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    ISLAMABAD: Another judge of the Supreme Court has declared the order of Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who is going to doff his robes on January 17, about reconstituting a bench of the Peshawar registry in the middle of a hearing void and non-est.

    In the absence of any recusal from any member of the bench, the reconstitution of a smaller bench by removing a judge (Justice Qazi Faez Isa), who had questioned the exercise of suo motu powers, would amount to stifling the independent view of the judge that could shake the foundations of a free and impartial justice system, observed Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah in a six-page strongly worded order.

    He said his order be read into other cases fixed before the three-member bench on that day and which were again fixed before the reconstituted two-member bench. “All those cases are to be put up for rehearing before an appropriate bench again to be constituted by the chief justice and record of the court must reflect the correct status of these cases,” the order stated.

    Judge’s removal from SC bench after he questioned legality of suo motu proceedings amounts to shaking the foundation of impartial justice system, observes Justice Mansoor Ali Shah

    Justice Shah agreed with the viewpoint expressed by Justice Isa who had raised objection to the reconstituting of the smaller bench whilst hearing the case in March 2018. The bench comprising Justice Isa, Justice Shah and CJP Nisar was reconstituted after Justice Isa questioned the legality of the proceedings related to hospital waste. Justice Isa was excluded from the reconstituted bench that comprised Justice Shah and the CJP.

    In a separate note, Justice Isa had objected to the exercise of Article 184(3) of the Constitution by holding that before exercising its original jurisdiction, the SC must satisfy itself that the jurisdiction it is assuming accords with the Constitution. Justice Isa had also held that he was constrained to write this, since not doing so would weigh heavily on his conscience and he would be abdicating his responsibility as a judge.

    Now Justice Shah in a separate note admitted that his sitting on the reconstituted two-member bench was a mistake and having realised that after examining the legal position, he did not sign the orders passed by the reconstituted bench but as a junior member of the bench, awaited for the CJP to pass an appropriate order in response to the reaction of Justice Isa. He waited for the appropriate order by the CJP to respond to the note of Justice Isa by explaining the reasons of the reconstitution of the smaller bench on that day, Justice Shah observed. But no such order was passed till date and the case had been incorrectly reflected in the bench disposal statement as an adjourned case, Justice Shah recalled.

    “The chief justice is retiring on Jan 17, therefore, I feel constitutionally obligated, as a member of the bench, to express my views regarding the order of brother [Justice Isa] and to pass my order in this case for May 19, 2018 when it came up for hearing before the bench.”

    In his opinion, Justice Shah explained, a bench once constituted and is seized of a matter on the judicial side, cannot be reconstituted by the chief justice in exercise of his administrative powers, unless a member of the bench withdrew himself from the bench.

    Thus the reconstitution of the bench on that day was unwarranted and unprecedented and undermined the integrity of the judicial system, wrote Justice Shah.

    In the absence of a recusal by a member of the bench, Justice Shah observed, any amount of disagreement amongst members of the bench on an issue before them, could not form a valid ground for reconstitution of the bench. And any reconstitution of the bench on this ground would impinge on the constitutional value of independence of the judiciary, he added.

    “The construct of judicial system is pillared on the assumption that every judge besides being fair and impartial is fiercely independent and is free to uphold his judicial view,” Justice Shah said, adding this judicial freedom was foundational to the concept of rule of law. Thus the reconstitution of the bench while hearing the case, in the absence of any recusal from any member on the bench or due to any other reason, would amount to stifling the independent view of the judge and any effort to muffle disagreement or to silence dissent or to dampen an alternative viewpoint of a member on the bench, would shake the foundations of a free and impartial justice system, he feared.

    “This erodes the public confidence on which the entire edifice of judicature stands,” he stated. Public confidence was the most precious asset that this branch of the state (judiciary) had, Justice Shah stated, adding it was also one of the most precious assets of the nation.

    Citing from international jurisdictions, Justice Shah recalled how Prof Ahraon Barack pointed out that a judge ought to be aware of his power and the limits thereof. “Naturally, the judge knows the law and the power it grants to the judge, but he must also learn the limits imposed on him as a judge.”

    Also, a judge must recognise his mistakes, Justice Shah said, adding that like all mortals judges erred but a judge must admit this.

    While quoting Justice Jackson’s statement “we are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final”, Justice Shah stated: “I think the learned judge erred. The finality of our decision is based on our ability to admit our mistakes and our willingness to do so in appropriate cases.”

    Justice Shah also cited ‘The Charter of Rights and Freedom: A Judicial Perspective’ in which McLachlim Beverly noted that if judges admitted their mistakes they would strengthen public confidence in the judiciary. Besides, he said, in writing and thinking, judges must “display modesty and an absence of arrogance”. Statements such as those of Chief Justice Hughes that “we are under the Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is” are not merely incorrect but also perniciously arrogant, Justice Shah observed.

    He said his order be read into other cases fixed before the three-member bench on that day and which were again fixed before the reconstituted two-member bench. “All those cases are to be put up for rehearing before an appropriate bench again to be constituted by the chief justice and record of the court must reflect the correct status of these cases,” the order said.

    Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019

    Judge’s removal from SC bench after he questioned legality of suo motu proceedings amounts to shaking the foundation of impartial justice system, observes Justice Mansoor Ali Shah — FileJudge’s removal from SC bench after he questioned legality of suo motu proceedings amounts to shaking the foundation of impartial justice system, observes Justice Mansoor Ali Shah — File

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    UN experts on Sunday urged Pakistan not to carry out the “arbitrary execution” of a former police officer who suffers from mental illness.

    The execution of Khizar Hayat, sentenced to death in 2003 for killing a colleague, was suspended by the Supreme Court on Saturday, his legal team said, just three days before the 55-year-old was due to be hanged.

    The top court will on Monday hold a hearing into whether the execution can go ahead, according to a press release from Justice Project Pakistan, an NGO handling Hayat's case.

    The group welcomed the “timely intervention by the highest seat of justice in the land to prevent a wrongful execution,” and also gave Khayat's age as 60.

    Editorial:Mr President, halt Khizar’s execution

    “The imposition of capital punishment on individuals with psychosocial disabilities is a clear violation of Pakistan's international obligations,” said Agnes Callamard, UN expert on extrajudicial executions and Catalina Devandas, the special rapporteur on disabled rights.

    Hayat, who has spent more than 15 years in custody, has been kept in solitary confinement since 2012, the UN experts said, urging the government to halt the execution and questioning the veracity of his conviction.

    “During his trial, no evidence or witnesses were called in his defence and no questions were asked regarding his mental health, although he was later diagnosed with a mental health condition and has been receiving treatment for the past 10 years,” they said.

    “Implementing the death penalty under these conditions is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution, as well as a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment,” the UN panel said.

    Two years ago, experts from the World Psychiatric Association also appealed to Pakistan to halt his execution, saying he was suffering from schizophrenia and did not understand the crime he had committed.

    Government doctors had diagnosed Hayat as suffering from schizophrenia in 2008. A petition to move him to a mental health facility was dismissed on 6 December 2018, the experts said.

    JPP welcomes “timely intervention by the highest seat of justice to prevent a wrongful execution”. —Dawn archivesJPP welcomes “timely intervention by the highest seat of justice to prevent a wrongful execution”. —Dawn archives

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    KARACHI: A man, who had filed a petition in court for the recovery of his estranged ‘wife’ and three daughters, allegedly gunned down the 37-year-old man with whom his wife and the children were living in a flat in a New Town locality on Sunday in front of policemen, officials said.

    They added that the police with the petitioner had gone to the flat to arrest the man on a court order to present the petitioner’s wife and his three daughters in court on the next hearing of the case.

    “An incident of firing took place within the remit of the New Town police station when the additional SHO Darakhshan went with applicant Sohail Mughal on a court order to arrest Munawar Ali,” said Karachi East SSP Azfar Mahesar.

    Gulshan SP Tahir Noorani told media that Sohail Mughal had filed an abduction case of his family against Munawar Ali, which was quashed by the court.

    However, the court directed the Darakshan police on Dec 31, 2018 on a petition of the suspect to recover the suspect’s three daughters and wife and present them in court on Jan 17, East SSP Azfar Mahesar said.

    The petitioner was present during the last hearing of the case and stated that the “police authorities have not produced the ladies”.

    He had urged the court to issue an ‘appropriate action’ against the respondents.

    The New Town police officer in whose jurisdiction the incident took place told Dawn that when petitioner Sohail Mughal with the additional SHO of Darakhshan arrived at the apartment in Sharafabad, Munawar Ali was already present at the gate of the multi-storey building.

    However, before the police could arrest him, Mughal, who had hidden a 9mm pistol in his shalwar, took out the gun and opened fire on Munawar.

    He fired four shots as a result of which Munawar sustained two bullet wounds and was taken by the additional SHO to the Liaquat National Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

    Later, the body was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for medico-legal formalities.

    Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the hospital, said that Munawar had received two bullet wounds on his chest and abdomen.

    The police arrested Sohail Mughal with the pistol and collected spent bullet casings from the crime scene.

    The New Town police officer said that neighbours told the police that the suspect’s wife had taken ‘divorce’ from him and was living with Munawar Ali with her three daughters.

    The police detained the additional SHO of Darakhshan with other policemen on charges of criminal negligence.

    DIG East Amir Farooqi said a murder case would be registered against Sohail Mughal and another case pertaining to criminal negligence against the Darakhshan policemen.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Neighbours tell police the suspect’s wife had ‘divorced’ him and was living with another man with her three daughters. ─ File photoNeighbours tell police the suspect’s wife had ‘divorced’ him and was living with another man with her three daughters. ─ File photo

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    KARACHI: The chief provincial law officer said on Saturday that the Supreme Court-mandated commission on water and sanitation in Sindh needed to continue till its objectives were completely accomplished.

    When the commission, which is set to complete its tenure on Jan 15, resumed its sitting, Advocate General, Sindh, Salman Talibuddin made a statement on the behalf of the provincial government.

    He appreciated the working of the commission and said that its tenure should be extended since many ongoing schemes would be better monitored by the commission while a number of other schemes were in a formative stage.

    The AG also tendered an apology regarding the comments of an additional advocate general made about the commission last week before the Supreme Court when its final report was submitted in the apex court.

    He further said that when the same matter would be taken up for hearing by the apex court on Monday, the law officer of Sindh will record “no objection” to the commission’s final report.

    Shahab Usto, who had petitioned the apex court regarding water and sanitation issues in Sindh, also endorsed the proposal of the advocate general regarding continuation of the commission.

    However, the commission, headed by retried Justice Amir Hani Muslim, said that it was the sole domain of the Supreme Court to consider such a request independently.

    Justice Muslim had already requested the apex court that he was stepping down upon the completion of his tenure on Jan 15 due to personal reasons and the Supreme Court had also allowed it.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin  appreciates the working of the commission and says that its tenure should be extended since many ongoing schemes would be better monitored by it. ─ Dawn/FileAdvocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin appreciates the working of the commission and says that its tenure should be extended since many ongoing schemes would be better monitored by it. ─ Dawn/File

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    SAHIWAL: A farm worker was killed and 16 others were injured in a ‘clash and exchange of fire’ between the administration of Baiel Gunj Military Stud Farm and tenants, commonly called Mazareen, in Pakpattan district on Saturday evening.

    The clash reportedly erupted over the removal of a ‘dysfunctional’ power transformer which fed a tube well irrigating the farmland.

    Villagers in the nearby farm claimed that heavy firing was heard for 50 minutes. Sources said that 13 tenants and four security personnel of the farm were injured in the clash.

    Rescue 1122 sources confirmed that they shifted the injured to the Baiel Ganj Basic Health Unit and the Pakpattan DHQ Hospital.

    Pakpattan Health Authority CEO Imtiaz Rana told the media that emergency was declared in the DHQ Hospital. The sources said Mamshad Ahmed, son of Haji Manzoor, succumbed to his wounds sustained in the clash.

    As police did not reportedly register the case, some 500 residents and Mazareen from Farid Nagar Colony, adjacent to the farm, marched in protest towards the Pakpattan police chief office.

    Carrying the worker’s body, the protesters demanded the registration of an FIR against the culprits.

    Later, the protesters assembled outside the deputy commissioner’s office where the sit-in continued for over four hours.

    Sources in police confirmed that the DPO office had to call reserve police force to avoid any possible clash around the farm. They said the road connecting Pakpattan with Deepalpur and Kasur had been closed.

    The sit-in ended when ­a three-member committee comprising Deputy Com­mis­sioner Ahmed Kamal Maan, DPO Mariya Mah­mood and SP Investigation Syed Abbas Shah met the protest leaders.

    Mr Maan told Dawn by phone that the protesters dispersed after an assurance that FIR would be registered under the law.

    DPO office spokesperson Asif said the body was taken to the DHQ Hospital for autopsy.

    Rai Khizer Hayat, the station house officer of Chak Badiyain police station, told Dawn that the FIR was being registered.

    He said that a murder case was being registered on the compliant of Mohammad Akbar against 13 men belonging to the security administration of the military farm.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Clash erupted over removal of ‘dysfunctional’ power transformer which fed a tube well irrigating the farmland. — File photoClash erupted over removal of ‘dysfunctional’ power transformer which fed a tube well irrigating the farmland. — File photo

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    KARACHI: The trial pertaining to extrajudicial killing of aspiring Waziristan model Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud and three others in an staged encounter has yet to formally begin, as the main suspect, former SSP Rao Anwar, and his 25 subordinates have not been indicted one year after the incident, it emerged on Sunday.

    SSP Rao Anwar with his subordinates has been booked for killing Naqeeb and three others after dubbing them ‘Taliban militants’ in a ‘fake’ shoot-out on Jan 13, 2018.

    The Anti-Terrorism Court No 2 had granted bail to Rao in the two cases pertaining to the kidnapping and murder as well as registering fake criminal cases against the victims in July last.

    An antiterrorism court is set to announce order on bail pleas of 10 policemen today

    The killing of the young Mehsud had sparked widespread protests by the civil society and Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the killings.

    After eluding law enforcers for two months and upon being offered opportunities by the CJP to surrender, the former SSP had finally appeared before the Supreme Court and was subsequently arrested in Islamabad.

    Instead of detaining him in the Karachi central prison, jail authorities had shifted him to a house due to alleged security concerns, declaring it a sub-jail in the Malir Cantonment area.

    Four other suspects — former DSP Qamar, Muhammad Yaseen, Supurd Hussain and Khizar Hayat — have also been granted bail.

    After slain model’s father Khan Muhammad Mehsud, who is the complainant in the main case, showed no confidence in the ATC-II, the Sindh High Court had transferred the cases to the ATC-III on Nov 5.

    “The formal trial has not taken off so far because none of the suspects has been indicted by the trial court in the cases,” Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar, the counsel for the complainant Mehsud, had told Dawn after attending the last hearing on Jan 6.

    On the last hearing, the ATC-III had reserved its order on applications filed by 10 police officials, who remained absconding for as many months and then approached the court seeking pre-arrest bail to avoid their arrest in the cases.

    “The court will announce its verdict on their bail pleas on Jan 14 [today],” judicial staff told Dawn, adding that the hearing in the main case was fixed for Jan 30.

    Around six suspended police officials — Sub-Inspector Sheikh Mohammad Shoaib alias Shoaib Shooter, SI Gada Hussain, SI Amanullah Marwat, Head Constable Shafqat Hussain, Constables Mohsin Abbas, Raja Shamim, Rana Riaz — are still absconding in the case.

    Police probe finds Rao Anwar, others guilty

    On May 2, 2018 the trial court had accepted a supplementary investigation report submitted by investigating officer SSP Dr Rizwan Ahmed, who had charge-sheeted all the suspended policemen in the cases.

    The supplementary charge sheet that mentioned that the forensic reports of the weapons, a technical analysis of the call detail records (CDR), TV interviews of Rao Anwar and circumstantial evidence suggested the involvement of Rao Anwar and his team members in the extrajudicial killing and dubbing the victims as terrorists.

    There was no criminal record of the victims against whom the suspects had highlighted ‘fake stories in the media’ to hush up the extrajudicial killings, the supplementary charge sheet said, alleging that during the investigation the nominated policemen were also found involved in destroying evidence, misusing their official authority in an attempt to cover up their other unlawful acts.

    It further mentioned that in the light of all the evidence and statements of the witnesses, the arrested suspects, including Rao Anwar, were involved in kidnapping for ransom, murder and destruction of the evidence.

    It had stated that the CDR showed the presence of Rao Anwar at the crime scene between 2.55am and 3.21am, adding that his presence was also recorded near the New Sabzi Mandi on Superhighway on Jan 4, 5, 8, 9 and 13.

    The CDR analysis further revealed that PC Feroze, former SHO Marwat and ASI Hussain were present at the crime scene together on Jan 12, 2018 while the presence of SI Anwar, ASI Hussain, ASI Khair Mohammad and Raja Shamim was also recorded on Jan 13 last year.

    It showed that PC Feroze and ASI Hussain contacted each other through mobile phones 18 times on the day of the incident and a day before it while PC Feroze also changed his mobile SIM cards and mobile phones several times after the incident.

    “The digital evidence show the important role of the suspects in planning and execution of the fake encounter, while it also suggest their involvement in failure to report the crime and abetting the police party in the fake encounter,” it stated.

    The CDR analysis further showed that mobile phones of Mohsin Abbas and Raja Riaz were switched off at the time of the encounter and former DSP Qamar Ahmed had constantly been in contact with the police involved in the fake encounter.

    It further mentioned that former ASI Allahyar, former HC Mohammad Iqbal, former constables Arshad Ali, Ghulam Nazik, Shafiq Ahmed and Abdul Wali were found involved in kidnapping Naqeeb and his friends from the Sher Agha hotel and taking them to the Abbas Town police post and trying to cover up the whole episode, which was an offence under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

    It added that former constables Abbas and Imran Kazmi were found involved in the kidnapping, torture and demanding ransom for the victims’ release.

    It said former ASI Akbar Mallah’s role in the fake encounter was determined while the former DSP was found involved in making entries of the fake encounter, tampering with the evidence and facilitating the police party involved in fake encounter.

    The supplementary charge sheet revealed that there was no criminal record of the victims against whom the suspects had highlighted fake stories in the media to hush up the extrajudicial killings. The police were also found involved in destroying the evidence, misusing their official authority in an attempt to cover up their other unlawful acts.

    The supplementary charge sheet mentioned that in the light of all the evidence and statements of the witnesses, the arrested suspects, including Rao Anwar, were involved in kidnapping for ransom, murder and destroying the evidence.

    Court yet to take up eyewitness’s affidavit

    The trial court has yet to consider a personal affidavit filed by HC Shahzada Jahangir in which he deviated from his initial statement given to the police against Rao Anwar and his subordinates regarding their involvement in the extrajudicial killing.

    In the affidavit, he said that he was not present at the place of the incident on January 13, 2018.

    Deviating from his earlier statement, Jahangir stated that after seven or eight days of his arrest he was threatened and forced to give a statement. He had alleged that he was coerced to give the statement, which was not based on facts and the police had tortured him.

    Earlier, he had told the IO that he was a close aide of then Shah Latif Town SHO Marwat, who on Jan 13 called him at the place of incident and upon arriving there he found the SHO and other police officials present there while the four detained men were also in their custody.

    In the meantime, Rao Anwar, DSP Qamar, then SHO Shaikh and other police officials also arrived there and then Marwat, Shoaib and others took the detained men to an abandoned poultry farm, he said, adding that they heard gunshots and thereafter Marwat and other police officials came out of the poultry farm and asked him to do the paperwork.

    He said that he found the bodies of the detained men in the building.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    An antiterrorism court is set to announce order on bail pleas of 10 policemen today. ─ Photo courtesy FacbeookAn antiterrorism court is set to announce order on bail pleas of 10 policemen today. ─ Photo courtesy Facbeook

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    QUETTA: Provincial Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Sardar Saleh Bhootani has said that the provincial government is taking concrete measures to introduce an effective local government system that is not in conflict with tribal customs and local tradition of the province.

    Talking to journalists in Uthal during his visit to Lasbela district on Sunday, the minister said that he had consulted mayors, district and municipal committees’ chairmen, officials of the local government and other people to seek their suggestions for changes in the local bodies’ system.

    “Traditions and customs of Balochistan are different from Punjab and other parts of the country and we will introduce the new local government system keeping in view our tribal traditions and customs,” Sardar Bhootani said

    Referring to financial problems local bodies’ institutions were facing, the minister said that the local government was making efforts to increase development funds of local bodies’ institutions from metropolitan corporations and municipal committees to union councils.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Provincial Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Sardar Saleh Bhootani. — File photoProvincial Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Sardar Saleh Bhootani. — File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi on Sunday denied that he was friends with an alleged cocaine dealer.

    According to claims circulating on social media, the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) arrested a man from an upscale part of the capital and recovered a large quantity of cocaine from his possession.

    It has been claimed that the man supplied cocaine to parties in the capital and was a close friend of the state minister.

    A photograph has also been circulated on social media allegedly showing the man standing beside Mr Afridi.

    Mr Afridi, however, stated in a video that “criminal-minded people” had uploaded photos with him online and were “giving the impression that they are my friends.”

    He said as a political worker, he cannot stop anyone from taking photos standing beside him.

    He said he had launched an anti-drugs campaign with the support of the prime minister.

    “I am raising awareness against drugs on roads, on buses and in mosques. I have nothing to do with those who are seen in the pictures with me. I assume that the person took the pictures during the anti-drugs campaign. My and Imran Khan’s vision is to make the country drug-free,” he said.

    Mr Afridi claimed people were trying to defame him because he was campaigning against drugs.

    When contacted, ANF Director Headquarters Riaz Soomro told Dawn: “We are still in the process of investigation, and we are not in a position to confirm or deny whether he had a link to the minister.”

    He said it would be “inappropriate” at this stage to link the suspect to the minister.

    This is not the first time Mr Afridi has been linked to someone held for possessing drugs.

    On Jan 7, after a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Mr Afridi said before the press that action would be taken against anyone caught with drugs regardless of their kinship.

    Mr Afridi was then asked if he was related to Talal Nadir Afridi, who was arrested in Attock on Dec 11 for drug possession. The minister said: “Whoever he is, action will be taken against him in accordance with the law.”

    He went on to say he had an extended family and his father had married thrice.

    Nadir Afridi was arrested along with three others for possession of 507 grams of hashish.

    The address he gave to the police was House No 3 in the Minister’s Enclave, and he stated his father’s name as Farrukh Jamal Afridi.

    PML-N lawmaker Hina Pervaiz Butt had submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly after the incident to condemn the recovery of drugs from the state minister’s relative.

    Meanwhile, in a statement, the Islamabad police claimed that 12 people were arrested for possession of liquor and drugs.

    The Margalla police arrested someone allegedly involved in supply of drugs to educational institutions and recovered one kilogram hashish from him while the Secretariat police arrested two people and recovered 1.6kg hashish from them.

    The Banigala police recovered 10 litres of liquor from an individual, and Noon police recovered 510gm of hashish from two people.

    Khanna, Sihala, Koral and Golra police also recovered drugs and liquor from various suspects.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    A photograph circulating on social media allegedly shows the suspected cocaine dealer standing beside Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi. ─ File photoA photograph circulating on social media allegedly shows the suspected cocaine dealer standing beside Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi. ─ File photo

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    LAHORE: Political parties are now being run through a remote-control mechanism as one cannot talk against the security establishment even in internal discourse, says the Awami National Party leader Afrasiab Khattak.

    He was speaking on ‘Progressive Politics in Pakistan’ at ThinkFest here on Sunday.

    Terming the prevailing judicial activism a ‘judicial martial law’, he alleged that the Supreme Court chief justice was usurping the executive’s authority.

    He called for signing of a document by all political parties like the Charter of Democracy (CoD) to regain the space lost to undemocratic forces. He also talked of lack of democracy within the parties and urged their leaders to rectify the situation to be on a high moral ground in the struggle against undemocratic forces.

    Awami Workers’ Party’s Tooba Syed held the “catharsis” of activists through social media responsible for their reluctance to join actual political movements.

    The Friday Times editor Aima Khosa didn’t see any progressive movement in the country for the time being, blaming it on a lack of tradition and contemporary difficult conditions. She said the activists needed cadre organisation and political training for becoming part of such organizations.

    Akbar S Zaidi, who conducted the session, didn’t agree with Ms Khosa and said in fact difficult conditions enhanced the role and even gave birth to such movements and organisations.

    Responding to queries from the audience, Mr Khattak admitted political parties suffered because of not embracing new classes like youth and the urban middle class, while these could not adjust themselves to the changes in political discourse and issues that emerged in the post-Zia period.

    In the session on ‘Growth, IMF and Pakistan Economy’, former finance minister Salman Shah called for improving agriculture productivity through better water management, diverting Chinese investment, special economic zones, renegotiating free trade agreement with China to check its tilt towards Beijing, introducing public-private partnership concept in infrastructure development.

    Miftah Ismael, who was financial advisor during PML-N government, downplayed the fears of Pakistan being put on black list by the FATF saying the country had earlier been on the list (without any serious harm) in 2008-09.

    He said Islamabad could not substitute imports with exports for want of costly raw material used in many industries. Talking of lack of foreign visitors, he said at Dhaka more foreign airliners landed than Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore combined.

    Ex-finance minister Hafeez Pasha advised the rulers not to (negatively) touch the National Finance Commission award issues and called for reducing the size of bureaucratic setup in Islamabad.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Calls for signing of document by all political parties to regain the space lost to undemocratic forces. — FileCalls for signing of document by all political parties to regain the space lost to undemocratic forces. — File

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    KARACHI: Police resorted to baton-charge in an attempt to maintain order at the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, where thousands of young jobless persons, who came from all over Sindh, congregated on Sunday for walk-in interviews the hospital had announced for 300 lower-grade jobs.

    The hospital administration said more than 12,000 people had arrived for interviews. The police, however, offered a figure of around 30,000.

    It was beyond expectations for the hospital administration, yet the happenings reflected how grave the issue of unemployment was.

    While witnesses said police resorted to baton-charge, a senior police officer denied that the police took such an action against the people gathered there.

    The witnesses said the candidates had begun arriving outside the hospital since the early hours of Sunday morning. Many of them had graduate degrees, yet they wanted the jobs because of unemployment.

    The long queues soon turned into unruly gatherings before all that merged into a mob that was restless and raucous, yet they restrained themselves from becoming violent.

    Some of the candidates came for walk-in interviews were seen climbing the barricades formed by the hospital administration and the local police. A number of them clambered to the rooftop.

    Police’s decision to adopt mild tactics saved the day and stemmed the situation from going even graver and, fortunately, the general anguish remained suppressed and failed to create stampede.

    The situation, however, warranted for further fortification and the paramilitary Rangers were called in.

    The hospital had established 13 places — eight for men, four for women and one for the disabled persons — to take interviews of candidates.

    Witnesses said although the counters for men, women and disabled persons were safely distant from each other outside the outpatient department of the hospital, yet, the hullaballoo at the men’s counters created concern on other areas.

    “There were dozens of disabled persons and some of them could not get the tokens for interviews because of the chaos and they returned,” said a witness.

    Another said the situation at the women’s counters remained normal where it was ensured — both by the candidates and the administration — to maintain calm.

    SSP-City Muquddus Haider told Dawn that the police had advised the hospital administration that they should conduct interviews of the candidates in phases on different days to avoid a stampede-like situation and ensure the order but their advice was ostensibly not entertained by the authorities at the health facility.

    The officer said people had arrived from across Sindh along with their relatives.

    He also denied reports that the police resorted to baton-charge.

    Another officer, Eidgah SHO Nadeem Haider said several thousand people had gathered outside the hospital for interviews.

    The medical superintendent of the hospital said they had offered 300 jobs for lower grades for which they had called direct interviews.

    “Rest assured,” said hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Sabir Memon, “everyone who has come here will be interviewed; no matter, how much time it takes. We are here to manage all this.”

    A senior health official said: “Everything is normal now. The recruitment is being made in accordance with the set SOPs [standard operating procedures].”

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    CANDIDATES pack the area enclosed for them on the premises of the Civil Hospital on Sunday.—OnlineCANDIDATES pack the area enclosed for them on the premises of the Civil Hospital on Sunday.—Online

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    ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has been accused of setting an example of “harassment” in the case of the Multan Metro Bus Project (MMBP) as the country’s top of the line contractors involved in the project are on bail to avoid their arrest.

    According to the Contractors Association of Pakistan (CAP), NAB has challenged engineering estimates made by the Multan Development Authority (MDA) much before the award of the Rs28 billion MMBP contract. Thus the contractors had nothing to do with preparation of these estimates. The only charge is that the engineering estimates were high and led to a loss of Rs1.7bn to the national exchequer. Meanwhile, over Rs3.2bn dues of the contractors are yet to be paid by the MDA.

    NAB claims that it has to recover Rs1.7bn from the contractors and, therefore, the anti-graft watchdog is running after the contractors to arrest them, the CAP says. However, the MDA owes twice this amount to the contractors, it adds.

    The opposition believes that NAB’s case is weak and the bureau is just using tactics for arm-twisting of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders by implicating them in the MMBP case.

    The contractors’ association has written a letter to NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal, complaining that audit objections are being treated as criminal cases.

    In the letter, the CAP has asked the NAB chief to ensure a fair and transparent probe into mega development projects and expressed the fear that “harassment will drive away investors”.

    The CAP has alleged that despite meeting legal requirements and procedures, a group of contractors engaged in the project is being harassed and victimised.

    The MMBP was launched in June 2015 and the bus service was inaugurated by the then chief minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, in Jan 2017.

    Six top-ranking national and international firms had taken part in the execution of the MMBP. They completed the project two years ago and almost all of them are presently engaged in other national projects.

    A source told Dawn that the heads of six firms, who worked on different segments of the MMBP, had obtained pre-arrest bail from court, but the head of another company, who could not get bail, had been arrested by NAB.

    The CAP has assured NAB of its support in the probe into the Metro bus project or any other construction project, but said: “We feel that complex construction issues and disputes between construction companies and the government are being dragged into criminal jurisdiction.

    “This appears to be due to lack of understanding and expertise of NAB’s investigation officers with International Federation of Consulting Engineers [FIDIC] conditions, besides other complex technical and contractual matters.”

    The letter says that contractual disputes and audit objections need to be segregated from criminal proceedings.

    It has said that the construction sector of Pakistan is running businesses worth trillions of rupees, giving employment to millions of people and making huge investments.

    “It may also be considered that we are the engines of growth and contribute towards national economy in various ways by paying direct and indirect taxes, generating direct and indirect employment, driving the steel, cement, glass and tiles industries as being major consumers of such products,” the CAP letter says.

    The contractors’ association has said: “We are the ones building dams, roads, motorways, houses, schools, universities and hospitals for the nation of international standards and at most economical prices.”

    A spokesman for NAB said that four firms involved in the project were ready to return some amount under voluntary return (VR) deals. “There must be something wrong. That is why the contractors are ready to return the money to the government exchequer,” he added.

    He said that a reference had been prepared against officials of the Multan Development Authority for “illegal” acquisition of state land for the project.

    The NAB spokesman said that the inquiry into the MMBP covered four main dimensions — evaluation of feasibility study and approval of the project; evaluation of bidding process, award of the contract, execution of works, international procurements, payments made to contractors, sub-contractors and vendors; evaluation of land acquisition process; and tracking/trailing of financial transactions into accounts of M/s Yabaite China.

    He said that NAB Multan was conducting investigations as per laws and it would send its report to the bureau’s headquarters for scrutiny and review. The report will be presented before the executive board of NAB to decide further course of action.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Contractors say they had nothing to do with preparation of estimates of Multan Metro Bus Project contract being probed by NAB. — File photoContractors say they had nothing to do with preparation of estimates of Multan Metro Bus Project contract being probed by NAB. — File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: Nearly a month after it was formed, the commission to review Islamabad’s master plan has yet to start working, raising the question of whether it will be able to complete its task within the stipulated six months.

    The 12-member commission was formed on Dec 20 last year, but sources said an introductory meeting has not been convinced so far.

    A source in the Capital Development Authority, who asked not to be named, said nearly a month – 25 days – has passed, but an initial meeting of the commission has not been called.

    According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Interior on Dec 28, the chairman of the CDA will act as the convenor of the commission until someone from the private sector is appointment CDA chairman.

    The current CDA chairman, Afzal Latif, is on leave for four months, and Islamabad Chief Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmed has been given additional charge of the office chairman in his absence.

    Mr Ahmed was appointed on Thursday but has yet to take charge because his new assignment has not been notified.

    MNA Ali Awan, adviser to the prime minister on CDA affairs, told Dawn he would look into the issue.

    “The revision of Islamabad’s master plan is highly imported as this work was not carried out in the past. We will check why the first meeting has not even been called yet,” he said.

    The original developers the capital’s master plan had recommended revising the plan every 20 years, but successive governments never made any comprehensive revisions. Instead, a number of selective amendments were made from time to time, mostly to benefit specific people.

    The lack of revisions has resulted in poor planning and the proliferation of illegal construction.

    The commission consists of experts tasked with revising the master plan for the next 20 years – from 2020 to 2040. It will also give its perspective on the regularisation of illegal construction in the capital.

    The commission’s terms of reference (ToR) state that it will keep in mind the increased participation of the private sector in health and education when recommending how to resolve this issue.

    There are currently more than 300 private schools operating in the city’s residential sectors, along with a large number of healthcare facilities, in violation of CDA by-laws.

    The commission will also make proposals for short, medium and long-term development and may amend its ToRs with the government’s approval.

    On Sunday, the Islamabad Guest House Association also demanded the government look into the guesthouse issue. The association’s secretary general, Dr Osman Qazi Khan, said that the commission should look into bread and breakfasts in designated areas.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    A Greek firm, Doxiadis, prepared the master plan in 1960 with the suggestion for its revision after every 20 years. ─ File photo by Kashif AbbasiA Greek firm, Doxiadis, prepared the master plan in 1960 with the suggestion for its revision after every 20 years. ─ File photo by Kashif Abbasi

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    LAHORE: PPP Information Secretary Dr Nafisa Shah says new disclosures are being made about the PTI daily as its leadership is involved in corruption.

    Speaking at a press conference along with Munawwar Anjum and Hassan Murtaza here on Sunday, she recalled that the PTI election manifesto was anti-corruption and one Pakistan for all. But, after coming into power, it adopted double standards on corruption, she said.

    She said prime minister’s sister Aleema Khan who is caretaker of Shaukat Khanum Hospital’s donations, had been found to be owning $450 million property in New Jersey, US declared in the amnesty scheme in 2017. She asked whether the demand by opposition for investigation of the affair was just or not.

    Likewise, she said, financial affairs and contracts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government during the last five years as well as fake accounts of the PTI funds must also be probed.

    The PPP leader said Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi talked of use of drugs by Islamabad college girls but the fact is that his own nephew had been caught smuggling drugs and Mr Afridi should decide his punishment on his own.

    She told a questioner that the PPP would move every forum including courts against Aleema Khan, Imran Khan, Jahangir Tareen, Aleem Khan and others.

    She lamented that names of her party leaders were placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the report of a so-called JIT and that despite the Supreme Court orders the same were not being removed from the list. Whereas, she pointed out, the name of Liaquat Jatoi was removed from the list despite investigation.

    Ms Shah chided the finance minister for changing stance on national economy. She said Asad Umar took third U-turn in six months as he said Islamabad was not going to the IMF but was giving a second budget. She asked which government would give a second budget in six months.

    Responding to a question, she said Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had talked of march on Islamabad on the basis of issues unlike Imran Khan’s attack on parliament. “We are in contact with the masses. With the support of the masses we’ll march on Islamabad when the conditions will become intolerable.”

    Answering another question, she said the PPP had taken a principled stance against military courts.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Nafisa Shah says financial affairs and contracts of the KP govt during last five years must also be probed. — FileNafisa Shah says financial affairs and contracts of the KP govt during last five years must also be probed. — File

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    QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani has refuted “rumours of differences” in the ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and said that no one can create a rift in the party which is making efforts for development of the province and prosperity of the people.

    According to reports, differences have emerged in the BAP over its candidate for a Senate seat from Balochistan which has fallen vacant after death of Sardar Azam Khan Musakhail.

    However, Mr Alyani, who is also president of the BAP, said, “Some elements which are spreading rumours about differences in the party on social media can’t even win union council elections. They are trying to create misunderstanding within the party.”

    CM says opponents can’t swallow better performance of his govt

    “The BAP is united and making efforts to secure rights of Balochistan and solve the problems being faced by the people of the province,” he said in a statement issued here on Sunday.

    The chief minister said, “We contested general elections under the slogan of ‘prosperous Balochistan’ and are trying to implement the manifesto of the party.” However, he added, some people were spreading negative propaganda against the party with rumours that it had weakened.

    He criticised previous provincial governments alleging that during their tenures, jobs were sold at high prices and Balochistan remained backward due to their negligence to the issues being faced by the province.

    He said that the rulers running the previous governments did not pay attention to the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) that kept Balochistan a poor and deprived province.

    Mr Alyani said that his government was making all out efforts to bring a positive and progressive change in the life of the people of Balochistan.

    He said that his government would continue making efforts to improve the situation in the province through providing basic facilities to the people and solving their problems.

    Referring to the opponents’ criticism on the provincial government’s performance, the CM said those irresponsible politicians could not swallow the performance of the government over the last four months,

    “Our government has made record legislation and taken action over major issues the province is facing. Seven meetings of the provincial cabinet have been held so far in which important decisions were taken on the PSDP in the interest of the people of Balochistan,” he said.

    Lauding the support of coalition partners, the chief minister said, “They have been supporting us in making decisions for better future of the province.”

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Balochistan CM Jam Kamal Alyani says opponents can’t swallow better performance of his government. — File photoBalochistan CM Jam Kamal Alyani says opponents can’t swallow better performance of his government. — File photo

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    SUKKUR: The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), currently engaged in political manoeuvring amid persisting uncertainty about future of the Sindh government, held a crucial meeting on Sunday at Gohar Palace in Khangarh, Ghotki district, ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Jan 27 visit to Sindh.

    The meeting was presided over by GDA chief Pir Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi (Pir Sahib Pagara) and attended by other top alliance leaders including Pir Sadaruddin Shah Rashdi, Ayaz Latif Palijo, Dr Hasnain Mirza, Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Irfanullah Marwat, Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, Ghous Bakhsh Khan Mahar and the host, MPA Sardar Ali Gohar Khan Mahar.

    Speaking to the media after the meeting, both Sardar Mahar and GDA secretary general Ayaz Palijo said that a “change” in Sindh through constitutional means was discussed. They said the alliance would continue to support Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf as its ally at the Centre as there was a consensus among leaderships of both entities, as well as all other stakeholders of the state, on rooting out corruption from the country.

    ‘Constitutional change’ in Sindh discussed, required support within assembly claimed

    Regarding GDA’s efforts to dislodge Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from power corridors in Sindh, Mr Palijo argued that the PPP government had destroyed the agriculture sector in the province over the decade-long rule over it, besides plaguing all departments with corruption.

    “They have devastated growers in Sindh,” he said, adding that the province was not getting its due share in the Indus water while Wapda and the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) remained indifferent to the issue.

    Mr Palijo categorically stated that the GDA would not support any unconstitutional move aimed about a change of government in Sindh. He said GDA would play a vital role in bringing about such a change through constitutional moves. “There are dozens of members of the Sindh Assembly in contact with Pir Pagara and Sardar Ali Gohar Khan Mahar who are willing to support such a move,” he said.

    He said GDA had already started mobilising public support from Ghotki district and similar efforts would be made in all other districts very soon. He said GDA’s aim was to make the country corruption-free.

    Any strategy in this regard, if chalked out, would certainly be a joint effort of the GDA and PTI, he said.

    Pir Sadaruddin Shah Rashdi told the media said there would be an in-house change in the Sindh Assembly. It would not come through unconstitutional means, he said, adding that GDA would not be part of any unconstitutional change.

    Referring to PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s warning to the PTI government over a possible “invasion of Islamabad” by oppressed people of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pir Rashdi said: “The Zardari party is not strong enough to invade even Ghotki let alone Islamabad ... the party has done massive corruption in Sindh ... they have to face accountability first”

    Commenting on Prime Minister’s scheduled visit to Ghotki, MPA Ali Gohar Mahar said that he would seek a big package for Sindh from the Centre which should include establishment of a university in Ghotki.

    He said many areas of the district were without gas though it was the first area of Sindh where natural gas was discovered in 1993 and first well of the province was sunk here. No other benefits were being given to Ghotki against the gas deposits and supplies.

    Former chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim said that the prime minister was coming to Sindh to know about the issues confronting Sindh. He said Mr Khan would be apprised of all pressing issues. He said there were certain issues supposed to be addressed by the provincial government but it was shifting all responsibilities to the federal government.

    He hinted that a change in Sindh was imminent “once the accountability process in the province is completed”.

    After the meeting, Pir Pagara left for the Tar Ghar bungalow — the residence of Sardar Ali Gohar Mahar in Sardar Garh — for an overnight stay.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

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    PESHAWAR: The austerity drive of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is likely to sweep away wildlife department as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa environment department has moved a summary to merge it with the forest department.

    Minister for Environment Syed Mohammad Ishtiaq said that summary regarding merger of the two departments was forwarded to chief minister and chief secretary on Friday last. The cabinet will approve the summary. He said that merger of Forest Development Corporation with forest department was also on the cards to avoid overlapping and streamline the affairs.

    “The purpose of merger of the two departments is to save resources and share responsibilities among employees to protect forests as well as wildlife,” the minister told Dawn.

    Proposal shocks wildlife conservators

    The wildlife department was set up in 1995. Before, it was functioning under the umbrella of forest department in the name of ‘game wing’. The government will amend the relevant laws for merger of the two departments.

    The environment department’s proposal shocked wildlife conservators, who termed the move “very damaging” for the management of wildlife in the province.

    “This decision will affect wildlife management,”’ said Dr Mumtaz Malik, former chief conservator and founder of the department. He added that wildlife would go back to zero after merger of the two departments.

    “A department, which got national and international recognitions and introduced activities like trophy hunting of wild species, established national parks, wildlife parks and conservancies, is being abolished in the name of merger,” he said.

    An expert associated with an international conservation body said that wildlife would lose its identity and specialised staff if an established department was abolished. “The government should not wind up an established department,” he said, adding that those two disciplines were separated in 1970s.

    More than 1,000 employees of the wildlife department would be put at the disposal of forest department. In addition, the post of chief conservator of wildlife department would stand abolished after the merger.

    The department is currently managing seven national parks including Lulusar-Dudipatsar, Chitral Gol, Broghil Valley, Ayubia, Saiful Muluk and Sheikh Badin. Setting up of national parks not only improved natural habitats but also moved some rare species like snow leopard and markhor from the endangered to vulnerable categories with the support of local communities.

    If cabinet approves the merger, chief conservator forests will look after both flora and fauna in the province including thousands of hectors of national parks, wildlife parks, conservancies, game reserves and wetlands etc. The post of chief conservator of wildlife will also be dissolved, according to the summary.

    The previous government of PTI had made a comprehensive law called Wildlife and Biodiversity (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 2015. Forest and wildlife operate under the umbrella of environment department. The previous government had announced three more national parks in the province.

    Minister Ishtiaq said that the merger would not only save resources, but would also resolve the issue of duplication. He expected over Rs30 million saving for the government annually after merger of the two departments. “The problem is that employees of the two departments evade responsibilities and ignore offences in their areas of jurisdiction,” he said.

    He said that officials of the wildlife remained indifferent when they came across any forest-related offences during duty and same was the case with forest staff in connection with wildlife offences.

    But officials disagreed with the minister’s remarks and alleged that some vested interests in the forest department were trying to increase “grazing area” for themselves in the name of merger. They said that forest and wildlife were two different subjects, which required specialised expertise and qualifications and experts in forestry did not understand wildlife.

    “How a department (forest), which can’t protect forests, will look after wildlife and its attached sectors,” questioned an official. He said that wildlife department had prosecuted over 62 offences in various courts for violation in Ayubia National Park as more than 200 cases were reported in other national parks of the province.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Proposal shocks wildlife conservators.Proposal shocks wildlife conservators.

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    SUKKUR: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that nobody can stop him from going abroad for official visits or pilgrimage.

    “Can anyone stop me if I have to perform Haj or Umra; or ziaraat in Iraq?” he asked.

    The chief minister was speaking to the media after attending the Valima ceremony of former MPA Syed Jawed Ali Shah’s son here on Sunday.

    He said he had undertaken just a couple of private foreign tours so far since becoming the chief minister. “By the way, I don’t intend to go abroad in near future,” he added.

    Mr Shah said he was not worried about placement of his name on the exit control list (ECL).

    Apparently referring to Local Govt Minister Saeed Ghani’s recent statement regarding a tit-for-tat action over foreign travel ban on the CM and certain other PPP leaders, Mr Shah said there would be no disruption in the prime minister’s or any federal minister’s visit to Sindh on the part of the provincial government.

    “Imran Khan is the Prime Minister of the country; he is free to go anywhere he wants to go,” the CM said.

    Commenting on alleged moves to dislodge his government, Mr Shah said the Sindh government would stay until it enjoyed support of the masses and PPP leadership. He said no conspiracy against his government would succeed. “Those sitting in Islamabad ought to tell me which of his or his government’s act had actually angered them,” he added.

    In reply to a question, he said it was the media that keenly projected the unparliamentary language uttered guests at various programmes and other people. “If the media stops this practice, the trend will certainly die down,” he argued.

    Answering a question about future of military courts, the chief minister said that his party had already conveyed its stance on the subject to the authorities concerned.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Murad Shah said he had undertaken just a couple of private foreign tours so far since becoming the chief minister. ─ File photoMurad Shah said he had undertaken just a couple of private foreign tours so far since becoming the chief minister. ─ File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Education has decided to fill only six of the 14 vacant Pakistan chairs in foreign universities.

    The ministry recently stopped the process of sending shortlisted candidates to represent Pakistan in 14 foreign universities. The candidates were finalised by a committee headed by Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah last year.

    The education ministry now has decided to advertise the entire process afresh.

    “We are going to re-advertise these positions within two weeks and in the first phase we will make appointments on four to six chairs instead of 14,” said the ministry’s Joint Education Adviser Rafiq Tahir.

    He said in the first phase appointments would be made in important countries.

    Education ministry says it will fill only six of the 14 vacant chairs abroad

    Sources said because of budgetary constraints the ministry had decided to reduce the foreign chairs. Last year when the selection was finalised, there was a budget of around Rs50 million which was recently reduced by the federal government to Rs15 million.

    The process to select candidates for the positions faced delay for the last around a decade. Pakistan has chairs in 14 foreign universities, including Germany, Turkey and China, which have been vacant for six to 10 years.

    The chairs were set up on reciprocal basis and their holders used to deliver lectures aimed at promoting Urdu and the culture and history of Pakistan.

    Earlier, the Cabinet Division used to deal with the issue but last year the function was given to the ministry of education.

    A senior faculty member of Quaid-i-Azam University said chairs at international universities were a tool to build the country’s image.

    “These chairs play an important role in promoting Pakistan’s culture and image. The appointees are academic ambassadors but unfortunately our bureaucrats are not taking this important issue seriously.”

    He said India had almost 300 chairs in world’s top university where its scholars were playing an important role to promote their country’s interest.

    A Pakistani scholar, who was shortlisted by the committee last year, said after a number of meetings he was selected but so far the education ministry has failed to complete the process.

    “Now, we are being told that the process is going to be re-advertised which is unfortunate and a joke with scholars,” he said.

    Last year, 28 scholars, two each against one post, were finalised by the committee. He said instead of reducing the number of chairs, the government should appoint more scholars to promote the country’s soft image in the world.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Sources say budgetary constraints behind education ministry move to fill just 6 of 14 vacant chairs abroad. ─ DawnNewsTVSources say budgetary constraints behind education ministry move to fill just 6 of 14 vacant chairs abroad. ─ DawnNewsTV

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    PESHAWAR: The World Health Organisation, which is providing technical assistance to the authorities to streamline healthcare financing in all provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, will help them to put in place a uniform programme of free healthcare across the country.

    A mission of WHO including Prof Soonman, Dr Faraz Khalid and Dr Mohammad Saeed Akbar Khan held discussions with the officials of health and finance departments during a visit to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently.

    The mission, which reached Pakistan on January 8, 2019 on the government’s invitation to streamline its healthcare financing system, also visited other provinces and later presented its recommendations to Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) regarding improvement in the system.

    The health department officials told Dawn that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had launched Sehat Sahulat Programme (SSP) two years ago that benefitted about 150,000 patients. Under it, each household of eight persons is entitled to get services up to Rs540,000 but still there is room for improvement.

    The government pays premium to the insurance company, but the latter retains 20 per cent of the unspent amount at the end of the year and returns 80 per cent to the former. The health department wants that entire amount should be spent on patients’ health and profit margin by the company should be reduced.

    As the government has designated about 100 private and state-run hospitals to treat people under the SSP, but bulk of the amount goes to the private sector because of prompt services being provided to the patients there.

    In the government hospitals, the doctors and other staff involved in the treatment of SSP’s patients don’t get any additional benefits due to which they are least interested in their treatment, according to sources.

    “The WHO has been providing technical assistance to the government to offer quality healthcare services to families living below the poverty line through free of cost health insurance programmes and is devising strategy to bring uniformity among the programmes run by federal government and province, especially SSP in KP,” said officials.

    They said that those initiatives were steps towards realisation of the WHO’s Universal Health Coverage, which needed to be ensured in the face of hefty rise in public sector expenditure as well as high cost of medicines. Not only these programmes ensure that the under-privileged citizens across the country get access to quality medical services in a swift and dignified manner, but it also ascertains, by preventing the catastrophic expenditures on health, that poor families do not slip further down the poverty line.

    The world health agency has conducted a ‘health financing diagnostic review’ of social health protection initiatives to plan for further public sector funding and sustainability of these initiatives, specifically undertaking an in-depth diagnostic analysis of the health financing system in the country by taking into consideration the developed political arrangement and identifying the challenges including raising, managing and using financial health resources.

    According to officials, the WHO’s visit was aimed at generating a policy dialogue to promote more public money for health by undertaking a fiscal space analysis for the health sector and identifying alternative relevant resource mobilisation arrangements.

    Pakistan has sought WHO’s technical cooperation to develop a federal health financing policy that could be used in the formulation of provincial health financing strategies. The UN health agency will also extend cooperation to the government in designing and implementing the health insurance programme in the provinces to enhance financial protection goal for the poor.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    WHO mission also visited other provinces, presented its recommendations to Ministry of National Health Services. — FileWHO mission also visited other provinces, presented its recommendations to Ministry of National Health Services. — File

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    RAWALPINDI: Federal Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani here on Sunday defended the recent increase in medicine prices and linked it with the devaluation of the rupee against the dollar.

    “We will reduce the drug prices when the value of the dollar drops against the rupee. As medicines are imported, the devaluation of the rupee necessitated the increase in the prices,” he told media persons after visiting the Holy Family Hospital (HFH).

    The minister said pharmaceutical companies had demanded an increase of 30pc in the drug prices but the government agreed only to 15pc.

    Says prices will be reduced when value of dollar drops against the rupee

    The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) on Jan 11 announced up to 15pc increase in the prices of various medicines. The surge drew criticism from the citizens and the opposition parties who demanded the government withdraw the decision as it would create problems for the people.

    The minister said healthcare was ignored in the past but the PTI government was giving special attention to the sector at the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said the prime minister wanted to provide better healthcare facilities to the citizens in all government hospitals.

    The minister said more than 20 million health cards would be issued by the end of this month.

    “These health cards will enable the citizens to receive medical treatment both at the government and private hospitals,” he said, adding the financial package under the health cards had also been doubled.

    The government is working to establish three new hospitals and a nursing university in Islamabad to lessen the patient load on the existing hospitals.

    He said after the visit of the prime minister to the HFH, 100 new beds were being added to its mother and child department.

    He said the prime minister expressed his concerns after seeing two or three expecting mothers sharing a single bed in the hospital.

    “The prime minister assigned me the task to improve the facilities in the hospital so patients could get better healthcare facilities without any hurdle,” he said.

    “More than three million people get medical care annually at the HFH and it will be made a state-of-the-art hospital.”

    He said for patient attendants, a shelter home was being constructed and such a facility would also be provided at Benazir Bhutto Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital.

    The minister said incubators, baby carts, warmers and other facilities were also being provided to the hospital.

    “The Punjab government has been asked to ensure supply of medicines to the government hospitals,” he said.

    The government will also recruit more staff to overcome the shortage in the hospitals. He said 150 employees would be recruited to improve the sanitation facilities at the HFH soon. He said new washrooms would also be constructed in the hospital.

    The minister said he was monitoring the work at the hospital and the residents would seen the change within a week. He said special counters had been established at the hospital to resolve complaints of the patients.

    Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

    Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani talks to the media at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi on Sunday. — INPMinister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani talks to the media at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi on Sunday. — INP

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