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    An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi on Saturday indicted city mayor Waseem Akhtar and others in two more cases pertaining to the May 12, 2007 riots.

    Of the total accused in the cases, 21, including Akhtar, appeared before the court today to be indicted. All 21 pleaded 'not guilty' to the charges, which include clauses related to attempted murder, creating unrest and spreading terror.

    Fifteen others nominated in the cases had already been declared absconders by the court.

    The court ordered the witnesses to be summoned in the case's next hearing.

    Read: Memories of May 12

    It is pertinent to mention here that the ATC had already indicted Akhtar and the other accused this year in two separate cases pertaining to the May 12 carnage.

    Around 50 people were killed and over 100 wounded in attacks on rallies by different political parties and the legal fraternity who had attempted to receive the then deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry at the Karachi airport ahead of a lawyers’ gathering on May 12, 2007.

    Chaudhry was forced to fly back to Islamabad after nine hours of being restricted to the airport.

    Akhtar was the provincial home adviser to the chief minister at the time.

    Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar is battling several cases in the ATC court stemming from the May 12 carnage. — FileKarachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar is battling several cases in the ATC court stemming from the May 12 carnage. — File

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    Unidentified motorcyclists in Dera Ghazi Khan opened fire on a cement factory's security van on Friday, killing two and critically injuring another, according to police.

    The incident, which took place in the vicinity of Kot Mubarik police station, saw armed gunmen on motorcycles open indiscriminate firing on the security van of DGK Cement.

    The victims were transferred to the D.G Khan Medical College, where two of them succumbed to their injuries.

    District police officer (DPO) Atif Nazir told Dawn that the attack was carried out when the van was carrying the cement company's employees to its factory.

    The DPO told Dawn that he was confident of nabbing the assailants soon, adding that police teams have been constituted in the wake of the deadly attack.

    The trio of victims were transferred to the D.G Khan Medical College, where two of them succumbed to their injuries. — FileThe trio of victims were transferred to the D.G Khan Medical College, where two of them succumbed to their injuries. — File

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    An accountability court in Karachi on Saturday sentenced the former chairman of National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) Ayaz Khan Niazi and five other people to seven years in prison for their involvement in a corruption case.

    The convicts were also declared unfit to hold any public office for 10 years. Apart from Niazi, the other convicts are Amin Qasim Dada, Hur Rihai Gardezi, Amir Hussain, Zahid Hussain and Mohammad Zahoor.

    The six were involved in embezzling NICL funds to buy 10 acres of land in Karachi's Korangi area. According to the National Accountability Bureau, all convicts had caused a combined loss of more than Rs400 million to the national treasury.

    Apart from embezzling NICL funds to buy land in Korangi, Niazi is also named in four other corruption cases that are currently being heard in accountability courts in Lahore.

    The NICL corruption scandal revolves around the alleged misuse of authority for Niazi's appointment, hampering the investigation process regarding his appointment, and corruption committed by the accused along with others, including Mohsin Habib Warraich.

    The story of the Rs6-billion-plus NICL scam broke in 2009-10 when Mohsin Warraich’s company, Messrs Privilege, purchased 803 kanals from the NICL at Mauza Toor, Lahore, for a sum of Rs1.68b. The company allegedly sold the land without getting the property mutated in its favour.

    The NICL also sold land measuring 20 kanals near the Lahore Airport Road to Mohsin Warraich for Rs1.7b. It sold the land at a rate of Rs5.3 million per kanal, although its market value was much higher.

    Initially the scam was being investigated by the Federal Investigation Agency, but was transferred to NAB in 2014 on the directives of the Supreme Court.

    NAB arrests former NICL chairman Ayaz Khan Niazi from Supreme Court premises. — File photoNAB arrests former NICL chairman Ayaz Khan Niazi from Supreme Court premises. — File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: As the controversy over Forms-45 not signed by the polling agents in the 2018 general polls intensifies, the PPP has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to make public surveillance camera footage of the constituencies from where party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari contested polls.

    The controversy has been sparked by an audit of Form-45. Though experts say that the absence of polling agents’ signatures from Forms-45 is no violation of the law, unless it is proven that they were not allowed to sign the key electoral document, the controversy that started right after election day continues to simmer.

    Take a look: What's the big deal with Form 45?

    The former senator who is in charge of the PPP election cell, Taj Haider, said in a statement that according to data released by the Free and Fair Election Network, not a single Form-45 on two seats ie NA-246 and NA-200, from where PPP chairman Mr Bhutto-Zardari contested, carried signatures of his polling agents or those of polling agents of any other candidate of any political party.

    PPP terms issue pre-poll rigging

    On NA-8, the third seat from where Mr Bhutto-Zardari contested, only two Forms-45 carry the signatures of his polling agents. On this seat, the number of Forms-45 signed by polling agents of candidates belonging to four other political parties is also two each. “These three seats from where Mr Bhutto-Zardari contested are enough to indicate a general pattern of counting after throwing out polling agents from all polling stations,” Mr Haider remarked.

    Mr Haider called the ECP’s explanation merely another attempt to deceive and confuse the public, adding that all pages of Form-45 have been uploaded on the ECP website. Terming ‘funny’ the ECP’s assertion that in many cases, polling agents signed the Form-45 on the back page, the PPP leader said that not allotting any space on Form-45 for the signature of polling agents was part of pre-poll rigging. Continuing, he said that Section 90(13) of the Election Act 2017 makes it mandatory for presiding officers to provide copies of the results of counts (Form-45) and ballot paper accounts (Form-46), signed by polling agents, to the polling agents and also to “obtain a receipt for such copy.” “Notwithstanding the frivolous assertion that the Forms-45 were signed at their back, can the ECP produce received receipts of copies of these forms, signed by polling agents, from the three NA constituencies from which the PPP chairman contested, or those of any other political party candidate?” asked Mr Haider.

    The party election cell authority explained that the provision of installing surveillance cameras in polling stations “to record poll proceedings, the counting of vote processes and the preparation of results by the presiding officer” under Section 59(12) had been extended by the ECP to all sensitive polling stations. “Can the ECP make public any recording of the surveillance cameras covering the counting of vote processes and the preparation of results by presiding officers in the constituencies contested by the PPP chairman,” he challenged. In addition, he alleged, violations of law that had taken place in the electoral constituencies contested by the PPP chairman represented the general pattern of violations committed with impurity all over Pakistan.

    Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

    The controversy has been sparked by an audit of Form-45. — Photo courtesy of OnlineThe controversy has been sparked by an audit of Form-45. — Photo courtesy of Online

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    LAHORE: Pakistan may approach the World Bank under Article 9 of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) to press India to fulfil commitment it had made in August of getting its two hydropower projects — 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnal — in­spect­ed by Pakistani experts.

    “We still hope that India will fulfil its commitment it had made with us during a high-level two-day meeting of the Permanent Com­mission for Indus Waters (PCIW) held in Lahore during last week of August. However, we (in case of complete refusal by India) may invoke the IWT’s Article 9 that empowers the two countries to approach the WB for the appointment of neutral expert or constitution of a court of arbitration for resolving any issue if it proves to be the breach of treaty,” Pakistan’s Commissioner for IWT Mehr Ali Shah told Dawn on Friday.

    During the PCIW’s 115th meeting held between the two countries from Aug 29 to 30 in Lahore, India had agreed to allow Pakistani experts to inspect the projects at Chenab basin by the end of September. It had also promised to schedule visit of Pakistani experts for inspection of the Kishanganga project at Jhelum basin at a later stage. Similarly, Islamabad, too, had agreed to allow New Delhi to carry out inspection of Kotri Barrage over the Indus after September. As a result, India had finally scheduled inspection of the projects at Chenab basin by Pakistani experts from Oct 7 to 11. But later, it postponed the same on the pretext of local bodies’ elections in the respective areas.

    During the last week of October, the Pakistan’s Indus water commissioner telephoned his counterpart Pradeep Kumar Saxena and urged him to give a schedule for the tour of experts. However, Mr Saxena said it wouldn’t be possible during first or second week of De­c­em­ber due to local Punchayat elections in the state where these projects are located.

    “We will once again contact the Indian commission for Indus waters through hotline on Monday or Tuesday, urging it to fulfil the commitment as soon as possible. And we will continue requesting it to do so,” Mr Shah said. “And if the commission finally refuses, we will have no option but to invoke the treaty’s Article 9. We have already told them that the treaty empowers us to approach the WB in case any issue remains unresolved at the commission level.”

    Pakistan had written the last letter (third reminder) on Nov 24 to India and sought scheduling of the inspection soon after conclusion of the Punchayat elections. How­ever, India is yet to reply.

    “As the Punchayat elections would probably end on Dec 11, we still hope that they would schedule our visit during third or last week of this month. We also hope that India wouldn’t force us to invoke Article 9,” Mr Shah said.

    Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

    World Bank headquarters in Washington. —AFP/FileWorld Bank headquarters in Washington. —AFP/File

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    KARACHI: “About 30 to 40 per cent of Karachi’s economy is informal, a fact this government ignored when razing all the shops in and around Empress Market while throwing out all the vendors there,” said architect and urban planner Arif Hasan on Friday.

    He was speaking at a press conference called by the Urban Resource Centre (URC) along with Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the civil society at the Karachi Press Club.

    “The informal economy provides a livelihood to some two million people. And if they encroached upon any place it was because they were living and earning in an unplanned city. There were no proper cargo terminals, bus terminals, toilets, etc, so the people make them on the roads,” he said, explaining: “The vendors took over any spot that they could find because there were no permanent small or retail markets. And as the city grew and places to live became scarce, the katchi abadis also came up.”

    Civil society wants to know the real reason behind anti-encroachment drive

    “It is sad how the people whose only crime was earning a livelihood were displaced. What happened to them was also against the law because their shops were either leased or rented. Still, they can easily be resettled from where they have been removed,” the town planner pointed out while making some demands.

    He demanded that the government share its plan regarding the action. “We demand to know the real reason behind this action,” he said. “We also demand that the ones displaced and deprived of earning a livelihood be rehabilitated and the plan for their rehabilitation be prepared not by the government but a committee of experts, affected people and people-friendly organisations,” he added.

    “And we want the government to apologise for what they did. If it doesn’t apologise, these poor people will also not forgive them,” he cautioned.

    Anis Haroon, a member of the National Commission for Human Rights, said that it was not the first time that the poor had been swept under the rug.

    “Is this the New Pakistan we used to hear about? We had also heard that in this New Pakistan people will not remain jobless or without a roof over their heads. But here they are with their means of earning snatched and because of this they may soon also lose the roof over their heads,” she said.

    “When the shops had power, gas and water connections, when they were paying rent, then how can they be seen as illegal?” Ms Haroon asked.

    Zulfiqar Shah of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research said that he was an eyewitness to the action.

    “I noticed the bulldozers, excavators and trucks all had Bahria Town labels on them. It warrants an investigation,” he said, adding that the treatment meted out to the people was in violation of basic human rights.

    “Already there is such a huge problem of joblessness in our country and now we have more people to add to them,” he said.

    Lawyer and teacher Abira Ashfaq said that despite it being said that everything was done according to the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, there was a proper process which was to be followed such as public hearings, issuing 90-day notices, etc.

    She also said that it was the right of vendors and hawkers to run their businesses whether they run a business for the last 20-25 years or whether they had a 99-year lease of a shop or whether they sold dried fruits by the footpath. “There is no need to focus on what is lawful or unlawful here. Earning a livelihood the way these people were doing was all right,” she added.

    Seeta, an effected vendor, said that selling from the footpath they already faced attacks from law enforcers. “They would hurl abuses at us, scold us, beat us and confiscate our baskets and carts. But we would come back after a while because we are proud women, we don’t beg, we earn an honest living,” she said.

    “After what happened, it is difficult for us to make two ends meet. We cannot even pay rent for our living quarters. Sooner or later we may also be thrown out of our homes,” she said.

    Ibrahim, who had a shop in the Empress Market, said that this was Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s revenge for not getting votes from Karachi. “It is not our fault that they couldn’t win in the elections but they are doing this through the KMC to show us this is what happens when they are not elected in majority,” he said.

    Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

    A file photo of an anti-encroachment operation in Karachi.A file photo of an anti-encroachment operation in Karachi.

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    Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Saturday approved a one-time Rs950 million grant to pay Rs10,000 stipend to the affected families that have been displaced due to the Thar Coal Block-II project.

    Shah was chairing a meeting at the CM House to review the water and rehabilitation schemes that are underway in the Tharparkar district.

    The provincial government will pay a monthly stipend of Rs10,000 to the residents who lost their homes due to the power project, the chief minister announced. The affectees will also be provided houses equipped with basic facilities. According to an estimate, around 1,200 people have been rendered homeless due to the ongoing project.

    "We have decided to support them [the affected families] financially in addition to providing them a well-designed and well-constructed house in a township with all the basic facilities such as kitchen, washrooms, corridor, veranda and courtyard where they have been given lawn and two neem trees and more than two jobs to each affected family,” the chief minister was quoted as saying.

    Mosques, mandirs, hospitals, and schools will also be built near the residential areas and the [Sindh] government will ensure that the people of Thar are taken care of, the chief minister said.

    Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh briefed the chief minister during the meeting that 60 houses have already been built, while others were under construction.

    The power project is spread over 9,000 kilometres and comprises 12 blocks. The chief minister said that Block-II's relief scheme will be replicated in other blocks where residents had been displaced.

    Shah also announced that the royalties generated from the coal projects will be spent solely on the development of Thar and its residents and vowed to turn the area into "one of the most prosperous cities of the world".

    The estimated amount of royalties is said to be Rs2.5 billion.

    Around 1,200 people have been rendered homeless due to Thar Coal Block-II project. — Dawn ArchivesAround 1,200 people have been rendered homeless due to Thar Coal Block-II project. — Dawn Archives

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    Three unidentified motorcyclists on Saturday shot a mother and her daughter to death outside a court in Khanewal District's Jahanian tehsil, DawnNewsTV reported citing local police.

    The women had arrived at the court for the hearing of a murder case, in which they had been released from the jail a few weeks ago.

    They were scheduled to make their defence in the court today but unidentified gunmen on bikes opened fire on them outside the court premises. The women died on the spot, while the killers fled the scene.

    Police cordoned off the area and transferred the bodies to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in Jahanian for autopsy.

    According to police, a long-running family feud could be behind the murders, noting that seven other members of the same family have fallen prey to the prolonged conflict.

    Police have registered a case and launched an investigation into the case.

    Women were murdered due to a long-running family feud, police say. — FileWomen were murdered due to a long-running family feud, police say. — File

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    KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will take up some mega projects of Sindh, including the Karachi Circular Railway, Keti Bandar port, Dhabeji Economic Zone, river lining and desalination plant for Karachi in its upcoming meeting to be held in Beijing by the end of this month.

    He said that the KCR was the most important project, which would not only resolve traffic issues of the city but also lift the overall image in terms of urban transport facilities.

    Read: Sindh cabinet orders desalination plant for Karachi

    The chief minister said this while presiding over a JCC preparatory meeting, which was attended by ministers Ismail Rahu, Imtiaz Shaikh, Awais Shah, planning and development chairman Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to the CM Sohail Rajput and others.

    The CM recalled that the JCC, in its meeting held on Dec 29, 2016 in Beijing, had approved the KCR, Keti Bandar and Dhabeji special economic zones projects for their inclusion in the CPEC. He said these projects would be taken up again as their required formalities had been completed.

    “I want to give my people a gift,” he said and added that the $1.97 billion KCR project would resolve traffic issues of the city.

    Talking about Dhabeji Special Economic Zone project, the chief minister said that it was being established on 1,530 acres. “The zone is located at the most important location connected with National Highway and close to the motorway. This project would cost around Rs43 billion.”

    The KT Bunder project would be a jetty in the first phase to be used for coal export and in the second phase it would be upgraded to a fully-fledged seaport, he added.

    Mr Shah said that he also worked out some other projects and “we may also request for river lining from Guddu to Sukkur to benefit from tremendous progress of China in the agriculture sector”.

    “I have started consultations with water experts and all the consultations would be finalised within next 15 days so that this project, if feasible, could be tabled in the JCC meeting,” he said about the river lining project.

    He said that the agriculture project would include change of cropping pattern, introduction of low delta and high-yield crops and mechanisation of the entire agriculture system.

    Mr Shah said that the river lining would not only be helpful in conservation of water but it would mitigate the effects of water logging on the right and left banks of the river where thousands of acres of land was submerged. “This would also save the katcha area from flooding,” he added.

    Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

    Murad Ali Shah chairs the meeting on mega projects at CM House on Friday.—PPIMurad Ali Shah chairs the meeting on mega projects at CM House on Friday.—PPI

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    A man from Punjab's Muzaffargarh district murdered his three minor daughters and wife on Saturday over suspicions that she had 'illicit relations' with someone, police said.

    The incident took place in Seetpur town of the district in the early hours of Saturday, according to police.

    The man, after committing the brutal crime, turned himself in before the police, and handed over the knife which he had allegedly used to slit the throats of the four deceased, police officials told DawnNewsTV.

    Editorial:Rise in ‘honour’ crimes

    The bodies of the minor girls — the youngest of whom was less than a year old and the oldest aged around 10 — along with their mother were shifted to the hospital for a post-mortem examination.

    The suspect, who is currently under police custody, confessed he had committed the murder as he had "doubts over his wife's character".

    A case has yet to be registered against him.

    The suspect turned himself in to the police along with the murder weapon. —DawnNewsTV/FileThe suspect turned himself in to the police along with the murder weapon. —DawnNewsTV/File

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    The area has been cordoned off and an investigation into the incident is underway. —DawnNewsTV

    At least six people were injured in a blast which occurred in Karachi's Gulistan-i-Jauhar area late on Saturday night, DawnNewsTV reported.

    The blast reportedly targeted a Mehfil-i-Milad being held near the Perfume Chowk in Block 18 area of the neighbourhood. SSP East Azfar Mahesar told Dawn that unidentified attackers riding a motorcycle reportedly hurled a cracker near the venue and fled.

    Following the blast, police and rescue teams rushed to the site and shifted the injured to a nearby hospital where the condition of two was said to be critical who were later shifted to Jinnah hospital.

    Rescue services rushing to the location of the blast. —
    Rescue services rushing to the location of the blast. —

    IT Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan were present at the event at the time of the blast but remained unhurt.

    Police, however, mentioned that the gathering was arranged without taking prior permission from relevant authorities.

    Soon after the incident, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah telephoned Khawaja Izhar and Faisal Subzwari and inquired about the incident.

    Khawaja Izhar informed the chief minister that his driver and Khalid Maqbool's coordinator were among those injured in the attack.

    Meanwhile, Sindh IG Kaleem Imam has sought a report from the SSP East.

    There has been no immediate claim of responsibility from any group.

    Last month, two teenagers were killed while eight others injured in an explosion in Quaidabad area of the metropolis.

    MQM's Khalid Maqbool and Khawaja Izhar were present at the time blast but remained unhurt.. —DawnNewsTVMQM's Khalid Maqbool and Khawaja Izhar were present at the time blast but remained unhurt.. —DawnNewsTV

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    ISLAMABAD: After dealing with the external sector deficit, the government’s attention is now being drawn to a growing shortfall in tax revenues that is beginning to bite.

    In the first five months of the fiscal year, a shortfall of approximately Rs102 billion has been recorded in revenue collection, and this week officials from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) gave a briefing to the prime minister about the situation, with suggestions on how the shortfall can be reduced in coming months.

    In the briefing, the FBR pointed to an erosion of the tax base due to the large tax cuts announced in the last budget of PML-N government in April, as well as the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend collection of tax on mobile phone cards. Also, the government’s decision to slash sales tax on petroleum products has cost the exchequer almost Rs35bn thus far.

    In June this year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended deduction of taxes on the top-up of prepaid cards by mobile phone service providers. “We have witnessed Rs16bn shortfall from the telecom sector in the first five months of the current fiscal year owing to the suspension of taxes on prepaid cards,” the FBR sources told Dawn.

    Revenues hurting due to tax relief given to various parties

    FBR has proposed that the federal government should approach the Supreme Court to find a way to restore these taxes. The annual revenue collection alone from these taxes on prepaid cards is around Rs80bn.

    In another proposal, the FBR urged the federal government to fix sales tax on every litre of the petroleum products from January instead of charging sales tax on price, since the price fluctuates and throws off all revenue projections.

    “We have urged the government to immediately take up these two issues to arrest the decline in revenue,” an official source said on condition of anonymity.

    Due to the government’s reduction in the sales tax rates on petroleum products, FBR has recorded Rs35bn shortfall in the first five months of the year. To reverse this trend, FBR has suggested to the federal government to fix sales tax on each petroleum product irrespective of increase or decrease in prices.

    The PML-N government had also used this mechanism of fixed sales tax rate on petroleum products in the year 2016, to prevent revenue collection from declining steeply when oil prices fell.

    The tax base has eroded by about Rs90bn from beginning of the current fiscal year. The provisional revenue collection reached Rs3,844.5bn, which is lower than the target set at Rs3,935bn. The FBR had initially targeted a total collection of Rs4,103bn for the fiscal year.

    And the target for the current fiscal year was set with 14pc growth in mind over the revised revenue target in the fiscal year 2017-18 which was missed by Rs90bn.

    The prime minister was informed that the pre-election measures have additionally contributed to the revenue shortfall in the first five months of the fiscal year. The relief given to the salaried class has led to a decline of Rs18bn in shortfall in income tax collection followed by Rs13bn from contractions of development budgets at the federal and provincial levels during the months under review.

    The other measures announced in the last budget that also contributed to the shortfall include a Rs3bn drop in income tax from dividends, and another Rs1bn from fixing the condition of return-filer for purchase of property effective from current fiscal year.

    The lowering of sales tax rates on fertilisers also led to a shortfall of Rs4bn in the first five months, another Rs5bn by replacement of LNG imports with furnace oil (difference of tax rates), and another Rs1bn due to closing of some sugar mills in Sindh.

    According to the sources, there are several other products on which duty rates were lowered in the last budget, leading to drop in revenue collection. The only area where revenues will be restored partially is the income tax for salaried class, the sources said, adding the impact would be visible by end of June 2019.

    It is not unusual for new governments to face revenue shortfalls in their first few months. The PML-N government faced a Rs40bn shortfall in 2013, which was bridged through a minibudget.

    Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018

    After dealing with the external deficit, the govt’s attention is now being drawn to a growing shortfall in tax revenues. — FileAfter dealing with the external deficit, the govt’s attention is now being drawn to a growing shortfall in tax revenues. — File

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    ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel has tasked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) with investigating the abrupt and continuing devaluation of the rupee, directing it to submit a detailed report by Dec 22.

    Taking notice of the sharp decline in the value of the rupee against the dollar to an unprecedented low, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Rehman Malik has written a letter to the FIA, asking it to probe all stakeholders, including the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and money-changers, under the Foreign Exchange Act.

    Senator Malik has said that it is very alarming that neither the prime minister nor the finance minister was aware and informed of the sudden devaluation of the country’s currency. He has asked what factors and elements are behind this historic fall of the rupee and said, “It is necessary to investigate if an artificial cap on the value of the dollar was created by any mafia to sell their preserved dollars at high rates.”

    Rehman Malik wonders if some particular group is the beneficiary

    The former interior minister has said that in the past it happened that some currency dealers collected and preserved dollars in bulk to create its artificial shortage in open markets.

    He said that after creation of artificial shortage of dollars in the open market, the State Bank has to buy dollars at high rates and this way the specific section in the market gets benefits of it.

    The committee chairman has directed the “FIA to investigate who are getting benefits of this created situation and unearth those elements which are responsible for this crash”.

    In the letter to FIA, it is also asked “what is the procedure for maintaining… secrecy while fixing the currency’s price by (the) State Bank of Pakistan and who fix(es) the price and who is the final signing authority?”.

    Senator Malik has urged the government to inform the people about the agreements it has signed with the International Monetary Fund for retiring the loan and asked has this fall of rupee something to do with the IMF.

    He has asked the FIA to investigate and enlist all parameters already notified to fix the value of rupee against dollar and what the actual procedure for fixing parity of rupee with dollar is.

    He has said that there has been lot of controversies how the price of rupee was allowed to fall freely which would not only affect the life of common man but would also ruin the national economy in the long run.

    Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018

    Rehman Malik wonders if some particular group is the beneficiary of such a drop in the price of rupee. — APP/FileRehman Malik wonders if some particular group is the beneficiary of such a drop in the price of rupee. — APP/File

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    ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the country’s history, President House on Saturday opened its doors to the public as part of the government’s plans to allow the people to access state-owned buildings.

    Earlier, the government had opened Governor Houses in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and a state-owned rest house in Murree to the public.

    Speaking to reporters after meeting the visitors at President House, Mr Alvi said: “We have made efforts to fully facilitate public visits to Aiwan-i-Sadr.”

    He said he would open President House to the public twice a month and would also direct the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to open the adjacent park to President House.

    The president said that historical documents and belongings of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan would be displayed at President House.

    “We will request parliament to give the historical document of the 1973 Constitution signed by its makers and it will be displayed here for the public,” he said.

    The president said that he wanted to bridge the gap between President House and the masses which had widened in the last 70 years.

    He said that President House was opened to school and college trips as well.

    Replying to a question, Mr Alvi rejected the impression that Aiwan-i-Sadr was opened to divert attention from the challenges being faced by the government, saying that the office of the president was apolitical.

    Earlier, a large number of people from twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad visited the highly secured building of Aiwan-i-Sadr.

    Talking to Dawn, the visitors appreciated the decision of the government to open the gates of President House to the public. It remained open from 9am to 4pm.

    Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018

    ISLAMABAD: Visitors view a presidents’ portrait gallery at the Aiwan-i-Sadr on Saturday.—Tanveer Shahzad/White StarISLAMABAD: Visitors view a presidents’ portrait gallery at the Aiwan-i-Sadr on Saturday.—Tanveer Shahzad/White Star

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    ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has found blatant violation of laws and rules and general principles of honesty, transparency and fairness in the appointment of Shiekh Imranul Haq, former managing director of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO), by the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government.

    In a report furnished before the Supreme Court, the anti-corruption watchdog stated: “During the course of inquiry, evidences showed that the appointment of former PSO MD Sheikh Imranul Haq was illegal and was not made in a transparent manner.”

    While hearing a case pertaining to exorbitant/unreasonable taxing, cess, duty and fee on petroleum products, a three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, had directed the bureau to inquire into appointments of officers who were drawing Rs1.5 million or more as their monthly salary.

    On July 1, the caretaker government had increased petrol price by Rs7.54 to Rs99.50 per litre whereas the diesel price went up by Rs14 to Rs119.3. Similarly, kerosene price was increased by Rs3.36 to Rs87.7. As the price surge raised quite a furore among the general public, the SC took suo motu notice and initiated legal proceedings. Subsequently, the caretaker cabinet in another meeting on July 7 reduced the prices of petrol by Rs4.26 per litre to Rs95.24 from earlier Rs99.50. The price of high speed diesel was dropped by Rs6.37 per litre to Rs112.94 per litre.

    Report furnished to apex court says appointment by previous government was based on favouritism and personal friendship through a tailor-made ad

    After completing an inquiry into the appointments in the state-owned oil marketing company, NAB explained that Sheikh Imranul Haq as acting PSO MD received monthly salary of Rs4.95 million, whereas PSO’s deputy managing director (finance) Yaqoob Sattar was getting a hefty package of Rs2.76 million per month. The bureau alleged that the remuneration package of Mr Haq was not duly approved by the competent authority.

    The NAB report stated that Mr Haq’s appointment was based on favouritism and personal friendship through a tailor-made advertisement, as he had no experience in the field of oil marketing. The appointment was made without any assessment and competition with other shortlisted candidates, it stated.

    According to the bureau, evidence and record showed that there were blatant violation of laws and rules and general principles of honesty, transparency and fairness set by the SC for the appointment of managing director or chief executive officer in a public sector enterprise.

    Besides, the report said, there were evidences that Mr Haq had a conflict of interest with the PSO due to an LNG agreement with his ex-employer (Engro Corporation). It also alleged that he misused his authority as MD by promoting Mr Sattar to the position of deputy managing director within a month of assuming charge. The anti-corruption watchdog stated the ministry of petroleum and natural resources was kept out of the loop and no internal competitive process, which was a mandatory requirement, was followed, adding the promotion also appeared to be based on personal friendship as Yaqoob Sattar had ratified the pay package of Mr Haq just before joining and both of them had been colleagues in Engro Corporation.

    The bureau report informed the apex court about the statements of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former petroleum minister, former petroleum minister secretary Arshad Mirza and joint secretary Syed Toufeeq Shah. All of them were sent questionnaires and called by NAB through notices. During the course of inquiry, NAB also seized a number of documents namely original note sheet regarding the appointment of MD-PSO, correspondence file, original note sheet, letter received from the prime minister office, personal file and pay slips, articles of association and memorandum of association of PSO, recruitment record etc.

    Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018

    Report furnished to apex court says appointment by previous government was based on favouritism and personal friendship. — FileReport furnished to apex court says appointment by previous government was based on favouritism and personal friendship. — File

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    RAWALPINDI: Displeased by medical facilities available in the country, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said on Saturday that only the rich have access to healthcare facilities.

    “Medical facilities are only available for the wealthy. I have tried to play a role in improving medical facilities it is the responsibility of the government to provide better health facilities to the people,” he said while addressing the concluding ceremony on the Pakistan Stroke Management Workshop.

    The workshop came to an end at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC). The ceremony was attended by RIC Executive Director retired Maj Gen Azhar Mahmood Kayani, Hanif Bashir, Adnan Siddiqui and eminent cardiologists and faculty from the United States, Malaysia, Egypt and Turkey.

    He said it was imperative to allocate funds to provide quality medical treatment in urban and rural areas with the objective to extend these facilities to all sections of society without any prejudice of caste, creed and colour.

    Says only rich have access to healthcare facilities

    Justice Nisar said he took action against the shortage of teaching staff and medical experts in local hospitals, adding: “The judges have also advised the government repeatedly for the improvement of hospitals.”

    Sharing his worst experiences in government-run hospitals in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said: “I saw three people sharing a bed and doctors were providing them medical treatment.”

    He added that there is no liver transplant facility available for children, and people have to travel to India for treatment.

    “There should be a liver transplant hospital. Improving missing medical facilities is the responsibility of the state,” he said.

    The chief justice said the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute was built after spending millions of rupees but did not have basic facilities, adding that the Supreme Court “has issued guidelines for the machinery, medical equipments and medicines in the teaching hospitals”.

    He added that the government is responsible for implementing the law fully, and the SC will cooperate with improvements in the health sector.

    State-of-the-art medical colleges need to be built to bring change to the health sector, he said.

    Justice Nisar advised the government to appoint expert doctors as provincial health secretaries, saying that officers who are aware of the issues should be appointed in government sectors.

    “The culture of favouritism should come to an end and all the processes should be done purely on merit,” he said.

    He added that the Pakistan Medical and Dental Councilhas been directed to ensure the provision of quality and standardised medical education and healthcare facilities, and believed that the government should focus on extending health coverage to all segments of society.

    A new PMDC act has been drafted and sent to the government for enactment, he said.

    Earlier in the ceremony, Mr Kiyani said the RIC was the first cardiac centre in Pakistan to have performed emergency brain stroke intervention and reverse a patient’s paralysis.

    As part of the procedure, a stent is placed in the brain to open veins and avoid paralysis.

    “We will soon start brain angioplasty in Pakistan, and it will be started in the RIC,” he said.

    He said they will provide treatment to patients of strokes and will also start training doctors in this regard.

    “The medical treatment for the patients suffering from brain stroke will be started within few hours of the attack. Now, the brain stroke will be curable,” he said.

    Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018

    Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar speaks at the concluding ceremony of the Pakistan Stroke Management Workshop on Saturday. — OnlineChief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar speaks at the concluding ceremony of the Pakistan Stroke Management Workshop on Saturday. — Online

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    QUETTA: The Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) has alleged massive rigging in the by-election in the Balochistan Assembly’s constituency PB-47 (Kech III), claiming that its candidate had won the election but the results were later changed.

    Addressing a press conference on Saturday, senior BNP-M leaders Lashkari Raisani, Advocate Sajid Tareen, Ghulam Nabi Marri and Malik Naseer Shahwani expressed doubts over the credibility of the by-election.

    “There was open rigging in favour of the ruling Balochistan Awami Party’s candidate,” they said, adding that the BNP-M candidate had obtained the highest votes from a sensitive area of Mand.

    “In Mand, members of the polling staff were calling voters through loudspeakers, but only four votes were cast there. The ruling party’s candidate, however, succeeded in getting thousands of magic votes,” they said.

    They said the BNP-M would constitute a committee to decide its future line of action. They said public mandate should be given respect, adding that people had a right to protest against the stolen mandate.

    Mr Shahwani claimed that in general elections some hidden forces had turned the BNP-M victory into a defeat on National Assembly’s constituency NA-265 and provincial assembly’s constituency PB-31.

    They demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan take notice of massive rigging in the by-election.

    Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018

    “There was open rigging in favour of the ruling Balochistan Awami Party’s candidate,” says BNP-M leadership. — AFP/File“There was open rigging in favour of the ruling Balochistan Awami Party’s candidate,” says BNP-M leadership. — AFP/File

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    ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court said on Saturday that Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar did not have any social media account.

    The public relations office of the court issued a clarification, declaring that all Twitter accounts in the name of CJP Nisar were “fake”.

    “It is, therefore, clarified that Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan is neither using any Twitter account or page, nor any other ID on any other social networking websites,” it said.

    Despite the various directives of the apex court, the fake Twitter accounts attributed to CJP Nisar are still active. There are as many as seven fake accounts in his name, with two of them having significant numbers of followers.

    An account with Twitter handle @cjsaqibnisar has 33,900 followers. It was opened in July 2015.

    Another with handle @MianSaqibNisar has 23,900 followers. It was opened in March 2017, a month before the first judgement in the Panama Papers case was announced in which the SC constituted a six-member joint investigation team to probe into assets owned by the family of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

    The second account has been inactive since March 20, 2017, when the handler tweeted on this account for the last time. The second last tweet on this account was posted on March 17, 2017, which was a statement that the SC would announce its verdict in the Panama Papers case within a week.

    The last tweet from the first fake account was written on Nov 20. A tweet on the profile of this account was about fundraising for dams. The pinned tweet stays static on the top of the profile. When people visit a profile, the pinned tweet is the first thing they see, regardless of when one tweets it.

    The remaining fake accounts have fewer followers. An account with the title of ‘Chief Justice Saqib Nisar Fan Club’ was opened in March this year. It has 2,855 followers.

    The apex court has asked the Federal Inve­stigation Agency (FIA) and the Pakistan Telecom­m­unication Authority (PTA) to block the fake accounts and take action against their handlers.

    The clarification issued by the court says, “Concerned quarters ie FIA and PTA have also been asked to block such names and IDs, pages and take legal action against the delinquents in accordance with law”.

    Meanwhile, CJP Nisar has taken suo motu notice of water scarcity in a remote area of Balochistan.

    According to a press release issued by the court, the chief justice took notice of non-availability of drinking water for people in Bhagnari area of Balochistan’s Bolan district.

    The notice was taken on a video clip on social media and a programme telecast by a private television channel showing that people and animals of the area were drinking contaminated, polluted and unhygienic stagnant water from a pond near the Bhagnari area.

    According to the press release, the CJP has directed the advocate general, chief secretary, secretaries of health and Public Health Engineering Department, the deputy commissioner of Bolan and representatives of the Balochistan government to appear before the apex court on Dec 14.

    Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018

    SC public relations office declares that all Twitter accounts in the name of CJP Nisar are “fake”. — FileSC public relations office declares that all Twitter accounts in the name of CJP Nisar are “fake”. — File

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    ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Saturday enhanced the annual amount of free of cost quality indoor healthcare services from Rs300,000 to Rs720,000 per family.

    Presiding over a bids opening ceremony for provision of Sehat Cards across the country, Minister for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordina­tion Aamir Mehmood Kiani vowed to make all-out efforts to provide the best possible facilities to the poor segment of society as envisioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

    Upon completion of the programme’s implementation, 14 million families (approximately 80m individuals) are expected to be enrolled and benefiting from it in all districts of the country.

    The minister said through the Health Cards, the families living below the poverty line of $2 per day will be provided with financial protection against extraordinary health care expenditure.

    “A wide range of both medical and surgical indoor services, including heart surgeries, stunts, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, dialysis, maternity and other medical and surgical services, are included in the scheme,” he said.

    Financial bids of insurance companies were ope­ned on the occasion in the presence of media. The State Life Insurance Corporation (Slic) again won the contract of the Sehat Cards for the next three years.

    The government had shortlisted Slic, Jubilee Life Insu­rance, Adamjee Insu­rance Company and Alfalah Insurance Consortium for the second phase of the programme. The programme will be introduced in Tharparkar district with the federal government’s funding as Sindh refused to join it.

    Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had launched the programme on Dec 31, 2015, for Islamabad and described it as a first step towards making Pakistan a welfare state.

    Under the programme a family gets Rs50,000 for secondary care treatment which begins as soon as a patient is hospitalised. It includes most of diseases, including maternity. Moreover, each family can get treatment of Rs250,000 under the category of priority diseases which includes cancer, accident, burn injuries, diabetic complications, heart bypass and infections.

    Families which earn less than $2 per day are entitled for the registration.

    Talking to Dawn, Scheme Director Dr Faisal Rifaq said that 65 per cent weightage was given to technical capacity and 35pc to financial bid. “Slic won the bid as its overall points of technical and financial aspects were the best,” he said.

    “Slic has been selected, but its bid will be approved by the Steering Committee of the Sehat Cards, which is represented by four provinces, the ministries of finance, planning and law and justice and the Benazir Income Support Programme (Bisp).

    After getting the app­roval, the agreement will be placed on the Public Procur­e­ment Regulatory Author­ity’s website for a fortnight and after that it will be signed with Slic,” he said.

    In reply to a question, Dr Rifaq said that under the existing scheme the financial limit is Rs300,000, as premium is paid as per former limit, but after completion of the year the limit will be enhanced to Rs720,000.

    “However in new schemes, which will be launched in different districts during the next year, the medical limits will be enhanced. Over all 14m families or 80m individuals will be covered during the next three years.

    However, after a survey of Bisp new families which will be identified, as earning less than $ 2 per day, will also be included in the scheme,” he said.

    Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018

    14m families are expected to be enrolled and benefiting from it in all districts of the country. — Dawn/File14m families are expected to be enrolled and benefiting from it in all districts of the country. — Dawn/File

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    ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) — the parent organisation that regulates affairs of the legal fraternity — has petitioned the Supreme Court seeking a direction declaring that Law Minister Farogh Naseem cannot stay a member of the council.

    “The respondent No 1 [the minister] ceases to be a member of the PBC after becoming a federal minister due to the provisions of Section 11C of the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973 as well as Rules 108-O,” argues a petition moved by Kamran Murtaza in his capacity as vice-chairman of the PBC.

    Section 11C of the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973 deals with the cessation of membership of the PBC, stating that a member of the council will cease to be honoured as such if he is appointed to an office of profit in the service of Pakistan; suspended or removed from practice under the provisions of Chapter VII; incurs any of the disqualifications specified in section 11B such as if (s)he was dismissed or removed from service of government or of a public statutory corporation; has been convicted for an offence involving moral turpitude; has been found guilty of professional misconduct; or has been declared a tout or an un-discharged insolvent.

    Quotes Section 11C of Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act

    The petition argues that the minister cannot stay a member of the PBC in the light of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the 2010 case of Pakistan vs Dr Mubashir Hassan and 2013 Zafar Mehmood Mughal vs Sajjad Akbar Abbasi. It contends that the minister became a member of the council from Sindh in the elections held in December 2015 and whilst being a member of the council, he was appointed law minister through a notification of the Cabinet Division on Aug 8, 2018.

    Recalling that he wrote on Sept 11 to the attorney general on the instruction of the council, the petition seeks out whether in view of legal provisions, the minister ceases to be a member of the PBC. The note being referred to stated that under circumstances of the cessation of the membership of the minister, another member — Muhammad Yasin Azad, being an unsuccessful candidate of the 2015 elections — had to be appointed as a member, as provided under Section 15 of the 1973 Act.

    But the attorney-general, in a Sept 26 response, contended that the minister cannot be deprived of PBC membership. Thus, the PBC has no option other than invoking the extraordinary jurisdiction of the apex court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, given that the matter is of public importance.

    The petition contends that the minister cannot be advocate and also be subject to the terms and conditions of service of the government in view of Rule 175 of the 1976 Rules. This, it maintains, will amount to a conflict of interest. The petition states that the PBC cannot have a member who cannot appear before a court, including the Supreme Court, as an advocate due to his portfolio as a federal minister.

    Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018

    Petition to remove Farogh Naseem from PBC quotes Section 11C of Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act. — FilePetition to remove Farogh Naseem from PBC quotes Section 11C of Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act. — File

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