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    A medical officer at the Shaikh Zayed Medical College and Hospital (SZMC&H) in Rahim Yar Khan was on Monday suspended on the charges of assaulting a staff nurse, officials said.

    The action against Dr Khurram Shamsher Mughal, a leader of the Young Doctors Association (YDA), was taken after a complaint was filed against him by a charge nurse.

    The nurse, who is deployed at the neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit (ICU), filed an application to the hospital's nursing superintendent on October 12, stating that when she was on duty on the night of Oct 9 in the ICU, medical officer Dr Mughal tried to take her into his room.

    She resisted his move, and when he forced her, she called her colleague, another staff nurse, and saved herself from being sexually assaulted, the application said.

    A majority of staff nurses at the hospital protested outside the principal's office to condemn this act of the doctor.

    SZMC&H spokesperson Professor Dr Burhan Mustafa told Dawn that the services of Dr Mughal, who was serving as the medical officer of the anaesthesia department on contract basis, have been placed under suspension with immediate effect.

    According to a letter issued by the hospital's medical superintendent on Monday, the statement of allegations against the doctor will be served separately.

    An office order also issued by the superintendent said, "[This] matter is of [a] serious nature and is required to be inquired."

    The hospital's administration has formed a five-member inquiry committee to probe into the matter and submit its inquiry report to the principal within two days.

    The convener of the committee is Dr Masood ul Haq, head of the pulmonology department, and will include Dr Shoaib Anwar, Associate Professor neurosurgical department; Dr Gul Iftikhar ul Hassan, additional principal medical officer (APMO); Dr Shazia Parveen, deputy medical superintendent; and Mrs Asmat Batool, the nursing superintendent.

    Second incident in one month

    This the second reported incident of assault against female medical officials at SZMC&H in less than a month.

    In September, a sweeper had allegedly tried to rape a female medical officer in the emergency ward of SZMC&H. The principal, however, denied the occurrence of any incident of a rape attempt.

    The incident led to the Punjab government suspending the principal and medical superintendent of the hospital for showing "inefficiency" regarding the matter.

    Notably, the YDA — of which the accused in the latest incident is a leader — had after the first incident protested in many hospitals of the province and demanded legislation in the Punjab Assembly for the protection of doctors, nurses and other paramedics. The doctors had suspended their work in the outpatient departments (OPDs).

    YDA activists had even forced the closure of OPDs of five teaching hospitals in Lahore to protest against the incident of alleged harassment of the woman medical officer.

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    The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to include the votes cast by overseas Pakistanis in the by-poll results after a meeting with National Database and Registration Authority authorities on Monday.

    ECP Spokesman Nadeem Qasim said that the details of all the votes cat through the internet have been sent to the relevant returning officers (ROs).

    "The ROs will add these results to their final tallies," Qasim added.

    Out of 7,364 registered overseas Pakistanis votes, 6,233 polled their votes through i-voting software in Sunday's by-polls.

    The ECP had allowed overseas Pakistanis to vote in the by-polls on an experimental basis on the directives of the Supreme Court.

    Though the ECP has not released a statement about the turnout in the by-polls— that were held on 24 provincial assembly seats and 11 National Assembly constituencies — an official said the estimated turnout was between 35 and 40 per cent.

    Election Commission of Pakistan. — Photo/FileElection Commission of Pakistan. — Photo/File

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    The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to include the votes cast by overseas Pakistanis in the by-poll results after a meeting with National Database and Registration Authority authorities on Monday.

    ECP Spokesman Nadeem Qasim said that the details of all the votes cat through the internet have been sent to the relevant returning officers (ROs).

    "The ROs will add these results to their final tallies," Qasim added.

    Out of 7,364 registered overseas Pakistanis votes, 6,233 polled their votes through i-voting software in Sunday's by-polls.

    The ECP had allowed overseas Pakistanis to vote in the by-polls on an experimental basis on the directives of the Supreme Court.

    Though the ECP has not released a statement about the turnout in the by-polls— that were held on 24 provincial assembly seats and 11 National Assembly constituencies — an official said the estimated turnout was between 35 and 40 per cent.

    Election Commission of Pakistan. — Photo/FileElection Commission of Pakistan. — Photo/File

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    Suspected land grabber Malik Mansha Ali Khokhar — widely known as Mansha 'Bomb' — was taken into custody from the Supreme Court on Monday after he had gone there to "surrender himself".

    Mansha, who is wanted by police in over 80 criminal cases in Lahore, had spent more than four to five hours in the SC premises in the hopes of meeting Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar in person.

    In a letter to the Supreme Court, Mansha wrote that suo motu proceedings had been initiated against him but he was unable to appear before the SC on the date fixed as he was unaware of the said proceedings. The letter added that Mansha was living at different address then the one mentioned on his CNIC.

    However, the chief justice did not take the matter up and did not meet Mansha. The suspected land grabber was taken into custody by officials of the Secretariat Police Station.

    In his letter, Mansha had said that he had found out about the proceedings through the media, adding that he was a "law abiding citizen" who would never think of not appearing before the court.

    He added that he feared "discrimination" on the hands of the investigative agencies and asked the court for protection.

    Earlier, while speaking to the media upon his arrival at the Supreme Court, he said that the Punjab police had added 'Bomb' to his name to malign him. He alleged that because of a political animosity, an investigation was being carried out against him.

    Mansha had told the media that he had hidden from the police so that he could appear before CJP, adding that he would wait for the top judge.

    He added that he had come to the SC of his own accord so that he could surrender himself for arrest as per the law.

    "I am a family man and I have not grabbed anyone's land," he said, denying being part of any land mafia. "I have inherited the properties."

    The suspected land grabber said that PML-N leaders Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif had been unfair to him and that he was a PTI supporter.

    An ATC had earlier issued arrest warrants for Mansha and his three sons in a case registered by Johar Town police on charges of attacking a team of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA).

    According to the FIR, Mansha and his sons Faisal, Tariq and Asim, were accused of attacking an LDA team during an anti-encroachment operation in Johar Town area.

    The suspects neither appeared before the court nor joined police investigation.

    On Oct 4, an investigating officer (IO) told the court that the suspects had gone underground since the Supreme Court ordered a crackdown on land grabbers in Johar Town.

    The IO asked the court to issue warrants for the arrest of the suspects. The court accepted the request and issued warrants, directing the police to produce them on Oct 10.

    Mansha 'Bomb' arrives at the Supreme Court on Monday to surrender himself for arrest. — DawnNews TVMansha 'Bomb' arrives at the Supreme Court on Monday to surrender himself for arrest. — DawnNews TV

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    The Karachi Bar Association (KBA) has announced to boycott the legal proceedings in the city courts on Tuesday to record protest against the removal of Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on the recommendation of Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

    KBA president Syed Haider Imam Rizvi said the decision to boycott the legal proceedings was unanimously taken at a meeting of bar association’s managing committee held on Monday.

    Rizvi said the removal of the IHC judge was “a serious issue which raises questions on the independence of judiciary". A general body meeting of the KBA would also be held to decide the future course of action in this regard, he said.

    President Arif Alvi had, on the recommendation of the SJC, removed Justice Siddiqui as a judge of the IHC, according to a notification issued by the law ministry on October 11.

    A letter written by the council had reportedly stated that it found Justice Siddiqui guilty of misconduct over a speech he delivered in July earlier this year before the Rawalpindi District Bar Association.

    President Arif Alvi had, on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council, had removed Justice Siddiqui as a judge of the IHC. —FilePresident Arif Alvi had, on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council, had removed Justice Siddiqui as a judge of the IHC. —File

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    Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday expanded his cabinet by inducting four more ministers.

    With the new additions, the strength of the provincial cabinet has risen to 16, excluding two advisers.

    Sindh Governor Imran Ismail administered oath to the new ministers at a simple ceremony held at the Governor House, a statement issued by the chief minister's spokesperson said.

    The ministers who were sworn in include Taimur Talpur, Syed Awais Qadir Shah, Murtaza Baloch and Abdul Bari Pitafi. The portfolios assigned to them were not immediately announced.

    Talpur, a Member of Provincial Assembly from Umerkot district, is the son of MNA Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpur. Shah is an MPA from Sukkur, Baloch from Malir and Pitafi from Ghotki.

    The oath-taking ceremony was attended by Sindh PPP President Nisar Khuhro, provincial ministers, MPAs, MNAs, bureaucrats and other notables.

    Chief Minister Shah had inducted eight ministers in his cabinet in the first phase on August 19, followed by the appointment of four ministers in the second phase on September 5. While four additional ministers were inducted in the third phase on Monday, Shah still has a provision to induct two more ministers, according to the statement.

    In this file photo, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah chairs a meeting of the provincial cabinet.In this file photo, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah chairs a meeting of the provincial cabinet.

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    The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)-led government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Monday unveiled a budget with an outlay of Rs648 billion for the remaining eight months of the current fiscal, with Rs180bn earmarked for development.

    Delivering the budget speech in the KP Assembly session with Speaker Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani in the chair, Minister for Finance Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra said the government had decided against revising the rate of any provincial tax since the uplift of poor segments of society was its top priority.

    "We are making concentrated efforts to strengthen tax recovery system, however, we will not impose any new tax on people," he said. The government expects to raise Rs603bn in revenue in FY2018-19.

    Of the total outlay, Rs438 billion will be spent on current expenditure, including pay and pension bill of government employees.

    The minister also announced an increase of 10 per cent ad-hoc relief in salaries and pensions in addition to 50pc rise in house rent of provincial government employees.

    Providing a break-up of provincial receipts, he said KP will receive Rs426bn from the federal divisible pool, Rs23bn as gas royalty, Rs29bn as net hydel profit and Rs36bn as arrears of the net profit.

    The province's own receipts have been estimated at Rs112bn, including Rs23.8bn from taxes and Rs17.4bn from non-tax sectors. A total of Rs 71bn has been pitched as foreign grants, reflecting an 11pc increase over the outgoing year.

    The budget envisages hefty funds for major schemes such as the Bus Rapid Transit project and Sehat Insaf programme. The government has proposed Rs79.55bn for the provincial development projects, while Rs29.34bn have been set aside for development schemes financed by the district annual development programme.

    KP Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra delivers the budget speech in KP Assembly on Monday. — DawnNewsTVKP Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra delivers the budget speech in KP Assembly on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

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    The National Assembly Secretariat on Monday announced the formation of "Parliamentary Committee on General Elections, 2018," to finalise the terms of reference (ToRs) for rigging allegations probe and named the 30 parliamentarians who will be part of the committee, DawnNewsTV reported.

    The committee comprises 21 members of the National Assembly and nine senators, however, the government is yet to decide that who will head the committee.

    According to a notification issued by the NA Secretariat, the parliamentary committee will be responsible for finalising the ToRs for looking into the allegations of rigging.

    The members of treasury benches, who were made part of the committee, include Pervez Khattak, Shafqat Mehmood, Shireen Mazari, Fawad Chaudhry, Aamir Dogar, Khalid Magsi, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Ameen ul Haq and Tariq Cheema.

    Meanwhile, Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Tanvir Hussain, Ahsan Iqbal, Murtaza Javed Abbasi and Rana Sanaullah will represent the PML-N in the committee.

    From the PPP's side, former leader of opposition Khurshid Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar and Raja Pervez Ashraf have been taken on board, along with former CM KPK Ameer Haider Khan Hoti from ANP and Abdul Wasay from MMA.

    In addition to this, Senators Azam Khan Swati, Mohammad Ali Saif, Sarfraz Bugti, Nauman Wazir, Hidayatullah, Javed Abbasi, Asad Junejo, Usman Kakar, Rehman Malik and Abdul Ghafoor Haidery will also be a part of the committee.

    Last month, the government had agreed to form a special committee of the National Assembly to probe allegations of rigging in the July 25 general election after both sides took a step back from their stated positions over its composition.

    Under an agreed formula, the committee will have equal representation from the government and the opposition sides and it will be headed by a person to be nominated by PM Khan.

    The committee comprises 21 MNAs and nine senators; the government is yet to announce that who will head the probe. —FileThe committee comprises 21 MNAs and nine senators; the government is yet to announce that who will head the probe. —File

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    Finance Minister Asad Umar on Monday said that the government will present the proposed International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package before the parliament for approval.

    The minister said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government had reduced the burden on common man as compared to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, which had levied increased taxes on items necessary for a common man, besides increasing electricity prices.

    However, the incumbent government had only imposed taxes on luxury cars and expensive mobile phones, the minister said.

    The minister said the government had to take the decision to approach the IMF because of the high current account deficit as a result of the wrong economic policies adopted by the past government.

    Umar said $12 billion were required to fill the current account deficit, which was essential for the country's economic stability.

    “The PTI government was taking concrete measures to facilitate the industrial sector, including the provision of cheap gas and electricity, so that exports could be boosted,” the minister said, adding that the government would bring reforms in the economic system.

    The finance minister vowed that the PTI government will not take any step contrary to the party's manifesto. “Measures being taken to get back the stolen national wealth stashed abroad and national institutions are being strengthened for this purpose,” he said.

    The incumbent government was also introducing other revenue generation measures to avoid the IMF packages in future, Umar said.

    Earlier this month, the government made the "difficult decision" to approach the IMF for a bailout package to address the mounting balance of payments crisis faced by Pakistan.

    In a video message, the finance minister had revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had given the go-ahead to open talks with the Fund for a bailout programme after consulting economic experts and stakeholders.

    The negotiations will be aimed at reaching a "stabilisation recovery programme" which can be used to tackle the economic crisis, the minister said.

    $12bn required to fill the current account deficit, which is essential for the country's economic stability, says finance minister. —File$12bn required to fill the current account deficit, which is essential for the country's economic stability, says finance minister. —File

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    ISLAMABAD: Each vote cast by overseas Pakistanis in Sunday’s by-elections cost the national exchequer over Rs15,000, informed sources told Dawn.

    An Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) official said that an amount of Rs95 million was incurred on the exercise to allow the overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes through the internet-voting system.

    He said the major chunk was spent on development of i-voting software, adding that other procedural expenses were negligible. He said that out of 7,364 registered overseas voters, only 6,233 cast their votes, with the cost of each vote exceeding Rs15,000.

    The ECP had allowed the overseas Pakistanis to vote through internet as a pilot project on the directives of the Supreme Court and declared that the votes would not be included in the count if some controversy cropped up.

    However, the ECP has now decided to include overseas Pakistanis’ votes in the final count for the by-polls held in 35 constituencies of National and provincial assemblies.

    ECP decides to include expats’ votes in final count; both ruling and opposition parties have improved their numbers

    ECP spokesman Chaudhry Nadeem Qasim said that details of all votes cast through internet had been sent to the returning officers (ROs) concerned. “The ROs will add these results to their final tallies,” he added.

    During the process of online registration in September, only 7,419 of the 632,000 overseas Pakistanis had got them registered for i-voting and out of them only 6,322 (83.56 per cent) had actually availed of the facility.

    The proportion of votes cast by registered overseas voters remained 100pc in only three provincial assembly constituencies where their number was very low — 23 votes cast in PP-222, 20 in PP-164 and only one in PB-35.

    In terms of numbers, the constituents from NA-243 (Karachi) settled abroad left all behind — 1,112 (82pc) out of the total 1,353 registered voters availed of i-voting facility.

    In NA-131 (Lahore) — where Prime Minister Imran Khan had defeated PML-N stalwart Khawaja Saad Rafique in the July 25 general elections — 991 (88pc) of the total 1,126 registered voters cast their votes, while 561 (80pc) of the 698 registered voters cast their votes in NA-69, 460 (81pc) of the 567 registered voters in NA-53 (Islamabad), 400 (78pc) of the 510 registered voters in NA-124 (Lahore), 281 ((92pc) of the 304 voters in NA-35 (Bannu), 265 (83pc) of the 321 registered voters in NA-63 (Rawalpindi), 257 (82pc) of the 312 registered voters in NA-65 (Chakwal) and 202 (88pc) of the 230 registered voters in NA-56 (Attock).

    Among the provincial assembly constituencies, 200 overseas Pakistanis 227 out of the total 253 registered in PP-27 (Jhelum) exercised their right to vote, followed by PK-44 where 149 (81pc) of the 185 registered voters cast their votes through internet.

    Party positions

    Although the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has lost some ground by suffering defeat in a few constituencies that it had won in the general elections, the outcome of the by-polls will have no impact on the outlook of the National Assembly where the PTI along with its allies will continue to retain majority.

    Both the treasury and opposition parties have improved their numbers in the National Assembly, with the PTI and allies getting six and the opposition parties five seats out of the 11 contested in Sunday’s by-polls.

    The latest position of parties in the NA shows that the PTI will now have 155 members whereas the number of PML-N members has increased to 85 from 81. The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal has also improved its strength in the lower house of parliament with the victory of Zahid Durrani from Bannu. The MMA will now have 16 members in the NA.

    With the victories of the sons of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, the PML-Q has also improved its position in the NA. It will now have five members in the assembly.

    The strength of the ruling alliance has now reached 183 in the 341-member house, where one seat is still vacant. The opposition parties will now have 158 members in the house.

    The ruling alliance comprises the PTI (155 members), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (seven), PML-Q (five), Balochistan Awami Party (five), Balochistan National Party (four), Grand Democratic Alliance (three), Awami Muslim League (one), Jamhoori Watan Party (one) and two independents.

    The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz with 85 seats is the largest party in the opposition group, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (54 seats), MMA (16), Awami National Party (one) and two independents.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    Rs95 million incurred on iVoting exercise. ─ File photoRs95 million incurred on iVoting exercise. ─ File photo

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    PESHAWAR: Labourers use heavy machinery for construction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.—Online
    PESHAWAR: Labourers use heavy machinery for construction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.—Online

    PESHAWAR: Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra on Monday unveiled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Rs180 billion Annual De­­velopment Programme (ADP) for the ongoing fiscal year.

    The budget document shows that the previous ADP was pitched at Rs208bn but was revised down to Rs147bn. The provincial component of the previous ADP decreased to Rs108bn from original Rs126 in the revised estimates while foreign aid reduced to Rs38bn from the original Rs82bn.

    The development outlay for the ongoing fiscal year includes provincial component of Rs108.9bn (61 per cent) and Rs71.1bn (39pc) as foreign assistance. Of the total size of foreign assistance, Rs26.75bn (38pc) is marked as grant while Rs44.34bn (62pc) as loan for various development programmes.

    The ADP consists of 1,380 schemes, of which 1,155 are ongoing ones while 225 are new projects. More funds have been allocated for ongoing projects with the aim to reducing throw forward liabilities and allow for completion of maximum projects.

    Annual plan aims to improve service delivery at district level

    In his budget speech, Mr Jhagra said that for the first time in Pakistan, local government has been devolved down from union council to individual villages. Out of the total development outlay, Rs29.345bn has been marked for three tiers of local government systems. The district development allocation breakdown shows Rs13.1bn has been earmarked for village and neighborhood councils, Rs8.122bn for district governments, and Rs8.122bn for tehsils.

    An amount of Rs9bn has been allocated for 70 projects for Elementary and Secondary Education De­­part­­ment. Out of the 70 schemes, 62 are ongoing projects with an allocation of Rs8.76bn while eight are new projects worth Rs260 million.

    The salient projects in Education Department include establishment of 200 primary and secondary schools in rented buildings, development of play areas in primary schools, provision of stipend for girls enrolled in secondary schools, new IT labs, and digital content development project.

    An amount of Rs9.2bn has been allocated for 308 road projects out of which 298 are ongoing schemes with an allocation of Rs9.13bn and 10 are new projects worth Rs66m. These schemes include design and reconstruction of several bridges, special repair and maintenance of identified provincial highways through performance-based maintenance (PBM) pilot project under provincial roads improvement project, and a feasibility study on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rural Roads Improvement and Rehabilitation Project.

    The provincial government has allocated Rs78.65bn for 102 projects in health sector. Rs70bn has been allocated for 86 ongoing schemes while Rs8bn is earmarked for 16 new schemes. New projects incorporated in the budget include establishment of Trauma Centre at DHQ Hospital Lakki Marwat, establishment of cardiac cauterisation lab at three divisional headquarter (DHQ) hospitals, establishment of 12-15 bed burn centres at three DHQ hospitals, purchase of incinerators for deficient health facilities and establishment of Paediatrics Hospital in District Swat.

    An amount of Rs4.1bn has been allocated for 65 educational projects out of which 45 are ongoing with allocation of Rs3.7bn while 20 are new projects worth Rs390m.

    The major Higher Education Department projects include strengthening of public libraries, construction of building and purchase of necessary items for Directorate of Higher Education, establishment of reforms unit, and setting up an Economic Policy Research Institute at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan.

    For the local government, an amount of Rs2.93bn for 37 projects has been allocated. 28 of these are ongoing schemes with an allocation of Rs2.61bn and nine are new projects with allocation of Rs320.275m.

    Sports, culture and tourism received Rs3.5bn. According to the provincial finance minister, ‘tourism is going to be a flagship sector of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s economy’.

    Major projects for the Local Government Depart­ment include a development package for Galiyat Development Authority, replacement of water supply pipes adjacent to sewerage lines, rehabilitation/improvement of under developed areas of Swabi and solarisation of mosques in district Mardan.

    An amount of Rs1.56bn has been allocated for 51 Home Department projects. 35 of these are ongoing projects with an allocation of Rs1.42bn and 16 are new schemes with an allocation of Rs136 million. Major projects include establishment of Forensics and Medico-legal Direc­torate (Rule of Law Roadmap), reformation and skills development facilities for probationers, case management system in the Directorate of Prosecution and its district offices, De-radicalisation and emancipation programme in Swat, and computerisation of Arms Licenses in the remaining districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

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    NEW DELHI: India and China have launched a programme to impart training to 10 Afghan diplomats which will be followed by similar joint plans to help rebuild the war-torn country, said China’s Ambas­sador to India Luo Zhaohui on Monday in a speech.

    “This is just the beginning. China and India have respective advantages. For example, India has remarkable edge in agriculture and medical services, and China in hybrid rice and poverty reduction, he said.

    “I am sure that in the future days China-India cooperation in Afghanistan will span from training programme to more concrete projects.”

    In many of these countries, China is helping to build infrastructure as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, which India see as a bid by China to expand its influence.

    China’s call for partnership comes just a week after its embassy in New Delhi said India and China must deepen their cooperation to fight trade protectionism, as it criticised the United States for what it termed provoking disputes.

    China’s ambassador said the joint training of Afghan diplomats at the Indian Foreign Service Institute was the first step in China-India-Afghanistan cooperation that was agreed this year at a summit between President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    Modi and Xi agreed to handle long-standing political differences peacefully at the summit in China.

    Luo said India-China cooperation in Afghanistan should be extended to countries such as Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Myanmar and Iran. Such cooperation is the first by the two Asian giants which have long been locked in a tussle for influence in the region.

    Within Afghanistan, India and the China have been on opposite sides with China relying on its old ally Pakistan as it seeks to stabilise Afghanistan by various means. India, on the other hand, has invested billions of dollars in economic projects and training of military officers to strengthen the Afghan government in its fight against the Taliban.

    For its part, Pakistan sees the expansive diplomacy in Afghanistan by its old rival as a way to encircle it.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    China's Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui. ─ Photo courtesy Chinese Embassy in India.China's Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui. ─ Photo courtesy Chinese Embassy in India.

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    MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) president Sardar Masood Khan on Monday said he would request the federal government for construction of a tunnel to keep the strategically important Leepa Valley connected with the rest of the liberated territory round the year.

    He gave this assurance to a 5-member delegation of political and social activists from Leepa Valley which called on him almost a week after the PTI led central government dropped, altogether, seven projects for AJK from the federal Public Sector Development Project (PSDP) including Leepa tunnel.

    The delegation was led by Shaukat Javed Mir, a renowned PPP leader.

    “Leepa valley is a strategically and economically important area of Azad Kashmir and we cannot leave its residents at the mercy of the fate,” the president told the delegation.

    Home to some 80,000 people, the picturesque valley, located some 100kms southeast of Muzaffarabad is famous for its paddy fields, apple orchards, red beans and walnuts.

    Seven projects for AJK were dropped from the PSDP last week

    The heavily militarized Line of Control can be seen from anywhere while standing in the valley from east to west.

    From beyond Reshian village, the valley is accessed by two dangerously narrow roads and one pedestrian track that run through an altitude of around 10,000 feet.

    However, as heavy winter snowfalls block all three routes, valley people have to wend their way through the snow-capped corridors at the peril of their lives and consequently many lives are lost.

    It is therefore the valley people have long been demanding construction of the tunnel.

    During an election rally in the area in June 2011, the then Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif had announced construction of the tunnel and the announcement was owned by his elder sibling Nawaz Sharif after coming to power in centre in 2013.

    The Executive Board of National Highway Authority had cleared the PC-1 for construction of 3.79 km tunnel with realignment of access road for approval of the competent forum in its 239th meeting held in Islamabad in Sept 2014.

    The project worth Rs7.3 billion was cleared by the Cabinet Development Working Party and according to the two-year performance report (2013-15) of the ministry of Kashmir affairs, Rs50 million were earmarked for it in the federal public sector development programme (PSDP) for 2014-15.

    However, the project could not make any headway in the following years.

    In its last budget for 2018-19, the PML-N government once again earmarked Rs500 million in the federal PSDP for Leepa tunnel with a total estimated cost of Rs6 billion.

    “I earnestly wish that this longstanding and logical demand of LeepaValley people must be fulfilled. This sanctioned project should not only be revived but funds should also be released at the earliest for commencement of construction process,” Mr Khan said.

    The delegation also urged the president to use his good offices for establishment of a 50-bed health facility and appointment of a gynaecologist to provision of primary healthcare facilities at their doorstep.

    They also demanded that the 25pc of the income from sale of timber extracted from LeepaValley should be spent on the welfare of the local population.

    The president assured that he would convey these demands to the departments concerned.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    Azad Jammu and Kashmir president Sardar Masood Khan. — Photo/FileAzad Jammu and Kashmir president Sardar Masood Khan. — Photo/File

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    ISLAMABAD: A joint inquiry team of the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Lahore in a report to the Supreme Court has highlighted serious lapses, illegalities and irregularities by government departments in the process of setting up two cement factories in Chakwal.

    On Sept 14, a three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar that had taken suo motu notice over the drying up of Katas Raj, had ordered the inquiry to ascertain any lapse or favouritism on part of the officers of the Industries Department or other relevant departments in the setting up of D.G. Khan Cement and Bestway Cement factories.

    The ACE director general constituted a five-man committee headed by Regional Director Abdul Shakoor that examined the requirement of the no-objection certificate (NOC) and subsequent role of different government departments.

    The committee collected records from the officers, including the district government Chakwal, industries, environment, mine and mineral departments and the cement factories concerned.

    The report alleged that D.G. Khan Cement Company and Bestway Cement Company were facilitated in establishing the factories.

    Deliberate delay in issuing notification declaring negative areas in the district amounted to mala fide intent of govt depts, says ACE report submitted to SC

    “Had there been a timely decision by the departments regarding declaring the negative areas, there would have been no question of setting up of these industries between 2003 and 2008,” the report said. Most of the districts in Punjab had declared their negative areas in 2005-06 except Chakwal which was deliberately delayed to provide space to the owners for setting up of the cement plants, it added.

    But on March 8, 2018, the secretary Punjab Industries, Commerce and Investment Department notified the negative areas in Chakwal suggesting the cement factories were located in the negative areas.

    “Thus it can be safely concluded that deliberate delay in issuing notification to declare negative areas amounts to mala fide intent of the departments,” the report alleged, adding the very existence of the cement factories in the negative areas itself was a sheer violation which required action under the law against all the officers/officials of the departments.

    The report also alleged that Bestway Cement Factory situated at Choa Saidan Shah got approved its site plan/map from the tehsil municipal administration (TMA) Choa Saidan Shah during the construction of the factory. The officers of the municipal committee Kallar Kahar failed to approach the owners despite the fact that the construction of the factory building was in progress and they caused loss of millions of rupees to the government by not paying the fee for the approval of the site plan.

    Likewise, all the cement factories did not furnish the land use conversion fee as per Rule 9 (commercialisation charges) under the Punjab Local Government Rules 2004, which was 20pc of the total land use value.

    The report said D.G. Khan Cement primarily acquired 1,022 kanals and 13 marlas out of which 42 kanals and seven marlas were leased out to Nishat Shuaiba Paper Products Company for the establishment of a paper sack plant without approval or observing codal formalities.

    The same cement factory did not provide the statement/record deliberately despite being bound during the site visit of the factory by the inquiry team. Afterwards, the remaining 980 kanals and six marlas was mortgaged for loan purposes.

    During the scrutiny/examination of record, the report said, it transpired that the land for the establishment of Bestway and D.G. Khan cement factories had been acquired through the industries department on the excuse of public purpose. Massive illegalities were committed in acquiring the land of private people such as acquisition of 237 kanals and 15 marlas which was common land such as graveyards, public passages that could not be acquired as per the Punjab Land Acquisition Rules 1983.

    The report also cited an Aug 18, 2004, letter of the Environment Department to the secretary industries stating the proposed cement plants were being set up at sites having most populous villages with a rich socio-cultural heritage and a bio-diverse ecology.

    But the then secretary industries, commence and investment department showed favouritism for the establishment of the factories.

    The environment impact assessment (EIA) report furnished by the two factories was not reviewed by the environment department which was mandatory. The record showed that on Sept 6, 2004, the D.G. Khan Cement Factory was under construction when it applied for the environmental permission.

    Currently, the cement factories are emitting effluents, polluted water etc., which effect badly on the environment and health of the inhabitants. The Bestway Cement had to plant 30,000 trees of minimum height of six to seven feet especially of indigenous species in and around the plant within six months which was not done.

    Likewise the D.G. Khna Cement had submitted that 6,000 trees had been planted and about 60,000 to 70,000 trees would be planted in future. But at the site no such trees were seen and no further trees were planted.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    File photo shows Katas Raj temple's pond that had dried up due to consumption of water by cement factories near Chakwal.File photo shows Katas Raj temple's pond that had dried up due to consumption of water by cement factories near Chakwal.

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    WASHINGTON: Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat arrived in Washington on Monday to attend an international conference on countering violent extremist organisations.

    Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, hosts this annual event, known as the Chiefs of Defence conference.

    This two-day event would be the third Joint Staff-sponsored conference on counter-terrorism and is expected to be the largest to date. The first meeting was held on Oct 16, 2016, at Joint Base Andrews, Md, while the second was held at Fort Belvoir, VA. Both bases are close to the US capital.

    Approximately 40 chiefs of defence attended the first conference while more than 70 participated in the second.

    “This conference was a success in that we were able to gather more than 70 chiefs of defence from around the world for open, frank discussion on a range of topics related to violent extremism and the transregional threat it poses,” said Gen Dunford while addressing the second meeting. “Their participation was a clear indication of the international community’s commitment to countering the influence and impact violent extremism can have on the world.”

    The main purpose of this event is to promote “unity of effort as well as for improved cooperation and collaboration to counter violent extremism”, Gen Dunford said.

    Although a multilateral event, the conference also provides opportunities to the delegations to hold separates meetings on the sidelines.

    Pakistan’s participation in the conference dispels the impression that the country is facing a growing isolation in the international community because of its differences with the United States over Afghanistan.

    In Washington’s diplomatic circles, it is seen as a positive development, indicating the US military’s desire to stay engaged with their Pakistani counterparts despite political disagreements between the two countries.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat. ─ DawnNewsTVChairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat. ─ DawnNewsTV

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    ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday arrested three ‘activists’ of banned outfits for allegedly operating web pages of their respective organisations on social media, Dawn has learnt.

    According to FIA officials, the arrested people are members of a network operating the web pages of the banned outfits for the last couple of years and are affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Tehreek-i-Jafaria Pakistan (TJP). They have been booked in three separate cases under various sections of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act and Anti-Terrorism Act.

    Two of the arrested men affiliated with the TJP are residents of Rawalpindi and Taxila, while the third belonging to LeJ lives in Islamabad.

    The arrests came as a result of an inquiry initiated by the FIA’s Counter Terrorism Wing in June last year after cyber activities of the banned outfits were spotted on social media. The FIA officials said internet protocol (IP) addresses, mobile phone numbers and email addresses attached with social media pages and used while operating the pages had been put under surveillance.

    FIA says the suspects belonging to LeJ, TJP have been booked under various sections of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act and Anti-Terrorism Act

    They said the investigators during the inquiry also got assistance from the administrators of social media websites, including Facebook. Moreover, they added, investigation agencies of a few other countries were also approached for assistance.

    As a result of more than one year’s surveillance on their e-activities and inquiry, the officials said, the FIA identified these three persons who were operating the banned outfits’ pages on social media, claiming that the agency had sufficient evidence against them for their involvement in such activities. They said efforts were under way to trace their other accomplices.

    The accused were operating the pages of the proscribed organisations through their Facebook accounts, the FIA officials said, adding that they were found involved in “disseminating, glorifying and advancing the objectives of the proscribed organisations”.

    They said the FIA had launched further investigations to identify and determine the role of the persons who had provided internet connection and other technical assistance to the accused. The cases have been registered against them under sections 9, 10-A and ATA 9, 11F and 11W of PECA.

    Section 10 of PECA has also been included in the case registered against the accused affiliated with LeJ.

    A senior FIA official told Dawn that there were 75 banned outfits in the country and 36 of them were active on social media as their activists were operating the pages. The arrested persons, he said, were spreading ideology of their banned outfits through social media and hatred against other sects.

    The official claimed that the three accused were also registering members, supporters and activists through social media pages, adding that the status of the followers of these pages was also being verified and action against them would be taken, if required.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    FIA identified the suspects after over a year of surveillance of their online activities. ─ Reuters/FileFIA identified the suspects after over a year of surveillance of their online activities. ─ Reuters/File

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    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan at a meeting on Monday reviewed the party’s performance in by-polls across the country and expressed dissatisfaction over the results.

    The ruling PTI lost two NA seats won in the July 25 general election by Imran Khan (NA-131 Lahore, NA-35 Bannu), one NA seat won by Tahir Sadiq (NA-56 Attock), and Punjab Assembly seats won by Fawad Chaudhry (PP-12 Jhelum) and Mohammad Khan (PP-92 D.G. Khan) and two KP assembly seats in Swat.

    Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said although PTI had lost some of its seats it had bagged the highest number of over 1.1 million votes, followed by 0.8m secured by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

    “PTI and its ally PML-Q clinched 17 seats of the National and provincial assemblies, while PML-N won 11 seats,” he added.

    Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lost seven seats, but party says it polled highest number of votes

    In reply to a question, he said Imran Khan was unhappy over the loss of seven party seats.

    Imran Khan had won all the five NA seats he had contested from Islamabad, Bannu, Mianwali, Lahore and Karachi in the July elections. He later retained the Mianwali seat.

    In the by-elections, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Zahid Akram Durrani, son of Akram Durrani, won the Bannu seat, whereas PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique clinched the NA-131 Lahore seat.

    The PML-N upset the PTI by clinching the NA-56 (Attock) seat with a clear margin. The seat had been vacated by PTI’s Tahir Sadiq who had also won the other NA seat from the district in the general elections.

    In D.G. Khan, PML-N leader Awais Khan Leghari won the Punjab Assembly (PP-3) seat by defeating PTI’s Maqsood Leghari.

    The KP Assembly (PK-78) seat, where elections could not take place on July 25 due to assassination of Awami National Party leader Haroon Bilour, has been won by his widow despite the fact that the National Assembly seat in the same constituency had been won by the PTI.

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan met Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal and discussed overall situation in the country.

    They also discussed the by-election results.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    Prime Minister Imran Khan. ─ AFP/FilePrime Minister Imran Khan. ─ AFP/File

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    ISLAMABAD: China on Monday endorsed Pakis­tan’s request to Interna­tional Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance for addressing its economic challenges, but cautioned that the facility should not affect economic cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing.

    “As a member of the IMF, China supports the organisation in making an objective evaluation of Pakistan based on professionalism and earnestly helping it properly address the current difficulty,” Chinese foreign ministry spokes­person Lu Kang said at his press briefing in Beijing. His remarks were shared with the Pakistani media by the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad.

    Pakistan had last week formally applied for IMF assistance to deal with the impending balance of payments crisis. Although, it isn’t clear as yet how much money Pakistan could be requiring, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the country could need around $12 billion to deal with the problem.

    A team of IMF officials is scheduled to visit Islamabad on Nov 7 for talks on the size of the loan facility that Pakistan would be requiring. As IMF considers Pakistan’s request, its Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said that the lender would need to determine the debt sustainability of the country by having “a complete understanding and absolute transparency about the nature, size and terms” of its debt.

    Beijing cautions Islamabad that the facility should not affect economic cooperation between the two countries

    Certain quarters believe that Pakistan, which is undertaking China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — a massive infrastructure and connectivity project in collaboration with China, is finding itself in difficult situation because of mounting Chinese debt. This view is supported by the US, which has significant influence on the IMF board.

    State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert had after submission of Pakistan’s request for IMF assistance said: “Pakistan has formally requested assistance from the International Monetary Fund. In all cases, we examine that closely from all angles of it, including Pakistan’s debt position, in evaluating any type of loan programme. … I think part of the reason that Pakistan found itself in this situation is Chinese debt and the fact that there is debt that governments have incurred that they maybe thought wouldn’t be so tough to bail themselves out of, but has become increasingly tough”.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had spoken about it long before Pakistan had even reached out to IMF for help. He had on that occasion said that IMF bailout for Pakistan would benefit China.

    Chinese spokesman Lu strongly rejected the perception that CPEC debt was adding to Pakistan’s financial woes. Recalling Pakistani finance ministry’s figures, he said, “the debt incurred by CPEC makes up a very small proportion of Pakistan’s debt composition and it is not to blame for the current financial difficulty in Pakistan”.

    While China is supporting Pakistani request, the spokesman underlined that any programme for Pakistan should not affect the normal bilateral cooperation between China and Pakistan.

    Finance Minister Asad Umar had after returning from Bali, where he held talks with IMF officials, said that Pakistan might not accept an IMF facility if it finds its conditions unsuitable for its national security.

    It should be recalled that China is on the third spot in terms of voting shares at IMF, behind the United States and Japan.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang. ─ Photo courtesy Chinese Foreign MinistryChinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang. ─ Photo courtesy Chinese Foreign Ministry

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    LAHORE: As the scions of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat have made to parliament, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) is likely to seek another ministry in the federal government.

    In the by-polls held on Sunday, Moonis Elahi (son of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi) and Salik Hussain (son of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain) won from Gujrat (NA-69) and Chakwal (NA-65) with a margin of more than 50,000 and 65,000 votes, respectively.

    They have joined their third cousin Hussain Elahi (son of Wajahat Hussain) in parliament. Mr Hussain is the youngest parliamentarian in the National Assembly.

    The PML-Q now has five seats in the National Assembly. The party’s Tariq Bashir Cheema is in the federal housing ministry. Now after winning two NA seats, the PML-Q may lay claim to another ministry at the Centre. “We are a coalition partner of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government and after bagging two more NA seats, we expect to have another ministry at the Centre. We will talk to the PTI leadership in this regard as both coalition partners had also worked out modalities earlier without any problem,” PML-Q central information secretary former senator Kamil Ali Agha told Dawn on Monday.

    Since Mr Moonis, who has been in politics for many years and also remained a member of the Punjab Assembly twice, is expected to lead his cousins and will be the ultimate choice of the party for the ministry if the coalition partners reach an understanding.

    Mr Salik and Mr Hussain contested for the first time in the 2018 general elections and won. Both Chaudhry Shujaat and Wajahad Hussain had earlier decided to contest on Chakwal and Gujrat seats, respectively, (in by-polls and general elections), but later withdrew, announcing it was time that their young ones should come forward (in politics).

    “The Chaudhry brothers have decided to field their young ones in the political arena and take the party forward. As all three young cousins are educated and energetic, the party pins great hope in them to work for betterment of the country and strengthening the party,” Mr Agha said.

    The former senator claimed that a good number of PML-N members would join the PML-Q in coming days. “Our complete focus is on re-organisation of the party and the response we are getting from the people across the country is very encouraging,” he said, adding that the Chaudhrys would visit different districts, especially in Punjab, in this respect.

    The PML-Q has 10 seats in the Punjab Assembly and it has been given the speaker’s slot by the PTI. The PTI leadership reportedly has asked the Chaudhrys to create a ‘silent forward-bloc’ in the opposition PML-N to keep it unsettled.

    In the last three parliamentary polls, more than a dozen PML-N lawmakers violated the party policy in the Senate, speaker and presidential elections, either giving votes to the PTI-PMLQ candidates or discarded their votes. The PML-N leadership preferred not to identify the suspects and initiate action against them.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. ─ File photoPML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. ─ File photo

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    KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has issued a show-cause notice to the provincial police officer for not complying with its order about developing a mechanism to maintain a criminal record of accused persons.

    Earlier, the SHC had directed the inspector general of Sindh police to develop a system in collaboration with the prisons IG to keep the record of all the criminals across the province and sought a compliance report within a month. The court warned that it would initiate contempt of court proceedings in case of failure.

    The single bench of the SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar issued a show-cause notice to the IG saying why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him over non-compliance of the court’s orders.

    SHC calls for including CNIC numbers of accused in charge sheets

    The bench also directed the provincial police officer and the prisons IG to make positive efforts in introducing a method by using latest technologies in collaboration with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for the verification of identity of the accused and criminals.

    It further observed that such a mechanism could not be developed without the computerised national identity card (CNIC) number, therefore, the IG must issue directions to all the investigating officers to mention the CNIC numbers of the accused persons in the charge sheets or investigation reports as required under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

    The bench issued these directions during the hearing of a bail application of a suspect when the official in-charge of the criminal record office (CRO) said that there was no case against the applicant while as per the order of the trial court nine cases were pending against him.

    The CRO in-charge further said that they had criminal record of the Karachi range only while a deputy prosecutor general said that the CNIC numbers of the accused were not mentioned in the record available with the CRO and the IOs had not been mentioning the same in the charge sheets.

    The bench said that faces may fade by lapse of time but not the identity (CNIC number), therefore, where identity (name and parentage) of the accused was not under any cloud (requiring no identification by witnesses) then the IO must make efforts to indentify (CNIC number) the accused.

    Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

    Sindh police chief Kaleem Imam. — Photo/FileSindh police chief Kaleem Imam. — Photo/File

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