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    ISLAMABAD: This year a huge gap has been observed between claims of the district administrations about percentage of polio vaccinations and children found with finger marks during third party audit across the country.

    A written reply of Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani, tabled in the National Assembly, shows that there was up to 10 per cent difference between the data of vaccinated children provided to the polio programme and the audit in which marked fingers were checked.

    The question was asked by MNA Seemi Bokhari of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. She had asked if the relevant authority had conducted a study to find out exact percentage of coverage during polio campaigns and if steps were being taken to enhance the coverage rate.

    The written reply shows that during a country-wide polio campaign in January, as many as 98pc children were vaccinated, according to the polio eradication programme’s data, but during the audit, it was revealed that only 88pc children were vaccinated. Similarly in February, 98pc children were shown vaccinated, but the audit came up with 89pc results.

    Official says reports reveal wastage of vaccines and fake vaccination

    A little better result was observed during sub-national campaigns in March, May and August. However, during nation-wide campaigns in September and November, 97pc and 98pc vaccination coverages, respectively, were claimed by the polio teams, but during the audit, 93pc children were found with finger marks during both campaigns.

    An official of the polio programme, requesting not to be named, said that while vaccinating a child a finger was marked with an ink which could not be removed for at least one week.

    “During the independent survey, which is also called post-campaign monitoring (PCM), fingers of every third or fourth child are checked to see if he was vaccinated. However, whenever the difference is observed during the survey, polio teams claim that the quality of ink was not good due to which it would have removed,” he said.

    “The issue was raised during a recent meeting chaired by Prime Minister’s focal person for polio eradication Babar Bin Atta. He said that he had reports that polio teams were involved in wasting the vaccine and marking fingers of children without vaccinating them. So the actual difference can be much more because of fake vaccination,” the official said.

    “Mr Atta said that as most of the district administrations claim that they achieve 98pc target, the lot quality assurance samples (LQAS) would be considered to declare the campaigns successful. Moreover, he asked if the 98pc target has been achieved, why the virus of the crippling disease was found in sewage of seven major cities,” the official said.

    During the LQAS, which is held after the PCM, independent teams check finger marking, ask about the performance of polio teams from traders in markets and from prayer leader of the area’s mosque. They also visit schools and interview mothers to ensure that the team had visited all places assigned to it.

    Moreover, the last IMB report stressed that the major issue, which needed to be focused, was detection of virus of the crippling disease from the environmental samples (sewage water) rather than decreasing number of polio cases.

    The IMB works on behalf of the international donor agencies and issues reports on performance of the countries after every six months. In November 2012, the IMB recommended imposition of travel restrictions on Pakistani nationals and finally these recommendations were implemented on May 5, 2014. Because of restrictions it has been declared mandatory for every person in Pakistan to get vaccinated before travelling abroad.

    Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2018

    Huge gap has been observed between claims of district administrations about percentage of polio vaccinations and children found with finger marks during third party audit. — File photoHuge gap has been observed between claims of district administrations about percentage of polio vaccinations and children found with finger marks during third party audit. — File photo

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    QUETTA: The by-election to a Balochistan Assem­bly seat will be held on Monday (today).

    The seat had fallen vacant after the Election Commis­sion of Pakistan disqualified Ahmed Kohzad, the secretary general of Hazara De­­mocratic Party (HDP), for being an Afghan national.

    Mr Kohzad was elected from PB-26 (Quetta-III) in the 2018 general elections by defeating a candidate of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F). Then opponents challenged his Pakistani citizenship.

    According to the Provin­cial Election Commission, 18 candidates are contesting the by-election, but the main contest is expected between Qadir Nail of the HDP, Maulana Wali Turabi of the JUI-F and Syed Mohammad Raza of the Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen.

    Maulana Turabi is enjoying support of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Balochistan National Party-Mengal, Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakh­­tun­khwa Milli Awami Party, and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, while the Awami National Party, Balochistan Awami Party, JUI-Sami and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf were backing Qadir Nail.

    According to the Provin­cial Election Commission, election material has been handed over to presiding officers of 49 polling stations where 57,675 registered male and female voters would cast their votes.

    Forty polling stations have been declared sensitive and nine very sensitive.

    Official sources said that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code would be imposed in the constituency on Monday and no one, except police and Frontier Corps personnel, will be allowed to carry weapons.

    Over 5,000 personnel of police and FC will be deployed in the 49 polling stations and army troops will help them in case of any untoward situation.

    Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2018

    QUETTA: Election material for by-election in PB-26 constituency being brought to a polling station on Sunday.—INPQUETTA: Election material for by-election in PB-26 constituency being brought to a polling station on Sunday.—INP

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    PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday claimed that the party can not only oust the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) but also send the rulers behind bars.

    The PPP supremo was talking to media after paying a visit to the resident of slain politician Ali Raza Abidi.

    Bilawal expressed these views in an already heated political atmosphere, as PTI leaders seek to replace the ruling PPP in Sindh. Meanwhile, the PPP's leadership had also adopted a more strident tone against the PTI, accusing Prime Minister Imran Khan of being a puppet.

    The PPP leader, when asked about the chances of change in the provincial government, strongly criticised the PTI, saying that they know nothing about politics "as well as counting".

    "I have 99 seats in Sindh and they (the PTI) will have to arrange 49 turncoats to form a government, because after the 18th Amendment you need more than 50 per cent majority for vote on the chief minister's [slot]."

    Bilawal went a step ahead and claimed, " But, if Zardari allows us, if Zardari indicates, we can dislodge their [the PTI's] government within a week. They have a majority of only six seats in the centre and an even smaller majority in Punjab. If Zardari allows us, we can dislodge them and send them behind bars."

    Talking about the Joint Investigation Team's (JIT) report in the fake accounts case, he termed it a "falsified" report and alleged that the government had influenced the report against the PPP leadership.

    "Before we saw it or the judiciary saw it, they (the JIT) presented it to the government," he said while referring to an alleged meeting of the special assistant to the PM with JIT members.

    "The JIT was just a pretext, the Sindh government was the real target," he said, adding that the party will fight against the conspiracy on the legal front.

    He said that the PTI wants to get the chief minister in Sindh changed but the people of Sindh would not let it happen. He added that the JIT report was a fake, fictional and useless document.

    He added that Zardari had faced cases in the past as well but the courts had declared him innocent of all charges.

    "They have a majority of only six seats in the centre and an even smaller majority in Punjab," Bilawal reminds PTI.— DawnNewsTV

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    The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the legal heirs of Asghar Khan after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) suggested that the case relating to the implementation of the landmark 2012 verdict issued on a petition by the late chief air marshal be closed.

    A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had taken up the final report submitted by the FIA last week in the Asghar Khan implementation case.

    The agency has stated in the report, the executive summary of which is available with, that the authorities did not have enough evidence to launch a criminal prosecution against the individuals named in the judgement of the apex court.

    Editorial: FIA’s incredible request

    The 2012 SC verdict was issued on a petition filed in 1996 by Asghar Khan — who formed Tehreek-i-Istiqlal after retirement — requesting the top court to look into the allegations that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) financed many politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million.

    According to the FIA report, 18 politicians in their statements submitted in the SC denied receiving the funds to allegedly manipulate the 1990 polls.

    The agency has contended that the statements of witnesses recorded in the case so far had gaps and did not correlate with each other. Moreover, the investigation agency has also remained unsuccessful in securing financial records from the relevant banks since the matter is 24 years old.

    A request was made by the FIA to the Ministry of Defence asking it provide the current whereabouts of officers allegedly involved in the disbursement of money to politicians. A high-level meeting was held at the General Headquarters in this regard on November 1, 2018, and it was decided that the defence ministry would initiate proceedings against the concerned army personnel in accordance with applicable laws "and that their name[s] could not be shared owing to some sensitivities", the agency's report said.

    "It is settled rule of jurisprudence that in [the] absence of corroboratory evidence conviction cannot be based on hearsay evidence," the report said.

    It said that the FIA could not obtain details of exact amounts allegedly disbursed among politicians from banks at this belated stage and the GHQ, which is conducting its own probe, "is yet to inform the FIA".

    "Hence, no legally acceptable evidence is available with FIA on the basis of which criminal case may be initiated against alleged politicians. Case merits closure," the report concludes.

    On Monday, the FIA director general informed the SC bench that the case had been initiated based on "newspaper reports" and that the agency had even tried to gather evidence from such press clippings but remained unsuccessful.

    "No one can be punished based on newspaper reports," observed Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

    The SC bench adjourned the hearing of the case until next week after issuing notices to Asghar Khan's legal heirs, seeking their response to the FIA recommendation.

    Asghar Khan case

    In 1996, Asghar Khan had filed a human rights petition in the SC, accusing the ISI of doling out money to a group of politicians in the 1990s.

    The case was initiated by the air marshal after Benazir Bhutto's interior minister, retired general Naseerullah Babar, had disclosed in the National Assembly in 1994 how the ISI had disbursed funds to purchase the loyalty of politicians and public figures so as to manipulate the 1990 elections, form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), and bring about the defeat of the PPP.

    Sixteen years after the petition was filed, the SC in its judgement — penned by then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry — ruled that the 1990 general elections had been polluted by dishing out Rs140m to a particular group of politicians only to deprive the people of being represented by their chosen representatives.

    The court had, however, thrown the ball back to the then PPP government by directing it to take necessary action under the Constitution and law against former army chief retired Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and former director general of ISI retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani for their role in facilitating the group of politicians and political parties to ensure their success against their rivals in the 1990 elections.

    On May 7 this year, the SC bench had rejected Beg and Durrani's petitions to review the October 19, 2012 apex court verdict in the Asghar Khan case.

    A file photo of the late chief air marshal Asghar Khan.A file photo of the late chief air marshal Asghar Khan.

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    A dramatic general election, political fallouts, Twitter tirades and lost cricket matches — all this and more captivated's digital audience in 2018.

    Scroll down to see the list of our top 10 stories by the numbers.

    10. Imran’s Pakistan beckons

    — Reuters
    — Reuters

    Depending on whom you supported, there was plenty of joy and anger as the election results trickled in. Early that morning, uploaded the newspaper's front page comment piece by resident editor Lahore Ashaar Rahman, who noted Imran Khan's success and wrote: "Imran’s struggle was avowedly to end the domination of not just one party but he sought to correct a whole system that had been exploited." Read it here

    9. For Nawaz, it’s not over till it’s over


    In a wide-ranging and exclusive interview with Dawn ahead of his rally in Multan in May 2018, a relaxed but adamant Nawaz Sharif dismissed defections from the PML-N, particularly in southern Punjab. Talking to Dawn assisstant editor Cyril Almeida (who is now being made to appear in court for a possible treason case for this very story), Sharif's interview sparked controversy over his remarks on the Mumbai attacks. Read it here

    8. Election 2018 survey results: And the winner is... invited readers to share their thoughts and predictions on the 2018 general elections in an online survey. The snapshot, non-scientific survey that ran from July 4 to 9 was taken by more than 19,000 respondents.

    Here's how our readers responded to the results of the poll. See it here

    7. The real reason Pakistan keeps losing to India at cricket

    A failure to meet technical standards and a need for rethinking Pakistan's cricket strategy has widened the gap between arch-rivals Pakistan and India — as noted in this analysis by staffer Zohaib Ahmed Majeed.

    Here's how the analysis fared among readers. Read it here

    6. The making of the Kargil disaster

    Journalist Nasim Zehra’s recently published book, From Kargil To The Coup: Events That Shook Pakistan, provides the first meticulous documentation of the events that surrounded the controversial Kargil incursion in 1999 which almost brought Pakistan and India to the brink of war.

    An extract from the book, reprinted by Herald with permission, was popular among readers. Read it here

    5. Imran promises wide-ranging reforms: 'All policies for the people'

    — AFP
    — AFP

    In his first public address since his party grabbed a lead in the preliminary General Election results, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and newly elected prime minister Imran Khan shared his vision for the country. Read it here

    4. Pakistan has given us nothing but lies and deceit: US President Donald Trump

    US President Donald Trump began his new year by accusing Pakistan of giving Washington "nothing but lies and deceit" in a Twitter tirade. He said Washington had "foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years", but Pakistan had in return given "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help". See it here

    3. Was Imran’s visit to China a failure? Yes. Here’s why


    This blog by political commentator Adnan Rasool was published as Prime Minister Imran Khan returned from his trip to China. In his analysis on what happened, what the challenges were and what steps were needed, Rasool notes "one thing became glaringly clear: the Pakistani state was clueless regarding the larger objectives of the Belt and Road Initiative". Read it here

    2. The dawn of advertising in Pakistan (1947-2017)

    —Arif Mahmood/ Dawn White Star
    —Arif Mahmood/ Dawn White Star

    This one is for the archives. The series of in-depth features explored 70 years of Pakistan's changing landscape in advertising and highlighted themes that have influenced its trajectory. Explore it here

    1. 'Naya Pakistan' imminent: PTI leads in slow count of 11th general elections vote

    As Pakistan awaited an official announcement from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the 2018 general election's outcome, preliminary results indicated that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had obtained a clear edge over other parties.'s snapshot of the election and the results was viewed by more than 200,000 readers.Read it here

    SPECIAL MENTION: PLAY Pakistan elections: The (great) game

    In a country that has a passion for politics, election season demonstrates a readiness for political change. Before voters could hit the polls in July 2018, users steered their party through Pakistan's election season and learned much about Pakistani politics, than just plain ol' winning (or losing) the 'great' game. Play it here

    SPECIAL MENTION: Naya Pakistan Tracker

    As the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf completed its first hundred days in government, created a ‘Naya Pakistan Tracker’ to monitor progress on major promises from the 2018 PTI election manifesto, as well as important pledges made in the course of its term.

    The Tracker charts the PTI government’s performance on a daily basis. Here’s how many users have accessed our Tracker since September 27. Track promises here

    SPECIAL MENTION: Elections Blog

    Predictably, the 48 hour election cycle in Pakistan saw the year's highest traffic on a single page.'s live election blog was a snapshot of news updates and commentary on July 25 (Election Day) and the next 48 hours.

    While the interest in the general election is expected, the uncertainty surrounding the result announcement added to the hysteria, and kept readers hooked.

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    A woman was killed and nine other people, including two police constables, were injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday as Indian troops resorted to “ruthless” mortar shelling from across the restive Line of Control (LoC), officials said.

    The target on the last day of 2018 was Athmuqam, the otherwise rarely hit district headquarters of the picturesque Neelum Valley, located some 80 kilometres northeast of state capital Muzaffarabad.

    “First they [Indians] fired some shells on Pakistan Army posts, but suddenly they started pounding civilian installations with mortar shells,” said Akhtar Ayub, an Athmuqam based disaster risk management officer.

    Video footages shared by some Athmuqam residents in WhatsApp groups showed people running to safety amid the thunder of shelling and clouds of smoke.

    Ayub said Indian troops targeted the entire one-kilometre radius of Athmuqam, overlooked by Indian gun positions atop lofty mountains across the unmarked dividing line.

    “The shelling was so indiscriminate that we thought they [Indians] will devastate everything existing on the ground,” said Abbas Mir, a schoolteacher, whose car’s windowpane was smashed by the splinters of a shell.

    Samiya Amir, an AJK University Neelum campus student, said they were on the third floor of a building when the shelling began.

    “All of us rushed to the ground floor where we remained confined over the next three hours in a state of fear and anxiety,” she added.

    Same was the situation in all other educational institutions in the town, where students were trapped during the course of shelling, Ayub said.

    He said many people took shelter in the building of a local hospital in the absence of reinforced underground shelters along with the houses.

    The shelling stopped after an hour but left a 27-year-old woman dead and nine others wounded, Ayub said.

    The deceased, identified as Asiya Bibi, was hit in the head by a shrapnel from a mortar shell outside her house, he said. The mother of a toddler died on the spot.

    The injured were identified as Sadaf Zia, 16, Misbah Jameel, 8, Kulsoom Shafqat, 18, Zarmeen Bibi, 20, Ansar Bibi, 35, and her son Khawaja Amir, 20, Rafaqat Khan, 35, and police constables Raja Zulqarnain, 36, and Malik Sajjad, 33.

    All of them were treated locally and were out of danger, Ayub said.

    The 200km-long Neelum Valley had long faced the brunt of heavy cross-border shelling between the rival troops until a truce agreement in November 2003 brought much-needed relief to its inhabitants.

    Over the past 15 years, while the truce agreement saw numerous violations elsewhere causing several civilian casualties, the Neelum Valley remained an exception as Indian troops never directly hit its civilian population even during the days of heightened tensions.

    However, this privilege came to an end in late 2016, when initially a famous tourist resthouse located a few kilometres ahead of Athmuqam was shelled by Indian troops on October 29 followed by shelling on a passenger coach on November 23 that had left more than 10 people dead and several others wounded.

    In yet another incident of ceasefire violation in Neelum, a Pakistan Army vehicle was hit by Indian troops on July 16, 2017, leaving four soldiers martyred.

    However, the LoC in Neelum Valley had since been calm and quiet, paving the way for an influx of thousands of tourists from across the country to enjoy its natural beauty.

    The last ceasefire violation in the valley was reported on October 30 this year, when Indian troops had fired a few mortar shells.

    An official said all tourists in the valley were safe because most of them were away from Athmuqam.

    “The traffic between Athmuqam and Muzaffarabad is plying normally,” he said.

    According to Saeed Qureshi, a senior officer at State Disaster Management Authority, Monday’s Indian shelling pushed the death toll in AJK in the outgoing year to 28, including 19 men and 9 women, and the number of injured to 172, including 92 men and 80 women.

    The shelling also left 29 houses damaged partially and completely destroyed three houses and a shop. At least 13 cattle head also perished in the violence, he said.

    An Indian army soldier takes up position near the Line of Control. — FileAn Indian army soldier takes up position near the Line of Control. — File

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    Eleven development projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have been completed so far while 11 others are "under construction", Radio Pakistan reported on Monday.

    Based on the latest progress report on CPEC issued by the Embassy of China in Pakistan on Saturday, around $18.9 billion have been invested in the 22 projects. Twenty more projects remain in the pipeline.

    According to the report, 15 energy projects with total generation capacity of 11,110MW were planned as a priority. Seven have been completed while six are "under construction" with a total capacity of 6,910MW.

    As per the report, three projects regarding infrastructure are "under construction" — the Karakoram Highway Phase-II (Havelian-Thakot section), Karachi-Lahore Motorway (Sukkur-Multan section) and Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project.

    "CPEC is a major and pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative and one major platform for comprehensive and substantive cooperation between China and Pakistan," the report stated.

    The project is believed to be the crown jewel of China's One Belt One Road initiative, a massive global infrastructure programme to revive the ancient Silk Road and connect Chinese companies to new markets around the world.

    $18.9 billion have been invested in the 22 existing CPEC projects, according to a progress report issued by the Embassy of China in Pakistan. — Reuters/File$18.9 billion have been invested in the 22 existing CPEC projects, according to a progress report issued by the Embassy of China in Pakistan. — Reuters/File

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    The Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Monday approved a bill to amend the Exit Control List (ECL) law even as the interior ministry opposed it.

    Former Senate chairman and PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani presented the 'Exit from Pakistan (Control) (Amendment) Act, 2018' during a meeting of the committee today.

    According to Rabbani's recommendations, a person whose name was ordered to be placed on the ECL should be informed within 24 hours. He also suggested that the those who were placed on the ECL should be able to file a review of the decision within 15 days, and if there was no decision on the review in this time, the name should be considered removed from the ECL.

    Rabbani noted that the interior secretary does not have the authority to place names on the ECL.

    "Giving any person or office discretionary powers is not right," Rabbani said, adding that in his opinion, the authority to place people on the ECL should be with the federal cabinet.

    Chairman of the Senate committee, Rehman Malik, also asked for a comprehensive report on whose names the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other institutions were placing on the ECL.

    Malik recalled that the Supreme Court had said that the federal government should consult the cabinet when placing names on or removing names from the ECL.

    "We will not let anyone pick and choose [names for] the ECL," he said, adding, "Over here, one [suspect] is let go and the other is stopped."

    "We will not let anyone act according to their own will," the chairman of the committee said, adding that names will be placed on the ECL on the basis of the law not people's whims.

    Malik questioned why everyone facing NAB enquiries had not been placed on the ECL.

    Subsequently, the committee approved the amendment bill, although the interior ministry opposed it.

    Last week, the names of 172 people ─ including politicians, bankers and businessmen who were named in a court-ordered joint investigation team's (JIT) probe report─ were placed on the no-fly list.

    Former Senate chairman and PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani presented the 'Exit from Pakistan (Control) (Amendment) Act, 2018' during a meeting of the committee today. — File photoFormer Senate chairman and PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani presented the 'Exit from Pakistan (Control) (Amendment) Act, 2018' during a meeting of the committee today. — File photo

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    A police constable was martyred and another sustained injuries in an exchange of fire with unidentified suspects in Islamabad on Monday.

    According to a statement issued by the Islamabad Capital Territory, the two policemen were performing patrolling duties in the Sector I-8/3 of the federal capital when the firing incident occurred.

    The policemen had signalled two suspected bike riders to stop for snap checking but they retaliated by opening fire on the patrolling officials.

    Constable Muhammad Waseem died on the spot while Constable Muhammad Arif bullet wounds and was rushed to nearby hospital where he is currently under treatment.

    Last week, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammad Aamir Zulfiqar Khan had directed SSP (operations) Waqaruddin Syed to increase patrolling in the capital.

    The top cop had showed his displeasure over the police performance regarding the arrest of proclaimed offenders, court absconders and military deserters.

    The IGP had chaired a meeting to review the overall situation and progress on cases against land grabbers and drug peddlers. During the meeting, the IGP had directed to initiate immediate departmental action against delinquent police officials who failed to perform their duties.

    Policemen were performing patrolling duties in Sector I-8/3 when unidentified suspects opened fire at them. — AFP/File photoPolicemen were performing patrolling duties in Sector I-8/3 when unidentified suspects opened fire at them. — AFP/File photo

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    The year 2018 turned out to be a politically challenging year for the PML-N, especially in Balochistan, where its provincial government was toppled by its own legislators earlier this year.

    Troubles started for the PML-N when Quddus Bizenjo, a former deputy speaker of the Balochistan Assembly — who later became the chief minister of Balochistan — initiated a no-confidence motion against then chief minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri on January 2.

    The motion was signed by dissidents within the PML-N, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Awami National Party (ANP), Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP) and Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM). The dissidents also enjoyed the support of two members from the National Party.

    Read more: PML-N defeated: Opposition candidates Sanjrani, Mandviwalla take Senate's top slots

    Though then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi traveled to Quetta to shore up support for Zehri, he failed to muster any support. Some PML-N legislators even refused to attend invitations made by the premier for a meeting at Governor House in Balochistan.

    Amidst the political crisis, Zehri was forced to resign. Subsequently, Bizenjo — who belonged to the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) at the time — was sworn in as the chief minister.

    The PML-N suffered another major blow in March when it failed to secure a single Senate seat from Balochistan. Instead, six senators backed by PML-N dissidents were elected as senators from Balochistan, from among which Sadiq Sanjrani was even elected Senate chairman.

    In March, after Bizenjo had sworn in as the chief minister, provincial lawmakers announced the launch of a new Balochistan-based political party comprising the political and tribal elite of Balochistan.

    Later, all the dissident parliamentarians joined the newly-established Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), led by the incumbent chief minister, Jam Kamal Khan.

    PPP stalwart Dr Abdul Qayyum Soomro repeatedly visited Quetta to muster support for PPP from the newly elected senators but failed in doing so. Subsequently, the PPP, which had supported the no-confidence motion against the Zehri government, had to leave Balochistan empty-handed.

    The emergence of BAP was accompanied by much hue and cry from the PML-N and Baloch and Pashtun nationalist parties which labelled the hastily-cobbled alliance of the province’s electables “a move of the establishment”.

    Former chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani termed BAP a conspiracy against Balochistan. It’s interesting that many of the ‘electables’ who joined BAP were once ministers in the Raisani-led coalition government in 2008, under PPP.

    The newly-formed party performed reasonably well in the July 25 general elections and Jam Kamal went on to become the chief minister. However, the PPP which had endorsed the no-confidence motion against Nawab Zehri could not win a single seat in Balochistan during the general elections.

    Amidst a political crisis Nawab Sanaullah Zehri was forced to resign as the provincial chief minister as most of his own party's legislators abandoned him. — File photoAmidst a political crisis Nawab Sanaullah Zehri was forced to resign as the provincial chief minister as most of his own party's legislators abandoned him. — File photo

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    The Sindh government on Monday imposed a ban on pillion riding and display of arms in Karachi with immediate effect to avoid any untoward incident on the New Year’s Eve, however, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah later withdrew the ban imposed on pillion riding.

    The chief minister announced this while interacting with media persons after reviewing security arrangements at the Sea View ahead of the New Year’s Eve.

    He visited the police reporting centre at Sea View and directed DIG Sharjeel Kharal and SSP Pir Mohammad Shah not to stop people from enjoying new year night.

    Earlier in the evening, Sindh Home Secretary Abdul Kabeer Kazi had issued a notification calling for a ban on pillion riding from the “evening of December 31, 2018, till the morning of January 1, 2019”. However, the chief minister ordered the home secretary to withdraw the notification.

    The action was reportedly taken on the recommendation of DIG South. “A large number of youngsters from different parts of the city throng to Seaview, which creates traffic jam and inconveniences for the residents of the area,” he had said.

    The DIG South had requested the provincial government to impose Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) “against pillion riding, carrying and display of arms, and aerial firing to safeguard the precious lives of the citizens and maintain the law and order situation” in the metropolis.

    On Sunday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had directed the divisional administration and police to keep the Seaview area open for the public on New Year’s Eve so that visitors can enjoy themselves without any hassle.

    He said the people of this city had every right to enjoy the New Near’s night in a decent way and cultured manner.

    However, he had also directed the authorities to make strict security arrangements on the occasion so that nobody could carry weapons, use narcotics, resort to ‘one-wheeling’ or riding motorbike without silencer and create problems for other visitors.

    Pillion riding ban is applicable from the “evening of December 31, 2018, till the morning of January 1, 2019”. —Dawn ArchivesPillion riding ban is applicable from the “evening of December 31, 2018, till the morning of January 1, 2019”. —Dawn Archives

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    Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was given the "benefit of doubt" in the Flagship Investments corruption reference over lack of evidence, it emerged on Monday after the detailed verdict was issued by an accountability court.

    On December 24, Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik announced in the court that “he didn’t find anything against Nawaz Sharif in reference No 18 [Flagship Investment] and the accused is acquitted in this case”.

    The three-time former prime minister, however, was handed seven years in jail and multiple fines after being found guilty in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment (HME) case. He is currently serving his sentence at Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

    The detailed judgment in the Flagship reference, penned by Justice Malik, said that the possibility of Sharif being the real beneficial owner of Flagship Investments Ltd "cannot be ruled out".

    The court cited a 2015 judgement and reiterated that for the charged person to be saddled with liability, the prosecution has to establish its case "beyond all reasonable doubts".

    The judge further said that "based on available evidence, it is inclined to extend the benefit of the doubt" to the PML-N leader.

    The judge, however, noted that the co-accused, Sharif's sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, "have already been declared as proclaimed offenders" and ordered that their "perpetual non-bailable" arrest warrants be issued.

    Furthermore, Judge Malik stated that the possibility of Sharif having supplied Hassan with funds to the tune of £705,071 from his "undeclared, secret wealth and assets held outside Pakistan cannot be ruled out completely" but noted that "there is insufficient evidence to safely reach the conclusion".

    The detailed verdict has been released exactly a week after the acquittal. While the verdict in case of a conviction is handed over to the accused at the time of its pronouncement, the judgement in case of acquittal is provided to him/her on request.

    NAB to file appeal

    The prosecuting agency, NAB, has already decided that it will file an appeal against the judgement in the Flagship reference. The decision was taken at a meeting presided over by NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal soon after the verdict’s announcement in the court.

    Under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), an appeal against the verdict of the accountability court may be filed within 10 days of receipt of a written order of the court.

    Sources in the prosecuting agency said that evidence in the two references — Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment — were identical.

    The Supreme Court in its verdict of April 20, 2017 had ordered the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) headed by an additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency and asked it to answer multiple questions including those relating to the setting up of the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment (HME) and Flagship Investment.

    The apex court had also asked the JIT to probe into any transactions from the Gulf Steel Mills (GSM) through which the Sharif family had allegedly acquired the Avenfield properties, HME and Flagship Investment as well as other companies.

    Subsequently, the alleged money trail of the Sharif family started from AED12 million from GSM which was invested with a Qatari family and drawn for Avenfield properties, HME and Flagship Investment.

    In its report submitted to the Supreme Court in July 2017, the JIT rejected the said money trail. Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir in the verdict in the Avenfield properties reference and Judge Arshad Malik both remained unconvinced about the financial source from which the Sharif family was said to have acquired properties and started businesses in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

    The difference between the HME and Flagship Investment references was that in the former, the prosecution has brought on judicial record that Sharif received US$10.2 million and 1.26m euros from the HME whereas no such amount was remitted in the name of Sharif from the Flagship Investment and other companies owned by Hassan Nawaz in the UK.

    Nawaz Sharif is currently serving his sentence in the Al-Azizia corruption reference in Kot Lakhpat Jail. — FileNawaz Sharif is currently serving his sentence in the Al-Azizia corruption reference in Kot Lakhpat Jail. — File

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    KARACHI: The Sindh High Court granted interim pre-arrest bail to the owner of a restaurant in a case pertaining to the death of two siblings after consuming poisonous food.

    Owner of the restaurant Nadeem Mumtaz through his lawyer had moved an application before the SHC to avoid his arrest since a sessions court had dismissed his pre-arrest bail application.

    After a preliminary hearing, a bench of the SHC granted an interim bail against a surety of Rs200,000 and directed the applicant to approach the trial court.

    The prosecution said that the health of one-and-a-half-year-old Tufail Ahmed, his elder brother Mohammed Omar, 4, and their mother, Ayesha Ihsan, deteriorated at their home in Defence on Nov 10 when they reached there after eating the food from the Arizona Grill restaurant in Zamzama, Clifton. Later, both children died while the laboratory reports confirmed that the siblings died from food poisoning as poisonous bacteria was found in the food of the restaurant, it added.

    Two employees of the restaurant have already been detained and they were booked with others under sections 322 (punishment for qatl-bis-sabab), 272 (adulteration of food or drink intended for sale) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Sahil police station.

    Notices issued to NAB

    Another bench of the SHC on Monday issued a notice to the National Accountability Bureau on a petition of the Karachi Metropolitan Corpo­ration against a call up notice issued by NAB.

    The KMC through its lawyer challenged the call up notice and contended that NAB was seeking old record of the KMC in some unknown inquiries without giving any reason.

    The counsel argued that NAB was also issuing notices to KMC officials and also pleaded for restraining order from issuing “unnecessary” notices.

    A two-judge bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro issued a notice to NAB to file comments by Jan 17.

    Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019

    Two employees of the restaurant have already been detained and booked. ─ DawnNewsTVTwo employees of the restaurant have already been detained and booked. ─ DawnNewsTV

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    HYDERABAD: A police team led by Cantonment ASP (additional superintendent of police) Abdullah Lak on Monday picked up managers of four different eateries located in the Cantt market in the city and collected samples of the food being offered by them.

    The action was taken following the death of a four-year-old boy, Umer, who along with his twin sister, Aleeza, had eaten potato chips from an outlet in the market a day earlier. Aleeza’s condition had also turned critical but she survived after her stomach was washed at a hospital. Her condition was stated to be stable now.

    Officials of the Cantonment Board Hyderabad (CBH) food section sealed three eateries and collected 30 samples which were being sent to a laboratory in Quetta for chemical examination.

    ASP Lak told Dawn that the four managers were later let off on personal bond. He said the children’s mother was not available for identification of the outlet from where the chips were bought. “Once the outlet is identified, the staff responsible will be called,” he said.

    The ASP said that Umer’s father, Abdul Sattar Mallah, did not want to lodge an FIR. However, in that case, the FIR would be registered by the police [on behalf of the state].

    Mr Mallah, a resident of Power House Colony, Jamshoro, believed that his son was not given proper medical care at the well-known hospital he was taken to. He held the hospital staff responsible for Umer’s death.

    “My twins had eaten chips in our colony in the morning but they didn’t have any problem till the evening, when my wife took them to a playland within the Cantonment Market in Hyderabad,” he said.

    He said his children ate chips but he was not sure which outlet they were bought from. He said his wife was still in a state of shock.

    He said that after they returned home at around 7pm, his children’s condition deteriorated and they were rushed to a major hospital.

    “Umer needed a ventilator but we were not told that the hospital lacked one. My son lost his life when I was taking him to another hospital,” he said.

    Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019

    The ASP said that Umer’s father, Abdul Sattar Mallah, did not want to lodge an FIR. However, in that case, the FIR would be registered by the police [on behalf of the state]. ─ File photo by Sara FaridThe ASP said that Umer’s father, Abdul Sattar Mallah, did not want to lodge an FIR. However, in that case, the FIR would be registered by the police [on behalf of the state]. ─ File photo by Sara Farid

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    SUKKUR: Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan has said that his party will not support any unconstitutional or undemocratic move to bring change in Sindh’s political setup, including imposition of governor’s rule.

    Mr Haq told journalists at circuit house on Monday that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had not yet taken his party into confidence over ‘the change’ though the ruling party was making contacts with all parties to consult over fast changing political situation in the province.

    He said the party leaders would be meeting federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry that day. “We’ll see what he has to say” and whether PTI considered MQM-P their allies, he said.

    Constitutionally or democratically speaking, he said, the demand for changing the embattled chief minister was the right of the opposition parties. One could not make courts change their decisions by gathering mobs on streets, holding public meetings or speaking incessantly in talk shows on TV channels, he said.

    He said the people who used to moralise MQM-P on benefits of facing courts over submission of adverse reports of joint investigation teams needed to gather some courage now to face the law.

    “We have been demanding all along for the past 30 years that those who are involved in corruption and looting the country’s resources be hanged,” he said.

    Mr Haq said that nobody was after the Sindh government. It was its own enemy since despite making tall claims to have spent Rs1500 billion on the province there was not even one union council in entire Sindh, including Sukkur, which could at least boast of having uninterrupted supply of clean drinking water, he said.

    He said the people who had deserted MQM-P to other parties had no real respect, he therefore advised them to come back. Important decisions were being made about Sindh, including Sukkur, he said.

    Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019

    MQM-P's Khawaja Izharul Hassan says his party will not support any unconstitutional or undemocratic moves to change the political setup in Sindh. ─ DawnNewsTVMQM-P's Khawaja Izharul Hassan says his party will not support any unconstitutional or undemocratic moves to change the political setup in Sindh. ─ DawnNewsTV

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    LAHORE: The Punjab government and its development partner, the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), have signed an agreement to extend the gestation period of the Southern Punjab Poverty Alleviation Project (SPPAP) for three years up to March 31, 2021.

    The planning and development department board hosted the ceremony at its office with board Chairman Habibur Rehman Gillani in the chair. Planning and Development Punjab SPPAP Project DirectorMuhammad Saghir and NRSP Chief Executive Officer Rashid Bajwa signed a memorandum of understanding in this regard.

    The Punjab government had launched SPPAP at Rs4.7 billion with the financial assistance of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in 2011-12 in four districts of south Punjab -- Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur. The objective was to increase incomes of 80,000 poor households by enhancing the employment potential of the people and increasing agriculture productivity and production.

    Speaking on the occasion, Mr Gillani claimed that the project had achieved all targets effectively till its deadline of March 2018. The IFAD provided additional financing of $25 million for extending the gestation period for another three years and take the programme to Rahim Yar Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan districts. Layyah, Bhakkar, Mianwali and Khushab were selected for soft interventions.

    He said the outreach of the project would be focusing more on women and youth. In order to include the additional financing, he said, a revised PC-I at Rs7.5bn had been approved from the Executive Committee of National Economic Council for actual implementation of interventions in the respective districts.

    Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019

    Punjab government, National Rural Support Programme sign agreement to extend gestation period of South Punjab Poverty Alleviation Project for three years. ─ Reuters/FilePunjab government, National Rural Support Programme sign agreement to extend gestation period of South Punjab Poverty Alleviation Project for three years. ─ Reuters/File

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    LAHORE: The Sindh chief minister may stop receiving the prime minister when he visits the province in reaction to placing his name in the exit control list by the federal government, says former Punjab governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood.

    “The PTI government initiated an unnecessary controversy by placing on ECL the name of Murad Ali Shah, a foreign-educated thorough gentleman and diligent chief executive of Sindh. The treatment meted out to the CM of a smaller federating unit is dangerous for the federation itself,” said Mr Makhdoom.

    “Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are already alienated from the centre and now PTI’s follies may distance the Sindh province too,” he cautioned while talking to a group of reporters here on Monday.

    Condemning the federal government’s measure, he said Mr Shah may not receive Mr Khan whenever the latter would visit Sindh province and that he (Makhdoom) too, as senior PPP leader, would recommend and support the policy.

    Referring to the contacts PTI leaders made with Ali Gohar Mehar of Ghotki to seek support for ousting the PPP from Sindh government, he downplayed the move saying had the PTI been serious it would have tasked Jehangir Khan Tareen, its point-man for winning loyalties.

    He said the powers that mattered must also measure sentiments of Sindhis as “maneuvering” of political scene and forming of Grand Democratic Alliance resulted contrary to what had been desired as the PPP got a clear mandate.

    Replying to a query about possibilities of political cooperation between the PPP and PML-N, the south Punjab PPP president forecast that “if pushed to the wall democratic forces will ultimately get united for a joint resistance”.

    Talking about the opposition parties’ objections to the ongoing accountability process, the ex-governor said neither the PPP nor PML-N was against accountability as both former ruling parties knew misappropriation of accounts was against national interests.

    Commenting on the economic policies of the PTI government, he warned that “economic meltdown” would continue in the next six months damaging every sector as the rulers were failing to give their economic vision and infusing a sense of confidence and security among the investors.

    He feared that the democratic set-up might be wrapped up if the fall of the economy could not be checked.

    Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019

    "The PTI government initiated an unnecessary controversy by placing on ECL the name of Murad Ali Shah," says former Punjab governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood. ─ File photo

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    LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore has decided to initiate process to bring three senior police officials back from abroad after receiving evidence against them in embezzlement of funds and possessing assets beyond their [known] sources of income.

    “Senior police officers of Punjab – SSP Suhail Zafar Chatha and SP Kamran Mumtaz – have allegedly embezzled [police] funds during their posting as DPO (district police officer) in Gujrat. The NAB has also received evidence against them with regard to possessing income beyond their known sources,” an official source told Dawn on Monday.

    Along with these two [officials], he said SSP Dr Haider Ashraf is also accused of misusing his authority and possessing assets beyond means.

    “All three senior officers have managed to leave the country and the NAB has decided to initiate the process to bring them back. For the purpose the NAB is writing to Inspector General Police Amjad Saleemi to take legal measures to bring three officials of his force back to join the investigation,” he said, adding the bureau might also write to the interior ministry in this regard.

    The source further said Suhail Chatha, Kamran Mumtaz and SSP Rai Ijaz during their tenure as Gujrat DPO allegedly embezzled funds with regard to “cost of investigation, Shuhada compensation, pension allowance, utility charges and POL expenses. Rai Ijaz who also served as Lahore traffic police chief has been in NAB custody since Dec 1.

    NAB has accused SSP Ijaz of causing a loss of Rs700 million to the national exchequer by misappropriation of police funds. It said he embezzled funds between 2014 and 2016 while serving as DPO in Gujrat. Ijaz spent funds of Rs1.3 billion in eight months only and allegedly misappropriated millions of rupees, the bureau said, adding he was also involved in appointment of ‘ghost police constables.’

    Ijaz’s father Rai Zameer, a former DPO Gujrat, is also wanted in this case but he has been absconding for the last one month or so. The NAB has not yet succeeded in tracking him down.

    The inquiry against former Lahore police chief retired Capt Amin Wains in income beyond means is also under way.

    Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019

    NAB may also contact the interior ministry in this regard. ─ File photoNAB may also contact the interior ministry in this regard. ─ File photo

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    RAHIM YAR KHAN: The Punjab government has established 350 new schools where it enrolled more than 17,000 children during its first 100 days, claimed Punjab Minister for Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education Raja Rashid Hafeez on Monday.

    Addressing a press conference at the Circuit House here, Mr Hafeez claimed that the public will witness the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s performance through practical means, and not just slogans.

    He said basic education was the right of every child, but the previous governments did not focus on it. The current government was taking practical steps to train teachers, increase their salaries and enhance access to school for each child, he added.

    He further said that important decisions will be taken for improvement of non-formal basic education during the next fiscal year and the chief minister had assured that more funds would be provided for the purpose. He said he had taken strict notice of the issue of non-payment of salaries of teachers of non-formal schools for five months, adding that the salaries would be released in a few days.

    The minister visited the non-formal schools in district jail, Muddarbari, Hussainabad and Niazi Colony, and ordered the chief of the district education authority and district officer (literacy) to improve the standards of non-formal schools.

    Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019

    Punjab Minister for Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education Raja Rashid Hafeez says  basic education is the right of every child, but the previous governments did not focus on it. ─ File photoPunjab Minister for Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education Raja Rashid Hafeez says basic education is the right of every child, but the previous governments did not focus on it. ─ File photo

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    KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has taken serious notice of the death of a child reportedly after consuming poisonous chips and juice and directed the Hyderabad commissioner to inquire into the matter and submit a report to him.

    He said that the shopkeepers or vendors could not be allowed to play with the lives of the people by selling substandard and poisonous food items in the market.

    He also directed the Sindh Food Authority to start inspection of restaurants and other eateries, as such negligence by their management could not be tolerated.

    The chief minister said that he had not forgotten the incident of Karachi in which two children had died after consuming poisonous food and now another incident had taken place in which the condition of two children — four-year-old Humayyun and his twin sister Aliza — deteriorated soon after eating potato chips and drinking juice purchased in the Cantt Market, Hyderabad.

    Sindh Food Authority told to launch inspection of restaurants and eateries

    They were shifted immediately to a hospital, where Humayyun died and his sister was in a critical condition.

    “I want you to conduct a thorough inquiry into the matter and get the lab test of food items and report me,” the chief minister told Hyderabad Commissioner Abbas Baloch.

    He also urged him to take necessary measures to save the life of Aliza.

    Commissioner Baloch in his report to the chief minister stated that a child died of food poisoning on Dec 30 in Hyderabad.

    On receipt of information, a team of officers was sent to the house of Abdul Sattar, the father of the victim child, who disclosed that his wife and kids bought chips and juice from a shop in the Cantt Market, Hyderabad.

    After consuming the stuff the condition of the children started deterioration and they were shifted to the Aga Khan Hospital Hyderabad where his son died while his daughter was admitted in critical condition. Now her condition was said to be stable.

    The commissioner further stated in his report that the parents of the child would provide him further details later.

    In the meantime, the commissioner contacted the hospital authorities for medical reports of the deceased child which he would get by Tuesday. The shops in questions have been sealed on the orders of the commissioner by the food inspector of the Cantonment Authority and samples have been taken from the material stocked there.

    Sukkur’s uplift projects reviewed

    Chief Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah asked the secretaries of the planning and development and implementation and coordination departments to proactively coordinate with the respective division and district administration for ensuring completion of all development projects by June 30, 2019.

    The chief secretary, who was presiding over a review meeting of the district-based development projects of Sukkur division on Monday, also advised the deputy commissioners to examine the progress of development schemes and submit a report to his office within a week.

    He maintained that no negligence would be tolerated on part of the officials in accomplishment of the projects.

    In the meeting, total 140 development projects of the division were reviewed pertaining to the departments of agricultural, education, health, home, local government, fisheries and wildlife, forest, social welfare, transport, women development, minorities ,mines and mineral development, works and services.

    Mr Shah also directed respective administrative secretaries to obtained funds from the finance department to avoid any delay for want of release of funds and seek necessary guidance from the planning and development and works and services departments if needed.

    Those present at the meeting included secretaries of finance, planning and development, sports, transport, school education, agriculture, irrigation and commissioner and deputy commissioner of Sukkur.

    Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019

    Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the Sindh Food Authority to start inspection of restaurants and other eateries. ─ DawnNewsTVSindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the Sindh Food Authority to start inspection of restaurants and other eateries. ─ DawnNewsTV

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