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    ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and some of the stakeholders of the health sector have criticised a sudden increase in prices of various medicines and urged the government to withdraw the decision as middle and lower classes would suffer the most because of it.

    Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, the spokesman for PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, has said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is preying on the people by hiking the prices.

    The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) on Friday had announced up to 15 per cent increase in prices of various medicines.

    He said the constant increase in prices of goods was unacceptable and would not be tolerated. The government first snatched the calm of the people and was now snatching their lives by increasing the prices of medicines, he said.

    “The government’s only performance has been taking from the people the facilities provided to them. In the guise of claims of providing people with five million houses, the government has only rendered people homeless,” Senator Khokhar said.

    He said that the government’s conduct had been disappointing and it was only a matter of time that the people of Pakistan would start protesting against the injustice and biased attitude of the PTI rule. The government had proven itself to be a destructive tsunami, he concluded.

    Secretary General of the Pakistan Medical Association Dr Qaisar Sajjad has stated that the association was very much concerned over the hike in medicine prices.

    “The government should find other ways to minimise the effect of increasing the cost of medicines because of the rupee’s devaluation. It could be done by supporting pharmaceutical companies by reducing taxes and duty on import of raw materials for manufacturing drugs. Vaccines and raw materials should be produced locally. Fake and counterfeit drugs and smuggling of medicines should be eliminated on a priority basis,” Dr Sajjad said.

    Pakistan Islamic Medical Association’s president Prof Afzal Mian said the rising inflation had exposed the government’s inability to plan for welfare of the nation. Even if the excuse of devaluation was accepted, it is deplorable that the crunch was yet again transferred to the people who were struggling to survive, he added.

    However, Pharma Bureau’s Executive Director Ayesha Tammy Haq while talking to Dawn said that the increase was not sufficient as most of the medicine prices were increased by 9pc while the rupee was devalued by over 30pc.

    “Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had also directed the government and Drap to increase the prices of medicines, considering the hike in the dollar’s value and finally it has been done,” she said.

    Ms Haq said that although the increase was not sufficient it would help the pharmaceutical companies to survive. “We expect that the prices will be further increased at the end of the financial year, considering the Consumer Price Index,” she said.

    In reply to a question, she said that the government could have reduced the taxes rather than passing the burden to patients, but it did not go for that option.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    The government’s only performance has been taking from the people the facilities provided to them: Senator Khokhar. — FileThe government’s only performance has been taking from the people the facilities provided to them: Senator Khokhar. — File

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    KARACHI: An accountability court on Friday remanded the former chairman of the Karachi Port Trust in judicial custody till Jan 21 in a case pertaining to corruption of Rs2.8 billion through illegal job regularisations in the trust.

    Then federal minister for ports and shipping Babar Ghauri, the then KPT chairmen Javed Hanif, Rauf Akhtar Faroo­qui along with Mohammad Iqbal, Mohammad Sapa­ras, Mehmood Sharif, Ameer Ali Brohi and another have been accused of committing corruption through illegal regularisation of 940 employees of the KPT.

    On Friday, the matter was fixed before the accountability court-II judge Aaliya Latif Unnar, when four accused appeared before the court on bail and two others were produced from prison.

    The IO informed that Rauf Akhtar Farooqui was arrested in Islamabad following dismissal of his bail application by the Supreme Court on Jan 8. Earlier, he had escaped to avoid his arrest after his bail was recalled by the Sindh High Court.

    The judge was informed that the federal anti-graft watchdog had filed a reference against eight persons accused of their involvement in illegal regularisation of 940 employees of the KPT, causing losses to the tune of Rs2.8bn to the national exchequer.

    The IO further informed that the court had already indicted six accused, while initiating proceedings of proclamation and attachment of properties of the absconding accused, including Farooqui and Ghauri, which had been ordered.

    The judge remanded Rauf Akhtar Farooqui in judicial custody till Jan 21 with the direction to produce him on the next date of hearing.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Then federal minister for ports and shipping Babar Ghauri, then KPT chairmen and another have been accused of committing corruption through illegal regularisation of 940 KPT employees. ─ Dawn/FileThen federal minister for ports and shipping Babar Ghauri, then KPT chairmen and another have been accused of committing corruption through illegal regularisation of 940 KPT employees. ─ Dawn/File

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    HYDERABAD: Accusing the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in Sindh of being “biased and racist”, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Saturday announced the holding of its public meeting here on Jan 18. It warned that if ever Sindh was divided, PPP’s “biased and racial policies” would be responsible for it.

    Speaking at a press conference held at the party’s district office, MQM-P deputy convener MNA Kanwar Naveed Jamil recalled that it was PPP that had introduced the quota system in 1970s to divide urban and rural population.

    He said MQM always adopted the culture of Sindh, and added that it was he who, as the Hyderabad district nazim, had named a flyover after Hosh Mohammad Sheedi and got Sindh’s cultural heritage preserved. A monument of Sheedi was also built.

    MNA Jamil said that a road network had been laid during the district government system but between 2010 and 2018, PPP government neglected Karachi and Hyderabad and the present destruction of Hyderabad city was reflective of its “biased” policies.

    He said it was criminal negligence of the government that people of Hyderabad were facing all kinds of problems today.

    He noted that strongholds of MQM were hit by insanitation, collapsed sewerage system, broken roads and unending loadshedding of gas and electricity. He said despite MQM’s best efforts and announcement for a general university in Hyderabad, PPP was demonstrating slackness in its establishment.

    Mr Jamil claimed that PPP government stopped funds for the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC) to paralyse it; the trauma centre in the city was closed and its machinery was shifted somewhere else; a housing scheme was launched by the district government but the money of its allottees was utilised somewhere else; and child, cardiac and kidney care hospitals were approved but they were shifted to some other places.

    He said PPP punished people of Hyderabad for electing MQM-P, adding that MQM-P was tolerating all kinds of excesses by the present Sindh government.

    In order to raise people’s grievances, MQM-P had convened a public meeting in the city on Jan 18.

    Mr Jamil said that his party supported across the board accountability and demanded that those who had looted the national wealth be brought to justice. He said according to an estimate, the country’s Rs94,000bn had been shifted abroad.

    He said MQM-P had some grievances against the federal government but currently it had no option other than remaining with the PTI government.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    MQM-P's Kanwar Naveed Jamil says PPP is punishing the people of Hyderabad for electing MQM-P. ─ Online/FileMQM-P's Kanwar Naveed Jamil says PPP is punishing the people of Hyderabad for electing MQM-P. ─ Online/File

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    LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the federal and the provincial governments to pay compensation within one month to the people who suffered losses during religious parties’ violent protests following acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case.

    A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a suo motu case at the Lahore registry regarding losses and damage to life and property during a three-day long countrywide protest by religious parties led by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) after the apex court had acquitted Aasia Bibi.

    The law officers of the provinces and officials of the Punjab home department appeared before the bench.

    A Punjab law officer told the bench that the government assessed the value of the losses up to Rs262 million.

    He said the provincial cabinet had approved a plan for the payment of the compensation to the affected people and the matter had been forwarded to the chief minister for the release of the funds.

    Chief Justice Nisar regretted that had the court not taken notice of the people’s sufferings, the government would have been still making its plans. He said over two and a half months passed but a complete plan regarding compensation packages had not been submitted.

    A section officer of the home department said the compensation would be paid to people within a month.

    The bench disposed of the matter and directed the federal and the provincial governments to pay compensation to the victims within one month and submit a compliance report with the registrar of the court.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Chief Justice Nisar regretted that had the court not taken notice of the people’s sufferings, the government would have been still making its plans. ─ AFP/FileChief Justice Nisar regretted that had the court not taken notice of the people’s sufferings, the government would have been still making its plans. ─ AFP/File

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    KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the authorities concerned to continue the ongoing anti-encroachment drive in the city.

    Justice Gulzar Ahmed of the SC presided over a meeting at the apex court’s Karachi registry about encroachments. The meeting was attended by officials of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, Karachi Development Authority, Sindh Building Control Authority, Pakistan Railways, cantonment boards and others. Progress reports were submitted to the court.

    Sources said that the apex court judge directed the authorities to remove encroachments from the city’s parks within a week, stop the charity organisations from using footpaths for food distribution, demolish a wall illegally built near a shopping mall in Clifton and remove illegal parking lots around restaurants and residential buildings as well as commercial activities on military land.

    Justice Ahmed also directed the Railways to continue its operation against encroachments to revive the Karachi Railway Circular, they added.

    After the meeting, Metropolitan Commissioner Saif-ur-Rehman told reporters that the apex court also ordered removal of the nurseries from footpaths and green belts of the city. He contended that the KMC had so far removed around 90 per cent encroachments in the provincial metropolis.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Court directs authorities to remove encroachments from Karachi's parks within a week. ─ APP/FileCourt directs authorities to remove encroachments from Karachi's parks within a week. ─ APP/File

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    ISLAMABAD: The management of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has decided to constitute an independent committee to investigate incidents of deaths of patients.

    The decision has been made after a number of incidents in which relatives beat up doctors following the death of their patient or doctors held strikes after clashes with relatives of patients.

    “I get annoyed with such incidents. A number of times relatives of deceased patients held protests and beat up doctors. Moreover, the media highlighted the incidents and spoke only in favour of the patients.

    “On the other hand, a number of times doctors held protests and strikes after such incidents,” Pims’ Executive Director (ED) Dr Raja Amjad told Dawn.

    He said a few days ago a child was brought to the children hospital in a critical condition.

    Though a doctor suggested conducting dialysis, the nephrology department doctors were of the view that dialysis could not be done on the child because he was very weak.

    “In the meantime, the child died and it became a big issue. Even a mediaperson reached the hospital and blamed the ‘irresponsible’ behaviour of doctors for the death.”

    In most of the cases, Dr Amjad said, patients were brought to the hospital at the last stage due to which it becomes almost impossible for doctors to save their life.

    A few days ago a swine flu patient was admitted to a private hospital at H-8. Later, he was shifted to another private hospital at G-8 and when the private hospital doctors told his relatives that the patient cannot survive, he was shifted to Pims, he said.

    “It becomes impossible to treat such patients. However, after the death of the patient, his relatives started blaming the doctors of Pims.

    “I assume that soon doctors would stop treating very serious patients because of fear that they would be blamed for the death,” Dr Amjad said.

    Pims is a tertiary care hospital and every day eight to 10 patients die here. Though inquiry committees are established in all the units, “we have also set up a ‘death review committee’ but patients and their relatives never trust such committees.”

    He said the management has now decided to establish the independent committee in which even representatives of the media and civil society would also be included.

    “I would request relatives of patients to file complaints with the committee rather than protesting and beating doctors after the death of a patient,” Dr Amjad said.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Pims ED wants relatives to complain to committee rather than protesting or beating doctors after patients' deaths. ─ File photoPims ED wants relatives to complain to committee rather than protesting or beating doctors after patients' deaths. ─ File photo

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    KOTRI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has vowed to fight the “politics of vendetta” saying he is not afraid of threats of the exit control list, National Accountability Bureau and imprisonment.

    Addressing a public meeting here on Saturday after inaugurating Kotri-Jamshoro overhead bridge, he said the PPP had faced “Gen Zia’s lashes and Gen Musharraf’s prisons and exile” and it was not afraid of the incumbent “puppet and benami prime minister”.

    Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, PPP provincial president Nisar Khuhro and MPA Malik Asad Sikandar also spoke on the occasion.

    PPP leader warns PTI govt against testing patience of jiyalas

    Mr Bhutto-Zardari said if the people of Sindh, Balochistan, southern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa decided to “take on Islamabad” to secure their rights and protest against deprivation, it would prove to be the last nail in the coffin of the “fake government”.

    He warned the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government against testing patience of PPP jiyalas, saying if it didn’t refrain from it, the PPP would show it how “theft of vote” was avenged.

    He said the PPP preferred service delivery like construction of bridges over the River Indus, canal lining, road networks, subsidy to farmers and provision of employment in Thar and quality cardiac care services.

    He said the “selected prime minister” and the Punjab chief minister could not compete with the Sindh chief minister.

    “Your plan to oust us through conspiracies has failed and you will fail again,” he said while addressing PM Imran Khan.

    He said an inept federal government was meting out step-motherly treatment to the people of Sindh who were being punished for voting for the PPP.

    He said Imran Khan needed to learn principles of politics before talking about principled politics and added that the finger of umpire worked in cricket and the people’s will in politics.

    He accused the PTI of making false promises and fraudulent claims and said Pakistan was heading backwards under its government. “The national economy remains weak and people are drowning in the tsunami of price hike while mills and shops are being closed.”

    The PPP leader said poor people didn’t have two square meals a day because their sources of livelihood had been snatched.

    He said those who talked about providing 10 million jobs and five million houses to people had snatched from them already available job opportunities and deprived them of shelter.

    “Pakistan does not have electricity, gas and investment but the federal ministers are claiming there is no price hike and advising people to be patient. The eyes of the ministers are closed with arrogance and minds intoxicated with power while their hearts are insensitive”, he said.

    Mr Bhutto-Zardari accused the government of closing water and electricity supplies to Sindh which contributed 80pc of gas produced in Pakistan.

    He said billions of rupees of the Sindh government had been withheld which badly affected development process.

    He asked for what crime the people of Sindh were being pushed against wall and then answered his question, saying because they did not vote for “puppets” and were loyal to the Bhuttos.

    He said the government didn’t know how the rupee got devalued and the wheels of economy got jammed although it claimed to be working faster than light’s speed.

    “The government doesn’t know how the debt of Rs5bn has increased but those who said they preferred suicide over the begging bowl are now celebrating foreign borrowings”.

    Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the federal government had tried to commit robbery over the mandate of Sindh in just three months but got only disappointment and shelved the plan.

    CM Shah said the Kotri-Jamshoro bridge had been completed in a record period of time and urged Mr Bhutto-Zardari to take up the issue of dualisation of Indus Highway between Jamshoro and Sehwan in the National Assembly.

    Earlier, Mr Bilawal-Bhutto visited residence of Asad Sikandar during which shops of the area were closed by the administration. He also took tea at the residence of MPA Hina Dastagir.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    PPP leader warns PTI government against testing patience of jiyalas.— FilePPP leader warns PTI government against testing patience of jiyalas.— File

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    GILGIT: Despite continuous snowfall and harsh temperatures, three foreign expeditions have entered decisive stages in the quest to scale the most challenging peaks of K2 and Nanga Parbat.

    A foreign expedition team, comprising Daniele Nardi from Italy with Britain’s Thomas Ballard and two Pakistanis Rehmatullah Baig and Karim Hayat, are currently attempting to develop a new route on Mummery Spur to scale Nanga Parbat. They reached camp 3 at 5,714 metres through a new route on Saturday. The team had started the expedition on Dec 24, 2018.

    Daniel Nardi, the team leader, through a satellite phone informed Dawn that the deteriorating weather conditions at Nanga Parbat had caused hurdles to progress.

    He said that the team had scaled to camp 3 but heavy snowfall and speedy winds had forced it to descend back to the base camp. The team would continue its expedition as soon as the weather conditions improved, he added.

    Meanwhile, two other foreign expedition teams are en route to the K2 base camp. Climbers of these teams are from Russia, Kazak­hstan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland and Spain and Nepali Sherpas.

    One team is led by Vassiliy Pivtsov from Kazakhstan and Artem Brown from Rus­sia is their project organiser.

    Elena Laletina, official secretary of the other team — Russian K2 expedition 2019 — said that the climbers were on their way to the K2 base camp. She said that they had left Urdukas on Saturday morning and the team would be at the base camp by next week. The team has planned to attempt K2 through the Abruzzi Spur route.

    Famous mountaineer Karim Shah Nizari told Dawn that it was very challenging to climb K2 and Nanga Parbat in winter through the Mummery Spur route. He said that the success of the expedition teams seemed difficult.

    Both teams, he said, had already lost important days of the season and the weather conditions did not seem to be suitable for completion of the expeditions on time.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    A Nanga Parbat expedition team at the base camp.A Nanga Parbat expedition team at the base camp.

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    KARACHI: Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Saturday stated that it was “extremely concerned” over the “unacceptable” increase in the prices of medicines by the federal government.

    “The announcement of 15 per cent hike in medicine prices by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan with the consent of the federal government is highly disappointing and unacceptable,” said Dr S.M. Qaisar Sajjad, secretary general of the PMA, in a statement issued here.

    “It is very distressing that instead of providing any relief to the people, the government had increased drug prices despite the fact that the older prices were already unaffordable,” he said.

    He added that the painful aspect of the issue was that prices of lifesaving drugs had also been increased.

    “In such a situation when there is scarcity of health facilities at public hospitals, this increase in medicine prices will add to the miseries of people.”

    Dr Sajjad said half of the country’s population lived below the poverty line and they went to public hospitals for medical treatment.

    “The conditions in the public hospitals are very poor. It is responsibility of the government to improve these facilities; and it should provide free medicines to all the patients coming to the government hospitals.”

    The PMA official suggested that the government should consider some other ways to minimise the impact of the increased prices of medicines because of devaluation of the rupee.

    “It could be done by supporting pharmaceutical companies through reducing taxes and cut in import duty of the raw material for drugs manufacturing and packaging. Vaccines and raw material for medicines should be produced in the country. Fake, counterfeit drugs and medicines’ smuggling should be eliminated on a priority basis.”

    The PMA demanded that the federal government review its decision and withdraw the notification regarding the increase in drug prices to lessen difficulties of poor people who were already suffering because of the irrepressible inflation and bad economic situation in the country.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    15pc hike in drug prices by Drap with consent of federal govt is 15pc hike in drug prices by Drap with consent of federal govt is "highly disappointing and unacceptable", says the PMA secretary general. ─ File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah on Saturday said live coverage of judges’ speech and its subsequent airing on broadcast media is against the code of conduct of the adjudicators.

    During the certificate distribution ceremony of a six-day training course on “Leadership and management” for district and sessions judges held at the Federal Judicial Academy, Justice Minallah stopped mediapersons from live coverage of his speech and also asked them not to even record the speech for subsequent airing, saying it was against the code of conduct of superior judiciary judges.

    Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court in November last year had politely refused to answer questions asked by mediapersons after delivering a keynote address on “Future of Pakistan” in the UK, saying it was against the ethical practice if a judge speaks to the media.

    Justice Athar Minallah stops mediapersons from live coverage and recording of his speech at certificate distribution ceremony

    Justice Athar Minallah distributed certificates as chief guest among 25 heads of the district judiciary from all over Pakistan, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.

    In his address, he said leadership and management training was vital for promoting and ensuring rule of law.

    “It is essential to be an effective leader so as to make an impact within your organisation.A single good leader can create an endless chain of social changes. First of all, a good leader always puts his or her house in order. District and sessions court judges are important leaders of judicial system because the district judiciary is an important tier of the administration of justice system.”

    Justice Minallah also spoke about some of the important qualities of a good leader such as honesty, integrity, inspiring others, good communication and decision-making capabilities.

    “For all leaders whether they belong to politics, judiciary, sports or any other discipline, the attributes of good leadership are the same. When a leader is honest, his honesty has the trickle-down effect. District and sessions judges as leaders must put in practice their leadership attributes to reform the district judiciary and ameliorate the plight of the litigant public who are the key stakeholders of the administration of justice system.”

    Lamenting growing nepotism in society, he said: “The menace of nepotism has become a way of life in our society. As leaders, district and sessions court judges must play the desired role to combat nepotism which has permeated into the very fabric of society.”

    The IHC CJ also highlighted issues related to petitioners and said after his maiden visit to the district courts Islamabad he realised the miseries of the citizens and was embarrassed to note that the courts gave relief to powerful while the cases of real stakeholders kept pending for decades.

    “There is no proper sitting area for the litigants in the district courts of Islamabad and the district administration should take appropriate steps to provide proper facilities to the litigants who come to seek justice from the courts”, he added.

    Security agencies have also warned of any untoward incident within the district courts and the administration must adopt measures to ensure safety and security of the courts premises, he added.

    The training course was carried out through syndicate discussions, command tasks, presentations and conducted in a participatory process. The participants obtained an in-depth understanding of leadership and management for effective administration of justice system.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Justice Athar Minallah stops mediapersons from live coverage and recording of his speech at ceremony. ─ Photo courtesy FacebookJustice Athar Minallah stops mediapersons from live coverage and recording of his speech at ceremony. ─ Photo courtesy Facebook

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    LAHORE: Punjab Minister for Health Dr Yasmin Rashid on Saturday told the Supreme Court that the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) would start conducting paediatric liver transplant within six months.

    The minister also informed a two-judge SC bench that the Punjab cabinet had approved a draft legislation to abolish the trust of the PKLI which would be run by the government through a board of governors (BoG) after its approval by the chief minister and the provincial assembly.

    The bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a matter regarding alleged irregularities at the PKLI and any possibility to conduct paediatric liver transplant at it.

    Punjab cabinet approves draft legislation to abolish the institute’s trust and take over its management, says health minister

    Dr Rashid said she along with the chief minister had recently visited the PKLI and had a detailed meeting with doctors over there. She said the doctors assured the government that the institute would be able to hold the first-ever paediatric liver transplant in the public sector by June.

    Advocate Zafar Iqbal Kalanuri, however, raised objection to the composition of the BoG and said the government wanted to appoint certain officials at the institute to take control of its affairs.

    However, the minister dispelled the impression and assured the court that no official from the previous government would be made part of the BoG.

    At the hearing, the chief justice also took notice of a negative propaganda campaign being run in government circles against Dr Rashid in the light of harsh remarks of the court regarding her working. He said the remarks had been misconstrued.

    “I was personally very happy when you were given the portfolio of health,” Chief Justice Nisar told

    Dr Rashid and added that it was his wish to see a practising doctor run the health ministry.

    CJP says he won’t let minister resign

    The minister said the opposition parties in the provincial assembly had also demanded her resignation.

    “You need not to be worried about criticism. Look at me, who else can face criticism more than I experienced,” CJP Nisar said while giving her assurance that he would not let her resign.

    Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Director General Hussain Asghar submitted an inquiry report about the institute.

    He said the project, which was supposed to be completed by December 2017, was still under construction. He said no action had been taken against the contractors for delaying the project.

    He said some government officials were involved in misappropriation of funds and a detailed investigation could be held after registration of a case against them.

    Representing the previous management of the institute, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan objected to the fairness of the report. He said the ACE report was mainly based on a forensic audit report that itself carried grave factual mistakes.

    He also requested the bench to stop the ACE from registration of an FIR till the submission of a reply to the report. “The FIR carries a big stigma,” he added.

    The bench did not pass any restraining order to this effect but directed the ACE not to cause any illegal arrest in the case. The court also asked Barrister Ahsan and other counsel of the PKLI’s old management to submit their replies on the report by Jan 16.

    Next hearing will be held at Islamabad.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Punjab cabinet approves draft legislation to abolish institute’s trust and take over its management. — FilePunjab cabinet approves draft legislation to abolish institute’s trust and take over its management. — File

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    GUJAR KHAN: Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Saturday said the government had reduced imports and enhanced exports and was also cutting down the fiscal deficit through its policies.

    He said 10 million new jobs would soon be created for the youth while 500,000 houses would be constructed for the poor as promised by the PTI government.

    Addressing a press conference at Mangla near Jhelum, the minister said 2019 was going to be the year of an economic change in the country.

    Prime Minister Imran Khan is poised to give no let-up or make a deal or compromise on recovering looted resources of the country. He said overseas Pakistanis were the backbone of Pakistan’s economy and they should send foreign exchange through legal channels instead of hawala or hundi.

    The minister said accountability was the election slogan of the PTI and would continue. He said grabbed lands were being retrieved from the land mafia.

    The minister said Mangla and Jhelum had centuries-old history and the people of Jhelum had always defeated mafias.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain says the government has reduced imports and enhanced exports and is also cutting down the fiscal deficit through its policies. ─ DawnNewsTVInformation Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain says the government has reduced imports and enhanced exports and is also cutting down the fiscal deficit through its policies. ─ DawnNewsTV

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    ISLAMABAD: Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Polio Chairman Dr Jean Marc Olivé on Saturday urged the government to go extra mile to free Pakistan from the crippling disease.

    Chairing the concluding session of TAG here, he said Pakistan was in a good position to stop polio in the very near future with the exceptional political commitment, strong coordination under the umbrella of Emergency Operations Centre and a strategy – the National Emergency Action Plan – which was delivering results.

    “I urge everyone to continue the work they have been doing. Karachi and Peshawar are the primary areas of concern for the programme, and this is where the extra efforts are needed,” he said.

    Dr Olivé also appreciated the work of polio frontline workers who work tirelessly in all weather conditions, and across all terrains, to ensure that each and every child in every community is vaccinated and fully protected from polio.

    The group met on Jan 11-12 in Islamabad to assess the programme progress, opportunities and the remaining challenges towards achieving the goal of stopping transmission of the poliovirus.

    Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta said the government was committed to eradicating the poliovirus.

    “I suggest that all parents should ensure that their children would be vaccinated. Civil society, media and religious scholars should also play their role to create awareness. I am hopeful the virus would be completely eradicated from Pakistan during year 2019,” he said.

    Director General Ministry of National Health Services Dr Asad Hafeez said though the last mile to eradicate the virus was most difficult the government was committed to doing so.

    National Coordinator Emergency Operation Centre for Polio Dr Rana Safdar said children who were missed during the campaigns become reason for the spread of poliovirus.

    “However we are focussing more on the areas where poliovirus is present and hope that things will improve soon,” he said.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta said the government was committed to eradicating the poliovirus. ─ Dawn/FilePrime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta said the government was committed to eradicating the poliovirus. ─ Dawn/File

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    LAHORE: Former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri said long-lasting peace between Pakistan and India is possible through people-to-people contact.

    “We have taken the Kartarpur initiative believing that no progress can be achieved regarding peace between the two countries without people-to-people contact. In fact, long-lasting peace is only possible through this, but unfortunately it has not begun yet,” Mr Kasuri said at a talk, titled ‘Indian elections and the possibility of South Asian peace’, held on the first day of ThinkFest at Alhamra here on Saturday. Senior journalist Najam Sethi moderated the discussion.

    Mr Kasuri said he was optimistic about resumption of talks between the two countries that would lead to good relations. “As Prime Minister Imran Khan said, what option are we left with if not war… peace is the only option,” he said, adding that if the Indian opposition parties created a formidable alliance against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), it might win and form the next government.

    “And even if Mr Modi returns to power, he will have to hold peace talks with Pakistan. He has already come to Lahore,” he added.

    Prof Dibyesh Anand of the University of Westminster, UK was critical of the Modi government, saying hate politics would not work for the BJP nor would anti-Pakistan politics. “Internal issues matter the most for them. Even in Pakistan people are more concerned about the internal issues.”

    He predicted that the BJP might return to power in India, but with a thin majority.

    Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president of the United States Institute of Peace, said six months were enough for the Modi-led BJP to cash in on the anti-Pakistan rhetoric as well as some domestic issues and it would likely return to power.

    The panelists were of the view that India would eventually have to hold talks with Pakistan as there was no other option. They said that whichever party formed the government after this year’s elections in India, it would resume dialogue with Pakistan.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri believes peace between Pakistan and India is the only option. ─ Dawn/FileFormer foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri believes peace between Pakistan and India is the only option. ─ Dawn/File

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    KARACHI: Retailers have pushed up prices of essential food items including sugar and vegetables prices ahead of the mini-budget which will be announced on Jan 23.

    Sugar now costs Rs60 per kg versus Rs55 per kg a few days ago following an increase in the wholesale price to Rs57-58 per kg from Rs55 per kg. Two months ago, the wholesale price of sugar was Rs52-53 per kg.

    Retailers with old stocks of sweetener are now taking full advantage of the fresh price hike in wholesale markets and are demanding Rs5 per kg more from consumers.

    Talking to Dawn, Patron-in-Chief Karachi Wholesalers Grocers Association (KWGA) Anis Majeed said the issue of late cane crushing and reports of low sugarcane crop can be blamed for the recent price hike.

    The price may remain under pressure as a number of mills have yet to start cane crushing over price dispute, he said. However, he ruled out any shortage of sugar in the wholesale market.

    Mr Majeed feared further price shocks in case the government raises import duties on raw materials and finished items in the mini budget.

    Pakistan’s sugar exports plunged to 182,142 tonnes ($55.5 million) in 5MFY19 from 320,593 tonnes ($129m) in same period last year. In FY18, sugar exports swelled to $1.469m tonnes ($508m) from 307,348 tonnes ($161m) in FY17. Sugar production fell by seven per cent to 6.565m tonnes in FY18 from 7.048m tonnes in FY17.

    Pricey tea whiteners, colas

    The price of Nestle tea whitener 950 gram pack went up to Rs865 from Rs825 while 375 grams pack now costs Rs425 as against Rs400. The company did not mention any reason of price rise in a letter issued to retailers.

    Despite the ongoing winter season, soft drink manufacturers have also increased the prices of beverages.

    The price of one litre and 1.5 litre cola bottles produced by two main beverage makers surged by Rs5 per bottle, followed by Rs 10 increase for jumbo bottles.

    Vegetables become expensive

    Not to be left out, vegetable retailers are making huge windfalls by charging over 100 per cent profit from consumers on wholesale rates.

    The retail price of onion is now Rs 30 per kgm from Rs 25 per kg earlier on. In Sabzi Mandi, wholesale price of onion hovers between Rs10-15 per kg.

    The same situation exists for potato. The retail price of the root vegetable has been raised to Rs30 per kg from Rs20 per kg, while its wholesale price hovers between Rs10-12 per kg.

    Tomato can be purchased at Rs40 per kg which was selling at Rs 20-30 per kg. Its wholesale price is Rs 20-25 per kg.

    President Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market New Sabzi Mandi Super Highway Haji Shahjehan said retailers are depriving consumers from taking benefit of low rates of Sindh’s onion and tomato crop and Punjab’s potato crop.

    Transportation charges have definitely increased due to Rs23 per kg hike in CNG rates coupled with diesel and LPG prices which have pushed up the cost of living for everyone, he said.

    Cucumber and turrai now sell at Rs80 per kg which were priced Rs40-50 per kg. Lokki and tinday are now available at Rs60 and Rs80 per kg as against Rs40 per kg each few days back. Shimla mirch (capsicum) prices moved up to Rs80 from Rs60 per kg. Bhindi (lady finger) is available at Rs120 as against Rs80 per kg.

    A retailer said tomato prices are rising as the vegetable could not ripe due to low temperatures. As a result, unripe tomatoes are being sold in the market in larger quantities.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Vegetable retailers are fleecing customers by charging much higher prices despite procuring at low cost from wholesale markets across the country.Vegetable retailers are fleecing customers by charging much higher prices despite procuring at low cost from wholesale markets across the country.

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    LANDI KOTAL: The National Logistic Cell personnel thrashed immigration staff at Torkham border the other day for distributing stamped passports to the Afghan nationals without informing them, sources said.

    They confided to Dawn on condition of anonymity that the NLC officials exchanged hot words with a staff member of immigration after he distributed stamped passports to Afghan nationals without informing them.

    The sources said that the NLC had unilaterally taken upon itself the responsibility of seizing all the stamped passports from immigration staff after completion of necessary paperwork by the Federal Investigation Authority.

    They said that the NLC personnel questioned the distribution of passports on Thursday to which the FIA staff objected as the former was not authorised to interfere in the official work of immigration. They said that the NLC personnel then entered the offices of FIA and hurled abuses at the immigration staff besides thrashing some of them who objected to their interference.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    NLC officials 'thrash' Torkham immigration staff stamping Afghan nationals' passports without informing them, say sources.NLC officials 'thrash' Torkham immigration staff stamping Afghan nationals' passports without informing them, say sources.

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    LAHORE: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad says the government will have to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sooner or later to improve the economic situation of the country.

    “In such a situation, the governments cannot avoid the IMF and the PTI government also will have to go to the IMF finally,” the minister told the media on the premises of the Planning and Development Department.

    He said being a member of the Economic Coordination Committee he was in contact with Finance Minister Asad Umar on the matter of mini-budget and other issues.

    “I am sure there would be no pressure on the poor in the mini-budget,” Mr Rashid believed, saying the government had collected about US $4 to 6 billion from other countries, enabling it to minimise its dependence on the IMF.

    He appreciated Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for directing the P&D department to revive Nullah Lai project and complete it within the stipulated timeframe. The project cost had exceeded to Rs40bn from Rs16bn due to various issues — such as cost escalation and increase in length of the project for 6km, he claimed.

    Says he will ask PM to accommodate him as PAC member

    Earlier, at a press conference at the railways headquarters, Mr Rashid said he would ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to accommodate him as member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by dropping someone from the PTI.

    “Since I am representing a separate political party, I will write to the PM to also include me in the PAC. There is no issue in my appointment as PAC member,” he said.

    Talking about the ongoing reforms in the railways, he said there was a plan to construct shopping malls at Rohri and other major railway stations.

    He said Railways would soon introduce a gift scheme on tickets just like some airlines give to their passengers.

    He said the railways would soon launch two VVIP state-of-the-art trains wherein facilities and cleanliness would be provided like a five-star hotel.

    “We are inviting Prime Minister Imran Khan for inauguration of Lahore railway station’s main hall and new trains,” he added.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019


    Railways minister Sheikh Rashid says he will ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to accommodate him as a Public Accounts Committee member. ─ File photoRailways minister Sheikh Rashid says he will ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to accommodate him as a Public Accounts Committee member. ─ File photo

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    Former United States ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter on Sunday said President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan "may find some sort of common ground" if and when a meeting is held between the two leaders.

    Addressing an event organised by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations, the former envoy said Trump and Khan are in power because they both have "very good political sense".

    "They have the fingertip feeling, as we say, they're very clever with people," he said while speaking at the event, 'Brunch & Conversation with Ambassador Cameron Munter', held at Karachi's Movenpick Hotel.

    Munter said there was a possibility that if the two leaders meet, they might find some common ground that could help improve their bilateral relationship."Not the kind that typical analytical diplomats find, but they may find that there is common ground in some way," he added.

    On January 2, President Trump had expressed his desire to meet Prime Minister Khan for talks on US-led efforts to jump-start the Afghan peace process. “I look forward to meeting the folks from the new leadership in Pakis­tan [and] we will be doing that in not-too-distant future,” he had said.

    Following this, the Foreign Office had welcomed Trump’s remarks on ties with Pakistan and said the government was keenly waiting for the engagement at the highest level.

    “We look forward to positive engagement with the US at the leadership level,” FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal had said during a weekly media briefing.

    During the event today, Munter expressed a desire for better relations between Washington and Islamabad, DawnNewsTV reported.

    The former US envoy said that at a tactical level there was still a sense that the kind of ties the United States has with the Pakistani military are "valuable and important, if for no other reason then that there is still a residual [American] force in Afghanistan".

    He said it was the "competence" of the Pakistan Army that made them a "good partner" for Washington, and cited the example of the 2010 floods in Pakistan. During the catastrophic floods, he said he had opted not to call the PPP government to help the affected people, and instead approached the Pakistani military.


    During the event, 'Brunch & Conversation with Ambassador Cameron Munter' held at Movenpick Hotel in the city, the former US envoy said the two leaders have During the event, 'Brunch & Conversation with Ambassador Cameron Munter' held at Movenpick Hotel in the city, the former US envoy said the two leaders have "very good political sense". — DawnNewsTV

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    With four days to go until the country witnesses a change in its highest judicial office, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Sunday said he will start a "free legal clinic" after his retirement.

    Justice Nisar made the announcement in Lahore during a candid discussion with delegations from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ) who had gathered to pay tribute to the services rendered by the chief justice.

    "I will offer free legal assistance to the oppressed, poor and helpless people at my free legal clinic," he said, stressing that the country belongs to the disadvantaged populace as much as it does to those from the more privileged sections of society.

    The outgoing top judge said: "We have charted the path for the betterment of Pakistan and it is now up to all of us to take the country forward."

    He said he would continue to play a role in ensuring job security and timely payment for workers belonging to media organisations.

    On January 2, President Arif Alvi had approved the appointment of Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa as the next chief justice.

    Justice Khosa will assume charge of the office after Justice Nisar's retirement on January 17. He will remain chief justice for almost 11 months and will retire on December 21, 2019.


    Delegations from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ) met with the chief justice to pay tribute to the services rendered by him. —Photo provided by authorDelegations from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ) met with the chief justice to pay tribute to the services rendered by him. —Photo provided by author

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    The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has decided to suspend its flights to Tokyo starting next month due to "heavy losses", a spokesperson said on Sunday.

    The national flag-carrier currently flies to the Japanese capital as the second leg of its Islamabad-Beijing-Tokyo route.

    But starting February 15, it will suspend the Tokyo flights "due to heavy losses being incurred on this route", PIA spokesman Mashood Tajwar told Dawn.com.

    Read: PIA's free-fall: what went wrong and who is to blame?

    He clarified that only the flights between Beijing and Tokyo were being suspended and that the Islamabad-Beijing route will remain intact.

    In November 2017, PIA had discontinued its flights to the United States after reportedly incurring Rs1.2 billion annual operational losses on the Islamabad-New York route.

    The national airline is currently looking to expand its business and is working towards its rebranding. In December, it launched a second flight from Islamabad to Doha and in November, it recommenced flights to Muscat and Sharjah from Lahore and Sialkot, respectively.


    The national flag-carrier currently flies to the Japanese capital as the second leg of its Islamabad-Beijing-Tokyo route. — FileThe national flag-carrier currently flies to the Japanese capital as the second leg of its Islamabad-Beijing-Tokyo route. — File

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