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    LAHORE: Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Raas says a regulatory authority will be established to monitor private schools fee structure and action will be taken against the schools for not implementing court’s order on fee.

    He was addressing a delegation of the Private School Owners Association at the committee room of the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) on Thursday.

    Mr Raas said the Supreme Court’s orders on private schools’ fee would be implemented and legal action would also be initiated in case of any non-implementation by the schools. He said services of account firm would also be hired to deal with private schools’ fee issue and financial position of the schools would be examined.

    The minister also disclosed that government was working speedily on the draft of a regulatory authority for the private schools and the draft would be made public soon. He said the government was working to transform public schools according to the requirements of the market so that students could have the best educational facilities without being burdened.

    Mr Raas proposed to set up an endowment fund for fee of private schools students and asked the private schools to give their proposals within one week.

    Later, the minister also held a meeting with delegation of the parents of the children who were studying in private schools and they complained about the incidents of harassment in case of non-payment of fee in some private schools.

    He assured the parents for setting up a regularity authority to deal with the reservations of the parents and said that future educational strategy would be given practical shape soon under title of “The new deal for Punjab”.

    Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2018


    In this 2015 file photo parents of students studying in private schools protest outside the National Press Club. — Online/File photoIn this 2015 file photo parents of students studying in private schools protest outside the National Press Club. — Online/File photo

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    MUZAFFARABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has asked India to adopt the course of dialogue for peace and progress in the region instead of resorting to provocative statements and ceasefire violations.

    According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Gen Bajwa made the suggestion to India’s civilian and military leadership during a visit to the restive Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Wednesday.

    Gen Bajwa pointed out that lately there had been a surge in ceasefire violations by India and rhetoric of provocative statements by its military leadership.

    “We are a professional and combat hardened army ready to defend our motherland … It would be better if they [India] realise this and place their stock in peace and progress through dialogue,” he said.

    Earlier, the general officer commanding of the area updated the army chief on the situation prevailing along the Line of Control, including ceasefire violations by Indian troops and Pakistan Army’s response to it.

    Gen Bajwa also interacted with the troops on the occasion and appreciated their state of readiness and morale.

    He praised the resilience of the civilian Kashmiri population being deliberately targeted by the Indian forces on both sides of the LoC.

    It was Gen Bajwa’s second visit to the heavily militarised dividing line in AJK’s southernmost Bhimber district in less than a month, amid unrelenting ceasefire violations by the Indian army in a serious breach of November 2003 truce between the two countries.

    The ceasefire violations have been frequently causing civilian casualties.

    On Tuesday, two girls were injured in Haveli district in unprovoked firing by the Indian army, raising the number of injured persons to 153 and those of the dead to 27 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir in the ongoing year alone.

    In his last visit to Bhimber district on Oct 25, Gen Bajwa had made it clear that Pakistan Army’s belief in peace and stability should not be misconstrued, as troops were fully prepared and determined to defend the country.

    Apart from that, he has also been giving an unequivocal message to India that Kashmir was the core issue and would have to be resolved between India and Pakistan in accordance with the United Nation resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people for a lasting peace in the region.

    Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2018


    Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has asked India to adopt the course of dialogue for peace and progress in the region instead of resorting to provocative statements and ceasefire violations. — AFP/File photoChief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has asked India to adopt the course of dialogue for peace and progress in the region instead of resorting to provocative statements and ceasefire violations. — AFP/File photo

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    PESHAWAR: Rejecting the proposal to keep the Fata secretariat and the post of the additional chief secretary (Fata) intact, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet on Thursday decided to form a seven-member committee to finalise plans for the ‘financial and administrative integration’ of the merged areas into the province.

    Information minister Shaukat Yousafzai told reporters said the cabinet, whose meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, discussed for over two hours the transfer of the control of government agencies working in the merged areas with the relevant departments and address concerns.

    He said the integration of the merged areas’ directorates into the government departments and the financial arrangements for the region until then also came under discussion.

    Forms panel to finalise plans for merged areas’ integration into province

    Mr Yousafzai said as there’s some confusion on the matter, the cabinet decided to form a committee headed by senior minister for sports and tourism Atif Khan to resolve the issues.

    He added that the ministers of finance, law and information and the secretaries of the departments concerned would be members of the committee, which would produce its report within two weeks.

    The minister said the proposal put before the cabinet was about the retaining of the Fata secretariat and post of additional chief secretary, who headed the government machinery in the erstwhile tribal areas.

    He said the government strongly felt that the Fata-KP merger should be 100 percent with all departments of the region being looked over by the relevant departments.

    Mr Yousafzai said the cabinet approved the abolition of the Fata additional chief secretary’s post and allowed the government to task special secretaries for Fata in the finance and planning and development departments with overseeing the financial matters of the merged areas.

    He said the plan placed before the cabinet insisted that since the provincial government couldn’t spend the money meant for the region’s development, the post of the Fata additional chief secretary should be kept intact.

    The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan would visit the merged areas soon and would announce a big package for the region’s development.

    He said as large funds allocated for the region went to waste due to corruption and other issues, the government was committed to checking it.

    Mr Yousafzai said a proposal regarding the delimitation for local body polls in Fata had been prepared and the cabinet’s special committee would be briefed about it.

    He said the cabinet also approved a bill to repeal the KP Ehtesab Commission Act, 2014, and hand over its resources and cases to the anti-corruption establishment.

    The bill will be presented in the provincial assembly for approval.

    The minister said 107 regular employees of the accountability body (KPEC) would be asked to either become part of the surplus pool of employees or avail themselves of the golden handshake scheme.

    He said the cabinet also approved a proposal to re-appoint Rashid Khan to the Bank of Khyber board of directors in light of his good performance during the three years stint, which ended in June.

    The minister said the cabinet also approved the appointment of five new members to KP Oil and Gas Company Limited’s board, including Shumail Butt, Muhammad Raiz Khan, Mohammad Arif, Zahir Azizuddin and Mohammad Ashfaq Khattak, while Mr Ashfaq would serve as the board’s chairman.

    The cabinet also approved an amendment to the Pedo Act 1993 to allow the handing over of the micro-hydropower projects built during the last PTI government to the local communities.

    He said of the 356 micro-hydel projects, work on 256 had been completed and therefore, their control would be handed over to the local communities.

    The cabinet also approved a memorandum of understanding for the construction of 496 megawatts Spat Gah hydropower project signed between a Korean company and provincial government few weeks ago.

    The minister said the cabinet also approved the KP Digital Policy, amendment to the police rules, and amendments to the KP Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Act, 2012.

    Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2018


    Forms panel to finalise plans for merged areas’ integration into province. — FileForms panel to finalise plans for merged areas’ integration into province. — File

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    LAHORE: The PhD Programme in Basic Sciences in public sector medical universities of Punjab seems ‘almost on the verge of closure’.

    The programme suffered a major dent after the universities and other institutions, mostly headed by councilors of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP), ‘neglected’ it in order to ‘promote’ the FCPS qualification in same subjects.

    An official told Dawn that the sensitivity of the situation could be gauged from the fact that presently out of the total six medical universities in Punjab only two Lahore-based institutions -- King Edward Medical University and the University of Health Sciences -- were running the programme to produce PhD scholars.

    Policies tilt the balance in favour of FCPS qualification

    According to the world-over standard practice, the ranking of the medical universities are determined on the basis of the number of PhD scholars produced by them.

    The varsities admit students for PhD in Basic Sciences after passing MPhil making them eligible for the level-III qualification after 18-year consecutive education while the CPSP enrolled the students [for FCPS] in Basic Sciences after MBBS.

    “Initially, the issue surfaced when the health authorities allocated 50 per cent of the total seats to the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSP) under the central induction policy (CIP) for postgraduate trainees in Punjab,” the official said.

    As heads of the medical universities were also members of the committee constituted for the induction of the postgraduate trainees, they preferred the CPSP diploma to varsities’ own PhD programme creating a serious issue for the latter’s future.

    Prof Javed Akram, the co-convener of the committee, confirmed the development saying that the acute shortage in the basic sciences faculty has already hit the Punjab’s medical institutions hard.

    The present situation further had an adverse impact on the PhD degree programme, he said while talking to Dawn.

    “I would strongly recommend the authorities to revisit the seat allocation formula under the CIP for the postgraduate trainees in order to promote medical universities’ [own] degree programme,” Prof Akram said.

    The PhD in Basic Sciences has been purely the medical universities’ own four-year highest degree [research] programme, he said.

    He added that he would take up the issue in the upcoming meetings with the health authorities.

    On the other hand, the situation got worse after heads of the medical universities took some more steps to promote the CPSP qualification.

    “The disturbing fact is that the CPSP Ordinance has not allowed the college to run FCPS Basic Sciences programme,” said the official.

    It only allowed the students requiring hospital-based training in clinical sciences including surgery, medicine, gynae etc., instead of basic sciences.

    The official referred the Section 5 of the CPSP Ordinance 1962 that clearly reads the following functions of the college; 1- to promote specialist practice of medicine, surgery, gynaecology and obstetrics and such other specialties by securing improvement of teaching and training in hospitals and hospital methods;

    2 - to arrange postgraduate medical, surgical and other specialists training.

    Declaring it a serious matter, the official said all the stakeholders concerned, including health authorities and heads of medical universities, are [surprisingly] silent on the issue probably to avoid controversies.

    He pointed out that being a federal institution, the CPSP was established in 1962 through an act of parliament.

    The two medical universities in Lahore are being headed by those senior medics who were also councilors of the CPSP at the same time.

    Similarly, another leading institute - the Postgraduate Medical Institute (PGMI) in Lahore - is also being headed by a councilor of the CPSP.

    The holding of prime positions in the CPSP and in public sector medical varsities at the same time is somehow ‘conflict of interest,’ the official said.

    When contacted, health secretary Saqib Zafar refused to comment on the issue citing some reasons.

    Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2018


    Policies tilt the balance in favour of FCPS qualification. — FilePolicies tilt the balance in favour of FCPS qualification. — File

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    KARACHI: The opposition in the Sindh Assembly on Thursday demanded that the provincial government inform the house about the proceedings of the recently-held meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) which, as certain unofficial reports claimed, approved the final results of the 2017 national census without a post-enumeration audit of five per cent census blocks.

    Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla said he could brief the house about the issue when it would meet on Friday (today).

    The issue was raised by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Jawed Hanif who, on a point of order, referred to certain media reports which claimed that the final results of the census had been approved by the CCI in the meeting without a post-enumeration audit of five per cent census blocks.

    PPP lawmaker voices her concern over dangers involved in kiting across city

    “Such reports are extremely disturbing,” said Mr Hanif. “Particularly for us, the people of Sindh.”

    He said no census carried out in the past was acceptable to the people of Sindh. “Every census was controversial and had been imposed on us; and the same situation is being witnessed this time round also,” said Mr Hanif.

    The MQM-P lawmaker recalled an earlier development when it was accepted by the federal authorities that finalisation of the population count would be made after an audit of five per cent samples.

    “This issue has been very sensitive for Sindh and its capital as census is the grandest tool to decide distribution of resources and share in the kitty among the provinces. The present population as being shown for Sindh is far from reality.”

    He said the authorities concerned wanted to issue the final count on the pretext of certain deadlines that had expired and that the Sindh government should not accept it.

    MQM-P’s parliamentary leader Kanwar Naveed said Asif Zardari, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which rules Sindh, had recently spoken in the National Assembly in which he had said the population of Sindh’s capital was 30 million, double of what had been shown in the recent census results.

    Besides, he said, in the previous National Assembly PPP’s Khursheed Shah had tabled a resolution regarding an audit of samples of the 2017 census.

    He said the issue involved greater consequences for Sindh as it would determine what “we’ll be getting from the federal kitty and resources in the future”.

    Kanwar Naveed said reports suggesting the CCI had approved a summary for the final census figures warranted the Sindh government to inform the provincial legislature whether such accounts were correct; and, if so, the reasons behind it should be spelt out.

    “The Sindh government owes an explanation to this house. We should be informed about what happened in the CCI’s meeting,” said the MQM-P lawmaker. Minister Chawla said he would brief the house on Friday on the issue.

    Deputy Speaker Rehana Laghari, after getting consent from the opposition benches, asked the minister to furnish a statement a day later.

    Kiting in city

    PPP’s Shamim Mumtaz expressed her concern over the dangers involved in the current kiting season, which might kill or harm people.

    She referred to a recent incident in Karachi in which a child died because of a lethal string, adding that such incidents were on the rise as the season for the sport had arrived in town.

    She said hundreds of people, youth in particular, could be seen along Lyari Expressway engaged in kiting.

    She said there was a need to keep a check on the sport and particularly on the deadly string.

    “Our government should launch a drive to inform the people about the dangers of using dangerous string and take measures to discourage its production.”

    Mr Chawla said the provincial government would ensure strict measures against the production of the deadly string.

    Traffic in city

    MQM-P’s Mohammad Hussain said traffic management in Karachi was in disarray, which was evident from the perpetual snarl-ups across the metropolis. He said convoys of senior government officials with heavy protocol had also negatively affected the smooth flow of traffic.

    Mr Chawla admitted that efficiency of the traffic system in the city was on the decline; however, the provincial government was trying to streamline it.

    He said Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had halved his protocol staff, which was now much smaller than other VVIPs’. Besides, he added, the provincial ministers and advisers too generally avoided to be in the company of excessive protocol.

    “Rest assured, no inconvenience is being caused to the public in the name of protocol,” said the minister.

    Calling-attention notices

    Revenue Minister Makhdoom Mehboobuz Zaman responded to a calling-attention notice by Grand Democratic Alliance’s Abdul Razzaq, who asked why free distribution of wheat was being carried out according to the lists provided by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and not through computerised national identity cards.

    The minister said the government had planned to distribute 50 kilograms of wheat to the head of each family in the drought-hit Thar region.

    For the purpose, said the revenue minister, Nadra helped the Sindh government in identifying heads of the family to whose names 50kg wheat bags would be assigned.

    He said the government had assessed that handing free wheat to every CNIC holder would have created an imbalance, especially those households with more children and less elders would have got lesser wheat than the ones with more CNIC holders.

    Mr Zaman said the provincial relief commissioner was in Thar to ensure that everyone got the bag weighing 50kg and not less as had recently been reported.

    Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Seema Zia spoke on the dilapidated condition of Mauripur Road which, she added, was the jugular vein of the national economy.

    Works and Services Minister Nasir Shah said his ministry did not have control on the road. He said the provincial government had made a plan to reconstruct it by correcting the sewerage lines and drains in the area that keep damaging it in the past.

    Mr Shah said the road had been rebuilt in the past but got damaged because the sewerage lines and drains were not rectified.

    The chair deferred discussion on identical adjournment motions on water issues in various cities and regions of Sindh for Friday (today).

    Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2018


    PPP lawmaker voices her concern over dangers involved in kiting across city. — FilePPP lawmaker voices her concern over dangers involved in kiting across city. — File

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    PESHAWAR: The lawyer for Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday requested a local court to return the defamation lawsuit filed by former MPA Fauzia Bibi against his client over the horse-trading charge, insisting it isn’t authorised to hear the case.

    The premier’s counsel, Babar Awan, filed an application with additional district and sessions judge Shah Waliullah Hamid Hashmi under Order 7 Rule 10 of Code of Civil Procedure saying the news conference addressed by his client on the matter was held in Islamabad and not in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and therefore, the case wasn’t maintainable.

    The court directed the plaintiff’s counsel, Syed Gufranullah Shah, to file a written reply to the application and fixed Dec 12 for the hearing into the case.

    Tells Peshawar court it isn’t authorised to hear case

    The former MPA, who was elected on PTI’s ticket on a seat reserved for women, has filed the lawsuit for the recovery of damages to the tune of Rs500 million for defaming her through leveling ‘baseless’ allegations against her by Mr Imran in a news conference accusing her of selling her vote in the Senate elections.

    The lawsuit was filed in June this year under the Defamation Ordinance 2002. The only defendant in the lawsuit was PTI chief Imran Khan, who later became the prime minister.

    Mr Babar Awan contended that the news conference in question was addressed in Islamabad, whereas the committee constituted for taking action against the plaintiff was also constituted there.

    He added that as the cause of action arose there and therefore, it was not in the jurisdiction of the court to deal with the case.

    Following several hearings into the case, the court had decided on Oct 24 to begin ex-parte proceeding against Prime Minister Imran Khan over his failure to respond to the court’s summons despite repeated notices.

    However, Mr Babar Awan later submitted his power of attorney (wakalatnama) on behalf of the prime minister and requested the court to recall its order of conducting ex-parte proceedings against his client.

    Plaintiff Fauzia Bibi said in the March 3 Senate polls, she had followed the direction with effect to vote for all candidates of her party nominated for general and reserved seats for women and technocrats.

    She added that Imran Khan later accused her through media of being involved in horse-trading.

    The plaintiff said she clarified her position by taking oath on the Holy Quran and denied the allegations and that she even replied to the show cause notice issued by the PTI Secretariat to her on the defendant’s directives.

    Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2018


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    A terror attack targeting the Chinese Consulate situated in Karachi's Clifton area was foiled by security forces on Friday, leaving at least seven people dead.

    Two policemen lost their lives due to multiple injuries caused by explosive material, while a private security guard was injured in the blast, Dr Seemin Jamali, JPMC Executive Director, told Dawn.

    The police officers were identified as Assistant Sub Inspector Ashraf Dawood and Constable Amir, while the private security guard was identified as Muhammad Juman, according to police.

    Two civilians, a father and son, named Zahir Shah and Abdul Karim, were also killed in the attack, Dr Jamali said.

    Three terrorists were killed in the operation by security forces, according to Sindh Police and the army's media wing.

    A map showing the site of the attack.
    A map showing the site of the attack.

    The heavily-guarded E-Street neighbourhood, which is considered a red zone, is home to a number of upscale restaurants, diplomatic missions and schools. The schools and eateries were locked down while a clearance operation was initiated.

    'Firing outside the embassy'

    Smoke rises from the area near the Chinese Consulate in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV
    Smoke rises from the area near the Chinese Consulate in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV

    Gunshots and multiple blasts were heard in the area at 9:30am. Images from the area showed smoke rising from the Chinese Consulate building, which also serves as the residence for Chinese diplomats and other staff.

    The attackers first opened fire at a checkpost, then detonated a hand grenade in the area, DawnNewsTV reported.

    Additional Inspector General (AIG) Amir Shaikh said that the attackers had parked their vehicle at some distance from the embassy before moving towards it.

    Footage of the scene outside the consulate at the time of the attack.

    Defence analyst and security contractor Ikram Sehgal, whose company's guards have been posted at the consulate, said that the attackers engaged in an exchange of fire with policemen.

    After the policemen were martyred, he said, the attackers proceeded towards the gate of the consulate. However, the guards were quick to usher civilians with consular business into the building and shut the gates behind them.

    Chinese staff at the embassy were taken to a main building, Sehgal added.

    AIG Amir Shaikh briefs the media on the attack. ─ DawnNewsTV
    AIG Amir Shaikh briefs the media on the attack. ─ DawnNewsTV

    Muhammad Ashfaq, a police official quoted by the Associated Press, said that the attackers opened fire at the consulate guards and then managed to breach the main gate and enter the building.

    Shortly after, the Rangers arrived in the area and an hour-long exchange of fire took place between security forces and the attackers, leaving three terrorists killed. Weapons and explosive materials were recovered from the attackers, police said.

    Deputy Inspector General (DIG) South Javed Alam Odho told AFP that at least one attacker had been wearing a suicide vest which did not detonate.

    Police and Rangers began a combined operation in the area, and the Bomb Disposal Squad began conducting a sweep to ensure there are no more explosive materials in the area.

    A photograph showing a burnt out car next to an Edhi ambulance at the site of the attack. ─ DawnNewsTV
    A photograph showing a burnt out car next to an Edhi ambulance at the site of the attack. ─ DawnNewsTV

    Police said that all Chinese staffers "are safe and secure". The security situation has been brought under control and all areas will soon be cleared, they added, and police have been deployed inside the consulate.

    At 12:15pm, a Rangers spokesman told journalists that the search operation had been completed.

    He added that all diplomatic staff is secure, and praised the Rangers, Police and FC personnel for their quick response to the attack.

    "Explosives and weapons were taken into custody," he said, adding that more details would be shared later.

    'In touch with Chinese officials'

    Sindh police chief Syed Kaleem Imam and Chief Minister Murad Shah both reached the Chinese Consulate following the terror attack.

    IGP Imam briefed the Chinese consul general about the successful combined operation conducted by security forces.

    Governor Imran Ismail also took notice of the attack. The governor called for a report on the matter from the Sindh police chief.

    The Foreign Office spokesman said that Islamabad is "in touch with the relevant agencies and will react quickly" to ascertain the facts.

    PM, foreign minister condemn attack

    Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the attack and ordered an inquiry into the incident.

    Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also condemned the incident and praised the way the attack was foiled by the law enforcement agencies.

    "This was a sad incident. The two terrorists involved in the incident have been killed. We are in contact with the Chinese consul general," the foreign minister said.

    He added that Pakistan and China would together defeat the forces that wish to halt development in the country.

    Beijing also strongly condemned the attack and asked Pakistan to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens in the country.

    Attacks targeting Chinese nationals

    Today's attack is also the latest in a series of assaults on Chinese nationals, including workers involved in the multi-billion dollar infrastructure project in Pakistan.

    Thousands of Chinese workers are employed in development of about $60 billion worth of infrastructure projects under Beijing's 'Belt and Road' initiative. The port and road-building projects have come under frequent attacks in Balochistan.

    China had in Dec 2017 warned its citizens in Pakistan to be on alert after receiving intelligence reports about possible attacks targeting Chinese.

    The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said it had information about a "series of terror attacks" planned against Chinese organisations and personnel.

    The government has promised Beijing that it will deploy troops to secure the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Chinese nationals in the country.

    A motorcycle bomb in 2012 also exploded near the Chinese consulate in Karachi. At the time, police said it appeared the target was not the consulate but the Rangers, who had been the primary targets of a string of IED explosions over a two-week period in July that year.

    However, some police officials believed it may have been tied to the Zulfikarabad city project which, at the time, was likely to be taken up by the Chinese. Security officials were of the view that the attack could be the handiwork of elements linked to a separatist group.

    Karachi hit by 2 attacks in one week

    Although the sprawling metropolis has seen a sharp decline in terror attacks since the Rangers operation began in 2013, this is the second blast in Karachi in a week.

    On Nov 17, a blast in the Quaidabad area killed two teenagers and wounded 12 others. An initial probe into the attack suggested the involvement of sub-nationalist groups.

    With additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui.


    A contingent of Rangers and police arrive outside the consulate in Clifton. — DawnNewsTVA contingent of Rangers and police arrive outside the consulate in Clifton. — DawnNewsTV

    Traffic in the area has been disrupted due to the attack. — DawnNewsTVTraffic in the area has been disrupted due to the attack. — DawnNewsTV

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    Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday arrested Dr Shahid Masood from court premises after Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani dismissed his pre-arrest bail, DawnNewsTV reported.

    Masood, who is accused of being involved in the embezzlement of Rs38 million from state-run broadcaster Pakistan Television, is being shifted to FIA's Zonal office.

    An Islamabad district court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the anchor. However, Masood had obtained an interim bail. Last month, a special court had rejected the anchorperson's application for confirmation of interim pre-arrest bail. A few days later, the TV anchor had challenged the special court's decision in the IHC.

    During today's hearing, Masood's counsel Shah Khawar argued that the anchor had not been nominated in the first information report lodged for the case.

    Meanwhile PTV's lawyer, Mohammad Nazeer Jawad, told the court that Kashif Rabbani was also a suspect in the case, however, he had returned more than Rs10m after his bail was denied.

    Roshan Mustafa Gillani, another suspect, also returned Rs8m. Both Rabbani and Gillani had said that the remaining amount was to be returned by Masood, the PTV lawyer told the court.

    After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge dismissed the anchor's appeal for a pre-arrest bail.

    According to the prosecution, Dr Masood had signed an agreement with a fake company to negotiate with the Pakistan Cricket Board for grant of rights to the PTV for coverage of cricket matches played in Pakistan. Because of the agreement, the PTV had to face heavy losses.


    TV anchor Dr Shahid Masood is accused of embezzlement of Rs38m. — File photoTV anchor Dr Shahid Masood is accused of embezzlement of Rs38m. — File photo

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    Twenty-five people have been killed and at least 35 injured in an explosion in Kalaya Bazar area of lower Orakzai tribal district, according to Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari.

    The explosion, which according to officials was a suicide bombing, took place near an imambargah. The injured have been shifted to the KDA teaching hospital in Kohat.

    Security sources have told DawnNewsTV that a rescue-and-search operation is underway in the area.

    The lower Orakzai district, formerly an agency, is situated near the Hangu district.

    Prime Minister Imran Khan "strongly condemned" the terrorist attack in lower Orakzai as well as the one foiled on Chinese Consulate in Karachi.

    The prime minister labelled the twin attacks "a planned campaign to create unrest in the country by those who do not want Pakistan to prosper".

    PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari urged the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP).

    Mazari, the human rights minister, termed the attack a fallout from the US failure in neighbouring Afghanistan.

    The lower Orakzai district attack "shocked and saddened" Senator Sherry Rehman, who declared that "our resolve to fight terrorism remains strong and unwavering".

    Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan also condemned the attack, saying that enemies have not been able to stomach peace in the province.

    "To target innocent citizens is inhumane," he said, while also issuing the orders for hospitals to remain on high alert and to provide quality care to the injured.

    The explosion in lower Orakzai is the second terrorism activity in the country today. Earlier this morning, a terror attack targeting the Chinese Consulate situated in Karachi's Clifton area was foiled by security forces.


    This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves. Initial reports in the media can sometimes be inaccurate. We will strive to ensure timeliness and accuracy by relying on credible sources, such as concerned, qualified authorities and our staff reporters.


    Merchandise from the market where the blast took place are scattered on the street. — DawnNewsTVMerchandise from the market where the blast took place are scattered on the street. — DawnNewsTV

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    Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday launched four new train services aimed at providing better commuting facilities to the people.

    The new train services introduced by the Pakistan Railways (PR) include Faisalabad Express, Shah Latif Express, Sindh Express and Rehman Baba Express.

    Addressing a ceremony held in connection with the launch in Islamabad, the premier said the PR was incurring yearly losses of Rs45 billion but they have decreased to Rs37bn under Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed's watch.

    Khan said the reason behind the downfall of public sector enterprises in the country was "political appointments".

    "The loss caused by political appointments which are not based on merit is borne by the people," he said, adding that the Rs500bn worth of losses incurred by government corporations will eventually be cut by increasing the rates of consumer goods.

    Khan asked the railways minister to act against and remove the political appointees which he said have "become a burden" on the department.

    Train services

    The Faisalabad Express will run between Multan and Faisalabad. It will make stops at Khanewal, Abdul Hakim Railway Station, Shorkot Cantonment, Toba Tek Sindh and Gojra.

    The train will include five economy class carriages, one AC standard carriage, one AC business class carriage and one AC parlour carriage or coach. The fare for the AC parlour is said to be Rs500. Similarly the AC business class fare will be Rs540 and AC standard Rs470 while a seat in the economy class will cost Rs260.

    It will depart from Multan at 7am to reach Faisalabad at 10.30am and then leave Faisalabad at 11am to reach Multan at 2.30pm.

    The Shah Latif Express will depart from Dhabeji at 8.30am to reach Mirpurkhas at 11.40am and make stops at Jangshahi, Jhimpir, Kotri, Hyderabad, Tando Adam and Tando Allahyar. It will leave Mirpurkhas at 2.30pm to reach Dhabeji at 5.35pm.

    The train will have seven economy class coaches. The fare for Dhabeji to Hyderabad will be Rs140 and up to Mirpurkhas Rs200.

    The Sindh Express is to run between Karachi (Cantonment Station) and Sukkur making stops at Drigh Road, Landhi, Hyderabad, Tando Adam, Shahdadpur, Nawabshah, Bandi Goth, Mehrabpur, Ranipur, Khairpur and Rohri.

    It will comprise five economy class coaches with one AC standard coach, one AC business class coach and one AC parlour coach.

    The Karachi-Sukkur fare for the AC business class will be Rs1,520, AC standard Rs1,170 and the economy class fare will be Rs470.

    The Sindh Express will depart from Karachi Cantt at 8.30am to reach Sukkur at 4.45pm and then it will leave Sukkur at 11am to reach Karachi at 7:15pm.

    The Rehman Baba Express will run between Peshawar and Karachi.


    Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the launch of four new train services in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTVPrime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the launch of four new train services in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

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    Thirty-two people have been killed and 31 injured in an explosion in Kalaya Bazar area of lower Orakzai tribal district, according to KDA hospital's medical superintendent Farooq Shah.

    The explosion, which according to officials was a suicide bombing, took place near an imambargah on Friday morning. The injured have been shifted to the KDA teaching hospital in Kohat.

    Security sources have told DawnNewsTV that a rescue-and-search operation is underway in the area.

    The lower Orakzai district, formerly an agency, is situated near the Hangu district.

    Prime Minister Imran Khan "strongly condemned" the terrorist attack in lower Orakzai as well as the one foiled on Chinese Consulate in Karachi.

    The prime minister labelled the twin attacks "a planned campaign to create unrest in the country by those who do not want Pakistan to prosper".

    "Let there be no doubt in anyone's mind that we will crush the terrorists, whatever it takes," he affirmed.

    PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said he was "absolutely heartbreaking to hear about the great loss of life in the attack in Lower Orakzai" and urged the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP).

    Mazari, the human rights minister, termed the attack a fallout from the US failure in neighbouring Afghanistan, and called for "greater security for our tribal areas".

    The lower Orakzai district attack "shocked and saddened" Senator Sherry Rehman, who declared that "our resolve to fight terrorism remains strong and unwavering".

    Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan also condemned the attack, saying that enemies have not been able to stomach peace in the province.

    "To target innocent citizens is inhumane," he said, while also issuing the orders for hospitals to remain on high alert and to provide quality care to the injured.

    The explosion in lower Orakzai is the second terrorism activity in the country today. Earlier this morning, an attack targeting the Chinese Consulate situated in Karachi's Clifton area was foiled by security forces.


    Paramedics transport an injured bomb blast victim to a hospital after the bombing. — AFPParamedics transport an injured bomb blast victim to a hospital after the bombing. — AFP

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    Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday confirmed the death sentences awarded to 11 hardcore terrorists, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

    The convicts were involved in heinous terrorist offences, including attacking armed forces, law enforcement agencies, killing of an innocent civilian, and destruction of an educational institution, the press release stated.

    The convicted terrorists were involved in the killings of a total of 26 people — one civilian and 25 armed forces personnel — and injuring 22 others.

    Arms and explosives had also been recovered from their possession. Special military courts had awarded death sentences to these convicts, the ISPR said. The courts also handed down imprisonment to 22 convicts.

    Details of convictions provided by ISPR are as follows:

    Anwar Salam s/o Said Nazar

    The convict was a member of a proscribed organisation. He was involved in an attack on the armed forces which resulted in the death of Major Ziaul Haq, Subedar Ali Asghar, Havildar Muhammad Afzal, Havildar Muhammad Bashir and Lance Naik Muhammad Anwaiz.

    He was also found involved in the kidnapping of Lt Col (retired) Khaqan Afzal for ransom. The convict confessed to his crimes before a judicial magistrate and the trial court, which sentenced him to death.

    Irfan ul Haq s/o Dilbar

    The convict, a member of a proscribed organisation, was involved in abetting terrorist commander Mufti Meraj Uddin in the kidnapping of Capt Najam Riaz Raja and Capt Jonaid Khan along with two soldiers. The officers/soldiers were later slaughtered by the terrorists.

    He was also found in possession of explosives. The convict was awarded death sentence after he confessed to his offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

    Sahib Zada s/o Akbar Zada

    The convict was a member of a proscribed organisation. He was found involved in attacks on armed forces/law enforcement agencies personnel, which resulted in the death of Naib Subedar Muhammad Hanif along with four soldiers, a civilian and injuries to eight others. He was also involved in destruction of Government Primary School, Langar (Swat). In addition, he was found in possession of firearms/explosives as well.

    The convict confessed to his offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court. He was awarded the death sentence.

    Nadir Khan s/o Ahmed, Izat Khan s/o Bashreen and Imtiaz Ahmed s/o Taj Muhammad

    The three convicts were members of a proscribed organisation and were involved in attacks on armed forces personnel, resulting in the death of a junior commissioned officer along with two soldiers and injuries to two others.

    They were also found in possession of firearms and explosives. These convicts were sentenced to death after they confessed before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

    Ameer Zeb s/o Jahangir and Badshah Iraq s/o Muhammad Ishaq

    Both the convicts, who were members of a proscribed organisation, were involved in attacks on armed forces/law enforcement agencies personnel, which resulted in the death of three soldiers and injuries to nine others.

    Arms and explosives had also been recovered from their possession. The convict confessed to their offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court. They were awarded the death sentence.

    Izhar Ahmed s/o Mukhtiar Ahmed

    A member of a proscribed organisation, the convict was involved in attacks on law enforcement agencies, which resulted in the death of Constable Ayub Khan and Constable Islam Gul. He was also found in possession of explosives.

    He was sentenced to death after he confessed before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

    Akbar Ali s/o Shaiber Sahib

    The convict was a member of a proscribed organisation. He was involved in attacks on armed forces personnel, which resulted in the death of Sepoy Asif Mehmood and injuries to an officer and two soldiers. He was also found in possession of explosives.

    The convict confessed to his crimes before a judicial magistrate and the trial court. He was awarded death sentence.

    Muhammad Imran s/o Azizur Rehman

    The convict was a member of a proscribed organisation and was found involved in attacks on law enforcement agencies, which resulted in the death of a soldier. He was also found in possession of firearms.

    He was sentenced to death after confessing to the offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.


    COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. — File photoCOAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. — File photo

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    Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday launched four new train services aimed at providing better commuting facilities to the people.

    The new train services introduced by the Pakistan Railways (PR) include Faisalabad Express, Shah Latif Express, Sindh Express and Rehman Baba Express.

    Addressing a ceremony held in connection with the launch in Islamabad, the premier said the PR was incurring yearly losses of Rs45 billion but they have decreased to Rs37bn under Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed's watch.

    Khan said the reason behind the downfall of public sector enterprises in the country was "political appointments".

    "The loss caused by political appointments which are not based on merit is borne by the people," he said, adding that the Rs500bn worth of losses incurred by government corporations will eventually be cut by increasing the rates of consumer goods.

    Khan asked the railways minister to act against and remove the political appointees which he said have "become a burden" on the department.

    He said the railways could become a highly profitable institution if people are appointed on merit.

    The prime minister observed that on one hand state land worth billions of rupees, including 'enemy properties', has been illegally occupied, while on the other the country is "paying Rs6bn in interest payments on loans on a daily basis".

    To remedy this, he said, the government is drafting a policy to utilise the occupied state properties and turn them into revenue-generating ventures.

    "We can sell several of these commercial properties to overseas Pakistanis and earn dollars for the country... to pay off our loans," Khan said.

    Appreciating the steps taken by Sheikh Rasheed to improve PR's functioning, the prime minister said his government was committed to introducing policies that would lift the common man out of poverty — a model to which he attributed China's economic success.

    Prime Minister Khan also touched upon the terrorist attack targeting the Chinese consulate general in Karachi earlier today, saying the assault was a "well-thought-out plan by the enemies to sabotage" Pakistan's trade agreements with China and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

    He paid tribute to the security forces who successfully managed to prevent the terrorists from entering the facility.

    Train services

    The Faisalabad Express launched today will run between Multan and Faisalabad. It will make stops at Khanewal, Abdul Hakim Railway Station, Shorkot Cantonment, Toba Tek Sindh and Gojra.

    The train will include five economy class carriages, one AC standard carriage, one AC business class carriage and one AC parlour carriage or coach. The fare for the AC parlour is said to be Rs500. Similarly the AC business class fare will be Rs540 and AC standard Rs470 while a seat in the economy class will cost Rs260.

    It will depart from Multan at 7am to reach Faisalabad at 10.30am and then leave Faisalabad at 11am to reach Multan at 2.30pm.

    The Shah Latif Express will depart from Dhabeji at 8.30am to reach Mirpurkhas at 11.40am and make stops at Jangshahi, Jhimpir, Kotri, Hyderabad, Tando Adam and Tando Allahyar. It will leave Mirpurkhas at 2.30pm to reach Dhabeji at 5.35pm.

    The train will have seven economy class coaches. The fare for Dhabeji to Hyderabad will be Rs140 and up to Mirpurkhas Rs200.

    The Sindh Express is to run between Karachi (Cantonment Station) and Sukkur making stops at Drigh Road, Landhi, Hyderabad, Tando Adam, Shahdadpur, Nawabshah, Bandi Goth, Mehrabpur, Ranipur, Khairpur and Rohri.

    It will comprise five economy class coaches with one AC standard coach, one AC business class coach and one AC parlour coach.

    The Karachi-Sukkur fare for the AC business class will be Rs1,520, AC standard Rs1,170 and the economy class fare will be Rs470.

    The Sindh Express will depart from Karachi Cantt at 8.30am to reach Sukkur at 4.45pm and then it will leave Sukkur at 11am to reach Karachi at 7:15pm.

    The Rehman Baba Express will run between Peshawar and Karachi.


    "The loss caused by political appointments which are not based on merit is borne by the people," says Imran Khan. —PID

    Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the launch of four new train services in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTVPrime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the launch of four new train services in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

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    Eleven women residents of Sargodha on Friday filed a petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) requesting that the results of July 25 general election in NA-89 and PP-74 constituencies should be declared null and void because female voters were allegedly barred from casting their vote.

    The petitioners claimed that "feudal elements" in the area had issued death threats to women who wished to exercise their right to vote. Around 4,000 women in the constituency were eligible to vote, the petition says.

    The Election Act, 2017, allows the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to nullify the results of a constituency where women’s turnout is less than 10 per cent of the total polled votes.

    The petition filed before the high court has nominated ECP as one of the respondents. The LHC will hear the petition on Monday.

    PML-N candidate Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha had emerged victorious from NA-89 (Sargodha), while PML-N's Mian Manazar Hussain Ranjha had emerged victorious from PP-74.


    Petition filed in LHC claims Petition filed in LHC claims "feudal elements" in the area issued death threats to women voters. — File photo

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    Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into custody by law enforcement agencies, reports say.

    A family member of Rizvi confirmed to DawnNewsTV that the TLP chief has been taken into custody.

    “He was arrested from his hujra in Lahore,” a family member of Rizvi told SamaaTV.

    Rizvi's son, Saad, while talking to 7 News said along with his father, all district leaders of TLP have been arrested.

    When contacted, Punjab information and law ministers said they did not know about any such action being taken against Rizvi.

    According to police sources, a crackdown is currently underway against TLP leaders in several major cities. TLP leader Pir Afzal Qadri in a video message corroborated that police was raiding their mosques in order to arrest leaders.

    At least 30 of the party's workers have been arrested from various parts of the capital, the sources told DawnNewsTV.

    Around a 100 police personnel have been deployed at Faizabad interchange, where the TLP had last year staged a 20-day long sit-in.

    At least 59 TLP leaders and workers have been picked up from the Rawalpindi area, and reports say raids are still being carried out to arrest more activists of the party.

    The district authorities in Rawalpindi have issued detainment orders for TLP divisional leader Inayatul Haq. According to the notification, Haq will be detained in a jail for 15 days.

    The crackdown comes ahead of Rizvi's call to party members to observe martyrs’ day on November 25. He had asked workers and supporters to gather at Faizabad in the federal capital.

    The reports of his arrest come weeks after the TLP led three-day protests across the country against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman whose blasphemy conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court at the end of last month.

    The religiopolitical party had agreed to end the nationwide protest sit-ins after reaching an agreement with the federal and Punjab governments under which the latter agreed to initiate the legal process to put Aasia Bibi's name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and refrain from objecting to review of the court judgement.

    In November 2017, TLP workers demanding the resignation of then law minister Zahid Hamid had staged a weeks-long sit-in at the Faizabad interchange that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

    On November 21 of the same month, the apex court had taken notice of the sit-in and directed the defence and interior secretaries to submit a detailed report on the matter.

    Days later, the then PML-N government had launched against the protesters an operation which, when failed, had forced the authorities to cave and Hamid to resign.

    The Supreme Court yesterday reserved its verdict on the suo motu case over the Faizabad sit-in. The reserved verdict pertains to a variety of issues stemming from TLP's infamous sit-in, including its party registration as well as its violent protest.


    This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves. Initial reports in the media can sometimes be inaccurate. We will strive to ensure timeliness and accuracy by relying on credible sources such as concerned, qualified authorities and our staff reporters.


    TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi. — White Star/FileTLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi. — White Star/File

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    Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into "protective custody" by police from Lahore, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced late on Friday night.

    "Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into protective custody by police and shifted to a guest house," the minister said in a tweet.

    "The action was prompted by TLP's refusal to withdraw its call for protest on November 25. It’s to safeguard public life, property and order."

    The arrest "has to do nothing with Asia Bibi case", Chaudhry said. He said the TLP had insisted on coming to Rawalpindi "refusing [the government's] proposal for alternative arrangements".

    "The TLP has become a continuous threat to the life and properties of the citizens and is doing politics under the guise of religion... the situation is fully under control, people should remain peaceful and fully cooperate with authorities."

    A family member of Rizvi earlier confirmed to DawnNewsTV that the TLP chief has been taken into custody.

    “He was arrested from his hujra in Lahore,” a family member of Rizvi told SamaaTV.

    Rizvi's son, Saad, while talking to 7 News said along with his father, all district leaders of TLP have been arrested.

    The crackdown comes ahead of Rizvi's call to party members to observe martyrs’ day on November 25. He had asked workers and supporters to gather at Faizabad in the federal capital.

    When contacted, Punjab information and law ministers said they did not know about any such action being taken against Rizvi.

    Examine: Is TLP here to stay?

    According to police sources, a large-scale operation is currently underway against TLP leaders in several major cities. TLP leader Pir Afzal Qadri in a video message corroborated that police was raiding their mosques in order to arrest leaders.

    At least 30 of the party's workers have been arrested from various parts of the capital, the sources told DawnNewsTV.

    Around a 100 police personnel have been deployed at Faizabad interchange, where the TLP had last year staged a 20-day long sit-in.

    According to police sources, 33 TLP workers have been arrested from Rawalpindi, nine from Attock, nine from Jhelum and eight from Chakwal. Reports say raids are still being carried out to arrest more activists.

    The district authorities in Rawalpindi have issued detainment orders for TLP divisional leader Inayatul Haq. According to the notification, Haq will be detained in a jail for 15 days.

    The reports of the arrests come weeks after the TLP led three-day protests across the country against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman whose blasphemy conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court at the end of last month.

    The demonstrators during the protests had termed the chief justice “liable to be killed” and had called for a rebellion against the army chief “because he is a non-Muslim”.

    This had led to Prime Minister Imran Khan issuing a stern warning to the agitators and telling them: "Do not clash with the state".

    “Do not take us [to a situation] where we are compelled to take [strict] action,” the prime minister had said in a televised speech.

    Two days later, however, the TLP had agreed to end the nationwide protest sit-ins after reaching an agreement with the federal and Punjab governments under which the latter agreed to initiate the legal process to put Aasia Bibi's name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and refrain from objecting to review of the court judgement.

    The TLP, in turn, had only offered an apology "if it hurt the sentiments of or inconvenienced anyone without reason".

    In November 2017, TLP workers demanding the resignation of then law minister Zahid Hamid had staged a weeks-long sit-in at the Faizabad interchange that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

    On November 21 of the same month, the apex court had taken notice of the sit-in and directed the defence and interior secretaries to submit a detailed report on the matter.

    Days later, the then PML-N government had launched against the protesters an operation which, when failed, had forced the authorities to cave and Hamid to resign.

    The Supreme Court yesterday reserved its verdict on the suo motu case over the Faizabad sit-in. The reserved verdict pertains to a variety of issues stemming from TLP's infamous sit-in, including its party registration as well as its violent protest.


    This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves. Initial reports in the media can sometimes be inaccurate. We will strive to ensure timeliness and accuracy by relying on credible sources such as concerned, qualified authorities and our staff reporters.


    TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi. — White Star/FileTLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi. — White Star/File

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    A clash between children during a cricket match claimed the lives of seven members of two rival groups, including two real brothers on both sides, at Village Ghari Pulgran in Havelian tehsil, Abbottabad, late Friday evening.

    The deceased, four belonging to one group, have been identified as Rashid Khan, Sohrab Khan, Ashfaq Khan, and Usman; while the three deceased from the rival group have been identified as Mukhtiar Shah, Anwar Shah, and Shoukat Shah.

    Moreover, an injured man Saleem was taken to Ayub Teaching Hospital in critical condition while bodies of the deceased were shifted to Havelian and District Headquarters Hospital in Abbottabad.

    A heavy contingent of police was deployed in the area to avert further clashes between the two rival groups.

    Havelian police have registered a case and started an investigation, according to a police official.


    Youngsters playing cricket on the streets of Karachi. —Dawn archivesYoungsters playing cricket on the streets of Karachi. —Dawn archives

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    NARO­WAL/SHEIKHU­PURA: The three-day celebrations marking the 549th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak concluded at the Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib on Friday.

    Speaking on the occasion, federal Minister for Reli­gious Affairs Syed Noorul Haq said the government would issue a coin or postage stamp to pay tribute to Baba Guru Nanak on his 550th birth anniversary next year.

    About 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from Pakistan, India, the UAE, Canada and European countries participated in the ceremony at Gurdwara Janam Asthan. They also performed religious rites at Gurdwara Sucha Sauda in Sheikhupura district amid tight security.

    Sikh delegation’s leader Sardar Amreet Jeet Singh expressed gratitude to the Pakistan government and district administration for the hospitality extended to the pilgrims.

    He stressed the need of an “easy visa process” so that pilgrims from abroad could make visits to the holy sites in Pakistan with relative ease.

    Meanwhile, in reaction to the Indian government’s anno­uncement that a corridor would be built up to the border to reach Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, in Shakargarh tehsil in Naro­wal district, the Sikh pilgrims distributed sweets at the gurdwara housing the Samadhi of Baba Guru Nanak. Pakistan had already announced it would open the border for Sikh pilgrims who wanted to visit Kartarpur.

    The Indian Sikhs had long been demanding that there should be a corridor leading to Kartarpur, which is just four kilometres from the border.

    Both local Sikhs and those from abroad who were visiting the Samadhi of Baba Guru Nanak thanked the governments of Pakistan and India for announcing the corridor.

    “This project will end hatred and bring friendship between the two countries,” said Canadian Sikh pilgrim Dr Manohar Lal who had come with his family to perform the religious rites.

    The Sikh pilgrims from India, Ranjeet Singh, Gopal Singh and Inderjeet Singh, also thanked the governme­nts of both the countries for planning a corridor, saying that due to this project even the poorest of Sikhs would be able to perform their religious rites as it would cost less and take less time.

    In Sialkot, Sikh leader Sardar Jaskaran Singh Sidhu, the caretaker of Babe Di Beri Gurdwara, said the corridor would provide easy passage to pilgrims to visit Darbar Sahib throughout the year.

    Minorities MPA Mahinder Pal Singh termed the corridor a step in the right direction which would encourage voices of reason on both sides of the border. The prime minister will lay the foundation stone of the project at Kartarpur on Nov 28.

    Sialkot correspondent Abid Mehdi contributed to this report

    Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2018


    Nankana Sahib: Sikh pilgrims attend celebrations marking the birth anniversary of their spiritual leader Baba Guru Nanak on Friday.—White StarNankana Sahib: Sikh pilgrims attend celebrations marking the birth anniversary of their spiritual leader Baba Guru Nanak on Friday.—White Star

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    QUETTA: The Balochistan government on Friday decided to resume work on establishment of the Bank of Balochistan besides taking other decisions related to the finance department, rural support programme, districts development plan, hospitals and sports.

    The provincial cabinet, which reviewed its 100-day performance, directed the finance department to prepare a feasibility report on the proposed bank.

    The idea of establishing the Balochistan Bank remained on the agenda of the two successive coalition governments of Nawab Raisani and Nawab Sanaullah Zehri. But it was excluded from the annual budget for 2018-19.

    Finance dept asked to file feasibility report

    The cabinet meeting, which was presided over by Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, decided to keep the provincial revenue authority and public procurement regulatory authority autonomous, giving their administrative powers to the finance department with approval of the amendment in provincial rules of business, sources said.

    The government also approved a draft of the provincial special support programme for assistance of the social and sports sectors of Balochistan and a government fund for the award of scholarship to talented and deserving students, with a directive to the finance department to make it more articulate. The draft also mentioned government’s support for the less privileged people who could not afford their medical expenses.

    The cabinet directed the relevant authorities to improve the scope of work of the rural development programme by expanding chief minister’s district development plan to all districts of the province.

    The government approved increased cost of Turbat road project, terming it a milestone that would pave the way for the overall development of the Makran division.

    The cabinet also gave approval to the establishment of the Institute of Chest Disease at Fatima Jinnah Chest Hospital. It was decided that the draft bill for the project would be moved in the next Balochistan Assembly session.

    Earlier, additional chief secretary for planning and development Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta briefed the cabinet about high court’s directions to review new development projects in PSDP 2018-19.

    Regarding increasing expenditures of provincial government in face of salaries, pension and law and order, Finance Secretary Noorul Ameen Mengal said “We have been taking measure to control the extra-expenditures of provincial government. The proposal for barring unnecessary expenditures would be tabled to the sub-committee of cabinet for approval,” he said.

    Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2018


    Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani.— Photo courtesy Radio PakBalochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani.— Photo courtesy Radio Pak

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    QUETTA: Security has been beefed up at the Iranian and Afghan consulates in Quetta, besides other important places here, in the wake of an armed attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi. Heavy contingents of police and Frontier Corps personnel have been deployed in the city.

    A senior police officer told Dawn that an order for high security had been issued after the Karachi incident.

    Meanwhile, the authorities in Gwadar said that the security of the port and other CPEC-related projects had been enhanced, and strict checks put in place at the town’s entry and exit routes.

    Balochistan cabinet expresses concern over Karachi attack

    The security of Chinese persons working at Gwadar port and projects in the town has been increased through the deployment of more security personnel. “A heavy contingent of security forces have been posted in and around Gwadar port,” a senior official of the Gwadar police said.

    An official of the Saindak copper-and-gold project explained that after Friday’s incident in Karachi, the security of the Saindak project and the Dhodar zinc and lead project in Lasbela district has also been fortified. The Balochistan Frontier Corps is responsible for providing security to both these projects.

    Patrols by security personnel have also been increased in Quetta, Gwadar, Dhodar and other areas where Chinese companies are working on various CPEC projects.

    Meanwhile, the Balochistan cabinet in its meeting expressed serious concern over the Karachi incident and assured full protection to Chinese companies and their staff working in the province.

    Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2018


    Security personnel stand guard outside an Iranian consulate. — AFP/FileSecurity personnel stand guard outside an Iranian consulate. — AFP/File

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