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No question of returning to assemblies, says Imran

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 09:08

ISLAMABAD: Although Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan announced that his party would partially participate in the upcoming Senate elections, he said his party’s MPs would not return to other assemblies of the country. 

“It is out of the question to go back to those assemblies,” Imran said while addressing the media on Saturday.

“We would have only returned to those assemblies had the judicial commission declared there was no rigging in the general elections,” he said.

Responding to a question about the resignations from the assemblies, Imran said their resignations should be accepted [as it happened in Sindh].

“No PTI member would go to these assemblies, and in case someone tries to do that, he will no longer remain in PTI,” he added.

The PTI chief said he would only participate from the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), where his party is in power and claims that the 2013 general elections were free and fair.

“We will participate in the Senate elections only from K-P, as elections in the province are not disputed,” Imran said while addressing the media.

Imran Khan reiterated on Saturday that former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry and Justice (retd) Khalilur Rehman Ramday were complicit in the alleged rigging of the 2013 general elections, and that he would prove their involvement.

“I will prove his (Iftikhar Chaudhry) involvement in rigging,” Imran said, while addressing the media upon his arrival from Saudi Arabia.

The PTI chief spoke of the role of the returning officers (ROs) in the election process, stating that they stuffed voting bags with bogus votes on the orders of the former CJP.

“I will make Iftikhar Chaudhry stand in court, and I will tell this country what a big crime he committed to this country’s democracy,” a fiery Imran said.

Speaking about the defamation notice sent to him by the former CJP for Rs20 billion, the PTI chief quipped, “I’ll take the money from his son, Arsalan Iftikhar, who seems to have made quite a lot.”

“I am waiting to see the former CJP in court, because of the traitorous acts he has undertaken in demolishing the democracy of this country. He was behind the actions of the ROs,” he said. ”Do not worry Iftikhar sahib, I am ready to face you in court.”

The PTI chief also said that as soon as a judicial commission is formed with absolute power, “I predict that this will be an election year.”

He further questioned why the government was hesitant over the results of the tribunal. “Because they know they did not win fairly,” Imran stated.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Death toll rises to 83 as another child dies at Sargodha's DHQ hospital

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 01:28

SARGODHA: One more child died at Sargodha’s District Headquarters (DHQ) hospital on Saturday morning bringing the death toll to 83 in the past two months, Express News reported.

The child allegedly died due to insufficient oxygen supply in one of the wards.

Earlier on January 7, two newborns also passed away at the Sargodha’s DHQ hospital.

RELATED POST: Public Health: 2 more infants die at Sargodha Hospital

As many as 2,241 infants have died so far, some owing to alleged negligence of hospital staff and some due to lack of incubators or intensive care.

The Medical Superintendent Dr Pervaiz Haidar had acknowledged that the hospital faced staff and equipment shortage.

“Due to overcrowding, the hospital administration is facing severe problems. Complicated cases from private hospitals and clinics are also referred to the hospital at the last minute. This raises the mortality count,” Haidar added.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Petrol crisis: Ministers draw flak in Senate panel’s meeting

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 01:12


A Senate panel failed to reach a logical conclusion in its inquiry into the recent petrol crisis in Punjab as two key ministers did not show up in its meeting on Friday.

The meeting of the Joint Senate Committee on Petroleum was convened for the first time to look into the reasons behind the fuel crisis but Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif skipped the session.

Minister for Petroleum Shahid Khaqan Abbasi attributed the petrol crisis to a ‘sudden increase’ in demand and panic created by the media. He predicted that petrol would become cheaper than CNG after a further cut in prices in February.

Some participants of the meeting alleged that the two ministries – Dar and Asif – were responsible for the petrol crisis and staged a token walkout from the meeting.

Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash said the ministers were not willing to take responsibility, while some bureaucrats have been made a scapegoat. Senator Moula Bakhsh Chandio said that since the pair wielded considerable influence in the cabinet, they did not bother to attend the meeting.

Some senators demanded an independent inquiry into the matter. Senator Nasreen Jalil said a report would be submitted in the Senate session on January 31 and a motion would be moved asking the government ensured such situations did not emerge in the future.

Senator Sughra Imam asked how much money the oil cartels had minted by overpricing in connivance with government departments. “It is too early to determine,” said Petroleum Secretary Arshad Mirza.

However, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) chairman said it has come to their knowledge that at some places petrol was sold over Rs300 per litre. He pointed out that Ogra’s responsibility was to ensure the oil marketing companies maintained 20-day storages.

The inquiry committee, headed by the chairman Board of Directors of the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), Zahid Muzaffar, and one board member Zafar Masood, had blamed Ogra within 48 hours for not maintaining oil stocks for 20 days.

“Ogra has no role to ensure 20-day stock of products under the law,” he argued, adding that Ogra issues licences after ensuring development oil storages for 20 days. He further said that Ogra had given two licences whereas 11 licences were given by the petroleum ministry and transferred to the regulator later.

While arguing that the petrol crisis had no link with power or finance ministries, Khaqan Abbasi failed to answer several questions raised by the senators. He suggested that oil market should be deregulated as its regulation had discouraged investment in the oil sector.

Similarly, he could not answer why the petroleum secretary, Pakistan State Oil’s managing director and other officials were suspended without serving any charge-sheet.

However, the petroleum minister put responsibility on the media, insisting that it had created panic which led to the petrol crisis. “The prime minister thought it better to suspend them before initiating an inquiry into petrol shortages,” he said, adding that a sudden increase in demand was the major cause of petrol shortage.

Shutdown of Pak-Arab Refinery and National Refinery Limited were also the reasons for the fuel shortage, he claimed.

He also ruled out that the PSO was facing any financial issue in importing of petrol. “The PSO has never defaulted and its bank credit lines have not been chocked,” the petroleum minister said. However, he could not respond to a question raised by Senator Talib Baloch that the PSO had defaulted to LCs worth Rs45 billion.

The PSO management had also pointed out in its letters that the entity had defaulted to LCs the same amount.

Water and Power Secretary Younis Daga said his ministry was not responsible for petrol shortages. “The PSO has provided oil worth Rs45 billion since November and we have paid Rs69 billion,” he said.

Finance Secretary Waqar Masood said the government had cleared Rs480 billion after coming into power but the circular debt has again started rising due to price difference in the power cost. “The finance ministry has financed Rs967 billion during the last 18 months,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2015. 

Categories: Pakistan & World News

World Economic Forum: APS attack can never be excused, says Kerry

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 01:01


US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday described the December 17 massacre at the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar as the most horrific manifestation of extremism, as he made an impassioned plea for more resources to fight the menace around the world.

“This kind of atrocity can never be rationalised… [It] can never be excused,” Kerry said while referring to the deadly Taliban rampage that killed over 150 people, including 134 schoolchildren.

“They have to be opposed. With every fiber of our being, they have to be stopped,” Kerry continued in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We have to take risks. We have to invest more resources.”

But as he called on the international community to devote more resources to fight global extremism, the top US diplomat warned that the battle would falter if it becomes consumed by sectarian division or Islamophobia.

“The biggest error that we could make would be to blame Muslims collectively for crimes not committed by Muslims alone,” he said while advising world leaders to ‘keep their heads’.

“Unless we direct our energies in the right direction, we may very well fuel the very fires we want to put out,” he added. “Extremism has claimed violence at every corner of the globe and Muslim lives most of all. There’s no room for sectarian division. There’s no room for anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.”

Kerry described Islamic State (IS) militants, who have seized wide swathes of Iraq and Syria, as ‘a collection of monsters’. He said ultraradical groups like IS and Boko Haram “are attempting to govern land. It’s a first-time event”.

He compared efforts to curb the spread of extremist violence to the fight against fascism in World War-II.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2015.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Green signal: Envoy to US may get 2-year extension

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 00:59

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is likely to give a two-year extension to Pakistan’s current Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani, who is scheduled to retire next month after reaching the age of superannuation.

A government official told The Express Tribune on Friday that Jilani, who recently visited Islamabad, was given the green signal by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to continue as Pakistan’s envoy for another two years. The official, who didn’t want to be named, said the formal notification in this regard would be issued soon.

Jilani, a career diplomat, was appointed for the key diplomatic post in 2013. He is set to reach the superannuation in February.

The official said the government initially considered Maleeha Lodhi to replace Jilani, but the current envoy to the US successfully managed to lobby for an extension in service.

Maleeha was then appointed Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York. She will replace Masood Khan, who was believed to be also pushing for an extension.

Jilani, 60, joined the Foreign Service in 1979 and is highly regarded by his colleagues as a professional diplomat. He served on important positions before being appointed foreign secretary in March 2012.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2015.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Pakistan loses a genuine friend

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 00:56

ISLAMABAD: The passing away of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz alSaud will be mourned throughout the Muslim Ummah. In Pakistan, his loss will be felt even greater for he was a steadfast friend and well-wisher of Pakistan and its people. For Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and its ruler has a special place for being the guardians of the holiest places of Islam.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia share the closest relations. This cordial and mutually beneficial relationship is deep rooted in common faith and broad-based mutuality of interest. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia share the closest relations and it is a strategic ally on which Pakistan relies heavily. It is equally true that Riyadh has similar strong feelings for Islamabad.

Saudi support to Pakistan, whether in the field of diplomacy or financial assistance, has always been generous and readily forthcoming. It was during the rule of King Abdullah that Riyadh and Islamabad experienced an expansion of their security ties that further reinforced the strong bonds and trust that has been the hallmark of our relationship. The deep rooted and multifaceted relationship was given a new direction and impetus during his reign. King Abdullah was a steadfast and genuine friend of Pakistan whose piety and wisdom was a source of strategic strength for Pakistan. It has been a loss of a friend, guide and a benevolent Muslim leader.

Abdullah was a king gifted with leadership attributes that during tumultuous times steered his country and ensured its stability. He believed in evolutionary changes in the political and social structure of the kingdom. For the first time he added women to the Shura Council, with some restricted powers and introduced new laws that eased restrictions on women driving cars. He navigated these openings despite the opposition from highly conservative clerics.

He was highly astute in maintaining good relations with the West and especially with the US. At the same time he knew that any tilt toward the US had to be balanced by appeasing opinion at home and keeping the clergy on the right side. He was a great supporter of Pan-Arab solidarity and that of the Muslim Ummah. King Abdullah united forces against terrorism and was a bastion of stability. He made an honest attempt to resolve the intractable Palestinian Israeli conflict. He was convinced that a major contributory factor to radicalism in the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East, was the injustice to the people of Palestine. But due to Israel’s intransigence his proposal did not succeed.

It is, however, reassuring that his 79-year-old half-brother Salman who has vast administrative experience and commands great respect has taken over as the new king. With his solid background he is well equipped to counter the forces that have emerged in the Middle East countries due to the emergence of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and militants in Yemen. King Salman is equally a steadfast friend and supporter of Pakistan. We in Pakistan wish the new Saudi monarch all the success and hope that he will continue to work for the solidarity and progress of the Ummah.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2015. 

Categories: Pakistan & World News

LG polls, Senate seats: PML-N, allies fail to agree on formula

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 00:51


Three key coalition partners in the Balochistan government — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and National Party (NP) — have failed to work out a formula to share local governments and Senate seats.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met top leaders from the three allies on Friday to devise a formula for distribution of key positions in the upcoming polls for mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen and vice chairmen in the final phase of Balochistan’s LG elections scheduled for January 28. The meeting was also supposed to work out shares of the three allies in the Senate elections.

However, the meeting remained inconclusive due to serious differences among the three allies. Subsequently, they decided to meet again in the coming week to settle the matter.

According to sources, a delegation of PML-N’s Balochistan chapter requested the prime minister to ask PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai to drop his demand for the mayorship of Quetta.

The PkMAP is seeking the positions of mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen and vice chairmen in Quetta, Loralai, Qila Saifullah, Qila Abdullah, Zhob and Ziarat as these districts, according to the party, have sizable Pashtoon populations.

According to sources, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch’s NP has also supported PkMAP’s demand and said the mandate of the PML-N lawmakers would be honoured in those districts where they won the December 2013 LG elections.

However, PML-N Balochistan President Sardar Sanaullah Zehri opposed PkMAP’s demand, saying that it was the right of the PML-N to have its mayor in Quetta. He said the PML-N, despite winning a clear majority in the May 11, 2013 general elections, has already sacrificed by giving the government in the hand of the PkMAP and NP.

According to sources, Zehri expressed his fear that if the prime minister conceded PkMAP’s and NP’s demands, then the Balochistan chapter of PML-N would divide into three factions. “The PML-N won the elections even in the two districts where the PkMAP claimed to have the right to form local government,” he was quoted as saying.

The allies also could not agree on a formula for the distribution of 12 Senate seats, for which election is scheduled to be held on March 3. Of these seats, seven are general, two each are for technocrats and women and one for minorities.

Speaking on the occasion, Premier Nawaz said the Balochistan government must ensure good governance in the province. “Balochistan is an important part of the country and provincial and federal governments should work in coordination for optimum utilisation of the mineral resources of the province,” an official handout quoted the premier as saying.

He said the federal government was providing increased funds for the development of the province with a particular focus on infrastructure development. “The development of Gwadar Port and construction of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor will bring a wave of prosperity to the people of Balochistan,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2015.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Pointing fingers: PTI accuses presidency of ‘sheltering’ corruption

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 00:34

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf information secretary Dr Shireen Mazari said on Friday that her party was shocked over the presidency’s efforts to ‘shelter’ Najam Sethi and his family from financial charges brought against him by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Dr Mazari said the Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has written to President Mamnoon Hussain pointing out how the legal wing of the presidency had admitted ‘an illegal petition’ on behalf of Sethi’s family which casts a ‘shadow of corruption’ over the office of the presidency.

TIP’s letter to President Mamnoon Husain said it has received a complaint of wrong application of law by some officers of the president’s secretariat regarding a representation filed against orders passed by the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO).

The letter said that the FTO on the basis of firm documentary evidence regarding concealment of huge assets created out of income from undisclosed sources had rejected three complaints filed by Sethi’s family on April 18, 2014.

Instead of filing representation before the president under the law, the Sethi family preferred review petitions before the FTO. This representation too was also unequivocally dismissed on November 6, 2014 by the FTO confirming the April order in accordance with the verdicts on the similar cases of the Supreme Court.

According to the documents sent by the complainant to the TIP, it appears some officials working in the presidency are involved in admitting the void representations, filed by the family against the orders of FTO in the review petitions.

According to FTO laws, if a person is aggrieved by recommendation of the FTO, he can file representation within 30 days of the recommendation. In this  case, representation was been filed after the 30 day-limit  which expired on December 5, 2014.

“This is simply not tenable – that the presidency should enter into what is an effort to conceal ill-gotten financial gains,” Dr Mazari stated. She demanded that the president take action and punish those responsible.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2015.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

To offer condolences: Musharraf may be allowed to visit Saudi Arabia

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 00:25

ISLAMABAD: The government is considering allowing former president Pervez Musharraf to travel to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences to the royal family over the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

The former military dictator, who, like Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, enjoys close ties with the Saudi royal family, has written a letter to the interior ministry requesting that his name be removed from the Exit Control List (ECL). “General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is desirous of visiting Saudi Arabia to express his heartfelt condolences over the sad demise of King Abdullah,” reads the letter written by Advocate Faisal Hussain on behalf of the former president.

“That is why we have asked the government to remove Musharraf sahib’s name from the ECL,” chief coordinator of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) Ahmed Raza Kasuri told The Express Tribune on Friday. He said the party was in contact with all stakeholders over the issue.

A close aide of Premier Nawaz said the government could consider the request seriously. “King Abdullah’s sad demise is something which matters greatly for Pakistan. The government might let him [Musharraf] fly to Saudi Arabia,” he told The Express Tribune. He added, however, that any such decision would be taken after consulting the ministries of law and interior.

Some believe allowing Musharraf to go abroad could provide the government and other stakeholders some ‘face saving’ as they move past an issue – treason trial of the former president – which has caused much friction between the country’s civil and military establishment.

According to political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi, there is a strong possibility that Musharraf would be allowed to leave for Saudi Arabia. However, he said there would be a question mark over whether the former dictator would return. “The government will face harsh criticism if Musharraf chooses not to return. It will give the opposition more space to do politics,” Rizvi added.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2015.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Tackling floods: FFC asks provinces to submit action plans

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 00:10

ISLAMABAD: Federal Flood Commission (FFC) has asked all the provincial authorities to submit their action plans to cope with the 2015 monsoon rains and floods by the end of March.

During a workshop of all the stakeholders held in Islamabad recently, the FFC Chairman Asjad Imtiaz Ali asked the irrigation departments, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and other organisations to share their preparatory measures with the FFC.

The initiative is being taken to cope with the monsoon 2015 as the large part of the country has become hugely vulnerable due to flesh floods triggered by monsoon rains since 2010.

“Now we should have preemptive measures rather reactive measures to cope with the natural disasters during monsoon rains and all the provinces must share their tentative plans with the FFC to make them a part of our final action plan,” said the FFC chairman.

The chairman said the FFC wants to finalise an action plan in tackling the situation well before the start of monsoon rains “so that it should have appropriate time to arrange the required resources with a tangible action plan that it could be implemented effectively.”

The participants urged that there should be laid down standard operating procedures (SOPs) to breach the infrastructure during emergency and that there should be no chaos in case of an emergency.

Some officials from provincial departments complained that they are facing difficulties to breach infrastructure as some influential government departments and politicians create hurdles in diverting floods waters in a bid to save cities and villages.

It was recommended that the departments concerned should be taken on board while framing the emergency action plan so that no department would resist or create hurdle during the emergency situation, particularly Pakistan Railways, National Highways Authority and provincial irrigation departments.

The officials from the Balochistan Disaster Management Authority said the province does not have the early flood warning system to keep people alert during the emergency situation.

They further said the province also lacks water reservoirs to save the flood water, which washes away the localities during the monsoon rains and floods.

The workshop was attended by a large number of senior officials from provincial irrigation departments, FFC, NDMA, PDMA, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) and some international agencies.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2015.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

PPP cautiously welcomes CII pronouncement on divorce

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 11:45

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party has cautiously welcomed the call by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) to ban the practice of pronouncing divorce three times at once.

The CII had on Thursday stated that if any one pronounces divorce thrice at once, they may be committing an offence against the injunctions of Islam and liable to punishment under law.

“It is too early to make a definitive statement until the fine print of the actual recommendation is made public, but the call itself is a positive development and a step in the right direction,” said Senator Farhatullah Babar in a statement on Friday.

What is needed now is to take the call to its logical conclusion and there is no dithering or backtracking as was witnessed recently during the Council’s discussions on a religion based law.

Babar, who is also spokesperson to former President Asif Ali Zardari, said that the Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961 has already laid down the procedure for dissolution of marriages consistent with the latest pronouncement of the Council.

“It is natural that since the Council has declared the practice of pronouncing divorce three times as against Sharia it will also publicly abandon its opposition to the Family Law Ordinance,” he said.

“Continued opposition to the Muslim Family Law Ordinance would be inconsistent with the new public stance of the Council and raise serious questions,” he added.

Babar further said that the Council has unwisely rejected the ‘un-Islamic’ clauses of the Muslim Marriage Act 1939 which allows women to seek divorce on the grounds that their husbands’ contracted another marriage without their consent.

“The Council must now also withdraw its opposition to the Muslim Marriage Act 1939 so that it is not seen as making confusing and contradictory recommendations,” he said.

“Unfortunately the Council has attracted widespread criticism for opposing the DNA evidence in rape cases for definitively fixing criminal liability,” Babar said.

“It has also been criticised for opposing progressive laws aimed at stopping child marriages declaring them as un-Islamic. It is time that the Council revisited some of its retrogressive pronouncements in order to stay relevant,” he added.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Musharraf seeks travel to Saudi Arabia to condole King’s demise

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 11:22

ISLAMABAD: Former president (retd) general Pervez Musharraf has requested the government to allow him to travel to Saudi Arabia to condole late King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, who died on Friday in the oil-rich country.

“Musharraf wants to condole with King Abdullah’s family — for it we have requested the interior ministry to lift his name from the Exit Control List (ECL),” the All Pakistan Muslim League’s chief coordinator Ahmed Raza Kasuri told The Express Tribune.

The government had put Musharraf’s name on the ECL since he was facing various trials in the country, including for treason.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died on Friday and was replaced by Crown Prince Salman, the OPEC-kingpin’s royal court said in a statement.

King Abdullah, believed to be around 90 years old, was hospitalised in December suffering from pneumonia and had been breathing with the aid of a tube.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has long standing ties with the Saudi royal family, attended the king’s funeral prayers.

Expressing grief and sorrow over the demise of King Abdullah, PM Nawaz said the late ruler had a “special place in the heart of every Pakistani being the custodian of Islam’s holy mosques”.

Moreover, leaders world over condoled the death of the aged king as well.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

As dissent grows, PM Nawaz takes control of party matters in Balochistan

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 08:32

ISLAMABAD: In view of the upcoming Senate elections, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday decided to take matters pertaining to the Balochistan government in his own hands, sources told The Express Tribune.

Ahead of the premier’s departure to attend the funeral of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, he chaired a meeting to discuss issues related to the province at the PM House.

RELATED: PM Nawaz pays tribute to King Abdullah as he departs to attend funeral

The meeting handout stated that matters associated with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Balochistan would be discussed.

Leadership in Balochistan had reportedly complained that issues pertaining to their constituencies were not being addressed by the current regime in the province.

PML-N has the highest majority of seats in Balochistan and, according to sources, PM Nawaz has taken control of all party issues to satisfy the reservations of all parties.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch alongside other officials and ministers were in attendance of the meeting.

The premier, on Thursday, was apprised on the situation in the province by PML-N’s Balochistan president , Sardar Sanaullah Zehri.

Sources have also said that Zehri handed over a long list of development projects for PML-N’s lawmakers to the PM and requested him to direct Balochistan’s CM to implement them immediately.

According to an official statement about today’s meeting, the prime minister asked the provincial government to ensure proper governance within the province.

PM Nawaz had also informed that the federal government is providing increased funds for the development of the province with particular focus on the development of infrastructure.

RELATED: Development forum: PM to divert extra funds to Balochistan

He had earlier said that Balochistan is an important part of the country and both provincial and federal governments should work in coordination for the optimum utilisation of the mineral resources in the province, adding that the development of the Gawadar Port along with the construction of the Pak-China Economic Corridor which would bring prosperity for the people of Balochistan.

RELATED: PM inaugurates Balochistan Development Forum 

Balochistan Assembly will be electing 12 Senators on March 3.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Ahead of India visit: Terrorist ‘safe havens’ in Pakistan unacceptable, says Obama

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 07:30

US President Barack Obama has said terrorist “safe havens” in Pakistan are unacceptable, The Hindu reported on Friday ahead of a crucial visit to India. 

In an interview to India Today magazine which has been published in the upcoming issue of the weekly, the US president also said those behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks should be brought to justice

“I have made it clear that even as the US works with Pakistan to meet the threat of terrorism, safe havens within Pakistan are not acceptable,” Obama said.

The US president, who will begin his three-day visit to India this Sunday, said the US has been relentless in its fight against terror.

“We have deepened our cooperation against terrorism, and we work together to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons,” he said.

Obama also said people world over were horrified by the devastating attack on over 130 children in Peshawar, an attack that had paralysed Pakistan.

Of the attack, he said it was a “painful reminder that terrorists threaten us all.”

The Nawaz-led government decided on January 15 to ban the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is led by Hafiz Saeed, who incidentally has been linked to being the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack.

“As President, I have made sure that the US has been unrelenting in its fight against terrorist groups — a fight in which Indians and Americans are united,” the US president said.

Obama said both terror attacks on September 11 and the Mumbai attacks included victims of India and the US.

“On my previous visit to India, my first stop was the memorial at the Taj Hotel to pay my respects to the victims, meet with survivors and send a strong message to the Indian people that we stand together in defence of our security and our way of life,” he added.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

No confirmation on ban on Haqqani network, JuD: US

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 06:01

The US government on Wednesday said that it did not have confirmation on Pakistan banning the Haqqani network or the Jamaatud-Dawa (JuD), NDTV reported.

“We recognise that Pakistan is working through the process of implementing measures to thwart violent extremism, including the national action plan. We don’t have any confirmation of specific steps,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

On January 15, Pakistan had decided to ban the Haqqani Network, JuD — led by Hafiz Saeed who has been linked to masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attack — and 10 more organisations in a move described by security analysts as a ‘paradigm shift’ in the country’s security policy.

RELATED: Revealed: Govt decides to ban Haqqani Network, JuD

“The Pakistani government has made clear in both private conversations and public statements that it is in Pakistan’s own interest to take steps against all militant groups in Pakistan, and explicitly to not differentiate between such group,” Psaki said.

The decision came after weeks after a deadly attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on the Army Public School in Peshawar, in which over 130 children were ruthlessly slaughtered.

“We support this commitment and believe that it is fundamental to addressing terrorism and ensuring attacks such as the horrific one that happened just weeks ago that impacted the Peshawar school children never occur again,” Ms Psaki said.

RELATED: Assets of all banned outfits, including Jamaatud Dawa, frozen: FO

It has been reported that both groups were to be banned following international pressure. In regard to this, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said the country had taken the decision under the UN obligation as opposed to being under pressure from elsewhere.

“Pakistan took this decision under the UN obligation and not under pressure from any other quarter including John Kerry (US Secretary of State),” Aslam said,

Categories: Pakistan & World News

NAP review: Bank accounts, financial transactions of banned groups to be blocked

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 13:20

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to clamp down on bank accounts and financial transactions of proscribed organisations or any individual having ties to banned organisations. Further, accounts of Afghan nationals will be screened by the finance ministry and intelligence agencies.

During a meeting to review implementation of the national action plan (NAP) in the cabinet room of PM Secretariat in Islamabad on Friday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan directed measures to curb terrorism.

Nisar said that a databank and monitoring network is being established for all the proscribed organisations so that such organizations cannot re-emerge secretly or under different names.

Further, directives were given to all the relevant departments to block bank accounts and financial transactions and all kinds of proscribed groups and organisations or any individual or organization having ties to militants.

Further, bank accounts of Afghan nationals will be filtered by the financial monitoring unit in the Ministry of Finance in coordination with FIA and intelligence agencies. All information in this regard will also be shared with NACTA for scanning accounts of those involved in suspected transactions. All such business activities and bank accounts which are operating without due legal requirements will be blocked.

Afghan refugees

Deliberations were also held regarding 1.6 million Afghan refugees in the country. It was directed that their registration will be expedited and will be confined to refugee camps.

In this regard, Capital Development Authority (CDA) has been directed to chalk out a detailed plan in consultation with the police and district administration to identify illegal and unregistered Afghan refugees in and around Islamabad within a week in order to facilitate their movement to their camps.

Further, all illegally constructed high structures near sensitive installations in Islamabad will be demolished.

Illegal SIMs

The meeting also decided that over 100 million SIMs will be verified within the next 85 days. After this period, the possession of and sale of unregistered and unverified SIMs will be made a cognizable offence.

The Ministry of IT was also asked to work in close collaboration with PTA, the intelligence agencies and International monitors to close down all terror related websites and web based messaging services and other terrorism related material on the internet and social media.

A detailed discussion took place on madrassas which have connections with militants and terrorists. It was decided to take a final decision on the matter after a meeting with heads of all major madaris bodies of the country on Saturday.

The meeting had been attended by Minister of State for IT & Telecom Anusha Rehman Khan, Special Assistants to PM Khawaja Zaheer and Barrister Zafarullah, Federal Secretaries Interior, Finance, Law and Justice and SAFRON, DGs IB and FIA, DG (Counter Terrorism) ISI, NC NACTA, Chairmen FBR, PTA and CDA, and IG Islamabad.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Charlie Hebdo should apologise to Muslims: President Mamnoon

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 12:45

ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday said that the French publication Charlie Hebdo should seek apology from Muslims for hurting their sentiments by publishing sacrilegious caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Strongly condemning the publication of blasphemous caricatures, the President said that freedom of speech in any manner does not allow anyone to disrespect the religious beliefs of other people, read a statement issued on Friday.

Emphasising that no one can be allowed to show disrespect to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the president added that boundaries of freedom of expression end where the liberties and sentiments of others start.

He added that the French journal, by publishing such caricatures, has hurt the sentiments of the Muslims and therefore should seek their apology.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

2,000 militants killed in North Waziristan so far: DG ISPR

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 07:34

Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said security forces have killed 2,000 militants in North Waziristan so far, Radio Pakistan reported on Friday.

Bajwa said 200 soldiers had been killed during Operation Zarb-e-Azb, and 800 others had sustained injuries.

He reiterated the army’s resolve to ensure writ of the state in Bajaur and North Waziristan agencies at all costs by wiping out militants.

Related: Operation Zarb-e-Azb updates

The DG ISPR said effective military operations are under way to purge the areas of terrorists, while addressing a think-tank of the Royal United Services Institute in the United Kingdom.

The army chief has clearly directed to carry out operations against terrorists without any discrimination, Bajwa said.

He said the United Nations has also acknowledged the achievements of the army against terrorists in Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Humaima Malick set for TV debut in India

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 05:26

After making her debut in Bolloywood last year starring opposite Emraan Hashmi in Kunal Deshmukh’s Raja Natwarlal, actor Humaima Malick is now set for her debut in Indian TV with the same show she debuted with on Pakistani TV.

According to the Times of India, the Pakistani who debuted with the Pakistani film Bol, back in 2011, will be foraying on the smaller screen with the daily soap, Ijaazat.

RELATED POST: Raja Natwarlal: Humaima, ‘Pakistan’s Rani’, fails to rule the Indian Box Office

The show is set to launch on the Pakistan-India TV collaboration Zee Zindagi TV which recently also aired the popular Humsafar starring Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan.

RELATED POST: Mahira Khan: A ‘raees’ entry into Bollywood

Ijaazat will portray Humaima in the character of Pares Usmani, who creates a love triangle between the lead pair in the show. In fact, Ijaazat was Humaima’s debut on Pakistani TV also.

Ijaazat is the story of Sahil, a film director and his wife, Seep, who is a writer. The story follows the life of the couple who are madly in love with eachother until Seep writes about a woman who fits her husband’s ‘dream girl’ character — a girl called Diya. Sahil frantically searches the perfect girl to play Diya and meets Pares (Humaima) and is enamoured with her resulting in trouble in Sahil and Seep’s marriage.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Questioning performance: SC voices disappointment over premier’s remarks

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 03:09


The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed disappointment over Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s remarks about the performance of the judiciary, hinting at the unsatisfactory pace with which cases are being disposed of.

But the court dismissed the criticism, insisting that the judiciary is doing its work “sincerely”. At the same time, the court called upon the executive to accept its failure and fulfill its responsibilities.

Such observations were made by two different benches while hearing separate cases.

The prime minister recently told a delegation of businessmen that the pendency of cases had contributed to the law and order situation in the country.

While hearing a suo motu case regarding jail reforms, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa of the Supreme Court voiced disappointment over the PM’s statement.

He pointed out that judiciary is performing well beyond its efficiency. Though 1.7 million cases are pending only 24,000 judges are doing their duties, he said. “It is the job of the executive to appoint more judges.”

Justice Khosa said: “Whenever the government is asked to fill the judges’ vacancies, it comes up with the excuse that it does not have sufficient funds.”

“For the last 21 years, the Supreme Court has been taking up the jail reforms case; though it is the government’s job to take measures in this regard.”

He insisted that it is the time that the executive should take responsibility and do its duty which is also its constitutional obligation.

Meanwhile, another bench questioned the wisdom behind setting up of the military courts, asking whether judges of these courts were more capable and intelligent than the rest of the judges in the judiciary.

The two-judge bench, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, cited poor investigation and weak prosecution as reasons for the delay and pendency of cases in the courts, saying that if the situation persists it will give rise to further enhancing the backlog.

Instead of launching propaganda against the judiciary for delaying justice, the state should accept its failure, Justice Khawaja observed, adding that courts were meant to dispense justice and not to hand down punishments only.

The court also asked the government to realise its failure and rectify its weaknesses for the delayed justice instead of ridiculing the judicial system.

The courts were expressing their concern for years over weak prosecution that led the accused to eventually acquit, the court noted.

The court also summoned complete record of cases from all the provinces in which the accused were acquitted or freed because of incomplete challans and weak prosecution.

The court has asked for the details of action taken against the delinquent investigating officers for their unproductive investigations too.

“Who should be held responsible for incarcerating innocent people for years who eventually were acquitted since the offence for which they were booked could not be proved later?” it observed.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2015.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

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