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    ISLAMABAD: A PTI senator criticised red-tapism and the federal government during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) on Wednesday.

    Senator Dr Mehr Taj Roghani said it was unfortunate that bureaucrats “deliberately delay files and start their postmortem, due to which not only are projects delayed but all the concerned stakeholders suffer”.

    During its meeting at Parliament House, the committee expressed displeasure with the submission of a Ministry of NHS report that was delayed by almost a month.

    NHS Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiani had promised to submit the report, which concerned the educational qualifications of doctors working in government hospitals and details of the suspension of two doctors from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, in just three days.

    Senator Roghani said that in her last tenure in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, she had asked PTI Chairman Imran Khan to fast-track files.

    “My request was considered by the party, and after that it became routine for files to be approved within days. Currently, there is a perfect system in the province of KP due to which all the projects are expedited,” she said.

    PML-N Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq asked why, if red-tapism had ended in KP, it had not ended in the federal government.

    “Now the PTI is in power for the last five months at the federal level, but that system could not be introduced here,” she said.

    Two doctors from Pims were suspended in September 2018 over allegations that they had hired a fake doctor while they were both absent at night duty.

    The meeting also saw one senator walk out after the committee chair, Senator Mian Ateeq Shaikh from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, asked Pims Executive Director Dr Raja Amjad Mehmood why he was at the meeting.

    He told Dr Amjad that according to his information, he had not been invited by the committee.

    “I have given an observation that officers should not attend meetings unnecessarily because work suffers due to that practice. It is not acceptable that four secretaries would attend the meeting of the standing committee along with the minister. You should not have come here uninvited,” he added.

    The criticism upset Senator Dilawar Khan, an independent, who said the chair had no right to humiliate anyone.

    “You did the same thing to the governor State Bank of Pakistan the other day during a meeting of the standing committee on finance. I have no option but to boycott the meeting against your attitude,” he said.

    Although Senator Shaikh apologised to Dr Amjad, Senator Dilawar left the room. He was later persuaded to return by senators Liaquat Khan Tarakai and Dr Ashok Kumar.

    Dr Amjad tried to defuse the situation at the end of the meeting, remarking that Senator Shaikh was a classmate of his and had every right to speak to him in that tone.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

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    LAHORE: A 14-year-old boy was electrocuted while catching a stray kite in Misri Shah area here on Wednesday.

    Police said that the deceased identified as Sohaib, son of Javed, was a seminary student.

    He was playing in the street when he tried to catch a stray kite to which metallic string was attached.

    As soon as the metallic string fell on a high-tension electric wire, Sohaib suffered severe electric shock, resulting in multiple burns to his body.

    The locals immediately rushed him to hospital where doctors declared him dead, the police said.

    Following his death, scores of relatives and other locals gathered near his house, raised slogans against the police and the Punjab government for their “failure” to check kite-flying.

    They also blocked a road and lodged protest demanding, action against the police authorities and the government officials concerned who, they said, were responsible for the death.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

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    ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) hearing a complaint against a judge of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday accepted a request from the judge’s defence counsel of giving up 37 defence witnesses in lieu of six, including former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

    The witnesses who will now likely appear on behalf of LHC judge Justice Muhammad Farrukh Irfan Khan are Justice Chaudhry, Nisar Bhatti, Sanjeev Kumar Patel from the United Arab Emirates, Syed Mubashir Ali and Iseeb-ur-Rehman from London, in addition to the judge himself.

    Headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, the five-judge SJC postponed further proceedings till Monday, when statements of all the witnesses would be recorded. Cross-examination of the witnesses would also be carried out.

    Senior counsel Hamid Khan, who was representing Justice Khan, requested the council to order the government to facilitate the issuance of visas to the witnesses so that they could arrive in Pakistan on time.

    The council, however, cautioned that in addition to the six witnesses no other witness would be allowed to record his/her statement.

    The council again rejected the request to summon the former chief justice of Pakistan, but said that if Justice Chaudhry wanted to appear on his own, he could do so to testify to the evidence he had given in the shape of an affidavit.

    Chief Justice Nisar observed that Justice Chaudhry should have known that the affidavit had no value unless the deponent was cross-examined.

    In his affidavit, Justice Chaudhry defended Justice Khan by stating that he did not receive any complaint nor receive any adverse remarks or report from any member of the public, bar, judge of the high court or the chief justice of the Lahore High Court during his tenure as the chief justice of Pakistan and that the sitting judge was also not short-tempered or disrespectful to the members of the bar or litigants or to the government officials.

    On the contrary, during his tenure as judge of the high court, Justice Khan conducted himself with the “highest dignity and judicial guise” and his elevation and working as a judge added to the respect and decorum of the institution.

    Justice Khan, the affidavit contended, had always enjoyed a very good reputation amongst his brother judges, the bar and the litigants as an upright, honest, hardworking and dedicated judge.

    Justice Chaudhry further said that he had nominated and elevated Justice Khan not only due to his vast legal and international experience, but also because he was an honest and upright citizen.

    Moreover, Justice Khan was a successful lawyer both in Pakistan and at the international forums and was respected as a professional lawyer by all, Justice Chaudhry said, adding that Justice Khan had disclosed to him about his practice in the UAE, factum of owning properties and that he was working in the boards of different charitable organisations prior to his elevation.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

    Headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, the five-judge SJC postponed further proceedings till Monday. ─ APP/FileHeaded by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, the five-judge SJC postponed further proceedings till Monday. ─ APP/File

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    ISLAMABAD: Official representation from the government of Sindh was absent at the first meeting of the National Curriculum Council (NCC) on Wednesday, held to develop a consensus on introducing a uniform system of education in the country.

    Neither the Sindh education minister nor the education secretary attended the meeting, and sources in the PPP have said the move to convene the NCC meeting is unconstitutional.

    A senior PPP leader told Dawn education and the curriculum already stand devolved to the provinces under the 18th Amendment. Sans representation from Sindh, participants of the NCC agreed in principle to bring uniformity to the education sector.

    Participants of the curriculum council agree to bring uniformity to the education sector

    The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Federal Education and attended by stakeholders from the public, private and madressah systems, the higher education sector and the provinces.

    Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, who chaired the meeting, said that the literacy rate has fallen in the last few years from 60 to 58.

    In addition, more than22million children in Pakistan are out of school. He deplored that the country had so far failed to provide quality education and a uniform curriculum to students.

    Mr Qureshi said the government wants to introduce a single national certification model in education.

    Little attended was given to uplifting the public sector education system, Punjab Minister for Schools Education Murad Raas said, resulting in the growth of the private sector.

    He said his ministry was taking steps to bring positive change.

    The president of the Tanzeemul Madaris Pakistan, Mufti Muneebur Rehman, said seminaries are ready to cooperate with the government but there should be practical measures to achieve a uniform education system, as previous governments including the PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have failed in this regard.

    Beaconhouse School System Executive Director Nasir Kasuri said the government should focus on quality and creativity in the education system.

    Social activist and musician Shehzad Roy also expressed support for the government’s plan and said teacher training is particularly needed.

    Mohammad Khan Lehri, the Balochistan education adviser, said changes should be brought to the education system in phases, while Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Hyderabad Chairman Dr Mohammad Memon said the government needs to formulate the NCC’s framework.

    International Islamic University Rector Prof Dr Masoom Yasinzai, representing public sector universities, urged the private sector to help the government improve the education system.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

    Participants of the curriculum council agree to bring uniformity to the education sector. — FileParticipants of the curriculum council agree to bring uniformity to the education sector. — File

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    Despite being without suspended captain Faf du Plessis, South Africa will be pushing for a clean sweep when they play Pakistan in the third and final Test starting at the Wanderers Stadium on Friday.

    Opening batsman Dean Elgar was announced as stand-in captain on Wednesday after Du Plessis was suspended for one match after South Africa fell short of the required over rate during their nine-wicket win in the second Test at Newlands.

    The loss of Du Plessis will inevitably disrupt South Africa's plans. He has led South Africa to 17 wins in his 27 Tests in charge and was named man of the match after scoring a century at Newlands.

    Speaking on Sunday before the ban was announced, Du Plessis said South Africa were determined to keep the pressure on Pakistan and win the series 3-0.

    Du Plessis is likely to be replaced in the batting order by Zubayr Hamza, 23, who will become South Africa's 100th Test player since the country returned to international cricket in 1991.

    Hamza has been part of the squad throughout the series, primarily to gain experience in the national team set-up. He got a taste of Test cricket in front of his home crowd at Newlands when he took a good catch at fine leg as a substitute fielder. Hamza has a career first-class batting average of 49.29.

    A second change in an already fragile batting line-up may be necessary, with opening batsman Aiden Markram facing a fitness test on Thursday after suffering a right thigh injury which prevented him from batting in the second innings at Newlands. Uncapped Pieter Malan, a teammate of Hamza at the Cape Cobras franchise, is on standby.

    Du Plessis's ban may also cause South Africa to question the wisdom of fielding an all-seam bowling attack, which inevitably puts pressure on over rates. The Wanderers is the ground where South Africa have most often fielded four fast bowlers and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj has only played in one of a possible three Tests at the ground since becoming a regular member of the squad.

    The pitch received a "poor" rating from the International Cricket Council after a Test against India last season. A repeat would cause the ground to be barred from staging international matches for a year and it seems unlikely the surface will again be prepared to give an undue advantage to fast bowlers.

    Pakistan's batting has been inadequate against South Africa's fast bowling, although Shan Masood, Imamul Haq, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam have all played useful innings. The bowlers, too, were disappointing at Newlands, so it seems likely there will be changes.

    But the options for the tourists are limited. Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf could both come into consideration as all-rounders after Pakistan's four specialist bowlers were worn down during South Africa's first innings of 431 at Newlands.


    South Africa: Dean Elgar (capt), Aiden Markram or Pieter Malan, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Zubayr Hamza, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier

    Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wkt), Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan

    South Africa determined to keep pressure on Pakistan and win the series 3-0, suspended skipper du Plessis says. ─ AP/FileSouth Africa determined to keep pressure on Pakistan and win the series 3-0, suspended skipper du Plessis says. ─ AP/File

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    KARACHI: While not ruling out extremism as a motive, the police authorities on Wednesday hinted at narrowing down the scope of investigation into last month’s murder of Ali Raza Abidi, former MNA and leader of a faction of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, when they claimed to have found leads suggesting that the party’s London- and South Africa-based members were in the city to execute the job.

    Talking to reporters after seeing former Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair at his residence in Defence Housing Authority, SSP South Pir Mohammed Shah said that the probe into Mr Abidi’s killing had made some headway and the investigators were close to knowing the motive and people behind his assassination.

    “We are gradually moving forward in that [Abidi’s killing] case,” he said. “We are excluding people and groups who cannot be suspected of their involvement in the incident. But definitely there are credible reports that people of the London group, or you can say the South African group, are here in the city. Every government agency is doing its job and adding its inputs. Considering the history of violence in Karachi, we cannot rule out extremism and terrorism as a possible motive, but there are other actors as well who are taken into account.”

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

    Police claim to have found leads suggesting MQM's London-, S. Africa-based members were in Karachi to execute job. ─ Dawn archivesPolice claim to have found leads suggesting MQM's London-, S. Africa-based members were in Karachi to execute job. ─ Dawn archives

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    KARACHI: An anti-encroachment operation threatening to raze the historic Urdu Bazaar in Karachi was postponed on Wednesday amidst protests by vendors and merchants.

    Official sources told Dawn that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation — which had launched an anti-encroachment drive late last year following the orders of the Supreme Court against illegal structures on drains, pavements and state land — formed a four-member committee comprising two estate officers of the municipal administration and as many representatives of the book bazaar to resolve the matter.

    The vendors and merchants staged a protest on Tuesday against the impending anti-encroachment action at Urdu Bazaar as the KMC had on Jan 4 given them notices to vacate the government property before Jan 8 midnight.

    Officials said that following heated protests, led by the Urdu Bazaar Market Association and the Booksellers Association, the drive was postponed and a final decision in this regard was expected on Thursday (today).

    They said that the four-member committee would submit a report clarifying that Urdu Bazaar was not located over a drain in the next two days.

    According to the protesting vendors and merchants, the iconic bazaar was a cultural heritage of the city.

    They said that the KMC claimed that their shops were illegal and asked them to clear out their shops.

    The protesters said that the Urdu Bazaar was there for decades and it was set up through legal procedures and was not an encroachment.

    However, the KMC officials said that shops were located over a drain.

    The Urdu Bazaar Market Association said that almost all bookshop owners had legal documents of ownership. It said the owners had paid the rent of the shops till December 2018.

    The shopkeepers have been regularly paying the rent to the KMC after the interval of six months.

    WWF award to KMC

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) awarded Karachi with WWF’s One Planet City Challenge Award for 2018 as a recognition of measures taken by Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar for bringing environmental pollution to a lower level.

    The award signed by the secretary general of WWF Sweden, Hakan Writen, was handed over to the mayor by a delegation of WWF at his office.

    The delegation informed that the WWF’s One Planet City Challenge award is given to management of big cities for their endeavour to control environmental pollution.

    It said that Karachi was aiming high with its goal for 2020 — to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent compared to 2017 levels and the city emerged as the strongest candidate in Pakistan for the award.

    Meanwhile, in a meeting chaired by the mayor, chairmen/chairpersons of nine committees of the City Council were elected.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

    The vendors and merchants staged a protest on Tuesday against the impending anti-encroachment action at Urdu Bazaar as the KMC had on Jan 4 given them notices to vacate the government property before Jan 8 midnight. ─ APP/FileThe vendors and merchants staged a protest on Tuesday against the impending anti-encroachment action at Urdu Bazaar as the KMC had on Jan 4 given them notices to vacate the government property before Jan 8 midnight. ─ APP/File

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    KARACHI: The Pakis­tan Medical Association (PMA) on Wednesday said it would not accept the “undemocratic” ordinance promulgated by the president of Pakistan allowing the prime minister, chief ministers, and armed forces to nominate their members to run the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), the premier body that regulated medical affairs in the country.

    “It is entirely undemocratic, unconstitutional and would not be accepted by the entire medical fraternity,” said Dr S.M. Qaisar Sajjad at a press conference at the PMA House.

    He said despite a promise recently made by the health minister to the PMA for running the PMDC democratically, President Arif Alvi had signed an ordinance through which a 17-member PMDC body would be formed through nominations by the PM, CMs, CPSP (College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan) and the armed forces.

    PMDC regulates health bodies, medical educational institutions and bodies and was being run on ad-hoc basis for the past 11 months after the apex court dissolved and replaced it with a nine-member council headed by a former SC judge.

    Accompanied by PMA president Dr Ikram Tunio, treasurer Dr Qazi Wasiq, PMA Karachi president Dr Khalil Mukaddam, and other officials, Dr Sajjad said the fraternity was deeply upset and concerned about yet another nominated PMDC, which was against the basic principles of democracy and laws of the country.

    “We demand the government to immediately repeal the ordinance,” adding that the government should hold elections and run it as an independent regulatory body.

    The PMA official said they had summoned the central council’s meeting in Islamabad next week where the issue would be discussed.

    “We warn the government to act wisely; otherwise it should forget all other issues and prepare itself to deal with doctors only, who would make functioning of the government extremely hard.”

    He said the PMDC was a doctors’ body and all its expenses were borne by doctors.

    “It is a regulatory body to keep an eye over performance of doctors and medical education in the country and the doctors’ fraternity wants it to be an elected institution that functions democratically.”

    He added people with vested interests could be behind such a move to gain monetary benefits by installing people of their choice in the PMDC through nominations.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

    Ordinance allows PM, CMs and armed forces to nominate their members to run PMDC. ─ File photoOrdinance allows PM, CMs and armed forces to nominate their members to run PMDC. ─ File photo

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    KARACHI: As efforts by Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to unite the opposition parties mainly ‘outside the parliament’ have yet to pay the dividends, National Party president Senator Hasil Khan Bizenjo won the approval of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership to pursue the course for the same objective on Wednesday.

    Sources privy to the development and a statement issued by the Bilawal House suggested that the meeting did not end with the conventional exchange of thoughts of the leaders from opposition parties, but they agreed to move on for a united stand of the parties on some key issues not inside the parliament alone.

    “Former federal minister and president National Party Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo called on former president of Pakistan and president PPPP Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Bilawal House and discussed a host of issues of mutual interest. Deputy Chairman Senate Salim Mandviwala was also present,” said the statement.

    When contacted, Senator Bizenjo avoided going into details of the discussion, but admitted ‘his wish’ for the alliance of the two major parties of the opposition due to severity of the political challenges. He replied in the affirmative when asked about his expected meeting with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership on the same agenda with the consent of the PPP leaders for a united stance of the opposition parties over the key issues.

    Zardari, Bilawal and Mandviwala agree for a united stand on some key issues

    “There are several such issues which are a source of concern for all democratic parties which believe in parliamentary rule and norms,” he said. “Among them, for instance, are the 18th Amendment and NFC award. I personally wish and want them [PPP and PML-N] to unite on such issues. Meeting with Mr Zardari was really good and I would definitely take this up with the PML-N leaders as well and hope to receive their positive response.”

    The sources said that the meeting which lasted almost an hour also discussed various options the opposition parties may adopt on key issues that included the 18th Amendment, ‘feared one-party rule’ and recent charged mood of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf against the PPP’s government in Sindh.

    They said the discussion focused thoughts from both sides over the possibility of the “alliance between the PPP and PML-N as key opposition parties” for meeting the approaching political challenges.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

    KARACHI: National Party president Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo calls on PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at Bilawal House on Wednesday. Deputy Chairman of Senate Salim Mandviwala is also present.—INPKARACHI: National Party president Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo calls on PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at Bilawal House on Wednesday. Deputy Chairman of Senate Salim Mandviwala is also present.—INP

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    KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Wednesday dismissed an application seeking to halt the proceedings of Perween Rahman’s murder trial until an order was passed by the Supreme Court on her sister’s plea for re-investigation of the case by the Federal Investigation Agency.

    Earlier, the same court had dismissed an application moved by the slain activist’s sister pleading to summon and record testimonies of the members of a Supreme Court-appointed joint investigation team (JIT), which had detained and grilled some of the accused involved in the murder.

    Five detained accused — Abdul Raheem Swati, his son Mohammad Imran Swati, Ayaz Shamzai alias Swati, Amjad Hussain Khan and Ahmed Khan alias Ahmed Ali alias Pappu Kashmiri — have been charged with the murder.

    ATC rules indefinite adjournment of a criminal case is against normal trend of jurisprudence

    Ms Rahman, head of the Orangi Pilot Project, was gunned down near her office in Orangi Town on March 13, 2013.

    On Wednesday, the ATC-XIII conducting trial inside the judicial complex in the central prison pronounced its verdict reserved earlier after hearing arguments from the defence, prosecution and the counsel for the complainant.

    The judge passed the order while disposing of an application jointly filed by Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar, who represented the complainant, and Assistant Prosecutor General Ghulam Murtaza Maitlo for the state under Section 344 (power to postpone or adjourn proceedings) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) read with Section 32 (overriding effect of the act) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

    After considering the arguments of the prosecutor and the counsel for the complainant and the accused, the judge wrote in his order that admittedly the matter pertained to 2013 and could not be finalised for one or the other reason.

    The accused were behind bars since the date of their arrest and their bail applications had also been dismissed by the trial court as well as the high court, the court added.

    It said there were directions of the Sindh High Court to conclude the matter within two months and the trial court had taken efforts and examined all the witnesses cited in the calendar of witnesses and side of the prosecution had been closed.

    The judge noted that the statements of the accused under Section 342 (power to examine the accused) as well as 340(2) (right of person to be defended and his competency to be a witness) of the CrPC had been recorded.

    He noted that the complainant’s counsel moved an application requesting to summon and record statements of the members of the JIT, but the application was dismissed.

    Therefore, the complainant challenged the same order by filing a revision application before the SHC besides moving an application with the SC with a request to entrust investigation of the case to an honest and impartial officer of the FIA.

    She also filed the present application with the trial court requesting it to indefinitely adjourn the matter or stay further proceedings in the case, arguing that if the present application was disposed of the other applications pending before the SHC and the SC would become infructuous.

    Opposing the plea, Advocate Shah Imroze Khan, defence counsel for accused Imran Swati, contended that the plea was not maintainable for passing any order as the relief claimed by the complainant was not within the jurisdiction of the trial court.

    “The case cannot be stayed or adjourned sine die without any restraining order by the superior courts,” the counsel said, adding that there were directives of the SHC to the trial court to conclude the matter within two months.

    The trial was near its end and the complainant intended to make the matter linger on, on one or the other pretext, he said and pleaded to dismiss the application.

    The judge ruled that there was no specific direction of the Supreme Court regarding staying the proceedings and observed: “The adjournment of a criminal case indefinitely is against the normal trend of criminal jurisprudence and it should generally be discouraged, as held in numerous cases by the superior courts that the policy of criminal law aims at bringing accused persons to justice as speedily as possible, so that if they are found guilty, they may be punished and if they are found innocent, they may be acquitted and discharged.”

    The judge ruled that no reasonable ground was shown by the complainant’s counsel and in the light of circumstances, “I do not find any merit in the instant application and the same is hereby dismissed”.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

    ATC rules indefinite adjournment of a criminal case is against normal trend of jurisprudence. ─ File photoATC rules indefinite adjournment of a criminal case is against normal trend of jurisprudence. ─ File photo

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    The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down former Malir Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Rao Anwar's petition to have his name removed from the exit control list (ECL).

    Anwar is accused of being involved in the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud— an aspiring model and shopkeeper from South Waziristan — and others in a fake police encounter in Karachi, but is currently out on bail.

    *Dawn Investigation: Rao Anwar and the killing fields of Karachi**

    He had petitioned the court to have his name removed from the ECL on account of performing Umrah and attending the wedding of his daughter abroad.

    At the outset of the case today, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar questioned Anwar's counsel as to how his client was out of jail despite being accused of murder.

    "Rao Anwar was an absconder," Justice Nisar noted, referring to the former policeman's infamous disappearance in the wake of the emergence of allegations against him.

    "How did he [Anwar] get acquitted?"

    "Rao Anwar wasn't acquitted; he is out on bail," the counsel replied. "His family lives abroad. He wants to meet them and also wants to perform Umrah with his family."

    The chief justice suggested that Anwar's family be called to Pakistan as he set aside the petition.

    "Confiscate Rao Anwar's petition," the top judge ordered. "He has killed a young boy. Until the trial is over, Rao Anwar will stay in Pakistan.

    The chief justice rubbished Anwar's justification for seeking ECL exit, saying that the actual purpose of the petition is to "deposit abroad the wealth looted from here".

    Furthermore, Justice Nisar said that "this bench knows how Rao Anwar was arrested."

    "He was provided all facilities during his arrest," he added.

    Naqeebullah case

    Naqeebullah Mehsud was among four people killed in an encounter on January 13. While Anwar had claimed that all four of the men killed, allegedly on his orders, belonged to the terrorist outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), social media had erupted in protest against Mehsud's killing after it was found that he was an aspiring model.

    The tainted police officer had gone into hiding soon after demands for his arrest in the Naqeebullah murder case had gained traction. A police JIT had then found the encounter was staged.

    Anwar had then resurfaced in a dramatic manner at the Supreme Court, after repeated pleas from the chief justice, from where he was subsequently arrested.

    Soon after his arrest, his house in Malir Cantonment was declared a sub-jail. He had later moved an application for provision of better class facilities in the sub-jail. The court had accepted Anwar's application for better facilities, including an exemption from being handcuffed.

    In July 2018, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) had ruled that Anwar was not present at the time Naqeebullah and three others were extrajudicially killed in an alleged ‘staged’ encounter. A week later, the ATC had granted bail to Anwar.

    Rao Anwar is accused of murdering an innocent youth named Naqeebullah Mehsud in a staged 'encounter'. — FileRao Anwar is accused of murdering an innocent youth named Naqeebullah Mehsud in a staged 'encounter'. — File

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    Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman on Thursday said that he plans on pursuing the concealment of assets case against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari in the Supreme Court as he withdrew his petition filed in the Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

    On December 21, Zaman, in his petition, had accused Zardari of owning an apartment in Belaire Condomi­niums located at 524 East 72nd Street, New York, but not declaring it in his nomination papers for the 2018 general elections. He had subsequently moved the ECP seeking Zardari's disqualification from the National Assembly.

    Read: PTI minister shares property tax bills of NY flat allegedly owned by Zardari

    The PTI lawmaker, during the hearing of his petition in the ECP today, asked for his petition to be retracted, claiming that "we have found evidence that we will present at the highest forum only".

    Zaman, on the instruction of ECP member from Sindh Abdul Ghaffar Soomro, submitted a handwritten request, saying: "I want to take this case to the Supreme Court because I believe the evidences I have acquired [...] are pivotal and in the best interest of Pakistan."

    He later held a media talk outside the ECP office in which he claimed to have found more evidence against Asif Zardari. "The evidence has been verified. Our preparation is complete," he said.

    "We want to bring this case to a logical conclusion, so we asked the ECP to allow us to take it to the Supreme Court."

    PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman claims to have found more evidence against Asif Zardari. — DawnNewsTVPTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman claims to have found more evidence against Asif Zardari. — DawnNewsTV

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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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    Members of the Christian community hold placards and wooden crosses during a demonstration to condemn the death of the Christian couple - AFP
    Members of the Christian community hold placards and wooden crosses during a demonstration to condemn the death of the Christian couple - AFP

    Do you remember the ill-fated Shama and Shahzad Masih, the Christian couple from Kasur’s Kot Radha Kishan district in a brick kiln village called Chak 59?

    The husband and wife – who was pregnant at the time – were falsely accused in 2014 of blasphemy, then lynched by a mob who first paraded them naked and then set them on fire.

    Four years have passed since that terrifying ordeal.

    As their legacy, the couple left behind a woeful tale of mob brutality, of the extreme misuse of the country’s controversial blasphemy laws – and even the question of the cruel treatment meted out to brick kiln workers who are modern day ‘slaves’.

    But they also left behind three little children, who have now moved to the city, away from the horrors of the dusty, smoky brick kiln where their parents once worked.

    Read: 'No mercy' for those behind murder of Christian couple: PM Nawaz

    Remembering Shama and Shahzad

    Ten-year-old Suleman, the eldest of the three, was the only one to have seen what happened to his parents on that cursed day. His relatives, who are now the guardians of the children, say he was utterly shaken and deeply affected by the tragedy.

    Poonam, who was just two years old at the time, had fallen down. Quick to act, their maternal aunt had picked her up and the other two children and had fled the scene before the mob turned on them.

    The wooden slippers that bonded labourers wear while working lie near the spot where Shahzad and Shama Masih were burnt alive in Rosa Tibba village, Kot Radha Kishan.—Photo by writer
    The wooden slippers that bonded labourers wear while working lie near the spot where Shahzad and Shama Masih were burnt alive in Rosa Tibba village, Kot Radha Kishan.—Photo by writer

    “Suleman had bad dreams for a long time. He would often wake up screaming for his parents,” says Shama’s father, Mukhtiar Masih, who now has full custody of the three.

    Even now the children are a little apprehensive when meeting strangers.

    As if to prove a point he turns to them and asks blatantly “You remember Mama and Papa?” The children nod.

    Something stirs in them. Suleman goes to the the cupboard, climbs to the top most shelf and takes out a banner with photographs of his deceased parents. It is the only picture he has of his father.

    The media has been publishing the wrong picture of the couple. The woman in this picture is Shahzad's niece, who is alive and well.
    The media has been publishing the wrong picture of the couple. The woman in this picture is Shahzad's niece, who is alive and well.

    “That’s him, that’s my father,” he says pointing to the picture of a thin, gaunt man, with a mustache and the trace of a stubble on his face.

    Ae Mama ni ai (This isn't Mummy),” says Sonia, her face falling slightly, as she looks at the woman. All three children speak only in Punjabi.

    The media has erroneously been using a picture of Shahzad and another girl, captioning them as pictures of the couple. But the woman in the photo is Shahzad's niece, who is alive and well.

    Ironically, it was the cruel end of their parents that helped break the shackles of bonded labour for the children.

    Today, Suleman, 10, Sonia, 8, and Poonam, 6, go to school and try to live their lives like ordinary children — but forever haunted by the brutality of the day their parents were lynched.

    A helping hand

    The rehabilitation of these children would not be possible without the help of a small organisation working in Lahore known as the Cecil Chaudhry and Iris Foundation (CICF). Named after the veteran air-force hero Cecil Chaudhry and his wife, the organisation is run by their daughter Michelle Chaudhry.

    Out of the several that flocked to help after the couple's murder in 2014, CICF was the only one that stayed aboard and continues to help the children to this day.

    CICF organised a protest rally in order to demand Justice for the ill fated couple. Photo courtesy: CICF
    CICF organised a protest rally in order to demand Justice for the ill fated couple. Photo courtesy: CICF

    “At first we gave them counselling because they were so afraid they would not go to anyone at all,” says Michelle Chaudhry.

    “Later we helped them enroll in our school in Youhanabad. We gave them uniforms, stationery — literally everything that parents give their children. There was no one else.”

    She says Suleman is now slowly gaining momentum, but despite everything, even now there are times when he goes into a daze.

    “We have tried our best to help him emotionally and otherwise. He is doing much better, but because he actually witnessed the incident it is inevitable that he recalls it from time to time.

    “They are all progressing well,” adds Michelle. “The other two children were only two and four years old, so they do not remember the loss of their parents as such. But when we first saw them, Sonia kept repeating the same sentence from time to time “Mummy papa nu saar dita” (they have burnt Mummy and Papa). Even for us, handling this was a heart-rending ordeal.”

    Picking up the pieces

    In school, the children are doing well.

    “They have been getting top grades in class,” says Alyssa, who works in CICF.

    “We are really very proud of them. And no one should be fooled by their shyness! These kids can be rowdy”

    “Suleman in school is one of the naughtiest boys around,” she says affectionately, glancing at him do his work. “He loves performing on stage.”

    It is reassuring to see them get their academic life on track, but as time passes, the children’s needs will have to be reconsidered and this will pose to be an even bigger challenge for Michelle.

    Pakistani Christians gather and pray for a murdered Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan in 2014- AFP/Arif Ali
    Pakistani Christians gather and pray for a murdered Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan in 2014- AFP/Arif Ali

    “They are people not a project,” she says. “If we took responsibility for them, we should continue with it.”

    Right now the house they are living in is the property of the church, and has been given to them. It is not in their name.

    “In any case we will be sending them to a boarding school eventually,” says Michelle, without taking the name of the school. “We want to groom them as much as possible. It has taken them four years to be accustomed to city life, but even now, they do not have the know-how that they should.”

    This boarding school run by foreigners is located a little out of the city and Michelle is certain it will be good for Suleman.

    “We are thinking of sending Suleman first as he is the eldest,” she says. “The girls are too little right now.”

    Michelle says that she has to keep reminding people of them. “It’s only been four years and still people have more or less forgotten the incident, but I have to keep reminding them of the children. We get some donations which help.”

    “It is an uncertain future, but we are with them all the way,” says Alyssa.

    The reality is that Michelle has been paying for everything out of her own pocket.

    “We are not getting any formal donations from anywhere,” she says. “We have to make sure that these children get their food, their clothes, their medical expenses, everything. It’s all done by us.”

    Justice served

    A total of 103 people had been charged in the case by ATC - AFP/File
    A total of 103 people had been charged in the case by ATC - AFP/File

    According to one version of the story making rounds, the trigger point was when eight months pregnant Shama began to question the status of their **peshgi**, which she argued with the contractor, had already been paid. Peshgi is a kind of 'earnest payment' that labourers pay to take a loan; this often keeps them indebted to their employers. Peshgi is a system of bonded labour.

    It was the same contractor who then lured the couple on the pretext of talking and locked them up in his office.

    On the directions of the kiln owner, he told the neighbourhood cleric that Shama had been caught burning some Quranic verses. In reality they had been burning some documents that belonged to Shahzad’s recently deceased father who was a faith healer (aamil).

    The cleric made an announcement that they have committed blasphemy, and within half an hour a mob of hundreds had collected at the kiln. The mob pulled the couple outside the locked room, and dragged them to the flames of the brick kiln.

    Also read: Christian couple lynching incited by mullah of local mosque: police

    Some reports say that it is unclear whether the couple had been alive when they had been burnt. But one thing is certain: there was nothing left of them to bury.

    The case dominated national news and sparked a global outcry. A top Vatican official described the lynching as a "humiliation for all of humanity".

    The case was instantly sent to an anti-terrorism court (ATC), and a total of 103 people were charged. In November 2016, five men were sentenced to death, including Yusuf Gujjar the kiln owner – sentences that are currently under appeal in the ATC – while 10 others were given varying jail terms for playing a supportive role in the killings.

    The same court also acquitted 93 suspects in the case in 2016.

    The lawyer for the family Riaz Anjum said that the five people who were awarded the death sentence were involved in dragging, beating and burning the couple.

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    President Arif Alvi has accepted the resignation of Azam Swati, the former Federal Minister for Science and Technology, it emerged on Thursday.

    Swati, a member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, had resigned from the ministry last month to "uphold moral authority" in the face of a probe over allegations that he played a role in the 'unlawful' transfer of former Islamabad police chief Jan Mohammad.

    A notification issued by the Cabinet Division dated Jan 9 said that the president had, upon the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan, accepted the PTI leader's resignation with effect from Dec 6.

    The former IGP's transfer took place after Swati’s son registered a case against a family of slum dwellers for allegedly trespassing on his family’s land. Five people, including two women, were arrested for trespassing on the land and beating up Swati’s guards. They were released after a day’s detention as police said a settlement had been reached between the minister and the detained family.

    On November 19, a court-formed joint investigation team had held Swati and his employees responsible for the altercation that took place at his farmhouse and allegedly transpired into the police chief's transfer.

    The Supreme Court in the last hearing of the case had referred a matter relating to the alleged amassing of wealth beyond known sources of income by Swati to the Federal Board of Revenue as well as the Islamabad police for a comprehensive probe.

    The court has been mulling proceeding against Swati under Article 62(1)(f)─ the same section that led to the disqualification last year of Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen.

    Azam Swati is facing a suo motu case over allegations that he played a role in the 'unlawful' transfer of former Islamabad police chief Jan Mohammad. ─ DawnNewsTVAzam Swati is facing a suo motu case over allegations that he played a role in the 'unlawful' transfer of former Islamabad police chief Jan Mohammad. ─ DawnNewsTV

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    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are likely to sign memoranda of understanding for more than $10 billion Saudi investment in Pakistan this month. Pakistan will also sign similar MoUs with China, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia over the next two months.

    This was said in the second meeting on ease of doing business (EoDB) presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday. The meeting was told that the MoU on investment framework with the UAE was expected next month.

    Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Finance Minister Asad Umar said Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz would visit Pakistan next month and most of the MoUs were expected to be signed during his trip.

    PM briefed about similar agreements that will be signed with China, UAE and Malaysia in next two months

    When contacted, Board of Investment (BoI) Chairman Haroon Sharif said Saudi Arabia was interested in Pakistan’s four sectors — oil refinery, petrochemicals, renewable energy and mining. “We are expecting $10bn plus Saudi investment and the MoUs to be signed in this regard will not be common or vague but concrete agreements,” he added.

    The $10bn investment will be in addition to the $6bn bailout package given by Riyadh to Islamabad during Prime Minister Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October last year. “According to a survey, 65 per cent of the investments will take place in the country’s commercial hub Karachi and 35pc in Lahore. Therefore, better law and order situation and ease-of-doing-business opportunities were prerequisite for foreign investment,” the BoI chairman added.

    He said the government had made it mandatory for all foreign firms to invest in joint ventures with Pakistani firms so that local companies could also get boost and deal with local issues in a better way.

    He said Saudi firm Aramco would invest in an oil refinery and was likely to set up its own refinery in Pakistan. “Saudi Arabia is also interested in petrochemicals and will make investment in this sector as well,” he added.

    Mr Sharif said there was a big room for renewable energy in Sindh, Balochistan and central Punjab and, therefore, Saudi firm Aqua Power, which controls renewable energy business in Tunisia, the UAE and Jordon, had a comprehensive plan on renewable energy projects in Pakistan.

    He said he had recently visited China and signed MoUs on industrial cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC). “Now we have to build economic zones along the corridor.”

    The BoI chief said the UAE was interested in agriculture, housing and other sectors. He added that four Malaysian firms were also due this month and would invest in four sectors — halal meat, gemstone, information technology and hi-tech education.

    An official press release issued by the Prime Minister Office said: “Briefing the meeting about various positive developments with regards to investment facilitation, it was informed that an MoU on industrial cooperation has been signed with China last month. The MoU with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to be signed this month whereas investment framework MoU with the UAE is expected in February 2019.”

    The meeting was attended by the finance minister, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, PM’s adviser Dr Ishrat Hussain and the BoI chairman.

    The BoI chairman briefed the prime minister about the progress on various indicators related to ease of doing business.

    The meeting was informed that the number of taxes had been brought down from 47 to 21. “We have clubbed together many taxes to facilitate the business community,” Mr Sharif added.

    He said a new system of value added tax refund would be in place by March 31 which would significantly reduce time in obtaining the VAT refund, adding that efforts were also being made to improve the risk-management system to reduce the number of physical audits.

    About the ease of starting business, the prime minister was informed that integration of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan with provincial portals and Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) had been completed in Punjab and efforts were being made to expedite launch of such portal in Sindh.

    The meeting was informed that significant progress had been made to facilitate provision of electricity and timely information to the businesses. Besides availability of required documents on website, a full online application system is being rolled out and advance notifications are being ensured about change in tariff, etc.

    In the area of getting credit, the meeting was informed that registrar would be appointed by the end of this month and rules under the Secured Transaction Act were being finalised by the Ministry of Finance.

    The prime minister emphasised the need for greater focus on addressing issues relating to ease of doing business in Sindh since Karachi was financial hub of the country.

    It was decided that regular meetings on EoDB would be chaired by the prime minister with participation of the chief ministers and chief secretaries. It was also decided that dedicated EoDB offices would be set up at federal and provincial levels for the purpose of removing bottlenecks and facilitating investors for smooth business operations.

    Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019

    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan presides over a meeting at the Prime Minister Office on Wednesday.—INPISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan presides over a meeting at the Prime Minister Office on Wednesday.—INP

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    Late Asghar Khan's legal heirs on Thursday submitted their joint reply to a notice in connection with the implementation of the landmark 2012 verdict in the Asghar Khan case, asking that an inquiry in accordance with the Supreme Court's six-year-old order be continued.

    The apex court had issued a notice to the heirs of the late Asghar Khan after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last month suggested that the case relating to the implementation of the 2012 verdict be closed.

    The 2012 SC verdict was issued on a petition filed in 1996 by Asghar Khan, requesting the top court to look into allegations that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had secretly bankrolled many politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million.

    In the latest development, Khan's wife Amina Asghar Khan, his daughters Nasreen Ahmed Khattak and Sheereen Awan, and son Ali opposed the FIA's suggestion and highlighted what they perceived to be halfhearted efforts of the authorities.

    "The late air marshal, Asghar Khan endeavored to cleanse the democratic process from unlawful interference by any person, military or civilian, no matter highly placed. This endeavor has not yet achieved fruition and a just end. Consequently, the family of late air marshal Asghar Khan seeks to continue his endeavor and opposes the closure of the inquiry sought by the FIA," said the written reply.

    The family also sought conclusion of the trial against the military personal involved and the placement of the result of the trial before the people of Pakistan.

    Citing the FIA's progress in the case, the reply mentioned it was clear that "no attempt has been made by the FIA to approach for evidence the central figure retired Brig Hamid Saeed Akhtar, who had confessed before the court his personal role in carrying out the unlawful operation regarding disbursement of funds" to various politicians and institutions before the general election of 1990.

    The joint reply claimed that the Ministry of Defence did not support the FIA in execution of the court orders. "In these circumstances, the request to close the inquiry and the case is unwarranted," it added.

    Additionally, the family members expressed their concerns that "more than six years after the final judgement of the apex court, proceedings against none of the military personnel involved in the matter, including retd Gen Aslam Baig and retd Gen Asad Durrani who had confessed their wrongdoing against the Constitution and the law, have been concluded".

    On Dec 29, 2018, the FIA had suggested that the apex court close the case relating to the implementation of the Asghar Khan verdict for want of concrete evidence. A report furnished before the court by the FIA stated that the authorities did not have enough evidence to launch a criminal prosecution against the individuals named in the judgement.

    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 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.

    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 claimed in the National Assembly in 1994 that 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 last 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.

    Late Asghar Khan. — FileLate Asghar Khan. — File

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    Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday said the federal cabinet has rejected the recommendations of the interior ministry to remove the names of 20 individuals from the Exit Control List (ECL).

    He was addressing a press conference following a federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad.

    The information minister said that the law ministry had informed the cabinet that the Supreme Court's written order pertaining to the removal of names from the ECL has not been issued as yet.

    Chaudhry said a cabinet committee has been formed, which includes Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Dr Farogh Naseem, Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Afridi, Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar and the Interior Secretary Azam Suleman Khan. This committee will review the issues pertaining to the 172 names, looking at the roles of each person, following which it will present its recommendations to the cabinet.

    The minister added that once the written orders of the SC are issued, the cabinet will also seek the committee's guidance regarding whether a review appeal of the court order should be submitted or not.

    A visibly disturbed Supreme Court on December 31 had ordered the federal cabinet to reconsider its “hasty decision” of placing the names of 172 individuals, including Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and other Pakistan Peoples Party stalwarts, on the ECL.

    The court had taken up the report of a joint investigation team (JIT) constituted to probe fake bank accounts revolving around a 2015 inquiry into the suspicious transactions when ‘benami’ accounts were identified.

    On the recommendations of the JIT, the federal cabinet had in its meeting on Dec 27 last year decided to place the names of 172 individuals on the ECL, including Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Murad Ali Shah, Farooq H. Naek and several other leaders and provincial ministers belonging to the PPP.

    But the apex court had asked the federal cabinet to reconsider the decision in its next meeting and decide the matter after due application of mind instead of merely relying on the JIT recommendations.

    “The JIT report is not a holy scripture,” the chief justice had obser­ved, adding that a sitting chief minister was being stigmatised.

    'Decrease in import deficit'

    According to the information minister, the government's economic policy was bearing fruit as the import deficit had decreased by $540 million in just one month.

    "The prime minister has also ordered the law ministry to compile a 'negative category list' in the next 48 hours as per directions of the apex court," he said, adding that the list will include the jobs which could not be bestowed to Pakistani nationals having dual nationalities.

    He said that during the cabinet meeting, the premier directed the petroleum ministry to formulate a comprehensive policy on the usage of gas. "A large part of the population is still deprived of gas."

    He alleged that former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi left a burden of Rs157bn as loans to be paid by the gas sector. He further said that there was no loan when Abbasi had joined the ministry during the tenure of the last government.

    The sector is also facing gas theft, he added.

    Clarifying the government's position on a news item regarding a bill of the Prime Minister House, he said that the prime minister ordered an audit of the staff who were managing the PM House.

    He said that acting heads of Pakistan International Airlines, Civil Aviation Agency and other institutions have been appointed, whereas permanent heads of the organisations will be appointed through due process in the near future.

    The minister said that the premier has ordered the appointment of a Capital Development Authority chairman from the private sector. "A professional from private sector should head the CDA," he said, adding that currently the chief secretary was assuming the charge of CDA chairman.

    Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference following the federal cabinet meeting on Thursday. —APPInformation Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference following the federal cabinet meeting on Thursday. —APP

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    A 16-month-old girl from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Lakki Marwat district has contracted the polio virus, healthcare officials confirmed on Thursday.

    The health officials have marked this as the ninth case of 2018. It was reported from Marmundu Azam area of District Lakki Marwat.

    According to an official of the Polio Emergency Operation Centre, samples were collected from the infant girl in December 2018, therefore the case has been added to the last year's tally.

    He said that the symptoms of polio were observed in the child on December 10 last year. The health officials sent her samples to the National Institute of Health immediately for confirmation.

    Editorial:Polio-free Pakistan?

    The official said that the institute today confirmed in its report that the girl carries the polio virus.

    National Institute of Health confirms that a 16-month-old girl carries the virus. —AFP/FileNational Institute of Health confirms that a 16-month-old girl carries the virus. —AFP/File

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    Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday said induction of long-range air defence weapon system LY80 has greatly enhanced the capability of the military’s air defence arm, Radio Pakistan reported.

    Gen Bajwa said this while witnessing the firepower capability display along with Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan at the air defence firing range near Karachi.

    “The LY80 weapon system will strengthen the national defence,” Gen Bajwa was quoted as saying.

    While interacting with the officers and troops, the army chief congratulated the army air defence for the successful conduct of firepower capability display.

    Firing by the air defence weapon systems was the culminating event of the two-week-long exercise Al-Bayza 2019, read a statement issued by the military’s media wing.

    Hallmark of the event was the first-ever fire by the recently inducted long-range air defence weapon system LY80.

    LY80 weapon system will strengthen the national defence. —ISPR
    LY80 weapon system will strengthen the national defence. —ISPR

    “Induction of LY-80 has realised the concept of a comprehensive, layered and integrated air defence capability with enhanced lethality,” read the Inter-Services Public relations statement.

    Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan congratulated the Pakistan Army over induction of LY 80, saying the system has reinforced the country’s overall air defence capability.

    The commander Karachi corps, the commander of Army Air Defence Command and other senior officials also witnessed the event.

    “The LY80 weapon system will strengthen the national defence,” said Gen Bajwa. —ISPR“The LY80 weapon system will strengthen the national defence,” said Gen Bajwa. —ISPR

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