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    The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday stayed the government's decision to demolish the outer wall of the Punjab Governor House, work on which had started. The demolition would have offered a clear view of the majestic colonial-era building to the public from The Mall.

    A view of the Punjab Governor House in Lahore. —Wikimedia Commons
    A view of the Punjab Governor House in Lahore. —Wikimedia Commons

    "Not a brick should be removed from its place," Justice Mamoonur Rashid ordered after hearing initial arguments in a petition against the razing of the wall.

    "Everyone will be behind bars if the walls are razed," the judge warned, directing that work on the demolition be stopped immediately until further orders of the court.

    Prime Minister Imran Khan had ordered the demolition of the Governor House's boundary wall on Saturday. Instantly responding to his instructions, the Punjab government had started preparations to raze the outer wall on Sunday afternoon.

    At the outset of the hearing, the court inquired whether the wall of the gubernatorial office had already been razed. He was informed by the lawyer for the petitioner, Khawaja Mohsin Abbas, that work had been initiated to do the same.

    The judge remarked that the wall had been present since his childhood, and asked under whose authority the facility falls.

    The petitioner's lawyer informed the court that the Governor House building is a historical cultural heritage which is older than a century. He said permission had not been sought from the cabinet to tear down its boundary.

    He said as per previous orders of the Supreme Court, it was mandatory for the government to issue ads in newspapers before undertaking projects such as this.

    The petition, which names the federal government, Punjab government and others as respondents, stated that Prime Minister's Khan order to demolish the Governor House wall would waste taxpayers' money.

    Razing the wall would be a violation of not just the SC's orders, but also of the Antiquities Act 1975, the petitioner said, asking the high court to issue a stay order against work on the demolition of the wall.

    Responding to the arguments, the lawyer representing the government stated that the Governor House building was not being demolished itself, and that only its walls would be razed.

    After hearing both sides, Justice Rashid stayed the demolition project and issued notices to the federal and Punjab governments, seeking their replies.

    "If anything is done against the court orders, no one will be spared," the judge warned.


    Labourers taking down the iron fence from the boundary wall of Punjab Governor House on Sunday before its planned demolition. — Aun Jafri / White StarLabourers taking down the iron fence from the boundary wall of Punjab Governor House on Sunday before its planned demolition. — Aun Jafri / White Star

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    The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday ordered private schools to restore the fee structure in place on September 20, 2017 and reimburse any fees they may have charged from parents in excess of it.

    Non compliance with the order will lead to contempt of court proceedings, the court warned. It also ordered private schools to cease and desist from the practice of collecting of three months' worth of fees in one go.

    The court also ordered private schools' management to submit any financial details they had previously submitted to the Registrar of the Supreme Court.

    A three-member bench of the SHC headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, which has been hearing a case regarding more than five per cent increases in tuition fees by private schools and institutions, said that private schools have till the next hearing to abide by its orders.

    During today's hearing, Justice Abbasi had asked private schools if they had charged a higher fees than the amount they were charging on Sep 20, 2017, adding that if they had it was to their benefit to adjust it.

    He reminded the private schools' lawyer that the matter had been ongoing since 2005, and the court could have, but did not enforce a much older fee structure as it could have put the schools in financial difficulty.

    The court subsequently ordered owners of private schools to issue fee challans or adjustment challans on the basis of the 2017 fees structure.

    The court observed that since the schools had been charging much higher fees already, the parents may not be required to pay more money for the coming two or three months.

    The next hearing of the case has been fixed for December 17.


    The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday ordered private schools to reimburse fees on the basis of the fees structure from September 20, 2017 and added that they should charge fees on the basis of this fees structure. — PPI/File photoThe Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday ordered private schools to reimburse fees on the basis of the fees structure from September 20, 2017 and added that they should charge fees on the basis of this fees structure. — PPI/File photo

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    A wide sell-off was seen at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on Monday, with the benchmark KSE-100 Index losing 1,335 points to close at 39,160, down 3.30 per cent.

    Trading opened at 40,496 points and the index dropped to 39,177 points within an hour ─ a change of 1,319 points ─ before diving further to a day's low at 39,014. The market opening at 40,496 remained the day's high.

    Take a look: Rupee takes another dip

    Around 164 million shares worth Rs6.5 billion were traded at the exchange, with 292 of the 344 active scrips declining in value, only 39 advancing and 13 remaining unchanged.

    The commercial banking sector dominated trading with 38m shares traded, while chemicals followed with 20m shares traded.

    The fall came after the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) raised key lending rate by 150 basis points (bps) to 10 per cent on Friday and a fall in the value of the rupee on the same day.

    The benchmark index has shed more than 3,000 points during the tenure of the current regime. The benchmark KSE-100 Index had closed at 42,447 points when the PTI government came into power.

    Analysis

    Senior Analyst Naveed Khursheed, currently associated with Topline Securities, held the SBP's decision to raise its policy [target] rate by 150 bps as well as the recent rupee depreciation responsible for the rout.

    He said that the SBP had projected real GDP growth for FY19 at slightly above 4pc. He added that it is believed the lower GDP growth projection was based on slower development in various sectors, including cement.

    Talking about the sentiment at the capital market, Khursheed said that investors and brokers say they were fearing a situation resembling the 2008 crisis.

    Another factor, he said, was the increased interest rate. Based on discussions with investors in the equity market as well as brokers, he said that they were expecting the interest rate to be further increased to 14pc and thus, they are aiming to tap into the fixed income market.

    According to investors, their trust in the incumbent government has shaken because it has failed to announce a proper road map for economic stability so far, he said, adding that because of all these setbacks to the investors' confidence, negativity is looming large over the bourse.

    According to Khursheed, the market will remain volatile till January 2019, when the ruling government is expected to enter the IMF programme. "Till then, political and economic events will dictate the bourse," he said, adding that any big development on part of the government to restore investors' confidence will change the direction of the market.

    Ahsan Mehanti, another analyst, remarked: "The recent hike in policy rate is the main reason behind the market crash."

    "The market is under pressure and will remain under pressure in the coming days," he said, adding that the policy announcement was unexpected in the current scenario.

    Factors leading to bloodbath

    While the government has been pretty comfortable politically, the economy remains in the eye of the storm. The government has had to grapple with fast depleting foreign exchange reserves and ever-widening deficits.

    The rupee closed at 139.06 to the dollar in the interbank market on Nov 30 — a depreciation of 3.8pc in its value.

    Bankers said the rupee plunge happened as the SBP silently watched the demand for dollars rising on imports and external debt payments. It was so intense and sudden that the dollar surged to Rs144 at one point on Friday before closing lower.

    Also on Nov 30, the SBP raised its key policy rate by 150 basis points to contain inflation, a product of several economic factors, most notably a weaker rupee.

    Spectators and analysts, however, had expected just a 1pc hike in the policy rate, DawnNewsTV reported, adding that the increase brings the policy rate into double digits amid reports that the move is linked to talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a bailout package.

    The timing of the twin moves suggests Pakistan has finally started fulfilling some pre-conditions of a fresh IMF loan, though Finance Minister Asad Umar has said he is in no hurry to get it. The government does not disagree with the Fund’s concerns on economic fundamentals, bankers and analysts say.

    Also, it does not disagree with the Fund’s prescription for curing our ailing economy: let the overvalued rupee find its real market worth, minimise energy subsidies, reduce development and non-development expenses, hike interest rates — and choose economic stability over growth in the process.


    Stockbrokers react as they monitor equity prices at the PSX. — Reuters/FileStockbrokers react as they monitor equity prices at the PSX. — Reuters/File

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    Prime Minister Imran Khan has shed light on various subjects of national importance including the state of the economy, civil-military relations and governance issues in a wide-ranging interview broadcast on TV on Monday.

    In the pre-recorded interview, Khan answered questions by a panel of journalists representing various media organisations.

    Rupee devaluation

    The prime minister said he had found out about last week's plunge in the value of rupee after watching the news. He said the decision to decrease the value of the currency against the US dollar was taken by the State Bank.

    "Please remember, we are trying to autonomise institutions," he said. "We have made SBP autonomous, they took the decision because they deem it fit."

    He said the previous PML-N government had left a trade deficit of $19 billion, which increased from a previous deficit of $2.5 billion.

    "The PML-N govt had spent $7 billion to maintain the value of the rupee," he said.

    Khan acknowledged that such a sharp drop in the value of the rupee creates "uncertainty", but stressed that he had not been aware of the decision to decrease the currency's value.

    "I have conveyed a message to the SBP to keep us in the loop so we can give our input," the prime minister said. "The [rupee] adjustment is a temporary phenomenon. We are facing a foreign exchange crisis. Our [macroeconomic] indicators are now headed in the right direction, we will not face the issue in the future."

    He quoted the Chinese ambassador as saying that China is entering investment contracts with Pakistan for the first time.

    "China created export zones, with foreign investment and local labour. We want to replicate the same model."

    Khan said all ministers have reported their achievements to him and that he will review their performance during the ongoing week. "We might change some ministers," he cautioned.

    The prime minister said the country is currently facing crises on multiple fronts and all institutions are running in losses.

    "As per the Singapore model, we will incorporate these institutions into holding companies," he said. "Our performance in the given scenario is exemplary. You will see stability in the coming days."

    When asked about the issues facing the business community, Khan said Pakistan is lagging behind when it comes to 'ease of doing business'.

    "We are trying to create a [positive] environment. We are establishing an office entitled 'ease of doing business' to provide a one-window solution to investors and to resolve their issues," he said. "Though it is a slow process, we are trying our best to ensure ease of doing business."

    He said the government will provide incentives to the industry.

    'Regret' over CJP's remarks

    Speaking about a case of alleged abuse of power by federal minister Azam Swati, Khan said he does not interfere in the matters of institutions to protect anyone.

    "We will obey the court orders. Azam Swati will resign if found guilty," he said.

    Khan expressed "regret" over remarks by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar in which the top judge pointed to alleged nepotism on Khan's part in the appointment of Zulfi Bukhari's as the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development.

    'Old-minded bureaucrats'

    Prime Minister Khan said the nation would have to decide whether "it wants to let corruption prevail".

    He cited the example of China in ridding itself of corruption. "China is sailing past the US in economy, they have convicted 400 ministers during the past five years," he noted.

    Khan said the major hurdle in his government's anti-corruption plans are some "old-minded bureaucrats" who are "going slow [and] creating an impression that the government will not be able to run".

    "We have recovered land worth trillions of rupees," he said. "Mafias are behind real encroachments. We have asked the authorities not to target poor people but the mafias."

    "FBR, FIA and the anti-corruption [watchdog] are working under the government. We have signed agreements on data sharing of each others' citizens with 26 countries."

    Sharing an "interesting aspect" of the drive, Khan said the UAE and Saudi Arabia had refused to share the data of Pakistani iqama holders saying it was equivalent to sharing their citizenship information. "Now, you’ll know why iqamas were sought secretly," he remarked.

    'What's wrong in taking U-turns?'

    Khan once again defended his inclination towards reversing his own decisions, saying: "People always blame me for taking U-turns, I have never denied that and I don’t think of it as a bad thing. What’s wrong in changing the strategy to achieve your goals?"

    "My goal is across-the-board accountability and I’m willing to shake hands with anyone who won’t object to that," he said.

    Khan said he decided to travel abroad only when he knew the visit would be beneficial for Pakistan’s economy. "Right now everyone abroad is aware that our economy is destroyed. So, my focus is on fixing that before touring abroad."

    Army standing 'right beside' govt

    Answering a question regarding his government's relationship with the military, Khan said leaders around the world seek the opinion of the military "since they are equipped with the means to brief us on security issues".

    He said Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is standing steadfastly by the government. "There’s not a single decision that has been taken alone by either of us. All decisions are taken by me and Gen Bajwa stands right beside those decisions," he said.

    Asked about his government's efforts to address the missing persons' issue, the prime minister said a meeting had been scheduled between him, Gen Bajwa and Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) president Sardar Akhtar Mengal. However, Mengal could not make it to the meeting, he said.

    "But for the record, Gen Bajwa has given me full assurance regarding resolving the missing persons’ issue," Khan said.


    This is a developing story. More to follow.


    Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with a group of journalists. — DawnNewsTV screengrabPrime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with a group of journalists. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

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    The federal government has announced that it will recruit 2,200 Baloch youth in the National Highways and Motorways Police, Radio Pakistan reported on Monday.

    Minister of State for Communications Murad Saeed in an interview said the educated youth of Balochistan will be recruited to the state institution to integrate them into the mainstream.

    The decision was made for the benefit of Baloch youth following the approval of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Saeed said.

    The minister mentioned that the quota of Balochistan in federal jobs is only six per cent according to rules. He said the development of Balochistan was among the top priorities of the incumbent government.

    The minister urged the Baloch youth to come forward and play their part in serving the nation.


    Minister of State Murad Saeed urges Baloch youth to come forward and play their part in serving the nation. —PID/FileMinister of State Murad Saeed urges Baloch youth to come forward and play their part in serving the nation. —PID/File

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    A sub-committee formed by the special parliamentary committee probing allegations of rigging in the July 25 general elections on Monday issued the government's 33-word long terms of reference (ToR) and handed them over to the opposition.

    The sub-committee had met on Monday under the chairmanship of its convenor, Education Min­ister Shaf­qat Mahmood. PPP's Nav­eed Qamar, PML-N's Rana Sanaullah and MQM-P's Barrister Moh­ammad Ali Saif also attended the meeting.

    According to the government's brief ToR, the parliamentary committee will hold an inquiry to determine that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) organised and conducted the 2018 general elections "honestly, justly, fairly clean and in accordance with law and guarded against corrupt practices".

    The opposition has asked for time till December 13 to respond to the government's proposal.

    The sub-committee had been formed on Nov 10 to finalise the ToRs of the rigging inquiry.

    During the last meeting of the sub-committee, the opposition parties had submitted a 10-point ToR raising crucial questions over the conduct of polls.

    The ToR was prepared by the PPP and endorsed by all other opposition parties, including the PML-N.

    Talking to media persons following today's session, Mehmood maintained that the "general elections were transparent, according to the law and constitutional requirements".

    The minister noted that the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) and the European Union had published reports vindicating the conduct of the elections, and said the opposition parties were "only trying to make the elections controversial and political".

    Mehmood said that according to Clause 218 of the Constitution, the government has suggested the "finest" ToR, which "covered all aspects of the opposition's demands".

    "The finest investigation will be conducted while staying within the ambit of the Constitution," he added.

    Responding to a question regarding the legal status of the parliamentary committee, Mehmood said a reference in this regard was sent to the committee's chairman, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, who then forwarded it to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser for further action.

    Govt doesn't want to make progress, says PPP leader

    While speaking to the media, PPP's Qamar said that from the government's methodology it was clear from the very first day that they do not want progress on the matter.

    "ToR is a simple issue," he said, adding, "the government has basically penned down its constitutional responsibility as the ToR."

    Qamar added that in their suggestions, the government had made the ToR "very short".

    "The government wants a better case to escape [the matter], but the opposition will not let them escape," he alleged.

    "All opposition parties will be in mutual consultation about the situation," he said.

    PML-N's Sanaullah added that the very fundamental thing was that the elections were not transparent and that the political parties had not been given a level playing field.

    He said that their suggestion was to boycott the parliament but PPP had not agreed and chosen the way of holding parliamentary committee investigations instead.

    "The committee has been formed but the government wants a way to escape somehow," he said, adding that if the way through parliamentary committee was stopped the other way was to protest.

    He added that the government and opposition's ToR should be sent to a central committee which should take the final decision on the matter.


    Opposition asks for time till December 13 to reply to the government's ToR. — Dawn ArchivesOpposition asks for time till December 13 to reply to the government's ToR. — Dawn Archives

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    A girl in Karachi was murdered and her fiancé was shot dead in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, after accusing them of “meeting and taking selfies” last month, it emerged on Monday.

    The 19-year old girl was allegedly poisoned by her father in Pirabad area of Orangi Town while her fiancé, who was also her maternal cousin, was shot dead in Swat in the alleged incident of so-called honour killing, Karachi police said.

    The deceased girl’s mother lodged a complaint with the court which directed police to lodge a murder case, after which the victim’s father and grandfather were arrested, revealed Pirabad SHO Ayaz Brohi.

    The arrested father, however, claimed that her daughter committed suicide by taking poisonous substance inside their home in Qasba Colony.

    SHO Ayaz Brohi said the death of the girl occurred on November 7. “Next day, the father and other relatives buried her body by claiming that she had committed suicide. No autopsy was conducted,” he said.

    However, the girl’s mother later filed an application before the district and session judge West who ordered the police to get the murder case registered on her complaint.

    Pirabad police, in compliance with the court’s order, registered the murder case on November 24 and arrested the deceased girl’s father, Abdul Raheem, and grand-father, Abdul Hakeem, who were later sent to the prison on judicial remand. The matter has now been handed over to the investigators for further probe.

    The complainant told police that several days prior to the incident, her sister had come from their native town in Swat along with her son Salman, who was the fiancé of the victim girl.

    She stated that the couple met and took pictures, but later objections were raised by the girl’s relatives.

    SHO Ayaz Brohi said that as per statement of the mother, her maternal nephew was shot dead in Swat over so-called honour killing and later on her daughter was also murdered in Karachi.

    The officer said that since the youth’s murder did not take place in Karachi, there were not in a position to comment on the murder allegation.

    He said the police were waiting to exhume the body of the girl buried in a local graveyard in Karachi to ascertain the exact cause of death.


    Girl was poisoned in Orangi Town while her fiancé, who was also her maternal cousin, was shot dead in Swat. —Dawn ArchivesGirl was poisoned in Orangi Town while her fiancé, who was also her maternal cousin, was shot dead in Swat. —Dawn Archives

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    Muzaffarabad police on Monday arrested three members of a notorious group who had allegedly sexually assaulted a teenaged student more than a week ago.

    The accused had also filmed the villainous act to blackmail the victim — a 14-year old 9th-grade student of a private school, said Civil Secretariat SHO Rashid Habib Masoodi.

    He said that the victim was standing along the riverbank close to his home on November 22 when the accused forcibly took him to an abandoned ice factory nearby, where two of them assaulted him turn by turn while the other two held him tightly and filmed the evil deed.

    Later, the accused showed the clip to the victim and asked him to bring valuables from home or else they would show the clip to everyone.

    The terror struck boy brought them a memory card from home, but eventually unfolded his ordeal to his father who instantly lodged an application with the police on Friday, demanding action against the accused.

    Editorial: Child sexual abuse

    SHO Masoodi said raids were conducted by a six-member police team at several places to apprehend the accused. Police succeeded in netting three of the accused on Monday, including the prime suspect.

    Police said that other members of the roughish gang, against whom several cases had been registered in the past as well, were also being hunted.


    The accused also filmed the villainous act to blackmail the victim — a 14-year old 9th-grade student. —Dawn ArchivesThe accused also filmed the villainous act to blackmail the victim — a 14-year old 9th-grade student. —Dawn Archives

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    A girl was allegedly murdered in Karachi and her fiancé was shot dead in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, after accusing them of “meeting and taking selfies” last month, it emerged on Monday.

    The 19-year old girl was allegedly poisoned by her father in Pirabad area of Orangi Town while her fiancé, who was also her maternal cousin, was shot dead in Swat in the alleged incident of so-called honour killing, Karachi police said.

    The deceased girl’s mother lodged a complaint with the court which directed police to lodge a murder case, after which the victim’s father and grandfather were arrested, revealed Pirabad SHO Ayaz Brohi.

    The arrested father, however, claimed that her daughter committed suicide by taking poisonous substance inside their home in Qasba Colony.

    SHO Ayaz Brohi said the death of the girl occurred on November 7. “Next day, the father and other relatives buried her body by claiming that she had committed suicide. No autopsy was conducted,” he said.

    However, the girl’s mother later filed an application before the district and session judge West who ordered the police to get the murder case registered on her complaint.

    Pirabad police, in compliance with the court’s order, registered the murder case on November 24 and arrested the deceased girl’s father, Abdul Raheem, and grand-father, Abdul Hakeem, who were later sent to the prison on judicial remand. The matter has now been handed over to the investigators for further probe.

    The complainant told police that several days prior to the incident, her sister had come from their native town in Swat along with her son Salman, who was the fiancé of the victim girl.

    She stated that the couple met and took pictures, but later objections were raised by the girl’s relatives.

    SHO Ayaz Brohi said that as per statement of the mother, her maternal nephew was shot dead in Swat over so-called honour killing and later on her daughter was also murdered in Karachi.

    The officer said that since the youth’s murder did not take place in Karachi, there were not in a position to comment on the murder allegation.

    He said the police were waiting to exhume the body of the girl buried in a local graveyard in Karachi to ascertain the exact cause of death.


    Girl was poisoned in Orangi Town while her fiancé, who was also her maternal cousin, was shot dead in Swat. —Dawn ArchivesGirl was poisoned in Orangi Town while her fiancé, who was also her maternal cousin, was shot dead in Swat. —Dawn Archives

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    Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday questioned Khyber Pakhtunkhawa government's "tall claims", and asked for a report to be submitted on the condition of medical facilities in the province within two months.

    Headed by the chief justice, a bench of the apex court was hearing a case regarding the waste management of hospitals in KP.

    During the hearing, the court was told that a total of 63 government hospitals in the province create 4,000 kilogrammes of waste every day, but the province has the capacity to dispose off 3,600kg of waste.

    Meanwhile, 158 private hospitals, the court was informed, create 860kg of waste — of which 532kg is disposed off.

    "Measures are being taken to create the capacity to dispose off all the waste created by hospitals," said the KP health secretary.

    Speaking of his earlier visit to a mental health facility in Peshawar, the chief justice said that the facility was in a poor state and patients at the hospital were treated inhumanely.

    "They were locked up like animals, it seemed like people had forgotten these patients were human too," Justice Nisar said. "If you don't believe me, shall we visit these facilities.

    "On what basis are such tall claims made? [You] only say that everything has been made great."

    The secretary claimed that "there has been an improvement there after the court order".

    "The medicines you pointed out are also being provided now," he added.

    In April, the chief justice had visited hospitals in KP while on an official visit to the province. At the time, the chief justice had summoned the then chief minister of KP Pervez Khattak to court to discuss the disposal of waste in the province.

    "Do you know what is the population of Peshawar [and] how much waste is flowing into its streams?" Justice Nisar had asked Khattak at the time.

    Later in August, while hearing a case regarding alleged irregularities in selection of people for managements of the KP teaching hospitals, a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Nisar expressed its dismay over the way hospitals were being run in the province.


    Headed by the chief justice, a bench of the apex court was hearing a case regarding the waste management of hospitals in KP. — FileHeaded by the chief justice, a bench of the apex court was hearing a case regarding the waste management of hospitals in KP. — File

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    Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday directed mineral water companies to pay the price of ground water and fix the quality of their water by next Monday, warning them that the companies would otherwise be shut down.

    While hearing a case regarding the use of ground water by mineral water companies at the Supreme Court, the top judge said that the judicial commission's report was inconclusive, adding that mineral water companies should have mercy on consumers.

    CJP Nisar asked the advocate generals of all four provinces to suggest how the issue could be fixed. "This fraud with citizens should be ended [...] We will not let the citizens' water and money be wasted." he asserted.

    During the hearing, the three-member bench directed water companies to follow the recommendations of the judicial commission.

    On November 20, the SC had directed a judicial commission to inspect companies that sell bottled water locally, and directed all such companies to rectify their errors within 10 days.

    "They are taking water from Indus River and canals. They are cleaning the water and selling it," CJP Nisar said, remarking: "There should be a restriction on mineral water companies."

    He told a mineral water company owner that until now, the company had been selling citizens poor quality drinking water.

    "Do you not think about the country and citizens?" he asked, passing the observation that only Qarshi and Gourmet's water quality was acceptable.

    The top judge directed the companies to the improve the quality of their water by Monday otherwise they would be shut down.

    "People will not die thirsty ─ water from wells is of better quality than this," he said.

    Environmental Protection Agency Director General Farzana Shah told the court that mineral water companies source their water from the ground and canals in Punjab, replacing the canal water with sewage.

    The tainted water, she said, is then used by farmers to water their crops.

    A lawyer for a mineral water company, Shahid Hamid, said that his client had adhered to all the quality standards.

    CJP Nisar said that the court still had not registered a case against mineral water companies, although given the conduct of the companies, he said, it should be done.

    He directed Hamid to provide monetary reimbursement for the water that had been withdrawn.

    Justice Faisal Arab, a member of the apex court bench, said that nobody had more sources of water than Canada, and even there the water was not free.

    "Here, they (mineral water companies) are taking water for free for industrial use," he observed.

    Justice Nisar lashed out at the companies' lawyers, saying that they would "make this country into Ethiopia".

    Hamid told him that he could impose a tax, to which CJP Nisar replied, "You are not paying the cost of the basic raw materials."

    The DG EPA said that mineral water companies have certain disadvantages while presenting a water sample in the court.

    Ahsan Siddiqui of the judicial commission said that bottled water companies, on a monthly basis, withdraw 7 billion litres of water in the aquifer and replace it with 0.5bn litres of dirty water.

    CJP Nisar was of the opinion that people should stop consuming bottled water.

    "They don't give one paisa," he said, adding: "If these companies give money, our dam will be made. We don't need anyone else."

    Justice Nisar called for a meeting at 5pm today, asking all the advocate generals and companies' lawyers to attend.


    CJP asks mineral water companies to fix the quality of water or face shutdown. — FileCJP asks mineral water companies to fix the quality of water or face shutdown. — File

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    Pakistan Railways will increase the fares of its popular destinations from next week in wake of the rising exchange rate of the dollar, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid announced on Monday.

    The rationale behind the increase in fares is the rising cost of imported spare parts on which Pakistan Railways is spending additional foreign exchange in wake of the rupee depreciation, he said.

    Talking to media persons at Rawalpindi Railway Station, Sheikh Rashid, however, said there will be a minor increase in the fares of 40 trains while the fares of 100 trains and branch line trains will remain unchanged so that the burden is transferred on common travellers.

    Pakistan Railways is currently evaluating the fare schedule and it is expected that 2 to 3 per cent increase will occur in fare of economy class, he said.

    Also read: Those who keep Pakistan Railways running

    Upgradation of Main Line-1

    Rashid said the Main Line-1 (ML-1) project will reshape the destiny of Pakistan Railways and will bring a revolution in the country’s economy. It is likely that the financing agreement for ML-1 will be signed between Pakistan and China on December 25.

    The railways minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan will decide on the mode of investment of ML-1. It is yet to be decided whether the project will be joint venture or build–operate–transfer (BOT).

    Pakistan and China Railways are close to an agreement on the project following the visit of a delegation of National Railways Administration. Technical teams from both sides have already completed their feasibility and evaluation work.

    The minister said that the duration of the journey between Rawalpindi and Lahore will be reduced by one hour with the realignment of the track by erasing a hilly location between Gujar Khan and Jhelum which will cut 19kms of distance.

    Nala Leh Expressway

    In the next few days, the government will come up with its decision on the Nala Leh Expressway project – a new road link between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The project, a brainchild of Sheikh Rashid was inaugurated during the Musharraf era but it died in its initial stage due to change in the government and priority.

    According to Sheikh Rashid, the Nala Leh project will have dual road, and an effort will be made to lay track for railways to link with the new Islamabad international airport.


    Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid addresses press conference at Rawalpindi Railway Station. —APPRailways Minister Sheikh Rashid addresses press conference at Rawalpindi Railway Station. —APP

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    ISLAMABAD: The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has taken notice of a complaint that stone tablets and tombstones with inscriptions about customs, laws and traditions of the Kalasha people are being broken and used by local people and others for building houses.

    After getting a complaint filed by a public representative who requested anonymity fearing wrath of the local people, the commission issued a notice to the National History and Literary Heritage Division asking for immediate curative action and submission of a report within 14 days.

    According to a statement released by the NCHR on Monday, the minority member of the District Council of the Kalasha tribe had lodged a complaint with the commission stating that stone tablets were being broken and used by locals and others for building houses.

    The member also informed the commission that tombstones with similar inscriptions were also being broken and used as building material.

    National rights commission asks authorities concerned to submit report within 14 days

    The statement said that NCHR Chairman retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan was informed about the importance of the tablets in the context of religious practices, laws and customs of the Kalasha people. He also was further informed that besides these tablets there was no other material or paper carrying the Kalashi script.

    “Their [Kalasha people’s] religion is being replaced with other religions. Moreover this unique community is now reduced to 4,000 with hardly [any] opportunities for jobs and improvement of lifestyle while enforced marriages is also a challenge for the Kalash people,” the statement said.

    The statement said that Article 28 of the Constitution ensured the preservation of script and culture which was allegedly being violated and, therefore, it had become a human rights issue both under the Constitution and NCHR Act, 2012.

    The NCHR, comprising a chairperson and a panel of eight members, has suo motu powers to inquire into any case of violation of human rights in the country.

    The commission is also authorised to seek reports from the government, summon any government official, and undertake visits to prisons and detention centres to monitor human rights standards.

    A key role of the commission is to make recommendations for effective implementation of Pakistan’s international commitments on human rights.

    Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018


    Kalasha people's stone tablets and tombstones  with inscriptions about their traditions are being broken and used by local people to build houses. — FIle photoKalasha people's stone tablets and tombstones with inscriptions about their traditions are being broken and used by local people to build houses. — FIle photo

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    KARACHI: A girl and her fiancé were murdered in Karachi and Swat, respectively, for “meeting and taking selfies” in the city last month, it emerged on Monday.

    The 19-year-old girl was allegedly poisoned to death by her father in the Pirabad area of Orangi Town while her fiancé, Salman, who is her maternal cousin also, was shot dead in Swat, police here said.

    The girl’s father and grandfather have been arrested after a murder case was registered on directions of the court concerned on a complaint of the girl’s mother, said Pirabad SHO Ayaz Brohi.

    The arrested father claimed that her daughter had committed suicide by taking a poisonous substance inside their home in Qasba Colony.

    The SHO said the girl, Marina, died on Nov 7. The next day, the father and other relatives buried her body claiming that she had committed suicide. No post-mortem examination was conducted.

    Father, grandfather of the girl remanded to prison for questioning

    However, the girl’s mother, Abida, filed an application before the district and sessions judge West, who ordered the police to get the murder case registered on her complaint.

    The Pirabad police in compliance with the court order registered the murder case on Nov 24 and arrested the girl’s father, Abdul Raheem, and grand-father, Abdul Hakeem, who have been remanded to prison. The case was handed over to the investigators for further investigation.

    The mother told the police that several days before the incident her sister had come from their native place in Swat with her son, Salman, who was engaged to the girl. She stated that they both met and took pictures with a smartphone, which was objected to by the girl’s relatives.

    SHO Ayaz Brohi said that as per the statement of the mother, her maternal nephew was shot dead in Swat over so-called honour and later on her daughter was murdered here.

    The officer said that since the youth’s murder did not take place here, they were not in a position to say anything about those charges. He said that as per information gathered by the police, they were murdered by relatives over “meeting and taking pictures together prior to their marriage”.

    He said the police were waiting to exhume the body of the girl buried in a local graveyard to ascertain the exact cause of death. The complainant has gone to her native place in Swat.

    The police on Monday approac­hed the court concerned to seek its order for exhumation of the body in the presence of a magistrate and medical board, but the judge did not issue any order and told the investigators to bring the complainant before the court.

    The police approached the complainant’s brother, who was in Peshawar. He said he would come to Karachi on Tuesday with his sister to appear before court.

    The investigation officer of the case, Inspector Farooq Janjua, said three other suspects were also nominated in the case but they had fled.

    The IO said that the girl was engaged to be married to her maternal cousin around 20 to 25 days before the incident.

    Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018


    A teenage girl in Karachi and her cousin/fiance in Swat were both murdered for A teenage girl in Karachi and her cousin/fiance in Swat were both murdered for "meeting and taking selfies" in the city last month. ─ File photo

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    PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Monday announced that it would increase quota for special persons in government jobs from two percent to four percent.

    Addressing a function held by the Provincial Right to Information Commission to mark the International Day for Persons with Disabilities at the Nishtar Hall here, the chief minister also promised the early passage of the bill for the special people’s welfare by the provincial assembly.

    “The special people deserve special focus and the PTI government is taking practical steps to bring them to the mainstream of the society,” a statement issued by the CM Secretariat quoted the chief minister as saying.

    Mr Mahmood said since assuming power in the province in 2013, the PTI had been relentlessly working on the ‘agenda of change’, which focused on the introduction of a culture of good governance.

    He said the government would particularly focus its attention on expanding the social safety net, especially for special persons, in line with the first 100-day agenda announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan

    The chief minister said he would ask the RTI Commission to arrange special awareness seminars for special persons in all districts of the province to enable them to learn about and get rights using the RTI law.

    Promises early legislation for welfare of persons with disabilities

    He said the social welfare department would introduce a management information system to help the government know about the special persons living in the province and prepare realistic plan for their welfare.

    Special persons of different age groups from different organisations attended the event in large numbers. Some activities like the traditional attan dance were carried out involving special children.

    Special person Zawar Noor, who runs a welfare organisation, said the persons with disabilities welcomed increase in the job quota for themselves as there was a need for including them in governance and giving them representation in local bodies and provincial and national assemblies.

    “The persons with disabilities like members of minorities, women and peasants should be given representation at the local bodies functioning at the grassroots level,” he said.

    The International Day for Persons with Disabilities was marked across the province.

    In Khar area of Bajaur district, speakers at a function asked the government and local administration to empower the special persons by providing them with basic rights and financial support.

    The event was organised by the Pakistan Red Crescent in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross at the Government High School, where tribal elders, religious leaders, political and social activists, and persons with disabilities showed up in large numbers.

    PRC representatives Zahidullah and Shah Khalid said their organisation was making all-out efforts to empower the persons with disabilities in the district by providing them with basic facilities.

    The leaders of All Bajaur Disabled Persons Association complained that they didn’t see any positive response of the government and local administration to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

    They insisted that though the day had been marked in Bajaur tribal district for several years, both administration officials and lawmakers neither participated in them nor did they take notice of the problems facing special persons.

    The association leader said the special persons registered in Bajaur district totaled over 7,000, the highest in the erstwhile Fata.

    They complained about long delay in the issuance of Rs10 million grant to the persons with disabilities in Bajaur as announced in 2014 by the then KP governor, Mahtab Ahmad Khan.

    They also regretted that action on the governor and administration’s announcements about the establishment of technical institutions for special persons in Bajaur hadn’t been taken in five years.

    Tribal elders, religious scholars and social activists called for joint efforts to make the persons with disabilities the useful and respectable citizens of society by providing them with job opportunities and other basic facilities.

    A cricket match was later played among persons with disabilities from Bajaur and Dir districts.

    In Shangla, the physically-challenged men demanded government jobs and Sehat Insaf cards.

    The demand made during an event at the district headquarters, Alpuri, where special persons, officials of the social welfare department, deputy commissioner and political activists were in attendance.

    The special persons asked the administration and leaders of the ruling party to ensure provision of basic rights, especially stipends, health facilities and jobs to them.

    The deputy commissioner promised them action of their demands.

    He directed the social welfare department to collect data of special persons from all parts of Shangla district so that the government could give them stipends through Baitul Mal.

    In Chitral, too, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was held.

    In a function organised by the social welfare department, the district nazim announced a grant of Rs0.5 for the welfare of special persons in the district and said his government had been working on several special programmes for their development.

    Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018


    Physically-challenged persons demonstrate outside Peshawar Press Club on Monday to demand driving licence. — White StarPhysically-challenged persons demonstrate outside Peshawar Press Club on Monday to demand driving licence. — White Star

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    ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Monday moved its machinery and staff to Bahria Enclave to retrieve encroached state land but they did not enter the main gate claiming the housing society had voluntarily agreed to remove the encroachment on its own.

    However, in adjoining areas, the civic agency conducted an operation and removed a large number of illegal structures built on the state land.

    The enforcement directorate officials along with the police reached the main gate of Bahria Enclave and, according to the CDA, witnessed the operation which was launched by the housing society.

    By late night, the housing society had partially removed the main gate of the enclave and demolished several shops attached to it.

    “Almost 20 kanals adjoining to the gate have been retrieved,” a CDA official told Dawn outside the gate.

    “Upon expiry of the deadline, CDA and the ICT administration planned a comprehensive operation to retrieve the state land but before the operation was initiated Bahria Enclave administration started demolishing the illegal structures on its own,” he added.

    The enforcement directorate officials, police reach main gate of Bahria Enclave, witness operation by the housing society

    Initially, the Bahria Enclave administration demolished the Medical Care City building while 35pc of the entry gate was also pulled down. Furthermore, different commercial buildings were being vacated for demolition. The Red Chilli Restaurant has also been vacated for demolishing,” said a press release issued by the CDA.

    It said the CDA and the Islamabad administration had planned the operation to retrieve 510 kanal and six marala land under the illegal occupation of Bahria Enclave.

    The CDA had issued notices not only to the Bahria Enclave administration but also to residents of buildings constructed illegally on the state land for voluntarily vacating the land.

    Out of the total 510 kanals, according to Bahria Enclave’s recent letter in response to the CDA notice, 400 kanals was lying vacant which can be taken over by the civic agency.

    The housing society claimed that the remaining land was a public area, including a free dispensary and children’s park and a zoo. The housing society has also expressed its willingness to pay to the CDA against this 110 kanal land.

    According to the CDA record, there are seven houses, two commercial buildings, a hotel and a zoo partially built on the 110 kanals.

    The CDA conducted operations and removed a large number of encroachments alongside the main road leading to Bahria Enclave up to its main gate but could not start action against the properties built on the state land inside the enclave.

    The civic agency demolished 144 rooms, 60 shops, nine containers, 18 building material stalls, 11 hotels (huts type), seven marble stalls, two block factories, three kiosks, two boundary walls, two marble factories, two nurseries and four service stations.

    These encroachments were located in Mouza Kurri, Rehara, Malot and Balag.

    Meanwhile, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi told mediapersons outside the Bharia Enclave entrance that during the operations a large number of encroachments had been removed from the state land.

    He said out of the 514 kanals, commercial encroachments had been removed from 65 kanals.

    He said action would also be taken against those CDA officials whose alleged connivance had resulted in the encroachments on state land.

    Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018


    A CDA team demolishes a structure outside the entrance of Bahria Enclave on Monday. — Photo by Tanveer ShahzadA CDA team demolishes a structure outside the entrance of Bahria Enclave on Monday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

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    ISLAMABAD: The police arrested 42 people posing as the Taliban in order to grab land, after a gun battle during an operation Sunday night.

    Four policemen were suspended due to their connection with the land grabbers and an inquiry was initiated against them.

    The group of land grabbers were active in the rural areas to the southwest of the capital, including in Noon, and were posing as the Taliban so they could scare the villagers and occupy their lands, the police said.

    A villager lodged a complaint with Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammad Aamir Zulfiqar Khan as they had taken over eight kanals of his land.

    He said he returned from a short trip abroad to find gunmen at his property.

    When he approached the gunmen to ask them what the matter was, they took him to the office of a property dealer and detained him.

    Four policemen were suspended for connections with the land grabbers

    The complainant alleged the gunmen made him sign an affidavit at gunpoint and that they dropped him off at another location.

    He told the IGP the gunmen threatened him of dire consequence if he did not settle the issue with them.

    The IGP ordered that a case be registered against the land grabbers and action be taken against them.

    The Noon police registered a case under Anti Terrorism Act’s Article 7 as well as various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code including 148 for rioting and being armed with a deadly weapon, 149 for unlawful assembly for committing an offence, 342 for wrongful confinement, 365 for kidnapping, 384 for extortion, 447 for criminal trespass and 506 (ii) for criminal intimidation.

    A police team raided the property dealer’s office but faced resistance from the gunmen stationed there.

    The gunmen asked the police to leave and then opened indiscriminate firing at them.

    The police team called for backup and the police contingent that came to help cordoned off the area. The police’s vehicles were damaged during the firing.

    The gunmen were first given a warning before the police retaliated with force, which led the gunmen to surrender.

    Six people including the land grabbers succeeded to escape though.

    The police arrested 42 people and recovered 12-bore guns, 44-bore guns, 9MM pistols, .222-bore guns and 30-bore pistols.

    The arrestees were moved to the police station and cases were registered against them under the Anti Terrorism Act and several sections of the PPC and the Arms Ordinance.

    A police officer told Dawn that the main accused managed to escape and that efforts were underway to track them down and secure their arrest. It is yet to be established whether the accused are actually affiliated with the Taliban or were merely posing as them in order to intimidate people to give up their lands.

    Separately, another raid was conducted in Koral to arrest three land grabbers. The police said the raid was conducted after a complaint was lodged by a resident.

    The police said the complainant has a plot in Madina Town which he purchased in 2005 and that a group of land grabbers active in the area occupied his land. Gunmen stationed on his plot opened fire at him when he came to look into the matter on Sunday.

    The complainant then came to the police and registered a case under the Anti Terrorism Act and various sections of the PPC. The police conducted a raid and arrested the land grabbers nominated in the FIR.

    IGP Khan also suspended some police officials between the ranks of constables and assistant sub-inspectors for having connections with land grabbers. The police said departmental inquiries were also ordered against them for further action.

    These police officials were stationed at various police stations and are said to have been helping land grabbers by informing them about complaints lodged against them, tampering with the complaints or forcing people to withdraw them. They would also not entertain complaints against land grabbers, mistreat complaints and generally act as informers within the police department.

    A police officer said that land grabbers were currently active in the rural areas located in the City and Rural Zone of the police as well as the Industrial Area and Saddar Zone.

    Many land grabbers occupy land belonging to villagers and sell them on to private housing societies, a police official said.

    Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018


    42 people posing as the Taliban in order to grab land were arrested. — File photo42 people posing as the Taliban in order to grab land were arrested. — File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: With the opposition accusing the government of looking for an escape route, a fresh deadlock has ensued over the terms of reference (ToR) for the parliamentary panel constituted to probe the allegations of rigging in the 2018 general elections.

    A sub-committee of the parliamentary panel met on Monday under the chairmanship of convener, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood. The government finally handed over its ToR for the committee to the opposition, only to be rejected for being vague and too brief. Under the proposed ToR, the government wants the parliamentary body to hold an inquiry whether the Election Commission of Pakistan conducted the 2018 elections in a transparent manner and in accordance with the law, besides looking into the steps taken by the ECP to curb electoral irregularities.

    Briefing reporters after the meeting, Shafqat Mehmood said the general elections were transparent and in accordance with the demands of the Constitution. He also referred to the reports of the European Union and the Free and Fair Election Network and accused the opposition of trying to politicise the issue and make the polls controversial.

    He disclosed that a reference over the legal status of the parliamentary committee had reached the National Assembly speaker. After the previous meeting, he had said a letter had been written by him to chairman of the committee Pervez Khattak and a response was still awaited.

    Opposition accuses government of looking for an escape route

    Talking to reporters, Syed Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan Peoples Party said it was clear from day one that the government did not want to move forward. He said the matter about ToR was very simple and the committee was supposed to probe the allegations of poll rigging.

    Rana Sanaullah of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said the basic thing was that the elections were not transparent and a level-playing field had been denied to many opposition parties.

    Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018


    (Left to right) MNAs Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq and Khursheed Shah. — File photo(Left to right) MNAs Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq and Khursheed Shah. — File photo

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    PESHAWAR: A Nowshera-based reporter of a private television channel was shot dead in the limits of Pishtakhara police station here on Monday afternoon, police said.

    An official told Dawn that Nurul Hasan was shot dead near the Achini Chowk on the Ring Road by unknown motorcyclists. He said Hasan’s other companion identified as Shams was injured in the incident and shifted to hospital.

    The official said the motive behind the shooting was not immediately known.

    KP police chief Salahuddin Khan Mehsud took notice of the killing and directed the city police chief to investigate the case and arrest the killers.

    Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018


    Motive behind shooting of Nurul Hasan is not known, official says. — File photoMotive behind shooting of Nurul Hasan is not known, official says. — File photo

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    LAHORE: The Punjab government is still uncommitted to appointing the opposition leader as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) saying it will follow the Centre in the posting and also hints at forwarding the provincial assembly speaker’s name for the post like in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    “We are yet awaiting the federal government’s decision on the appointment of the [National Assembly’s] PAC chairman and may follow the precedent,” Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja told a meeting of the Press Gallery Committee on Monday.

    He said another proposal under active consideration of the ruling alliance is to make the speaker as head of PAC like in KP but if the opposition doesn’t agree to it, the government has other proposals in its wallet.

    Responding to a question about the Charter of Democracy (CoD) that calls for giving the slot to the opposition leader, he criticised the agreement signed by then PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and PML-N president Nawaz Sharif back in 2006 and labeled as the most sacred after the Constitution. He alleged that the two parties inked the CoD to cover each other’s [financial] “crimes”.

    Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018


    Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. ─ APP/FilePunjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. ─ APP/File

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