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    Armed men attempted to stop former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair's car near his residence in Phase VI of Karachi's DHA area on Tuesday night, DawnNewsTV reported citing police.

    Zubair, according to Darakhshan police station's station house officer (SHO) Arshad Janjua, was returning home with his wife at 11:30pm on Tuesday when his vehicle was intercepted by three unidentified men in a car, with one of them pointing a gun at the PML-N leader, who managed to drive away.

    Zubair, the brother of current Finance Minister Asad Umar, reported the incident to the police and his statement was recorded, the SHO said. A first information report of the incident has not been registered as yet.

    It is pertinent to mention here that the former governor was driving the vehicle himself and does not have any security assigned to him.

    Following the incident, however, police officials were posted outside Zubair's residence on the orders of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) South Pir Muhammad Shah, who assured him that a case would be lodged.

    The SSP South also paid a visit to Zubair's residence along with Superintendent of Police Clifton Suhai Aziz and met the former governor's family.

    Sindh Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam took notice of the incident and sought a detailed inquiry report from the SSP South.

    He directed the officer to take legal and security measures in light of Zubair's statement in order to hold the suspects involved accountable.

    The incident came three weeks after MQM leader Ali Raza Abidi was murdered in DHA's Phase V neighbourhood. Abidi was shot outside his house by two unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle. The case is under investigation.


    With additional reporting by Imtiaz Ali.


    Former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair was driving home with his wife when his car was intercepted, police say. — DawnNewsTVFormer Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair was driving home with his wife when his car was intercepted, police say. — DawnNewsTV

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    The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file separate references on a series of matters stemming from the Bahria Town Karachi project, including the arrears of three Malir Development Authority (MDA) projects.

    Under Justice Azmat Saeed's chairmanship, the apex court's three-member implementation bench passed the orders while hearing the Bahria Town case.

    The court directed the corruption watchdog and other relevant departments to take action on the installation of illegal tube wells as well as payments made for sale and purchase of land.

    The bench instructed NAB and others to also look into the "K4 route issue" and the outstanding payment of MDA's trio of projects which amounts to Rs1.5 billion.

    If the references are not filed and the court orders are not adhered to, then action will be taken against NAB, the court warned.

    At the outset of today's hearing, the counsel of plot allottees told the apex court that they were ready to pay whatever price the court would set.

    "If the price is ascertained, then the rate would be of 2019," Justice Saeed made it clear.

    Meanwhile, NAB furnished its report on the matter in the court today, adding that "it has completed its inquiry and will now send a reference for approval".

    NAB investigation officer apprised the court that Bahria Town, as per the 2012 survey report, had held 12,156 acres of land but that the area currently in its possession has reached 25,601 acres.

    The court noted that 7,220 acres of land was illegally transferred to Bahria Town in 2015, adding that the real estate developer claims that it has not illegally acquired the said land.

    The Supreme Court bench ordered the Sindh government and law enforcement agencies to recover the said land before adjourning the case until January 15.

    On Monday, the court had reprimanded NAB, Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) and the administration of Bahria Town, over what it termed their "non-cooperation" in implementing a ruling of the apex court.

    Justice Saeed had warned the respondents that the judges were "about to lose their temperament" and directed NAB to ensure progress "through its actions".

    The implementation bench was formed after the court had dropped the review petitions filed against its May 4 judgement barring Bahria Town Karachi from selling any plots or constructed apartments, after they were withdrawn by the petitioners.

    In its May 4 judgement, the court had declared the grant of land to the MDA and its exchange with the land of Bahria Town illegal and void.


    The SC today instructed the provincial government to recover illegally occupied land by Bahria Town Karachi. — FileThe SC today instructed the provincial government to recover illegally occupied land by Bahria Town Karachi. — File

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    The Supreme Court will hear the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) appeal against the suspension of sentences handed to Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz — in the Avenfield reference — next week on January 14.

    The appeal will be heard by a five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.

    The accountability court in July last year had announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by NAB, handing the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and 1 year for not cooperating with the bureau.

    His daughter was given 7 years for abetment after she was found "instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father" and 1 year for non-cooperation with the bureau.

    The father and daughter upon their return to Lahore on July 13 were arrested by NAB authorities and shifted to Adiala jail.

    The Islamabad High Court (IHC) in September, however, granted them bail after suspending their sentences.

    The corruption watchdog had subsequently filed an appeal — which was accepted by the SC— in which it contended that the IHC had failed to appreciate that, through its order, it had seriously prejudiced the case of the prosecution by holding that the trial court judgement suffered from obvious and glaring defects and infirmities and that the convictions and sentences handed down to the accused might not be sustained ultimately.

    Nawaz's appeal against Al-Azizia

    Earlier today, a two-member IHC allowed the former prime minister's request for the early hearing of his appeal against his conviction in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference. The court directed that it be fixed for hearing within ten days.

    Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani also set a petition seeking the suspension of Sharif's ­sentence for hearing.

    Barrister Munawwar Duggal had on Tuesday filed an application seeking the immediate hearing of the appeal against the verdict announced by an accountability court in the reference on December 24 last year.

    In the application, the defence counsel pointed out that the winter vacation had ended and, therefore, the appeal against the conviction might be fixed before the available bench.

    Another IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Farooq had on Jan 7 taken up Sharif’s petition seeking the suspension of his sentence. The bench, however, pointed out that since the appeal against the conviction in the Al-Azizia-Hill Metal Establishment had neither been fixed nor taken up, the petition for suspension of the sentence could not be entertained at this stage.

    The IHC on Tuesday, however, released an order deciding to take up the petition.

    Accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik had on Dec 24 convicted Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills Company (ASCL) and Hill Metal Establishment (HME) reference and awarded him seven years imprisonment and fined him Rs1.5 billion and $25 million.

    Sharif filed a 61-page appeal against the verdict through Haris who pointed out certain ‘extraneous’ factors which accountability judges never consider while imparting judgements in routine cases.


    The Supreme Court is set to hear NAB's appeal against the suspension of the sentence on January 14. — FileThe Supreme Court is set to hear NAB's appeal against the suspension of the sentence on January 14. — File

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    The Ministry of Interior has released a list of public holidays to fall in 2019. The notification from the ministry clarifies that Muslim festivals will be subject to change according to the sighting of the moon. In case of a change in the dates for such holidays, a separate notification will be issued.

    The holidays include:

    • Kashmir Day — February 5 (Tuesday)

    • Pakistan Day — March 23 (Saturday)

    • Labour Day — May 1 (Wednesday)

    • Eidul Fitr — June 5, 6, 7 (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)

    • Eidul Azha — August 12, 13, 14 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

    • Independence day — August 14 (Wednesday)

    • Ashura — September 9, 10 (Monday, Tuesday)

    • Eid-i-Miladun Nabi — November 10 (Sunday)

    • Quaid-i-Azam Day — December 25 (Wednesday)

    The following dates will be considered bank holidays. However, while banks will remain shut to the public on these days, employees will have to report to work as usual.

    • May 6 (corresponding to the first day of Ramazan)

    • July 1


    In case of Muslim festivals, dates may be subject to change in accordance with the sighting of the moon. — FileIn case of Muslim festivals, dates may be subject to change in accordance with the sighting of the moon. — File

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    The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Karachi on Wednesday claimed to have arrested a property builder on charges of occupying state land and cheating the general public out of millions of rupees.

    “NAB arrested Zafar Nehal, chairman [of the] Arisha Cooperative Society,” the bureau's spokesperson said.

    He was allegedly involved in the commission of corruption and corrupt practices by illegally occupying pieces of government land and cheating the public at large.

    The liability resulting from the land occupation and cheating of people has been estimated at approximately Rs700 million, according to the spokesperson.

    In May last year, NAB had claimed to have retrieved 10,000 acres of grabbed state land off the Superhighway, where some major housing schemes had been launched in connivance with revenue officials.


    The chairman of Arisha Cooperative Society was allegedly involved in corrupt practices by illegally occupying state land. — FileThe chairman of Arisha Cooperative Society was allegedly involved in corrupt practices by illegally occupying state land. — File

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    Pakistani passport has moved up two spots on the 2019 Henley Passport Index but continues to remain the fifth-worst passport globally, offering its holders visa-free access to just 33 countries.

    In the newly unveiled index, Pakistan occupies the 102nd spot as compared to the 104th spot in the previous list, reflecting a two-spot jump for the green passport. However, as was the case with the 2018 index, the Pakistani passport is better than only four other countries: Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Read: History of the Pakistani passport

    The Henley Passport Index is a ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

    The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association, which maintains the world’s largest and database of travel information, and it is enhanced by extensive, ongoing research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.

    Japan holds top spot on the Henley Passport Index for the second year running, offering citizens visa-free access to a record 190 destinations, whereas Singapore continues to hold 2nd place, along with South Korea, which has moved up from 3rd place, with citizens able to access 189 destinations.

    From the 2nd place it held at the beginning of 2018, Germany now drops to 3rd place, with access to 188 destinations. It shares this position with France.

    Denmark, Italy, Finland, and Sweden share joint 4th place, with access to 187 destinations around the globe.

    The UK, meanwhile, drops from 4th place to 6th place, while the US drops from 5th place to 6th place, with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 185 destinations.

    In further demonstrations of Asian passport power, China moved five places up the rankings from the beginning of 2018, from 74th to 69th, while Cambodia (84th), Laos (86th), and Myanmar (90th) have each moved up four places.

    Elsewhere, the Indian passport occupies the 79th spot in the rankings, sandwiched between African nations Ghana and Mozambique.

    The UAE climbed five places up the rankings, from 27th place at the beginning of 2018, to 22nd place currently.

    Afghanistan and Iraq continue to hold joint last place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 30.


    Pakistani passport is consistently ranked among the worst in the world. — FilePakistani passport is consistently ranked among the worst in the world. — File

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    The Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed the Islamabad High Court's order which upheld the July 2016 cancellation of a plot meant for the Grand Hyatt hotel by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) over violations of building by-laws.

    M/s BNP was allotted a plot for the purpose of constructing a luxury Grand Hyatt hotel in 2004, but it instead built luxury apartments that were sold to various buyers. These buyers include high-profile figures such as Prime Minister Imran Khan.

    An SC bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Faisal Arab has been hearing an appeal filed by BNP against the IHC's order.

    Through its lawyer Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, BNP in December last year had offered that they were ready to pay the CDA Rs15 billion for the regularisation of the plot over a 20-year period, on the assurance that an ongoing inquiry by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would be dropped and they would be permitted to utilise the land for commercial ventures without any interference or restrictions from the CDA.

    The bench had expressed surprise that the developer set a 20-year period to clear the CDA’s dues, but had directed that BNP's proposal be placed before the federal cabinet, which will in turn come up with a way to resolve the matter. However, the company's proposal was rejected by the CDA at the time.

    Today, the bench gave BNP eight years to complete the payment of Rs17.5 billion in instalments for the plot's lease to CDA.

    The order was given despite CDA's request to let the federal cabinet rule on the matter in a meeting scheduled to be held tomorrow. The bench maintained that the federal cabinet will not be able to rule on the matter as the CDA had already rejected the proposal by BNP.

    Earlier in the hearing, the CDA raised objections on Justice Ahsan's inclusion on the bench, citing his previous association with BNP as their lawyer. The chief justice, however, dismissed the objection saying that Justice Ahsan's previous association with the BNP had no bearing on the current case.

    "Was the CDA sleeping for 13 years [while the towers were being constructed]? Now, when two towers have been built, the authority is saying that they fall within the Margalla Hills National Park area and should be demolished," the chief justice said.

    He added: "The Supreme Court's building and the secretariat also fall in the area, shall those be demolished too?"

    "People have bought apartments in the Grand Hyatt," he said while adding that half of Islamabad has been "built wrong".

    "You [CDA] did not even have proper regulations, Tariq Fazl Chaudhry [former Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) minister] had to write them for you. Is this the CDA's performance?" Upon this the CDA Chairman Afzal Latif, who was present in court, said that employees of the authority had defrauded it.

    "You did not remember this fraud for 13 years? Why should the people who spent four billion to buy those apartments have to suffer now," replied the chief justice.


    CJP asks why CDA took 13 years to point out that the Grand Hyatt was built on area within the national park. — FileCJP asks why CDA took 13 years to point out that the Grand Hyatt was built on area within the national park. — File

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    Five Pakistani nationals who were earlier stranded on a ship off the Egyptian coast have been charged with involvement in drug trafficking, the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

    The Pakistani citizens were produced in an Egyptian court after being stuck on a ship off the Egyptian port of Safaga.

    According to a Foreign Office statement, an officer from the Pakistani mission in Cairo was deputed to assist the five sailors during the court proceedings.

    The crew was subsequently charged with involvement in smuggling drugs, "which [were] allegedly found on the ship", the press release said.

    "The crew has denied any involvement [in the drug trafficking,] stating that they were hired for [the] transportation of cargo by an agent of M/s Marseilli Shipping Lines in Dubai."

    The Pakistani embassy in Cairo is actively pursuing the matter and remains in touch with the local authorities and the five Pakistanis, the FO spokesperson said.


    The Pakistani citizens were produced in an Egyptian court after being stuck on a ship off the Egyptian port of Safaga. — AFP/FileThe Pakistani citizens were produced in an Egyptian court after being stuck on a ship off the Egyptian port of Safaga. — AFP/File

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    The Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed the Islamabad High Court's order which upheld the July 2016 cancellation of a plot meant for the Grand Hyatt hotel by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) over violations of building by-laws.

    M/s BNP was allotted a plot for the purpose of constructing a luxury Grand Hyatt hotel in 2004, but it instead built luxury apartments that were sold to various buyers. These buyers include high-profile figures such as Prime Minister Imran Khan.

    An SC bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Faisal Arab has been hearing an appeal filed by BNP against the IHC's order.

    Through its lawyer Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, BNP in December last year had offered that they were ready to pay the CDA Rs15 billion for the regularisation of the plot over a 20-year period, on the assurance that an ongoing inquiry by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would be dropped and they would be permitted to utilise the land for commercial ventures without any interference or restrictions from the CDA.

    The bench had expressed surprise that the developer set a 20-year period to clear the CDA’s dues, but had directed that BNP's proposal be placed before the federal cabinet, which will in turn come up with a way to resolve the matter. However, the company's proposal was rejected by the CDA at the time.

    Today, the bench gave BNP eight years to complete the payment of Rs17.5 billion in instalments for the plot's lease to CDA.

    The order was given despite CDA's request to let the federal cabinet rule on the matter in a meeting scheduled to be held tomorrow. The bench maintained that the federal cabinet will not be able to rule on the matter as the CDA had already rejected the proposal by BNP.

    Earlier in the hearing, the CDA raised objections on Justice Ahsan's inclusion on the bench, citing his previous association with BNP as their lawyer. The chief justice, however, dismissed the objection saying that Justice Ahsan's previous association with the BNP had no bearing on the current case.

    "Was the CDA sleeping for 13 years [while the towers were being constructed]? Now, when two towers have been built, the authority is saying that they fall within the Margalla Hills National Park area and should be demolished," the chief justice said.

    He added: "The Supreme Court's building and the secretariat also fall in the area, shall those be demolished too?"

    "People have bought apartments in the Grand Hyatt," he said while adding that half of Islamabad has been "built wrong".

    "You [CDA] did not even have proper regulations, Tariq Fazl Chaudhry [former Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) minister] had to write them for you. Is this the CDA's performance?" Upon this the CDA Chairman Afzal Latif, who was present in court, said that employees of the authority had defrauded it.

    "You did not remember this fraud for 13 years? Why should the people who spent four billion to buy those apartments have to suffer now," replied the chief justice.


    CJP asks why CDA took 13 years to point out that the Grand Hyatt was built on area within the national park. — FileCJP asks why CDA took 13 years to point out that the Grand Hyatt was built on area within the national park. — File

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    Armed men attempted to stop former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair's car near his residence in Phase VI of Karachi's DHA area on Tuesday night, DawnNewsTV reported citing police.

    The former Sindh governor, according to Darakhshan police station's station house officer (SHO) Arshad Janjua, was returning home with his wife at 11:30pm on Tuesday when his vehicle was intercepted by three unidentified men in a car, with one of them pointing a gun at the PML-N leader, who managed to drive away.

    Zubair, the brother of incumbent Finance Minister Asad Umar, reported the incident to the police and his statement was recorded, the SHO said.

    Later in the day, a first information report of the incident was registered on the complaint of Zubair's son at Darakshaan police station.

    A case has been registered against the unidentified suspects under Sections 324 (attempt to commit murder), 506 (2) (punishment for criminal intimidation), and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

    It is pertinent to mention here that the former governor was driving the vehicle himself and does not have any security assigned to him.

    Following the incident, however, police officials were posted outside Zubair's residence on the orders of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) South Pir Muhammad Shah.

    The SSP South also paid a visit to Zubair's residence along with Superintendent of Police Clifton Suhai Aziz and met the former governor's family.

    Sindh Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam took notice of the incident and sought a detailed inquiry report from the SSP South.

    He directed the officer to take legal and security measures in light of Zubair's statement in order to hold the suspects involved accountable.

    The incident came three weeks after MQM leader Ali Raza Abidi was murdered in DHA's Phase V neighbourhood. Abidi was shot outside his house by two unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle. The case is under investigation.


    With additional reporting by Imtiaz Ali.


    Former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair was driving home with his wife when his car was intercepted, police say. — DawnNewsTVFormer Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair was driving home with his wife when his car was intercepted, police say. — DawnNewsTV

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    A special antiterrorism court in Lahore on Wednesday sentenced a cyberstalker to 24 years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs0.7 million for blackmailing scores of women and extorting money from them, many of whom were lady doctors.

    Abdul Wahab, a resident of Punjab's Layyah district, was arrested in 2015 from Naran after the scam surfaced that nearly 200 women, including lady doctors and nurses of some government teaching hospitals of Lahore, had been harassed or blackmailed by him. Subsequently, Gawal Mandi police station in Lahore registered a case against him.

    It was later revealed that most of the victims were house officers and postgraduate trainees from King Edward Medical University, Fatima Jinnah Medical University and Children Hospital, Lahore.

    The convict used to introduce himself as an official of the "military intelligence", said Dr Salman, on whose complaint the case was registered. Later, he was arrested on allegations of hacking the Whatsapp accounts of lady doctors, blackmailing them with "objectionable video clips and photos" and then extorting money from them.

    Also read:Man held for cheating, blackmailing widowed women online

    During the trial, 31 witnesses recorded their statements as state counsel Abdul Rauf Wattoo presented arguments from the prosecution side.

    The defendant's lawyer claimed that "a false case had been registered against his client and pleaded before the court to issue orders for his acquittal".

    After listening to final arguments from both sides, Judge Sajjad Ahmad sentenced the man to a total of 24 years in prison along with a fine of Rs0.7 million.

    The charges against him, according to the order sheet, are as under:

    1. Convicted under Section 7(1)(h) of the Antiterrorism Act, 1997, and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 14 years, along with a fine of Rs0.5 million. In case of default, he shall further undergo six months of simple imprisonment.

    2. Convicted under Section 419 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years, along with a fine of Rs0.1 million. In case of failure to pay the amount, he shall further undergo three months of simple imprisonment.

    3. Convicted under Section 25-D of the Telegraphic Act and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for three years, along with a fine of Rs0.1 million. In the event he does not pay the fine, he shall further undergo three months of simple imprisonment.

    The convict shall serve his sentence in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail.


    The convict used to present himself as an official from the The convict used to present himself as an official from the "military intelligence". —Photo provided by author

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    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday ordered the removal of managing directors of the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) and the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) over the gas crisis that gripped Punjab and Sindh last month.

    The “prime minister has announced immediate removal of heads of Sui Southern and Sui Northern from their posts” in view of a report of an inquiry committee, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said in a statement.

    The committee had been constituted by the prime minister to fix responsibility for problems faced by the consumers due to gas shortage in recent days. The committee submitted its report to the PM on Tuesday.

    Imran Khan takes decision in the light of inquiry into recent gas shortages

    Following his orders, the petroleum division asked the boards of directors of the two companies to immediately hold meetings on Thursday to implement the prime minister’s orders as required under the corporate governance rules for the public sector entities.

    Informed sources said the top-most officials of the petroleum division bid farewell to SNGPL managing director Amjad Latif at the federal secretariat where he attended a board meeting and expressed their sympathy with him over a sudden decision of the prime minister though the gas import and allocation policies rested with the federal government.

    The information minister’s statement has attributed the prime minister’s decision to the review of the report submitted by the committee tasked with probing the ongoing gas supply crisis, which has rapidly escalated across the country over the past few months.

    On Dec 12, 2018, the prime minister had ordered an inquiry into the dwindling supply of gas which forced industry closures in Punjab and Karachi and affected residential and commercial consumers. The petroleum division had blamed the two companies for concealment of related information from the government.

    Interestingly, the petroleum division subsequently told the prime minister that shortfall was also contributed by two additional factors — gas allocations to fertiliser and export industry for the first time in winter followed by closure of a liquefied natural gas terminal for maintenance.

    In these matters, the decision-making and planning lie with federal ministries and forums and the SNGPL and the SSGCL have no role in it.

    The petroleum minister had reported that a drop in gas production in the southern fields of Kunnar Pasakhi and Gambat caused problems in Karachi, and faults in gas compressors at Nawabshah and Saran created shortages in the north. “SNGPL did not report gas demand and supply shortfall in December accurately to the government, and SSGCL failed to inform the government about faults in the compressors in a timely manner,” he said.

    Data of the gas flows is on display on a round the clock basis in the petroleum division, showing real time situation of gas intake from various sources and outflow to various customers.

    The petroleum division has said the specific allegations against the managing directors of the SNGPL and the SSGCL include negligence in reporting of facts to the ministry or incompetence to deal with operational issues, withholding of information from the government and overall systematic failure of the two companies.

    An earlier fact-finding committee headed by Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority chairperson Uzma Adil Khan had not blamed the two companies or their heads for the shortage in its report.

    A subsequent report prepared by the additional secretary in-charge had also left the conclusion open-ended, leaving the decision to the prime minister, the information minister had said on Tuesday.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019


    An earlier fact-finding committee headed by Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority chairperson Uzma Adil Khan had not blamed the two companies or their heads for the shortage in its report. ─ DawnNewsTVAn earlier fact-finding committee headed by Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority chairperson Uzma Adil Khan had not blamed the two companies or their heads for the shortage in its report. ─ DawnNewsTV

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    ISLAMABAD: The Fina­ncial Action Task Force (FATF) is reported to have expressed a degree of satisfaction over Pakistan’s efforts and action plan to combat money laundering and terror financing under international obligations and indicated certain areas to do more before May this year to get out of the grey list.

    A high-level delegation led by Finance Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan is currently attending a three-day conference of the FATF in Sydney, Australia. The delegation comprises representatives of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), National Counter Terrorism Autho­rity (Nacta), Federal Inves­tigation Agency (FIA), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Financial Monitoring Unit.

    “For the first time, our delegation felt that FATF is appreciating our performance so far,” a senior official told Dawn on the basis of feedback received from Sydney on the conclusion of second day of the conference. He said most of the 10-point action plan envisaging 27 benchmarks had been reviewed by the Paris-based global watchdog on anti-money laundering and terror financing. One or two relatively insignificant areas were left for Thursday when the FATF will give its final opinion.

    The official said the FATF had highlighted a few matters that were doable by May but progress would need to be registered by February. He said the next review meeting of the FATF would be held in Paris in February to be followed by a broader examination of the full compliance with international commitments at another meeting in May – possibly in Sri Lanka or Sydney. The May meeting would determine whether or not Pakistan is on the course to exit from the grey list by September.

    Officials said the FATF had gone through the report dispatched by Pakistan last week before the review meetings with the Pakistani delegation involving questions and answers on the performance so far and the way forward. They said the FATF team appeared convinced over the steps and measures taken by the authorities to combat terror financing and money laundering in line with the United Nations resolutions.

    The Pakistani delegation explained the implementation status of the plans for various government agencies. The report identifies Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran borders as key routes for terror financing and money laundering and says 4,643 suspected transactions relating to terror financing and money laundering have been identified and blocked since 2015, including 3,677 suspected transaction reports and 966 financial intelligence reports. A total of 1,167 transactions have been captured during 2018 alone, including 975 suspected transaction reports and 210 financial intelligence reports.

    To address the challenge at the two borders, the report says, checking and security systems at Pak-Afghan border have been strengthened with improved technology and vigilance while security has also been beefed up at Pak-Iran border.

    The report says the long coastal belt is also a source of smuggling and security is being tightened through law enforcement agencies, including through marine and coast guards. It says Afghan transit trade is also a source of such unregistered financial flows. All these channels are also being misused by foreign agencies to support terror-related activities.

    The tools being used for financial transaction for terrorism include donations, cash smuggling, natural resources, drugs, non-governmental organisations and foreign agencies, the report says. The FBR identified about 1,185 illegal transactions since 2015, followed by 1,049 by the SBP and about 1,295 by the FIA.

    During the May and September meetings, regulators and law enforcement agencies will be expected to demonstrate results in the form of investigations, prosecutions, convictions, supervisory actions, sanctions with resulting impacts on compliance by financial institutions, implementation of cross-border currency and border controls and enforcement of regulatory regime at the borders. Nacta will be expected to enhance coordination with law enforcement agencies and the Counter Terrorism Department coupled with effective implementation of sanctions under the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

    In June 2018, Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG (Asia Pacific Group on money laundering) to strengthen its anti-money laundering /counter-terror financing regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorism financing-related deficiencies by implementing a 10-point action plan to accomplish these objectives.

    The successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by the APG will lead the FATF to clear Pakistan out of its grey list or else move into the black list by Sept.

    In August, the APG as part of the pre-site mutual evaluation identified a series of deficiencies in Pakistan’s anti-money laundering/counter-terror financing laws and mechanisms.

    The authorities are required to upgrade agencies and their human resources to enable them to handle foreign requests to block terror financing and freeze illegal and targeted assets. By the end of September, Pakistan has to comply with the action plan it has committed with the FATF in June to get out of the grey list or else fall into the black list.

    Over the next nine months, i.e. till September, the government will complete the investigation into the widest range of terror financing activities, including appeals and calls for donations and collection of funds, besides their movements and uses.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019


    The successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by the APG will lead the FATF to clear Pakistan out of its grey list or else move into the black list by Sept. ─ Photo courtesy FATFThe successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by the APG will lead the FATF to clear Pakistan out of its grey list or else move into the black list by Sept. ─ Photo courtesy FATF

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    ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered three top government institutions to ascertain the actual lands in physical possession of the Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd, Malir, which according to the National Accoun­tability Bureau (NAB) is 25,601 acres.

    A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, ordered the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), the Survey of Pakistan and NAB to sit together and identify lands which Bahria Town claims is not in their possession and have erroneously been added to Bahria Town by NAB.

    The bench had taken up the implementation of the May 4 judgement of the Supreme Court.

    Suparco, Survey of Pakistan and NAB told to sit together and identify lands which the firm claims have been added in its name erroneously

    The judgement concerns with cases involving the grant of 9,385 acres of land in 43 Dehs, consolidated by the Malir Development Authority (MDA) and then handed over to the Bahria Town in 2015. The land is situated about nine kilometres from the toll plaza on the Karachi-Hyderabad Superhighway, a 25-minute drive from the Jinnah International Airport.

    In its May 4 judgement, the Supreme Court had held that the grant of land to the MDA by the Sindh government, its exchange with the land of the private land developers — Messrs Bahria Town — and anything done under the provisions of Colonisation of Government Land Act, 1912, (COGLA) by the Sindh government as illegal, void ab initio and as such of no legal existence.

    The lands were granted for launching incremental housing scheme, but instead of launching it, the MDA exchanged it with the Bahria Town to launch a scheme of its own, the judgement had held.

    The MDA was created by the Malir Development Authority Act, 1993, for the purpose of developing certain areas of the Karachi division.

    The directions came when Barrister Ali Zafar, who represented the Bahria Town, disputed the claim of NAB and asserted that figures being cited by NAB were wrong since NAB had included 1,664 acres of lands of the adjoining Jamshoro district which were private-owned properties besides the bureau had added another 10,000 acres with the Bahria Town.

    He said that 7,318 acres was government land which could be taken out and according to Bahria Town’s calculation the total lands the builder tycoon owned was 16,200 acres and not 18,336 acres as was claimed earlier.

    NAB’s Investigating Officer Qamar Abbass told the Supreme Court that as per the determination of the Survey of Pakistan, the actual lands in possession of Bahria Town was 25,601 acres out of which 7,220 acres were illegally exchanged in Feb 2015 with MDA by Mr Malik Riaz.

    In 2016, the actual lands in possession of the Bahria Town were 12,156 which swelled to 25,601 acres, the NAB investigation officer told the Supreme Court.

    NAB Prosecutor General Syed Asghar Haider informed the court that NAB had completed its investigation into the Malir development case and the reference in this regard was being vetted, but the formal reference would be finalised in two to three weeks.

    The investigation officer said that 1,644 acres which Bahria Town claimed to be situated in the Jamshoro district was also Sindh government’s lands, adding that the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board had also informed NAB that the private builder had carried out 59 unauthorised borings of which 1.7 million of gallons of water was being extracted from aquifer on a daily basis.

    In addition to this Rs5.5 billion was still outstanding with the MDA which the builder had to pay for the layout plans.

    The Sindh Building Control Authority is also claiming that all buildings had been constructed illegally in Malir district by the Bahria Town, the investigation officer said, adding that no taxes for the registration of lands had been paid to the Sindh government by Bahria Town.

    Justice Saeed, however, asked NAB to investigate and file separate references against the builder, adding that rights of the Sindh government would be protected at all cost. The judge observed that the court expected that an appropriate action would be taken against the departments concerned and the builder.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019


    Suparco, Survey of Pakistan and NAB told to sit together and identify lands which the firm claims have been added in its name erroneously. ─ File photoSuparco, Survey of Pakistan and NAB told to sit together and identify lands which the firm claims have been added in its name erroneously. ─ File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has barred its officials from going abroad without permission.

    According to the NAB spokesman, the ban was imposed to avoid visits by NAB officials without getting sanctioned leave.

    The ban will not apply in case of Umrah.

    The NAB chairman has disapproved of a practice in which officials first purchase air tickets and then apply for leave.

    Now he has made it mandatory that officials first apply for leave and purchase tickets after the leave is sanctioned.

    Reservation of tickets has been stopped without approval of ex-Pakistan leave, the spokesman said.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019


    NAB chairman makes it mandatory for officials to first apply for leave and purchase air tickets after leave is sanctioned. ─ AFP/FileNAB chairman makes it mandatory for officials to first apply for leave and purchase air tickets after leave is sanctioned. ─ AFP/File

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    ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Wednesday approved the payment of Rs4.058 billion to clear salaries and related dues of 12,175 teachers of Basic Education Community Schools providing non-formal basic education to the downtrodden.

    The meeting, presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umar, had a detailed discussion on matters pertaining to the project regarding operation of these schools and allowed Rs4.058bn, clearing the previous liabilities and six months’ expenses of the current financial year up to December 2018.

    This will be subject to verification of personnel and facilities by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the district administration concerned.

    The project is based on non-formal basic education system where the community provides for the premises, while expenses on teachers’ honorarium, utility bills, text books, etc, are met by the federal government.

    12,175 people to benefit from Ecnec decision

    The enrolment in these schools was about 463,198 and 56 per cent of the students were female, with each school having roughly 30 students of age group 4-16 years. Single teacher is responsible for all the classes of the school by adopting multi-grade teaching methods based on formal school curriculum.

    The project, originally planned for five years, is under implementation since 1995 in areas where formal schools were not available and cover all the provinces and areas of the country on the basis of need determined by physical survey of the identified location.

    The project was started with an initial cost of Rs1.26bn in 1995 for five years. Ecnec again approved the project in 2007 at a revised cost of Rs7bn with implementation period from 2006 to 2010. It was once against approved in 2014 at a cost of Rs4.28bn for 2013-16. Another phase was approved in July 2017 at another revised cost of Rs3bn.

    The sponsoring agency — Ministry of Education and Professional Training — has now come up with six-month salary and liabilities as a new project.

    About Rs1.2bn has already been allocated in the current year’s Public Sector Development Programme. The Planning Commission has, however, objected to the project on the grounds that it should now be adopted by the provinces for which a case should be immediately taken up at the level of Council of Common Interests.

    The Planning Commission has also demanded that besides Nadra and district administration’s verification for the future, the education and professional training ministry should also submit a forensic audit report conducted by the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue from original commencement of the revised project in 2007.

    The meeting was told that most of the funds required would go against the payment of salaries to the teachers until December 2018, besides about Rs477 million other liabilities.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019


    12,175 people to benefit from Ecnec decision. ─ Dawn/File12,175 people to benefit from Ecnec decision. ─ Dawn/File

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    LAHORE: Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing says that inconsistent trade policies, high ratio of taxes and some other issues are reasons for the presence of fewer Chinese investors in Pakistan.

    “The main reasons behind fewer Chinese investors in Pakistan are poor trade policies, high taxes, no tax incentives and lack of business-friendly environment,” a local news channel quoted the ambassador as having said while speaking to businessmen at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday.

    “Your policies lack consistency, keeping investors from China and elsewhere at bay,” he responded when the business community asked why Chinese companies, after relocating their businesses from the United States, were preferring investment in other countries, including Cambodia and India, instead of Pakistan that was already executing several projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

    Yao says while PML-N govt paid full attention to Gwadar port, infrastructure and energy projects, it neglected completion of special economic zones

    The ambassador said that under the CPEC, projects relating to the Gwadar port, infrastructure, energy and special economic zones (SEZs) were to be completed.

    “Though the outgoing PML-N government paid full attention to the Gwadar port, infrastructure and energy projects, it neglected completion of the SEZs. Since there are no SEZs too, how Chinese investors can make investments,” he said.

    Under the CPEC, Mr Yao said, the SEZs should be given priority because they would boost joint ventures, specifically in manufacturing and socio-economic sectors of the country.

    “In SEZs and joint venture schemes, 70-80 per cent priority would be given to Pakistan shares and exports of Pakistan would increase by 70-80pc,” he maintained. He also revealed that the CPEC would soon be opened to the world for investment.

    The Chinese envoy said Pakistan was required to make its trade policies better, besides bringing down ratio of taxes and duties and making its products competitive. “Improvement of competitiveness will help your country make trade balanced.”

    He praised the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government for having export-oriented vision. “The new government has an export-oriented vision and looks determined to resolve various issues,” the ambassador said.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019


    Ambassador Yao Jing says that while the PML-N government paid full attention to Gwadar port, infrastructure and energy projects, it neglected completion of SEZs. ─ DawnNewsTVAmbassador Yao Jing says that while the PML-N government paid full attention to Gwadar port, infrastructure and energy projects, it neglected completion of SEZs. ─ DawnNewsTV

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    ISLAMABAD: A Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former chairman of the Senate, Mian Raza Rabbani, says the government appears to be moving towards centralisation and wants to roll back or circumvent provincial autonomy to create a presidential form of government.

    Talking to media on Wednesday, he said it was the duty of parliament and judiciary, as per the 1973 Constitution, to prevent the federal executive from encroaching upon the domain of the provinces.

    “The federal government continues to circumvent constitutional provisions in reference to provincial autonomy granted by the 18th Constitutional Amendment,” he said. The decision of the Cabinet Committee on Energy to reduce the life of solar and wind projects generating electricity to 15 years from 20 years was unconstitutional, Mr Rabbani added.

    “The subject of electricity is Entry No 14, Part II of the Federal Legislative List of the Constitution and thus falls within the purview of the Council of Common Interests (CCI). Any policy decision by the Cabinet Committee on Energy for electricity is a clear transgression and infringement into the domain of the CCI,” he noted.

    The province of Sindh, he said, was being denied its constitutional share of natural gas in violation of Article 158 of the Constitution, as a consequence of which industries were closing down and labour facing retrenchment.

    Article 158 of the Constitution reads: “The Province in which a well-head of natural gas is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements from that well-head, subject to the commitments and obligations as on the commencing day”. Mr Rabbani termed the two decisions taken by the federal government an attempt to economically destabilise Sindh.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019


    Former senate chairman alleges government wants to roll back or circumvent provincial autonomy. ─ File photoFormer senate chairman alleges government wants to roll back or circumvent provincial autonomy. ─ File photo

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    RAWALPINDI: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Investment and Textile, Abdul Razak Dawood on Wednesday said business community has been the top priority of government and the focus was to strengthen the interaction with traders.

    The minister was talking to a delegation of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by its President Malik Shahid Saleem,.

    Mr Dawood said that government was working on a multilateral policy including reforms in taxation, regulatory duty and ease of doing business.

    “We are working on framing a new industrial policy which will bridge the fundamental disconnects between government and the private sector,” he said, adding “We want recommendations and suggestions to improve our ailing industry, especially small and medium enterprises.”

    On the occassion, Mr Saleem said the government should act proactively and set a clear direction for economy with short, medium and long-term goals.

    Deindustrialisation situation is an alarming challenge for the country, which has led to a decrease in revenues and increased the number of unemployed people, he added.

    He said an aggressive export policy is required to meet the challenge of balance of payment.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019


    Govt working on multilateral policy including reforms in taxation, regulatory duty and ease of doing business.Govt working on multilateral policy including reforms in taxation, regulatory duty and ease of doing business.

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    LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the provincial government, police chief and others on a petition challenging Punjab Prohibition of Kite Flying Ordinance 2001.

    A citizen, Ayza Javed, moved the petition as public interest litigation seeking a direction to the government functionaries not to allow kite flying or Basant festival.

    The petitioner through counsel Sheraz Zaka contended that the impugned ordinance authorised the government to allow kite flying. He argued the kite-flying activity was an infringement of fundamental rights of the citizens.

    He pointed out that the Supreme Court in its 2006 judgment declared kite flying and celebration of Basant festival a violation of fundamental rights. He said the provincial government in 2009 introduced an amendment to the law acquiring power to allow kite-flying activity without defining any criteria.

    The counsel argued the fundamental rights were most superior and special in nature and could not be disturbed without having strict recourse to the law. He said the celebration of kite-flying festival would not only result in loss of lives but also disruption to electricity transmission.

    He asked the court to direct the respondents not to allow any kite-flying activity nor celebration of Basant festival. He also urged the court to declare void section 4(1) and 4-B of the Punjab Prohibition of Kite Flying Ordinance 2001, under which the government enjoyed powers to grant permission of kite flying.

    The chief secretary, inspector general of police, lord mayor and Lesco had been made party in the petition.

    Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh issued notices to respondents for Jan 15 and directed the registrar office to consolidate the petition with identical petitions already taken up by Justice Aminuddin Khan.

    REMAND: An accountability court granted the NAB a 14-day physical remand of Gujrat’s former district police officer (DPO) Kamran Mumtaz facing charges of embezzlement in public funds.

    The NAB arrested Mr Mumtaz the other day on his return from Australia after attending a professional training course. The bureau alleged the former DPO was involved in misappropriating Rs550m under different heads, including petrol bills, allowances and Shuhadaa funds of the department during his posting in Gujrat.

    A NAB prosecutor asked the court to grant 15-day physical remand of the suspect for interrogation and recovery of the plundered money. However, the court allowed 14-day remand of the officer. In this case, another former DPO Rai Ijaz is already in the NAB custody.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019


    Petitioner argues the kite-flying activity was an infringement of fundamental rights of the citizens. — FilePetitioner argues the kite-flying activity was an infringement of fundamental rights of the citizens. — File

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