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Pakistan lodges protest with India over LoC firing

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 08:27

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday lodged a protest with India over unprovoked firing and mortar shelling by the its forces in Pandu Sector on the Line of Control, Radio Pakistan reported.

On Thursday night, Indian Border Security Force resorted to unprovoked firing killing a Pakistan Army soldier.

The soldier identified as Sepoy Zahid Ali was killed due to multiple mortar splinter injuries.

Condemning the incident, Pakistan called upon India to restrain its security forces from unprovoked firing and shelling across the LoC and the working boundary.

The government also extended condolences to the bereaved family of the soldier.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

PTI Larkana rally: I will not allow the division of Sindh, says Imran Khan

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 07:41

LARKANA: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Friday promised the people of Sindh that he would not allow the division of the province if he came into power, Express News reported. 

Addressing a mammoth rally in Bhuttos’ bastion, Larkana, the PTI chief made direct attacks at the ruling party in Sindh, the Pakistan Peoples Party, asking the participants whether a party that had already failed to improve things in six elected terms should be given yet another chance.

“Merit will be the order of the day in ‘Naya Pakistan’,” the PTI chief said while addressing the crowd in Larkana.

“Why is Shaukat Khanum good? I’ll tell you why… it’s because it is based on merit,” Imran said.

Imran praised the police force of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), saying it was the best police force in the country.

“In K-P, tell me if even one fake FIR has been registered. There is no favouritism with any SHO or other member of the police in the province,” he said.

With the crowd chanting “Go Nawaz, Go”, Imran told them he was pleased to hear the chant reach Sindh — specifically in Karachi and Larkana.

“Now I just need to hear Go Zardari, Go being chanted loudly in Sindh,” he said.

He said the people of Punjab and K-P had “awoken” and realised the practices of the current government, and said he was in Larkana to do the same for the people from Sindh.

Appealing to the large crowd, he said, “PTI will introduce a local body system in Sindh.”

He also hit out at the Sindh Assembly, saying, “I would get scared if they compliment me … because that would mean I am doing something wrong.”

“But if they criticise me, I will be happy because it means I am doing something right.”

Imran also promised to evolve a consensus before going ahead with the Kalabagh dam.

Sit-in completes 100 days

The PTI chairman said his party had completed 100 days of its anti-government protest in Islamabad, adding that until there was accountability of those who rigged the 2013 polls, free and fair elections were not possible.

Regarding the rally planned for November 30 in the federal capital, he said they were assembling to protest against oppression.

“Get ready for November 30. Reach Islamabad,” he said. “I invite all Pakistanis: farmers, labourers, domestic servants.., minorities, and women. I am making a special appeal to journalists as well…”

He said the rally will be peaceful but warned the government not to create hurdles for participants or else it will responsible for the consequences.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Blast targeting FC convoy in Quetta injures two

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 06:38

QUETTA: Two people were injured as a blast went off on Sariyab road in Quetta on Friday.

“The blast occurred near Sariyab mills,” Sariyab SP Imran Qureishi told The Express Tribune.

According to initials reports, the blast was planted on a bicycle and detonated remotely as an FC convoy passed by.

The FC vehicle was partially damaged due to the blast. Security and rescue officials reached the site and cordoned off the area.

“No civilian was injured,” Qureishi added.

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Zahid Hamid tenders resignation after inclusion in Musharraf trial

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 06:21

ISLAMABAD: Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid on Friday resigned from his post, Express News reported.

Hamid’s resignation comes hours after a special court in Islamabad partially accepted former president Pervez Musharraf’s plea, deciding to include Hamid in investigations in the high treason trial.

According to reports, Hamid does not want to retain a federal seat while investigations are being conducted against him. However, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Hamid’s resignation has not been accepted as of yet and the government will decide on the matter after consultations with the prime minister.

Hamid was the law minister during Musharraf’s tenure and has been mentioned as a co-conspirator in the emergency imposed on November 3, 2007.

The court has decided that then prime minister Shaukat Aziz, then law minister Zahid Hamid and then chief justice of Pakistan Abdul Hameed Dogar will be included in the investigation but Musharraf’s request for including then top military leaders was not accepted.

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First victim from Tharparkar succumbs to deadly Congo virus

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 06:05

KARACHI: A 50-year-old man hailing from Sindh, and the first from the drought-affected district of Tharparkar, died at the Aga Khan hospital in Karachi after suffering from the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever – creating panic among the entire population of the drought-affected region.

According to details, 50-year-old Mohammad Sakhi Nohri of Taluka Chhachharo was taken Hyderabad on Wednesday, and was then transferred to Karachi in serious condition.

Nohri died on Friday afternoon while receiving treatment. Provincial authorities had taken notice of the first case of the Congo fever from Tharparkar, but not a single official visited him till his death.

“I can’t understand why the provincial government is not taking Tharparkar seriously,” former provincial minister for relief and rehabilitation and chairman of the Pakistan Relief Foundation Haleem Adil Sheikh said.

Sheikh, who recently visited different villages of Tharparkar, said proper investigation should be initiated, adding that he suspected others had also died due to the fever.

“Not all people from Tharparkar could afford private hospitals,” he added.

This is the fourth death in less than four months, and according to officials of the health department, it was the seventh case reported from the province.

Sources in the health department believe that the number of cases could be more than that on record.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Earthquake tremors felt in Islamabad, parts of K-P

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 05:50

ISLAMABAD: Earthquake tremors were felt in Islamabad and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Friday, Express News reported.

The earthquake measured 5.2 on the richter scale, according to the US Geological Survey. The epicenter of the earthquake was the border area between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

People rushed out of their homes and offices in panic as the earthquake tremors struck.

Tremors were felt as far asPeshawar, Swat, Mansehra, Chitral, Malakand, Fata and Bajaur Agency.

No casualties have been reported.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

LHC admits petition against PTI's Nov 30 rally

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 04:23

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday admitted a petition seeking court orders against Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf’s (PTI) ‘decisive rally’ on November 30 in the federal capital and issued notices to federal government, Punjab government and PTI chairperson Imran Khan, Express News reported. 

A three-member bench of the LHC headed by Justice Khalid Mehmood was hearing the case.

The petition filed by A K Dogar contended that Imran wants to create anarchy and chaos in the country and should not be allowed to hold his rally on November 30.

“The court had earlier issued orders for preventing ‘Azadi’ march and long march but the government did not implement this order. If government allows holding public meeting then what objection you have got?” the justice questioned.

On this Dogar replied, “objection is not over holding a public meeting but objection is over what steps are to follow the meeting.”

The court ensured that it will protect the law and Constitution and issued notices to federal and Punjab government to submit their responses by November 24.

Earlier, setting another deadline for the government to probe the ‘massive rigging’ in the 2013 elections, Imran said if his party didn’t get justice, it would become difficult for the prime minister to stay in power past November 30 – the day the party is scheduled to stage a ‘decisive rally’ in Islamabad.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Treason trial: Special court partially accepts Musharraf plea to include co-conspirators

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 02:40

ISLAMABAD: Months after former president Pervez Musharraf requested to include alleged co-conspirators in the high treason trial against him, a special court on Friday partially accepted the plea with majority vote.

Former military chief Musharraf was formally charged in March this year for subverting and circumventing the Constitution by imposing emergency on November 3, 2007 – charges he denies.

The special court accepting Musharraf’s plea today, gave the federal government 15 days to submit a report to the court in this regard so investigations can be started once again, including three co-conspirators.

The case was heard by a three-member bench of the special court in Islamabad, headed by Justice Faisal Arab.

The court has decided that then prime minister Shaukat Aziz, then law minister Zahid Hamid and then chief justice of Pakistan Abdul Hameed Dogar will be included in the investigation but Musharraf’s request for including then top military leaders was not accepted.

“They have given a majority judgement that is two judges accepted it,” Musharraf’s counsel Fasial Chaudhry said, while talking to media representatives.

“Based on the material on record, the probability of their involvement as aiders and abettors cannot be ruled out,” the court said in its order signed by two of the three-judge bench hearing the case.

“We are therefore of the view that joinder of the then prime minister and the then federal law minister is necessary to secure the ends of justice.”

The third judge on the panel gave a dissenting view, dismissing the application to extend the charges.

While speaking to Express News, Musharraf’s counsel Farogh Naseem said all those against whom evidence is found will be implicated.

Earlier this year, Musharraf’s counsel Naseem had requested the court to include accomplices in the trial. Labelling the request as premature, Prosecutor Akram Sheikh had said the issue regarding the co-accused can be raised when witnesses will record their testimonies.

The hearing of the case has been adjourned till December 9.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Pakistan arrests 61 Indian fisherman

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 02:35

KARACHI: The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency arrested 61 Indian fishermen who were caught fishing in Pakistani waters in 11 boats.

The fishermen were fishing in Pakistani waters when Maritime Security Agency arrested them and handed them over to the police at the Docks Police Station in Kemari, Karachi.

The 61 offenders were then taken to a court for custody and will be transported to Malir jail.

This is not the first time that Indian fishermen have violated territorial water boundaries. On September 29, Maritime Security Agency had arrested 25 Indian fishermen and seized their boats for the same offence.

Both Indian and Pakistani fishermen are frequently arrested and detained for fishing in the neighbouring waters.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Eavesdropping on Pakistani official led to investigation against US diplomat Robin Raphel: Report

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 02:28

WASHINGTON: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started a probe against former diplomat Robin L Raphel after American investigators intercepted a conversation this year in which a Pakistani official suggested that his government was receiving American secrets from a prominent former State Department diplomat, New York Times reported.

A US State Department expert on Pakistan, Robin was stripped of her security clearance and made part of a federal counterintelligence investigation recently. The investigation that shocked diplomatic circles was conducted after months of secret surveillance on the former diplomat following the conversation.

The NYT report quotes senior American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The officials said agents discovered classified information during an FBI raid last month at Robin’s Northwest Washington home.

Raphel is the former wife of US ambassador Arnold Raphel who was killed aboard a plane carrying Ziaul Haq in 1988 and has been a longtime South Asian expert and also worked as State Department adviser on civilian assistance for Pakistan.

Raphel has not been charged with a crime. The scope of the investigation is not known, and it is unclear exactly what the Pakistani official said in the intercepted conversation that led to suspicion about Robin, the NYT report said.

It is also not clear whether the conversation was by telephone, email or some other form of communication.

Still, the new details shed some light on the evidence that Justice Department prosecutors are weighing as they decide whether to bring charges and help explain why the investigations were carried out.

Earlier, a spokesperson for Robin said she was cooperating with investigators but has not been told the scope or nature or that she is the target of any probe.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Azadi March: Imran determined to continue protests as PTI completes 100 days

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 02:17

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) completes 100 days of its anti-government sit-in in Islamabad, party chief Imran Khan on Friday said he was prepared to stay in the Red Zone for another 100 days, Express News reported. 

Speaking ahead of his rally in Larkana today, PTI chief said that both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson and former president Asif Ali Zardari were afraid of the upcoming rally in Larkana.

When questioned about Pakistan Muslime League- Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Pervez Rashid’s accusations about Imran’s increasing income and assets, the PTI chief clarified that all his assets in Pakistan had been declared and were in his name.

“Tell him (Rashid) to question the Sharif family and ask if their money is in the country and if the money was not made through stolen taxes, why isn’t it in their name?” Imran questioned.

Commenting on the reduction in petrol prices in the country, Imran argued the prices have not been reduced as much as they should have in accordance with reduction in global market.

“There has been a decline in petrol costs by 25% in the last five months, however, the cost of diesel and petrol has not come down,” Imran said, adding that the government has imposed taxes worth Rs40 billion on the public.

The PTI chief further criticised PML-N government by saying that they (the government) has taken the nation into further debt.

“It is their (PML-N) sixth year in power and yet I have seen no changes; tell me what they are doing differently which is better than previous years,” he asked.

Adamant to continue his mission, Imran said that no laws were broken by his party and PTI will continue to stay in the Red Zone.

“It has been over a year and a half since the general elections and I have received no results on rigging claims; it is my right to stay on the road and protest and no one can tell me otherwise – Chaudhry Nisar nor Nawaz Sharif can take that right away from me,” Imran declared.

Imran commented on his Larkana rally to be held today, saying that people were fed up and the rally will make history.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Finding OBL in Pakistan proved war on terror was waged against wrong country: Karzai

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 01:44

NEW DELHI: Continuing with his anti-Pakistan rhetoric, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Friday said finding Osama bin Laden in Pakistan proved the war on terror was waged against ‘the wrong country’.  

Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in India, Karzai said the death of al Qaeda founder in Pakistan shows that Nato and allied forces were wrong in entering Afghan soil.

Renowned Indian journalist Barkha Dutt, who was chairing Karzai’s talk, tweeted his statements:

Great talk with Hamid Karzai at #htsummit:"Osama in Pakistan proved that War on Terror was against the wrong country"

— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) November 21, 2014

According to an NDTV report, the former president – in an apparent dig that the war should have been waged in Pakistan instead - said US should have gone to the sanctuaries of terrorism, not Afghanistan. Karzai has been unrelenting in his criticism of Pakistan during his long rule and has continued to do so even after stepping down.

Following the September 11 attack, US-led troops intervened attacked Afghanistan to dismantle al Qaeda and remove Taliban from power in the country. The chief of the terror network, however, was killed as part of a highly secretive operation in Abbottabad in May 2011, ending the biggest manhunt in history.

“My stance against certain elements of US and Nato presence was principled,” Karzai, who has often said the war on terror should not be against Afghanistan, clarified.

“I stood up against the US because I wanted them to correct their behaviour with Afghanistan.”

Rejecting warnings by his one-time counterpart General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Karzai reiterated Afghanistan would not allow itself to become the battleground in a proxy war between India and Pakistan after the imminent departure of US-led troops.

“Afghanistan will not allow proxy war between India and Pakistan on its soil – and I’m sure India won’t do that,” Karzai said firmly, adding, “India will be there to educate our children, build dams, not to wage a proxy war against Pakistan – so I’ll give a reassurance to Musharraf that he did not worry.”

In an interview earlier this week, Musharraf warned that Pakistan would look to use ethnic Pashtuns to counter if India tries to achieve its goal of creating an “anti-Pakistan Afghanistan”. India and Pakistan have long accused each other of using proxy forces to try to gain influence in Afghanistan but the former president rejected a possibility of this.

Thanking India for participating in ‘every step’ of rebuilding Afghanistan as it suffered from invasions, foreign interferences and extremism, Karzai said, “a generation of forward-looking young Afghans have emerged and thanks a great deal to India having helped us in this regard.”

Further, commenting on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, Karzai said, “we will engage with Pakistan as a sovereign, independent state conducting our own foreign policy and that will not be compromised.”

Karzai’s statement comes at a crucial time after the newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited Pakistan and as Nato’s combat mission ends in December.

Pakistan was one of only three countries that recognised the Taliban regime that ruled in Kabul before being toppled in late 2001 after a US-led invasion in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The Taliban’s downfall led to Karzai’s installation as Afghan leader and he remained in power until stepping down as president earlier this year.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Ruling party MPs jockey for cabinet portfolios

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 00:45


The ruling party’s lawmakers are engaged in hectic lobbying these days to find a berth in the federal and Punjab cabinets respectively, The Express Tribune has learnt.

This feverish activity has been going on for the past one month where dozens of groups within the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are trying to get their names included in the expected cabinet expansion. Even those ministers already having portfolios are looking forward to this as an opportunity to switch to a ministry of their choice.

Sources within the party have revealed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is worried about this on-going discontent in the party and is trying to resolve this issue with the support of his family members and some senior leaders. The PML-N is planning to expand its federal and Punjab cabinet after November 30.

There are dozens of groups in Punjab, but majorly 25 are trying to influence the party leadership to get their names in the cabinet, either federal or in Punjab, by all means.

The modus operandi adopted by these groups to convince their leadership is that they frequently visit the heads of three major groups in parliament, said the sources.

One of these groups is headed by Federal Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the other by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar while the third group is jointly led by Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.

In Faisalabad, there are two groups, led by Rana Sanaullah and Chaudhry Sher Ali Khan, which are hard at work to seek portfolios for their ally lawmakers. In Lahore four groups are active, one is led by Punjab food minister Bilal Yasin, second group is led by Khawaja Saad Rafique, the third is led by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif and the fourth by Nawaz Sharif himself, maintain the well-placed sources.

In Gujranwala, two groups are busy in deal-making — one is led by Federal Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan while the second group is led by Usman Ibrahim. In Rawalpindi four groups are active — one is led by Chaudhry Nisar, second is led by Hanif Abbasi, third one by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi while the fourth is jointly led by Raja Ashfaq Sarwar and Sarwar Naseem.

In Balochistan PML-N’s Senior Vice President Sardar Yaqoob Nasir is lobbying to get portfolio in the federal cabinet while in Sindh Saleem Zia is jostling to secure the post of an adviser to the prime minister. In Sindh there are three groups — one is led by President Mamnoon Hussain who is also lobbying to get a portfolio for PML-N’s Secretary Information Mushahidullah Khan.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, PML-N’s General Secretary Iqbal Zafar Jhagra is jockeying to get the portfolio of an adviser to the prime minister.

According to sources, Federal Minister for Interprovincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Industries and Production Minister Ghulam Murtaz Jatoi and State Minister Hakeem Baloch have expressed their disappointment over their current portfolios and have often complained against the non-cooperative attitude of their subordinates.

Mushahidullah Khan said he does not know about any unrest within the party.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Countering each other: PML-N courts parliamentary parties ahead of campaign

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 00:37

ISLAMABAD: As the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) prepare to scale up their anti-government campaign, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has mounted a hunt for allies through contacts with other political outfits – and guarantee the continued isolation of Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri in parliament.

Already a number of meetings have been held with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP) and other parliamentary parties to cope with the prevailing political challenge.

A top PPP leader told The Express Tribune that in the struggle between those wishing to topple the status quo and the civil establishment’s supremacy, his party has decided to back the government. “We have differences and serious reservations over a few cabinet members but the PPP wants to set a new trend in politics,” he added.

According to the PPP lawmaker, Imran Khan has caused great damage to the civil structure of the country. “The legacy of these three months will haunt us in the coming years,” he said. “Imran has put his weight behind the security establishment. He has ridiculed all institutions, including the judiciary, media and parliament, but has only praised the security establishment,” he added. “We will continue to recall the promises Imran made to the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.”

PPP’s Senator Raza Rabbani, the main architect of the 18th amendment, also spoke on these lines while talking to media persons a day earlier. He said that his party would not accept any technocratic set-up in the country and would defend the democratic order.

ANP chief Asfandyar Wali also announced that any illegal moves would be resisted this time. As per an ANP lawmaker, Wali is in contact with Premier Sharif. “He is trying to convince the PM to oust PTI from the K-P government,” he added.

Premier Nawaz Sharif has also held meetings with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and JI’s Ameer Sirajul Haq. The JUI-F chief advised the PM to give him a green signal to oust the PTI from power.

In a separate meeting, PM requested the JI chief to continue his mediatory role. A source who was present in the meeting said, while quoting PM Sharif, that the PM had told the JI chief that the government would support them in the arrangements of his party’s convention in Lahore. “’I will ask the media to give coverage to the convention. But make sure that your gathering is larger than that of Naya Pakistan’ is what the PM said.”

A PTI spokesperson confirmed that all parliamentary parties are collectively busy in a hate campaign against PTI.

On the other hand, PTI’s core committee has reportedly decided to invite PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in its November 30 gathering in Islamabad. Qadri is in contact with the PTI leadership, a central leader of the party, told The Express Tribune. He claimed that the PAT sit-in was called off in consultation with PTI, and the new moves being orchestrated against the government are again being made in close coordination with PTI. A PTI spokesperson also confirmed this and said that PTI wants to convince political parties that are friendly with PTI to join the grand November 30 jalsa in Islamabad. When approached, PAT spokesperson Raheeq Ahmad Abbasi said that PTI has made no formal contact with his party regarding the November 30 public rally. “We have our own separate plan of public rallies across the country,” he added.

PTI central leader Shafqat Mahmood told The Express Tribune that so far the government has made no formal contact with the PTI regarding the November 30 rally. “They are doing their work and we will do ours,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Three more children die in Sargodha hospital, death toll climbs to 15

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 23:47

SARGODAH: Death toll from insufficient health facilities at DHQ Hospital in Sargodah climbed to 15 as three more children died on Friday, Express News reported. 

Parents of the children who died over the past 24 hours had blamed insufficient oxygen supply in the nursery ward and negligence of hospital staff for the deaths.

DHQ Hospital management had, however, denied allegations and said that there was no deficiency of gas in any ward.

A senior doctor at the hospital, Adilah told Express News that there was indeed a lack of oxygen in the ward and each child was receiving far less oxygen than they required.

“The resources available to us are not sufficient however, we are doing our best,” she said.

She further explained that there were very few incubators to cater to the increasing number of children being admitted to the ward.

The latest victims were a two-day old girl and a pair of twins.

A three-member investigation committee – formed to investigate the tragedy – had sent a comprehensive report on the matter to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Know your rights: Rights of cottage industry workers

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 12:57


Labourers and workers in the cottage industry of Pakistan are a part of the informal sector of the country. Unfortunately, they are not recognised as ‘workers’ by the Constitution of Pakistan and no labour-related laws in the country apply to them.

According to Pakistan Labour Force Survey of 2007-2008, the informal sector accounts for more than 73% of the total employment. The informal sector of Pakistan includes the cottage industry, home-based workers and other workers and labourers.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Labour Education Foundation Director Khalid Mehmood said labourers working in the cottage industry should be given the right to association as Article 17 provides for a fundamental right to exercise freedom of association and the right to form unions.

Article 37(e) provides for ensuring just and humane conditions of work, that children and women are not employed in vocations unsuited to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment.

The fundamental right of the workers working in the cottage industry is to be recognised as ‘workers’ first because no labour law in the country recognises them as such.

Freedom of association

The right to association is guaranteed under Article 17 of the Constitution. According to it, every citizen has the right to form associations or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, public order or morality.

Clause 3 of the Punjab Industrial Relations Act 2010 states that workers of an establishment may form and subject to the rules of the organisation, may join associations of their own choice without previous authorisation; it states that a worker shall not be entitled to be a member of more than one trade union at any time and on joining another trade union, his earlier membership of the other trade union shall stand cancelled; employers may establish and, subject to the rules of the organisation, may join associations of their own choice without previous authorisation; every trade union and employers association shall frame its own constitution and rules to elect its representatives in full freedom to organise its administration and activities and to formulate its programmes; and workers’ or employers’ organisations may establish and join federations and confederations, and any such organisation, federation or confederation may affiliate with international organisations and confederations of workers’ or employers’ organisations.

Minimum wages

The government must ensure those working in the cottage industry fall under the minimum wage set by the government at Rs12,000 per month.

Unfair labour practices of employer

Clause 18 of the Punjab Industrial Relations Act 2010 states that no workman or other person or trade union of workmen shall:

(a)   Persuade a workman to join or refrain from joining a trade union during working hours

(b)   Intimidate any person to become, or refrain from becoming, or to continue to be, or to cease to be a member or office-bearer of a trade union

(c)    Induce any person to refrain from becoming, or cease to be a member or office-bearer of a trade union, by intimidating or conferring or offering to confer any advantage on, or by procuring or offering to procure any advantage for such person or any other person

(d)   Compel or attempt to compel the employer to accept any demand by using intimidation, coercion, pressure, threat, confinement to, or ouster from a place, dispossession, assault, physical injury, disconnection of telephone, water or power facilities or such other methods

(e)   Commence, continue, instigate or incite others to take part in, or expend or supply money or otherwise act in furtherance or support of, an illegal strike or a go-slow

In clause (e), the expression ‘go-slow’ means an organised, deliberate and purposeful slowing down of normal output, or the deterioration of the normal quality of work by a body of workmen acting in a concerted manner, but does not include the slowing down of normal output, or the deterioration of the normal quality of work which is due to mechanical defect, breakdown of machinery, failure or defect in power supply or in the supply of normal materials and spare parts of machinery.

(2) It shall be unfair practice for a trade union to interfere with a ballot held under section 24 by the exercise of undue influence, intimidation, impersonation or bribery through its executive or through any person acting on its behalf. The law dealing with unfair labour practice must also apply to the cottage industry labourers.

EOBI and social security

The government should take steps to ensure and amend laws to ensure that the workers working in the cottage industry also get registered with Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) and provincial Employees Social Security Institutions (ESSI) and make a contribution to these institutions, respectively, of five percent and six percent of the official minimum wage for each of the registered worker.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

PTI responsible for mishandling of IDP issue: PPP

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 12:20

ISLAMABAD: With most opposition parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) gearing up to form a grand alliance, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has also joined the bandwagon of parties holding the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led provincial government responsible for mishandling the issue of internally displaced people (IDPs).

Senator Farhatullah Babar at the PPP Secretariat in Islamabad on Tuesday said that since the IDPs are in K-P, the provincial government cannot run away from its duty to work for the people who were making sacrifices to end terrorism and militancy in the country.

Flanked by party leaders before dispatching winter items including clothes, blankets and other necessary goods for IDPs camped in Bannu, the PPP senator condemned the recent police raid during ration distribution.

“We admire the IDPs heroic role. They are playing a frontline role in the war against militancy,” Senator Babar said.

Former information minister and ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman said that and they should work together for the rehabilitation of IDPs. “We will make effort so they do not end up as refugees.”

PPP leaders further demanded that all cases against IDPs should be dismissed, and the policemen responsible held accountable.

Former chairman Pakistan Baitul Mal, Zamurad Khan offered to adopt all those children who have become orphans during the ongoing military conflict in the tribal belt.

“I request the media and Pakistan Army to help me find such children,” he said.

Meanwhile, Awami National Party’s (ANP) Senator Zahid Khan while talking to The Express Tribune said his party head had made a grand alliance against the K-P government, and that all political parties in the province are willing to play a broader role particularly for the rehabilitation of the IDPs.

The senator had also submitted a privilege motion in the upper house to discuss all development projects in K-P, saying the PTI government had become an impediment in the progress of the militancy-hit province.

While holding a file in his hands, the ANP leader claimed he had documentary evidence of CM Pervez Khattak’s corruption.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

ECP to get powers over ROs, polling staff, law enforcement personnel

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 10:50

ISLAMABAD: A sub-committee of a parliamentary panel on electoral reforms on Tuesday decided that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should get more control over Returning Officers (RO), polling staff and on duty security personnel.

Sub-committee of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms in its meeting on Tuesday decided to recommend amendment to laws relating to ROs and polling staff whereby they would come under the commission.

“ECP would be empowered to take necessary action against misconduct of returning officers, electoral staff and law enforcement personnel directly,” Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid, who heads the sub-committee, told reporters after its in-camera meeting.

The eight-member sub committee, comprising of senior lawmakers from both houses of parliament, is vetting and finalising recommendations to reform the electoral system.

Over 1,200 recommendations were put forward by various stakeholders to the 33-member committee headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The parliamentary had formed a smaller panel to finalise the electoral reforms package, which would recommend amendments in the Constitution and election laws to revamp the outdated electoral system.

Getting ROs and polling staff under its authority was a long standing demand of the ECP. While the ECP can appoint such officers, the current framework does not allow it to take any action against them.

In the aftermath of the 2013 general elections, fingers were pointed towards the conduct of returning officers, who were taken from the lower judiciary.  Accusatory fingers were also pointed towards thousands of polling staff works for ECP on polling day, most of whom are taken from education and other government departments.

In case of any complaint against any of these officials, ECP under the prevailing law, can only complain to their parent department.

Similarly, personnel of the law enforcement agencies employed during election do not fall under ECP’s authority, and in case of any misconduct, the commission can only file a complaint against them with their parent department.

The poll body also hires the services of government officials to update its voters list and demarcate boundaries of constituencies.

ECP officials believe that this lack of power had previously bared the body from practically having administrative control over those officials who actually conduct elections on the ground.

The sub-committee’s proposed amendments would enable ECP to exert direct control over these officials and take punitive action if any of them is found involved in manipulating polls.

Further, the committee has recommended giving additional powers to ECP over allotment of election symbols. It has been decided that in future, the election symbol will be allotted to a party permanently and no independent candidate would be allotted a symbol that has already been allotted to a registered political party.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

NAB chief wants better training for investigators

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 10:26

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, while reviewing training needs for officers of the body, has called for a standardised syllabus for training and programmes in key areas including accounts, financial rules, digital forensics and even finger print analysis.

According to a handout, Chaudhry chaired a meeting at the NAB Headquarters in Islamabad on Tuesday to review the training needs and capacity building of the bureau staff, especially investigators and prosecutors.

Director General (DG) Training & Research Division gave a detailed presentation on the training being provided to NAB Investigation officials and prosecutors including the training plan for the year 2014. In addition to courses for NAB officers, they are also sent to institutions like Pakistan Manpower institute (PMI), Pakistan Planning and Management Institution (PPMI), Secretariat Training institute (STI) and National Computer Bureau for catering the training needs of NAB Officers and Officials.

Chaudhry directed that regular training and capacity building programs be chalked out for 2015 after consultation with all regional NABs and a standardised syllabus for training, capacity building of all investigation officers and Prosecutors be chalked out and training in Accounts matters, General Financial Rules, Digital Forensics, Question Documents and Finger Print Analysis will also be provided.

Further, the NAB chairman directed the training and research division of NAB to coordinate with the UNODC International Training Academies for provision of technical assistance.

He added that the bureau is committed to eradicate corruption from Pakistan, and bring those involved in such practices to the book.

Chaudhry also asked the Training and Research Division of NAB to speed up work on the NAB forensic lab.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

IDPs a burden on K-P govt's resources: Imran

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 08:36

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Tuesday said the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is a ‘burden’ on the resources of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, while hitting out at the federal government for not extending any support to the province. 

“It looks as though the federal government, in all its efforts, is trying to make the K-P government fail,” said the PTI chief, who had just landed in Peshawar from Islamabad.

“One government cannot take this much of a burden, a provincial government is not equipped to handle this,” he said.

However, the PTI chief did say that the K-P government was considering the possibility of recruiting IDPs for its police force.

“We have decided that the government of K-P will approach the Supreme Court to raise the issue of provincial rights, as we are not getting an adequate supply of gas, water and electricity,” the PTI chief said.

Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital to be made autonomous

The PTI chief also addressed issues pertaining to the hospital he established to treat unprivileged cancer patients. “Everyone knows the hospital is not running properly. We want to make it autonomous.”

“Issues of the hospital will not be resolved by a minister visiting it — that is something Shahbaz Sharif does.”

He said the hospital could not continue to work in this manner, and the system would need to be changed to treat patients adequately.

PTI’s version of development

Imran also spoke about development for the country, stating that it would only occur in a country if the government invests in people.

“You need structural change,” he said, “Invest in education and health rather than showing off and building bridges.”

He also hit out at former K-P rulers, the Awami National Party (ANP), saying, “They should not talk, as everyone knows what they did in their tenure. They should keep quiet for three years at least.”

Categories: Pakistan & World News

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