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    ISLAMABAD: The Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) is facing Supreme Court’s questioning for its delay in installing sewage treatment plants on the tributaries of the Rawal Dam.

    After last year’s suo motu notice taken by the apex court regarding contamination of the Rawal Dam, the MCI was supposed to install four sewage treatment plants on the tributaries of the dam.

    Sources said recently the SC asked the local government about its failure to launch the project and sought reports from the directorates concerned by Dec 20.

    The project was supposed to be funded by the CDA, the capital administration and the Punjab government. The sewage treatment plants would be set up at Bari Imam, Lower Shahdara, Upper Shahdara and Simly Dam Road.

    MCI was supposed to start work on project after SC took suo motu notice last year

    The sources said in the absence of any and check, Rawal Dam received untreated sewage from unplanned localities in the catchment areas that included the thickly-populated Bhara Kahu. The untreated water entering the dam contaminates it, posing a risk to aquatic life and the residents of Rawalpindi who are supplied water from the reservoir.

    During a meeting headed by the chief commissioner Islamabad in March this year, it was decided that the MCI would execute the project. According to minutes of the meeting, the MCI would execute the project with financial support from the Punjab government.

    The director of the agriculture external services briefed the meeting about the preparation of the PC-I, including directions from the apex court and the feasibility study carried out by a company.

    “The chief officer MCI agreed to the proposal and expressed his commitment to take over the project under the umbrella of the MCI and asked the representatives of the government of Punjab for commitment about 36pc share of the PC-1 cost.”

    The representatives of the Punjab government assured the meeting that they were ready to participate in the project and earmark funds in the annual development plan 2018-19.

    It was decided that the provincial government would earmark Rs864 million as per its tentative share of 36pc in the PC-I.

    The sources said following the meeting, the MCI took over the project and got it included in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2018-19 as an unapproved project.

    The previous government of the PML-N had approved Rs 400 million for the ongoing fiscal year for the project but later the PTI government decided not to fund all unapproved projects of the MCI.

    When contacted, Chief Metropolitan Officer Syed Najaf Iqbal told Dawn that there was no delay on part of the MCI.

    “Recently, the SC also asked the MCI about this project and we informed the court that the project had been included in PSDP but funds are not being released.”

    He said all concerned authorities had been directed to submit their replies at the next hearing.

    Meanwhile, the Islamabad bus service project, which was added to the PSDP, is also facing uncertainty as the federal government has refused to release funds for it.

    In the PSDP, the government had earmarked Rs500 million for this public welfare project.

    According to the PC-I, the MCI would run the bus service with a fleet of 106 buses on six routes.

    The capital city has been witnessing a signification increase in its population. It had a population of around 800,000 in 1998 which jumped to over two million in 2017. But, so far the capital does not have a public transport facility other than the Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus service.

    The chief officer said whenever funds were released the MCI would start work on the project.

    Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018

    MCI was supposed to install four sewage treatment plants on the tributaries of the Rawal dam after SC took suo motu notice last year. — File photoMCI was supposed to install four sewage treatment plants on the tributaries of the Rawal dam after SC took suo motu notice last year. — File photo

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    PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday issued notices to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, chief minister and several other government functionaries in a contempt petition filed for the non-implementation of its judgment of declaring unconstitutional different provisions of Fata Interim Governance Regulation, 2018.

    A bench consisting of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Abdul Shakoor fixed Jan 8 for the next hearing into the petition asking the respondents to explain their viewpoint on that date about the alleged violation of the court’s judgment on the matter.

    The high court had declared unconstitutional on Oct 30 several provisions of the FIGR, 2018, and ruled that any decision of civil or criminal nature under that law would be void after a month.

    PHC seeks response about ‘violation’ of order on Fata regulation

    Although the deadline set by the high court passed on Nov 30, the government didn’t set up regular courts to the tribal districts, which were merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through the Constitution (Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Act, 2018.

    The petitioner, advocate Ali Azim Afridi, said the high court had ruled that after the enactment of the 25th Constitutional Amendment any judicial power exercised by the executive officers in the tribal districts were unconstitutional and against the principle of separation of judiciary from the executive.

    The petitioner said the court declared: “By now the constitutional requirement is a separate and independent judiciary from the executive and as such any powers exercised by the executive, which come within the domain of judiciary/ judges the same would be nullity in the eyes of law.”

    He said the court had observed that the FIGR was promulgated by the government so as to cover up its inefficiency of not formulating any formula for separation of judiciary and the executive when the Constitution (Twenty-fifth Amendment) Act was passed.

    The petitioner said the bench had declared that after 25th Amendment (Act No XXXVII of 2018) was made, criminal and civil disputes were to be decided by judges and not the executive as was done under the 2018 regulation.

    The respondents in the contempt petition are federal law secretary retired Justice Abdul Shakoor Paracha, FIA director general Bashir Ahmad Memon, KP Governor Shah Farman, KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, KP chief secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch, KP inspector general of police Salahuddin Mehsud, provincial home secretary Ikramullah Khan, provincial law secretary Zakaullah Khattak, and PHC registrar Khwaja Wajihuddin.

    The petitioner said the respondents were given a month’s time to implement the judgment but they neither showed any interest nor did they take effective measures for the purpose.

    He said after the merger of Fata with KP and in light of a court judgment, it was mandatory for the FIA and the KP police to extend their jurisdiction to tribal districts, but no step was taken for the purpose.

    Through the FIGR, which was promulgated by President of Pakistan in May, the colonial-era FCR was repealed. However, judicial powers continued to be with the executive officers, including political agents (now deputy commissioners) and assistant political (now assistant commissioner).

    The bench had observed: “Mere existence of a tribal society or a tribal culture does not by itself create a stumbling block in the way of enforcing ordinary procedure of criminal law or civil law, trial and detention etc., which is enforceable in the entire country.”

    Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018

    KP Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan (not pictured) get contempt notices for ‘violation’ of order on Fata regulation. — File photoKP Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan (not pictured) get contempt notices for ‘violation’ of order on Fata regulation. — File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Tuesday called for a uniform curriculum for all students in the country.

    The Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training, chaired by Senator Rahila Magsi, met at Parliament House, where the participating senators agreed that a uniform education system is needed in the country.

    There is currently significant difference in the standards and quality of education in Pakistan, where the schooling system consists of public sector and private sector schools – the latter divided into high and low fee charging institutions – as well as seminary schools.

    Committee members said a national curriculum is needed while discussing a bill moved by Senator Ateeq Shaikh seeking amendments to the 2013 Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Private Educational Institutions Act.

    Senator Mushahid Hussain said that a uniform curriculum is needed for national integration, while Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak argued that education should not have been devolved to the provinces under the 18th Amendment.

    Educational Minister Shafqat Mehmood said his ministry has been taking steps in collaboration with the provinces to make new policies.

    The committee members praised the minister’s work on the three different kinds of education systems, and the even higher number of curriculums, in the country and called for a uniform curriculum.

    The committee also recommended amendments to the ICT Private Educational Institutions Act proposed by Senator Shaikh.

    The ICT Private Educational Institutions (Registration and Regulation) (Amendment) Bill 2016 seeks a 3pc quota for free education for children of single women in private schools. It also proposes new conditions for the registration of private schools, including that an institution not charge students fees higher than those charged in the preceding academic year.

    The bill also says that the admission or security fees should not exceed the amount equal to tuition fee payable by students for a month.

    “An institution shall not require the parents to purchase textbooks, uniform or other material from a particular shop or provider,” the bill states.

    In his bill, Senator Shaikh said that in pursuance of the provisions of Article 35 of the Constitution, and in view of the rising number of single mothers – divorced or widowed with children – it is the responsibility of the state to provide deprived children with free educational opportunities in the private sector as well.

    He added that that it has been observed over the last year or so that private institutions in Islamabad are charging high fees from parents along with additional dues under various heads.

    “This has become a source of constant exploitation of parents,” he said.

    The bill was passed after a detailed discussion by the committee.

    The senators also recommended Senator Quratulain Marri’s Trained Paramedical Staff Facility Bill 2018, which proposed that the federal government ensure that trained paramedics are provided to all educational institutions to provide immediate medical assistance and first aid when the need arises.

    Private educational institutions would ensure the provision of paramedics on the premises so students in need of medical aid may be assisted immediately, the bill said.

    Earlier during the meeting, the senators discussed The Area Study Centre (Amendment) Bill 2017, which was moved by Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah.

    The bill is aimed at making area study centres affiliated with various universities independent, as they were between 1974 and 2002 before being brought under universities through an amendment.

    The bill proposed that area study centres would be autonomous bodies working independently to conduct research, symposiums, degree awards and foreign police guidelines for the government.

    The minister said that before moving ahead, the ministry would conduct a comparative study of the performance of these centres before and after 2002, and bring the findings to the committee by mid-January.

    The committee also discussed amendments to the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act proposed by Senator Samina Saeed related to a better environment for children with dyslexia, but did not approve it as committee members felt the move should come in the form of independent legislation and not an amendment.

    Senators also heard a petition filed by a National University of Modern Languages (Numl) who said the defence of his PhD thesis was held in 2016 but he was not being issued a degree. A Numl official said the student published his work after the deadline, which was why the university was not considering his case.

    The committee referred the case back to the university to review it.

    Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018

    There is currently significant difference in the standards and quality of education in Pakistan. — File photoThere is currently significant difference in the standards and quality of education in Pakistan. — File photo

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    LAHORE: The federal government will have to bear an additional cost of about Rs18 billion if it agrees to accept recommendations of a special committee constituted to quickly resolve the issue of much-delayed land acquisition for 4,300MW Dasu hydropower project, Dawn has learnt.

    The committee is set to submit its preliminary report to the project steering committee (PSC) that is likely to meet on Jan 8.

    “We have prepared a preliminary report-cum-proposal after holding a series of meetings with the representatives of people affected by the project, local politicians and notables,” a senior official, engaged in the ongoing process/discussions over land acquisition for the project told Dawn on Tuesday.

    “According to our assessment,” he said, “the financial impact arising in the wake of accepting the affected people’s demands is approximately three per cent of the total cost (over Rs600bn) for both two stages of this mega project.

    “So, now it would be up to the government to accept it or not since we are just supposed to submit our report to the PSC,” he said.

    “Besides the report, we have compiled a petition signed by the representatives of affected people, which would be submitted to the PSC by a local MNA,” added the official who requested anonymity.

    Located on the Indus, some 240km upstream from Tarbela dam, and in the Kohistan area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the project is being funded by the World Bank that, for a third time, extended deadline for one year for utilisation of the funds approved in 2014.

    The main reason for non-utilisation of the funds is attributed to land acquisition. The members of the PSC, which was constituted last month with the directive to compile and submit a report about the meetings, demands of the affected people, financial impact (in case of acceptance of demands) and recommendations, have worked out a detailed assessment regarding change of land categories (residential, commercial, agriculture, barren, etc), additional cost, etc, according to the pattern of Bhasha Dam’s land acquisition.

    “The assessment we have worked out is in line with the affected people’s demands. Affidavits have already been taken from them that their demands would not increase further in future,” the official said.

    Once the PSC agreed to accept the committee’s report / proposal and the affected people’s petition, it would then be submitted to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for final approval, the same procedure adopted in the land acquisition for Bhasha Dam, he said.

    And after approval of Ecnec, the required funds would be allocated.

    Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018

    Federal govt will have to bear an additional cost of about Rs18bn according to recommendations of special committee. — File photoFederal govt will have to bear an additional cost of about Rs18bn according to recommendations of special committee. — File photo

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    An accountability court has reserved its verdict in the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) Flagship Investment and Al-Azizia references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, DawnNewsTV reported on Wednesday.

    The verdict will be announced on December 24 (Monday), which is the revised deadline set by the Supreme Court to wrap up the references. The accountability court had indicted Sharif in the said references for holding assets beyond his known sources of income in August 2017.

    Sharif's counsel Khawaja Haris today furnished documents related to Hasan Nawaz's offshore companies and asked accountability court judge Arshad Malik for more time to submit additional documents.

    The request for a full week's time was, however, turned down by the judge, who told Haris that he can submit the documents in court latest by Monday.

    Haris, while presenting his final argument today, told the judge that "Nawaz Sharif has never admitted that he received a salary from Capital FZE", adding that his client's position in the said company was "honourary".

    The counsel claimed that Sharif had obtained employment in Capital FZE for visa purposes only.

    Not a penny's corruption proven against me: Sharif

    Sharif talks to the media outside the court.

    Sharif, following the hearing, had a brief chat with media representatives outside the court, during which he claimed that "not a penny of corruption was proven against me".

    "This was my 78th appearance in this case and in the one before we had appeared 87 times," he said. "This was a very painful [experience].

    "I have been serving the people for 35 years. I have been the chief minister twice and the prime minister thrice. I am very happy that I have done my duty, and I think that since I have stepped in politics I have never indulged in corruption nor have I ever misused my powers."

    The former prime minister also lauded the media for its responsible reporting on the cases against him and "conveying the facts to the nation".

    The verdict in NAB references against Nawaz Sharif will be announced on December 24. — FileThe verdict in NAB references against Nawaz Sharif will be announced on December 24. — File

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    The United States has made no request to Pakistan to hand over Dr Shakeel Afridi, who was imprisoned for his alleged links to a banned militant group, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi informed the Senate on Wednesday.

    The minister was responding to a question by Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah, who said reports were emerging that the US had asked Pakistan to extradite Dr Afridi, the physician who allegedly helped the Central Intelligence Agency in tracking Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in an Abbottabad compound through a vaccination campaign.

    "Is there any pressure from America on the government regarding the matter of Shakeel Afridi?" the senator asked.

    "There is no question of it. There is neither any pressure on us nor will we take the same," Shehryar replied, adding that he was not aware of any extradition request made by Washington regarding Dr Afridi.

    "There will be no compromise on national security," he said, stressing that the government's performance was out there for everyone to see.

    The minister said if such a request is received from the US, it will be put in front of the parliament, but added that the matter would fall under provincial jurisdiction after the 18th Amendment.

    At this, Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed opined that it was not appropriate to term Dr Afridi's matter "a provincial issue".

    "The same will be said about Kulbhushan [Jadhav] tomorrow," he said, in a reference to the Indian spy who was sentenced to death in 2017 by a Pakistani military tribunal for his involvement in espionage.

    "There is a difference between Shakeel Afridi and Kulbhushan," was the state interior minister's counterargument.

    Dr Afridi had been imprisoned at Peshawar Jail before he was shifted in April 2018 to Adiala Jail. In August, he was shifted to Sahiwal jail for security reasons.

    Today's session also saw Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry returning to the house after a ban placed on him by the Senate chairman for his failure to apologise over remarks he had uttered against opposition members ended.

    PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan, who Chaudhry had accused of nepotism in remarks that had caused the initial ruckus in the parliament, got up from his seat to shake hands with the information minister as he arrived for the session.

    Senators barred from appearing before NAB without permission

    Meanwhile, National Party (NP) Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo submitted a privilege motion on reports of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) allegedly preparing to act against him.

    "I have been accused of purchasing property worth billions," the senator said, claiming that his wife, daughter and nephews had been implicated as well.

    "I challenge NAB to form a JIT [Joint Investigation Team] against me," he said, adding that if even that is not enough, he was ready to appear before a committee formed by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

    Bizenjo claimed that he "unfortunately" had a hand in the appointment of the current NAB chairman. "I supported him because he belonged to Balochistan," the NP president added.

    His remarks came as Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla revealed that he had written letters to the NAB chairman and all members of the upper house, barring them from appearing before the accountability watchdog without approval from the Senate chairman's office.

    "No Senator should appear before NAB without taking permission from the [Senate] chairman office," Mandviwalla said while speaking in the house.

    He said this protocol should be followed if a member receives any notice from the bureau. "If NAB forces you to come, make it clear that the bureau should communicate with the [Senate] chairman office," he added.

    But the opposition parties remained unconvinced, with Opposition Leader Raja Zafarul Haq demanding that the NAB chairman be summoned to the upper house to explain the bureau's recent steps against parliamentarians.

    "This process will not support with your letter," Haq told Mandviwalla, adding that the NAB chief should be called for discussing the rules with him. He also demanded that a special committee be formed over the issue.

    But the deputy Senate chairman stressed that the opposition parties should wait for the NAB chairman to respond to his letter.

    Senator Mushahidullah claimed that besides NAB, some ministers were also conducting the "media trial" of opposition lawmakers.

    "Opposition members are arrested but only inquiries are carried out against government members," the PML-N senator alleged, adding that the same treatment should also be meted out to Prime Minister Imran Khan, his sister Aleema Khan, and others.

    Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi speaks in the Senate on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTVMinister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi speaks in the Senate on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

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    Karachi's Deputy Inspector General (DIG) South Javed Alam Odho on Wednesday confirmed that the deaths of two minor brothers in Karachi last month — which occurred after the two had consumed food from an upscale restaurant — had resulted from food poisoning.

    Odho, who was addressing a press conference on the matter, said that the two children had started vomiting after consuming unhealthy food, which caused dehydration, kidney failure and eventually death.

    Police had sent multiple samples of food collected from the restaurant, the victims' house as well as from their bodies to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency as well SGS Korangi for examination, Odho said.

    He said that during the investigation, Arizona Grill — where the brothers had their last meal — had not been able to give satisfactory answers to police queries regarding their supply chain and storage. Furthermore, he said, the quantity of yeast and mould that was found in the eatery exceeded levels allowed by health standards.

    The DIG claimed that dangerous bacteria like listeria, coliform, e. coli and salmonella had also been found in samples taken from the eatery.

    Restaurant employees arrested

    Police have arrested two Arizona Grill employees in connection with a case pertaining to the deaths of two siblings in Karachi by suspected food poisoning, a separate police press release stated.

    The suspects have been shifted to Sahil Police Station, while a case has been registered under Section 322 (punishment for qatl-bis-sabab: Whoever commits qatl bis-sabab shall be liable to diyat) and 272 (adulteration of food or drink intended for sale) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

    Deputy Inspector General South Javed Alam Odho (C) addresses a press conference in Karachi. — Photo courtesy Imtiaz AliDeputy Inspector General South Javed Alam Odho (C) addresses a press conference in Karachi. — Photo courtesy Imtiaz Ali

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    The federal government has approved fresh measures to avoid being blacklisted by an international group that monitors money laundering and terror financing, a trio of officials told AP on Wednesday.

    Three officials told the news agency that the new measures would prevent suspected militants from operating bank accounts and illegally transferring money by air, land and sea.

    They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the decision with reporters.

    The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Pakistan on a “grey list” earlier this year but gave it time to take action before a further downgrade.

    Any further demotion, it is feared, could deter foreign investors and hinder Pakistan's access to international markets amid a fiscal crisis.

    The PTI government is set to submit a compliance report to the FATF in the first week of January.

    Pakistan faces race against time to avoid being blacklisted by FATF. — FilePakistan faces race against time to avoid being blacklisted by FATF. — File

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    Former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif on Wednesday denied the impression that the 41-nation Saudi-led military coalition that he heads was established to counter a specific country or sect, according to a statement issued by the Senate Secretariat.

    Sharif made these remarks during the visit of a Senate delegation led by Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition (IMCTC) headquarters in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh.

    The Senate delegation was welcomed to the IMCTC headquarters by Sharif, the coalition's commander, and General Abdul Rehman, the deputy commander.

    Raheel Sharif in a group photo with the visiting Senate delegation. — Photo: Senate Secretariat
    Raheel Sharif in a group photo with the visiting Senate delegation. — Photo: Senate Secretariat

    During the visit, the former army chief briefed the Senate delegation about the performance and aims and objectives of the military alliance.

    "The Islamic military coalition was not formed to take action against any country, nation or sect," Sharif was quoted as saying.

    Read: Thank you Raheel Sharif?

    "The primary objective of this institution is to counter terrorism and eliminate it," Sharif was quoted as saying by the Senate Secretariat.

    The senators during the meeting lauded the resolve and efforts of the Saudi king and government to end terrorism.

    Concerns about the Saudi military alliance

    The appointment of Raheel Sharif as the leader of the Saudi military alliance last year had sparked a debate over how the move will impact Pakistan's foreign policy, and whether it was fully sanctioned by the parliament.

    The 41-nation armed coalition was initially proposed as a platform for security cooperation among Muslim countries and included provisions for training, equipment and troops, and the involvement of religious scholars for devising a counter-terrorism narrative.

    Various quarters subsequently raised concerns about the nature of the alliance and how it may affect a pre-existing parliamentary resolution on Yemen passed unanimously by lawmakers calling for "neutrality in the conflict" in 2015.

    The then defence minister Khurram Dastagir had later informed the Senate that the alliance will not take part in "unrelated military operations".

    Former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif in a meeting with Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in Saudi Arabia. —Photo: Senate SecretariatFormer army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif in a meeting with Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in Saudi Arabia. —Photo: Senate Secretariat

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    The Punjab government's decision to lift the 12-year-old ban imposed on celebrating Basant was challenged in the Lahore High Court on Wednesday.

    The provincial administration had removed the ban on the kite-flying festival a day earlier, saying that it will be celebrated in the second week of February 2019. Advocate Safdar Shaheed Pirzada challenged that decision in court, complaining that the festival had been banned in the first place because it had taken the form of a "blood sport".

    Read: Basant means happiness and all it takes are a few precautions

    The petitioner claimed that it was "unconstitutional" to allow a leisure activity "that results in the loss of human lives", and accused the government of lifting the ban to divert attention from public issues.

    Furthermore, the petitioner prayed to the court to declare the government's decision as illegal.

    The court accepted the petition and fixed it for hearing on Thursday.

    On Tuesday, Punjab Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan had announced the government's decision to lift Basant ban, adding that a committee comprising the Punjab law minister, the provincial chief secretary, and other administrative officials, will be formed to deliberate on the modalities about how the negative aspects of the festival can be avoided and overcome.

    The provincial minister said the committee would give its recommendations within a week. "This time, Lahore's population will surely celebrate Basant," Chohan had said.

    "The Supreme Court in its order had clarified that there was no restriction on holding the Basant festival and that it should be celebrated while staying within the ambit of law, as well as the rules and regulations defined by the government," the minister said.

    Chohan further claimed that citizens and the civil society had been demanding permission to organise Basant festivities for quite some time, following which Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had sought recommendations about holding the Spring festival.

    "The chief minister has said that Basant is a cultural festival, 'it has no relation to religion. It is for enjoyment,'" the provincial information minister said.

    Punjab government recently announced that Basant will be celebrated in the second week of February 2019. — FilePunjab government recently announced that Basant will be celebrated in the second week of February 2019. — File

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    In a surprising move, a judicial magistrate in Lahore on Wednesday issued directives asking Facebook to provide account details of a user allegedly spreading "negative propaganda" against an upcoming movie.

    According to a petition submitted before the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) by one of the affectees, Ammara, the accused had posted a Facebook status allegedly maligning her and the movie director, Bilal Lashari, "through the use of defamatory statements about their upcoming movie" — The legend of Maula Jatt.

    The suspect is reportedly a graduate of Lahore's National College of Arts and a filmmaker himself, as stated in his Facebook profile.

    In his Facebook status, the accused has raised the issue of copyright infringement and alleged that the upcoming film was violating the copyrights of producer Mohammad Sarwar Bhatti — who made the original Maula Jut film in 1979.

    To further his stance, the suspect has called for others to "boycott and expose the perpetrators strictly" whom he has also referred to as "thieves" and named specifically.

    In the court orders issued today, the judicial magistrate has stated: "In the light of facts explained and evidence presented by the verification officer, this court is convinced that the subject matter constitutes offences punishable under PECA Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

    The court has therefore reached out to Facebook to furnish the user's account details "in the interest of justice". These include basic subscriber information, and IP logs from the date of account creation to the last date of activity.

    A poster of the 1979 film Maula Jutt, produced by Mohammad Sarwar Bhatti. —Photo courtesy WikipediaA poster of the 1979 film Maula Jutt, produced by Mohammad Sarwar Bhatti. —Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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    A bomb blast on Boghra Road in Chaman injured three persons on Wednesday, DawnNewsTV reported citing Levies sources.

    Among the injured were a tribal leader, his guard and another — all three of whom were transferred to a hospital for treatment.

    Following the blast, security forces cordoned off the affected area and started gathering evidence — Levies sources said.

    The bomb blast reportedly took place on Boghra Road in Chaman. — DawnNewsTVThe bomb blast reportedly took place on Boghra Road in Chaman. — DawnNewsTV

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    Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday accused former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari of failing to mention an apartment that he allegedly owns in the United States in a declaration submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

    Chaudhry also said that his party's Khurram Sherzaman will soon file a reference against Zardari for not declaring the property in his nomination papers.

    “He [Zardari] was required to declare that property under Articles 62 and 63, which he didn’t. He is therefore not eligible to be a lawmaker,” he said.

    Chaudhry, who made the allegation while addressing the media in Islamabad, also said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was delivering on its promise of a "corruption-free Pakistan".

    He further said that investigative agencies had been given a "free hand" to investigate any politician — regardless of the party they belonged to — whose activities are found to be suspicious.

    When asked about an ongoing inquiry against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Chaudhry said that the National Accountability Bureau was investigating the matter.

    "To the people who [...] point at PTI members and claim that they are not being held accountable [for their actions]: We were not in power for the past 10 years. For [the past] five years, we were in the KP government [only] and [that tenure] remained scandal free," the minister said while arguing that the ongoing corruption references against key opposition lawmakers had been initiated during the PML-N's tenure.

    The information minister further said that "the world could see" that Pakistan's system were becoming more transparent due to the PTI's anti-corruption stance.

    That stance had also encouraged increased investments in the country, he claimed. He pointed out that British Airways had resumed its flights to Pakistan and Exxon Mobil was also planning to invest in the country.

    Furthermore, he claimed, Pakistan's ranking on travel advisories issued by countries like Portugal and France had improved.

    PTI government's policies are based on compassion

    Chaudhry said that the difference between Prime Minister Imran Khan and past governments was that the former's policies were based on "compassion". He referred to the repatriation of Indian spy Hamid Nehal Ansari and said that his return was an example of the government's compassion.

    He also recalled that the premier had asked Indian journalists — who had visited Pakistan to attend the Kartarpur border crossing ceremony — to urge their government to put an end to offences committed by state forces against Kashmiri citizens in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

    "He [the prime minister] said that we [India and Pakistan] can talk about [the Kashmir issue], but the injustices against Kashmiri citizens have to stop," Chaudhry said.

    Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry says investigative agencies have a free hand to hold inquiries without discrimination. — File photoInformation Minister Fawad Chaudhry says investigative agencies have a free hand to hold inquiries without discrimination. — File photo

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    The federal government on Wednesday announced that construction work on the much-awaited Mohmand dam project will begin from the first week of January 2019.

    Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, while addressing a press conference in Islamabad along with Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain, said the dam will be constructed through local funding and around Rs17-18 billion would be spent from the annual allotment of the Public Sector Development Programme (PDSP) over the next five years.

    Vawda said the 54-year-old project would now be materialised with the collective efforts of the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar Chief, who will be invited as chief guests to the inauguration ceremony.

    He said the chief justice took a personal interest in the project and helped remove obstacles standing in the way of its commencement.

    Faisal Vawda said the nation would hear more good news in the future and those politicians "who pushed the nation into darkness would not be spared".

    German Ambassador in Pakistan Martin Kobler and representatives of Chinese Embassy also called on Vawda and showed a keen interest in investing in the hydropower project of Mohmand dam, according to a press release.

    The Wapda chairman regretted that no mega project could be initiated after the construction of Tarbela dam in 1967, resulting in the energy and water crisis in the country.

    He said Mohmand dam would not only store 1.2 million acre-feet water but also generate 800 MW hydel electricity besides irrigating 18,000 acres land. The project would also help protect Mardan, Charsadda, Peshawar and other areas from floods during monsoon season.

    The chairman said the Indus Cascade had the potential of generating over 30,000 to 40,000 MW hydel electricity.

    Replying to a question, he said Wapda had completed mega projects like Mangla and Tarbela dams, along with 15 small dams including Khanpur and five barrages in the past.

    Neelum Jhelum project was completed during the stipulated time while all three units of the Tarbela Fourth Extension project were fully functional, he added.

    He said Golan Gol and Kacchi Canal projects, which had been abandoned in the past, were being executed by Wapda.

    The chairman said the prime minister and the steering committee had resolved the issue of funding while the chief minister had helped settle the land acquisition issue of the project.

    To another question, he said the first phase of the Dasu dam would be completed by 2022 to 2023.

    Regarding Kishanganga and other disputed projects by India, Water Resources Secretary Shamail Ahmad Khawaja said the attorney general office was reviewing the report of the World Bank.

    The project will be completed within five years through local funding and the Public Sector Development Programme. —File photoThe project will be completed within five years through local funding and the Public Sector Development Programme. —File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has rejected a claim of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan that the anti-graft watchdog has given him “a clean chit” in a scam related to leasing of 275 acres of land in Malam Jabba hill station for establishing a ski/chairlift and hotel project.

    “NAB has not given any clean chit to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan in Malam Jabba land leasing case,” a spokesman for NAB said in a press release issued by the bureau’s headquarters on Tuesday.

    Not only the incumbent chief minister, but former chief minister and sitting federal Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Principal Secretary Azam Khan were also allegedly involved in the scam.

    The NAB spokesman clarified that Mehmood Khan’s claim about getting a clean chit in the scam made during a media talk was not true. He went on to say that the statement recorded by the KP chief minister in NAB Peshawar office was “unsatisfactory” and he may be asked to appear before the NAB investigators again.

    “The statement of Mehmood Khan before joint investigation team of NAB, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was unsatisfactory. Mehmood Khan could be summoned again any time in the same case,” the spokesman added.

    Spokesman says Mehmood Khan’s statement before investigators was ‘unsatisfactory’ and he may be summoned again

    The land of Malam Jabba was gifted by the Wali of Swat and the move to lease out the land was made in 2014. However, after smelling rat in the deal, the forest department had later cancelled the lease.

    The KP chief minister had on Monday appeared before NAB Peshawar and then claimed that he had been given a clean chit in the case of lease of 275 acres of Malam Jabba’s forest land to a private firm during the previous government’s tenure.

    He had claimed that it was his “first and last appearance before NAB” in this case.

    He said that he had not been charged directly in any case and that he had been summoned in the capacity of a former provincial minister. “I was not aware about the lease nor had I signed any order allowing the lease,” the chief minister claimed.

    A letter of PM’s Principal Secretary Azam Khan as former secretary of tourism, which is available with Dawn, revealed that the lease period of 33 years and extendable for another 20 years was mentioned in the advertisement as well as terms of reference (ToR) of the project.

    Moreover, the ToR of the project had been approved by the chief minister (Pervez Khattak) on Feb 27, 2014. On the basis of this, private parties submitted their bids/proposals for obtaining the project to a committee notified by the chief secretary.

    The letter said it must be presumed that the committee and the chief minister decided the present lease period as a special case despite general government policy on leasing as mentioned by the law department due to special circumstances of militancy-hit Malakand division and quantum of investment involved. “It is also worth mentioning that the highest bidder has offered Rs12 million per annum with enhancement of 10 per cent yearly during the initial lease period of 33 years with maximum 25 per cent increase for further extension,” the letter said.

    It said the establishment and operationalisation of the project involved hundreds of millions of rupees of private sector’s investment and was the very first project near completion that had been initiated jointly by the Board of Investment and Trade of KP and the departments concerned.

    “I do not think any private investor would invest such huge amounts in tourism projects of terrorism-hit Khyber Pakh­tun­khwa for a short lease period of 15 years,” Azam Khan had said in the letter. The letter added that the existing leasing process of Malam Jabba ski/chairlift and hotel project took almost six months to reach its current status and change in the lease period at that stage might sabotage the leasing process.

    Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018

    Officials term KP CM Mehmood Khan’s statement before investigators ‘unsatisfactory’ and say he may be summoned again. — File photoOfficials term KP CM Mehmood Khan’s statement before investigators ‘unsatisfactory’ and say he may be summoned again. — File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: The defence counsel for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Flagship Investment reference on Tuesday sought some time from the accountability court for a rebuttal after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor completed his final arguments in the last reference against the supreme leader of the main opposition party.

    Winding up the arguments, the NAB prosecutor informed the court that Mr Sharif had been receiving AED10,000 from Capital FZE between 2006 and 2013. He said the Sharif family was given the first opportunity in the Supreme Court to explain holding of their property. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted by the SC in the Panama Papers case was the second forum where they could justify their assets whereas another chance was given to them by the investigation officer when he summoned them before the filing of application. The family could not justify their assets despite being given multiple opportunities, he added.

    The prosecutor said the Sharif family took plea before the apex court that while they were in exile, Mian Mohammad Sharif, the ex-PM’s father who passed away in 2004, managed AED5.4 million for Hussain Nawaz and AED4.2 million for Hassan Nawaz so that they could establish their businesses in the UK and Saudi Arabia.

    About money trail, the Sharif family explained that it was taken out of the AED12 million that the late Mian Sharif had invested with the Qatari royal family, the prosecutor said, adding that Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani never appeared before the JIT to verify the details.

    Court allows defence counsel to file rebuttal in Flagship Investment case today

    In his final arguments, the counsel for Mr Nawaz, Khawaja Haris Ahmed, said the JIT did not make any serious effort to record the testimony of the Qatari prince since it would have benefited the defence case.

    Advocate Haris took the plea that the late Mian Sharif established Gulf Steel Mills (GSM) in the UAE in 1974. Its 75 per cent shares were sold to Abdullah Kayed Ahli before it was renamed as Ahli Steel Mills (ASM) in 1978 and the remaining 25pc shares were later sold to the ASM in 1980 and this amount of AED12 million was invested with the Qatari Royal family, he explained.

    The prosecutor argued that these were private transactions according to the Sharif family as the amount was never routed through official channels. He said it was for this reason that the JIT did not rely upon the version of the Sharif family.

    He further argued that the Sharifs were required to justify investment of AED5.4 million by Mr Hussain in Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment and AED4.2 million by Mr Hassan in Flagship Investment and other companies but the family could not explain the investment.

    According to the prosecution, Mr Sharif was the real owner of the companies established by his sons while both his children were benamidar.

    After the prosecutor concluded his final arguments, defence counsel Khawaja Haris sought time to rebut the prosecution’s arguments.

    Subsequently, the accountability court adjourned the proceedings till Wednesday when the hearing in the last reference against the former prime minister would resume.

    Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018

    Court allows former PM Nawaz Sharif's counsel to file rebuttal in Flagship Investment case today. — File photoCourt allows former PM Nawaz Sharif's counsel to file rebuttal in Flagship Investment case today. — File photo

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    In Balochistan, a drought-like situation has reportedly affected over half a million people and had a severe impact on the agriculture and livestock sectors, said Home Minister Saleem Ahmed Khosa.

    Khosa, while addressing a press conference in Quetta on Wednesday, said around 109,000 families have reportedly been hit by a drought-like situation in 20 districts of the province.

    "These statistics are based on reports given by the deputy commissioners of the 20 districts," the home minister added.

    Chaghi, Noshki, Killa Abdullah, Awaran and other areas of Balochistan continue to suffer from drought-like situations. "Rainfall during the last one decade has reduced drastically," said the minister.

    Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal also presided over a meeting on Wednesday to review the rehabilitation and relief work. During the meeting, it was decided that emergency cells would be established on provincial and district levels to cope with the drought.

    Officials from the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) also briefed the chief minister about the pace of current rehabilitation and relief efforts.

    Earlier on Saturday, the opposition and treasury benches in Balochistan Assembly had expressed concern over growing drought in parts of the province and said that just sending a few trucks of relief goods by Provincial Disaster Management Authority [PDMA] would not resolve the problem and special measures were needed to help the people hit by the calamity.

    The provincial lawmakers complained that the government was not taking them into confidence over the drought situation in the province.

    BNP’s Sanaullah Baloch said only a few trucks of relief goods had been sent to drought-hit areas and in his own constituency only six trucks reached, but the aid was not enough even for 50 families.

    Over 109,000 families have been hit by continued drought in 20 districts of the province; compensation has been promised by the provincial government. —AFP/FileOver 109,000 families have been hit by continued drought in 20 districts of the province; compensation has been promised by the provincial government. —AFP/File

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    BEIJING: Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar on Wednesday invited top officials of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Chinese corporate leaders to build a long-term partnership with Pakistan and finance projects that contribute to overall economic development of the country.

    The minister extended the invitation at a meeting with the president of AIIB Jin Ligun and leaders of Chinese companies including China Railway Construction Corporation, Huawei, Norinco and others on the sideline of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridors (CPEC) 8th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting, scheduled to be held on Friday here.

    Mr Bakhtyar will co-chair the JCC meeting with Vice Chairman of National Reform Commission of China.

    In a meeting at the AIIB Headquarters, Mr Bakhtyar said that Pakistan had received solid investment in energy generation portfolio, but now the country was encouraging projects based on hydel or renewable resources.

    He said that AIIB could explore opportunities for partnership in Dasu and Mohmand Dam projects which were in the planning stages.

    “We are introducing integrated energy policy and looking forward for investment in transmission line projects and upgradation of the distribution system,” the minister said, adding that the Pakistan government also promoted the implementation of economically viable projects in infrastructure, capacity enhancement of ports and shipping, sustainable mass transit system and development of small rural and urban centres.

    The President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Jin Ligun, told the minister that $1.68 billion projects in different sectors were being financed by his bank in Pakistan.

    He pledged support for transmission line, hydropower generation and other projects that could boost Pakistan’s economic growth.

    He said that a project to support small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] had already been approved and this investment would be enhanced with the passage of time.

    Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2018

    BEIJING: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar in a meeting with a delegation of China Railway Construction Corporation.—INPBEIJING: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar in a meeting with a delegation of China Railway Construction Corporation.—INP

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    ISLAMABAD: The Minister of State for Interior, Shehryar Khan Afridi, has appealed to the judiciary not to grant bail to those arrested on charges of committing heinous crimes like drug trafficking and land grab.

    Addressing a police passing-out ceremony on Wednesday, the minister urged police to continue the drive against drug peddlers in the capital without fear or favour.

    He described the performance of Islamabad police in the recent drive against land grabbers as exemplary.

    The anti-encroachment drive would continue as long as the government did not repossess every inch of land encroached upon, Mr Shehryar stated.

    Dwelling upon the operation against drug mafia, Mr Afridi said over the past two months, 354 cases had been lodged at different police stations of Islamabad while 385 drug peddlers were arrested.

    The minister praised the role of Islamabad police in the war on terror, recalling that 41 of its members had been martyred. Twenty-three of the recruits who passed out this year belong to the families of martyred police officials, he added.

    “The federal government has decided to introduce model policing in the capital and the new cadets will prove to be the frontline soldiers of this model,” Mr Afridi stated.

    “From now on, young cadets will be visible on Islamabad’s roads and give an example of friendly policing,” the minister stated. “No police official will be allowed to humiliate people.”

    Mr Afridi said the government had decided to enhance the capacity of Islamabad police so that it could serve as a role model for other cities. Prime Minister Imran Khan had already announced a special package for Islamabad police, he recalled.

    Mr Afridi claimed that the government had cleared all requests submitted by Islamabad police chiefs over the past 11 years. “The capital’s force will get all basic facilities like health and housing.”

    Modifications will be made in Islamabad Police Act to equip the force with powers and resources needed to tackle challenges of the day, the minister said.

    Mr Afridi said police had recently done what was unthinkable only a few months ago by taking action against land grabbers regardless of their wealth and clout. “Nobody will go off scot-free if he assists the drug and land mafia.” He said those journalists and influential persons who use drugs and provide protection to drug dealers would also be taken to task as per law.

    Islamabad IG Mohammad Aamir Zulfiqar Khan assured the minister that police would go all-out to turn the government’s vision into reality.

    The measures taken by the government to strengthen the force would soon bring about a qualitative change in policing methods, Zulfiqar Khan added.

    He assured the minister that Islamabad police would keep the dignity and self-respect of citizens in mind.

    Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2018

    Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi urges Supreme Court not to grant bail to those arrested on charges of committing heinous crimes. — File photoMinister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi urges Supreme Court not to grant bail to those arrested on charges of committing heinous crimes. — File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: After months-long delay, the government and the opposition on Wednesday agreed on a formula for distribution of chairpersonship of 38 standing committees of the National Assembly.

    Under the formula, chairpersonship of 20 committees will be held by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government and the remaining 18 would be given to the opposition.

    The formula was finalised in a meeting held in the Parliament House which was chaired by NA Speaker Asad Qaisar and attended by parliamentary leaders of all parties, including main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

    Twenty standing committees to be chaired by govt, 18 by opposition

    The tussle between the government and the opposition on chairpersonship of the standing committee was the main reason behind delay in formation of these committees.

    After the meeting, a source in the PML-N told Dawn that the government and the opposition had agreed on the formula under which the opposition would get chairmanship of the 12 standing committees which were led by the opposition during the previous PML-N government. In addition to these 12 committees, the opposition will also get six more standing committees.

    However, it is yet to be ascertained which six additional committees will be given to the opposition.

    Of the 18 committees to be headed by the opposition, 10 will be given to the PML-N, six will be headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party and two will be chaired by Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal.

    Talking in a private TV programme, NA Speaker Qaisar said that the government and the opposition had reached consensus on chairpersonship of standing committees of the lower house and now there was no deadlock on the issue.

    He said the standing committees which were headed by the opposition during the last government would be given to the opposition and rest of the committees would be headed by the treasury benchers.

    It has been learnt that the government has decided that it will chair important standing committees, including those on defence, interior, finance, foreign affairs and petroleum.

    The source in the PML-N said that the opposition had no objection if the government kept important standing committees with it. “We have never asked the government for these [important] committees,” the source said.

    It is because of the absence of functional standing committees that the process of legislation in the parliament is slow. Meanwhile, the parliamentary process of financial accountability through the Public Accounts Committee is yet to start.

    Under the rules, the speaker is bound to constitute all the standing and functional committees of the house “within 30 days after the election of the Leader of the House (prime minister)”.

    Since PTI chairman Imran Khan had been elected prime minister on Aug 18, the speaker had time till Sept 17 for the formation of over three dozen committees.

    According to the sources, all the opposition parties had given the names of their members for the committees’ chairpersonship to the NA Secretariat as per the rules.

    Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2018

    Twenty standing committees to be chaired by govt while 18 will be headed by opposition. — File photoTwenty standing committees to be chaired by govt while 18 will be headed by opposition. — File photo

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