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    Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday lashed out at what he called arbitrary transfers of police officers by the Sindh caretaker government before the 2018 elections, saying the random postings had left the policemen clueless.

    "[They] put the names of all officers in a box, started revolving it and then pulled out name chits to mindlessly decide where each police officer would be posted," Shah said while briefing the Sindh Assembly about the law and order situation.

    He alleged that the police officers had been assigned the task of "breaking the PPP people", and because they were allegedly too busy trying to change PPP leaders' alliances, the law and order situation had worsened and street crime in Karachi had risen.

    "I am a witness [to this] myself... they were asked to 'break the PPP people', [and] forget about the law and order."

    After returning into power, the chief minister said, the PPP government has been trying to control the street crimes situation.

    Shah informed the house that 61 incidents of terrorism had taken place in Sindh in 2013. The number came down to two such incidents in 2017, while this year no terrorist incident has taken place in Sindh so far.

    Incidents of targeted killings and street crimes have also dropped, he said, adding in the same breath: "But we are not satisfied... we have to do more work."

    He said the province of Sindh, specifically Karachi, have seen several devastating terrorist incidents in recent years, including the Safoora Goth carnage, the Sehwan bomb blast, the Shikapur blast and the killings of qawwal Amjad Sabri, JUI-F leader Khalid Mehmood Soomro and journalist Wali Babar.

    "There is not a single incident which we have not traced or solved," Shah claimed, before questioning the investigations into terrorist attacks in other provinces.

    "Did [we] ever find out what happened at the Army Public School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? Have the men who escaped in a jailbreak in KP been found till date?" he asked.

    Responding to a point raised by another lawmaker, he said it was members of the civil society which had moved courts against the Sindh government's efforts to replace then provincial chief of police A.D. Khowaja, and not Khowaja himself.

    "We tried a lot [to replace him] but what can I say... [unlike Sindh,] nothing happens when the Punjab police IG is changed within three weeks," Shah said, before adding tongue-in-cheek: "Be grateful the civil society there [Punjab] is not that active."

    "The Islamabad IG [was] also transferred in an incident involving cows," he said, in a reference to a federal minister's alleged role in the transfer of former Islamabad police chief Jan Mohammad. However, he observed that a joint investigation team had been formed to probe that alleged abuse of power.


    Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah addresses the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTVSindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah addresses the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

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    The body of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar ─ who was abducted from Islamabad last month and found dead yesterday in Afghanistan ─ is expected to be handed over to Pakistan authorities tomorrow, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said in a statement on Wednesday.

    Police and civil administration have been waiting at the Torkham border since Tuesday night to receive the slain SP's body.

    The body was earlier expected to be handed over to Pakistani authorities today. Yousafzai said a KP Police delegation had waited at the Torkham border crossing all day for SP Tahir's body but were unsuccessful. He did not mention the reason of the delay.

    Miram Sadaqat, the spokesperson of the Afghan Red Crescent, told DawnNewsTV that the organisation's volunteers will transfer the body to the Torkham crossing as soon as Afghan authorities hand it over.

    He said that Afghan police and hospital administration were "collecting information" about the body.

    SP Tahir, a police officer who had survived two suicide attacks in Bannu, was kidnapped from Islamabad's G-10/4 area on October 26. A body believed to be his was found in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province yesterday.

    He hailed from North Waziristan district and earlier this year was made acting SP and given charge of Peshawar police's rural circle. Prior to that he had served as DSP of University Town and Fakirabad and had also had a stint with the Federal Investigation Agency.

    Photos of the SP's badly tortured body with a hand-written Pashto letter placed on his chest, purportedly written by a yet unidentified militant group, went viral on social media on Tuesday before police could officially confirm the happening, but a senior official said a "source" had informed them of the tragic news.

    A senior KP official said that the paper found on the body mentions no militant outfit and would be investigated later. The note carries the name of Wilayat Khorasan, the nomenclature the militant Islamic State (IS) group uses to refer to the Pak-Afghan region.

    It referrs to SP Dawar with his first name and says that the "cop who had arrested and killed several militants has met his fate". The note also threatens other people to take caution "otherwise they too would meet the same fate".

    In a statement released today, the Foreign Office spokesperson had confirmed that the body of SP Tahir had been recovered along with his service card by Afghan locals.

    According to the FO spokesperson, SP Tahir was discovered by residents in Dur Baba district of Nangarhar province of Afghanistan on Tuesday and handed over to the local police.

    The police had shifted the body to Momand Dara district of Nangarhar from where it would be transferred to Jalalabad, the FO spokesperson said. The statement further said that the body is yet to be received by the Consul General of Pakistan in Jalalabad and it "would be subsequently transferred to Pakistan via Torkham border after completion of necessary formalities".

    Islamabad didn't contact Kabul about SP Tahir, says Afghan envoy

    Earlier today, outgoing Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal told journalists at a farewell ceremony that the Pakistani government had not reached out to Afghan authorities for any information about the missing police official.

    "How did a police officer disappear from Islamabad and turn up dead in Afghanistan?" he asked.

    He urged the leadership of both countries to "sit together" and talk about SP Tahir's suspected murder.

    Zakhilwal also expressed grief over the police officer's death and said he did not have any information about the abduction.

    In response to a question, he said that the Afghan government had been in touch with slain Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) leader Maulana Samiul Haq and had urged him to play his role to solve the Afghan issue.

    "Apart from reconciliation, Pakistan and Afghanistan have no other way [to achieve peace]," he added.


    SP Tahir Khan Dawar. — Photo courtesy FacebookSP Tahir Khan Dawar. — Photo courtesy Facebook

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    The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to Urdu newspaper Jang and English daily The News for allegedly misreporting a court story, in which the top judiciary had appeared to criticise the government.

    The two publications, in their lead stories today, had reported that the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, while hearing a suo motu case of illegal construction in Banigala, had "remarked that the current government lacked capability and planning".

    The top judge today distanced himself from those remarks, adding that "this news is untrue".

    "Both the newspapers ran wrong stories," Justice Nisar said. "We had talked about the CDA (Capital Development Authority) in the Banigala case. There is a recording available of the court's proceedings; we can play that."

    "[TV] programmes were also done on the basis of this wrong news," Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan said, to which Additional Attorney General Nayyer Rizvi added: "Tickers were also run [on the same]."

    Later on, in its official notification, the court said: "We are surprised as the court never made such observations about the federal government. [Those] observations were made against the Capital Development Authority. This is an instance of gross misreporting."

    The court issued notices to the publications' printers, publishers and editors, with the directives to respond by Thursday (November 15).


    Justice Nisar distances himself from remarks critical of PTI govt. — FileJustice Nisar distances himself from remarks critical of PTI govt. — File

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    The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered the Punjab government to take up the issue of the construction of Dadhocha Dam with the provincial cabinet for review, giving the provincial government three weeks to make a final decision on the matter.

    In 2006, the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) had purchased 18,000 kanals near Rawalpindi at the site where the dam was to be built, and launched a housing scheme as a joint venture with Bahria Town. The DHA Valley scheme, meant for the bereaved families of martyred military personnel, was proposed at the dam site.

    On Aug 4, 2015, the SC in a suo motu case had directed the Punjab government to construct the dam at the originally proposed site. Soon after these directives, the provincial government had banned the sale and purchase of land in the area and later allocated funds for the construction of the dam in its annual development plan for 2017-18.

    On the SC's directives, the Punjab government in 2017 initiated the process to construct the dam at a cost of Rs7 billion to overcome the water shortage in Rawalpindi.

    A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar held a hearing on Wednesday regarding the dam's construction. During the hearing, the court observed that a joint venture between Bahria Town and DHA was ready to construct the dam for free and added that the cabinet should make a final decision after reviewing their suggestions.

    The court added that the Punjab government should inform the cabinet if they wanted to construct the dam themselves.

    CJP Nisar took the Punjab Irrigation Department's secretary to task and inquired why he went against court orders and did not forward the matter to the Punjab cabinet.

    "Why was the issue not sent to the cabinet? Why did you decide on it yourself?" the top judge remarked whilst rebuking the secretary for rejecting Bahria Town's offer for partnership.

    The secretary responded that the department was not opposed to the idea of a partnership and had in fact formed a committee in this regard.

    To this CJP Nisar, remarked: "Who are you to form a committee when the court has given an order?"

    The secretary said that to his knowledge the court order does not mention that an approval must be sought from the cabinet and said that perhaps "a different secretary" had appeared before the court previously.

    The court concluded the hearing by directing the Punjab government to review the matter in the next cabinet meeting and gave it a three-week-period to make a final decision on whether the dam will be constructed via a joint venture or if the government wants to be the sole party responsible for its construction.

    Read more:Dams: To be or not to be

    On November 2 the government of Punjab had rejected the proposal of property tycoon Malik Riaz for the construction of Dadhocha Dam as the Bahria Town-led joint venture (JV) proposed over Rs26 billion for the acquisition of land against Rs2.8 billion worked out by the government.

    Earlier, on September 6, the SC had sought the Punjab government’s response regarding the construction of Dadhocha Dam through a public-private partnership.

    The secretary of the Punjab Irrigation Department had told the apex court at that time that the project had been taken over by the department and after the dam's construction, water would be supplied to Rawalpindi's residents through the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA).


    Punjab government ordered by apex court to review the matter in next cabinet session. — AFP/FilePunjab government ordered by apex court to review the matter in next cabinet session. — AFP/File

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    Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Malki on Wednesday said that Pakistan would have the first instalment of Saudi aid amounting to $3 billion in the next few days to address its balance-of-payments crisis.

    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would release the amount of $3 billion in terms of the balance of payment, the envoy stated in a short interview with a private news channel.

    In addition to this, the envoy confirmed that the Saudi government would provide deferred payment facility for the import of oil, worth up to another $3 billion.

    “The Saudi companies are keen to invest a huge amount of around $6-8 billion for establishing an oil refinery in Pakistan,” he added.

    Replying to a question, Nawaf Saeed said that besides this aid, the Kingdom would like to invest in the power sector of Pakistan, adding “we were also seeking to set up a petrochemical industry near Karachi”.

    Moreover, he hinted that an investment would also be made in the Reko Diq gold and copper mining project.

    After weeks of speculation, Saudi Arabia had last month stepped forward with a $6 billion bailout package for Pakistan’s ailing economy.

    Agreements in this regard were signed on the sidelines of the second edition of the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) Conference in Riyadh.

    Pakistan imports 110,000 barrels of crude per day from Saudi Arabia. Taken at the current price, the oil imports from the kingdom amount to around $3bn in a year.

    Pakistan, which is facing the current account deficit of $18bn, has also sought assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to deal with the aggravating balance of payments problem.

    Meanwhile, an IMF team is currently in Pakistan for talks on a possible bailout, even as the government insisted it had resolved the country's immediate balance of payments crisis.


    Prime Minister Imran Khan shakes hands with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz. —APP/FilePrime Minister Imran Khan shakes hands with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz. —APP/File

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    At least six workers died while one sustained burn injuries after a boiler exploded inside a factory in Karachi on Wednesday within the limits of Shah Latif Town police station, according to police and hospital officials.

    Police said that the boiler blast occurred in Honda Atlas factory near Landhi Manzil Pump. As a result, seven workers received burn injuries.

    The injured were shifted to Burns Centre of Karachi's Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital where Shah Zaman, 34, Muhammad Saleem, 35, Imran, 30, Khalid, 33, Aamir Sufi, 35, and Inayat, 25 succumbed to wounds during treatment, said Additional Police Surgeon Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi.

    The victims who lost their lives had all received 100 per cent burns, added Abbasi, while further revealing that Faheem, the only survivor has received 10 per cent burn wounds.

    Area SHO Ghanwar Ali Mahar said that no case has been registered so far.

    Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and sought a report from the city commissioner and the secretary of the Labour Department.

    Expressing grief at the tragedy, CM Shah ordered an investigation into the reasons behind the boiler's explosion and asked when the last inspection had taken place on the factory premises.

    He instructed the commissioner to provide every possible assistance to the families of the victims and asserted that no effort must be spared to save the life of the injured labourer.

    Karachi East Zone DIG Amir Farooqi told Dawn that initial probe revealed that the explosion occurred due to gas leakage. He pointed out that initially the factory management themselves tried to control the fire and later on called the fire tenders.

    DIG Farooqi vowed that a case would be registered against the factory owners over ‘accidental deaths’ of the workers.


    The victims who lost their lives had all received 100 per cent burns, while Faheem, the only survivor had received 10 per cent burn wounds. —Dawn archivesThe victims who lost their lives had all received 100 per cent burns, while Faheem, the only survivor had received 10 per cent burn wounds. —Dawn archives

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    ISLAMABAD: State Min­is­ter for Finance Hammad Azhar told the Senate on Wed­­nesday that foreign cur­rency accounts would not be frozen and nobody would be allowed to freeze them.

    Responding to questions from members, Barrister Hammad Azhar informed the Senate that foreign remittances had increased significantly in the last quarter, particularly in October.

    “Foreign remittances can be increased by 30 to 40 per cent through proper channels provided Pakistanis abroad are offered competitive rates,” said Mr Azhar.

    In response to a question from Senator Muhammad Mian Ateeq Sheikh on depreciation of the rupee, the minister said that the depreciation in the exchange rate during fiscal year 2017-18 had been due to a notable deterioration in the country’s balance of payments situation. The current account deficit amounts to $12.6bn and $18.98bn during fiscal year 2016-17 and 2018-19 respectively, which resulted in pressure on rupee and its resultant devaluation.

    The State Bank of Pakistan was pursuing monetary tightening to curb the aggregate demand which would result in reducing the current account deficit, Mr Azhar said.

    According to the state minister, the SBP had taken administrative measures to reduce import volume, including withdrawing the facility of advanced payments against imports and had imposed 100pc cash margin requirement on import of various non-essential items.

    In the past, the government had imposed custom duties on luxury items. In the amended Finance Bill 2018, the government had again proposed to increase the duties on import of luxury items to curb the imports while export industries had been incentivised to boost exports.

    The depreciation of the rupee against US dollar along with the other administrative measures mentioned above would help contain domestic demand in general, and reduce the imbalances in the country’s external accounts in particular, the minister said.

    In reply to another question from Mian Ateeq Sheikh, Mr Azhar said that the amount of domestic loans outstanding against the government was Rs16,415bn at the end of June 2018. He said that the domestic debt was primarily obtained for budgetary support that includes infrastructure and development needs of the country.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    State Min­is­ter for Finance Hammad Azhar told the Senate on Wed­­nesday that foreign cur­rency accounts would not be frozen and nobody would be allowed to freeze them. — File photoState Min­is­ter for Finance Hammad Azhar told the Senate on Wed­­nesday that foreign cur­rency accounts would not be frozen and nobody would be allowed to freeze them. — File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Senator Azam Swati on Wednesday appeared before National Accountability Bureau (NAB) authorities and pleaded innocence in a case of land encroachment and another about the transfer of Inspector General of Police (IGP), Islamabad, allegedly on his orders.

    The NAB sources told Dawn that Mr Swati remained in the NAB headquarters for over an hour where he was given a questionnaire about his offshore properties.

    The sources said that Mr Swati submitted a statement that was similar to the one he had submitted to the Supreme Court and said he had not encroached upon any state land.

    Regarding the IG’s transfer allegedly on his orders, he claimed that he had called the Islamabad IG to seek justice and gave no order that fell out of the ambit of the law.

    NAB also received details of Mr Swati’s farmhouse in Chak Shahzad and the adjacent CDA land he had allegedly encroached upon.

    Last week, a team of top NAB officials, accompanied by senior officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), visited the farm house and measured the land the minister had reportedly encroached.

    Mr Swati got into trouble on the issue of encroachment of state land after he lodged a case against some nearby slum-dwellers for “trespassing” the same encroached land and later allegedly got the inspector-general of police of Islamabad Jan Muhammad transferred.

    The Supreme Court, taking suo motu notice of the incidents, ordered action against the minister under Article 62 for ‘unlawful’ transfer of the IG and formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the matter.

    The JIT is consisted of officials of the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

    Media reports say that the IGP had been transferred by Mr Swati because he did not attend telephone calls of the minister, but Mr Swati denies this charge.

    The IGP’s transfer took place after Mr Swati’s son got a case registered against slum-dwellers for allegedly trespassing the “family’s land”. Five people, including two women, were arrested for trespassing and beating up Mr Swati’s guards.

    However, they were released after a day’s detention, as police sources asserted that a settlement had been reached between the minister and the detained family.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    Federal Minister for Science and Technology Senator Azam Swati on Wednesday appeared before National Accountability Bureau (NAB) authorities and pleaded innocence in a case of land encroachment and another about the transfer of Inspector General of Police (IGP), Islamabad, allegedly on his orders. — File photoFederal Minister for Science and Technology Senator Azam Swati on Wednesday appeared before National Accountability Bureau (NAB) authorities and pleaded innocence in a case of land encroachment and another about the transfer of Inspector General of Police (IGP), Islamabad, allegedly on his orders. — File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Aasia Bibi, who has been acquitted of a blasphemy charge by the Supreme Court, cannot leave the country because of pending review of her case before the court.

    “She is here. A review petition is being heard, so how can she go,” Mr Qureshi said while talking to journalists on Wednesday.

    There was speculation after Aasia’s release from jail last week that she might go abroad in view of security threats.

    “There is no controversy, she is here,” Mr Qureshi said.

    Legally there is no bar on Aasia’s international travel. However, the government has in its agreement with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan leadership — for ending the sit-in against the Christian woman’s acquittal — committed to not allowing her to leave the country till a decision on the review petition.

    Qari Salam, the complainant in the Aasia case, had filed the review petition against the apex court judgement.

    Legal adviser with the International Commission of Jurists Reema Omar said: “Aasia Bibi is a free person and according to Pakistani law, her freedom of movement cannot be restricted. The foreign ministry’s reading of how a review petition impacts the enjoyment of fundamental rights is prohibitive and oppressive.”

    A number of countries have called for Aasia to be given asylum. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had spoken to Mr Qureshi on the issue earlier this week.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had in an interview with AFP said: “We are in discussions with the Pakistani government. He further said that “there is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country”, suggesting that asylum had been offered to Aasia.

    Aasia’s lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook has already taken refuge in the Netherlands.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Aasia Bibi, who has been acquitted of a blasphemy charge by the Supreme Court, cannot leave the country because of pending review of her case before the court.  — AFP/File photoForeign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Aasia Bibi, who has been acquitted of a blasphemy charge by the Supreme Court, cannot leave the country because of pending review of her case before the court. — AFP/File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday ordered establishment of a National Curriculum Council for creating consensus among stakeholders for uniform standards of education across the country.

    The prime minister took the decision during a briefing on education held at the PM Office, on a suggestion of Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood.

    Punjab Education Minister Murad Rass and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Adviser on Education Ziaullah Bangash also briefed the prime minister about the future roadmap and highlighted various short- medium- and long-term measures to introduce qualitative change in the education sector.

    Imran Khan appreciated the efforts being made at federal and provincial levels and said the National Education Policy Framework (NEPF) was being devised to bring uniformity in existing fragmented and apartheid-like system of education.

    “The objective is to create a nation and to put in place a system which is ‘fair’ and ‘produces Pakistanis’,” he said, adding that, skill development of the youths should be especially focused so that their potential could be utilised effectively.

    Earlier, Shafqat Mehmood gave a detailed presentation on the NEPF identifying various challenges vis-à-vis out of school children, education apartheid, quality of education and skill development issues.

    He said the NEPF was being formulated to ensure that all children have a fair and equal opportunity to receive high quality education in order to achieve their full potential.

    The minister said optimum utilisation of the existing infrastructure, employing technology solutions, improvement in non-formal education systems, attracting quality teachers and incentivising the education were some of the measures in the NEPF that would significantly help in enhancing school enrolment and addressing the issues of out-of-school children.

    At a separate meeting on PM Youth Programme, Imran Khan stressed the need for devising a comprehensive programme for youths’ education, employment and their participation in different sectors.

    He said out of 200 million population 130m were those who were below the age of 35 years. “This big number of youths is a precious asset which can change the destiny of the country,” he added.

    The prime minister directed the federal government departments to follow the youth programme implemented by the KP government during the past five years.

    Meanwhile, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Malki called on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

    An official press release said bilateral issues of mutual interest were discussed during the meeting.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday ordered establishment of a National Curriculum Council for creating consensus among stakeholders for uniform standards of education across the country. — AFP/File photoPrime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday ordered establishment of a National Curriculum Council for creating consensus among stakeholders for uniform standards of education across the country. — AFP/File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed a special committee to visit the premises of DG Khan cement factory in Chakwal district to determine how it stored water for its requirement.

    The committee will be headed by chief of the Supreme Court’s human right cell Rana Amir Saleem who will furnish a report before the court about the capacity of the reservoirs built by the cement factory as well as whether the ponds were filled by extracting water from the aquifer or the rainwater.

    A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had taken a suo motu of the drying out of Katas Raj pond, considered sacred by Hindus. The court will take up the matter again at its Lahore registry.

    Takes suo motu notice of drying out of Katas Raj pond

    On Nov 6, the apex court had clamped a ban on extracting underground water with a directive for the cement factories to make alternative arrangements to meet their water needs.

    Director General of the Environment Protection Agency Farzana Altafshah will also be member of the committee which has been tasked with finding out how many tubewells have been dismantled by the cement factories, including Bestway Cement.

    The court allowed the committee to register a case over non-cooperation on the part of the management of the cement factories.

    The committee will also take samples of water from the reservoirs and the commissioner concerned has been directed to fully cooperate with it.

    The court was told that the DG Khan Cement was operating only two tube-wells for domestic use of its workers, but Waseem Raza, appearing on behalf of civil society, claimed that the factories were filling their reservoirs through pipelines by allegedly extracting water from the underground.

    The court asked for the record of the meteorological department to suggest how much rain fell during the period when the water reservoirs were filled.

    It also ordered that the tubewells which had been dismantled be filled with concrete.

    The News and Jang issued notices

    Meanwhile, the same bench issued notices to The News and Jang newspapers for running the headline: ‘Govt lacks capability, planning, says CJP’ in their issue of Nov 14.

    “We are surprised as the court never made such observations about the federal government; in fact some observations were made against the Capital Development Authority (CDA),” the chief justice observed while dictating an order.

    “This is an instance of gross misreporting on behalf of the media group,” the order said.

    The court issued notices to the editors, printers and publishers of the two newspapers to explain why action under the relevant law should not be taken against them.

    The matter will be taken up again on Nov 15.

    Daniyal Aziz withdraws appeal

    A five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed disposed of an intra-court appeal by PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz when he withdrew his appeal.

    “I have instructions to withdraw the appeal,” argued Advocate Ali Raza before the bench which ultimately dismissed the case as withdrawn.

    On June 28, the apex court had convicted Daniyal Aziz for committing its contempt and sentenced him with imprisonment “till rising of the court”.

    “Taking a lenient view of the matter, we convict him under Section 5 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 and sentence him with imprisonment till rising of the court today,” said a 17-page order.

    With the sentence, Daniyal Aziz was also disqualified for five years under Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution.

    The PML-N leader did not explain to the media about his sudden decision to withdraw his appeal.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    The Katasraj temple complex in Chakwal district of Punjab in Pakistan. The lake is believed to have formed from a teardrop of Shiva. ─  Faisal Saeed/File photoThe Katasraj temple complex in Chakwal district of Punjab in Pakistan. The lake is believed to have formed from a teardrop of Shiva. ─ Faisal Saeed/File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue has asked over one million late filers of tax returns to pay penalty or higher tax for automatic closure of audit proceedings.

    The late filers of returns for tax years 2015, 2016 and 2017 were selected for audit under Section 214D of the Income Tax Ordinance. The facility for availing automatic closure of audit under Section 214E is available till Dec 31 and approximately 1,022,000 taxpayers will benefit from it.

    Moreover, Section 214D under which late filers were automatically selected for audit has been deleted from the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 in the Finance Act 2018 due to undue hardship faced by new taxpayers and to facilitate the process of broadening of tax base.

    FBR Member Taxpayers’ Audit Nausheen Javaid Amjad announced in a statement that those taxpayers who were automatically selected for audit under Section 214D due to late filing of returns should now avail the facility by paying penalty or higher tax than previously filed return — whichever is applicable under the law.

    She explained that salaried persons or those whose income fell under the category of FTR/PTR had to pay penalty only to close their audits.

    However, the taxpayers whose income falls under any other head of income have to apply for revision of returns under Section 214E in Iris system.

    Ms Amjad said a tab had been made available in the system for this task.

    The relevant commissioner in regional tax offices will approve the said request within three days or the system will automatically allow revision on the fourth day.

    The system will automatically calculate the tax due in both categories. Once the payment is made and relevant CPR attached and submitted, the system will automatically close the audit proceedings, she said.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    The Federal Board of Revenue has asked over one million late filers of tax returns to pay penalty or higher tax for automatic closure of audit proceedings. — FBR website/File photoThe Federal Board of Revenue has asked over one million late filers of tax returns to pay penalty or higher tax for automatic closure of audit proceedings. — FBR website/File photo

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    FAISALABAD: Lawyers disrupted an official meeting being presided over by the deputy commissioner at his office here on Wednesday after forcing their entry into the premises where they ransacked furniture and shouted slogans, demanding the setting up of a Lahore High Court bench in the city.

    After boycotting courts proceedings, the lawyers came out on the road in front of the district courts and blocked it for traffic by placing chairs on it. They also burnt used tyres to vent their anger.

    The lawyers also locked the main gates of the district courts and did not allow any litigants to enter.

    They had also staged a demonstration outside the Circuit House on Sunday when Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar was on a visit to the city.

    A group of lawyers barged into the DC’s office, forcibly opened the conference room door where a police constable put up minor resistance.

    Pushing the constable away, the lawyers forced their entry into the conference room where DC Saifullah Dogar was presiding over an official meeting.

    One of the lawyers shoved the DC trying to force him to end the meeting that was also being attended by some women officials.

    The staff of the DC office, however, resisted the rowdy lawyers.

    According to witnesses, the policemen manning the DC office gate offered no resistance to the agitating lawyers and let them enter the premises.

    Talking to reporters, the lawyers said that they would lock the offices of the DC and the commissioner on Thursday (today) if their demand was not met.

    They said that they had been peacefully demanding the LHC bench for the city for more than two years, but to no avail. The establishment of the LHC bench would be a great service to litigants and lawyers belonging to Faisalabad division, they added.

    They said some of the ministers of the previous government as well as office-bearers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had been promising the establishment of the LHC bench. But after coming to power, they regretted, the PTI also seemed reluctant to accept the demand.

    They vowed to continue the protest till the acceptance of the demand.

    In Gujranwala, members of the district bar association locked the gates of the district courts, not allowing litigants to enter.

    They were agitating to put pressure on the government to establish an LHC divisional bench in the city.

    Addressing the lawyers, DBA president Noor Muhammad Mirza and secretary general Zaheer Ahmad called upon the chief justices of the Supreme Court and the high court as well as the government to establish an LHC bench in Gujranwala division to facilitate the local people in getting justice.

    Akram Malik from Gujranwala also contributed to this report

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    FAISALABAD: Lawyers trying to force their way into the deputy commissioner’s office.—APP/File photoFAISALABAD: Lawyers trying to force their way into the deputy commissioner’s office.—APP/File photo

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    LAHORE: All (religious) Parties Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat will hold its “million march” in the city today (Thursday) to protest against, what it calls, mishandling of Aasia Bibi case and subsequent release, which the religious parties think has been done at the behest of the West and secular forces.

    Briefing the media at the end of the preparatory conference, MMA President Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the rulers would “have to give up the patronage of secular elements and change their attitude against religion”.

    The multi-party conference hosted by Jamaat-i-Islami at Mansoora drew 35 religious parties and organisations who declared that the entire nation was united to safeguard the Namoos of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

    The march will start after Zuhr prayers from Nasser Bagh and terminate at Charing Cross, where the leaders will address the participants. The march is expected to keep life suspended for the city dwellers for the better part of the day as it will start early afternoon and go on till late evening.

    All schools, colleges and universities on and around The Mall will remain closed and so will markets (on The Mall).

    Flanked by other leaders, Fazlur Rehman read a joint communiqué which said the MPC called upon the government to file a review petition and demanded categorical explanation from the government regarding news reports of Aasia’s departure abroad. It called for implementing the sentences awarded in blasphemy cases where appeals had been rejected.

    Prominent among those attending the moot included Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, Maulana Amir Hamza, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidari, Hafiz Raza Kazim, Khwaja Moeenuddin Koreja and Maulana Allah Wasaya.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    All (religious) Parties Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat will hold its “million march” in the city today (Thursday) to protest against, what it calls, mishandling of Aasia Bibi case and subsequent release, which the religious parties think has been done at the behest of the West and secular forces. — AFP/File photoAll (religious) Parties Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat will hold its “million march” in the city today (Thursday) to protest against, what it calls, mishandling of Aasia Bibi case and subsequent release, which the religious parties think has been done at the behest of the West and secular forces. — AFP/File photo

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    KARACHI: The Sindh government on Wednesday suspended the registration of two elite private schools for allegedly failing to comply with court orders regarding fee hike.

    The action was taken by the directorate of inspection/registration of private institutions, Sindh school education and literacy department, against 56 campuses of The City School and 65 branches of the Beaconhouse School System.

    A notice sent to the two schools also states that if the schools implement court orders within seven days of the notice they would be allowed to open registration again. Failing to comply will result in the campuses of these schools being sealed.

    However, both the schools said that the government order to suspend the registration of the schools held “no legal value”.

    Beaconhouse and City schools say the govt order holds no legal value

    Last month, the Sindh High Court had barred all private schools from raising their fees by more than five per cent and ordered them to accept dues as per the old fee structure. However, it emerged that The City School and Beaconhouse School System did not do this. Therefore the registration of 56 campuses of The City School and 65 of Beaconhouse has been suspended.

    In identical letters dated Nov 14 to the two schools, the director general of private schools, Dr Mansoob Hussain Siddiqui, wrote: “The inspection committee comprising officers of the directorate of inspection/registration of private institutions, Sindh, Karachi visited your school on 14-11-2018 ...

    “During the visit, the committee observed/found that you have failed to comply with the aforesaid orders passed by the High Court of Sindh and the Supreme Court of Pakistan in letter and spirit. You were even directed many times ... to comply with the orders passed by the High Court of Sindh in petitions ... as well as comply the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan ...

    “In view of above as per Clause-8 (cancellation or suspension of certificate of registration) of The Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation & Control) Ordinance 2001, Amendment Act and Rules-2005, registration of all campuses ... are hereby suspended till further orders.”

    In response to the suspension of their registration, the two schools issued a joint statement on Wednesday evening, saying a widely circulated order by the directorate of inspection and literacy to suspend the registration of all Beaconhouse and City schools in Sindh “holds no legal value and is in violation of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Sindh High Court’s orders”.

    It said that the suspension order was aimed at jeopardising the education of tens of thousands of children as well as maligning the schools’ reputation.

    Condemning what they called a discriminatory and unfortunate move, the statement said that the Supreme Court in its Oct 1 order directed that any fee increase in excess of 5pc over the previous year’s fee schedule was to be deposited with the SC registrar “within a period of three months”.

    It said the time period was to expire on Dec 31, which gives all private schools of Sindh over a month and a half for implementation.

    Maintaining that the suspension order was in direct violation of the SC directives since the time period for compliance had not yet expired, the two schools stated that they had every intention of honouring the court’s directives in the fullness of time.

    “The management of Beaconhouse and City School can only therefore conclude that the said order was intended to malign their names and promote a negative sentiment amongst their parent bodies. Both institutions are law-abiding bodies and will be replying to the directorate as per their legal and constitutional right,” it added.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    The suspension of The City School and Beacon House School System's registration can be reviewed if they comply with court orders, according to an official. — Photo courtesy: Beaconhouse School System Facebook PageThe suspension of The City School and Beacon House School System's registration can be reviewed if they comply with court orders, according to an official. — Photo courtesy: Beaconhouse School System Facebook Page

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    KARACHI: The Sindh government in consultation with the Karachi mayor is working to amend the Local Government Act 2013 to make the local bodies system more effective so that it could deliver at the lowest level.

    Besides, the government has also formed a committee under the commissioner of Karachi to prepare relief measures for the people affected by the ongoing operation in Saddar, which was aimed at cleaning the area from encroachments and restoring the iconic building of Empress Market to its original shape.

    This emerged from a joint press conference addressed by Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani and Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar here on Wednesday at the office of the local government minister after their one-on-one meeting.

    In the meeting, which lasted over an hour, they deliberated over the local bodies’ problems.

    Relief committee formed for people affected by Saddar operation

    They agreed to form a committee under the secretary of local government to remove hurdles, if any, in exercising the powers given to the mayor and KMC under Local Government Act 2013.

    The members of the committee would include senior officers of local government and KMC and experts of local government laws.

    The committee would review all aspects of the LG Act 2013 and if any orders had been issued contrary to the powers of the mayor and KMC, they would be withdrawn.

    Addressing the press conference, the LG minister said that today’s meeting with the mayor was in continuity with the last meeting held at the central offices of KMC.

    He said that during the first meeting the mayor had pointed out some issues which he had brought to the knowledge of the chief minister and also suggested some remedies for the solution of the reservations.

    He said that the operation against encroachments was moving ahead in the right direction. However, in such a huge operation emergence of some complaints was natural. “We would certainly mitigate them and a committee under Karachi commissioner is already formed to get all information so that the government and KMC could provide due relief to the people affected by the operation”, he said.

    Replying to a question, Saeed Ghani said he did not hesitate in accepting that in illegal buildings and encroachment not only their occupants were responsible, but equally involved were the black sheep in the institutions who had been patronising them. But now, he said, crackdown on them was also started.

    The minister said that not only district Karachi, but also other cities would also be cleaned by extending the sphere of the operation from Saddar to entire Karachi and the province.

    Regarding clean water supply, the minister said in areas where old lines were operating along with new connections, sewage was mixing up with water lines from old damaged water lines.

    He said under a World Bank project the old lines were being replaced in the first phase.

    Replying to another question, he said that anti-dengue spray was being carried out in the city, but the people as well ought to take precautionary steps by keeping clean water covered.

    Mayor Wasim Akhtar said that Wednesday’s meeting with the LG minister was the second meeting pertaining to his commitment made during his first meeting with him to give all powers to the mayor and KMC which were granted to them under the Local Government Act 2013.

    He said that formation of a committee under the secretary of local government to review the act from all aspects was agreed and expressed his gratitude for this to the Sindh government, the LG minister in particular.

    He expressed the hope that addressing his reservations about the law, which resulted in reduction of the KMC’s revenue, would boost income to help institutions to improve their performance.

    Empress Market shops

    Responding to a question about the Empress Market operation the mayor said that some 35 years ago the KMC had rented out 4x4 stalls under an agreement but later they were occupied and the size of the stalls were converted illegally into big shops.

    He made it clear that they would not assist any illegal occupant. However, those who had formal rent agreement, measures would be taken to provide them alternative livelihood.

    In reply to a question, the mayor said that the pace of development work in the Karachi zoo was slow for some time, but now it was carried out with full speed.

    He added that in the light of the apex court orders notices had been served to the encroachers around the zoo for clearing the area.

    He said that the Sindh government had provided fire engines and a snorkel.

    When he had taken over the charge of the city as mayor there were six fire engines, but today there were 18 fire engines, he added.

    He also requested the Sindh government to sanction special funds to the KMC so that the allowance issue of firemen could be resolved.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar. ─ Herald/FileKarachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar. ─ Herald/File

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    ISLAMABAD: A fresh special audit report on the accounts of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) between 2008 and 2017 indicated that the national flag carrier lost its market share drastically both on domestic and international routes during that period as the number of its passengers declined.

    The report submitted to the Supreme Court suggested that 5.6 million passengers travelled by the PIA in 2008, but this number fell to 5.48m in 2016, while the market grew manifold during this period.

    The apex court is seized with a case regarding reports that accumulated losses of the airline stood at Rs360 billion, while total liabilities amounted to Rs406bn by the end of last year against its assets of Rs111bn, besides plans were afoot to sell it off at a throwaway price.

    According to a fresh special audit report submitted to SC, the number of passengers fell from 5.6m to 5.48m

    Earlier, a similar report of the Auditor General of Pakistan had blamed the absence of professional and experienced leadership for the present state of affairs of the national carrier, regretting that it was being run like a non-business entity.

    The fresh audit report stated that other airlines like Emirates, Qatar, Etihad and Turkish took advantage of the revised aviation policy in Pakistan and increased their flights from different locations and attracted PIA passengers by offering them more value for money.

    An analysis of traffic information showed that over the years the PIA lost passengers, mostly due to a reduction in flights and Available Seat Kilometres.

    PIA’s revenue was Rs88.8bn in 2008 and Rs91.2bn in 2017, showing a slight increase of 2.5 per cent, while its expenditure went up by 8.89pc to Rs136bn from Rs125bn during this period.

    The airline sustained a net loss of Rs36.2bn in 2008 and Rs44.9bn in 2017 and due to huge fixed cost under the head of salary, finance cost and exchange loss, it was overburdened heavily.

    The audit report regretted that the airline was unable to continue as a going concern without the government’s support as it had accumulated losses of Rs361bn up to December last year.

    The cost of sales is 116pc of the revenue which effectively means that the PIA sustained operational loss to the extent of 16pc of its revenue and the management failed to take necessary measures to slow down or reverse the trend of increasing cost of services and spiralling fixed costs.

    The management never undertook any austerity measures to cut the costs because they knew that in the end, the government will infuse more equity to bail out the airline. The overall loss will further increase in the coming years due to increase in the cost of services, finance cost and other related costs.

    Due to financial constraints, the audit report regretted, the PIA had been acquiring aircraft on both dry and wet lease since 2007. The audit team observed a number of irregularities in leasing of aircraft like no due diligence/preparation of feasibilities showing no commercial, financial and engineering viabilities.

    All the feasibilities during the past 10 years are devoid of outputs projected in them, the report said and added that obsession for Airbus A320 and ATR-72 aircraft had been noticed since 2013-17 without realisation of the airline’s commercial interest. Only A320 has been preferred in all procurements when other aircraft like A330 and A319 were offered at very good rates, the report said.

    Likewise, ATR-72 aircraft were purchased beyond the existing need, hence the airline was overburdened with billions of rupees of expenditure without a single penny of profit from ATRs.

    Ironically, the PIA did not have maintenance and overall capabilities for Airbus A320 and ATR inducted between 2014 and 2015, including in-house engine repair/overhaul capabilities. The airline inducted 11 A320 and ATR-72 aircraft, but due to the absence of such capabilities expenses of maintenance and overhaul and engine rentals have increased beyond Rs16bn, the report said.

    Apart from revenue on passengers, the cargo has dropped dramatically due to leasing of narrow-body aircraft. The PIA earned cargo revenue of Rs5.4bn in 2008, which fell to Rs3.6bn in 2016, as compared to 20pc of total revenue as per industry practice.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    A fresh special audit report on the accounts of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) between 2008 and 2017 indicated that the national flag carrier lost its market share drastically both on domestic and international routes during that period as the number of its passengers declined. — Email/File photoA fresh special audit report on the accounts of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) between 2008 and 2017 indicated that the national flag carrier lost its market share drastically both on domestic and international routes during that period as the number of its passengers declined. — Email/File photo

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    LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday extended interim pre-arrest bail of former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Salman Rafique for 15 days, restraining the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from arresting the two PML-N leaders.

    The Khwaja brothers appeared before a division bench along with their counsel with a request for extension in the concession of bail.

    The NAB had initiated an inquiry against the Khawaja brothers in Paragon City case. Saad Rafique is also facing inquiries regarding railways and Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme.

    In their bail petitions, Mr Rafique and Mr Salman said they had nothing to do with the Paragon City.

    The petitioners said they had already provided the NAB with all information required by the interrogators but they were being summoned time and again with mala fide intention.They contended that the NAB had lost its credibility and its independence had been compromised for irrelevant consideration.

    Meanwhile, the bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi also issued notices to the NAB and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on another petition of the Khawaja brothers, seeking transfer of inquiries against them from Lahore to any other regional office of the bureau and controversial media interviews of its Lahore Director General, Shahzad Saleem.

    The counsel for the petitioners argued that the NAB DG had become a party to cases against the PML-N leaders and also showed his prejudice in his recent controversial interviews to different television channels.

    He asked the court to order transfer of the inquiries from NAB-Lahore DG to any other region for disposal in accordance with law and also direct the NAB chairman to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the respondent for violating public servants code of conduct.

    The bench issued notice to the respondents for Nov 26.

    Talking to the media at the LHC, Saad Rafique said the NAB-Lahore DG stated distorted facts about the cases against the PML-N leaders on television. He alleged the NAB officer had nurtured a grudge against the party leaders and was subjecting them to vindictive actions. The incumbent government was equally involved in victimisation of the opposition parties, he added.

    He further alleged that the NAB had been pressurising people into becoming approvers in inquiries against the PML-N leaders.

    “We are being forcibly made owners of a housing scheme,” he said.

    He said the system would not survive if the elected people were continued to be humiliated.

    “Every action has a reaction and silence is not permanent,” he added.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    The Khwaja brothers appeared before a division bench along with their counsel with a request for extension in the concession of bail. — INP/File photoThe Khwaja brothers appeared before a division bench along with their counsel with a request for extension in the concession of bail. — INP/File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Wednesday approved six development projects worth about Rs660 billion, five of them from the water and power sector.

    The meeting presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umar jacked up the costs of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s signature transport project for Peshawar — Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) — by 38pc and that of Diamer-Bhasha dam project by 1pc.

    The meeting approved a proposal of the Ministry of Water Resources to include Tangir Hydropower in the Diamer-Bhasha dam project that increased its cost by about Rs5bn — from previously approved cost of Rs474bn to new revised cost of Rs479.68bn.

    Ecnec increases Peshawar mass transit project cost by 38pc

    Informed sources said the additional cost for 15MW Tangir Hydropower Project was approved at the request of the Water and Power Development Authority to meet energy requirements during construction period of the Diamer-Bhasha dam. Wapda had estimated the cost of the small hydropower project at Rs6bn. But, the sources said, the Planning Commission had raised serious objections over the cost of the project, saying it was almost three times as costly as a normal hydropower project.

    The Wapda management is reported to have taken up the issue with Prime Minister Imran Khan and told him that power supply from the national grid to Diamer-Bhasha over seven to eight years of construction period was estimated to cost about Rs10bn.

    The Ecnec was updated on the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor Project with a request to increase its cost by Rs38pc as referred by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) last month.

    The meeting approved the revised cost of the project of Rs66.43bn, with June 2019 as the stipulated month of completion of the project. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government reported that some funds would be required for a soft opening of the project, to be held in March next year.

    The project envisages construction of 27.37km dedicated signal-free BRT corridor, out of which 11.85km will be on ground, 12.26km elevated and 3.25km through underpasses. In addition to the main BRT corridor, additional elevated structures having total length of 2.1km will be constructed.

    The CDWP had referred the Peshawar BRT project to Ecnec with a revised cost estimate of Rs67.95bn and with an advice for its cost rationalisation, which was now approved at Rs66.43bn against original approved cost of Rs49.3bn.

    The project aims at building high-quality mass transit for Peshawar to trigger urban development, activities and density along the BRT corridor improving economic growth besides giving access into the city.

    The project, originally planned to be executed in 12 months, is already beyond schedule and is expected to facilitate 472,000 people per day in its initial phase. It starts from Chamkani on G.T. Road and terminates at Karkhano Market on Jamrood Road. It was launched in December 2017 for completion in one year, but is now expected to be completed in March next year.

    The meeting also approved a transmission line project for power evacuation from hydropower projects of 870MW Suki Kinari in KP’s Mansehra district, 1,124MW Kohala in Muzaffarabad district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 590MW Mahal in Bagh District in AJK, at a cost of Rs79.92bn. The main objective of the project is construction of 500kV transmission network involving a total distance of more than 750km up to Lahore to provide interconnection facilities for evacuation of electricity from the above mentioned projects being constructed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

    Ecnec also approved Sind Solar Energy Project at a cost of Rs12.84bn. The project aims to support the scale up of solar power in the province and increased access to electricity. The project is expected to also improve energy security and fulfil Pakistan’s international commitments on climate change.

    The meeting directed the power division to furnish a report covering all facets relating to power production, its effective evacuation/transmission and distribution. The report, Ecnec observed, would help set a direction for undertaking power projects in future.

    Ecnec also approved rehabilitation project of Dargai hydroelectric power station in Malakand, KP, at a cost Rs4.050bn. Completion of the project will help enhance the capacity of the power station to 22 MW.

    The council also approved the Balochistan Water Resource Development Project (Zhob and Mula river basins) at a cost of Rs16.453bn. The project will benefit districts of Muslim Bagh, Qila Saifullah, Zhob, Khuzdar, Jhal Magsi and part of Kalat.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    The meeting presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umar jacked up the costs of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s signature transport project for Peshawar — Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) — by 38pc and that of Diamer-Bhasha dam project by 1pc. — APP/File photoThe meeting presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umar jacked up the costs of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s signature transport project for Peshawar — Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) — by 38pc and that of Diamer-Bhasha dam project by 1pc. — APP/File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday testified before the accountability court that he neither owned Al-Azizia Steel Mills nor was he engaged in establishing or running operations of the company.

    Mr Sharif partially recorded his statement in Al-Azizia reference under Section 342 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC), as out of over 100 questions he gave answers to the 44 questions which were put to him by Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik of the accountability court.

    Responding to a question about his address to the nation as prime minister in which he presented his stance regarding acquisition of Gulf Steel Mills, its sale and subsequent utilisation of its sale proceeds in reference to the Panama Papers issue, Mr Sharif said: “As regards my speech on the floor of Assembly, it is submitted that subject to my objection that the said speech cannot be read in view of Article 66 of the Constitution, the speech made by me on May 16, 2016 was based on copies of the various agreements and related documents pertaining to Dubai factory and another agreement related to Al-Azizia Steel Co.

    “I had never participated in any of the transactions pertaining to establishment and running of business of Gulf Steel Mills or its sale and subsequent use/disposal of its sale proceeds.

    Flagship Investment reference investigation officer summoned for cross-examination after ex-PM records his statement

    “Similar is my position with respect to the establishment, running, and operation of Al-Azizia Steel Mills Co. These facts stand un-contradicted and uncontroverted by any evidence produced by the prosecution in the instant case. I may add here that I never stated either in my address to the nation or speech in the National Assembly that I was ever the real owner of Al-Azizia Steels Co or Hill Metal Establishment.”

    The former prime minister said the prosecution miserably failed to bring on record any evidence to even remotely establish anything to the contrary. “I may further add that neither the acquisition of Gulf Steel Mills, nor its sale or subsequent utilization of its sale proceeds had any connection to myself,” he declared.

    Asked why he did not join the investigations pursuant to the NAB notice, Mr Sharif said: “These notices were neither served on me nor any attempt was made to do so. Moreover, the contents of these notices and the context in which those were purportedly issued clearly show that they were designed merely as eyewash. As such, there was no occasion for me to have joined investigation in response to the said call up notices. It may be added here that although the call up notices were never served upon me, NAB had provided copy of this notice to the electronic media which was widely publicized and it was pursuant thereto that in order to avoid any misuse of it from NAB, a response was sent to the call up notices.”

    While answering a question that he was holding public office at the time of accumulation of the asset, the ex-premier said: “I remained the chief minister of Punjab, caretaker chief minister of Punjab, finance minister of Punjab, leader of the opposition [in the National Assembly] and prime minister of Pakistan. However, I was not holding any public office with effect from the date of the military coup that took place on October 10, 1999 till I was again elected PM for a third time in June 2013.”

    Asked if he was the most influential figure of the Sharif family, the ex-PM replied: “The most influential person of the Sharif family remained my late father Mian Mohammad Sharif who breathed his last in October 2004.” However, he expressed ignorance about the income tax returns, wealth statement and wealth tax returns filed by his son, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, during the period between 1996 and 2016.

    Regarding his own tax returns, Mr Sharif said that following the military coup in 1999, he was forced to leave Pakistan. He testified that he lived in exile in Saudi Arabia from 2001 till 2008.

    The court later summoned the investigation officer in Flagship Investment reference for cross-examination by defence counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed on Thursday when the former prime minister would continue to record his statement.

    Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018


    “I had never participated in any of the transactions pertaining to establishment and running of business of Gulf Steel Mills.“I had never participated in any of the transactions pertaining to establishment and running of business of Gulf Steel Mills." — File

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