Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

Dawn News RSS feeds

older | 1 | .... | 2898 | 2899 | (Page 2900) | 2901 | 2902 | .... | 2937 | newer

    0 0

    PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, in a series of tweets on Monday, claimed that the accountability court's verdict against her father Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference was "based on assumptions".

    Minutes after the court handed Sharif seven years in jail and a fine of $2.5 million in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference, Maryam took to Twitter to express support for her father.

    "Punishment to the same man for the fourth time. [This was] blind revenge's last hiccup but victory is Nawaz Sharif's, thank God.

    "After two-and-a-half years of revenge-like accountability, after rummaging through three generations, not a penny's worth of corruption, kickback or commission was found."

    Maryam claimed that "all the verdicts against Sharif were regarding the personal business of his deceased father (Mian Sharif)", adding that "when they could not find anything they announced the verdict on assumptions.

    "Today's verdict is another stamp on Nawaz Sharif's honesty and sincerity. These verdicts will vanish, what will remain is Nawaz Sharif's honesty and the opponents' burden of tyrannies because government, power and privileges are there to end. It does not take long for tides to turn. Remember, when tyranny crosses limits, it ends.

    "Had there been even a smidgen of truth in allegations against Nawaz Sharif then 10,000 dirhams would not have been used as an excuse, and the support of family business and personal dealings would not been taken. Precisely this is the victory of Nawaz Sharif. With him, every voter of PML-N has also succeeded."

    Maryam termed the verdict an indictment of "the government's weakness", reminding them that "governments are not run by targeting opponents."

    "Governments are run on the basis of their character and performance," she added.

    Furthermore, Maryam accused the PTI of conspiring against her father, claiming that "the government officials head to work each day thinking 'what do I have to do against Nawaz Sharif today?'"

    Maryam's salvo of tweets follow her return to social media on Sunday evening. The previous tweet she had made was on July 24, urging PML-N workers to come out of their homes the next day (July 25, when 2018 general elections were held) to vote for the party.

    Both Maryam and her father had been taken into custody from the Lahore airport on their return from London on July 13 in the Avenfield apartment reference. Since then the duo, particularly Maryam, seldom spoke or reacted publicly to any political development. She also stayed away from the social media when she and her father were bailed out by the Islamabad High Court on Sept 19, eight days after her mother’s demise.

    According to sources, she is expected to take a more active role in party politics following Monday's verdict against her father.


    Maryam Nawaz reacts to accountability court's verdict against her father Nawaz Sharif. — FileMaryam Nawaz reacts to accountability court's verdict against her father Nawaz Sharif. — File

    0 0

    An anti-graft tribunal sentenced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in prison for corruption on Monday, drawing criticism from his party, which said the decision was a “black stain” on the justice system.

    The verdict came after Sharif was removed from power last year over corruption allegations. He is accused of possessing assets beyond his known sources of income, and was arrested after the ruling was announced.

    Sharif, however, has denied any wrongdoing. He can appeal the verdict, under which he was also fined $25 million for not disclosing how his family set up the Al-Azizia Steel Mills when he was exiled to Saudi Arabia by Pervez Musharraf, a former military ruler who toppled Sharif's government in 1999.

    “They had to punish him and they have punished him in a false case,” said former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. “People will not accept this verdict.”

    Supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad ahead of the court verdict in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases. —AFP
    Supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad ahead of the court verdict in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases. —AFP

    Grieving supporters of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif protest in Lahore against the court ruling. —AP
    Grieving supporters of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif protest in Lahore against the court ruling. —AP

    A policeman hurls a stone towards supporters of Nawaz Sharif outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP
    A policeman hurls a stone towards supporters of Nawaz Sharif outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP

    Supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad ahead of the court verdict in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases. —AFP
    Supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad ahead of the court verdict in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases. —AFP

    Policemen disperse PML-N supporters outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP
    Policemen disperse PML-N supporters outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP

    Rangers personnel stand guard as PML-N supporters gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad ahead of the court verdict against Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases. —AFP
    Rangers personnel stand guard as PML-N supporters gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad ahead of the court verdict against Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases. —AFP

    An anti-graft tribunal sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in prison for corruption, drawing criticism from his party. —AFP
    An anti-graft tribunal sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in prison for corruption, drawing criticism from his party. —AFP

    Supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad ahead of the court verdict in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases. —AFP
    Supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad ahead of the court verdict in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases. —AFP

    PML-N supporters gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP
    PML-N supporters gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP

    Rangers personnel stop supporters of Nawaz Sharif from throwing stones towards police outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP
    Rangers personnel stop supporters of Nawaz Sharif from throwing stones towards police outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP

    Supporters of Nawaz Sharif run from tear gas shell outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP
    Supporters of Nawaz Sharif run from tear gas shell outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad. —AFP


    Supporters of Pakistan former prime minister Nawaz Sharif run from tear gas shell outside the anti corruption court in Islamabad on December 24, 2018. - Former Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption on December 24, state media reported, the latest conviction in a series of allegations which saw him ousted from power last year. (Photo by FAROOQ NAEEM / AFP) — AFP or licensorsSupporters of Pakistan former prime minister Nawaz Sharif run from tear gas shell outside the anti corruption court in Islamabad on December 24, 2018. - Former Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption on December 24, state media reported, the latest conviction in a series of allegations which saw him ousted from power last year. (Photo by FAROOQ NAEEM / AFP) — AFP or licensors

    Supporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif protest against a court ruling outside an accountability court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Dec. 24, 2018. The court sentenced Sharif to seven years in prison for corruption and acquitted him in a second case. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash) — Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reservedSupporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif protest against a court ruling outside an accountability court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Dec. 24, 2018. The court sentenced Sharif to seven years in prison for corruption and acquitted him in a second case. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash) — Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

    0 0

    ISLAMABAD: The scale of the adjustment being demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) “is too large” and accession to the programme is likely to be delayed, a senior official involved in the negotiations tells Dawn.

    “Our talks with the IMF are not going well,” he says, adding: “The only option we have now is to do something on our own.”

    Take a look: Differences remain over tough conditions of IMF bailout

    Conversations with senior officials from the finance ministry, with direct knowledge of the Fund talks, paint a dismal picture of where the talks currently stand. “There is no chance that the adjustments as proposed by the Fund can be made,” one of them says. “The demands in their current shape are too steep to be implemented.”

    Fund asking for steep cuts in current expenditure

    This has put the government in a quandary, since an IMF programme is essential to unlock access to resources from other multilateral lenders like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as from global financial markets.

    In the meantime, the government has procured some breathing space through bilateral support from Saudi Arabia, and now a commitment from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development of another $3 billion deposit “in the coming days”. In addition, the same sources tell Dawn, talks with China are near conclusion on another $2.2bn deposit with the State Bank, with the last meeting held on Dec 20, though these funds will be subject to certain conditions.

    Also read: Why Pakistan will go to the IMF again, and again and again

    But with the current account deficit running at more than $1bn per month, these inflows will buy little more than time. Officials at the finance ministry tell Dawn that these bilateral inflows can tide the country over for one year, at the very best. Eventually, an IMF programme becomes necessary no matter what, and the government is hoping that something can be done in the intervening period to bring about some flexibility in the Fund’s position.

    Explore: Approaching the IMF

    “It is possible that the IMF may come around, considering our position and will not let us collapse,” says one of the sources. “After some tough talk, I think they may come to a point to sign a basic agreement.”

    The sticking points

    But at the moment such a point seems like a distant prospect. One central issue in the talks is the size of the adjustment between revenues and expenditures that the Fund is asking the government to implement. Another issue is a continuing hike in interest rates, which will raise the cost of borrowing for both the government and business. The discount rate has already been raised by 4.75 per cent since January, a near doubling in one year since it has gone from 5.75pc to 10.5pc in the time period, with the latest jump of 1.5pc being the sharpest one yet.

    In addition, there is a demand for complete free float of the exchange rate, as has been widely reported already, to allow the market to fully determine the value of the rupee. This demand is also an important sticking point. Government officials believe that Pakistan’s foreign exchange markets are too thinly traded to be left to the market, and are insisting that they retain some space to intervene, even if only to smooth out sharp swings induced by speculative activity. The Fund says that in the past such discretionary power to intervene in the currency markets has been used to manage the rate.

    “Ours is a small market in the range of $200 million to $300m trading on a daily basis,” a senior official tells Dawn. Agreeing to the IMF demand would “allow few players to manipulate the tiny market easily,” he says. “This is again politically and economically impossible for Pakistan to agree to this demand.”

    One of the officials chuckled when his attention was drawn to recent media reports which say that Pakistan has committed to bringing the exchange rate to Rs150 per dollar by June 2019. “No such thing has been committed,” he says, adding that discussions are only on the mechanism for determining the exchange rate, and not its actual value.

    In a separate comment to Dawn, IMF’s Resident Representative in Islamabad Teresa Daban Sanchez also says the same thing. “The IMF’s advice on exchange rate issues is not for Pakistan to reach or target a particular rate,” she says in a message sent from Washington DC where she is currently visiting. The “advice” instead focuses on the policy through which the exchange rate will be determined, “in particular for Pakistan to transition towards a market-based exchange rate regime”.

    She says the Fund officials are strongly prohibited from talking about ongoing talks with any country. But in more general terms, she says, “Fund policy advice is for fiscal consolidation, monetary tightening, flexible exchange rate regime, reduction of losses at the state-owned enterprises (including circular debt), and strengthening social safety net to protect most vulnerable from adjustment”.

    Weight of failures past

    The IMF cites its disappointments in previous dealings with Pakistan as justification for demanding upfront action this time round, finance officials tell Dawn. “They are telling us that commitments made in past programmes were not fulfilled,” one of the sources says, adding that as a result they now want the adjustments to come before the funds are disbursed.

    In the last IMF programme, Pakistan obtained a record number of waivers for failing to comply with its commitments from privatisation to reduction in circular debt. These waivers or non-implementation of commitments did not sit well with the Fund, and blistering commentary in the local press pointing this out has also left some scars. Government officials are also convinced that another reason the Fund is taking a tough line with Pakistan is the changes in the Trump administration’s attitude towards Pakistan.

    Size of the adjustment

    In the proposed programme, the IMF is asking for an adjustment of around Rs1,600bn to Rs2,000bn over three to four years. What’s more, the Fund wants the burden of any expenditure cuts to fall on current expenditures that include debt service, defence and subsidies, according to a senior official who has been a part of the process. Previous governments cut development expenditures when undertaking an IMF-led adjustment and usually left current expenditures alone (other than subsidies).

    A steep cut in current expenditures of the sort that the Fund is asking for can put the government in the awkward position of asking the generals to take a sharp pay cut. Additionally, the government will also be forced to seek at least a partial reversal of the provincial transfers under the 9th NFC award.

    Officials from the government side say this demand — to cut current expenditures so sharply — is impossible to fulfil. “It is too difficult for Pakistan to agree to it,” one of them tells Dawn, adding that there is certain non-development spending which cannot be discontinued or reduced.

    The emphasis on current expenditures in the talks comes as a result of a focus on what is known as a ‘primary balance’ in the parlance of public finance. The primary balance of a government’s budget is the difference between revenues and expenditures after removing interest payments. It tests whether the path of debt accumulation of any country is sustainable or not. If this balance is in deficit then it means that at least some of the interest payments due in the given year will have to be made through borrowing.

    Last year, Pakistan ran a primary deficit of almost Rs760bn, meaning a substantial portion of interest payments that have to be made this year will have to be made with borrowed money. Cutting the primary deficit requires a cut in current expenditures, and usually becomes necessary when reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio is a priority.

    When speaking on record, both the government and IMF staff lay emphasis on overall “fiscal consolidation”. Finance Minister Asad Umar did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but Dr Khaqan Najeeb, the ministry’s spokesperson, tells Dawn that the government will “continue on the path of fiscal consolidation to bring down both primary and fiscal deficits”.

    Sanchez from the IMF also says that when the Fund assesses a fiscal consolidation, the staff will “usually look at primary balance, which is considered as the best indicator for these purposes, especially for debt sustainability. This is not new neither specific to Pakistan”. But in programmes past, the Fund has preferred to focus on the overall fiscal deficit rather than the primary deficit, and watched silently as development expenditures were slashed as part of a fiscal adjustment.

    On the interest rates, the Fund is asking for the rate hikes of 2018 to continue well into the next year. “We have conveyed to the Fund that we have already increased the rate by more than 400 basis points”, but the Fund is asking for further increase, according to the official. Dr Najeeb says that ”the government conveyed to the IMF that Monetary Policy Committee is an independent committee and its meeting takes decisions considering the economic fundamentals at the time. It will continue to do so in future”. But the Fund is continuing to speak of “monetary tightening” as one of the elements of its “policy advice” for Pakistan.

    There are other prior conditions too, which include further increases in gas and electricity tariffs and a huge increase in the revenue collection of the Federal Board of Revenue in the current fiscal year. “We really don’t have that much space to enhance revenue in the next six months as the IMF is asking,” the senior official says.

    With these conditions, it is unlikely to get the IMF programme. But officials are optimistic to see some flexibility in the conditionalities in the next couple of months. “We have given them our plan about measures that we can easily do,” the source said, adding: “We are in contact with the Fund through video conferencing.”

    Sanchez has already acknowledged receipt of the document containing the measures proposed by the government. “There is strong understanding between the authorities and Fund staff on the diagnostic of Pakistan’s macro challenges, the need for adjustment policies, and the goals to be achieved,” she tells Dawn from Washington DC. But agreement, it seems, is proving elusive.

    “Discussions continue on the composition, sequencing, and prioritisation,” she says.

    An alternative path

    As talks with the Fund sputter on, the government has launched a massive effort to draw foreign exchange inflows through other means. Officials at the finance ministry tell Dawn that they hope recent measures may increase remittances by another $2-3bn and they are also looking for an increase in foreign investments. They say they hope an increase in remittances and FDI will reduce the pressure on the external side.

    A steep drop in oil prices is another unexpected windfall. Given some of the new realities opening up, they expect the current account deficit to drop to around $13bn this year from last year’s $19bn. But this is only possible if there is continuing improvement in exports, remittances and FDI.

    On the investment side, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is expected to announce a massive package of investments for setting up refineries near Gwadar in Balochistan. “They want to make an oil city near Gwadar,” the source said, adding that the establishment of one refinery involves an investment of $7bn to $8bn.

    Pakistan is also making some efforts to make some arrangement with Qatar as Pakistan imports LNG from Qatar as well. “It is also under negotiations,” an official with direct knowledge of the talk says.

    Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2018


    IMF Managing Director Christina Lagarde and Finance Minister Asad Umar shake hands ahead of a meeting in Indonesia. — File photoIMF Managing Director Christina Lagarde and Finance Minister Asad Umar shake hands ahead of a meeting in Indonesia. — File photo

    0 0

    ISLAMABAD: The cold and dry weather has intensified the foggy conditions in the plains of Punjab.

    With no sign of rains in the ongoing week, the foggy conditions are likely to intensify till the end of the month. Islamabad will remain in the grip of frosty conditions.

    However, there are chances of rainfall across Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw in the first week of January which will help clear the fog for next few days.

    An official of the Met Office said the foggy conditions prevailed early morning hours in the Potohar region due to humidity up to 60pc.

    The foggy conditions are intense in the plain areas of Punjab due to rivers and canals, he added.

    Besides, the vast agricultural fields in Punjab also help the formation of fog, he said.

    Agricultural land and water bodies in parts of KP, including Nowshera and Swabi, also contribute to the heavy fog there.

    Besides, the wind speed is almost negligible that could blow off the fog.

    The frosty conditions are extensively visible in Islamabad and other parts of Potohar where a thin layer of ice is visible at the tip of the plant leaves, windscreens of vehicles, etc., when the temperature drops to below the freezing point.

    The western and northern air is likely to prevail over most parts of the country during the next few days. As a result, the fog will continue to dominate the plain areas with poor visibility on highways.

    The Met Office in an advisory predicted dense to moderate fog on the Peshawar-Swabi portion and shallow fog on the Swabi-Islamabad portion of the motorway (M1).

    A dense fog will appear after crossing the Potohar region at Pindi Bhattian to Lahore and Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad.

    Similarly, on the national highway there will be shallow to moderate fog at Islamabad to Kharian road but Kharian-Gujranwala-Lahore-Okara sections and Multan to Bahawalpur will witness dense fog.

    The minimum temperature was -10°C in Skardu followed by -7° C in Kalam, -6° C in Astore, Gupis, -5° in Gilgit, Kalat and Rawalakot, while -1° C in Murree.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    A Pakistani family walk during dense fog and smog in Lahore on December 24, 2018. — AFPA Pakistani family walk during dense fog and smog in Lahore on December 24, 2018. — AFP

    0 0

    ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the Senate on Monday staged a walkout from the house, protesting against what it called a lopsided accountability process where favourites managed to get their undeclared offshore assets regularised but the opposition was being targeted.

    Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani first adjourned the house to meet again after half an hour but when the senators re-assembled, the chairman ordered a count and declared that the house was not in order. He then read out the prorogation order.

    There were 18 items on the agenda, but none came under discussion.

    At the outset of the proceedings, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Sherry Rehman said that showing the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) slides on a projector in the courtroom raised a big question mark and alleged that attempts were under way to make Asif Ali Zardari and the PPP leadership controversial.

    None of 18 items on the agenda came under discussion

    Speaking hours before former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s conviction, she said that some government ministers had been predicting a ‘historic verdict’ for several days and questioned how the ministers were already aware of the court’s decision. Ms Rehman added that the prime minister’s special assistant on accountability, Shahzad Akbar, had been holding meetings with members of the JIT and the witnesses.

    She said a “witch-hunt” was in place in the name of accountability. Former prime ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto did not get justice, said the PPP leader, adding that Asif Ali Zardari had spent 12 long years behind bars, but no allegation against him could be proved. She regretted that those who abrogated the Constitution were given immunity and allowed to go abroad.

    Asking why accountability was only for the opposition and why some blue-eyed leaders holding offshore accounts had been spared, she alluded towards regularisation of the undeclared property owned by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister abroad.

    Ms Rehman said that while the PPP had always bowed down its heads before the superior courts, it questioned the fate of the Benazir Bhutto murder case. She said the crime scene had been hosed down and those under whom the administration was functioning had been given immunity.

    Observing that at present accountability was being practised with double standards, she said that those who questioned it received threatening messages and were implicated in false and fabricated cases.

    “We would not allow meaningless proceedings of the house. We cannot accept business as usual,” she remarked before announcing a walkout and warned that the failure to carry out across-the-board accountability would entail horrific consequences.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    Sherry Rehman says showing JIT report on a projector raised question mark; terms it an attempt to malign Zardari. — File photoSherry Rehman says showing JIT report on a projector raised question mark; terms it an attempt to malign Zardari. — File photo

    0 0

    LAHORE: Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Monday ordered the Sindh revenue department to immediately retrieve encroached properties belonging to Hindu or any other minority community.

    The chief justice was hearing a suo motu matter at the Lahore registry relating to encroachment of properties owned by the Hindu community.

    Representing the community, MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar appeared before a two-judge bench and submitted a report about encroached land in different areas of Sindh including Mithi, Larkana, Kashmore and Sukkur.

    A law officer of Sindh told the bench that there were cases pending before different civil courts regarding the ownership of the properties in question.

    At this, the CJP directed the tehsildars concerned to take possession of the properties with undisputed titles and directed the civil courts to decide the pending cases within six months.

    The chief justice also ordered the civil courts to dispose of cases if filed by the affected persons after the revenue department took over the possession of the properties belonging to Hindu community or any other minority including Christians.

    The chief justice disposed of the matter.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    Case pertaining to encroachment of Hindu community's property in Sindh has been wrapped up. — File photoCase pertaining to encroachment of Hindu community's property in Sindh has been wrapped up. — File photo

    0 0

    FAISALABAD: One passenger died and six others sustained injuries when the last three coaches of Shalimar Express derailed and hit Millat Express stationed at adjacent track at the Resalewala train crossing near here on Monday morning.

    The cause of derailment is yet to be determined as the railway authorities ordered an inquiry. Sources said railroad switch malfunctioning seemed to be the cause of derailment.

    Witnesses said Rescue 1122 teams reached the spot and shifted the injured to the District Headquarters Hospital where their condition was stated to be stable.

    People said the operational staff of the railways carried out the repair work and cleared the track after some hours. Other trains moving on the section were halted at different stations.

    The deceased was identified as Mohammad Riaz, 25, of Gujranwala while five of the injured were named as Ghulam Ali, 50, and Mahmood, 60, of Karachi, Husnain Tariq, 21, and Dilawar, 22, of Multan and Syed Kamran, 35, of Lahore.

    District emergency officer Ehtesham said four ambulances, as many bikes and a firefighting vehicle of the Rescue 1122 took part in the rescue work.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    Three coaches of Shalimar Express derailed and hit Millat Express stationed at an adjacent track. — File photoThree coaches of Shalimar Express derailed and hit Millat Express stationed at an adjacent track. — File photo

    0 0

    ISLAMABAD: Almost 400,000 children were missed during the nationwide polio vaccination campaign held this month, National Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator Dr Rana Mohammad Safdar told the health minister.

    He said 260,000 frontline workers participated in the campaign.

    “Almost 90pc of the 37.73 million under-five children targeted were covered during the campaign and 92pc of the children who were missed were vaccinated during the catch-up. An extended catch-up is being conducted this week to vaccinate the remaining children,” he said.

    “Despite a significant case decline, the presence of the virus in sewerage water from urban areas indicates that our job is not yet done. We are working hard on fully plugging the immunity gaps by dressing the challenges in core reservoirs,” Dr Safdar said.

    Talking about strategies for converting low-level transmission to complete interruption, he shared the highlights of the Peshawar and Gadap Town Karachi Action Plan currently being implemented in coordination with provincial and district governments.

    “Over 95pc parents remain supportive, however, full community ownership across will determine our success during the next few months. Intense efforts are underway to correct the ill-founded perceptions of resisting communities about vaccination through focused community engagement at street level now,” he added.

    According to a statement, Federal Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Aamer Mehmood Kiani advised the country team to go all out for interrupting the polio virus within the current low transmission season, which starts from September and ends in April.

    “Reduction of annual polio case counts from 20,000 to only 8 this year indicates a remarkable progress in protecting children from a devastating, yet vaccine preventable disease. With virus confined to small pockets of persistent transmission within core reservoirs, the country has a historic opportunity in hand to ensure a polio free future for generations” the minister is quoted as saying.

    “The government is fully committed to stop the transmission of polio in Pakistan and doing everything possible to achieve the cherished goal,” said Minister Kiani.

    “Guided by our National Task Force having national and provincial leadership on board, we are striving not only to sustain the gains, but to accelerate the progress by focusing on reaching the repeatedly missed children during this winter,” he added.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    260,000 frontline workers participated in anti-polio drive. — File photo260,000 frontline workers participated in anti-polio drive. — File photo

    0 0

    TANK: Armed assailants riding a motorbike gunned down Tank District Bar General Secretary Syed Azam Kundi Advocate in the Imamkhel Bazaar here on Monday.

    The killing sparked protests by the lawyers who placed the body at the busy Kashmir Chowk.

    The protesters chanted slogans against the district administration and the district police chief.

    According to police and local residents, Mr Kundi was going to local courts from his residence as a routine when armed men opened fire on him at Imamkhel, killing him on the spot.

    The legal fraternity led by district bar president Pir Abdul Ghaffar Shah, civil society members and local residents held a rally, starting from the district headquarters hospital, Tank, to the Kashmir Chowk.

    The speakers held the district police officer responsible for the gory murder. They were of the view that the DPO had ordered withdrawal of security from the slain lawyer and provided opportunity to the attackers to kill him.

    They demanded probe into the murder of senior lawyer and arrest of the killers at the earliest.

    They said if the demands of lawyers were not fulfilled then they would start a strong campaign against the police high-ups and the district administration.

    Later, brother of the deceased registered an FIR against two accused, Mehran and Dawood, saying the cause of the death was an old enmity.

    Later in the day, the deceased was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard in Imamkhel village. A large number of people participated in the funeral prayers.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    Killing sparks protests by lawyers who placed his body at the busy Kashmir Chowk. — DawnKilling sparks protests by lawyers who placed his body at the busy Kashmir Chowk. — Dawn

    0 0

    KARACHI: A district court has awarded life imprisonment to five convicts in a case pertaining to the murder of an eight-year-old child in 2013.

    The convicts —Dur Muhammad, Mohammad Naseer, Saqib Ali, Zahid Ali and Waqas — were found guilty of murdering the minor boy and throwing his body into a drain to cover up their crime. Their sixth alleged accomplice, Shakeel, is still absconding in the case.

    Additional session judge (East) Sultan Ali Laghari pronounced his verdict, which was reserved earlier after recording the evidence and final arguments from both sides.

    The judge mention in the judgment that the prosecution had proven the charges against the accused persons — Dur Muhammad, Mohammad Naseer, Saqib Ali, Zahid Ali and Waqas — beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt that they knowingly and intentionally committed the murder of Hasnain and then threw his body into the drain to hide the evidence of the crime committed by them.

    Therefore, the judge found them guilty of committing the crime punishable under sections 302 (premeditated murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

    The judge sentenced them to life imprisonment on the count of premeditated murder and directed them to pay Rs100,000 each as compensation to the legal heirs of the slain child. On default, they would undergo imprisonment for six additional months.

    The court also convicted them of attempting to destroy the evidence and awarded imprisonment for seven years and fined Rs10,000 each of them.

    The judge cancelled the bail of four convicts and sent all of them to prison to serve out their sentences. However, the case against the sixth suspect, Shakeel, was kept on the dormant file till his arrest in the case.

    According to the prosecution, Zubaida Mai lodged a complaint stating that her son, Hasnain, went out of home on May 9, 2013. She further stated that her child did not return home. On May 11, she reported the matter to the Korangi Industrial Area police station.

    Subsequently, the police started searching for the missing child. The next day Hasnain’s body was recovered from a drain of Gizri.

    The Gizri police brought the body to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center for the medico-legal procedures, but the mother refused to allow them to conduct the post-mortem and took the body to her native town for burial.

    In the FIR, the complainant had alleged that Naseer with his accomplices had kidnapped and murdered her son and thrown his body into the drain.

    The investigating officer submitted the final investigation report on Sept 22, 2013. The court indicted the five accused, who pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the case.

    Their defence counsel — Shaikh M. Mushtaq, Maqbool Ahmed, Mohammad Younus and Mohammad Ali Rana — denied the allegations levelled against the accused by the prosecution and pleaded that their clients be acquitted of the charges, arguing that there was no evidence to connect them to the commission of the alleged crime.

    On the other hand, deputy district public prosecutor Mohammad Arif Satai argued that the prosecution had enough material and ocular evidence to establish that the accused persons had committed the crime alleged on them by the prosecution. He further argued that it had been proven through the material evidence and statements of the prosecution witnesses that the accused had committed the murder of the child and thrown his body into the drain, which was a heinous crime, and pleaded to the court to punish them strictly in accordance with the law.

    The judge observed that two accused persons — Dur Muhammad and Mohammad Naseer — had earlier recorded their confessional statements before the judicial magistrate, but later they totally denied the same, “which shows the accused are guilty minded and did not dare to speak the truth”.

    The judge further observed that both the judicial magistrates had appeared before the court and recorded their evidence in detail and both were cross-examined by the defence counsel for the accused, who failed to bring any major or material contradiction in their version.

    The judge noted that after going through the evidence of the prosecution witnesses it emerged that the defence counsel had cross-examined them at length, but failed to bring any major or material contradictions on record.

    The judge further noted that no enmity or ill-will was attached to the prosecution witnesses which could be considered and their evidence discarded.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    Convicts have been found guilty of murdering eight-year-old and throwing his body in a drain. — File photoConvicts have been found guilty of murdering eight-year-old and throwing his body in a drain. — File photo

    0 0

    PESHAWAR: A single-member Peshawar High Court bench on Monday temporarily stopped the execution of a militancy convict by suspending his death sentence awarded by a military court.

    While issuing the stay order, Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan issued notices to the defence and interior ministries for responding to a petition filed by Ms Shehnaz against the recent conviction of her husband, Bashir Ahmad, by a military court on the charge of attacking the officers of law-enforcement agencies.

    The court also sought records of the case declaring the next hearing will be fixed afterward.

    Taimur Haider Khan, lawyer for the petitioner, quoted his client as claiming that her husband, a resident of Saro Kalae area in Shabqadar area of Charsadda, was taken away by the members of law-enforcement agencies from his house on Jan 26, 2010.

    Asks govt to respond to petition against conviction

    He claimed that the man’s whereabouts were not known to his family thereafter and that the police failed to trace him despite the registration of FIR on May 21, 2010.

    The lawyer said the family members, including the petitioner, learned through national newspapers just last Saturday that the army chief had confirmed the death sentences awarded to different militancy convicts by military courts, including Bashir Ahmad.

    He requested the court to suspend the sentence fearing his client’s husband will be executed soon.

    The lawyer said the military courts were set up in 2015 after the passage of the Constitution (Twenty-First Amendment) Act for trying civilians involved in acts of terrorism on the name of religion.

    He said in light of a recent judgment of the high court, the provisions related to military courts couldn’t be used with retrospective effect.

    The lawyer wondered when the detainee was arrested in 2010, then how he could be tried in 2018 by a military court.

    He added that the detainee should have been tried by an anti-terrorism court.

    The Inter-Services Public Relations had released a news release on Dec 21 confirming the death sentences for 14 convicted militants by the army chief.

    It had added that the convicts, including Bashir Ahmad, were members of a proscribed outfit and that they were involved in an attack against members of the law-enforcement agencies, which killed Subedar Awal Khan and Naik Azmatullah and injured another.

    The ISPR claimed that they were also found in possession of fire-arms and explosives and had confessed their guilt before a judicial magistrate and during their respective trials.

    On Oct 18, the Peshawar High Court had accepted 75 petitions of the people convicted of militancy by military courts, mostly those on death row, and acquitted them.

    In the 175-page judgment, a bench headed by the Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had discarded the confessional statements of all convicts in those cases by elaborately discussing the flaws in them.

    On Nov 2, the Supreme Court suspended the high court’s judgment during a hearing into an appeal by the defence ministry and issued a stay order against the release of the acquitted petitioners.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    On-member Peshawar High Court bench asks govt to respond to petition against conviction. — File photoOn-member Peshawar High Court bench asks govt to respond to petition against conviction. — File photo

    0 0

    HYDERABAD: Estran­ged Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Dr Farooq Sattar has said that he would soon start contacting political and non-political figures for the establishment of a new entity — Muttahida Qaumi Council/Forum — to restore the MQM of 1986 which comprised Afaq Ahmed Khan, Anis Qaimkhani and Mustafa Kamal.

    “The move is aimed at resolving issues of urban Sindh with the same unity that was MQM’s hallmark,” he added.

    Dr Sattar was speaking to the media after condoling the recent death of noted academician Prof Idris Khan, in Latifabad on Monday.

    Prof Khan, who studied in Govt College Kali Mori and was appointed as a lecturer in 1970, died on Thursday. Considered by the local teaching community as ‘teacher of teachers’, he had also served as director of colleges, Hyderabad, and retired in 2001.

    Dr Farooq Sattar spoke to the media at length about the issues relating to the MQM-P and on political situation in the country.

    He reiterated his determination to reunite the MQM-P and “make it corruption-free” ensuring that its leaders submit their assets in the ‘court of workers’.

    He said that current performance of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf proved that it was no longer the ‘third option’ for people as was being projected by the party. He believed that like the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), PTI would also carry a similar baggage of allegations being carried by the two major parties.

    He observed that PTI’s way of governance was not much different from its predecessors. He called for across the board accountability in which justice should be seen to have been done.

    Dr Sattar said that plunder could be eradicated from Pakistan if dynastic politics and politics of electables was put to an end. Unfortunately, he said, PTI was not doing this as electables, and feudal lords were still being inducted in governance.

    He said that the ORC (organisation restoration committee) he had founded after his expulsion from the party wanted intra party election. He stressed that until and unless parties introduced a check and balance, corruption could not be eliminated.

    He labelled MQM-P leaders as ‘usurpers’, and said that in collusion with the coordination committee members, they sabotaged his attempt to ensure such accountability. He said everyone must face accountability be it he himself, Amir Khan or Kanwar Naveed. “They will have to disclose their assets before workers,” he added.

    Dr Sattar said he would move court against termination of his basic membership as well as against judgement on his party position but nobody could stop him from voting for the MQM or raising its slogan. “MQM’s soul is with me and the body is [with] Bahadurabad,” he said.

    He said the way PTI lost LG by-poll on Sunday in an area falling within the NA-245 constituency, showed that its win in the July 25 elections was facilitated.

    He observed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) kept sleeping for eight years and become active only in the last two years. He asked why didn’t the PML-N and PPP make NAB autonomous and independent and its law law effective.

    “They (PML-N and PPP) are reaping what they had sown; their governments were indeed plagued by corruption,” he said.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    Farooq Sattar determined to reunite MQM-P and Farooq Sattar determined to reunite MQM-P and "make it corruption-free". — File photo

    0 0

    LAHORE: Another prisoner under trail by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) died at Services Hospital on Monday evening due to a prolonged liver ailment.

    Lahore Development Authority deputy director (finance) Muhammad Saleem was arrested by the NAB on corruption charges and was sent to Camp Jail on judicial remand by an accountability court.

    He was suffering from a liver disease and was shifted to the Services Hospital after his health deteriorated 10 days ago. He had been under treatment at the hospital during which he died.

    Camp Jail authorities told the media that the under-trail prisoner was taken to hospital around 10 days ago upon complaining of poor health. They said he was being treated at the hospital where he passed away.

    IG (Prisons) Shahid Saleem was not available for comment.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    Muhammad Saleem was suffering from liver disease and was shifted from Camp Jail to Services Hospital, say officials. — File photoMuhammad Saleem was suffering from liver disease and was shifted from Camp Jail to Services Hospital, say officials. — File photo

    0 0

    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan exchanging views with lawmakers of Balochistan National Party-Mengal during a meeting at the PM Office on Monday.—PPI
    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan exchanging views with lawmakers of Balochistan National Party-Mengal during a meeting at the PM Office on Monday.—PPI

    ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) on Monday called on Prime Minister Imran Khan, asking him to fix their meeting with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on the issue of missing persons.

    “We have asked the prime minister to fix our meeting with the army chief so that we could present our concerns to him on missing persons,” Nawab Akhtar Mengal told Dawn when contacted after the meeting.

    He said Prime Minister Khan had assured him in a previous meeting that he [PM] would arrange a meeting of the BNP leaders with the army chief. “Today, we asked the prime minister to fulfil his commitment,” he added.

    The Baloch leader said that in the meeting Mr Khan reassured that he would talk to the army chief soon and would communicate the date and time of the meeting to Mr Mengal.

    On Nov 29, Mr Mengal in a press conference had sought a political solution to the issue of missing persons and said that the problems of the province would not be resolved by building dams or the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

    He had criticised the government for not addressing the issue of missing persons, regretting that nothing was being done for their recovery.

    Responding to a question, Mr Mengal said that the issue of development of Balochistan also came under discussion during the meeting with the prime minister. The premier ordered the ministries concerned to update him about the efforts being made to mitigate problems of the people and development of the province.

    The BNP delegation comprised MNAs Muhammad Akhtar Mengal, Agha Hassan Baloch, Muhammad Hashim, Prof Shahnaz Baloch and MPAs Mir Hamal and Sanaullah Baloch.

    Meanwhile, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi also met Prime Minister Khan at PM Office.

    Besides, the prime minister also met National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and discussed matters related to the parliamentary business. The meeting took place after the main opposition — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — announced that it would stage a protest in and outside the parliament over the conviction of Nawaz Sharif in Al Azizia Steel Mill reference on Monday.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    0 0

    ISLAMABAD: The chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan, has taken suo motu notice of death of Mian Javed, former chief executive officer of the Lahore sub-campus of the Sargodha University, in jail custody.

    The NCHR has told the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) high-ups to allow a team of the commission to inspect places of detention of NAB.

    Mr Javed had been in jail on judicial remand in connection with the university’s illegal campuses case since October. Last week, he complained of chest pain and was shifted to the Services Hospital, Lahore, for treatment but could not survive.

    According to a statement issued by the NCHR, the deceased was under investigation by NAB’s Lahore office.

    Owing to the gravity of the incident, the commission took the suo motu notice of the matter under the NCHR Act, 2012.

    The commission, while showing displeasure over the incident, has asked top NAB officials to send a comprehensive report to the office on or before Dec 31, for necessary action under Section 9 of the NCHR Act, 2012.

    “The commission also invoked jurisdiction under the provisions of Section 9c of the NCHR Act, 2012, and sought inspection of NAB’s places of detention.

    As pictures of the deceased in chains went viral on social and mainstream media, the commission asked NAB high-ups to allow NCHR team to inspect places of detention of NAB as soon as possible and a date and time be fixed for this purpose because that is the mandate of NCHR to protect and promote human rights,” the NCHR said.

    “The commission does not want to intervene in proceedings of any of the institutions, but for the purpose of protection of human rights, the commission is exercising its jurisdiction which is so granted under the NCHR Act, 2012,” it stated.

    The Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif, recently claimed that he had been kept in a room where it was not possible to tell whether it was day or night.

    Former vice chancellor of Punjab University Prof Mujahid Kamran, in an interview, had also alleged that there were CCTV cameras in washrooms of NAB’s lockup.

    However, NAB has denied such allegations.

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    NCHR has told NAB high-ups to allow a team of the commission to inspect places of detention of NAB. — File photoNCHR has told NAB high-ups to allow a team of the commission to inspect places of detention of NAB. — File photo

    0 0

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday dissolved the newly-formed board of the Punjab Healthcare Commission and issued contempt notices to Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid, the provincial chief secretary, and the secretary and additional secretary health asking why the board was formed without the apex court's approval.

    The chief justice complained that Supreme Court had asked that it be provided all names suggested for the board, but that was not done.

    "The board was notified without the Supreme Court's approval," he noted. "The respondents are directed to respond to the contempt notices within two days."

    The Supreme Court had in November dissolved the then Board of Commissioners of the Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) and ordered for a new board to be formed within two weeks.

    Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had summoned provincial health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and members of the PHC board to explain the resignation of retired Justice Amir Raza A Khan from the post of the commission’s chairperson.

    The chief justice had taken strong notice of the alleged humiliation meted out to retired Justice Khan in the first meeting of the commission’s board.

    The chief justice had expressed his 'disappointment' with Dr Rashid, saying: "We had a lot of expectations from you. What kind of people have you appointed as board members?"

    He had observed that the political government would not be allowed to capture the independence of regulatory authorities.


    In an earlier hearing, the chief justice had expressed his 'disappointment' with Dr Yasmeen Rashid. — FileIn an earlier hearing, the chief justice had expressed his 'disappointment' with Dr Yasmeen Rashid. — File

    0 0

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that all ice cream production units of Gourmet Foods across Punjab be sealed and all other edible products of the company be assessed for quality checks.

    Hearing an application filed by the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) at the apex court's Lahore registry, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar issued the orders after he was informed that harmful bacteria were discovered in samples of ice cream produced by Gourmet. The existing stock of the product available at Gourmet outlets has already been seized and disposed of by the authority.

    The product is among 47 brands of ice cream and frozen desserts that the PFA declared unfit for human consumption on Saturday.

    PFA Director General Muhammad Usman in his application complained that GNN news channel, which is owned by the Gourmet group, had started a "character assassination" campaign against him after the operation against the brand's ice cream was carried out.

    At this, Justice Nisar remarked that such a TV campaign was tantamount to contempt of court and warned: "Why don't [we] order the shut down of GNN for a few days or permanently?"

    But instead of ordering closure of the news outlet, the chief justice ordered the owners of Gourmet Foods and GNN to appear before the court tomorrow. The director general of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority was also ordered to be present.

    What angered the top judge the most, however, was a call that he received on behalf of Gourmet, presumably to ask the chief justice to extend favour or show leniency to the company.

    "How dare you make sifarish [request for favourable treatment] to me?" Justice Nisar asked GNN's bureau chief Khalid Qayyum, who was present at the hearing.

    "What kind of people are you to have a sifarishi call made to me late at night?" the judge thundered, warning of "consequences" against persons indirectly seeking favourable treatment from the court.

    He said it appeared that the channel had been set up to "safeguard" other businesses of the company.

    Justice Nisar subsequently ordered authorities to examine all products of Gourmet Foods to check their quality.


    Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. — DawnNewsTV/FileChief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. — DawnNewsTV/File

    0 0

    Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday linked Pakistan's economic problems with the findings of the JIT-authored reports in Panama Papers and fake bank accounts case, and claimed that the revelations made in the reports have left his opponents indefensible.

    On Monday, an accountability court, on the basis of a joint investigation team's (JIT) findings, handed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seven years in jail and two hefty fines, and a separate JIT levelled money laundering allegations against PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and others.

    The prime minister, reacting to the rising legal problems of two of his biggest political opponents, tweeted: "The Panama JIT report and the fake accounts JIT report are case studies in how states fail - getting impoverished & drowning in debt. The scale and methods used for siphoning off public money are incredulous and mind-boggling."

    Furthermore, the premier questioned how the two parties' leaders and supporters could still defend "the plunderers" in the light of the JIT reports' disclosures.

    "I am puzzled & perplexed by those who, despite having read the two reports, are still defending the plunderers," Khan wrote.


    Prime Minister Imran Khan says Prime Minister Imran Khan says "Panama JIT report and the fake accounts JIT report are case studies in how states fail." — File

    0 0

    Former Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader and ex-MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi was shot dead in Karachi's DHA neighbourhood on Tuesday evening, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) South Javed Alam Odho said. He was 46.

    Two unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle opened fire on Abidi's car near his residence on Khayaban-e-Ghazi street in DHA's Phase V, according to Station House Office Gizri Asad Mangi.

    People observe the site of the attack. — DawnNewsTV
    People observe the site of the attack. — DawnNewsTV

    Abidi was alone in his car when the attack took place and was taken to PNS Shifa hospital by his father, Akhlaq Abidi.

    The former MQM leader succumbed to his injuries during treatment, SSP South Pir Muhammad Shah said.

    A postmortem examination showed that Abidi sustained four bullet wounds — two on his chest, one on his neck and as many on his arm.

    See: 'One of MQM's brightest faces': Condolences pour in on Ali Raza Abidi's death

    Police and Rangers personnel cordoned off the site of the attack and are collecting evidence.

    Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Syed Kaleem Imam took notice of the incident and sought a report from police authorities. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah also took notice of the incident and sought an investigative report.

    Former MQM-Pakistan chief Farooq Sattar while talking to reporters after Abidi's demise said "[he] was like my children".

    "We had raised him with our own hands, he was Pakistan's future. With what cowardice and coldness he was targeted and martyred."

    'Expert killers'

    CCTV footage of the incident, seen by Dawn.com, shows Abidi's car approaching and then stopping at his residence's gate. Just before the gate is opened, however, two motorcycle-riding assailants stop by Abidi's car. One of the attackers, wearing a cap, gets off the bike and opens fire from the driver's side.

    "The attackers were expert in target killings," Raja Umar Khattab, a senior official of Sindh Police's Counter-Terrorism Department, told Dawn. He noted that the shooter had targeted Abidi within a span of just 10 seconds.

    The assailants had been closely following Abidi's car, Khattab added.

    A politician and restaurateur

    Abidi was elected to the National Assembly in the 2013 general elections from Karachi's NA-251 constituency on an MQM ticket.

    In November 2017, he had opposed Sattar and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman Mustafa Kamal's short-lived alliance, and even announced that he was resigning from his NA seat as "this is not what I believed in and stood for".

    Abidi was one of the leaders who had stood with former convener Sattar in the buildup to the 2018 elections when MQM-P was subject to an internal power battle.

    He contested the July 25 elections from Karachi's NA-243 constituency, but was defeated by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

    In September this year, Abidi tendered in his resignation from the MQM-Pakistan's "basic membership" citing "personal reasons".

    Abidi studied marketing at Boston University in the United States and also attended Iqra University in Karachi, according to his Facebook profile. He was the owner of the famous Karachi eatery, 'Biryani of the Seas'.

    He was quite active on Twitter, with his last tweet coming just four hours before the fatal attack on him.

    This is the second incident of violence aimed at political parties or personalities in Karachi within a span of three days.

    On Sunday, two workers of the PSP — which is an MQM offshoot — were shot dead and two others injured in an attack by armed pillion riders on the party’s office in Rizvia Society.

    Following today's attack, the Karachi commissioner announced that the security of MQM and PSP's leaders and offices had been increased.


    Former MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi. — FileFormer MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi. — File

    0 0

    KARACHI/ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Calling “ludicrous” a joint investigation team (JIT) report submitted to the Supreme Court in the fake bank accounts case on Monday, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) saw it an attempt to turn the country into “One Unit” and wipe out opposition parties to bring “one-party rule” and warned that it would go to any extent to resist any move targeting its chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

    The report of the JIT probing money laundering of billions of rupees through fake bank accounts claims to have found a close nexus between the Zardari Group, Bahria Town and Omni Group.

    Addressing a press conference at Bilawal House in Karachi hours after the SC hearing of the money laundering case and the judgement by an accountability court against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, PPP leaders questioned the ongoing “accountability system” and vowed that the party would face all challenges but not give up its campaign against the “selected government”.

    “There is a meeting of the party’s central executive committee on Dec 26,” said Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar. “The chairman would announce the party decision on Dec 27 for its future strategy. And let me tell you that there is anger among the workers and people of Pakistan. If any move is made that targets our chairman then it would be clear to everyone that workers would come out [on roads] and we have every option to protest against such move,” he warned.

    Bilawal will announce party’s future strategy on Dec 27

    The PPP leader said the JIT report was nothing but a document filled with assumptions and table stories which had nothing to do with the reality, wondering why the country’s judiciary was only taking up cases against the opposition parties.

    “It’s so unfortunate that the former premier [Nawaz Sharif] was sentenced today,” he said. “Amid all such happenings, the question also arises over our courts. For instance a court in Rawalpindi is hearing cases against four former prime ministers of Pakistan, but at the same time it’s not moving against dictator General [Pervez] Musharraf, who had violated the Constitution and arrested the judges.”

    Mr Khokhar asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) about the hurdles in the way of arrest of senior Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders and key members of the government, including Pervez Khattak, Aleem Khan and Zulfi Bukhari.

    “It is pity that the system of accountability is only targeting opposition parties. It’s not our opinion alone as every independent circle is raising the same issue. Everyone knows about strong stance of [PPP] chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari whether it’s about missing persons or freedom of expression. We firmly believe that the government wants to target him for his strong stance to suppress his voice,” the PPP senator said.

    In Islamabad, senior PPP leaders lashed out at the accountability process in country and said the system was not only victimising the party leadership but also trying to silence the democratic voice.

    “This JIT report was connivance between the JIT and the government and I have raised this question in the Senate too. What was Shazad Akbar, who is special assistant to the PM on accountability, doing with the JIT?” Senator Sherry Rehman said.

    PPP secretary general Nayyar Bukhari said that a JIT had been constituted against the party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and now another was investigating against its co-chairman Asif Zardari. “As long as the allegations are not proved in the court of law, Faryal Talpur and Asif Ali Zardari are innocent,” he added.

    Ms Rehman said: “If they think that we will stand down with our hands folded under the pressure of accountability then they are wrong; we will never bow down to this politics of victimisation.”

    She announced that on the occasion of death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto on Dec 27, the PPP would demonstrate its mass standing and show its strength against what she called political victimisation of the party leadership.

    She said Mr Zardari had spent 12 years behind bars, but nothing was proved against him, adding that the accountability process should be across the board and sparing a few persons was not correct.

    Ms Rehman said that everything was for the opposition parties only to hide failures of the present government as around 100,000 people had been rendered homeless and joblessness had increased over the past four months.

    If such mishaps and disrespect to public sentiments continued in “new Pakistan, then we will not remain silent; PPP has never been afraid of political victimisation and our workers even get charged in such testing times,” she added.

    In Lahore, senior PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira objected to the media reporting on the case proceedings and termed it “hired reporting” by the FIA. He said the media must not have reported on it before a court order, but “it seemed as if the case had been adjudicated against us”.

    He said they had requested the Supreme Court to refer the fake accounts case to a trial court and now it’s up to the apex court whether it accepted the plea or heard the case on its own. “We would prove innocence of our leadership in courts as well as before the masses.”

    Mr Kaira recalled that the PPP leadership had been sentenced in the past and the media then had reported “similar authentic reports” but the courts had latter acquitted them.

    Mr Zardari’s lead counsel Farooq H. Naek said that so far initial proceedings in the fake accounts case had been held and that the case would take many turns and its flaws would be exposed in the subsequent hearings.

    Kalbe Ali and Amjad Mahmood also contributed to this report

    Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018


    Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto will announce party’s future strategy on Dec 27. — File photoParty Chairman Bilawal Bhutto will announce party’s future strategy on Dec 27. — File photo

older | 1 | .... | 2898 | 2899 | (Page 2900) | 2901 | 2902 | .... | 2937 | newer