Saudi Arabia through the ministry of religious affairs for tracing Faiz. A reward of Rs1 million was also offered to the person who would provide information leading to Faiz’s arrest.

Learning about the proceedings, Fiaz is believed to have gone into hiding and was planning to move to either Taif or Riyadh.

“An incident about the dramatic interception and escape was reported by Intelligence Bureau (IB). On the night of June 23, 2014, while Ahmad Faiz was trying to shift his residence to some other place, a group four people (two Pakistanis and two Saudis) intercepted his vehicle and picked him forcibly and moved to an unknown location”, the FIA report added.

The report further adds that the four men were interested in earning the reward money offered by the government of Pakistan or to obtain ransom from his family.

“Muhammad Waqar, who is a son-in-law of the accused, wanted to settle scores with his father-in-law besides earning the reward money. However, Faiz’s sons of managed to trace the location of abductors. They along with 20-25 Pakistanis attacked the hiding place and recovered Faiz.”

Hajj group organisers had overcharged Hajis

Meanwhile, the FIA report submitted to the SC also presented findings of an inquiry it had conducted.

The report said they discovered that of the 631 Hajj Group Organisations (HGO), 33 HGOs had charged Rs5,000 extra from each Haji under the pretense of Hajj compensation fund, guarantee or security etc.

“The total number of Hujjaj pertaining to these 33 HGOs comes to 4,480 and the amount involved is Rs2.24 million. So far, out of the 33 HGOs, nine HGOs have returned the extra-charges to the pilgrims and have submitted their affidavits in this regard.”

The report said the FIA had written to the ministry of religious affairs urging it to take action against the remaining HGOs, which were reluctant to return the extra charges.

In response to the FIA letter, the ministry of religious affairs had on March 31 constituted a Complaint Disposal Committee (CDC) to discuss the issue of 33 HGOs, it added.

Meanwhile, the ministry of religious affairs has said the CDC has imposed a fine on the HGOs for not paying back the amount to the pilgrims.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Transition: Decorated war hero passes away

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 01:03

LAHORE: Pakistan Air Force’s retired air vice marshal Muhammad Younas, who was awarded Tamgha-e-Basalat after 1965 war, passed away on Monday leaving behind two sons and a daughter.

He was suffering from Parkinson’s disease for the past many years. He was buried at Cavalry ground grave yard.

Muhammad Younas was born in July 24, 1933 in Gordaspur, India and received early education in Jhang.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Rizwan Younas said that his father joined the air force as a sepoy and rose up to the rank of an officer.

Muhammad Younus went to the Royal Air Force Academy in Cranwell and was the first Pakistani pilot to shoot down an Indian spyplane in Rawalpindi on April 10, 1959. He was air officer commanding of Northern Air Command in 1985 during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

ASF release passenger arrested on suspicion of terrorism in Lahore

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 01:01

LAHORE: A passenger was arrested on suspicion of terrorism from a private flight at Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore but was released after initial investigation.

Airport Security management received a call on Monday warning them that a suspect flying in from Muscat would land at the airport Tuesday morning and could possibly blow up the aircraft after landing, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Following this, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) asked Airport Security Force (ASF) to make arrangements for the arrest of the accused, identified as Shah Dildar Khan. Upon landing, ASF cordoned off the plane and arrested the 40-year-old after identification for interrogation, an ASF official said.

Upon investigation, the security forces discovered that Dildar’s brother Shahnawaz Khan had called the airport security claiming Dildar was a terrorist and planned to blow up the plane. Dildar claimed that his family members were only doing this due to a family feud.

Express News reported that the CAA had submitted a request to file a case against Shahnawaz after the claim was proven wrong.

However, further investigation revealed that Dildar’s wife Sonya and her alleged paramour Kashif stole Shahnawaz’s phone and used it to tip-off the airport security personnel.

After the investigations, Dildar was handed over to local police and was later released after being proven innocent.

Flight operations

The flight schedule was briefly interrupted as the other 300 passengers on-board were evacuated for their safety. Flight operations at the airport were later resumed as scheduled.

Airports throughout the country were put on high-alert after a brazen attack on Karachi airport took place on June 8. Thirty seven people, including 10 militants and 12 ASF personnel, were killed after an all-night battle at the airport’s old terminal. This was the first large-scale terrorist attack on the country’s largest airport in years.

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Medical help for IDPs: Federal hospitals asked to mobilise resources

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 00:37


State Minister Usman Ibrahim has directed the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), Polyclinic and National Institute of Rehabilitation and Medicine administrations to mobilise all available resources to extend medical help to internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Ibrahim, who was recently appointed as the minister for the Capital Administration Development Division (CADD), issued the directives at a meeting on Monday, said a press release.

The meeting was told that Pims has already dispatched two mobile hospitals comprising an operation theatre of six beds, toilets, medicines and 65 staff including doctors and nurses to Bannu. Furthermore, 15 quarters and a makeshift apartment have also been arranged for senior staff to carry out relief work.

The meeting was also informed that command and control systems have been established at CADD and Pims to monitor all relief activities. A committee has also been formed to conduct weekly audit of relief activities to  be submitted to the prime minister.

The minister lauded the Pims staffers’ performance and announced bonuses of one month’s salary for all Pims staff working in Bannu.

He also directed CADD officials to ensure a proper need assessment is carried out to provide the required items to the IDPs as soon as possible.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

No respite: Rs78b lifeline for PSO turned down

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 00:20


The chronic electricity crisis may worsen after the government refused on Monday to give a Rs78 billion lifeline to the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) needed to purchase furnace oil to maintain the current level of power generation.

The PSO management rushed to Islamabad to seek funds from the finance ministry after it could not keep up the pace of fuel supplies due to its liquidity crunch.

The company has been facing a severe liquidity crunch after independent power producers (IPPs) could not clear their bills due to a mounting circular debt which the finance ministry was reluctant to acknowledge this time. The ministry has refused to book circular debt, piling up on account of low bill recovery and line losses. It is clearing circular debt only to the extent of power subsidies.

PSO Managing Director (MD) Amjad Pervez Janjua sought the funds in a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, a petroleum ministry official said. According to him, Rs23 billion were sought to clear past liabilities and Rs55 billion to supply roughly 22,000 metric tons of oil per day to power plants in order to maintain the current power supply levels.

Instead of providing cash to open new letters of credit (LoCs) for purchase of fuel, Finance Minister Dar asked the water and power ministry to sit with the PSO and sort out funding issues, they said. This meeting ended inconclusively as no preparatory consultations were held beforehand, they added.

The finance minister assured the PSO management that their concerns would be addressed.

The PSO defaulted on international LoC payments in May, sustaining a negative impact to its reputation, credibility and risk profile.

According to a finance ministry handout, the PSO MD gave a presentation on the fuel supply and the company’s liquidity position. He told the finance minister that there was a considerable increase in IPPs’ furnace oil demand due to the summer season. At the same time, payments made to PSO have not kept up pace with the furnace oil demand.

The PSO MD said IPPs need to rationalise their demand and must work on long term planning to enhance their stocks. The officials said to enhance power generation, IPPs required 22,000 metric tons of furnace oil daily – they currently lift only 16,000 metric tons a day.

The finance ministry differed, however, and worked out the requirement to be 18,000 metric tons. Dar said IPPs’ fuel consumption must be realistic and correspond to their generation, the handout said.

The meeting was also unable to make a decision on allocating more gas for power generation as the petroleum ministry had no idea where to divert gas from, officials said.

Participants were told hydel plants were generating only 5,200MW this summer season, as opposed to the usual level of 6,500MW, due to lesser inflow at dams. This shortfall has prompted IPPs to demand more fuel.

Upon learning this, Dar asked the ministry concerned to coordinate with the Indus River System Authority to ensure hydel generation increased this summer.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Code of conduct: Senate panel asks govt to impose media code by 15th

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 00:00

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Monday asked the government to implement a code of conduct for the media before the July 15 and submit a compliance report at the next meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha chaired Monday’s meeting while Additional Secretary Information Chaudhry Azam told the committee that the code would be implemented after consultation with the Pakistan Broadcasting Association (PBA).

However, the chairman pointed out that no PBA representative had attended the last meeting, where former secretary information Dr. Nazir Saeed assured the committee that the code would be implemented.

Foreign content

Acting Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (PEMRA) Pervez Rathore said PEMRA issued notices and fined all channels running foreign content without approval. He said the authority will register FIRs against those continuing to air such content even after receiving a warning.

Earlier, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui told The Express Tribune that the committee had agreed on a mechanism to take action against channels violating rules on foreign content. A forum for implementation and complaints is likely to be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid added that media houses should form their own accountability mechanism, based on the ombudsman system.

Television channels

Discussing a code of conduct for TV channels, Rashid said the government has been trying to create consensus on the matter and there is a need to strengthen PEMRA for such an implementation to succeed.

He pointed out that fines were imposed by PEMRA on 23 TV channels, but only one, the Geo Group, paid the fine while others contested the decision in court, receiving stay orders against PEMRA’s decision.

Cable operators have no right to create hurdles in the smooth transmission of the signals of all satellite channels, Rashid said, and PEMRA may be asked to cancel their licences and take legal action against them if they continue to do so.

On May 9, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif constituted a committee, headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui, and assigned it the task of reviewing the existing code of conduct for print and electronic media.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.


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August 14 rally: PML-N hits out at Imran for ‘tsunami march’

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 23:56


The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday asked the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan to submit an unconditional apology to the nation for his plans of turning the Independence Day into a ‘day of violence.’

“Imran Khan should submit an apology for turning Independence Day into a day of violence by saying he will strangle policemen with his own hands,” PML-N chief coordinator Siddiqul Farooq said at a press conference.

The PTI chief had raised the stakes of his campaign against the government when he placed four key questions before the PML-N and set July 27 as the deadline for a decisive response. He warned the government of an impending ‘tsunami march’ in Islamabad on August 14 if those questions were not addressed.

While information minister Pervaiz Rashid had already responded to the questions, the PTI is adamant on launching its march.

“Khan should spend his time in streets of K-P for the welfare of the masses who had voted him into power and launch new development schemes,” Farooq said. The PML-N’s chief coordinator defended the election tribunal against the PTI’s derogatory campaign. He said tribunals decided 310 election petitions out of 410 by May 31. The PTI filed 58 petitions and 37 (21 pending) have been decided whereas PML-N’s 28 petitions were still pending out of 66.”

Farooq recalled the PTI chief’s claim during a public rally in 2013 that he will end corruption in K-P in 90 days.

“410 days have gone by and no effort has been made to eradicate corruption,” Farooq said.

Responding to a question, he said Imran Khan had used derogatory language against former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry being oblivious to the fact his petition was the basis for the court ordering the non-removal of fake votes. He added that the former CJ had taken action against the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and sent Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi behind bars for involvement in corruption.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Weighing in: Gilani accuses PML-N of ‘lacking political acumen’

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 23:52


Former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani claims that the PML-N government lacks the ‘political acumen’ to handle and run the affairs of the country. Speaking with the media at the residence of district PPP president Tariq Mehmood Bajwa, Gilani said, “It is very unfortunate that Nawaz Sharif’s government enjoys a majority in the parliament but has still failed to resolve any issues worth mentioning.”

Referring to the PPP’s tenure, the former PM added, “We did not even enjoy a majority in the parliament but still completed a five year-tenure and created a precedent in the history of Pakistan for completing a constitutional tenure.”

He said the PPP government faced challenges including the presence of General Musharraf as president, a ‘hostile judiciary’ and ‘a series of conspiracies’ led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali and Khawaja Asif.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Upcoming appointment: Ibne Abbas likely to be new envoy to UK

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 23:34

ISLAMABAD: The government is likely to appoint Syed Ibne Abbas as Pakistan’s new High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), officials said.

Abbas, who is a career diplomat, joined the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1983. He has served as Pakistan’s envoy in New Zealand.

According to official sources the government had decided to appoint Abbas as new envoy to London, a position that has been lying vacant since the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) took over in June last year.

Initially, the government wanted to appoint Kamran Shafi, a retired army official and renowned columnist, as the High Commissioner to UK. However, his name was dropped after apparent opposition from the security establishment.

Abbas was also originally named for the key diplomatic position in New Delhi. However, that decision
was reversed as the government appointed Abdul Basit as High Commissioner to India.

Sources familiar with the development said the formal announcement of Ibne Abbas’ appointment would be made following the completion of diplomatic formalities.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014. 

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Govt-opposition huddle: Members of national commissions finalised

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 23:29


Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah Monday met and agreed on the names of the National Commission on Human Rights as well as the National Commission for Minorities. However, the names were not shared with the media.

Moreover, possible candidates to fill the post of chief election commissioner (CEC) were also extensively discussed, according to officials, but the leaders revealed nothing regarding the nominees. Talking to the media after the meeting, Ishaq Dar announced that the names recommended by the opposition leader for the commissions have been accepted. However, he chose not to disclose them to the media.

The government would fill these important posts as per standard procedure, Dar reaffirmed. “Now the prime minister will send these names to the National Assembly speaker who would then constitute a four-member bicameral committee to interview and evaluate the candidates for the chairman and members of the commissions and then select suitable candidates.”

Talking about the National Commission for Minorities, Dar said that as per the configurations of commission in the Constitution, four Muslims, two Christians, two Hindus, a Parsi and a Sikh have been shortlisted and a notification will be issued once the selection process is officially complete.

But nothing regarding the possible new chief election commissioner was mentioned during the media talk, despite an extensive discussion on the matter during the meeting. Dar chose to remain silent when journalists repeatedly asked about CEC contenders. Currently, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali of the Supreme Court is acting as CEC.

Earlier, Justice (retd) Tassadduq Hussain Jillani and Justice Nasirul Mulk had served as acting CEC following the resignation Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, who had stepped down in May last year.

Under the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, the government is bound to consult the opposition over the appointment of the CEC and heads of all national commissions.

Monday’s meeting between the government and the opposition was a follow-up to a letter written by the opposition leader to the prime minister on June 25.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Wheat subsidy: Punjab dithers on targeted flour subsidy for poor

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 23:28


The Punjab government explained that it is reluctant to develop a new targeted-subsidy system aimed at the poor as it will disrupt the current subsidy regime in place, stated the province’s Food Secretary Muhammad Aslam in a report submitted to the Supreme Court.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, was hearing the suo motu case on Monday on the government’s inability to provide food at cheaper prices.

The Supreme Court had sought flour subsidies throughout the year only aimed at the poor population of Punjab, instead of a general subsidy on wheat. Any abrupt switchover from general to targeted subsidy will have serious implications vis-à-vis the poor, the food secretary maintained.

The finance department has observed that during the current year, the government has already committed a subsidy for the purchased wheat, said the report. “[Therefore,] any additional subsidy beyond the allocated amount may not be possible during the current financial year. The continuance of both the existing and the new system of targeted subsidy would not be sustainable.”

“If we launch a targeted-subsidy programme on the basis of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) data compiled in 2011-12 – which consists of around 2.9 million beneficiaries in the Punjab – and pay Rs1,000 per month to each beneficiary, a huge amount of at least Rs34.8 billion per annum will be required in addition to the administrative costs,” Aslam explained in the report.

To provide food security to the common man, the government has already purchased 374,200 metric tons of wheat from growers this year, in addition to the carry-forward stock of 133,000 metric tons, the report said.

For this purpose, the government has raised a loan of Rs205.32 billion at 12% that tentatively includes a subsidy of Rs25 billion.

Due to the distribution of subsidised wheat to flour mills, to maintain the supply of atta at a reasonable rate, the government had to bear the burden of a Rs19.252 billion subsidy till March this year.

The report also mentions that a targeted subsidy of Rs5 billion has already been earmarked for the Ramzan Package 2014 whereby 450,000 metric tons of wheat will be released at a subsidised rate to ensure the provision of cheaper atta.

“The government subsidises that brand of wheat atta, which is consumed mostly by the low-income groups. Other varieties, such as fine, super and other brands that are bought by relatively well-to-do people, are available in the open market at competitive prices. The focus of the government throughout has been to provide that brand of atta, which is consumed by the poor at relatively cheaper and stable rates.”

The Punjab government did not increase the wheat purchase price by the government to keep the price of atta low whereas in other provinces, it was increased from Rs1,200 to Rs1,250 per 40 kg, the food secretary submitted.

Nevertheless, a cabinet committee, headed by provincial law minister Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan, has been constituted to develop a system of targeted subsidy on the Supreme Court’s orders. The chief minister also chaired its meetings and assigned the task to Dr Umar Saif, the Punjab Information Technology chairman, to devise a foolproof and fair strategy, poverty mapping and modalities for the targeted subsidy programme.

The food secretary added in the report that a proposal has been submitted to the chief minister.

However, he reiterated that this is not a feasible option.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Sexual harassment act: Confusion hinders implementation of law on campus

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 19:51


At a time when students and faculty are bringing forward sexual harassment cases at public and private sector universities, misconceptions surrounding the Protection of Women against Harassment at the Workplace Act, 2010, have raised questions about its applicability on campuses.

After the introduction of the law, it was believed there would be fewer cases of harassment of students by faculty since organisations and educational institutes were bound to nominate three-member sexual harassment probe committees to investigate any reported cases.

There are about 158 universities in the country. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) issued Policy Guidelines against Sexual Harassment in Institutions of Higher Learning in 2010, to raise awareness about the issue on university campuses. The guideline is only available on the HEC website and not a single university administration has bothered to put it up on their institutions’ websites.

Nothing has been done to implement and create awareness about this law on campuses. The HEC had sent reminders to universities, to send the commission names of inquiry committee members and the cases reported or resolved, but not a single university bothered to reply.

But an incident involving a controller examinations has generated fresh debate since the year before. In 2013, Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) syndicate removed the controller examinations on the recommendations of the inquiry committee, but he was later restored when former president Asif Ali Zardari, who was also the chancellor of the university, overturned the punishment.

The official approached the president and argued that the law under which he had been removed was not applicable to the university since the educational institution did not fall under the category of workplaces.

The presidency first consulted the Ministry of Law, which termed the act “incomplete and faulty” and set the case aside. The QAU is reviewing two cases of sexual harassment but following the letter from the presidency the cases are being investigated under Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1973.

QAU Vice-Chancellor Etizaz Ahmad said they could not follow any other law to probe such cases after a letter from the presidency. In 2011, QAU became the first institution to receive a complaint from a student after the passage of the act.

Executive director of Mehergarh, a social welfare organisation, Maliha Husain said that there were actually misconceptions about the act. “In the definition of organisations, educational institutes are clearly mentioned in the act. Where is the confusion?” she asked, arguing that had the officials at the presidency and the Ministry of Law read thoroughly read the act, the misunderstanding would not have surfaced.

The accused is defined as “an employee or employer of an organisation against whom the complaint has been made, according to the act, while a complainant means a woman or man who has complained of harassment to the ombudsman or to the inquiry committee.

HEC Chairperson Dr Mukhtar Ahmad said there was a three-member body at the commission and harassment cases could also be forwarded to them. “We are working with Mehergarh to raise awareness on campuses and in September this year, we are launching seminars and sessions.”

Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Farhatullah Babar has submitted an amendment to explicitly bring colleges and universities under the purview of the act.

For educational institutions, the implementation of the law does not seem to be a priority. Earlier this year, when a harassment case was reported at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad, the administration nominated an all male three-member body. Later after a request by the complainant, a female member was also appointed. Interestingly, the person who was found guilty by the ad-hoc probe committee and removed from his position as head of the department was later appointed as head of another department. This happened despite the recommendation that the person was not fit to head any department.

At another university, a senior female faculty member approached the vice-chancellor with a harassment complaint against a head of department. A three-member body was constituted by the vice-chancellor, who appointed the accused person as the committee’s head, according to Hussain.

Interestingly, most universities have neither constituted three-member probe committees nor is there any awareness about how to cope with issues related to sexual harassment on campuses.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014. 

Categories: Pakistan & World News

General Raheel’s pledge: Terrorists will be chased everywhere

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 16:18


Pakistani security forces will chase and hunt down terrorists across the country, army chief General Raheel Sharif said on Monday during his visit to North Waziristan Agency where a massive military operation is under way.

In his first visit to the restive region since the start of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Gen Raheel directed troops on the ground to eliminate “all local and foreign terrorists and their sanctuaries”.

According to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement, Gen Raheel was given a detailed briefing on the ongoing operation by the general officer commanding. Corps Commander Peshawar Lt-Gen Khalid Rabbani and other senior officials accompanied the army chief.

Speaking to the troops fighting the militants, Gen Raheel lauded their ‘courage, dedication and high state of morale’ and voiced his satisfaction over progress achieved so far since the start of the operation. He commended the entire chain

of command for their determined efforts in planning, preparation, mobilisation and execution of the operation.

The army chief made it clear that terrorists would be chased and hunted down across the country until the menace of terrorism was eliminated.

There is a feeling within the security establishment that the Waziristan operation will only be successful once the entire terror infrastructure, which is said to be spread across the country, is destroyed.

Sources said that under an integrated plan, the security agencies will carry out a targeted operation against suspected militants in the settled areas of the country.

Southern districts of Punjab and the financial capital of Pakistan, Karachi, are on the watch-list of the security agencies where they suspect certain militant groups have strong presence.

According to the ISPR, the army chief acknowledged and appreciated the support of the entire nation and vowed that “God willing, with unflinching national resolve and clear direction, we will accomplish our mission and rid Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism”.

He paid rich tributes to the security personnel martyred and wounded in the fight against militancy.

Paying tribute to the tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) for their sacrifices to restore the writ of the state, Gen Raheel acknowledged the national spirit and support forthcoming for them from across the country.

He re-affirmed that the army would not abandon their tribal brethren in their hour of need and all possible assistance would be extended to the government and various organisations in order to provide them maximum relief. He also assured of the army’s role in rebuilding and restoring normalcy in North Waziristan.

IDP registration in Peshawar kicks off

Registration of IDPs in Peshawar – the second registration point set up by the government – kicked off on Monday.

However, the process, which started after a three-hour delay to begin with, was cut short due to indiscipline and lack of security, pushing the registration of Miramshah IDPs to the next day. They will now be registered today (Tuesday), along with families from Boya and Datta Khel.

The registration process will continue till July 14, following which the IDPs will be able to receive Rs5,000 in cash along with the house rent and Ramazan package announced by the government.

As many as 62,493 displaced families – comprising 787,888 individuals – have been registered so far at registration points run by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), according to the daily situation report issued by the chief secretary control room.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Nisar denies reports of rifts within PML-N

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 11:41

ISLAMABAD: Two days after meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to sort out differences within the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday dispelled reports of rifts between ruling party leaders.

Chaudhry Nisar said the focus and objective of Saturday’s meeting with Prime Minister and Chief Minister Punjab was political and national matters.

“How is it possible that the country is stuck in a quagmire of problems and I take up my personal problems? Neither has this happened before nor will it happen now.”

Nisar said that his was not for complaining against any minister nor was any minister interfering in his ministry. He added that his relations with the cabinet and parliamentary party were very congenial.

“I was surprised to hear and read that the name of Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar was taken time and again in this connection.”

Nisar insisted that he and Dar are on good terms. “Instead of a misunderstanding, we have a relation of respect and deference and the same atmosphere exists with regard to other members of the cabinet,” he added.

The interior minister also categorically denied the impression that there was more than one group in the party.

“I am neither concerned nor give importance to activities by somebody for their personal fame or by a minister for cooling their fire of meanness by secretly igniting certain activities.”

“I will be concerned if I will face criticism or am opposed by a person who has character and is true and honest.”

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Security forces arrest 9 suspected terrorists in multiple raids

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 00:44

LAHORE: Police and security agencies conducted multiple raids on Monday and arrested nine suspected terrorists, Express News reported.

Intelligence sources said security forces arrested six of the suspects in raids in DI Khan and Alipur in Muzaffargarh district.

Suicide jackets, hand grenades and heavy weaponry were seized from the suspects.

In a separate raid in a house in DG Khan, the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) of the police arrested three more suspected terrorists belonging to a banned outfit. The arrested were identified as Abdur Rahman, Saim and Fahad.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Justice Nasirul Mulk takes oath as 22nd Chief Justice of Pakistan

Sun, 07/06/2014 - 01:54

ISLAMABAD: Justice Nasirul Mulk on Sunday took oath as the country’s 22nd chief justice, Express News reported.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain and other political leaders were present during the oath-taking ceremony. President Hussain administered the oath at the President House.

The ceremony started with the recitation of Holy Quran and its translation.

Mulk will remain the Chief Justice of Pakistan till August 16, 2015. He has replaced Tassudaq Hussain Jillani as the chief of the top court, after Jillani’s retirement on July 4.

Born on August 17, 1950, in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Justice Nasirul Mulk is a barrister-at-law of the Inner Temple, London.

He was elected as secretary general, Peshawar High Court Bar Association in 1981.

Before his appointment as judge of the Peshawar High Court on June 4, 1994, he served as advocate general of NWFP (now renamed K-P) for one year. He was elevated as chief justice of Peshawar High Court on May 31, 2004 and as a Supreme Court judge on April 4, 2005.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Safe city project: TI request PM to observe SC’s verdict

Sat, 07/05/2014 - 23:57


Transparency International (TI) Pakistan has requested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to allow any department in Pakistan to violate the Supreme Court orders to ensure transparency and fairness in contracts.

“Inviting of open bids is a prerequisite, as award of any unsolicited contract even to Frontier Works Organisation, National Logistics Cell and National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) will be contempt of court, illegal, and void ab initio,” the TI says in a letter, addressed to the PM and the four chief ministers.

Drawing the PM’s attention to the Supreme Court judgment in the case of $126 million Islamabad Safe City Project, the watchdog says the apex court in the suo moto notice on the said project had held that transparency lies at the heart of every transaction entered into by, or on behalf of, a public body.

“It is an established fact that the SC order remains in force, until and unless it has been revisited and revoked by the court,” the letter says.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

1977 coup: PPP observes black day to mark July 5 takeover

Sat, 07/05/2014 - 23:55


The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) observed 5 July as a “black day” against martial law imposed by General Ziaul Haq in 1977.

The Peoples Legal Forum organised a seminar at the Lahore High Court where former Punjab governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa and PPP Punjab general secretary Tanvir Ashraf Kaira highlighted the sacrifices of the PPP leadership and workers for the cause of democracy.

Another programme was organised by the PPP Workers’ Wing at the Lahore Press Club.

Charter for democracy

Speakers expressed anguish over attempts to undermine the democratic system at a discussion held on Saturday to mark the military coup staged by General Ziaul Haq in 1977.

The panel recommended that people should rise to the challenge and oppose any anti-democratic actions. Political parties and members of the civil society were asked to sign a new charter for democracy to prevent any future military takeovers in Pakistan.

“We should bring changes in the electoral system to pave the way for a truly representative parliament,” said Karamat Ali, chief executive of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), which organized the event.

Calling the current electoral system “a legacy of the colonial period”, he said that the system only permits members of the upper class to be elected in the legislative assemblies.

Senior political leader and General Secretary of Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC) BM Kutty said Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made a mistake by removing the democratically-elected government of National Awami Party (NAP) in 1973.

According to the senior political leader, Mir Ghaus Buksh Bizenjo, who helped draft the 1973 Constitution, should not have been arrested after the passage of the constitution.

Dr Shahida Rahmani MNA said that overthrow of the democratically elected government in 1977 infringed on human rights. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto struggled for the rights of the poor and the military takeover sabotaged this mission.

Mass demonstration

PPP workers staged a demonstration against the dismissal of elected government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977.

Dozens of workers from the People’s Lawyer Forum and People’s Students Federation participated in the demonstrations at Katchehry Chowk.

Information Secretary Khawaja Rizwan Aalam said that Bhutto was a dynamic leader who made the country’s defence strong by initiating a nuclear programme. He added that the PPP would continue to play its role to strengthen democracy in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Test of mettle: Incoming CJ faces a set of challenges, say legal experts

Sat, 07/05/2014 - 23:48


As Justice Nasirul Mulk prepares to take oath as the country’s 22nd chief justice on Sunday (today), a set of challenges await him in that role, legal experts said on Saturday.

Justice Nasirul Mulk, who hails from Swat district in Khyber-Paktunkwa (K-P), is expected to hear several high-profile cases, including the contentious missing persons case and others involving the state, they said.

Though Justice Mulk’s appointment has been widely hailed by members of the legal fraternity, experts have begun counting the challenges he faces during his 13-month tenure as chief judge of the apex court.

For his part, the incoming CJ already spelled out his policy of judicial restraint and renewing the court’s focus on ordinary litigants in a speech delivered earlier this week.

A senior lawyer said the missing persons case will probably be the biggest test of his term in office. The court needs to rule on the legal questions related to the trial of military officials involved in enforced disappearances in the country, he said.

The incoming CJ also heads the bench hearing cases of targeted killings in Balochistan. Interestingly, during the last hearing, Justice Mulk pressed military authorities on the progress in the trial of army officials.

Similarly, Justice Mulk will also be hearing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s petition on the verification of thumbprint impressions in four constituencies. The issue has vexed the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz party and will draw considerable attention when the court delivers a ruling on it.

With civil society member Amina Masood Janjua ready to challenge the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014, a senior member of the Supreme Court bar said that the apex court’s ruling in the case would be significant.

Since the deadline given to the government to hold local government polls lapses on November 15, 2014, Justice Mulk will also have to deal with this issue in view of Article 140-A of the constitution.

Next week, a review petition by the Pakistan Bar Council will also add to the long list of cases that Justice Mulk’s court will have to deal with against the removal of more than 100 judges through July 31, 2009 judgment.

Similarly, the fate of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf is likely to be decided in the Supreme Court as the judgment by the special court hearing the treason trial can only be challenged in the top court.

Justice Mulk’s mettle as the top judge would also be tested while his court hears Musharraf’s petition seeking the removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL). Any decision favouring the former military ruler is likely to irk the civilian government.

Members of superior bars have expressed dissatisfaction over the appointment of judges. During his term as the top judge, Justice Mulk would be treading a careful path to avoid criticism by lawyers on the issue.

According to top jurists, Justice Mulk’s use of suo motu powers, a household term during former CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry’s term, will be closely watched.

Commenting on the appointment, former Islamabad High Court CJ Sardar Muhammad Aslam credited justice Mulk for being an upright and uninfluenced judge. “He will deliver verdicts in accordance with the law,” he said.

Advocate General K-P Latif Yousufzai, a classmate of the newly appointed CJ, said that Justice Nasir is a man of integrity and  impartiality.

Unlike his predecessors, the incoming CJ has decided to maintain a distance from media in the country. According to officials, Justice Mulk has not invited members  of the press corps to cover the SC-sponsored farewell dinner honouring Justice Jillani.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Honour killing: ATC indicts five suspects in murder case

Sat, 07/05/2014 - 23:46


The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Saturday framed charges against five men suspected of killing 25-year-old Farzana Bibi, including the woman’s father, after she married against their wishes.

The judge summoned the prosecution witnesses on July 7.

Charges have been framed against Muhammad Azeem, father of the deceased, Muhammad Zahid, Ghulam Ali, Mazhar Abbas and Jahan Khan.

Farzana Bibi was murdered, even stoned to death by some account, near Lahore High Court a few weeks back after she married Muhammad Iqbal of her own volition.

The case took an interesting turn when the deceased’s sister Khalida Bibi filed two applications in an additional district & sessions court.

The first application sought the registration of a case against her sister’s husband, a dozen suspects and another 12 unknown persons for killing her sister.

The second application sought recovery of her father Muhammad Azeem from illegal detention.

In the first application, the judge directed Khalida Bibi to assist investigation and submit evidence before the police to prove guilt of complainant’s side.

The court dismissed the second application after the police said that they had mentioned the arrest of the accused in its Roznamcha on May 30.

Khalida Bibi claimed that Muhammad Iqbal conspired with police officials to indict her father. At the time of incident, she said her sister had met her family and her husband feared she would record a statement against him in court.

According to Khalida Bibi, her family tried to pacify him but Muhammad Iqbal, along with his accomplices, attacked her with a brick.

An FIR was registered under sections 302, 148 and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code against Muhammad Iqbal and 7-ATA against accused Muhammad Azeem and five others and 22 unknown persons.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

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