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Updated: 8 hours 54 min ago

Coalition raids kill 8 Yemeni civilians

8 hours 57 min ago

SANAA: The Saudi-led coalition killed eight civilians in two separate air strikes on rebel-controlled areas of northern Yemen on Thursday, a government official said.

Warplanes from the coalition, which supports forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, hit “by mistake” a vehicle at Razah in Saada province, killing five civilians, said the official.

Another air strike killed three civilians travelling in a vehicle in Shadeh, a village also located in Saada, said the same source.

Yemen rebel leader proposes border truce with Saudi

Saada province is a stronghold of the Iran-backed Shia Huthi rebels who overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014 before going on to seize other provinces.

Human rights groups accuse the coalition, which has stepped up its strikes against rebel positions especially in northern Yemen, of a string of such attacks that have killed civilians.

Ten soldiers killed in Yemen suicide bombing

On September 22, at least 20 civilians died in coalition air strikes on rebel-held Hodeida, in western Yemen, in what a government official said was a possible “error”.

The conflict between Yemen’s government and the Huthi rebels escalated in March last year with the intervention of the Arab coalition in support of Hadi’s government.

More than 6,600 people are estimated to have been killed since then, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Syria’s UN envoy says: ‘We don’t bomb civilians’

9 hours 15 min ago

UNITED NATIONS: Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari rejected accusations on Thursday that the Syrian government was killing civilians.

“The Syrian government is not bombing civilians. These people are our own people. We don’t bomb civilians, we don’t kill civilians. We don’t bomb humanitarian convoys. We don’t do that. Those who did it are the terrorists,” Ja’afari told reporters after a UN Security Council meeting on Syria.

UN chief appalled by ‘chilling’ attacks on Syria’s Aleppo

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week accused the Syrian government of killing the most civilians during the country’s five year conflict. More than 400,000 people have died and half the 22 million population have been uprooted in the war.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Pogba wanted by Chelsea last year: Raiola

9 hours 17 min ago

MILAN: Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was targeted by Jose Mourinho for Chelsea last year but was blocked by an agreement between his agent and Juventus, the Frenchman’s agent Mino Raiola said Thursday.

Pogba, who left United for free to join Juventus in 2012 at the age of 18, returned to Old Trafford in a world record 105m euro deal earlier this summer.

But Raiola told Rai Sport: “Paul could have left (Juventus) last year because (Jose) Mourinho – then at Chelsea – really wanted him.

Ibra played a hand in Pogba move

“But Juventus and I had agreement: win the league title and the Champions League, then he can go.”

Juventus claimed a record-equalling fifth consecutive Serie A title last season but their progress in the Champions League was ended at the quarter-finals stage by Bayern Munich.

United eye first win in Europe

Raiola, meanwhile, said Pogba can expect a present from Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis because his transfer to United prepared the way for Juve to buy striker Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli for 90m euros.

He added: “De Laurentiis should be giving Paul a present, because without his departure Juventus would never have bought Higuain, and he would never have been able to bank all that money.”

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Pakistan Army denies capturing Indian soldier along LoC

9 hours 41 min ago

ISLAMABAD / NEW DELHI: Pakistan Army denied on Thursday reports that it had captured an Indian army soldier alongside the Line of Control (LoC) near the disputed Kashmir valley.

The military’s media wing, ISPR, when contacted, denied that an Indian soldier was in Pakistan Army’s custody.

The development came in the wake of rising tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours following an unprovoked cross-border firing from the Indian side of the border which left at least two Pakistani soldiers dead. However, the Indian military had dubbed the action as “surgical strikes” against militants on the Pakistani side of Kashmir.

Pakistan Army rubbishes India’s claim of ‘surgical strikes’ along LoC

“It is confirmed one soldier from 37 Rashtriya Rifles with weapons has inadvertently crossed over to the Pakistan side of the Line of Control,” Reuters had quoted an Indian army official as saying. He said such incidents of people including civilians crossing the frontier by mistake have happened in the past from both sides and those who strayed are returned.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Indian film association passes resolution temporarily banning Pakistani artists in India

10 hours 24 min ago

Amid intense tensions between India and Pakistan, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) has passed a resolution to temporarily ban Pakistani artists from working in India.

“Indian Motion Picture Producers Association(IMPPA) passes resolution banning Pakistani actors and technicians in India till normalcy returns,” ANI reported.

Indian Motion Picture Producers Association(IMPPA) passes resolution banning Pakistani Actors & technicians in India till normalcy returns

— ANI (@ANI_news) September 29, 2016

Pakistani artists threatened to leave India

However, the ban does not apply on Pakistani artists already working on projects in India. “If there’s any ongoing project from which [Pakistani artistes] cannot be removed now, on which everything has been done, they can come for that,” it said.

This puts in the clear films such as Fawad Khan-starrer Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Mahira Khan-starrer Raees.

IMPPA, however, said no further talent from Pakistan is hired until normalcy returns.  “IMPPA in its AGM paid homage to the martyrs who were killed in Uri. It therefore felt its responsibility towards the nation and passed a resolution banning Pakistani actors and technicians in India till normalcy returns. For IMPPA nation comes first, ” said Ashoke Pandit, Vice President of IMPPA.

The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association, popularly know as IMPPA, is the first and the only internationally recognised association of the Indian film production sector. It is the original mother organisation and all other associations which exist now are the offshoots of IMPPA, according to its website.

The resolution comes after Indian nationalist party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) warned all Pakistani artists in India to leave the country. MNS also demanded a ban on Bollywood films featuring Bollywood actors.

Tensions between the two countries escalated following attacks by militants in Uri sector of disputed Kahsmir that led to the deaths of 18 Indian soldiers on September 18.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Real Madrid ready to fight back to winning ways

11 hours 6 min ago

MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is not pressing the panic button despite a third straight draw for his team ahead of Sunday’s home game against Eibar.

The La Liga leaders failed to beat Villarreal and Las Palmas and then drew 2-2 at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Real twice led against Borussia but were pegged back, but Zidane told his club’s website what he felt Real were missing. “Perhaps another goal,” said Zidane. “When you lead by just the odd goal these things can happen to you.

Real Madrid Foundation comes to Pakistan

“Such is football and we’re on a bad run, but we are still in there fighting. We have drawn our last three games but we’ll continue to work hard and will come through it.”

Cristiano Ronaldo snapped out of his recent lean spell with his 95th Champions League goal after failing to find the net against Villarreal and Las Palmas — a game in which the Portuguese was substituted, much to his apparent disgust.

Real are currently without Casemiro, the Brazilian midfielder who fractured a bone in his leg in a win at Espanyol on Sept. 18 — the last time his team won.

Ronaldo, Bale back for record-chasing Real Madrid

The mood is more upbeat at Barcelona, one point adrift in La Liga, who tuned up for Sunday’s game at Celta Vigo by beating Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Arda Turan came off the bench to equalise for the Spanish champions and Gerard Pique scored the winner. “Pique played well, but so did the entire team,” Barca coach Luis Enrique said on the club’s website. “He always plays well. He’s a vital player, a key element of the team. He is great at getting the ball and he defends brilliantly.”

Barca face a Celta Vigo side in 12th place after winning their last two league games. Atletico remain unbeaten this season after defeating Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich 1-0 in their Champions League group game on Wednesday, courtesy of Jannick Carrasco’s goal — one of the best performances of Diego Simeone’s reign, according to the coach himself.

Atletico, third in La Liga, two points adrift of Real, will be without Uruguay defender Diego Godin, who sprained his ankle against Bayern, at Valencia on Sunday.

Compatriot Jose Maria Gimenez is also out with a muscle injury while Argentina midfielder Augusto Fernandez is recovering after knee-ligament surgery.

Their opponents, who lost their opening four La Liga games under Pako Ayestaran, have won two in a row with interim coach Voro in charge.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

US may consider lifting sanctions on Afghan warlord

11 hours 23 min ago

KABUL: The United States may consider lifting sanctions on one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords after a peace accord was signed in the Afghan capital on Thursday, a US official said.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani formalised the controversial arrangement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in a deal the government hopes will lead to more peace agreements. Surrounded by hundreds of Afghan officials, many former warlords and rivals themselves, Ghani signed a pact that opens the door to the militant faction of Hezb-i-Islami, led by Hekmatyar, playing an active role in politics.

A controversial figure from the insurgency against the Soviets in the 1980s and the civil wars of the 1990s, Hekmatyar has been designated a “global terrorist” by the United States, which has been leading an international military mission in Afghanistan for the past 15 years.

‘Butcher of Kabul’ calls for peace as signs Afghan pact

As part of the deal, the Afghan government agreed to lobby international organizations to lift sanctions on Hekmatyar and Hezb-i-Islami. “We will seriously consider any sanctions delisting request put forward by the government of Afghanistan,” the US official, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters.

“If the security council deems the sanctions imposed on certain individuals to be outdated and no longer in the interest of Afghan peace and stability, then we will need to reconsider these measures.” The US Embassy, the United Nations, and other international organizations have publicly praised the accord as a step toward resolving the conflict in Afghanistan.

Despite the rhetoric of unity, Hekmatyar was not present and addressed a gathering in Kabul in a recorded video message, appearing by himself to sign the document in a small room. “With this agreement, I hope to put an end to the current crisis in the country,” Hekmatyar said in his message.

“I call on all sides to support this peace deal and I call on the opposition parties of the government to join the peace process and pursue their goals through peaceful means.” He reiterated his calls for an end to “foreign interference” and for all foreign troops to leave Afghanistan.

Hekmatyar, who served as prime minister in the 1990s, before the rise to power of the Taliban, has long been known as close to neighbouring Pakistan, and he received US aid during the fight against the Soviets. His faction of Hezb-i-Islami has played a relatively small role in the current conflict, in which the Taliban have a leading role in battling the Western-backed government in Kabul.

Afghanistan inks peace deal with warlord ‘butcher of Kabul’

But government officials hope the accord will be a first step toward eventually making similar peace deals with the Taliban and other groups. “This is a chance for the Taliban and other militant groups to show what their decision is: To be with people and join the respected caravan of peace, like Hezb-i-Islami, or confront the people and continue the bloodshed,” Ghani said.

Peace talks with the Taliban, the largest insurgent group, have yet to get off the ground, but both sides have said they are open to the idea. Human rights groups as well as many Afghans expressed dismay that Hekmatyar is unlikely to face any punishment for his alleged role in past abuses, including firing rockets into civilian areas during a civil war in an attack that killed and injured thousands of residents.

Hekmatyar’s return “will compound the culture of impunity”, said Human Rights Watch researcher Patricia Gossman, who called it an “affront” to victims of abuses when the initial deal was struck last week.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Ramsey out of Wales World Cup qualifiers

11 hours 26 min ago

LONDON: Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has been left out of the Wales squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Georgia next week as he continues to struggle with a hamstring injury.

The 25-year-old has been sidelined since sustaining the injury during the Gunners’ opening Premier League game last month.

Cazorla penalty gives Arsenal late win over Southampton

Ramsey, one of the stars of Wales’s run to the semi-finals of this year’s European Championships in France, will miss the Austria game in Vienna next Thursday and the game against Georgia in Cardiff three days later.

Wales, who started their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 4-0 home win over Moldova, will also be without midfielder Jonny Williams, who has only recently returned to training following injury.

Palace sign former Arsenal midfielder Flamini

Wales squad for World Cup qualifiers against Austria (October 6) and Georgia (October 9).

Goalkeepers:

Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace/ENG), Danny Ward (Liverpool/ENG), Owain Fon Williams (Inverness/SCO)

Defenders:

Ben Davies (Tottenham/ENG), James Chester (Aston Villa/ENG), James Collins (West Ham/ENG), Paul Dummett (Newcastle/ENG), Chris Gunter (Reading/ENG), Jazz Richards (Cardiff), Neil Taylor (Swansea), Ashley Williams (Everton)

Midfielders:

Joe Allen (Stoke/ENG), David Edwards (Wolves/ENG), Emyr Huws (Cardiff), Andy King (Leicester/ENG), Tom Lawrence (Leicester/ENG), Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace/ENG), Shaun MacDonald (Wigan/ENG)

Forwards:

Gareth Bale (Real Madrid/ESP), Simon Church (Roda/NED), David Cotterill (Birmingham/ENG), Hal Robson-Kanu (West Brom/ENG), Sam Vokes (Burnley/ENG)

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Mufti tells Saudis to back government austerity moves

12 hours 57 min ago

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s top religious authority urged citizens to support government austerity measures, saying recent decrees were temporary moves necessitated by public interest, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

King Salman, in one of the most drastic measures to save money, ordered salaries of ministers and Shoura council members cut this week by 20 and 15 percent, and scaled back financial perks for public sector employees.

Okaz newspaper quoted the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh as saying that the recent orders were necessitated by special conditions would not be in place forever. “Cooperation and helping the state in what it sees to be in the public interest and honest vision is necessary,” Okaz quoted al-Sheikh as saying in his weekly radio address on Wednesday.

Troubled Saudi firm lays off Quran printers

“What has been issued is incidental and will fade away.” The plunge in oil prices since mid-2014 has pushed energy-rich Gulf Arab states to rein in lavish public spending. Saudi Arabia racked up a record budget deficit of nearly $100 billion last year, forcing it to find new savings and ways to raise money.

Wahhabi clergy offer legitimacy and public support to a king who styles himself “custodian of the two holy mosques”, and leave all matters of governance and foreign policy to him so long as his edicts do not contradict Muslim law.

In return, the ruling family has given them top government jobs, control over Saudi Arabia’s Sharia Muslim law, great influence over social issues and public morality, and funds for foreign evangelism and Wahhabi seminaries.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

At least one dead, 100 hurt in New Jersey train crash

13 hours 6 min ago

HOBOKEN: A packed commuter train ploughed into a station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour Thursday, killing at least one person and injuring over 100, many of them critically.

The train failed to stop as it sped into Hoboken station, went up over the bumper blocks at the end of the track and rammed into a wall, a New Jersey transit official told AFP at the scene. Michael Larson, another transit employee, told reporters he heard a “bomb-like explosion” as the train hit the bumpers with such force that it went airborne — hitting the station’s roof and causing it to partly collapse.

The roof collapse after a NJ Transit train crashed in to the platform at the Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. PHOTO: AFP

“It was going considerably faster than it should have normally been at the terminal,” he said. “It went up and over the bumper block, through the depot… and came to rest at the wall by the waiting room.” Video and photos on social media showed major damage to the transit hub just over the Hudson river from Manhattan, with the train tangled in wires and debris from what appeared to be caved in portions of the roof.

Passengers described the train — which was carrying around 250 people — ramming at full speed into the bumper at the end of the track. “We never slowed down,” Jim Finan, a commuter from New Jersey, told Fox News. “We ploughed, I mean, right through the bumper.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie confirmed to CNN one fatality from the early morning accident. US media earlier reported that three people had died. No official toll was immediately available. State transit spokeswoman Jennifer Nelson told reporters at the scene that more than 100 people were injured, with “multiple critical injuries.” All the victims have been evacuated to two local hospitals.

Kenneth Garay, chief medical officer at Jersey City medical center, said its surgeons were “all hands on deck” as they treat patients suffering from orthopedic injuries, internal injuries and lacerations. “None at this point are life-threatening. They’re critical and stable and being carefully monitored,” he told CNN.

Garay said that another 40 people were transported from the train station by bus to be treated for “walking types of injuries.” Governor Christie told CNN there was no longer anyone trapped on board the train, and that the train engineer was among those being treated in hospital for unspecified injuries.

Nelson told reporters it was not known how fast the train was travelling as it entered the station. “We have to investigate all potential causes of the derailment,” Governor Christie said, “but you can see from the level of destruction at the station that this was obviously a train that was traveling at a high rate of speed.”

Train #1614 was arriving from Spring Valley when it struck the Hoboken terminal building at around 8:45 am (1245 GMT), New Jersey Transit said in a statement, adding that all services were currently suspended in and out of the station.

Finan, the passenger interviewed by CNN, said it was an unusually crowded morning. “Everyone who was standing kind of went flying,” he said. “I saw a lot of head injuries and kind of people with cuts.” “Afterwards there was some panic. People were trying to smash some windows out.”

Emergency vehicles converged on the scene in response to the crash. Pancho Bernasconi, Getty’s director of photography for news who arrived just after the crash, told AFP he saw people running for shelter, several of them injured.

Passengers described a scene of chaos with dazed and bloodied people making their way to safety. “We crashed, and the lights went out. A few people screamed,” Leon Offengenden told CNN. “It was pretty chaotic. And people just in shock and everybody has photos and cameras out and iPads. It was pretty intense,” he said.

The last major train crash in the United States was in May 2015, when an Amtrak train linking Washington to New York derailed in Philadelphia, leaving eight dead and 200 injured. In December 2013 in New York a suburban train derailed in the Bronx while travelling at several times the speed limit, leaving four people dead and more than 60 injured.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Indecisiveness: ECP adjourns hearing in disqualification pleas

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:47

ISLAMABAD: The top election body is yet to decide if it has the authority to adjudicate on the petitions seeking disqualification of members of parliament facing charges of concealing their assets.

It has been more than three months since the disqualification references against the top leaders of the PML-N and the PTI landed in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Wednesday’s hearing did not turn out to be any different from the proceedings on similar petitions on the matter.

Defence counsels secured another adjournment on mere argument that they did not believe the ECP had the jurisdiction to hear such petitions.

Salman Aslam Butt, former Attorney General, appeared on behalf of the prime minister and his four close relative lawmakers facing charges of concealing their real wealth.

Butt filed replies on behalf of Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shahbaz, Ishaq Dar and Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar in petitions filed by the PTI, PPP, PAT, AML and others implicating them along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in offshore companies.

Butt claimed that he could not get the reply of the prime minister since he went to UN. The counsel contested the ECP’s powers to adjudicate references seeking disqualification of lawmakers on the ground and urged the commission to first decide if it was the proper forum to take up such cases.

Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza, a former judge of Supreme Court, directed him to file a reply of the prime minister by the next hearing fixed for October 10.

Heading the bench, comprising four members of the commission, the CEC remarked that they would decide the question of jurisdiction before moving further, but the respondents must file their replies first.

Interestingly, PTI chief Imran Khan and secretary general Jahangir Tareen both facing similar charges came up with divergent views.

Imran’s counsel argued that the ECP has all the authority to decide such cases while the viewpoint of Tareen’s lawyer appeared to be close to the stance taken by the prime minister’s lawyer.

Imran’s lawyer Bakhtiar Kasuri had exchanged heated arguments with the CEC during the proceedings. However, the CEC regretted his attitude.

In a separate case concerning Prime Minister’s son-in-law Captain Safdar, Salman Butt took the same stance and did not file a reply. Nawabzada Salahuddin Saeed, the PTI’s candidate in the 2013 general elections, was first to move the ECP. He had filed a petition against Safdar on May 21.

Some legal experts say the case against Safdar was most compelling since the name of Prime Minister’s daughter Mariam Safdar is directly mentioned in the Panama leaks.

Salahuddin’s counsel, Faisal Hussain argued that the continuous failure of the defendant to reply on changes levelled in his petition should be construed as an admission of the accusations on the part of the respondent.

The CEC directed Safdar’s counsel to file a reply before the next hearing, otherwise the commission would have no option but to allow the petition. Before Wednesday’s hearing, the ECP had already held three hearings in Safdar’s case all leading to adjournments. The ECP would take up it up along with other cases on October 10.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Question hour: 27 non-career diplomats posted abroad, NA told

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:43

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Wednesday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has appointed a total of 27 non-career diplomats in key foreign missions – half of them are retired armed forces officers.

“Some 27 non-career diplomats had been appointed during the current tenure of the PML-N – 14 retired armed forces officers while 13 were retired officers of the foreign service.

Some 11 out of 27 non-career diplomats – appointed from June 2013 till date – have currently been representing Pakistan in different missions abroad, while 14 relinquished the charge after the expiry of their contracts.

While Maj-Gen (retd) Tariq Rashid Khan and Maj-Gen (retd) Waqar Ahmed have been designated as ambassadors to Brunei Darussalam and Libya, respectively, they have yet to assume their offices.

The information was shared with the lower house during the question hour session. Currently serving non-career diplomats include Jalil Abbas Jilani (USA), Masood Khalid (China), Rafat Mahdi (Spain), Arif Mahmood (Serbia), Kamran Shafi (Cuba), Lt-Gen (retd) Shafaat Ullah Shah (Jordon), Vice Admiral (retd) Sayyid Khawar Ali (Maldives), Lt-Gen (retd) Agha Muhammad Umer Farooq (Nigeria), Maj Gen (retd) Syed Shakeel Hussain (Sri Lanka), Air Marshal (retd) Athar Hussain Bukhari (Syria) and former DG ISPR Maj-Gen (retd) Athar Abbas (Ukraine).

Also, lawmakers from the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) urged the government to adopt evolutionary approach on the issue of merger of the tribal areas in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, in addition to focusing on electoral rights and rehabilitation of temporarily displaced persons (TDPs).

MNA from the Bajaur Shahabuddin Khan, while taking part in the debate on Fata Reforms Committee report, said about 95% people in Fata wanted a merger with K-P.

“Nobody cares about the human rights of the people of that area and many in the House wanted a referendum to be held on the merger issue,” he said, pleading, “For God’s sake, let the reforms pass and abolish the FCR.”

While discussion was underway, the majority of lawmakers left the House with only 30 members remaining. Pointing towards the empty benches of the treasury, a PTI lawmaker commented that it showed the seriousness of government on such an important topic.

Nasir Afridi, another MNA from the Khyber tribal area, questioned unbridled powers of political agents who, he said, were the executive, the judicial officer and the treasury all at the same time and nobody had questioned that role.

Afridi also suggested that the FCR needed to be abolished and the people of Fata should be given what they want.

Dr GG Jamal of Orakzai said the word ‘A’ in Fata stands for “Administered”. “It is the only part of the country which is administered,” while the rest was being governed through people’s power.

He said those who wanted to see an overnight change in Fata should dare go to the Orakzai Agency where the entry was not allowed without a permit and after registration.

“How can you merge such an area in K-P all of a sudden,” he asked, suggesting that the government should first provide basic necessities to TDPs and rehabilitation should be the priority.

“You are giving them a merger option while they have no homes,” Jamal said, warning that the government should take evolutionary instead of a revolutionary approach.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Media talk: Govt aware of farmers’ needs. says Rashid

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:38

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid on Wednesday said the government is fully cognizant of the needs of farmers and has provided them a variety of incentives to cover up income shortfall due to stagnation in international market.

Addressing a press conference in front of the Parliament House Rashid said, “Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and the government has facilitated farmers through various incentives to cover up their income shortfall.”

The minister said, some opposition parties are bent upon politicking on this issue but PML-N will not let the opposition play with the sentiments of poor farmers. Rashid was hitting back on the allegations put forward by the opposition regarding the government’s package for the farmers

The minister categorically rejected the allegations of Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah and said it would have been better if ‘Shah Sahib’ could implement the Prime Minister’s package in Sindh.

He said every farmer in Punjab has availed the benefits of Prime Minister’s package as the provincial government diligently moved farmers to mitigate their sufferings and no complaint was received in this regard from any corner.

He said both major opposition parties suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of PML-N in the recent elections and now they are exploiting people to regain their lost popularity.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Clergy seeks time to scan marriage bill  

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:36

ISLAMABAD: Bishops and pastors from across the country have sought two weeks from the Ministry of Human Rights to deliberate over the proposed Christian Marriage and Divorce Bill, 2016, it emerged on Wednesday.

The ministry had earlier proposed Christian Marriage and Divorce Bill, 2016 after making amendments to the Christian Marriage Act, 1872 and Christian Divorce Act, 1869.

Christian clergymen along with minority lawmakers had already opposed the ministry’s initiative during a consultative meeting and urged the ministry to review its decision.

Under the proposed bill, the age of the parties to be married should not be less than 18 years. Additionally, neither of the parties intending to marry should have a spouse living at the time of the marriage. Similarly, each church shall have the right to solemnise a marriage according to its own rites, principles or rituals. Bishops agreed to set a minimum age for marriage.

A senior official of the ministry, requesting anonymity, said that the Bishops were supposed to forward their suggestions on September 10 but haven’t done so far which has caused the delay.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Adjourned for 2nd day: Senate session ends on a hostile note

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:34

ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: In what appears to be a sign of the widening chasm between the government and opposition parties especially the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the joint opposition on Wednesday boycotted the Senate proceedings leading to the session’s adjournment for the second consecutive day.

The development bears significance ahead of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) much trumpeted Raiwand march, to be held tomorrow (Friday).

Like Tuesday, the Senate’s session on Wednesday also ended unexpectedly on a hostile note after the opposition lawmakers protested over the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led Punjab government’s decision to disallow the PPP stalwart and National Assembly’s Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah from participating in a farmers’ protest in Lahore.

Soon after the question hour, Senate’s Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan informed Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani that the opposition parties had decided to boycott the Senate proceedings in protest against the ‘highhanded, brutal and coercive’ antics of Punjab government.

“Countless farmers have been arrested without any reason and unlawfully thrown behind bars. The government wasted Rs341 billion on Farmers Package but there has been no trickledown effect on the abysmal conditions the farmers are grappling with.

“When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) took on the government, our astute finance minister backtracked and said only Rs30 billion were allocated for the package. The farmers’ protests are totally justified and the tyrannical methods of the Punjab government are height of irrationality,” Aitzaz said

Meanwhile, lawmakers from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Awami National Party (ANP), the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Balochistan National Party- Mengal (BNP-Mengal) also joined the PPP to leave the Senate hall.

In a desperate bid, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab moved to pacify the aggrieved opposition but it refused to pay any attention to the minister and boycotted the proceedings.

Later, the PPP’s Sherry Rehman returned to the house only to point out the lack of quorum. Upon counting, Rabbani suspended the proceedings for over 30 minutes. Upon recounting, the quorum was found to be unmet following which the chairman Senate adjourned the Senate session till Thursday.

A PTI lawmaker, requesting anonymity, claimed that leaders from the PPP and the JI assured the PTI leadership of their undeclared support for Raiwind march.

“The parliamentary unity we have demonstrated today is an expression of our informal understanding reached on the Rawind march. On the surface, the PTI may be alone on the Raiwind march issue but a lot is going on behind the scene,” he claimed.

Senate question-hour

Earlier in a written reply, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar revealed that the Sust Dry Port, which is the entry point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), neither has a warehouse to handle Chinese cargo nor does the government have a plan to construct one.

“There is no warehouse at Sost Dry Port,” said Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, in a written reply to a question by Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak. “Currently, there are 36 sheds at Sost, which can accommodate cargo of 36 vehicles’ containers at a time.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Bright future: Youth true guarantors of a prosperous nation, says Gen Raheel

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:29

RAWALPINDI: The Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday said that the younger generation is blessed with enormous potential.

COAS presented the Academic Excellence Awards to the students of Army Public Schools and College System (APSACS) who distinguished themselves in SSC and HSSC Exams of Federal Board.

General Raheel maintained that the younger generation was the true guarantors of a bright, prosperous and safe Pakistan. “I have no doubt that the future generation of Pakistan will take this country to its ultimate zenith through their hard work, dedication and passion,” he said.

He said education institutions must lay more emphasis on character building of students for grooming of a well-rounded and wholesome personality.

The COAS congratulated successful students, their parents and the faculty for achieving excellent results. He also praised the Army Public School and College System saying that it was a leading education network with 183 institutions across the country and was imparting quality education to almost 0.2 million students from various strata of society.

A large number of students, parents of students, faculty and staff of APSACS Sectt attended the ceremony.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Amid Indian threat: Experts urge plans for water emergency

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:27

ISLAMABAD: If India unilaterally scraps the Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan, already a water-deficient country, will face a drought-like situation besides experiencing a reduction in hydropower generation, shrinkage of flows in irrigation system, aggravating an already deepening environmental crisis, experts maintained on Wednesday.

Expressing grave concern over the absence of a national strategy to cope with the emerging situation, they were in agreement that the country would be faced with an acute shortage of water simply because there was a shortage of water reservoirs.

An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the authorities concerned should hammer out plans for such emergencies.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Meteorological Department’s chief Dr Ghulam Rasul said: “The suspension of water supply by India will have an immediate impact on southern Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab mainly because these areas are already facing water shortages because they receive below average rainfall especially during winters.”

He said currently, Pakistan has two main reservoirs, Mangla and Tarbela dams with a maximum storage capacity of 30-day water supply.

After monsoon, he said, some amount of water was already used.

The water storage capacity of these two reservoirs has already dropped to 30 percent mainly because of silting.

In winters, the water inflow in Tarbela Dam is very low.

“In winter, Pakistan needs ample amount of water for sowing Rabi crops and any blockage in water flow will have an adverse impact on winter crop production,” said Dr Rasul.

According to data collected by IRSA, Tarbela Dam’s maximum water storage capacity is 6.2 million acre-foot, while Mangla Dam can hold 7.3 million acre-foot.

However, until Tuesday, Tarbela Dam had 4.4 million acre-foot and Mangala Dam contained 5.4 million acre-foot of water.

Every year, around 145,000 million acre-foot of water enters into Pakistan through rain, snow and glacier melting, out of which 30,000 million acre-foot re-enters the sea because of scarcity of water reservoirs.

Meanwhile, 15 million acre-foot of water is wasted in canals during irrigation.

“Pakistan’s irrigation system is already facing a shortage of 14 million acre-foot of water and if India suspends our water supply … it will badly affect our Rabi crops,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Mobilising workers: Imran on whirlwind tour of Lahore

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:23

ISLAMABAD: Chanting anti-government slogans, chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rallied party workers across Lahore on Wednesday in a bid to mobilise them just a day before the Raiwind march.

Imran Khan took potshots at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the rally, shouting:‘Gali gali main shor hai, Nawaz Sahrif chor hai’ as he urged his party’s supporters to join the Friday Raiwind rally.

The PTI chief toured various camp offices across the city, including ones set up in Badami Bagh, Bhatti Chowk, Nasir Bagh, Babu Sabu, Ichhra, Mughalpura, Ghazi Chowk, Liberty Chowk and Wapda Town.

As Imran Khan announced that his party will make its presence felt in the city until the Raiwind protest, the party’s district leadership swung into action by holding small rallies.

The Lahore rally started around 5pm and continued late into the night.

On Wednesday, hundreds of supporters thronged to the streets to receive Khan’s convoy.

Surrounded by supporters, Khan delivered brief speeches at all camp offices he visited.

During an address to party workers in NA-127, Khan welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to hear their appeal on Panama Papers.

Khan urged the Interior Minister to provide security to the Supreme Court, saying that if the Prime Minister felt threatened, he might resort to attacking the institution. “Those who have been threatening us with batons may just as well attack the Supreme Court,” he said, adding that the ruling PML-N had already set a precedent in this regard.

Khan also warned the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), saying that it was ‘on trial’.

According to him, the country’s top electoral body had lost its credibility after “22 political parties expressed lack of confidence” after the 2013 elections.

He invited the farmers protesting nearby to join PTI’s Raiwind rally.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Covert war: Dossier on India’s terror acts on anvil

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:15

ISLAMABAD: Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday said Islamabad is preparing a dossier containing evidence of India’s involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan.

“The dossier will soon be dispatched to the world leaders,” he said in an interview a day after warning India of grave consequences if it annulled the decades-old water-sharing treaty.

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned “blood and water cannot flow together”, Pakistan had declared that if India opts out of the Indus Waters Treaty, it would amount to “an act of war”.

The adviser said the dossier will highlight the confessional statement of Indian agent Kulbhushan Yadav and other undeniable evidences.

Responding to a question, Aziz said India cannot revoke the Indus Waters Treaty unilaterally. “Pakistan will also sensitise the world on India’s water aggression.”

The relations between Pakistan and India hit a new low after 18 Indian soldiers were killed at an army base attack by insurgent in Uri in Indian Occupied Kashmir on September 18.

PM Modi vowed that the attack would not go unavenged. India is working to isolate Pakistan globally including through the United Nations. Prime Minister Modi has indicated that while he is unlikely to take strong military action, he will move to corner Pakistan strategically.

The adviser hit out at India saying, Kashmir is a disputed issue and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement on the issue in the UNGA contravenes to the facts.

He pointed out if Kashmir is an integral part of India, why it has deployed 700,000 troops there to suppress the voice of the Kashmiris.

On the 1960s water treaty, Aziz told the National Assembly that “International law states India can’t unilaterally separate itself from the treaty”, saying “this act of revocation can be taken as an act of war”.

Pakistan has also approached the World Bank and the International Court of Justice over the issue.

Indian claims it has so far not fully exploited its 20% share of the water. Yesterday, officials said that will change along with accelerated plans to build new hydropower plants along the three rivers, a move which is certain to irk Islamabad.

The Indus Water Treaty was brokered by the World Bank in 1960 after tough negotiations.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Security threats: Ghalanai’s main market shut down  

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 21:11

SHABQADAR: In the wake of a terror threat, the Mohmand administration has closed the agency’s Ghalanai main market on Tuesday. Political Agent Mohmand Mehmod Aslam Wazir made a surprising visit to the main market and met with market committee and shop keepers. Owing to the insufficient security, he later ordered to shut down the main market till further orders. When contacted, APA headquarter Hasebur Rehman told The Express Tribune, that the market was closed because of the lack of security arrangement. He added that the decision was taken in a tribal Jirga. Explaining their plan of action he said that the market will be made secure with the help of local market committee and the Levies Force. He also said that security SOPs will be made for markets, mosques and other public places.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News