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    The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has clarified that it is not considering drafting a new nikahnama (marriage certificate) that would allow women to divorce their husbands without approaching a court.

    Although a provision allowing women to dissolve their marriage already exists in the current marriage document, it is often not enforced and is said to be inelaborate.

    The council's explanation comes in response to news reports that the council is in the process of drawing up a new marriage document that clearly enlists women's rights, including their right to divorce.

    English-language daily The News, which first reported on the proposed changes in the nikahnama, had quoted the CII chairman as saying that the nikahkhwan (the person who solemnises a marriage) will in the future be legally bound to consult the bride on whether she wants her husband to give her the right to dissolve the marriage.

    “The nikahkhwan will be legally bound to inform the bride of her right to ask for dissolution of marriage,” Qibla Ayaz, the CII chairman, had told the daily.

    But in a statement issued on Monday, CII spokesman Ikramul Haq said no such marriage document was under consideration that would include a clause clearly allowing women to divorce their husbands.

    "However, the council is working on a nikahnama and a talaqnama (divorce deed) whose language will be simple and easily intelligible," he added.

    According to Haq, necessary clauses will also be added to the documents to make the family system stronger and more consistent in light of teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

    Also being considered are proposals to ensure details of national identity cards are entered in the nikahnama and the "role of the nikahkhwan is made effective and documentary".

    "The scholars will be taken in confidence on the draft for the nikahnama and talaqnama, which will be presented for formal approval in a meeting of the council," Haq said.

    The CII is a statutory body with a minimum of eight and a maximum of 20 members, including one woman, whose function is to advise parliament on whether laws are in consonance with Islamic injunctions.

    Divorce vs khula

    Although the provision allowing a woman to dissolve her marriage is already present in the existing marriage certificate, it is often not enforced, leading women to opt for the tedious and costly path of obtaining a khula through a court.

    But a khula is conditional and not the same thing as a right to divorce one's husband.

    See: Read this before you sign your nikahnama

    Khula is when a woman initiates dissolution of the marriage in court, which she can obtain even without her husband's consent provided she foregoes her mehr, maintenance and alimony. A woman has to get a lawyer, prepare a case and then the judge decides if she will be granted one or not.

    In contrast, when a woman is "delegated" the right to divorce in the document, she can simply opt out of the marriage using the same legal procedures as are ordinarily followed by men.

    Clauses 18-19 of the existing nikahnama accommodate right to divorce, the first of which asks whether the husband would like to delegate the right to divorce to his wife and the latter asks if the husband's right to divorce has been curtailed in any way.

    Often, these sections are struck out completely, sometimes by the qazi officiating the marriage or by family members because they don't want to think about the dissolution of the marriage at the auspicious time of its beginning or simply because they deem it unnecessary since a woman always retains her right to a khula if things go awry.

    The proposed changes in the nikahnama reported last week would have barred the marriage officiator from deleting those sections.

    “They won’t be able to do that anymore and there would be legal consequences for that and the nikahkhwan would not able to delete it without the consent of the bride-to-be,” the CII chairman had told The News.


    A divorce deed is seen in this file photo. — FileA divorce deed is seen in this file photo. — File

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    The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has clarified that it is not considering drafting a new nikahnama (marriage certificate) that would guarantee women the right to divorce their husbands unless they explicitly waive it themselves.

    Although a provision allowing women to dissolve their marriage already exists in the current marriage document, it is often not enforced and is said to be inelaborate.

    The council's explanation comes in response to news reports that the council is in the process of drawing up a new marriage document that clearly enlists women's rights, including their right to divorce.

    English-language daily The News, which first reported on the proposed changes in the nikahnama, had quoted the CII chairman as saying that the nikahkhwan (the person who solemnises a marriage) will in the future be legally bound to consult the bride on whether she wants her husband to give her the right to dissolve the marriage.

    “The nikahkhwan will be legally bound to inform the bride of her right to ask for dissolution of marriage,” Qibla Ayaz, the CII chairman, had told the daily.

    But in a statement issued on Monday, CII spokesman Ikramul Haq said no such marriage document was under consideration that would include a clause clearly allowing women to divorce their husbands.

    "However, the council is working on a nikahnama and a talaqnama (divorce deed) whose language will be simple and easily intelligible," he added.

    According to Haq, necessary clauses will also be added to the documents to make the family system stronger and more consistent in light of teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

    Also being considered are proposals to ensure details of national identity cards are entered in the nikahnama and the "role of the nikahkhwan is made effective and documentary".

    "The scholars will be taken in confidence on the draft for the nikahnama and talaqnama, which will be presented for formal approval in a meeting of the council," Haq said.

    The CII is a statutory body with a minimum of eight and a maximum of 20 members, including one woman, whose function is to advise parliament on whether laws are in consonance with Islamic injunctions.

    Divorce vs khula

    Although the provision allowing a woman to dissolve her marriage is already present in the existing marriage certificate, it is often not enforced, leading women to opt for the tedious and costly path of obtaining a khula through a court.

    But a khula is conditional and not the same thing as a right to divorce one's husband.

    See: Read this before you sign your nikahnama

    Khula is when a woman initiates dissolution of the marriage in court, which she can obtain even without her husband's consent provided she foregoes her mehr, maintenance and alimony. A woman has to get a lawyer, prepare a case and then the judge decides if she will be granted one or not.

    In contrast, when a woman is "delegated" the right to divorce in the document, she can simply opt out of the marriage using the same legal procedures as are ordinarily followed by men.

    Clauses 18-19 of the existing nikahnama accommodate right to divorce, the first of which asks whether the husband would like to delegate the right to divorce to his wife and the latter asks if the husband's right to divorce has been curtailed in any way.

    Often, these sections are struck out completely, sometimes by the qazi officiating the marriage or by family members because they don't want to think about the dissolution of the marriage at the auspicious time of its beginning or simply because they deem it unnecessary since a woman always retains her right to a khula if things go awry.

    The proposed changes in the nikahnama reported last week would have barred the marriage officiator from deleting those sections.

    “They won’t be able to do that anymore and there would be legal consequences for that and the nikahkhwan would not able to delete it without the consent of the bride-to-be,” the CII chairman had told The News.


    A divorce deed is seen in this file photo. — FileA divorce deed is seen in this file photo. — File

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    Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda on Monday said that the PTI-led government will carry out efforts to complete the Dasu dam project by the year 2022.

    Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, the minister said that an important meeting to discuss the run of the river project will be held in Peshawar on November 6, 2018.

    Vawda mentioned that the country was facing losses worth billions of rupees due to the delay in construction of water reservoirs in the country, Radio Pakistan reported.

    The minister said that he has directed the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to take steps on war footing basis to address the water-related issues.

    “The government is committed to addressing the water woes of Sindh in general and Karachi in particular,” the minister said.

    Dawn earlier reported that Wapda has acquired 740 of around 2,000 acres required to it on a top priority. Since there is no road access to land previously, Wapda got constructed the road to access the land.

    The project being constructed on River Indus 7km upstream of Dasu Town in Kohistan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), is a vital development project not only for the country but also for KP, as it will stabilise the economy of Pakistan by providing low-cost hydel electricity besides triggering a new era of socio-economic development in the far-flung areas of the province.


    Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda addresses a press conference in Islamabad. —PIDFederal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda addresses a press conference in Islamabad. —PID

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    The United States charge d'affaires in Pakistan on Monday called on Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters (GHQ), the head of the military's media wing said in a tweet.

    In the meeting, Ambassador Paul Jones and Gen Bajwa discussed matters of mutual interest, including regional security, "with [a] particular reference to Afghanistan", Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said.

    The meeting comes in the backdrop of a week of Taliban attacks and an election married by violence in Afghanistan.

    On Thursday last week, the Taliban had attacked top US and Afghan security chiefs inside a highly secure compound in Kandahar province.

    A gunman wearing an Afghan security forces uniform opened fire on a group including General Scott Miller — the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan — and powerful Afghan police chief General Abdul Raziq as they ended a meeting in the southern city of Kandahar.

    Raziq, an anti-Taliban strongman and key US ally who was credited with keeping a lid on the insurgency in the south, was killed along with Kandahar's provincial intelligence chief and an Afghan journalist. US Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was among those injured.

    That the Taliban could mount a deadly insider assault in such a secure location rattled Afghanistan, a country long used to high-profile targeted killings and violence. It was also an unusual incident for the US military, whose generals seldom face attack and are rarely wounded.

    The attack was followed by deadly violence during Afghanistan's parliamentary elections.

    The Taliban had vowed to attack the election, and on the first day of polling, at least 36 people were killed in nearly 200 attacks, including 27 civilians, according to Deputy Interior Minister Akhtar Mohammed Ibrahimi. He said security forces killed 31 insurgents in gun battles.

    On Sunday, a roadside bomb in the eastern Nangarhar province struck a vehicle filled with civilians, killing 11 people, including six children.


    US Charge d'affaires Paul Jones calls on COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. — Photo: ISPRUS Charge d'affaires Paul Jones calls on COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. — Photo: ISPR

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    Prime Minister Imran Khan left for Saudi Arabia on Monday to attend the Future Investment Initiative Conference (FIIC) in Riyadh, Radio Pakistan reported. He is paying the visit on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz.

    The premier is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Industry Abdul Razzak Dawood.

    The conference, which will host businessmen and "representatives of hi-tech industry" from around the world, will serve as an "opportunity to interact with important business leaders who are interested in investing in Pakistan", the statement said.

    "Prime Minister Imran Khan’s participation in the first day of the conference is aimed at projecting Pakistan’s economic and investment potential and the [premier's] vision of the country in the five years to come," the press release read.

    The prime minister's participation in the conference signifies Pakistan's "solidarity with the Kingdom in its efforts to become emerging hub of international business and investment", the press statement said, even as dozens of executives, media powerhouses and business leaders opted out of the event in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    On Saturday, the organisers said that more than 120 speakers and moderators will participate. Last Monday, they had listed more than 150 speakers. The summit organisers have now removed the list of speakers from its website.

    The FIIC has already been boycotted by the United Kingdom, the United States, and France.

    Pakistan briefly weighed in on the Khashoggi incident earlier this month, calling on Turkey and Saudi Arabia “to jointly address the matter”.

    It will be PM Khan's second visit to Saudi Arabia in just a little over a month. The tour comes as Pakistan continues to court “friendly” nations in search of billions of dollars to shore up its deteriorating finances as it faces a balance of payment crisis and upcoming talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a potential bailout.

    PM Khan's government has sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.

    But help has been in short supply and economists' warnings have grown increasingly urgent.

    The visit also comes as Pakistan's central bank warned this week that inflation would likely double in the coming year — hitting 7.5 per cent — while the country's growth target rate of 6.2 per cent would likely be missed.

    PM Khan will also meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to discuss "matters of mutual interest".


    PM Khan is visiting the kingdom on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz. —PIDPM Khan is visiting the kingdom on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz. —PID

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    Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday gave his approval to several incentives aimed at attracting more remittances from overseas Pakistanis.

    Khan was chairing a follow-up meeting regarding facilitating overseas Pakistanis, particularly to ease and incentivise home remittances through legal channels, before he departed for Saudi Arabia to attend an investment conference.

    According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, Khan during the meeting allowed the State Bank of Pakistan and its authorised dealers (banks) to "implement Business to Customer (B2C) and Customer to Business (C2B) transactions through foreign correspondent entities under their existing home remittance agency arrangements".

    Incentives regarding B2C transactions:

    • Freelance and information systems services have been allowed to transact up to US $1,500 per individual per month.
    • Transaction services other than computer and information services have also been allowed to transact up to US $1,500 per individual per month.
    • Pensioners can now receive up to Rs250,000 per individual per month.

    For C2B transactions:

    • Residents can easily receive direct payments from overseas Pakistanis to pay for utility bills, education fees of Higher Education Commission-accredited institutions, superstores, insurance companies, credit card bills, etc.
    • Remittances received by "reputed" real estate builders/developers and housing societies from overseas Pakistanis on account of purchase of property such as residential and commercial houses, plots, flats and buildings, etc. have also been allowed except remittances for equity/participation in an enterprise.

    Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting in this file photo.Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting in this file photo.

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    Pakistan Army on Monday formally handed over administrative control of Swat to the civil government after restoring peace and the government’s writ in the militancy-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.

    In 2007, after the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had taken over Swat, armed forced were called in to prise the valley out of their possession — a process that more than a decade later is now officially deemed complete.

    “After almost eleven years we have made history with the handing-over of administrative powers to the civil administration,” KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan said at a gathering also attended by Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Nazir Ahmed Butt, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Malakand, ministers, MPs and other army officers.

    The chief minister regretted that militants had destroyed the beautiful district by bombing schools, educational institutions, imposing various bans on women and killing innocent people.

    He further said that the army, with the support of police, local administration and the people, has succeeded in uprooting militancy from Swat and restored peace.

    GOC Malakand Khali Saeed also addressed the ceremony, claiming that Swat is now "completely peaceful".

    He said that the establishment of an army cantonment will help the district's progress and development, and assured the forces his full cooperation and help in maintaining the law and order situation in Swat.

    The transfer of administrative control in Swat to civil administration comes months after a similar transition was made in the Lower and Upper Dir districts.

    At the end of the ceremony, security personnel had to escort the chief minister to his vehicle as a large number of attendants tried to meet him personally.

    The manner in which the CM was whisked away gave birth to rumours that he may have fallen ill — or that he was prevented from speaking by his security escorts. However, later in the day, Mehmood clarified that he had been flanked by security officials to safeguard him from the oncoming crowd, not because of any health problems.

    "I am completely healthy and busy dealing with the routine issues of my office," he said in a statement. "The rumours being spread about me health are completely unfounded and based on lies. Security officials had escorted me to my car due to the crowd."


    KP CM Mehmood Khan. — DawnNewsTVKP CM Mehmood Khan. — DawnNewsTV

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    Sindh Transport Minister Awais Qadir Shah on Monday asked his staff to write to ride-sharing services companies Careem and Uber and direct them to obtain their Karachi route permits from the provincial government within seven days or risk termination of services, DawnNewsTV reported.

    During the provincial-level meeting to discuss Karachi traffic and various ongoing development projects, the provincial transport minister inquired about a recent incident wherein a girl had jumped out of a car belonging to a ride-hailing service claiming that the driver had harassed her.

    "How did that happen?" he asked, terming it the result of poor regulation of ride hailing services.

    The minister ordered that Careem and Uber be told to "get their route permits from the provincial government within seven days", adding that a failure to do so "will result in the apps shutting down".

    Last year, it had been agreed that the online ride-hailing apps will obtain permits under the Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1965, in order to continue operating as a service provider.

    "Only a memorandum of understanding was signed [between the government and the companies]; after that, nothing happened," an official was reported to have said when asked under what arrangement the companies had continued to operate under.

    It was also reported that the Sindh government and the transport ministry had prepared a draft legislation aimed at addressing the issue of ride-hailing services and bring them under the ambit of the law.

    The provincial government had earlier alleged that Careem and Uber were operating outside the scope of the law and should be barred from operating. The two companies have been accused of offering transport services "without registering the private cars with any regulatory body."


    This file photo shows the interface of a ride-sharing app. —FileThis file photo shows the interface of a ride-sharing app. —File

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    Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed the concerned authorities to take immediate steps to bring down electricity prices and reduce the additional burden on consumers caused by pilferage and other leakages in the power sector, Radio Pakistan reported.

    The premier issued the order this while chairing a meeting of the energy task force in Islamabad, where he was briefed about various developments in the energy sector.

    “It’s unacceptable that the common people have to suffer due to theft and mismanagement committed by others,” PM Khan said.

    The meeting was informed that a comprehensive energy policy is being devised keeping in view the country's energy needs for the next 25 years.

    Moreover, “steps are also being taken to reduce the dependence on imported fuel and promote the use of indigenous resources”, the premier was told.

    The meeting was also briefed on technology that is being used to make the process of supply and distribution of electricity more efficient and effective.

    PM Khan directed the power division to present a detailed plan to ensure the availability of quality equipment. It was also decided that the government would conduct seismic surveys to expedite the process of oil and gas exploration.

    The premier also issued directives for the provision of foolproof security to oil and gas companies working in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    The premier was reported to have welcomed the return of international oil and gas exploration company Exxon to the country and said the government will provide all-out assistance to foreign companies working in this sector.

    Earlier in the day, the Economic Coordination Committee, chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar, had announced that it was putting off a decision on a proposed hike in the power tariff.

    The finance minister had said the decision to revise tariffs was conditional on power distribution companies making a demonstrable cut in line losses and electricity theft.

    After having raised gas prices, the PTI government has been working on a proposal to increase electricity tariff by an average of Rs2 per unit to partially finance the ever-rising circular debt.


    It’s unacceptable that the common people have to suffer due to the It’s unacceptable that the common people have to suffer due to the "theft and mismanagement of others,” says PM Khan. —PID

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    Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur on Monday condemned the controversial remarks made by Punjab Information Minister Fayazul Hasan Chohan, assuring that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf would also take action in this regard.

    Chohan, while talking to reporters in Lahore a few days back, repeatedly used the word “Kashmiri” with the names of Sharif family members in a scornful way which stirred up widespread outrage among the Kashmiris settled on both sides of the Line of Control and elsewhere in the world.

    The video clip of the said press talk went viral on social networking sites, mostly with tempestuous comments against the minister for the “racial slur.”

    There were many polite messages as well, informing Pakistani leadership as to how the inane comment had gone with the Kashmiris.

    “We're Kashmiris and are proud to be so. Let this message go to Lahore and let this Fayazul Hasan Chohan know it. You only hurt us. Let your domestic politics and political rivalries stay in their own limit,” wrote Srinagar-based journalist Yusuf Jameel in one of the several tweets on the issue.

    On Monday, when Gandapur was in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) capital for the launch of Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, the minister was intercepted by some political activists to convey their unhappiness over the way Chohan had tried to portray the Kashmiris.

    “I condemn and I want to make it clear to all Kashmiri people that whatever Chohan has said is in his personal capacity…It has nothing to do with our party policy,” the minister clarified.

    “We will serve notice to him and the party will take action on it as well,” Gandapur promised.

    “He is [the] spokesperson of the Punjab government and previously he had made some such remarks that impelled him to tender an apology,” he said.

    Gandapur was referring to the allegedly lewd comments made by Chohan about film and stage actresses Nargis and Megha at a public forum on August 30.

    Following the backlash against him on social and electronic media, Chohan released his two video messages tendering an apology to both actresses.

    “He [Chohan] will have to mend his ways. As far as Kashmiri people are concerned we are with them,” Gandapur said.

    On Sunday, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir had also condemned the remarks when her attention was drawn by some reporters, outside the National Press Club [Islamabad], towards the way Chohan had “offended the Kashmiris.”

    “Kashmiris are our brothers. They are close to our hearts. If anyone has been tormented [by the remark] I beg apology for that,” she had said.

    “If you think that we should officially issue any statement on it, I will talk to the party about it.”


    Punjab minister used word “Kashmiri” with names of Sharif family in a scornful way which stirred up widespread outrage. —FilePunjab minister used word “Kashmiri” with names of Sharif family in a scornful way which stirred up widespread outrage. —File

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    PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said on Monday that he sees democratic forces in Pakistan weakening during the tenure of the two-month-old Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

    Speaking to the media after a meeting with Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the latter's residence, Zardari said his party has made efforts for the continuity of democracy in the country for the past 10 years and to prevent any incident from happening that could weaken democratic forces.

    Reiterating that the PTI administration is incapable of handling the country's affairs, the former president said he will discuss the issue with all political forces.

    "[I want to] move forward along with everyone else after devising a strategy for the future," he said.

    Asked by a reporter whether he himself will contact the PML-N leadership regarding uniting against the government's "incompetence", Zardari suggested the communication will be done through the JUI-F chief.

    "We will communicate with Maulana sahib," he said with a smile.

    Commenting on Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry's reported comment that Zardari should remember that he was also given relief in some cases of possible corruption, the PPP co-chairman said if he wanted to settle for a compromise, he could have done it during former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf's rule.

    "If I had to do a compromise then Musharraf's era was better [than the current government]," he said, adding that unlike others who had settled for deals, he had served jail terms.


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    A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) tasked with probing fake bank accounts submitted a progress report in the Supreme Court on Monday which revealed that transactions of Rs54 billion were made through 107 fake bank accounts.

    An FIA JIT had been investigating a 2015 case regarding fake accounts and fictitious transactions conducted through ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL.

    Seven individuals, including PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, were said to be involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks. While hearing a suo motu case regarding a delay in the FIA probe into the case, the SC had constituted a JIT to probe into the matter.

    JIT head Ahsan Sadiq in his today's report said that several bank accounts used in suspicious transactions were opened for a brief period of time and were closed after transfer of money.

    Sadiq told the court that the Sindh government appeared reluctant to cooperate with the team.

    The report said the Sindh chief secretary, irrigation secretary and agriculture secretary had not cooperated with the JIT, to which Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said that the court would "summon all (these officials) by the evening".

    The provincial government's counsel, however, told the court that the Sindh government had been cooperating with the JIT.

    The JIT head assured the court that the team would identify the beneficiaries of the transactions.

    He said that the team had found during its investigations that transactions were made through the fake accounts of rickshaw drivers and falooda vendors. As many as 36 companies associated with the Omni Group had been uncovered in the case.

    The chief justice summoned the Sindh police chief in the next hearing on Oct 26 in Karachi.


    JIT report identifies several bank accounts used in suspicious transactions that were opened for a brief period. — AFP/ FileJIT report identifies several bank accounts used in suspicious transactions that were opened for a brief period. — AFP/ File

    0 0

    Prime Minister Imran Khan travelled to Saudi Arabia on Monday to attend the Future Investment Initiative Conference (FIIC) in Riyadh, Radio Pakistan reported. He is paying the visit on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz.

    The premier is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Industry Abdul Razzak Dawood.

    The conference, which will host businessmen and "representatives of hi-tech industry" from around the world, will serve as an "opportunity to interact with important business leaders who are interested in investing in Pakistan", the statement said.

    "Prime Minister Imran Khan’s participation in the first day of the conference is aimed at projecting Pakistan’s economic and investment potential and the [premier's] vision of the country in the five years to come," the press release read.

    The prime minister's participation in the conference signifies Pakistan's "solidarity with the Kingdom in its efforts to become emerging hub of international business and investment", the press statement said, even as dozens of executives, media powerhouses and business leaders opted out of the event in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    On Saturday, the organisers said that more than 120 speakers and moderators will participate. Last Monday, they had listed more than 150 speakers. The summit organisers have now removed the list of speakers from its website.

    The FIIC has already been boycotted by the United Kingdom, the United States, and France.

    Pakistan briefly weighed in on the Khashoggi incident earlier this month, calling on Turkey and Saudi Arabia “to jointly address the matter”.

    It will be PM Khan's second visit to Saudi Arabia in just a little over a month. The tour comes as Pakistan continues to court “friendly” nations in search of billions of dollars to shore up its deteriorating finances as it faces a balance of payment crisis and upcoming talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a potential bailout.

    PM Khan's government has sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.

    But help has been in short supply and economists' warnings have grown increasingly urgent.

    The visit also comes as Pakistan's central bank warned this week that inflation would likely double in the coming year — hitting 7.5 per cent — while the country's growth target rate of 6.2 per cent would likely be missed.

    PM Khan will also meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to discuss "matters of mutual interest".


    PM Khan is visiting the kingdom on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz. —PIDPM Khan is visiting the kingdom on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz. —PID

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    Annika Ben David
    Annika Ben David

    LAHORE: Politics has always been a male-dominated domain globally. As a result, international affairs are shaped accordingly, said Annika Ben David, Sweden’s ambassador-at-large for human rights, democracy and rule of law.

    She adds that this is the reason certain situations arise, for example, sexual violence against women in war and conflict zones and the fact that these have not been described as crimes against humanity. In this backdrop, it was a relief to adopt measures that involved more women.

    Ms Annika is determined to see that she spreads the message across countries, including Pakistan. She expressed happiness over being associated with a country where women have been enjoying gender equity for decades. In various global rankings, Sweden has repeatedly topped, from the European Institute for Gender Equality’s in the EU to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap.

    “Sweden is the pioneer when it comes to gender equality,” she claims. “In that sense, the word feminist is just a label. Maximum number of women is included in every aspect of our governance and rule of law. Foreign policy is part of this too.”

    She went on to say that it was not only legal to involve women in the economy of the country, it was also smart. “We cannot afford not involving them. We cannot afford not giving them equal opportunities; we certainly cannot afford not schooling them. It is all about the rights and representation of a gender, but it’s also about strengthening the economy.”

    The ambassador-at-large says that empirical evidence in the form of academic studies has suggested that the more women are involved in foreign policy, in talks with foreign countries, the better the results.

    “It has been indicated to us that women end up with more peaceful negotiations, and can maintain this situation. Under women, human rights have remained more respected and things have been more productive.”

    This may be because women bring different perspectives to the table. And this is why Sweden also proclaims that it has elected a “feminist government”.

    “It’s a deepened emphasis on the word feminist and also a label, because internally we don’t need labels: Sweden has had a culture of gender equity for a very long time now. We spearheaded gender equality a century ago,” says Ms Annika.

    Regarding parental leave – 18 months, both parents must share the duration between them with the father taking four months off. By law, parental leave also comes with 80 per cent paid salary so that the parents – particularly mothers – do not suffer from economic issues.

    On her country’s foreign policy, Ms Annika says that research shows that inclusive peace processes pave the way for a greater number of possible solutions that eventually become more sustainable.

    “The world would be a better place if there was gender equality - it would certainly be a better place to live in for half of the world’s population - 3.5 billion people,” she stresses. “It’s not just a women’s issue. It has a positive impact on economic growth, health, education, welfare and food security, and ultimately on peace and security. And today, 1.5 billion people live in fragile states and conflict zones.”

    Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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    ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar expressed his displeasure with Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) top officials for delaying the introduction of a single-page return form for salaried and small taxpayers.

    In a recent meeting, Umar directed the officials to come up with the return form immediately, an official source privy to the meeting told Dawn on Monday.

    The government has already extended the filing of tax returns until November 30. “The minister also directed FBR officials to give Urdu version of the returns as well,” the official said. Asked about the deadline for the proposed form, the official said the minister only directed to do it immediately.

    Plenty of complaints have been voiced at different forum regarding the complexity of e-filing platform IRIS, which consists of almost seven pages.

    FBR Official Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Iqbal told Dawn that the bureau has already introduced the simplified return form. Regarding the Urdu version of forms, he said he was not aware whether they will be introduced from this fiscal year.

    But Umar said the form should not be more than one page for salaried and small taxpayers and be made available in Urdu.

    Even Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi had also announced to introduce a single page return form to be available from July 1. That came as part of the tax reform package in which maximum relief was given to salaried and non-salaried business individuals.

    According to a World Bank-PwC report “Paying Taxes 2015”, it takes 594 hours to comply with tax law provisions in Pakistan, which does not include time spent by taxpayer on filing withholding statements.

    This time needs to be reduced by at least 33 per cent by simplifying returns and increasing the user friendliness of software.

    The tax reform commission constituted by the previous government has also suggested FBR to introduce a single-page return form to facilitate taxpayers. “We are expecting to receive more than 1.5 million returns till year,” the official said.

    Last year, FBR received 1.5 m returns.

    Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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    Finance Minister Asad Umar. — DawnNewsTV/FileFinance Minister Asad Umar. — DawnNewsTV/File

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  • 10/22/18--18:59: Demo against media lay-offs
  • LAHORE: The Joint Action Committee of journalists and media workers on Monday staged demonstrations at Charing Cross and simultaneously on the stairs of the Punjab Assembly building against lay-offs and salary cuts.

    A large number of newsmen, cameramen, photojournalists and media workers as well as lawyers and civil society members participated in the protest and chanted slogans against their employers.

    JAC convener Azam Chaudhry, members Arshad Ansari, Naeem Hanif, Faisal Durrani, Ziaullah Niazi as well as senior journalists Rana Muhammad Azeem, Raja Riaz, anchors Mubashir Luqman and Arif Hameed Bhatti addressed the protesters. Speakers demanded that the government conduct audit of media houses, explaining the advertisements’ payments as well as taxes paid.

    Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, speaking on the floor of the house as well as at the demonstration, asserted that the government had neither cut any advertisement nor reduced advertisement rates during its [so far] two-month tenure. He said advertisements were being issued to newspapers as well as news channels without any interruption.

    “It is strongly condemnable, if owners of media houses are sacking and cutting salaries of journalists and media workers on the pretext of suspension of advertisements,” the information minister said.

    The minister also invited the JAC members at DGPR on Tuesday (today) 11am to show them the record of government advertisements issued to newspapers and channels during the last two months.

    The minister said a code of conduct with regard to the media workers was being prepared, which would eventually be passed by the Punjab Assembly.

    According to the code of conduct, he said, any complaint by a journalist or media worker about non-payment of salaries for two or more months would empower the DGPR to suspend advertisements for those media houses. He said the advertisements would be restored only after the complainant would withdraw complaint for being satisfied with the media organisation.

    JAC convener Azam Chaudhry said the demonstration marked the beginning of a protest movement and all journalists and media workers bodies would continue to hold protests and also besiege the media houses, owners’ offices as well as their residences.

    He announced that the journalists and media workers would hold a sit-in outside Lahore Press Club on a daily basis from Wednesday (tomorrow) at 4pm.

    Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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    Journalists rise to protect rights. — White StarJournalists rise to protect rights. — White Star

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    LAHORE: An accountability court on Monday sent former vice chancellor of Punjab University Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran and five other professors to jail on judicial remand in a case of illegal appointments instituted against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

    Earlier, NAB personnel produced Dr Kamran, two former registrars Prof Dr Raas Masood and Prof Dr Liaqat Ali and as many additional registrars Prof Dr Aurangzaib Alamgir and Prof Dr Kamran Abid before the court.

    NAB prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua told the court that investigation had been completed and further custody of the suspects was not required. He asked the court to send the suspects to jail on judicial remand.

    However, the counsel for the suspects argued that the arrest of their clients was illegal and the NAB also kept them in physical remand unlawfully.

    They asked the court to release their clients instead of sending them on judicial remand.

    After hearing both sides, the court sent the suspects on judicial remand.

    REMAND: An anti-terrorism court on Monday sent alleged land grabber Mansha Bamm and his son on judicial remand in a case of attacking an anti-encroachment team of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA).

    Earlier, the police produced Mansha and his son Asim Mansha before the court and said further physical remand of the suspects was not required in the case. At this, the court sent them to jail on judicial remand.

    Mansha and his sons are involved in a number of cases for “illegally occupying” land of different individuals worth millions.

    Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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    Punjab University.— FilePunjab University.— File

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  • 10/22/18--18:59: Tahirul Qadri hospitalised
  • LAHORE: Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri was hospitalised on Monday for cyst issue, which he had developed on the chest, and was operated upon at a private hospital.

    According to party spokesman Noorullah Siddiqui, Qadri has been suffering from pain in the chest ever since he returned to the country but, of late, developed temperature and the doctors advised him to undergo surgery.

    According to him, the party chief was operated later in the day and recovering fast. Though the party chief was still under the influence of anaesthesia, the doctors have declared the surgery successful and advised a few days rest to the PAT chief.

    Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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    PAT chief Tahirul Qadri.— AP / FilePAT chief Tahirul Qadri.— AP / File

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    ISLAMABAD: People wait for their turn in front of the Nadra office on Monday.— Mohammad Asim / White Star
    ISLAMABAD: People wait for their turn in front of the Nadra office on Monday.— Mohammad Asim / White Star

    ISLAMABAD: The registration process for the PTI government’s Naya Pakis­tan Housing programme kicked off on Monday, drawing a massive public response.

    Long queues of aspiring applicants were witnessed outside the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) centres on the first day for submission of forms.

    According to Nadra, the forms can be submitted during the next 60 days including Saturdays and Sundays.

    This is the first phase of the ambitious housing project under which five million houses are to be built across the country over the next five years. People aspiring to own houses in seven districts of the country — Sukkur, Quetta, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Swat, Islamabad and Faisalabad — have been asked to apply in the first phase.

    In the federal capital, the registration forms can be submitted at Nadra’s mega centre in Blue Area, Deputy Commissioner Office G-11/4 and Tehsil Office I-10/3, whilst in other districts forms can be submitted at the deputy commissioner offices.

    Candidates will be required to submit Rs250 along with the form, and can also submit a photocopy of the form, provided they have given “complete and clear information”.

    Only one person per family will be eligible to apply for the scheme, and preference will be given to candidates who do not own property in Pakistan.

    The programme shall be expanded to other districts in a phase-wise manner after Dec 21, 2018, as per the recommendations of Prime Minister’s Task Force for the scheme.

    It is designed to provide affordable housing to the common citizens of Pakistan. Preference shall be give to families (husband, wife and dependent children) where no member owns a house. The purpose of the registration drive is to establish the nature of housing demand, the precise need of the people and their affordability bracket.

    Minister of State for Interior, Shehryar Khan Afridi, who inaugurated the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority registration centre at Nadra’s mega centre in Blue Area, said the target of government was to ensure provision of five million affordable houses for underprivileged classes during the next five years.

    Talking to reporters, the minister expressed the confidence that the programme would not only help realise dream of a shelter for the poor, but also generate employment opportunities, besides attracting local and foreign investment and stimulating around 40 construction related industries.

    Mr Afridi said the poor were deprived of their basic rights in past, but the PTI government would ensure protection of their rights.

    The minister said the country needs around 10 million housing units, adding that there was a need to build at least half a million low cost housing units each year.

    He said the masses would be facilitated through one-window services, adding the government has started this much awaited mega housing project within its 100-day plan.

    Answering a question, Shehryar Afridi said the PTI had secured more than double votes in 2018 elections as compared to the 2013 polls.

    On October 11, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the ambitious housing scheme which envisages construction of five million affordable houses for under privileged segments of the society during next five years.

    He had disclosed that a 60-day pilot project would commence from today in coordination with Nadra in seven districts to assess the demand and payment capacity for affordable houses. He said that the housing programme would bring long-due prosperity to the country, adding that at least 40 other industries connecting to the housing industry would be set in motion as soon as construction for the project started in urban as well as rural areas. “The target of this [plan] is the common man, who could not even think about owning a house,” he had said.

    The National Database Registration Authority issued the form on its website with all required details needed for registration. The aspirants can download forms and can submit them with respective housing programme offices till December 21, 2018.

    Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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    QUETTA: Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has said that the government has planned to link Gwadar port with Quetta through railway to cater to future economic activities of the port city.

    Talking to reporters after his arrival here on a two-day visit, he said: “It is my desire to link Gwadar port with Quetta through railway to provide better trade and business route in future.” Gwadar had great importance for the economic development of the country as there was no such port in the entire world, he added.

    The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China was very important, adding that during the visit new projects linked to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be discussed. He said railways could boost the country’s economy and a Quetta-Gwadar rail link would be beneficial for the CPEC.

    He said efforts were under way to rehabilitate Pakistan Railways. He alleged that the railways had been destroyed by the PML-N government. He claimed that former minister for planning and development Ahsan Iqbal had wasted Rs43 billion on different railway stations and majority of them had no commercial value.

    The minister said that he was giving attention to running goods trains to increase the income of railways because passenger trains could not earn profit. “Five goods trains could be given to the private sector if railways itself could not earn profit from them,” Mr Ahmed said.

    He said that without developing railways the country’s economy could not progress.

    The government had decided to improve railway tracks throughout the country and initial survey of tracks had been completed, he added.

    Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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    Sheikh Rashid says he desires to Sheikh Rashid says he desires to "link Gwadar port with Quetta to provide better trade and business route in future". — Photo/File

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