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The Times of India
Prez poll: With 63% of votes in bag, Kovind's win seems certain
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 21:29:10 GMT
The combined opposition has named former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as its candidate for the presidential poll but NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind’s victory is a foregone conclusion, with 63.1% of the electoral college votes already in the bag. more...
How Isro protects India’s space assets in orbit 
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:14:32 GMT
Though Isro’s main objective is to make satellites functional once placed in orbit, protecting them from space debris is also the top priority of the agency. more...
Most services set to cost more with GST
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:44:26 GMT
For some days now, several service providers — from insurance and banking to telecom and hotels — have been sending emailers to customers warning of a GST-driven increase in prices starting July 1. more...
Pak: Jadhav has sought mercy from army chief
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:10:21 GMT
Former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan for espionage and subversive activities, filed a petition before the country’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa for mercy, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Pak army’s media arm, said on Thursday. more...
US approves sale of 22 Guardian drones to India
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 22:45:13 GMT
The US has cleared the sale of 22 Guardian drones to India, government sources said on Thursday, a deal being termed as a "game changer" for bilateral ties ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's maiden visit to Washington for his meeting with President Donald Trump. more...
Terror, US aid to Pak to figure in Modi-Trump talks
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 22:56:15 GMT
Ahead of PM Narendra Modi's visit to the US, the government hinted on Thursday that the PM would raise terrorism emanating from Pakistan and US military aid to Islamabad in his meeting with President Donald Trump. more...
‘Oxygen supply cut’, 11 die in Indore hospital
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:27:22 GMT
The death of 11 people, including two children, at MY Hospital sent shockwaves through the city on Thursday after reports that oxygen supply was mysteriously snapped for around 15 minutes between 3am and 4am, leading to the deaths. more...
Prez poll: Oppn too picks Dalit to counter NDA
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:54:25 GMT
Former Speaker Meira Kumar will take on BJP’s Ram Nath Kovind for the President’s post in a “Dalit versus Dalit” contest which, while comfortably being in the saffron bag, is high on political symbolism in view of the opposition’s intent to make an ideological statement. more...
Will never reveal dressing room details: Kohli
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:27:24 GMT
Speaking for the first time, Virat Kohli on Thursday said that he will never reveal dressing-room details, in an apparent reference to the now retired coach Anil Kumble's statement that their partnership had become "untenable". more...
No cars for U’khand govt till schools get chairs
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:29:43 GMT
Riled over non-implementation of its order to provide basic facilities in government schools of Uttarakhand, the high court on Thursday restrained the state government from purchasing any luxurious item such as cars, air-conditioners and furniture for itself till further order more...
Discussions on: Rajinikanth on joining politics
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:45:49 GMT
Tamil actor Rajinikanth on Thursday admitted he has been discussing his political entry with politicians and well-wishers. However, the superstar maintained suspense over when he is likely to take the plunge into politics. more...
Help us remarry, say women in 'village of widows'
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:58:58 GMT
Rachna Shukla, 28, has reconciled herself to leading a solitary life, much like the 31 other widows of Deoli-Bhangiram, a village in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, dubbed as the "village of widows" after the 2013 Kedarnath deluge took the lives of 54 men from this tiny hamlet alone more...
Fund-raiser’s confession puts Cong in tight spot
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 21:12:23 GMT
Karnataka MLC K Govindaraj, popularly known as Congress party’s biggest fund raiser in south India, has put the party leadership in a tight spot. During his questioning by I-T sleuths, he has confirmed that the names written in his diary are the “names of Congress party leaders”. more...
A tiger reserve in Telangana without single big cat
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:24:16 GMT
For the second time in a decade, Kawal Tiger Reserve, one of the two such sanctuaries in Telangana, has gone “tigerless” with forest department officials having no clue about what happened to the two big cats that had migrated from the forests in Maharashtra in 2015. more...
By 2030, India’s population to rise to 1.51 billion
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:42:55 GMT
Now, oil companies can choose where to scout
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 21:19:16 GMT
Finance minister Arun Jaitley will launch the National Data Repository - a database of sedimentary basins - and open acreage licensing policy for exploration blocks on June 28. more...
Prez poll: 3 reasons why Meira Kumar was chosen
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:14:01 GMT
The JD(U) yesterday said it would back Kovind, while the BSP had said it would not take a "negative" stand towards the candidature of a dalit after the NDA announced their candidate was a dalit from UP earlier this week. more...
Prez poll: It's Ram Nath Kovind or Meira Kumar
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:13:57 GMT
The Dawn News - Home
Indian spy Jadhav appeals to COAS to 'spare his life'; army releases new video confession
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:28:45 +0500
'RAW-sponsored terrorism' Jadhav's trial Jadhav's first confession Case goes to ICJ Convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is currently on death row, has appealed to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Bajwa for mercy. "Commander Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav, the serving Indian Naval Officer who has been sentenced to death on charges of espionage, sabotage and terrorism, has made a mercy petition to the Chief of Army Staff," the army's media wing said in a press release issued Thursday. "In his plea, Commander Jadhav has admitted his involvement in espionage, terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan and expressed remorse at the resultant loss of many precious innocent lives and extensive damage to property due to his actions."Seeking forgiveness for his actions, he has requested the Chief of Army Staff to spare his life on compassionate grounds," the Army said. Commander Jadhav has reportedly exhausted an appeal to the Military Appellate Court, it emerged from the press release. If his appeal for clemency is rejected by Gen Bajwa, he will have recourse to appeal to President Mamnoon Hussain. A new confessional video, released by Inter-Services Public Relations along with the news of Jadhav's petition, purports to detail the crimes Jadhav has sought absolution from. In the video, Jadhav can be heard saying that Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) sponsored various terrorist activities in Pakistan in order to disrupt economic activities linked to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and foment socio-political disturbance and strife in Balochistan and Karachi. Explore: Read Jadhav's full confessional statement here'RAW-sponsored terrorism' Jadhav, in his "confession", has said that one Anil Kumar "on behalf of RAW" sponsored terrorist activities in Pakistan. These included encouraging sectarian violence targeting Hazara and Shia citizens, particularly those travelling between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan on pilgrimage. The purpose of sponsoring various attacks in the region was so that "instability or some kind of fear is set into the mindsets of the people of Pakistan", Jadhav said, saying that the high-profile assassination of Superintendent Police Chaudhry Aslam was an example of the kind of disturbance India wanted to create. According to Jadhav, RAW also 'directly sponsored' the targeting of Frontier Works Organisation workers in Balochistan and sponsored Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks carried out by "Baloch sub-nationals" within Quetta, Turbat and various other cities of Balochistan. The spy said that "various financing which subsequently happened for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and various other Afghan anti-Pakistani terrorist groups led to the attack by TTP on one of the Mehran Naval Bases in which a lot of damage was cost to the Pakistani Navy." Other attacks that Jadhav said were "funded and directly supported by Anil Kumar" included a "sort of radar installation attack, the Sui pipeline gas attack, then attacks on civilian bus stations where some, I suppose, Pakistani nationals were being targeted by sub-nationals and murdered and massacred" in order to cause disruptions in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)."He wanted it [the attacks] to be raised to the next level so that complete disruption and complete stoppage of the CPEC between Gwadar and China is achieved," Jadhav added.A 'military-style' attack on the Pakistani consulate in Zahidan was also planned by RAW officials along with Baloch insurgents, Jadhav confessed. "The aim was to either attack it with a grenade or some kind of Rocket-Propelled Grenade or IED attack or then try to harm the consul-general or some kind of vicious attack on the Pakistani consulate in Zahidan," he said.Additionally, he said, RAW had sponsored the creation of a new website for the Baloch movement in addition to handling an existing website "which was luring people from within Pakistan for various activities to be carried out in the future."Funding for these activities took place through hawala and hundi operations, Jadhav said, with finances moved from Delhi and Mumbai via Dubai into Pakistan.Jadhav's trial Jadhav had previously been tried by a Field General Court Martial under Section 59 of the PAA and Section 3 of the official Secret Act of 1923 and sentenced to death.Read more: Pakistan sentences Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to deathJadhav had confessed before a magistrate and court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage and sabotage activities seeking to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan through impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for the restoration of peace in Balochistan and Karachi, the ISPR had said earlier.Jadhav's first confession Jadhav's first confessional statement was aired by former ISPR head Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, in which the spy admitted to involvement in terror activities in Balochistan and Karachi.Terming the Indian spy's arrest a 'big achievement', Bajwa said at the time that Jadhav was directly handled by the RAW chief, the Indian National Security Adviser and the RAW joint secretary."His goal was to disrupt development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with Gwadar port as a special target," Bajwa had said, adding, "This is nothing short of state-sponsored terrorism... There can be no clearer evidence of Indian interference in Pakistan.""If an intelligence or an armed forces officer of this rank is arrested in another country, it is a big achievement," Bajwa had said, before going on to play a video of Jadhav confessing to Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) involvement in Balochistan separatist activities in Pakistan.Case goes to ICJ A 10-member bench of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations' top court, is hearing an urgent bid by India to stop Pakistan from executing Jadhav. The ICJ in a hearing of the case on May 18 restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav and rejected India's request to delay proceedings in Jadhav's case until December.India was also ordered to submit a response by September 13 regarding the case.Rejecting Pakistan's argument that the court did not have jurisdiction in the matter, the court reasoned it could hear the case because it involved, on the face of it, an alleged violation of one of the clauses of the Vienna Convention, which both Pakistan and India ascribe to and whose interpretation falls under its purview."[Meanwhile] Pakistan should take all measures to ensure that Mr Jadhav is not executed till the final decision of this court," the court said at the time.The court also said Pakistan should inform it of all measures taken in implementation of the order. more...
Christian man in Lahore arrested over allegations of blasphemy
Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:35:43 +0500
A Christian bicycle mechanic in Lahore was arrested on June 15 over allegations of blasphemy after he became involved in a dispute regarding payment for services rendered to a customer, police said Thursday.Human rights activist Napoleon Qayyum told Dawn that Ashfaq Masih ─ a resident of Mariam Colony in Green Town, Lahore ─ was working at a repair shop in the Bagarhian suburb of the city when Muhammad Ishfaq, a resident of the same area, had his bicycle repaired by him. The two became embroiled in a heated argument when Masih demanded Rs35-40 for his services and Ishfaq requested that Masih reduce the price as he is a poor man, Qayyum said.The disagreement escalated when Masih refused to lower the fee, reminding the bicycle owner that he was a poor man himself and needed the money as well, according to the rights activist.After a crowd gathered to witness the incident, unidentified individuals levelled accusations of blasphemy against Masih, prompting further escalation of the already-tense situation, Qayyum claimed.Police, who were called to the scene, arrived and arrested Masih, shifting him to the Green Town police station.Station House Officer (SHO) of Green Town police station Wasim Akhtar confirmed to Dawn that a blasphemy case had been registered against Masih on June 15 after his arrest. The Pak Center for Law and Justice is investigating the case. more...
'Safe havens' inside, not outside, Afghanistan, Pakistan tells UNSC
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:13:08 +0500
Terrorist “safe havens” are inside, not outside, Afghanistan, Pakistan told the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday."The resilience of the insurgency led by the Taliban cannot be explained away by convenient references to external 'safe havens' or 'support centres'," Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN, said during a debate on Afghanistan. Relations between the two countries have turned sour since Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan of waging an 'undeclared war of aggression' against Afghanistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan have long accused each other of turning a blind eye to militants operating along their porous border.Pakistan, Lodhi asserted at the UNSC, was committed not to allow its territory to be used for terrorism against other countries. Pakistan's Zarb-i-Azb and subsequent Raddul Fasaad military operations had succeeded in eliminating all terrorist and militant groups from its tribal territory bordering Afghanistan, she said. She told the 15-member Council that Pakistan is “implementing border controls, including the fencing and monitoring of vulnerable sections of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.” Responding to critical remarks made by her Afghan counterpart during the debate, she said: “As a country that continues to host over two million Afghan refugees, Pakistan expects gratitude and not hostility from the Afghan government.” The main thrust of Ambassdor Lodhi's arguments centred around the need for a negotiated end to the Afghan war. She said that it had been Pakistan's consistent position that peace could be restored only through a negotiated settlement between Kabul and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Afghanistan. This, she pointed out, "has also long been the consensus of the international community,” noting that a negotiated peace was also backed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who had recently visited Kabul.“The promotion of a political settlement and the pursuit of a military solution in Afghanistan are mutually incompatible,” she said. Continued reliance on a military option, or enhancing troop numbers without an accompanying political strategy, would only lead to more violence and bloodshed, Ambassador Lodhi told the Security Council. “It would not yield a political settlement,” she added.Stressing the need to find a negotiated solution, she said that Pakistan has done whatever it can to help facilitate such a negotiated settlement. She referred in this regard to the 2015 Murree talks and efforts under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) framework. She also recalled Pakistan's engagement with the Heart of Asia conference, the International Contact Group, the Moscow Format, and, most recently, the Kabul process, among others.However, she made it clear that while others could help by promoting a negotiated settlement, peace could only be negotiated when Afghan parties desired it and eschewed a military solution. “Today, there is every reason for the Afghan parties and their friends to pursue the path of a negotiated peace. All of them face a common threat from ISIS and the terrorist groups affiliated with it,” Lodhi said. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar attack Pakistan from their bases in Afghanistan, Lodhi alleged. Therefore, “there is no other country [like Pakistan] which will gain more from peace in Afghanistan,” Ambassador Lodhi added. “We are confident that, whatever our differences in the past, in the end, the deep bonds of religion, culture, history and geography between Pakistan and Afghanistan will assert themselves and produce an era of peaceful and mutually beneficial cooperation between our nations," Lodhi concluded. Earlier, in a scathing report, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Tadamichi Yamamoto had warned that the recent surge of violent attacks in Afghanistan could signal a much worse and more fragile period ahead. He called for urgent action to strengthen stability, including through improving the government's credibility, and urged all parties to exercise restraint and avoid violence.“The months since my last briefing have been unusually tense in Afghanistan,“ he said. “Without enhanced efforts by the National Unity Government to increase political inclusiveness, strengthen accountability, and improve the government's credibility, particularly in the security sector, we are likely to face more crises in an increasingly fragile environment,” Yamamoto added.In his briefing to the Council, the senior UN official spoke of the emerging difference following the May 31 terrorist attack in Kabul and warned that violent extremist groups could try to exacerbate the divisions, especially along sectarian lines.Urging all sides to exercise restraint and avoid violence, Yamamoto underscored the need to address the root cause of the issues and reminded national actors that efforts to build consensus and political stability are critical. On his part, Afghan Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal said reversing the tide against terror was contingent on eliminating support centres beyond the country's borders that produced, nurtured and empowered terrorists operating in Afghanistan. more...
2 wounded by cross-border firing in AJK's Nakyal sector: police
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:33:55 +0500
At least two people were seriously injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir in "unprovoked" Indian firing from across the Line of Control (LoC) on Thursday evening, an official said.Aneela Zahoor, 12, fell victim to cross-border firing in Nari Dhroti village of Nakyal sector in the southern Kotli district, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kotli Chaudhry Zulqarnain Sarfraz told Dawn by telephone. Robina Khalid, 30, was injured in the village of Dotilla Dabsi in Nakyal sector and referred to District Headquarters Hospital Kotli, the SSP said."She has been shifted to District Headquarters Hospital Kotli in critical condition," he added.The SSP said that the firing started without any provocation when people of the area were preparing to break their fast."It's target fire (sic)," he said, in a reference to the practice of Indian troops of hitting civilians living in the closest proximity of the LoC with small and medium-sized weapons.He said information about any other losses were yet to reach his office. Disaster Management Authority (DMA) Director General (DG) Zaheeruddin Qureshi earlier this week told a National Assembly committee that 'unprovoked' Indian firing across the LoC had claimed 832 lives, whereas 3,000 others had been injured and 3,300 houses damaged. The DMA DG said that about 425,000 civilians residing in areas around the LoC were under threat because of Indian firing. more...
PPP's Babar Awan to join PTI tomorrow, claims Imran Khan
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 21:43:14 +0500
PPP defections Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday claimed that PPP's Dr Babar Awan would be joining his party tomorrow.An associate of Awan's in conversation with DawnNews today claimed that the senator would hand in his resignation to Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani in the coming days and undertake a new step along his political journey in which, he said, the PTI held 'great significance'.Khan, during an uncharacteristic exchange with journalists at an iftar party, said he had also decided to invite Awami Muslim League leader Shaikh Rashid to join his party 'soon'. He added that Rashid had fought remarkably well against the 'mafia' ─ an apparent reference to the PML-N government, which the Supreme Court had earlier likened to a 'Sicilian mafia'. The PTI chief also warned the government not to make the Panama Papers joint investigation team probing the Sharif family's wealth controversial or, he said, the party would agitate after Eid. Khan was positive the next election would be held in 2017. "That's why we held our intra-party election," he said. On a lighter note, the PTI chief brushed off wedding rumours, saying he had no intention of remarrying before the next election. PPP defections The PPP has been losing members to PTI in recent weeks as former stalwarts such as former federal ministers Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Imtiaz Safdar Warraich and Nawabzada Ghazanfar Gul have already bid adieu to their former parties.Groupings within the party and local political issues are said to be the reasons behind the desertions.Mr Warraich, who served as minister of state for communication in the PPP government during 2008-13, was dejected when he was removed from the post of the president of the party’s central Punjab chapter for “failing to deliver”.Since then there were reports that he is quitting the PPP to join the PTI.His grievance deepened when Qamar Zaman Kaira from the rival party group was nominated as the central Punjab chapter chief.Dr Awan also had complaints against Mr Kaira when the PPP was in power as she had accused him of interfering in her ministry (of information and broadcasting). She, however, alleges that the party leadership has sacrificed “political interests of Punjab to save political interests of Sindh”, creating panic among PPP leaders in Punjab.The PPP has also failed to play the role of “real opposition” in accordance with the wishes of the masses “making the party irrelevant” in the province, she says.Mr Gondal is said to be annoyed with the PPP for not lending him support in the Rs40 billion EOBI corruption case against his brother Zafar Gondal.Mr Gul was not happy at the PPP’s reconciliation with the PML-Q as the latter’s leaders Chaudhry Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahi are arch-rivals of the Nawabzadas in Gujrat district politics. more...
Drone strikes violate Pakistan's sovereignty: FO
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:23:11 +0500
US's hardening stance Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria on Thursday said that drone strikes are against Pakistan's sovereignty.During the weekly news briefing, the spokesperson said that Pakistan's policy regarding drone strikes had always been clear.The FO's statement came a day after a Pakistan Air Force JF-17 Thunder jet shot down an unmanned Iranian drone allegedly on a spying mission in Balochistan's Panjgur area.Officials said the drone was shot down after it had ventured "deep inside Pakistani airspace".In a statement released hours after the drone was shot down on Wednesday, the FO said Islamabad had notified Tehran of the development.US's hardening stance During Thursday's briefing, the FO spokesperson refused to comment on foreign media reports that US President Donald Trump's administration was likely to toughen its policy on Pakistan.Instead, the spokesperson said that Pakistan values its relationship with America and would work closely with the Trump administration.Media reports have indicated that the Trump administration is exploring toughening its approach towards Pakistan to crack down on militants allegedly based in Pakistan and launching attacks in Afghanistan.Potential Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading its status as a major non-Nato ally, news reports quoting officials said.In March, Washington, announcing the first budget after Trump entered the White House, had proposed a substantial cut in foreign aid to Pakistan.Commenting on the budget cut during the briefing, the FO said that it was an "internal matter" for the US."Pakistan is taking action against all terrorist groups and is determined not to allow its soil to be used against any country," Zakaria said.Earlier today, Pakistan also told the United Nations Security Council that terrorist “safe havens” are inside, not outside, Afghanistan. more...
Prisoners belonging to banned militant outfits act like 'dons' in Karachi jail: CTD SSP
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 22:59:46 +0500
The Counter-Terrorism Department is likely to recommend the trial of 227 high-profile under-trial prisoners (UTPs) belonging to banned outfits be forwarded to military courts, CTD Senior Superintendent of Police Omer Shahid Hamid said during a press conference on Thursday."[The] Counter-Terrorism Department is likely to recommend the trial of 227 UTPs languishing in Central Prison Karachi belonging to banned militants outfits before military courts," said Hamid.Hamid, critical of the behaviour of certain prisoners in jail, claimed that "militants of banned outfits operate like 'dons' inside Central Prison", and noted that the high-profile militants had created an ‘intimidating atmosphere’ in jail. The CTD SSP said the decision had been taken after the recent escape of two high-profile prisoners affiliated with the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) from Karachi's Central Prison.Hamid was of the opinion that a military trial of these convicts had become imperative as Anti-Terrorism Courts (ATCs) were delaying cases. The CTD SSP revealed that around three months ago they wrote a letter to concerned authorities that around 60 UTPs ─ including the two convicts who escaped recently from the prison ─ should be shifted from Central Prison to other jails in Sindh. He disclosed that the police had recommended shifting of such prisoners from Karachi to other jails within the province partly because the CTD had apprehensions that they might activate their networks within the metropolis.The CTD SSP said that the escaped prisoners ─ namely Mumtaz Shaikh and Ahmed alias Munna ─ had vindicated the CTD's stance. Hamid said Mumtaz Shaikh, who was involved in multiple targeted killings, was a roommate of Hafiz Qasim Rasheed, a terrorist known for operating his own faction of LJ in Karachi. He pointed out that Hafiz Qasim had been arrested five years ago but his case had yet to be decided.Besides the 227 high-profile prisoners, there are 34 convicted militants linked with banned outfits including Akram Lahori of LJ. He recalled that Lahori had been convicted in 2002 but his appeal had still not been decided."The conduct of high profile militants in the prison was alarming," said Hamid. "In fact, they acted like dons in the jail and the prison staff was fearful of adverse consequences in case of not obliging their undue favours."The SSP, who was a member of the CTD team probing the jailbreak, said that so far no evidence had emerged that the escaped prisoners had threatened the jail staff or their families. However, their past role showed that they had been involved in killings and threatening prison staff as well as prosecutors.Shahid said that the CTD's initial probe revealed that there were ‘security vulnerabilities’ inside the prison.To a question, the senior police official said that the recent Rangers-led operation in the Central Prison may ‘hamper’ their investigation as it was not known what sort of evidence they were collecting from the rooms of the escaped prisoners.Read more: Anti-jamming devices, cell phones seized in Karachi jailResponding to another question, Shahid ─ who had recently returned from Balochistan province ─ said that the CTDs of both provinces were trying to coordinate with each other to combat against banned militant outfits operating in the border areas. He added that this coordination had become necessary after the Sehwan shrine attack and other bomb attacks in upper Sindh, particularly the Shikarpur and Jacobabad areas. He revealed that the CTD in Sindh had also recently conducted a few raids in the bordering areas of Balochistan province in coordination with local police there. more...
Rights groups ask govt to investigate alleged assault of lawyers on LHC premises
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:33:00 +0500
The Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists on Thursday called on Pakistani authorities to investigate the alleged assault of lawyers in the Lahore High Court premises earlier this week, an HRW press release said. The HRW asked the government to "ensure a prompt, impartial, and effective investigation into a barrage of assaults and threats against lawyers" at the LHC on Tuesday after lawyers supporting Maqsood Buttar attacked Barrister Usama Malik, a junior associate of senior counsel Asma Jahangir who had been arguing a habeas corpus petition filed by Bilquis Zareena.Buttar's supporters roughed Malik up and ripped his shirt. Some of them also manhandled the complainant, Zareena, who sought the recovery of her daughter Ayesha and two-year-old grandson Alyan Ali. The two have allegedly been missing for the past six months.The rights organisations reminded Pakistani authorities of their duty towards upholding international standards in court proceedings, saying, "Under international standards, including the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Pakistan has an obligation to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference.""The government needs to defend the rule of law and prosecute those responsible for any criminal conduct," said the prominent human rights defenders in the news release which was posted on the HRW's website.HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said, "Lawyers must be able to go to court without fearing violent assaults and abuse." "That such assaults take place with increasing frequency in Pakistan and without accountability represents a serious failure of the Pakistani authorities to ensure rule of law." more...
Pakistan supports Turkey's stance on Cyprus, COAS tells Turkish PM
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 22:10:22 +0500
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa met with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yaldarim on Thursday during an official visit to Turkey and expressed his support of the country's position on Cyprus, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said."Pakistan and Turkey share the same stance on many issues," the COAS said. "Pakistan supports Turkey's position on Cyprus as well as its efforts against terrorism of all hue and colour." Both parties discussed matters related to regional security and common challenges facing the two "brotherly countries".The Turkish PM appreciated the positive role Pakistan plays in the region as well as in the larger Muslim world. He reiterated Turkey's support for Pakistan's stance on Kashmir.The army chief thanked the premier for Turkish support to Pakistan at various international fora. more...
Thari women to make history by driving 60-tonne dump trucks in coal fields
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:59:15 +0500
In a first in the country's history, Thari women will be employed to drive dumper trucks at the Thar coalfields.The Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) has reportedly received an overwhelming response for their Female Dump Truck Driver Programme, which the company introduced near the town of Islamkot in Thar. After a screening process, 35 women have already been shortlisted for different tests in the first phase. The women have been inducted, but will formally begun their employment only after they complete one year of training. They will then be moved into a regular job, where they will receive "all basic facilities", SECMC said. “I know it was a difficult decision, but my husband encouraged me to go for it and that’s why I am here," Sawitri, a female candidate who came for the interview, said. Sawitri, 25, is a new mother. She is optimistic about getting selected for the job.Ganga, another hopeful from Nangarparkar, was of the view that women can do everything. “Thari women are very hard working. When they can already do stone-breaking for under-construction roads, dump trucks should not give them much trouble,” she said.When contacted, SECMC chief Shamsuddin Shaikh said: "We had to come up with an out-of-the-box solution to help women benefit truly from the development taking place in Thar.""It was difficult — we had a lot of skeptics — but we will make it work because the social and economic empowerment of Thari women is the only way to bring Thar out of poverty," Shaikh added."We did not expect female candidates to turn up in such large numbers," he confessed. Sharing further details of the programme, Jahan Ara, an official steering the SECMC programme, said: “A total of 70 women applicants, especially from the low-income group, were interviewed for the job, out of which 30 successful candidates will be inducted into the programme."The second phase of the programme has started and around 45 women are scheduled to be screened for the selection of another group of 25-30 women, who will undergo a one-year training program before driving Pakistan’s biggest 60-tonne dump truck." more...
India eyes breakthrough on purchase of US surveillance drones ahead of Modi trip
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:04:48 +0500
Falling of the radar Fighter jets India is pushing for US approval of its request to buy a naval variant of the Predator drone, officials said, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to revitalise relations with Washington when he meets President Donald Trump for the first time.Securing agreement on the purchase of 22 unarmed drones is seen in New Delhi as a key test of defence ties that flourished under former President Barack Obama but have drifted under Trump, who has courted Asian rival China as he seeks Beijing's help to contain North Korea's nuclear programme.Modi's two-day visit to Washington begins on Sunday. Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping in April and has also had face-time with the leaders of nations including Japan, Britain and Vietnam since taking office in January, prompting anxiety in New Delhi that India is no longer a priority in Washington.If the Indian navy gets the unarmed surveillance drones it wants to keep watch over the Indian Ocean it would be the first such purchase by a country that is not a member of the Nato alliance.“We are trying to move it to the top of the agenda as a deliverable, this is something that can happen before all the other items,” said one official tracking the progress of the drone discussions in the run-up to the visit.India, a big buyer of US arms recently named by Washington as a major defence ally, wants to protect its 7,500 km coastline as Beijing expands its maritime trade routes and Chinese submarines increasingly lurk in regional waters.But sources tracking the discussions say the US State Department has been concerned about the potential destabilising impact of introducing high-tech drones into South Asia, where tensions are simmering between India and Pakistan, particularly over Kashmir, which is divided between them.Other strains have emerged, with the United States vexed by a growing bilateral trade deficit and Trump accusing New Delhi of negotiating unscrupulously at the Paris climate talks to walk away with billions in aid.US officials expect a relatively low-key visit by Modi, without the fanfare of some of his previous trips to the United States, and one geared to giving the Indian leader the chance to get to know Trump personally and to show that he is doing so.Modi is also not expected to press hard on a US visa programme the Trump administration is reviewing to reduce the flow of skilled foreign workers and save jobs for Americans, seeing limited gains from raising a sensitive issue, they said.Indian Trade Secretary Ria Teaotia told reporters this week the H-1B visa programme, under which Indian IT firms send large numbers of professionals to the United States, would be one of the one issues on the table during Modi's visit.Falling of the radar There is a palpable fear in New Delhi that the new US president's lack of focus on India, and limited appointment of South Asia focused advisers, has resulted in India falling off the radar in Washington,” Eurasia Group's Shailesh Kumar and Sasha Riser-Kositsky said in a note.Defence deals, however, are one area where the two countries could make progress because of bipartisan support, an Indian official involved in the preparations for the visit said.The two sides have stepped up efforts in recent weeks to get inter-agency clearance for the sale of the Guardian drone, made by California-based General Atomics.India has raised the issue of the drones with the Pentagon three times since June 2016, officials said. US Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner wrote in March to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying the Guardian deal, estimated at more than $2 billion, would advance US national security interests and protect US jobs.An industry official involved in promoting India-US business ties said the drone sale enjoyed support from the White House and Congress, and was now awaiting clearance from the State Department.While the Guardian drones that India is pushing for are unarmed, the Indian military had originally asked for missile-firing Predator Avenger aircraft, a request turned down by the Obama administration.Sources say there is some concern in the State Department that if India were to get the surveillance drones New Delhi would renew its push to acquire armed drones, which its military has eyed ever since they were deployed by US forces against militants in Pakistan.US export laws typically prohibit the transfer of such arms to a country unless it is fighting alongside US forces.Fighter jets India and the United States will also discuss the sale of US fighter jets during Modi's trip, in what could be the biggest deal since they began deepening defence ties more than a decade ago.On Monday, Lockheed Martin announced an agreement with India's Tata Advanced Systems to produce F-16 planes in India, provided it won a contract to equip the Indian Air Force with hundreds of new aircraft.Lockheed has offered to shift its ageing F-16 production line from Fort Worth, Texas as part of Modi's “Make-in-India” drive while it ramps up production of the high-end F-35 aircraft at home.Since Trump's election on an “American First” platform, US and Indian officials have sought to play down any contradiction between his stated desire to protect American jobs and Modi's “Make in India” policy, arguing, for example, that deals in which components made in the United States are shipped to India for assembly benefit workers in both countries. more...
'Forced' conversion: I want to live with my husband, Ravita says in SHC
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:14:17 +0500
Ravita Meghwar — who her parents alleged had been abducted by men from the Syed community of Wanharo village near Nagarparkar, Thar, on June 6 and forcibly converted to Islam — on Thursday told the Sindh High Court Circuit Bench, Hyderabad in a written statement that she wants to live with her husband.Ravita denied being abducted or forced to convert, saying she was "in love" with Nawaz Shah and maintaining that her parents' claims were false.Nawaz Ali Shah, the 'husband', in his statement said that they first met in their village, where he gave her a mobile phone to establish a communication channel. They remained connected through the device and decided to get married later.Bhagwandas, the counsel for Ravita's father, argued that the girl may have given the statement under pressure since she was currently with Nawaz Shah.After hearing both sides, Justice Salahuddin Panhwar decided to send Ravita, alias Gulnaz, to Darul Aman for a day where she will be able to see her mother. June 23 has been set as the date for next hearing in the case.Ravita had earlier claimed to have embraced Islam in the presence of Pir Mohammad Ayub Jan Farooqui, a preacher, near the Samarro town of Umerkot district.According to the marriage certificate issued by the preacher, a copy of which is available with Dawn, "The girl is approximately eighteen years old, can marry the person of her choice and her Islamic name is Gulnaz".The Hindu community, along with the girl's family, had previously alleged that she was kidnapped and forced to convert. School documents indicated her current age is 16 years. Satram Das Meghwar, Ravita's father, had alleged that the abductors had kidnapped his daughter after giving sleeping pills to the family.However, Ravita's parents say they will withdraw the case if she chooses to remain with her husband of her free will.Nonetheless, Advocate Ali Palh of Rightsnow Pakistan, which is a party to the case, maintains that Ravita is underage and her marriage was in contradiction with Article 20 of Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act. Therefore, her marriage should be declared null and void, he has argued in his petition. He added that Rightsnow had used the case of Anjali and Peshawar Church as a precedent in their case. "Even if her parents withdraw the case, Rightsnow will continue to fight as her certificates and physical appearance are proofs that she is a minor," Palh said while talking to Dawn.com.Ravita's alleged abduction and protests had stirred protests by Hindu community and activist groups in Sindh. more...
Panamagate probe: Third JIT progress report submitted to Supreme Court bench
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:17:37 +0500
Justice Khosa to be acting chief justice. The Supreme Court-sanctioned joint investigation team (JIT) investigating Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's business dealings abroad on Thursday submitted its third progress report to the three-member special bench implementing the apex court's verdict on the Panamagate case.After reviewing the report, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench, expressed anger on being told once again that various departments of the government are continuing to refuse cooperation with the JIT.Justice Ijazul Ahsan, on asking whether the Securities and Exchange Commission (SECP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had provided the JIT the information it had requested, was told that the SECP had provided some documents while the FBR had provided nothing, even though they had been asked thrice.Justice Azmat Saeed said that such behaviour was not acceptable and the departments should cooperate with the JIT on the SC's orders. He also asked if there were any details of where the records were kept. "Are they lost or stolen?" he questioned."No good will come out of this for the departments if they delay the process by dragging their legs," Justice Ahsan warned.The attorney general, who was subsequently called to the bench to explain the lack of cooperation from government departments, said that a list of required records should be provided to him and the government would ensure that the JIT is given access to them.The attorney general said the head of the FBR should be summoned to court to answer its questions; however, it should be known that the department only keeps records for a particular period of time.Justice Afzal maintained that the FBR had never informed the court about any such constraint and said the department's chairman would be called in for questioning if need be.The bench nonetheless instructed the JIT to provide a list of all records required from the FBR and reiterated that the JIT should complete its investigation in the given time and submit its final report by July 10.The court also discussed the matter of the JIT photo leak, observing that Hussain Nawaz had moved the court to create a judicial commission.The court instructed the attorney general to find out if the government had any reservations about the name of the person who leaked the photo being disclosed.Justice Khosa to be acting chief justice. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will be taking charge on June 29 as the acting Chief Justice of Pakistan in the absence of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who is proceeding on leave. more...
Islamic State blows up historic Mosul mosque where it declared 'caliphate'
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:35:52 +0500
Minaret was vulnerable Members of the militant Islamic State (IS) group on Wednesday blew up the Grand al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its famous leaning minaret, Iraq's military said in a statement, as Iraqi forces seeking to expel the group from the city closed in on the site.It was from this medieval mosque three years ago that the militants' leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled “caliphate” spanning parts of Syria and Iraq.“Blowing up the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri mosque amounts to an official acknowledgement of defeat,” Iraqi Prime Minister said in a brief comment on his website.The Iraqis called the 150-foot leaning minaret Al-Hadba, or “the hunchback.” Baghdadi's black flag had flown over it since June 2014.Islamic State's Amaq news agency accused American aircraft of destroying the mosque, a claim swiftly denied by the US-led coalition fighting the militant group.“We did not strike in that area,” coalition spokesman US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian told Reuters by telephone.“The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS,” US Army Major General Joseph Martin, commander of the coalition's ground component, said in a statement, using an acronym for IS.The media office for Iraq's military distributed a picture taken from the air that appeared to show the mosque and minaret largely flattened and reduced to rubble among the small houses of the Old City, the historic district where the militants are under siege.A video seen on social media showed the minaret collapsing vertically in a belch of sand and dust, as a woman lamented in the background, “The minaret, the minaret, the minaret.” The mosque was destroyed as Iraq's elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) units, which have been battling their way through Mosul's Old City, got within 50 meters of it, according to an Iraqi military statement.An Iraqi military spokesman gave the timing of the explosion as 9:35 pm.“This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organisation must be annihilated,” said US Major General Martin.Iraqi forces said earlier on Wednesday that they had started a push toward the mosque.“This will not prevent us from removing them, no, killing them not removing them, inside the Old City,” Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, senior CTS commander in Mosul, said in a video posted over a messaging app.The forces on Tuesday had encircled the jihadist group's stronghold in the Old City, the last district under Islamic State control in Mosul.Baghdadi proclaimed himself “caliph,” or ruler of all Muslims, from the mosque's pulpit on July 4, 2014, after the insurgents overran vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.Baghdadi's speech from the mosque was the first time he revealed himself to the world, and the footage broadcast then is to this day the only video recording of him as “caliph.”Minaret was vulnerable Iraqi officials had privately expressed hope that the mosque could be retaken in time for Eid ul-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramazan, the Muslim month of fasting. The first day of the Eid falls this year on June 25 or 26 in Iraq.“The battle for the liberation of Mosul is not yet complete, and we remain focused on supporting the Iraqi Security Forces with that objective in mind,” said Martin.The fall of Mosul would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the “caliphate,” even though Islamic State would still control territory west and south of the city, the largest over which they held sway in both Iraq and Syria.Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is believed to be hiding in the border area between Iraq and Syria, according to US and Iraqi military sources.The mosque was named after Nuruddin al-Zanki, a noble who fought the early crusaders from a fiefdom that covered territory in modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. It was built in 1172-73, shortly before his death, and housed an Islamic school.By the time renowned medieval traveler and scholar Ibn Battuta visited two centuries later, the minaret was leaning. The tilt gave the landmark its popular name: the hunchback.It was built with seven bands of decorative brickwork in complex geometric patterns also found in Persia and Central Asia.Nabeel Nouriddin, a historian and archaeologist specialising in Mosul and its Nineveh region, said the minaret had not been renovated since 1970, making it particularly vulnerable to blasts even if it was not directly hit.The Mosque's destruction occurred during the holiest period of the Islamic holy month of Ramazan, its final 10 days. The night of Laylat al-Qadr falls during this period, marking when Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to prophet Mohammed. IS fighters have destroyed many Muslim religious sites, churches and shrines, as well as ancient Assyrian and Roman-era sites in Iraq and in Syria. The group posted videos online in 2015 showing the destruction of artifacts in the Mosul museum, some of which dated from the 7th century BC. It is also suspected of selling artifacts. more...
Pakistan to tighten visa regime with China
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:00:28 +0500
ISLAMABAD: In order to regulate the process of issuing visas to Chinese nationals, the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday decided to tighten the relaxed visa regime, especially for Chinese citizens visiting Pakistan on business or work-related visas. Chinese nationals seeking business visas would have to present an invitation from a recognised body at any of Pakistan’s missions in China. The ministry has also decided to discourage long-term visa extensions for Chinese citizens. The strict visa policy has been introduced not only to plug loopholes, but also to ensure maximum security to Chinese citizens visiting Pakistan on various visa categories. Under the new visa regime, security clearance for issuance of business and work visas will be reviewed. Chairing a meeting on Wednesday, interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan directed ministry officials to plug all loopholes in this regard to ensure maximum transparency. The Interior secretary, the advocate general, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) chairman, the Immigration and Passport (IMPASS) DG, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs DG and other senior officials of the interior ministry and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) attended the meeting.It was noted that the decision had been taken to ensure transparency in the visa process and to preclude misuse of the visa-friendly regime between the two countries.The minister also directed Nadra to expedite the consolidation of data of Chinese nationals present in Pakistan, so that the data could be shared with security agencies in the country in order to ensure maximum security arrangements. He said a comprehensive mechanism should be in place to share information about Chinese nationals employed on CPEC-related projects and others visiting the country for various jobs.Taking note of a few incidents where forged documents of ghost companies were presented to embassies, the ministry decided that in the future, business visas and visas-upon-arrival would only be granted to those Chinese nationals who could produce invitations or assignment letters. The letters would have to be certified and endorsed by a recognised chamber of commerce and industry, and accompanied by a letter from commercial attachés and other designated officers of Pakistan posted abroad for the promotion of business activities. It was decided that Nadra would help link the business community and the FIA via an electronic system that would share information between chambers of commerce and immigration authorities.The meeting also decided to regulate the process of granting extension to business visas. The powers of regional passport offices to grant visa extension would be immediately withdrawn, and in the future, all cases regarding a grant of extension to business visas would be dealt with at the IMPASS headquarters in Islamabad. The IMPASS DG would be authorised to grant a three-month visa extension, and cases involving further extension would be referred by the IMPASS directorate to the interior ministry. The participants of the meeting also decided to rationalise the process of issuing work visas to Chinese nationals intending to visit Pakistan for various government sponsored projects. They decided that Pakistan’s embassies and missions abroad would be authorised to issue a maximum of one-year multiple-entry work visas for any project after ascertaining the authenticity of the project and receiving security clearance from Chinese authorities. They also decided that further extension of work visas would be granted by the Ministry of Interior only upon the request and provision of required documents by employers.In view of the various issues faced by foreign spouses of Pakistani nationals, it was decided to re-introduce Pakistan Origin Cards to foreign spouses after addressing the issues that had led to suspension of the cards.Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017 more...
Civilian killed at funeral for slain 'militants' in held Kashmir
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:19:37 +0500
A civilian was killed and several wounded Thursday in India-held Kashmir when security forces opened fire on a crowd gathered for the funeral of three suspected militants slain overnight in clashes with soldiers, police said.Thousands of villagers poured onto the streets for the funeral, chanting slogans against Indian rule and pelting stones at soldiers who responded with bullets and pellet fire, a police officer said.S.P. Vaid, director general of police for the territory, confirmed a protester was killed in the exchange.Another police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least a dozen others were injured by pellets fired by government forces to disperse the angry crowd.On Wednesday night soldiers and counter-insurgency police had surrounded a residential area where they suspected armed militants were hiding out, triggering a fierce exchange of fire.Scores of residents then emerged from their homes to pelt stones at the soldiers in a bid to help the suspected militants escape, a police officer said.“Three terrorists were killed and three weapons recovered from the site,” army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said earlier Thursday.Witnesses said the army blew up the house where the suspected militants were hiding in Kakapora, around 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of the main city of Srinagar.One soldier was also injured in the gun battle, police said.Separatists groups have since 1989 been fighting roughly 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the region, demanding independence or a merger with Pakistan.The fighting has left tens of thousands dead, most of them civilians.Dozens of local youths have joined the militant ranks since last year when the killing of a popular separatist commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani sparked wide scale anti-India protests that left more than 100 civilians dead and thousands wounded.Public opposition to Indian rule remains deep and is now principally expressed through street protests marked by youths hurling stones at government forces. more...
Stocks rally ahead of Eid holidays
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:36:05 +0500
The Pakistan Stock Exchange ended the penultimate trading session before Eid holidays firmly in the green as the benchmark KSE-100 index gained 857.85 points, or 1.89pc, by the close of trading to reach 46,332.31. The day's low was recorded at 45,474, while the index tested the day's high at 46,464."Stocks showed major recovery at PSX led by selected scrips across the board on strong earnings outlook and strong FDI data for Jul-May'17," said analyst Ahsan Mehanti."Foreign inflows, government development commitments in federal budgets and subdued noise over the JIT Panamagate case ahead of Eid holidays played a catalyst role in major recovery at PSX ignoring slump in global crude prices on oversupply," he added.Overall, 294.87 million shares were traded, with a total worth of nearly Rs13.34 billion. Stocks of 377 companies were traded on the exchange, of which 257 gained in value, 102 declined and 18 remained unchanged. "Market next week will be guided by multiple factors, including direction of foreign investment flows and global crude performance, while politics will remain a drag with investors closely following developments on the Panamagate case investigation against the premier's family," read a note issued by Elixir Securities. Volumes were led by: K-Electric: 68.23m shares traded (+2.19pc) TRG Pak: 15.76m shares traded (-1.52pc) Bank of Punjab(R): 14.89m shares traded (-16.67pc) Engro Polymer: 13.03m shares traded (+2.53pc) Bank of Punjab: 9.93m shares traded (+2.22pc) more...
CTD seeks ban on 25 websites spreading ‘terrorism, extremism’
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:01:16 +0500
Radicalisation on a massive scale Fighters in Syria KARACHI: The Counter-Terrorism Department of Sindh police has prepared a consolidated list of websites, web pages and social media accounts spreading extremism and terrorism, it emerged on Wednesday.The CTD has written a letter to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Federal Investigation Agency and other authorities for closing/banning of such websites, web pages and social media accounts to foil the designs of banned militant organisations.“We have identified 25 such websites, which were involved in spreading religious and ethnic extremism and terrorism,” said Additional IG Dr Sanaullah Abbasi heading the CTD.He said the CTD had sent a list of 25 sites with the recommendation that they should be banned by the PTA. These sites were linked with banned organisations or promoting radical thought, he added.Although not all the websites were spreading terror, they were promoting radical thought and it was the assessment of the CTD that such sites often acted as ‘entry sites’ for individuals who were easily influenced to join extremist groups, he added.Dr Abbasi said on the CTD’s recommendations, the relevant authorities had banned some websites including those which ‘misrepresented’ the teachings of the Holy Quran, condemned those religious scholars who did not support the extremist point of view, and were actively promoting intolerance by pronouncing controversial decrees.The officer said there were certain social media pages on Facebook which were glorifying Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and other extremist groups. Such pages must be banned, he added.Radicalisation on a massive scale Dr Abbasi was of the opinion that indoctrination and radicalisation of youths, both male and female, was being done on a massive scale through the internet. “Internet has provided [them] space for radicalisation,” apprehended the CTD chief. This had been previously done in the Western countries and at present the extremist outfits were focusing on the radicalisation of youths in Pakistan, he added.However, the officer agreed that dissemination of such content might continue even if those pages were shut down. For this reason, there was a need for a “continuous struggle” against extremism and terrorism to purge the society of all such elements, he added.The CTD said ‘Umar Media’ was the account of banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. A video was broadcasted by Fazlullah Khorasani in which he had given the task to militants for attacks in the cities of Pakistan. It was pointed out that in one such post the TTP claimed responsibility for an attack on the army in Lahore. Fazlullah had claimed that the TTP had been planning such an attack for some time.According to CTD data of such social media accounts, a Facebook ID account has been opened with the name of ‘Samma News’. This was used to create a page “Liwa Zainebiyoun” by a contingent of Pakistani Shia fighters in Syria. The CTD apprehended that it could emerge as a sectarian militant group.Another website active in the name of Jaishul Adl had claimed the responsibility for an attack in which nine Iranian border guards were killed and two others were wounded during patrolling along the Pakistan-Iran border on April 26, 2017.Another Facebook account was of Pashtunistan Liberation Army-PLA, created by Umar Daud Khattak. It claimed to have launched an ‘armed struggle against Pakistan’, as it was posing “provocative activities” against the state. It appeared to be a new militant organisation advocating the creation of a separate state of ‘Pashtunistan’, said the CTD.The CTD said that one website, which was allegedly related to a mosque in Bahawalpur, was spreading messages about so-called jihad.Another website was involved in spreading the message ‘Shariat ya Shahadat’.The CTD said that many people had contacted them through messages for joining ‘jihad’.Fighters in Syria Meanwhile, SSP CTD Omer Shahid Hamid told Dawn that many people from Pakistan, including Karachi, had gone to fight in Syria belonging to both Sunni and Shia communities. There were reports that some families might have returned from Syria and Iraq but their assessment was that active fighters would not return before an end to the conflict in Syria. The case of Afghan war indicated that the jihadi elements returned to their countries after the end of the conflict there, he added.Therefore, he said, it was their apprehension that sectarianism might increase in Pakistan after the return of these fighters belonging to both sects.SSP Omer Shahid said the CTD also found “Pakhtun ethnic extremism” active on social media. However, he said that they had not probed it further as it did not belong to the Sindh province. The CTD recommended to the authorities concerned to keep a watch on such activities, added SSP Shahid.Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017 more...
Philippines says IS fighters trapped in corner of besieged town
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:29:41 +0500
Members of the militant Islamic State (IS) group holed up in a southern Philippines town have been cornered and their firepower is flagging, the military said on Thursday, as the five-week battle for control of Marawi City raged on.Despite signs that the insurgents are now on the back foot, Southeast Asian governments are worried that the siege could be just the prelude to further violence as the ultra-radical group tries to establish a foothold in their region.Jolted by the May 23 attack on Marawi, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have launched joint patrols to control the movement of militants across their archipelagic region and their foreign ministers gathered in Manila on Thursday for talks.Malaysia is worried that militants who are flushed out of Marawi City by the fighting may try to cross from the Philippines to its eastern state of Sabah.“We fear that they may enter the country disguised as illegal immigrants or foreign fishermen,” said Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) chief Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid, according to state news agency Bernama.It said Esscom had drawn up a “wanted” list that included two militants who spearheaded the attempt to capture Marawi.They are Abu Sayyaf group leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was proclaimed by IS last year as its “emir” of Southeast Asia, and Abdullah Maute, whose followers accounted for a large number of the estimated 400-500 fighters who overran part of the town, killing Christians and taking dozens of civilians hostage.The fighting in Marawi broke out on May 23.Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said on Thursday the number of militants holding out in Marawi had dwindled to “a little over 100”.Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Tampus said: “Their area has been reduced to 1 km square only.” Tampus' troops are blocking escape routes across bridges spanning a river to the west of the militants.“Our forces are coming from the east and the north and we are blocking the three bridges,” he said.Tampus told reporters that the militants were still using snipers who were firing from “strategic nests” in schools and mosques, and homemade bombs were hampering the progress of Philippine troops as they advanced house by house.He said he had seen at least five civilians dressed in black who appeared to have been forced to stand in the street as human shields.According to official estimates late on Wednesday, 369 people have been killed during the month of hostilities, three-quarters of them militants. The number of security forces and civilians killed stood at 67 and 26, respectively. more...
At least 34 killed in southern Afghanistan bombing
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:21:46 +0500
At least 34 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province on Thursday. The bombing targeted Afghan troops and government employees waiting to collect their salaries ahead of Eidul Fitr, officials said.Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, said at least 34 people had been killed and more than 60 wounded, including members of the police and army, civilians and staff of the New Kabul Bank branch where the attack took place.No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Helmand has been at the centre of bitter battles between the Afghan Taliban and Afghan security forces, aided by Nato troops. The insurgents, believed to control nearly 80 per cent of the province's countryside, have increasingly been pressing a push onto Lashkar Gah and its environs in efforts to take the city. In recent weeks, the Afghan Taliban have overrun Helmand's key Sangin district, where both British and US troops had fought for years to keep them at bay. Esmatullah, an Afghan border policeman, who was at the scene of the explosion, said the noise from the blast was deafening. He said many are missing in the ensuing chaos as witnesses, survivors and ambulances struggled to ferry first the most seriously wounded to hospital. “We are taking children to the hospital,” said Esmatullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name.Twelve-year-old Hosnia, was crying outside the bank as she searched for her father who had brought her to buy shoes ahead of the Muslim holiday. “I couldn't find anyone, my brother and my father,” she said. “My father told me he will take me to buy shoes. We came here and then there was the explosion.” Helmand is considered a key region because it is one of the largest opium producing provinces for the Taliban, who charge opium traffickers a hefty tax to move their contraband to market. Corrupt government officials also benefit from the production and trade of opium, the raw material used to make heroin. Afghanistan is the world's largest opium-producing country, producing more than all other opium-producing countries combined, according to a United Nations estimate. Meanwhile, a militant attack the previous night inside a mosque in the country's east killed two members of the local council. Salim Sallhe, spokesman for the provincial governor in eastern Logar, said gunmen opened fire at worshippers during prayers at a mosque in Baraki district on Wednesday night. Two other local officials were wounded by the gunfire. Sallhe said police are investigating. No group claimed the attack but Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, denied the insurgents were behind the shooting. more...
Cricket should continue, Kashmir talks should resume: Basit
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:00:18 +0500
NEW DELHI: Pakistan and India should address the core issue of Kash­mir for the sake of peace and pros­perity for their people but High Com­missioner Abdul Basit also said in an interview published here on Wednesday that cricketing ties should continue.“I think we should play cricket and other sports too... If we put off all sporting ties until we solve our problems, that wouldn’t be wise. These events do help create a better environment and we need that,” Mr Basit told The Hindu.Mr Basit’s tenure began a few months before the advent of the Modi government. Those three years have seen many low points in bilateral ties — from the cancellation of the Foreign Secretary-level talks in August 2014 following Mr Basit’s invitation to Hurriyat leaders to a near-freeze in dialogue over terror attacks that India says emanate from Pakistan.However, Mr Basit said that the agreement between the two sides on a framework for comprehensive dialogue in December 2015 was a silver lining. While reiterating Pakistan’s position that talks and preconditions cannot go together, he is optimistic that they will resume in the near future.As he ends his stint, he spoke about need for a structured initiative on the ‘front channel’ and called for keeping the door open to all possibilities. Never one to give up hope, he said: “We were very hopeful because our prime minister took a very bold decision to travel to India in May 2014, but after that the process got stuck. Notwithstanding all the problems, the two countries were able to agree on a framework to restart talks in December 2015 and on the comprehensive bilateral dialogue, which was our biggest achievement in the last three years. Now, whenever the two sides agree to talk to each other, at least we wouldn’t be spending too much time finalising the modalities for talks. In diplomacy, you cannot simply lock the door and throw the key away. You have to keep the door open for possibilities. I am hopeful that Pakistan and India will talk to each other, but whether it happens now or two years down the road, I do not know.”Talking to Hurriyat leaders was not new for Pakistan although India suspended bilateral parleys after one such meeting. Mr Basit clarified that more talks were held with Hurryat after the Indian demarche and official talks were also held.“Since then too, we have been meeting the Hurriyat leadership and there has been no problem. Our meetings should be seen in a constructive way, as it helps us find a just and fair solution to the longstanding dispute over Jammu and Kashmir,” the high commissioner said. “Pakistan’s position is that the Hurriyat represents the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and that’s why these talks are necessary.”Pakistan feels that talks and preconditions do not go together while India has a different position. His comment: “Now terrorism is also a big issue for us, and in Pakistan, Commander [Kulbhushan] Jadhav’s conviction has proven our concerns. We aren’t shying away from issues like terrorism. But even when you look at the Mumbai or Pathankot attacks, if you want to conduct a proper trial, the two countries would need to cooperate with each other. And this cooperation cannot take place in a void or a vacuum. Without talking, how can you realistically expect these issues to come to a close? I feel that now that we have a framework under which to resume talks, it is just a matter of time.”Indian Foreign Minister Sushma said recently that there were three conditions for talks: that issues must be resolved through dialogue, dialogue must be bilateral and terror and talks can’t go simultaneously. What was Pakistan’s objection to that?“As I said, talks and preconditions can’t go together. We have no qualms about solving our problems bilaterally, and we have been trying to do that,” Mr Basit said.The high commissioner was asked if it was the case that Pakistan is constantly looking for a third party. A few days ago, the Russian government had to deny the reported Pakistani contention that President Vladimir Putin had offered to mediate.“Well, we have not seen much progress in the 40-plus years since the Shimla agreement (1972) on bilateral talks, on the core dispute. If there is no movement on the bilateral front, you cannot expect Pakistan not to even discuss that with the rest of the world... Jammu and Kashmir is central to Pakistan-India relations, and we feel that is the root cause of all our problems,” Mr Basit said.Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017 more...
Indian police drop sedition charge against men celebrating Pakistan's Champions Trophy win
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:04:13 +0500
Indian Police has dropped sedition charges against 15 Muslims arrested for chanting pro-Pakistan slogans in Madhya Pradesh, The Indian Express reported Thursday. The men were arrested following Pakistan's Champions Trophy final victory against arch-rivals India on the complaint of an individual. Most of the arrested are daily wage labourers or small farmers.Activists and organisations around the world, including Amnesty International, had demanded the arrested men to be released immediately and sedition charges against them be dropped. Amnesty had termed the arrests as "another worrying sign of the erosion of freedom of expression in India".Families of the arrested individuals had requested the Indian president, human rights organisations and national and state minorities commissions for their release. The arrested were innocent and some 'miscreants' may have burst the crackers, the father of one of the accused had claimed. The families of the accused had earlier been cornered by right-wing groups in court premises, according to Indian media reports. more...
Man kills daughter in the name of 'honour' in Nawabshah
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 11:54:24 +0500
A man allegedly shot dead his 24-year-old daughter and injured another man in the village of Jan Mohammad Brohi in Nawabshah, in what police termed an 'honour' killing.Sakima was killed by her father and uncle after they allegedly found her with a man, Wahid Bux Brohi, who was also critically injured in the incident. Brohi has been shifted to Civil Hospital Nawabshah.Kadhar Station House Officer Ghulam Hussain Peerzado said Akbar and his brother were arrested by police and confessed to the crime.Two separate First Information Reports were registered against the accused. One was registered on behalf of the state and the other on the complaint of Ghulam Mohammad, the brother of the injured man. Sakima's body was handed over to a notable of the area for burial following a post-mortem examination. more...
Pakistan not being isolated, says US lawmaker
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:00:28 +0500
WASHINGTON: So far, there are no indications that Pakistan is being isolated in the United States, says Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who heads the Pakistan caucus in the US Congress.Talking to newsmen at an Inter-Faith Iftar-dinner hosted by the Pakistan Embassy, Ms Jackson Lee also said that the Trump administration was reviewing its policies towards Pakistan and Afghanistan but it had yet to come to Congress for discussion. “I don’t see any broad indication of Pakistan being isolated here. There are ups and down in all international relationships and particularly those that we care about but the real key is how you resolve it and I believe that tradition continues in the United States,” she said.Asked about media reports that the Trump administration intends to toughen its policy towards Pakistan by expanding drone attacks inside Pakistan and curtailing assistance, the congresswoman said the change in policy was yet to be discussed in the US Congress. She said US Secret­ary of State Rex W. Tiller­son would engage with members of Congress on any policy change towards Pakistan and she would review the changes.Pakistan, she said, was part of normal discourse on foreign relations in the US Congress. “I do not have a direct statement from the State Department and I will have to wait until that statement to determine if there is a change in policy.”Emphasising the importance of US-Pakistan ties, the Democratic lawmaker from Houston said the two countries needed to continue to work together in the fight against terrorism and find ways to solve problems.Congresswoman Jackson Lee said that the US and Pakistan had a “pathway of cooperation” and they should seek to resolve any differences that arose in the relationship. “We are always discussing working with Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, both against the Pakistani people and certainly surrounding nations,” she said.“I believe we have a pathway of collaboration. We are a people that love democracy, and we should continue on that pathway. As chairwoman of the Pakistan Caucus in the United States Congress, we are always keen to make sure that we find ways to solve problems, when problems arise, and to work together.”Ms Jackson said she was aware of Islamabad’s concerns about India’s increasing influence in Afghanistan.Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017 more...
Rehman Malik denies covert deal with PM on Panama Papers case
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:00:28 +0500
Benazir murder case ISLAMABAD: Asserting that no deal had been reached between the prime minister and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali Zardari over the Panama Papers case, former interior minister Rehman Malik has said he will speak the truth before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations against Nawaz Sharif on Friday (tomorrow). “I will say what the law and the documents available with me say,” he told a press conference after cutting a cake to mark the 64th birth anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto at a ceremony here on Wednesday. Mr Malik said he was out of the country when he received JIT summons for June 13 on June 11. He told the JIT that it was not possible for him to appear before it on June 13 and sought a new date. He is now supposed to appear before the team on June 23. He refused to divulge what he would say and present to the JIT, but said he would not disappoint the nation and that he would follow the principle of merit. He said he would appear before the JIT in his capacity as a former additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Says PPP has decided not to politicise the issue He said he was examining a copy of the report on money laundering investigation submitted to the then president. Answering a question about audio video recording of interrogation proceedings by the JIT, he said it was not permissible for evidence un­der the law. He will raise the issue when he will go to the JIT to record his statement. The Pakistan People’s Party leader said his party had decided not to politicise the issue. He regretted the criticism against him from some Pakistan Muslim League-N leaders and said he had also been accused of being among the people named in the Panama Papers. He challenged that he would resign if the allegation was proved. As it was a private matter, he said, Prime Minister Sharif, his family members and lawyers should come forth and PML-N leaders should be stopped from making attempts to defend the PM. Answering a question, Mr Malik said he had not carried out any private inquiry into the money laundering allegations (against Mr Sharif) and said all had been done through official channels. About the claims of Inam Sehri, a former FIA official, that he had conducted an inquiry into the matter and had concrete evidence about the money trail of the Sharif family, he said Mr Sehri was not part of the team which had conducted the inquiry. However, if he has any proof, he should submit it to the JIT. Mr Malik said he was ready to finance the JIT’s visit to the United Kingdom to interrogate Mr Sehri if he felt he would be insecure if he came to Pakistan. He said many inquiries had been conducted (into money laundry allegations against Mr Sharif) and five of them had been converted into FIRs. Asked about the status of the charter of democracy, he lamented that agreements were signed in Pakistan to be broken. He said Mr Zardari tried to give a new lease of life to the charter during the days of (the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s) ‘sit-in’ as democracy was under threat at that time. “Somebody was trying to become an umpire, but this attempt was foiled due to the political maturity of the PPP leadership,” he added. Benazir murder case Mr Malik appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to personally supervise the Benazir Bhutto murder case as it had not been decided even after the passage of seven years. He said many of the handlers and conspirators had been arrested in the case and the challan submitted but the decision was still awaited. He said day-to-day hearings should be held to decide the case at the earliest. He lamented that the judge of the trial court was frequently changed. Likewise, he said a reference seeking declaration of former prime minister Zulfi­kar Ali Bhutto’s execution a judicial murder had also not been decided yet. He alleged that the PPP had always been subjected to injustice.Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017 more...
ASF recovers heroin from Bahrain-bound passenger at Islamabad airport
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 09:39:04 +0500
The Airport Security Force (ASF) on Thursday foiled an attempt to smuggle drugs to Bahrain, seizing a kilogramme of heroin from a passenger travelling from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad.According to the ASF, the drugs were recovered from the passenger's luggage during a security check-in for Gulf Air 771 at the Islamabad airport.The passenger, a resident of Mardan, was handed over to the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).An official told DawnNews that Shah was later shifted to the ANF police station in Rawalpindi, where a case was registered against him and an investigation initiated.The ASF added that it was possible Shah was working as part of an organised group to smuggle drugs abroad. The incident follows a spiralling number of cases of narcotics being recovered from flights originating from Pakistan.Last month, 20kg of heroin were recovered from a PIA London-bound flight before it departed from Islamabad Airport.The drugs were recovered from flight 785 during a scheduled inspection.A week before that, in a similar drug bust, British officials had found a "quantity of heroin" on the same flight, but in a different aircraft, after it landed at London's Heathrow Airport.British authorities had detained five members of the crew after the bust on charges of smuggling and money laundering.In an attempt to curb drug trafficking via the national carrier, a body was formed to unearth an “organised gang” believed to be involved in smuggling narcotics out of the country.The Central Operational Committee (COC), headed by the Civil Aviation Authority director general, was also tasked with ensuring foolproof security at all airports across the country. It comprises experts from the ASF, ANF, Customs and PIA.Some of the security measures already being taken at four major airports include restricting the movement of people in the aircraft parking apron, deploying security guards around parked airplanes, and installing surveillance cameras. more...
PTI vows to resist alleged govt move to intimidate judiciary
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:00:28 +0500
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has expressed serious concerns over the alleged intimidation of the judiciary by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and decided to make every effort to counter the government’s move to put pressure on the joint investigation team (JIT) probing money-laundering charges against the Sharif family. PTI chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday presided over a meeting of the party at his Banigala residence in which the party leadership reviewed and critically analysed the overall political situation in the country in the wake of ongoing investigations against the Sharif family by the Supreme Court-appointed JIT. According to an official handout released by the party’s Central Media Department, the PTI leaders also expressed serious concerns over “the government’s alliance with a media house in an attempt to malign and vituperate the Supreme Court”. “In pursuing these obnoxious objectives, the ruling party has the backing of a specific media group and its so-called intellectuals. Spitting venom against JIT and judiciary is a part of a vicious plan,” it says. The meeting also shed light on JIT’s probe into Sharif family’s offshore assets and “the impediments placed by the ruling party in order to hinder fair accountability process”. Moreover, it says that the PTI has also “assessed the vile attempts of the ruling party and the Sharif family to create chaos in the country”. The PTI has vowed to lock horns with those who aim at sabotaging the system and try to fan anarchic trends in the country for personal reasons and gains. The party leaders criticised National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq for reportedly delivering a “political speech” at a gathering in Lahore on Tuesday. They lashed out at Mr Sadiq for “dishonouring the house and speaker’s position by serving the House of Sharifs”. The PTI strongly condemned the brutal violence by the security guards of Faisalabad’s Agriculture University on the media persons and demanded that the government take strict action against senior administrative officials, including the university’s vice chancellor. Talking to Dawn, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry alleged that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family had failed to come clean on the corruption charges and “their body language divulges their doom in Panama Papers leaks case”. He said after the remarks of the SC judges, there was no doubt that the superior judiciary and JIT were being intimidated and blackmailed at the behest of the prime minister. The spokesman vowed that the PTI would foil every attempt of the government to put pressure on the JIT at a time when it was busy in finalising its findings. He said the PTI believed that this was the most crucial phase of the Panama Papers case probe since the nation was awaiting the JIT’s findings. Meanwhile, PTI MNA Asad Umer in a statement has expressed grave concern over the phenomenal increase in the trade deficit and urged the federal government to change the impaired economic policies. He lashed out at the government stating that textile exports had fallen, factories shut down and millions of workers had been pushed to abyss of unemployment.Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017 more...
Foreign investment surpasses $2bn in July-May
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:00:37 +0500
KARACHI: Foreign direct investment (FDI) amounted to more than $2 billion in July-May, up 22.6 per cent from a year ago, reported the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Wednesday.In 2015-16, FDI amounted to $1.903bn. It was less than $1bn in 2014-15.The improvement in FDI during the last couple of years was because of increased inflows from China. FDI from China in July-May rose to $879 million. It constituted 43pc of the total FDI received over the 11-month period. A large part of Chinese FDI is coming into the power sector that still needs investments of billions of dollars to generate sufficient electricity.Second-highest inflows were from the Netherlands that invested $465.6m in July-May, followed by France ($180m) and Turkey ($135m).FDI amounted to $295m in May with China and Norway contributing $160.5m and $75m, respectively.The highest investment came into the power sector. It amounted to $548m during the 11 months. The power sector is the focus of Chinese investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Within the power sector, FDI worth $333m was in coal-based power projects.FDI into the construction industry was surprisingly high. It attracted $418m during the period under review. Real estate has become a highly profitable business for the last three years as property prices in big cities went up many times.The food sector attracted the second highest inflows in July-May with FDI of $476.2m. Oil and gas exploration and electronics attracted $135.6m and $148.7m, respectively.Despite record growth in FDI, the size of inflows was still not significant compared to foreign investment received by neighbouring countries. Moreover, FDI has been concentrated in a few sectors. Therefore, it is likely to create jobs within a small number of industries. Outflows through portfolio investment have increased during the 11-month period. This curtailed the overall foreign private investment to $1.616bn. Outflows via portfolio investment during this period were $411m. Despite these outflows, overall private investment increased 27pc.Higher FDI played a vital role in the economic growth of India and China, which have been receiving foreign investment of $60-65bn annually. Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017 more...
The eclectic XI who made history for Pakistan at the Oval
Wed, 21 Jun 2017 19:52:30 +0500
Azhar Ali Fakhar Zaman Babar Azam Shoaib Malik and Muhammad Hafeez Sarfaraz Ahmed Imad Wasim Shadab Khan Junaid Khan Muhammad Amir Hasan Ali A record-shattering, 180-run win over arch-rivals India means a lot more than just the 'champions' title for the Pakistani side. In addition to completing the trio of International Cricket Council (ICC) event trophies for Pakistan, the win has given the world an eighty-over trailer of what can be expected in the future from the resurgent cricket team. Today, we take a look at the eclectic eleven Pakistan sent in to The Oval against tournament favourites India to turn history and stats on their heads ─ the eleven who helped the national side to the largest-ever recorded margin of defeat in an ICC event final and made magic happen with their surreal performance on-field.Azhar Ali Azhar Ali runs to make his ground during the CT final. ─ AP/File Hailing from the small Punjabi town of Kot Radha Kishan, Azhar Ali embraced cricket as a career at a young age, gradually progressing through the domestic circuit and ultimately being recognized as a reliable opening option by the departments he played for in First Class and List A games. Thanks to Pakistan's shaky opening combination in Test matches at the turn of the decade, Ali, at the age of 25, was called in to represent his country in red ball contests ahead of an ODI debut the following year. He has since matured into a compact opener for the side, recently becoming the first-ever day-night Test centurion, double centurion and triple centurion all thanks to his innings of 302 against West Indies in October 2016.Now 32-years-old, Ali, as per his trade, opened for Pakistan throughout the Champions Trophy. Known for his resilient and consistent record, Azhar did not disappoint: he started off with a 50 against India in the first game and carried his form through till the end — scoring back-to-back 50s in the last two games, which includes the important 59 in the final on Sunday. Fakhar Zaman Fakhar Zaman celebrates his century, going on to score 114 runs before being caught out on a Hardik Pandya ball.─Reuters/File Born in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fakhar moved to Karachi when he turned 16 to serve in the Pakistan Navy for six years before deciding to pursue his dream of playing for the national side in 2013. Calling Fakhar one of the greatest finds of Pakistan's Champions Trophy campaign this year would be an understatement. At 27 years of age — and having played just three T20Is for Pakistan in the past with an unimpressive average of 13 — Fakhar was considered nothing more than a wild card entry to Pakistan's squad.Known by the nickname 'Fauji', Fakhar made good of the opportunity and scored a decent run-a-ball 31 in his first One Day outing for the Pakistan side in the crucial knockout game against South Africa. Perhaps the most promising takeaway from Fakhar's Champions Trophy outing was the way he built upon his performances throughout the tournament. Starting off with the 31 against South Africa, he went on to score back-to-back 50s against both England and Sri Lanka, before bringing a career-defining debut run to an end with a match-winning 114 against India in the final. In Fakhar, Pakistan seems to have finally found a free-flowing opener to compliment Azhar's cautious style of play, making for a well-rounded opening pair to lead Pakistan's batting attack in the days to come. Babar Azam Babar Azam (L) and Mohammad Hafeez (R) celebrate victory against England as they leave the pitch. — AP/File Lahori by birth, Babar Azam is known for his level-headed attitude at the crease. He evolved by performing from a young age, starting off his professional cricketing career by playing in the Under-15 World Championships in 2008 and slowly crawling his way up the order by representing Pakistan in the Under-19 World Cups of 2010 and 2012. After making a name as a consistent top-scorer in age-restricted national events, Babar was called up to represent the green shirts in a home ODI series against Zimbabwe, allowing him to make his international debut on home ground amidst Pakistan's isolation as an international cricketing venue. At 22 and heading into the Champions Trophy, Babar was already reckoned as someone who had the ability to stabilise Pakistan's shaky middle-order. The high expectations accompanying him meant his '50-less' Champions Trophy run disappointed some fans and critics at home. However, Babar's top score during the tournament came in the crucial final, where he scored 46 before getting caught as a result of a miscued slog off Jadhav's delivery.In spite of his poorer-than-expected performance in the tournament, Babar still averages over 50 in his 31 ODI appearances and has leapfrogged several spots to reach a career-best fifth place on the ICC's ODI Batsmen Rankings.Owing to his relatively young age, Babar looks set to be a regular on the Pakistani side for at least the upcoming decade.Shoaib Malik and Muhammad Hafeez Shoaib Malik up to bat. ─ AFP/File With over 400 ODI matches in between them, the Shoaib-Hafeez duo ideologically adds a much-needed layer of experience in a predominantly inexperienced team.Shoaib Malik, with 252 ODI appearances under his belt, is by a clear margin the most experienced player on the Pakistani side. Born in the Punjabi city of Sialkot, Malik, after starting his career as an off-break bowler in the 1990s, has grown into a batting all-rounder with a 17-year history of being dropped out of the side and then recalled. In spite of selectors' love-hate relationship with him, the now 35-year old former captain of the Pakistani side remains one of the most versatile players in the game, but has set his eyes on retirement after the 2019 ICC World Cup.Unfortunately, Malik was unable to break into the 20s in his four innings during the tournament and was caught for just 12 in the final against India. Mohammad Hafeez celebrates after Pakistan win the semi-final in Cardiff on June 14. ─ AFP/File Former skipper of the Pakistani side, 36-year-old Sargodha-born Muhammad Hafeez has now represented Pakistan in all formats of the game for almost 14 years. Largely known as an opener, Hafeez has, over time, been played experimentally against the opposition in different slots in the batting attack. Along with being a regular opener for Pakistan, Hafeez has proven a handy bowling option ─ much like Malik. Hafeez, on the other hand, had a better Champions Trophy than Malik thanks to two scores in the mid-30s and a quickfire, unbeaten 57 in the final match that helped Pakistan breeze past the 300-run mark and post a very competitive total.Sarfaraz Ahmed Sarfaraz holds the trophy after the award ceremony. ─ AP/File About to complete 10 years representing the green shirts, Karachiite Sarfaraz Ahmed, for the first seven years of his career, was not even loosely considered as a regular for the side and was on the brink of teetering into irrelevance as he looked for a place behind the stumps ─ an area ruled by the three Akmal brothers.Sarfaraz's rise to prominence only came in 2014, when he scored a 74 in the second innings against Sri Lanka in Dubai. Since then, there has been no turning back: he further cemented his role in the side and was sworn in as the captain of the Pakistani team in February this year.As a teenager, he had taken Pakistan's U-19 team to World Cup glory back in 2006; a little after his 30th birthday, he dismantled defending champions India to bring home the Champions Trophy for the first time in the country's cricketing history. Sarfraz consequently became the first Pakistani after Imran Khan to have led his side to a 50-over title. It was a 25-year wait that came to an end on Sunday. Since opposing teams were generally unable to tear apart and bowl deep into Pakistan's batting owing to solid performances by both openers and limited targets thanks to the team's outstanding bowling performances, Sarfaraz only came out twice to bat during the Champions Trophy. In his two outings as a batsman, Sarfaraz put up scores of 15 (against India) and an unbeaten, match-winning 61 against Sri Lanka. While his innings against Sri Lanka can be regarded as one backed by the sloppy fielding of Sri Lankan players, it can be argued that where Sarfaraz lacked with the bat, he more than made up of it with his aggressive approach in leading an inexperienced side to an ICC title. Imad Wasim Imad Wasim celebrates. — AFP/File Born in the British county of Swansea, Imad Wasim was set to become a doctor before he got an offer to represent Pakistan at the U-19 level. Idolising Wasim Akram, Imad initially wanted to develop his game as a pacer before his coaching staff asked him to consider a switch to left-arm spin due to his lack of pace. Read more: Switch hit: How Imad Wasim quit medicine to chase cricket dreamFollowing the suspension of Saeed Ajmal, Imad got his much-awaited call to the international scene in 2015. Since then, there has been no looking back for the sportsman ─ he retained a spot in the squad for a second successive ICC event after representing Pakistan in the ICC World T20, which took place in 2016.Perhaps the only bowling all-rounder present in Pakistan's One-Day squad, Wasim's Champions Trophy final ended with a wicket-less spell and an undefeated 25 in the final for consolation. Overall, Imad was only able to pick up a couple of wickets against South Africa and struggled to get into the double figures with the bat throughout the tournament. Being 28 years of age, Imad still has a lot of cricket inside of him; and since one match or tournament cannot decide the fate of a cricketer, critics hope to see him back in form going out of the Champions Trophy.Shadab Khan Shadab Khan (L) jumps in jubilation after taking the wicket of Joe Root (unseen) for 46 runs. ─ AFP/File Shadab Khan hails from Mianwali, the town that has been responsible for producing two of the greatest Pakistani cricketing talents: former captains Imran Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq.Shadab moved to Rawalpindi when he was 12, and built his skills under the mentorship of legends Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed at the National Cricket Academy, Lahore. He received his first major gig when he was asked to represent Pakistan in the U-19 World Cup of 2016, where he became the joint highest wicket taker for the team by picking up 11 wickets in 6 games at an impressive average of 19. Rising to prominence after the Pakistan Super League's 2017 edition, the 18-year-old broke the internet when he vehemently asked Sarfaraz to review the umpire's decision to not give Yuvraj Singh out on a leg before during the Pak-India Champions Trophy final. Owing to the English tracks, which did not hold much in store for spinners, Shadab ended his Champions Trophy run with only four wickets in the tournament at the cost of a staggering 172 runs.On the road forward, despite an uneventful Champions Trophy outing, the 18-year-old will continue to be a force to be reckoned with on spinning tracks. Junaid Khan Junaid Khan celebrates after taking Ravindra Jadeja's wicket. Junaid, born in the small town of Matra in KP, was the first player from Swabi to qualify for the national cricket team. He was followed by his cousin, the exceptional spin bowler Yasir Shah, later on. Junaid earned the spotlight when he was recorded as the fastest bowler in the NWFP T20 competition at 16 years of age, which led to a First Class debut in 2007. Junaid was also called to represent Pakistan in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup; However, throughout the tournament, he was not given a chance to break into the playing XI.In dire need of a pacer after the loss of Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif during the 2010 spot-fixing scandal and the retirement of Shoaib Akhtar, Pakistan drafted Junaid into the ODI and Test sides in 2011.Due to frequent injuries, Junaid has been in and out of the Pakistani side ever since his international debut.Returning to form in the Champions Trophy, the 27-year-old left-armer picked up a total of 8 wickets in the four matches he played. With 62 ODIs under his belt, Junaid very ably complimented the in-form Hassan Ali in the absence of injured Wahab Riaz. Perhaps the highlight of his Champions Trophy campaign was his three-for against Sri Lanka, where he tore apart the top and middle-order of the opposition to cement Pakistan's chances of qualifying for the semi-finals. In the final, Junaid remained an economical option for Sarfaraz and picked up the wicket of Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Muhammad Amir Mohammad Amir celebrates taking the wicket of India's Rohit Sharma. ─ AFP/File Born in the town of Gujjar Khan, Amir was hand-picked by legendary left-arm pacer Wasim Akram from a pace bowling camp he oversaw in Lahore in May 2007. Akram had labeled Amir as a 'special talent.' After a steamy run in both domestic and international circles, Amir made headlines as a potential successor to the King of Swing. However, his red-hot form hit a wall when he was named among three Pakistani players accused of spot-fixing during Pakistan's 2010 tour of England. He was consequently handed a five-year ban in February 2011. He made a return to all formats of cricket in September 2015. Amir's first real comeback came up against India during an Asia Cup game in Dhaka, where he rattled the Indian top-order by picking up three wickets in quick succession.Returning to England after the spot-fixing debacle of 2010, Amir searched for form throughout the Champions Trophy tournament before breaking into the solid Indian top-order on Sunday in a way that was reminiscent of his Asia Cup performance against the same opposition.. The 25-year-old set the stage for the Indian batting collapse by picking up Rohit Sharma on the third ball of the innings, following it up with the wicket of Indian skipper Virat Kohli in his second over. The three wickets he took in his opening spell during the final, put together with the couple of wickets he bagged against Sri Lanka, more definitely than not signal a return to form. Expect greatness in the years to come.Hasan Ali Hasan Ali celebrates after dismissing Eoin Morgan for 33 runs. ─ AFP/File Making his first-class debut at the age of 19, the Mandi Bahauddin-born Hasan Ali left a mark on the domestic circle after a four-wicket haul in his debut innings. Hasan then rocketed to prominence when he took two five-wicket hauls in his first 15 ODIs thanks to his tight lines.Playing in his first major tournament, Hasan had received his share of skepticism from critics ahead of the Champions Trophy. Silencing the doubters with his performance, Hasan became the most successful bowler of this year's Champions Trophy by a fair margin as he picked up 13 wickets during the tournament to receive the coveted Golden Ball along with the Player of the Tournament award. Jumping 12 places, the 23-year old now ranks 7th in the ICC Bowlers Ranking. Starting off with a 124-run humiliation against the same side they defeated by a record-breaking 180-run margin in the final goes to show how Pakistan evolved as a team within two weeks to come up with a winning combination that stole the title from the defending champions on Sunday. On the road ahead, it will be interesting to observe how this young team handles their stardom to perform with the same effect heading into the next big tournament, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. more...
Panama Papers probe appears to be one-sided, says Hashmi
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:00:18 +0500
FORMER MNA Javed Hashmi addresses a press conference at Multan Press Club.—Online MULTAN: The investigation into the Panama Papers case appe­ars to be a ploy devised to disqualify and oust the prime minister from power rather than to hold him accountable, veteran politician Javed Hashmi said at a press conference on Wednesday.“A number of issues have emerged in recent days and doubts are being expressed regarding the credibility of the joint investigation team (JIT). If the JIT becomes controversial, people will not accept its findings and Nawaz Sharif will emerge as a victim,” the former MNA said, adding that judges, too, should choose their remarks carefully. They should not call someone a godfather or compare them to the Sicilian mafia, he said.Certain state institutions and the bureaucracy had harmed the country in the past, and the Supreme Court had even protected dictators, Mr Hashmi said. “Justice Nasim Hasan Shah had said that they were under pressure to award Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the death penalty. What will the nation repose confidence in if it loses faith in the courts?” Mr Hashmi said there had been rumours within the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) that former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani had been offered the post of president of Pakistan but he had turned down the offer. “Imran Khan had commented several times that he (Mr Jilani) was not an ‘appropriate’ judge, but the judge who will replace him is ours. The court should summon me for committing contempt of court and I will explain [the matter] there,” he said. Former PTI leader demands across-the-board accountability The former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart claimed that the incumbent PML-N government had victimised his family constantly for the last three years. “My properties were bulldozed; my family members were implicated in false cases lodged under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Even my cousins who were dead were implicated in cases...this was not done without the will of the chief minister,” he said.The veteran politician said neither the PTI nor the PML-N was happy with him, nor was he looking to curry favour with either of them. “I do not need the tickets of any party to contest elections and I am not interested in joining the PML-N. My future is linked to Pakistan and the masses... My struggle is focused on the middle class,” he said.Mr Hashmi claimed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had never been pleased about awarding him a party ticket. Yet the people elected him 11 times, he said.He claimed that Mr Sharif had not tried to stop former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf from leaving the country because he was told not to lay hands on the dictator if he valued his own safety. He further said that the National Accountability Bureau had lost its validity, and suggested that new accountability laws be introduced instead. “A fact-finding commission should be constituted to look into the conspiracy behind the [PTI’s] 2014 sit-in...And former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, Imran Khan and I should appear before it,” he said.He alleged that PTI chairman Imran Khan had sold a party ticket to a “patwari” for Rs200 million. He further claimed that the PTI chief had lost charity money, collected for Shaukat Khanum Hospital, in a failed investment in Thailand.Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017 more...

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