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The Times of India
No-trust vote: BJP confident of win, Cong says issue not just of numbers
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 16:13:19 GMT
The Modi government is expected to have a smooth sailing when it faces the first no-confidence motion in four years in the Lok Sabha on Friday with all eyes on fence sitters like the AIADMK and the BJD and the day-long debate that is likely to set the agenda for the 2019 general elections. more...
Aircel-Maxis case: P Chidambaram charged by CBI
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 11:05:27 GMT
Oz pacer Cummins clarifies on Kohli comment
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:51:04 GMT
Australian pacer Pat Cummins on Thursday sought to clarify his widely-publicised bold prediction on Virat Kohli, saying it was more wishful thinking than him targeting the Indian run-machine. more...
Rupee sinks 43 paise, ends at lifetime low of 69.05
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:33:29 GMT
The US dollar surged to fresh one-year high after the Fed chief's testimony to the US Senate yesterday bolstered the expectations of interest rate hikes, though gradually. more...
New Rs 100 note: What it would look like
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 10:02:36 GMT
The new Rs 100 notes will bear the signature of the Reserve Bank governor Urjit Patel. The RBI said that the printing and supply of Rs 100 notes for distribution to public through the banking channel will gradually increase. more...
No-trust debate: How govt plans to blunt oppn
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 14:35:33 GMT
Ahead of the debate on no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, all central ministries and departments have been directed to prepare a list of achievements of the Modi government which will be highlighted while a core team will be at work to counter the opposition's offensive as the debate progresses more...
Cash holdings: SIT on black money for Rs 1cr cap
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 11:00:40 GMT
Subscribers get more power to stop spam calls
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:35:45 GMT
Gopaldas Neeraj, doyen of Hindi poetry, passes away
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 16:57:49 GMT
Lynching cases: Govt asks WhatsApp for solutions
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:43:03 GMT
The government also warned the company that mediums used for propagation of rumours are liable to be treated as 'abettors' and can face legal consequences if they remain "mute spectators". more...
Lok Sabha passes fugitive economic offenders bill
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:00:10 GMT
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill aimed at preventing culprits from evading the legal process and fleeing the country was on Thursday passed by the Lok Sabha, as the opposition questioned the goverment's sincerity in taking any action against them. more...
Tharoor responds to Goyal’s ‘foreign accent’ jibe
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 16:48:31 GMT
A top phone brand’s India exit: 12 things to know
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 07:00:12 GMT
Why trade war may lead to rise in car thefts in US
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 09:41:18 GMT
Passports of 8 NRI men who left wife cancelled: Govt
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 14:12:10 GMT
An inter-ministerial agency of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs has formed a committee to look into the cases involving NRI offenders, who abscond after abandoning their wives. more...
Your bank savings are safe: Govt to drop FRDI bill
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 05:29:26 GMT
India to be the 3rd largest aviation market by 2025
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 10:50:49 GMT
Lopamudra Raut to make her Bollywood debut
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:42:52 GMT
The Dawn News - Home
'No direct role of army in July 25 elections,' DG ISPR tells Senate committee
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:59:53 +0500
Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor on Thursday, reiterating his stance from a press conference held earlier this month, rejected the notion that the security forces have any direct role in how the July 25 elections will unfold. Speaking at the special session of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, DG ISPR clarified that the army personnel are only following the Election Commission of Pakistan's instructions. "There were some rumours that army personnel had been issued 'different' orders — this is completely baseless," he said. "We do not have any link with the elections; we are only working on the election commission's directives to improve the law and order situation. We do not have a direct role in polls." Read: Gen Bajwa directs army to perform election duties 'with utmost responsibility' Maj Gen Ghafoor then elaborated the election duty assigned to army personnel, saying: "The armed forces have always lent support to civil institutions. The security situation is being improved in the entire country to hold elections. "Three hundred and seventy one thousand army soldiers will be deployed at the countrywide polling stations. The army is also performing its duty at the printing press [for ballots]." When asked by PML-N Senator Kulsoom Parveen to disclose the number of troops being deployed in Balochistan — where a suicide blast at a political event killed around 150 people — the DG ISPR said: "Leave the planning side to us; we know how many troops have to be deployed where. We have analysed every place from a security point of view. We have made deployments as per the need in Balochistan." Maj Gen Ghafoor, however, made it clear that the army's role in providing security for elections did not mean that it would also take direct responsibility for the well being of politicians. "The army is not taking direct responsibility for the security of any politician," he said. "The security of political candidates is the responsibility of the government of Pakistan and the ECP. We are assisting the election commission for security during polling. "Unfortunately, until the police's abilities improve, we will also have to do police duty." Speaking of coordination with Afghanistan, the ISPR spokesperson said that Pakistan has been assured of reciprocal support from the Afghan side on the security front. "When the elections took place in Afghanistan, we took extraordinary measures on this side of the border. This time, the Afghan president phoned Pakistan prime minister and the army chief to assure us of their cooperation." The Senate session was presided over by the committee chairperson Senator Rehman Malik. Federal interior and defence secretaries, secretary ECP and several other government officials were also present in the meeting. Army will assist ECP within given mandate, says Gen Bajwa Later in the day, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the Elections Support Center set up in Rawalpindi, the military’s media wing reported. According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Gen Bajwa was given “detailed briefing about [the army’s] plan for the provision of assistance to ECP” for the conduct of general elections. “The army shall assist ECP strictly within the bounds of given mandate and as per the ECP code of conduct,” the army chief was quoted as saying by the ISPR. Gen Bajwa reportedly directed that all efforts be put in “to ensure secure and safe environment enabling people of Pakistan to freely exercise their democratic right”. Army personnel will work under the presiding officer: ECP secretary In the same session, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob also briefed the Senate body over the army's electoral duties among other things. "A total of 800,000 security officials and 700,000 ECP staff will perform their duties," he said. "Bearing in mind the events of 2013, the ECP took the decision to deploy army. We are grateful to the army. Their officers are also being trained. The army's help was also obtained to keep a watch on ballot papers." Yaqoob denied that army personnel would have a free role at the polling stations. "A perception has been given that the army personnel would have a free role — this is wrong," he said. "The army personnel will work under the presiding officer at polling stations." Senator Javed Abbasi asked whether army is deployed inside and outside [the polling stations] in other countries as well. To this, the ECP secretary said that the decision was taken in the light of "the security situation of our country and the threats coming to the polling stations according to the Nacta (National Counter Terrorism Authority Pakistan) briefing". "So we would obviously have asked the army and police to improve security," he added. more...
Suicide bomber responsible for Mastung attack identified: CTD
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 20:11:58 +0500
The suicide bomber behind the Mastung attack has been identified by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Balochistan police said on Thursday. Deputy Inspector General (DIG) CTD Aitzaz Ahmed Goraya made this announcement at a press conference held in Quetta to brief the media regarding the investigation into the attack. The Mastung bombing which took place on July 13 during a corner meeting organised by Mir Siraj Raisani — a Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) candidate for PB-35 (Mastung) — claimed the lives of 128 people while injuring more than 200. The attack was the deadliest since the 2014 carnage at Peshawar's Army Public School. DIG Goraya said that the man behind the suicide bombing has been identified as Hafeez Nawaz. He was a resident of Mirpur Sakro, 33km away from Thatta. The bomber's brother and sister had reportedly moved to Afghanistan two years ago. The senior officer appreciated the efforts and cooperation of the Karachi CTD towards the investigation. Also read: Elections and violent conflict He said that no facilitator of the bombing had yet been arrested while adding that the facilitators are suspected to be local residents. "The suicide bomber was seated in the fourth row during the corner meeting. He stepped forward to stand near the stage before detonating his explosives," revealed Goraya. Providing further details into the investigation, he said that the police had recovered the bomber's hand from the scene of the crime, which enabled them to ascertain his identity through fingerprinting. The DIG added that the forensic team had collected samples from the site and a report of their findings is expected soon. more...
Meeting with Sharifs cancelled by Adiala Jail authorities, says Nawaz's lawyer
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:01:43 +0500
Adiala Jail administration on Thursday cancelled a meeting between incarcerated former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law retired Capt Muhammad Safdar, and their legal team. The legal team was trying to meet the Sharif family detained at Adiala Jail following their conviction in the Avenfield properties reference. On Wednesday, lead defence counsel Khawaja Haris told the accountability judge that jail authorities were not giving him access to his client, Nawaz Sharif. After court proceedings, as per the legal team of Sharif family, the jail superintendent called Haris and permitted the legal team to meet with its clients. The jail authorities then, with the consent of the lawyers, fixed their meeting for 11am on Thursday. The legal team moved from Serena Hotel at 9am and, as they reached Adiala Jail at 11am, were informed by the jail superintendent that the meeting had been cancelled. Subsequently, they returned without meeting their clients. Speaking to Dawn, Haris said that the "legal team comprising Amjad Pervaiz, Barrister Saad Hashmi, and Zafir Khan had been requesting jail authorities since the day before to allow us to meet our clients in jail so that we can confer with them regarding their future strategy." "We requested the jail authorities to allow us to meet yesterday (Wednesday) but we were not allowed [to meet them]," he said, adding, "Eventually we were asked to come today at 11am to meet Mian Sahib etc. at Adiala Jail. While we were on our way and had almost reached, we received a call from the jail superintendent and were asked not to come today as our meeting had been unilaterally cancelled." According to Haris, an Adiala Jail assistant superintendent had explained that the lawyers' meeting had been cancelled since Thursday is for visiting family members and others. He claimed that the jail administration had asked them to suggest a date for another meeting, but were not giving them any assurance that the same would not happen with their next meeting. He added that it was not possible for professional lawyers to work freely and independently if the behaviour of jail authorities continued to be humiliating. Jail officials did not attend repeated telephone calls when contacted by Dawn for a comment on the matter. more...
NAB approves inquiries against Wasim Akhtar, Agha Siraj over corruption allegations
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 19:18:41 +0500
The Natio­nal Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday approved several high profile inquiries, including against Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and former Sindh Assembly speaker Agha Siraj Durrani over various allegations of corruption. According to a press release issued by the bureau, the inquiries were authorised by NAB’s regional board, which had met in Karachi today with NAB Karachi Director General Mohammad Altaf Bawany in the chair. In attendance at the meeting were directors of NAB investigation wings and respective investigating teams of concerned cases. The board said it had authorised an inquiry against Karachi Mayor Akhtar and other officers of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) upon verification of a complaint against them. The complaint against Akhtar and other KMC officials, which has been verified prima facie, is that they allegedly did not carry out work in Karachi despite being allocated an amount of Rs36 billion and given subsequent releases between 2015 and 2018, the press release stated. Upon verification of a separate complaint, the board also sanctioned three separate inquiries against ex-Sindh Assembly speaker and PPP leader Durrani. Read: NAB rejects impression it has turned soft on PPP leaders The first inquiry pertains to an allegation of accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income by Durrani; the second relates to 352 illegal appointments made by him; and the third pertains to embezzlement of funds for the construction of the MPA Hostel and construction of the new Sindh Assembly building, as well as in the appointment of project directors for the said projects. "The recommendation [to initiate the inquiries] was made to the competent authority on the basis of exhaustive verification of complaints," the statement read. The NAB regional board greenlighted another inquiry against the director general of the Sindh Building Control Authority, Iftikhar Qaimkhani, for allegedly accumulating assets beyond his known sources of income. A preliminary probe against him was conducted on the basis of a tip-off made in a raid conducted recently. Editorial: NAB’s flawed pursuit The bureau also authorised an investigation against Senior Superintendent of Police Pir Fareed Jan Sarhandi upon completion of an inquiry against him over allegations of illegal recruitment of 378 constables. The inquiry was initiated on the orders of the Supreme Court. At the end of the meeting, DG NAB Karachi Altaf Bawany appreciated the performance of NAB's Complaint Verification Cell, "particularly for efforts of officers in unearthing major offences prima facie established." more...
Turkey accuses Israel of 'apartheid' over controversial new law
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 22:13:32 +0500
Turkey on Thursday accused Israel of racism and becoming a state based on apartheid after a new law was adopted by the Israeli parliament defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people. The legislation, adopted after a tumultuous Knesset session, makes Hebrew the country's national language and defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest. Arabic, previously considered an official language, was granted only special status. “We reject the Israeli government's efforts to establish an apartheid state,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter, referring to the segregation of blacks and whites in white-ruled South Africa. He condemned the law as a “racist step”, describing it as an effort to “legally erase” the Palestinian people “from their homelands”. “We call on the international community to respond to this injustice that takes place in front of the eyes of the whole world,” Kalin wrote. Also read: View from abroad: Burying the two-state solution This law “tramples on the principles of universal law and disregards the rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel,” the Turkish foreign ministry added in a statement. “The fact that the law presents the right to auto-determination as a right that only applies to Jews is the product of a mentality that is outdated and discriminatory,” it said. Arab citizens account for some 17.5 per cent of Israel's more than eight million population. They have long complained of discrimination. The Turkish foreign ministry called for the “necessary response” from the international community to the law, which it said was aimed at eliminating the vision of a two-state solution. The issue is the latest source of tension between Israel and Turkey, one of the Jewish state's few key Muslim partners. Ankara ordered out Israel's ambassador in May over the killing of protesters along the border with the Gaza Strip. The strains have threatened a 2016 deal on normalising ties after the crisis sparked by the May 2010 deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos. Erdogan regards himself as a champion of the Palestinians and has twice held summits in recent months of Muslim states to denounce the recognition by the United States of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But analysts note that behind the rhetoric economic ties remain strong, with trade robust and both sides interested in the export of Israeli energy resources to Turkey. more...
PHC asks NAB to investigate 'shady and shaky' Peshawar bus project
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:20:31 +0500
The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to probe the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit Corridor (BRT) Project, which it termed "shady and shaky". The high court issued the detailed order almost seven months after it had allowed the authorities to continue to work on the project but submit reports on the project's progress. "After hearing the arguments at great length, we feel it's appropriate to refer the matter to NAB authorities for conducting proper investigation due to the fact that 50 per cent scope of the work has been enhanced," the court order stated. The PHC, in its detailed verdict, observed that the BRT project was awarded to a firm that was blacklisted in another province, and that the project stood incomplete as of June 24. "The delay, the contract awarding process, feasibility and all the issues relating to the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit Corridor (BRT) Project are all shady and shaky," the order said. Moreover, the court noted that the project was initially projected to cost Rs49.3bn but the figures eventually soared to Rs67.9 billion. "We have been informed that from different necessary project schemes, the amount has been allocated for this project without considering the fact that other projects were also necessary and important for public purpose," the verdict adds. The court directed the NAB authorities to complete their probe and submit its findings in the next hearing, scheduled to he held on September 4. more...
Trump eyes new Putin meeting, slams media as 'enemy'
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 21:40:45 +0500
A defiant US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he is looking forward to another meeting with Vladimir Putin, assailing media who failed to recognize the “great success” of their first summit as the “enemy of the people.” Trump has come under bipartisan fire at home for what many saw as his unsettling embrace of the Russian strongman this week in Helsinki — and the seeming disavowal of his own intelligence agencies and their assessment that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election. The backlash has thrust the US leader onto the defensive — leading to several days of backtracking and conflicting statements from both the president and the White House. “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media,” he wrote in his latest, combative tweet early on Thursday. “The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war,” Trump said. “They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I'll probably have a good relationship with Putin. “I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed,” he continued. Trump listed these as “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.” “There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems... but they can ALL be solved!” he said. According to opinion polls published on Thursday, a large majority of Americans disapproved of Trump's handling of the summit — but members of his Republican party approved by a wide margin. While just one-third of Americans approved of Trump's handling of the Putin summit, that number rose to 68 per cent among Republicans, according to a CBS poll. Another poll, by Axios/Survey Monkey, showed Republican support at 79 per cent — compared to 40 per cent of respondents overall. Among those Republicans expressing concern on Thursday was Senator Lindsey Graham, a prominent voice on foreign policy in the party. Trump wasn't “prepared as well as he should have been” for the meeting, Graham told reporters, adding that it is “imperative that he understands that he is misjudging Putin.” more...
Pakistan's argument in Jadhav case 'very strong', claims FO spokesperson
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 14:50:49 +0500
Pakistan's argument in the case pertaining to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav is "very strong", Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal claimed during a weekly press briefing on Thursday. Dr Faisal said that India had failed to explain why Jadhav had a passport under the name of Hussein Mubarak and how he was able to travel with it 17 times if it was fake. He also demanded that if Jadhav was indeed a retired naval officer, his retirement details should be shared by India. "Kulbhushan was arrested from our soil and his confessional statement is on record as well," Dr Faisal said. Jadhav, an official of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was arrested in Pakistan on March 3, 2016, during an operation by security forces in Balochistan's Mashkel area. He was suspected of involvement in espionage and sabotage in Pakistan. India, however, maintains that Jadhav is a retired naval officer. Jadhav was sentenced to death in 2017 by a military tribunal for his involvement in espionage. His appeals against the conviction have been rejected by the military appellate court and a mercy petition is pending before Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan for allegedly violating Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying consular access to Jadhav immediately after his capture. Pakistan in Dec 2017 hosted Jadhav’s meeting with his wife and mother as a humanitarian gesture. The court had, soon after accepting the Indian petition, held a single round of oral hearings following which the Pakistan government was restrained from executing Jadhav until its final verdict in the case. Two rounds of written submissions by both parties followed. Pakistan submitted its second reply to the court on July 17, addressing all questions raised by India. The first response was submitted in Dec 2017. Dr Faisal today also addressed the matter of a United Nations (UN) report on human rights abuses in Kashmir, describing it as a "victory of Pakistan's foreign policy". The FO spokesperson added that 23 people had been killed by the Indian army in India-held Kashmir last week. Democracy to prevail in Pakistan Condemning recent bombings in Peshawar and Mastung, Dr Faisal said that nation would not be deterred by such attacks and the democratic process would continue. He thanked the nations that offered condolences to Pakistan over the deadly attacks. Last week, Awami National Party leader Haroon Bilour was killed in a suicide attack, along with 19 others. Three days later, on July 13, another bomb blast struck a political gathering in Mastung claiming the life of Balochistan Awami Party leader Siraj Raisani and over 149 other people. It was the deadliest terrorist attack since the 2014 carnage at Peshawar's Army Public School that had killed at least 144 people. Afghan peace only possible through talks Dr Faisal reiterated Pakistan's stance that peace in Afghanistan was only possible through talks, saying that military intervention had failed to curb militancy in the country. "We have to look for a solution to Afghanistan's crisis through talks and diplomacy," he said, adding that the matter of the United States' exit from the region was on the agenda of US peace talks with Afghanistan. However, he refused to comment on the Afghan Taliban's statement on the recent Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference. The Taliban had criticised the conference that took place earlier this month, saying that the OIC would side with the "invaders" (the US). more...
ECP bars Imran Khan from using inappropriate language during campaigning
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:01:05 +0500
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday barred Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan from using unseemly language for his political rivals during election campaigning — a practice that Khan's counsel initially seemed to defend but eventually relented, assuring the election body that his client would abide by its instructions. On July 12, the eve of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz's return to Pakistan to surrender themselves to the authorities, Khan had said that whoever goes to receive the Sharifs at the airport "must be a donkey". As expected, the remarks were not well received among the PML-N cadre and even polarised the next Senate session, where barbs were exchanged between the two parties' members. The ECP had taken notice of Khan's incendiary choice of words and directed him to appear before the commission today. Khan did not appear before the ECP but his lawyer and PTI leader Babar Awan was at the hearing on his behalf. When told by the commission that Khan had used an inappropriate word for the workers of a party, Awan defended the word's usage, saying: "Donkey is an ordinary word; even teachers use that word here." "Teachers have a different standing," a four-member commission, led by the ECP's Sindh member Abdul Ghaffar Soomro, replied. "When major leaders use such language, it doesn't send a good impression [of Pakistan] to the world." At this, the counsel countered that Khan gets called worse things. "Words such as Taliban Khan and Yahoodi are being used," said Awan, who also played a video of PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq in the court. "You stick to the notice issued to you; others are also being sent notices," Awan was told. The ECP then forbade Khan from using unseemly language during his campaigning, to which Awan agreed and also submitted a written statement on behalf of the PTI chairman to abide by the ECP's orders. The commission adjourned the case's hearing until after the July 25 general elections, during which time the ECP will monitor Khan's speeches to make sure he adheres to the code of conduct. more...
With polls looming, KP police given less than 50pc of funds needed for election day security
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 14:04:24 +0500
A severe lack of funds provided to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police force in the run-up to the elections has raised fears that security arrangements for the polls ─ just six days away ─ in the province will be greatly affected. Police high-ups told DawnNewsTV on Thursday that despite the police department submitting a Rs369 million election budget proposal to the provincial government, only Rs169m had been released, an amount they believe is insufficient to provide adequate security for the election exercise. KP Inspector General (IG) Mohammad Tahir, in an exclusive interview with DawnNewsTV, said that of the 12,069 polling stations in the province, 3,174 had been declared 'highly sensitive', while 4,539 had been accorded 'sensitive' status. Police officials have said that almost 52,000 police personnel will perform duties on election day. In addition to patrolling, personnel will be deployed at 'highly sensitive' and 'sensitive' polling stations to ensure security and maintain law and order, the KP IG said. Funds will be required for security arrangements during poll campaigns, and on election day for transportation, accommodation, provision of the necessary security equipment and security for political leaders, police officials said. They said that the funds released are less than those released for the 2013 general election, in which Rs243m had been handed to police for security arrangements across KP. The officials said that if the required funds were not released, election security arrangements would be affected. The KP IG, confirming that police are facing a shortage of funds for the election, said, "We have already taken up the issue with the caretaker government and the chief secretary." He added that the government had assured police that it would release the funds required for security. IG Tahir said that in the wake of recent terror attacks and threat alerts, the police had "reviewed security arrangements" and made "foolproof security arrangements" for the election in light of the security status of various polling stations. more...
DC Sanghar begins inquiry into alleged rigging via postal ballots at Shahdadpur hospital
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:28:52 +0500
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Sanghar Liaquat Ali Bhatti has begun an inquiry into the forcible marking of postal ballot papers of government employees at the Shahdadpur Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS), Dawn learnt on Thursday. The DC, in his capacity as the monitoring officer of district Sanghar, called SIMS Director Dr Bachal Girwan and the additional district coordinator (ADC) for the National Programme for Family Planning and Primary Healthcare, Shama Gulani, to his office for an inquiry into allegations of forced marking of ballots in favour of a PPP candidate. The complainant Hussain Bux Khaskheli, an independent candidate from PS-45 (Sanghar-V), was present during the inquiry. He told the DC that ADC Shama Gulani called lady health workers (LHWs) to SIMS five days ago along with their individual ballot papers. He alleged that upon reaching the hospital, they were told to mark their ballot papers in favour of the PPP candidate. Some LHWs objected to the rigging attempt by the ADC and reached the hospital with reporters and caught the officer red-handed with ballot papers. He submitted to the DC Sanghar a video clip showing some LHWs complaining about forced marking of the ballot papers by the officers. Khaskheli also alleged that a suspended officer was also involved in the scam and fled from the scene when he saw him and others arriving. On the condition of anonymity, an LHW told Dawn that they were called by SIMS authorities to the hospital along with their postal ballot papers. After they arrived, they were told by the ADC to mark their individual ballot papers in favour of the PPP candidate. After the inquiry, Hussain Bux Khaskheli, who is the brother of a Grand Democratic Alliance candidate running from the same seat, Muhammad Bux Khaskheli, told reporters that he had submitted evidence of rigging in the postal ballot votes to the DC. He demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan cancel all the postal ballot papers issued in the Shahdapur taluka due to widespread rigging in their marking. Upon being contacted, the DC Sanghar told Dawn that evidence of misappropriation of ballot papers had been confirmed and that further details will be shared after completion of the inquiry. Postal ballot is a service available for government officials, prisoners and the physically disabled, who cannot cast their votes by going to their respective polling stations. more...
Glacier melt creates artificial lake in Gilgit
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 06:29:23 +0500
GILGIT: A small glacier melt has swollen Barsuwat Nullah in the Ishkoman valley of Ghizer district, Gilgit-Baltistan, creating an artificial lake and blocking the flow of the Immit River. The water has submerged more than 30 houses, cultivated land, a link road and cattle farms and washed away over a dozen vehicles and hundreds of cattle head in the upstream areas. The Barsuwat area lies at a distance of 60km from Gahkuch, the district headquarters of Ghizer district. The Ishkoman valley is situated near the Pakistan- Afghanistan border area. Houses, cultivated land flooded Deputy Commissioner of Ghizer Shuja Alam said that the Barsuwat glacier started melting on Tuesday at about 7pm. Water from the melting glacier, containing mud and stones, fell into Barsuwat Nullah and caused flooding. The nullah ultimately falls into the Immit River whose flow has been blocked and the stagnant water has created an artificial lake similar to Attabad Hunza lake, disconnecting upstream villages from other areas. The Immit River finally joins the River Indus in the Gilgit area. According to the DC, an area spread over about 2km has been flooded and around 10 small villages including Barsuwat, Berth, Yazbeen and Qarandan, consisting of 180 households (600 individuals), have been completely cut off from other areas. The road link to the upstream areas has been cut off at Bilhanz as around 150-meter section of the road has been washed away. Mr Alam said around 31 houses (24 upstream and 7 downstream) had been affected and the families living in these houses shifted to safe locations. Hundreds of kanals of cultivated land have been submerged and crops damaged. The DC said the details of the impact of the disaster would appear only after assessment of the damage. According a press release issued by the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA), a team of administration officials along with GBDMA staff has reached the location of the river blockade. Tents for the displaced families have been sent to Barsuwat and a medical team with medicines has been directed to reach the Bilhanz dispensary. Food has been sent for the stranded people. Representatives of volunteer organisations have also moved to the river blockade site to participate in relief activities Replying to a question, Mra Alam said the Barsawut glacier melted every two to three years in summer. In 2015 also, the glacier had melted and the water had blocked the river, causing difficulties to the local people. This year also the current heatwave has caused the melting of the glacier. Sources said that water level was increasing at the river blockade site, which might pose a threat to the people living along the river in Ghizer and Gilgit areas. People living downstream, particularly those living at vulnerable places along the river in the Gilgit area, have been warned to shift to safe places if the artificial lake starts overflowing. When contacted, Director of the GB Environmental Protection Agency Shehzad Shigri told Dawn that these types of incidents were linked with climate change. According to him, this year snow has fallen late season. Usually snow falls in October to January and converts into glaciers which are not affected by heatwave. The snow falling in February to March cannot convert into glaciers and when heat rises in summer, the snow starts melting, resulting into floods and avalanches. Mr Shigri said temperature pattern had changed in the region as climate change had affected the fragile environment of the region. Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018 more...
ISPR warns against 'fake security threats'
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:17:01 +0500
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Thursday warned that fake security alerts — being attributed to the army's media wing — for various cities are being circulated on social media. "Fake threat alerts for various cities are being circulated on social media quoting ISPR — no such alerts are issued by the ISPR," the statement issued by the military said. "Such propaganda is an attempt to create confusion and harassment." The ISPR directed citizens to watch out for any other such attempt through fake calls. "For any clarification in future please verify the news from the ISPR's official website," it read. Last month, the ISPR had issued a statement, rubbishing 'fake messages' circulating on social media alerting citizens of security threats in Karachi and Hyderabad being attributed to the military's media wing. "There are fake messages being circulated on social media attributed to ISPR, conveying fake threat warnings or emergency contact numbers. It is clarified that ISPR communicates only through the official website/accounts. Nothing is shared through WhatsApp," the ISPR had announced. The messages had advised residents of Karachi and Hyderabad to avoid public places, including shopping centres, railway stations, mosques without security, shrines, marriage halls and public parks due to an extreme security threat. Similarly, on June 25, the ISPR had warned the general public against fake calls from people pretending to be military personnel and urged them to report such incidents. The impersonators, the ISPR claimed, seek personal data like Computerised National Identity Card numbers and bank accounts on the pretext of census verification. “Please be aware that no such calls are being made from the Pakistan Armed Forces. The public is requested not to respond to such calls, and immediately report the same on our emergency helpline numbers: 1135 and 1125,” the ISPR said. more...
Names of Zardari, Faryal removed from ECL
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 06:29:36 +0500
ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, the caretaker government on Wednesday removed the names of former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur from the Exit Control List (ECL) as they were deemed not to be involved in a massive money laundering scam. A few days ago Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had denied that the two PPP leaders were suspects in a money laundering case. Their names were included on the request of FIA in a case of fake bank accounts, fictitious transactions worth Rs35bn According to sources in the government, the interior ministry has removed their names from the ECL and sent copies of a notification issued in this regard to all the authorities concerned. The names of Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur had been included in the ECL on the request of the Federal Investigation Agency in a case relating fake accounts and fictitious transactions worth Rs35 billion. Three banks — the Sindh Bank, United Bank of Pakistan and Summit Bank — were said to be involved in the scam. The names of Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur were put on the ECL on July 8 along with those of five other accused in the scam. The interior ministry had then claimed that their names had been included in the list on the orders of the Supreme Court. Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018 more...
CTD says Ansarul Sharia has formed alliance with TTP, LJ to target politicians
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 13:11:29 +0500
KARACHI: Three banned outfits — the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ansarul Sharia Pakistan (ASP) and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) — have developed a nexus to target political leadership in the metropolis to “sabotage forthcoming elections and trigger destabilisation in the country”, said a senior police official on Wednesday. “The ASP, TTP and LJ have developed a sort of alliance to redouble their capability and capacity for terrorism as they sustained heavy losses during the ongoing targeted operation against them in the city,” said Counter-Terrorism Department SSP Junaid Ahmed Sheikh. He said this emerged during initial interrogation of four held suspects Mohammed Jawad, Abu Bakar, Mohammad Ibrahim and Mohammed Fahad. On Tuesday, the CTD had announced the arrest of the suspected militants associated with ASP, TTP and LJ. The trio of banned outfits wants to sabotage July 25 elections SSP Sheikh recalled that following an assassination attempt on senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Khwaja Izharul Hasan, law enforcement agencies had taken a prompt action against most members linked to the ASP behind the assassination bid and killed them in an ‘encounter’. However, two ASP militants — Abdul Karim Sarosh and Muzammil — reportedly escaped and they were now living in Afghanistan, where they were trying to reorganise their group in Karachi with the help of the TTP and LJ. “The militants have forged an alliance and are planning to carry out attacks in Karachi to sabotage the July 25 elections,” the SSP said. Sharing details of the initial probe, the CTD SSP said that Jawad was born in Dir in 1980. His family moved to Karachi where he studied at a seminary and did an eight-year course of religious scholar. He became the ‘caretaker’ of a mosque in Scouts Colony, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, where he developed friendship with his neighbour Sarosh. At that time, Sarosh was associated with the Jaish-e-Mohammad. Jawad told the interrogators that he was part of the attack on Khwaja Izhar and the act was masterminded by Sarosh. Later, he along with his other accomplices formed the ASP. He said that he personally never visited Afghanistan but he had sent people there for ‘jihad’. About suspect Ibrahim, the CTD official said that he was born in Quetta where he studied up to class six and also memorised Quran. His father was also a religious scholar. While studying at a seminary, he joined a mainstream religious party and also became familiar with the Afghan Taliban. During his stay at the seminary, he also visited Afghanistan where he got militancy training. Later, he also trained several people and sent them to Afghanistan. He claimed to have given “refuge” to wounded Taliban militants at his seminary in Quetta. Subsequently, he shifted to Karachi and stayed at a seminary. Suspect Abu Bakar, originally hailing from a village in Swat, came to Karachi and settled at Manghopir where he got early education. He told interrogators that one of his friends had taken him to Afghanistan where he met TTP men. A rickshaw driver by profession, he also told the CTD interrogators that his friend was associated with ASP in the same area. About Fahad, SSP Sheikh said that the held suspect was associated with the outlawed LJ. He was a graduate and had worked in a beverage company as sales officer. He became friends with a man who had ties with Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Later, he went to South Waziristan where he got training. He also went to Afghanistan where he stayed for one month. After coming back, he started raising funds and recruited youths for the banned outfit. Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018 more...
NAB orders probe into ‘air safari’ incident
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 06:29:36 +0500
ISLAMABAD: Taking notice of the alleged misuse of authority by officials of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that caused a four-hour delay of an Skardu-Islamabad flight on Tuesday, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) decided on Wednesday to investigate the matter. According to NAB, the bureau’s chairman retired (Justice) Javed Iqbal has ordered complaint verification against officials of the CAA and the PIA who allegedly carried friends and blue-eyed people on the flight for what is being termed an “air safari”, spending millions of rupees from the exchequer. “The NAB chief has ordered NAB’s Gilgit/Rawalpindi office to probe the matter in detail and submit a report in this regard,” says a press release of the bureau, issued by NAB headquarters. The bureau took notice of media reports that PIA’s Skardu-bound flight took off from Islamabad airport on Tuesday morning with top CAA officials and Gilgit-Baltistan’s senior PML-N member Akbar Taban on board. Usually, when a flight takes off from Islamabad, boarding passes for the return flight are issued in Skardu. The normal flight time between the two cities is 45 minutes. However, passengers in Skardu said that it took the aircraft four hours to reach Skardu after they had been issued boarding passes. Accusing the PIA’s top officers of having delayed the flight to take VIP passengers from Islamabad on an “air safari” comprising K2, Nanga Parbat and other mountain peaks, the passengers complained that they were not allowed even to use washrooms in the PIA waiting room at Skardu during the flight delay, causing serious problems to them. Passengers of the flight condemned the attitude of the PIA management for causing the long delay only to facilitate a few bigwigs and influential people. CAA officials, however, denied the use of the aircraft for a “private tour” claiming that the “air safari” had been undertaken at the request of PIA Chief Executive Officer Musharraf Rasool Cyan. PIA spokesperson Mashood Tajwar said that the passengers were basically complaining about basic facilities provided at the airport, adding that flights to Gilgit and Skardu were subject to weather condition and this was mentioned on air tickets. Sale of PIA aircraft In a separate case, the NAB chairman sought a report from PIA authorities on the role of a former chief executive officer of the national flag carrier who not only took a PIA plane abroad without any legal authority, but also sold it at a through-away price to Germany. “The PIA is our national asset and its protection is our national duty,” the chairman was quoted as saying. The NAB chairman directed authorities concerned to identify the real culprits involved in both incidents so that they were brought to justice. Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018 more...
Not getting positive news about polls, says Imran
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 06:29:23 +0500
MANSEHRA: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan has said he is not getting good news regarding the July 25 general elections, but people should come forward to participate in the polls and foil conspiracies being hat­ched against the elections. “I have not been getting positive news regarding the general elections, but people should get out of their homes to vote on July 25,” Mr Khan told a public gathering in the tourist resort of Nathiagali on Wednesday. He said time was not far when former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif would also land in Adiala jail for corruption and misdeeds he allegedly committed as chief executive of Punjab. “Shahbaz, you will also face the same consequences as your brother and disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar,” said Mr Khan. The PTI chief said the PML-N leader had registered 32 fake cases against him to punish him for the firm stance he adopted against their corrupt and anti-state polices but he remained committed. He said caretaker chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dost Mohammad was biased against the PTI, saying, “I am optimistic that the caretaker prime minister would maintain his neutrality till the elections.” “I am optimistic you would observe your neutrality till elections as KP’s caretaker Chief Minister Dost Mohammad is siding with Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Akram Khan Durrani. But I hope he will mend his ways,” he said. Mr Khan said that after coming to power, his party would develop four new tourist resorts every year. Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018 more...
Election rigging 101: How to steal a mandate
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:22:16 +0500
The general perception is that apart from the elections that were held in 1970 — which saw the then-East Pakistan break away from the West — none of the elections in Pakistan have really been “free” or “fair”. The Free and Fair Election Network’s (Fafen) General Secretary, Sarwar Bari, agrees. Historically speaking, election rigging in Pakistan has occurred at multiple levels, with the connivance of state institutions, the establishment, polling officers and, of course, political parties and candidates. The rigging process can be broadly divided into three categories: pre-poll rigging, polling day-rigging and post-poll rigging. Here, we break down how the polling process can be exploited. Pre-poll rigging Manipulating the census Yes. Manipulating the census. The census is one of the first and most important parts of the election process, as it is what determines how many seats any particular settlement (province/district, etc) will be allocated. The number of seats given to a settlement is decided according to the population settled there, with approximately 780,000 people on average being assigned one National Assembly seat in this year's calculation. If the population of an area is shown to be lesser or greater than it actually is, the voting power of the people living in that district can be diluted or boosted compared to other parts of the country. Therefore, the population census remains at the top of the priority list of someone planning to rig the election. Now you know why some political parties have been crying themselves hoarse since last year’s census exercise. The main players in Sindh — PPP and MQM — had demanded an audit as they claimed the population of the province as a whole, and Karachi specifically, had been understated to deny it more seats than it should have gotten. Despite a government promise of an audit of 1 per cent of the census blocks, the review never happened. The census results were released as is, and Karachi may (if the parties are to be believed) be getting less seats than is its due. "But is it really that easy to rig a census?" Fafen's Bari says that although evidence does not exist to prove that rigging in the recent census took place, serious questions have indeed been raised because of its procedure. He notes that the standard post-census practice of randomly sampling 0.5pc of households to confirm the broader census findings was never done, primarily because the entire exercise happened in haste. The random sampling would have confirmed that the census results were correct unless discrepancies were found. Gerrymandering As discussed earlier, the ECP allots a quota of seats to every district according to its population (as counted in the census). Once the census results are in, the ECP creates constituencies following a set of rules, which (theoretically) constrain the commission into being fair when demarcating constituencies. In theory, all NA constituencies, and those within respective provinces, have to be of the same size, with a maximum 10pc variation in their constituent population. But which areas (mohallas, galis, goths) fall into which constituency within that district is still for the commission to decide. Therefore, if you want to rig at the constituency level, the delimitation exercise is what you need to target. "Gerrymandering refers to drawing up constituencies in a way that one political rival is at a position of disadvantage in polls regardless of voter support" This could mean having the areas where economically disadvantaged voters reside clubbed together into a particular constituency so that a candidate appealing to those with lower/no income has a better chance of winning it. The contra is also true. Again, although there exists no evidence to suggest malpractice in delimitation this time around, a number of regulations have been flouted in the delimitation exercise. “The 10pc variation rule has been broken in around 81 National Assembly constituencies and hundreds of provincial assembly constituencies,” Bari told Dawn.com, adding that he fears gerrymandering may have happened. Gerrymandering refers to the amoral practice of drawing up constituencies in a way that one political rival is at a position of disadvantage in polls regardless of the voter support. The practice of gerrymandering serves two basic purposes: it dilutes an opponent's voting support across many districts and also confines the voters to a single district. Click to enlarge. Consequently, this tactic, which is essentially the most sinister form of pre-poll rigging as it happens behind closed doors, can leave a targeted political party's constituency results worse than what its actual vote bank ought to have commanded. Very interesting account of Lahore's new constituencies here — a good read for anyone following the election closely. Get your opponent’s nomination papers rejected This election season, the nomination papers of candidates have come under greater scrutiny as the Supreme Court itself has shown a lot interest in the matter. And, like previous elections, the nomination papers of a number of potential candidates have been rejected by returning officers (RO). While there are legal ways of challenging the acceptance of your opponent’s nomination papers, like finding something controversial from their past or present, this alone does not guarantee that they will be disqualified. The candidates attempt, and at times succeed, in getting the RO on their side through shady means, making the contest easier for them, the Fafen official says. However, ousted candidates have recourse to higher courts for appeal, and it is generally difficult to sideline someone unless you hit gold digging around in their personal affairs. Rigging on the polling day Rigging on the day of elections is perhaps the most important (and outrageous) way of turning the tide of an election, and there are multiple ways to make that happen. Capture the polling booth Once a candidate has done their best in pre-poll rigging, the next opportunity presents itself on polling day itself. The best bet for the candidates is to capture polling booths in areas they exercise influence in. They do it by forcing election officials to either side with them, or keep mum about what is happening. Fafen’s Bari says that this is the most common type of rigging, and it mostly occurs in connivance with election officers. However, it happens at perhaps 15-20pc of the polling stations. But that, he feels, is enough to sway an election. “You rig as much as you can hide,” he says. Bari notes that the practice is easiest at women’s polling booths, where burqas come in handy and lists of dead people (who have not been expunged from the electoral rolls) help riggers cast extra ballots in their candidate's favour. Manipulate the vote count “Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali won the [2013] election by [around] 4,000 votes. [Yet, approximately] 30,000 votes were rejected [during the vote count],” Bari recalls. This is just an example of how even the vote counting process is not free of flaws. A look at the NA-226 Nasirababd-cum-Jaffarabad results indeed reveals that 25,562 votes were rejected while the win margin between Jamali and Mir Saleem Ahmed Khosa was less than 6,000. Bari says that, in all, the win margin was lower than the number of votes rejected in around 35 constituencies in 2013 elections, which means that there could have been a different winner had the rejected votes been considered valid. But how does this become possible? The Presiding Officers play an important role in the count-rigging process as they are the ones who need to ensure all polling agents are witness to the counting process. At times, however, the polling agents are excluded from the process, allowing for numbers to be tweaked at will, leaving the runners-up with no proof to challenge the election at a future date. This time around, however, the count-rig will not be as easy. The Elections Act 2017 has now made it mandatory for all the important forms, including Form 45 (previously Form 14), to carry signatures of all polling agents present. Form 45 is a statement of the vote count which, when signed by the representative polling agents of political parties, can easily be tallied with the final figures released by the ECP as it contains a breakdown of the number of votes received from each station. Earlier, the candidates had no proof of rigging if they claimed that last minute changes were made to the count. Bribe the voters While some may argue that (usually unfulfilled) election promises of development by your opponents are in themselves a form of inducement offered to the voters, there are more direct ways of ensuring that the voters in your area vote for you. We’ve all heard about votes being sold for qeemay walay naans, plates of biryani and for Rs500 envelopes, but at most times there are larger stakes offered to the influential people of the area to play for the rigger's side. This translates into the influential making sure the people under his/her power cast their votes however they have been instructed to. The 'voting instructions' are usually accompanied with overt or implied threats of serious physical and material harm. Bribing the influential also works better than bribing individual voters (at least in theory) as it is almost impossible to ensure that the person who just had biryani at your expense will also stamp your symbol on the ballot paper. Perception manipulation Another manner in which political parties and actors can impact elections is by manipulating perceptions using print, electronic and social media, as well as dubious surveys and polls. The media as well as rigged surveys can be 'controlled' to present a deliberately skewed image of a particular party and the chances of its victory in a competition. In Pakistan, rumours of the “powers that be” favouring a particular party, spread through new and traditional media, also impacts voter perceptions. One can also exercise pressure on the media and make sure a rival party or parties do not get enough airtime or favourable coverage. All of these measures can tilt the 'swing vote' — the vote of people who are undecided and 'go with the flow', so to speak — in favour of a one particular party. The NA-120 model The NA-120 by-election held last year on the seat left vacant by the disqualification of former premier Nawaz Sharif was 'unique', so to speak. The PML-N complained that its Union Council chairman and other local leaders were not only threatened via phone calls, but also picked up a day before polling was set to take place, only to be released later. Videos also surfaced on social media claiming that voters carrying 'slips' marked with PML-N symbols were being sent back from the polling stations. The slips referred to are pieces of paper handed out at party stalls on the day of an election with useful information that can help voters cast their vote. The insinuation was that people at the polling booths recognised N-League voters with the help these slips and tried to prevent them from voting for their candidate. All of these measures were alleged to be a part of a broader election engineering process which also included the propping up of smaller parties, including the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and the Milli Muslim League, as opposition to the PML-N. Since then, these parties have gained more ground and threaten to cannibalise on PML-N's voter base. The PML-N has recently alleged that its party leaders are being coerced into joining other political parties, especially its fiercest rival — the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — which has been overwhelmed by the arrival of so-called electables from rival camps. However, it is pertinent to mention here that these claims, put forward mainly by the PML-N, have never really been verified definitively. Nonetheless, they are serious charges which ought to have been investigated but never were. The 2013 ‘RO Elections’ model Soon after the results of the 2013 elections were announced, Imran Khan and his party had alleged that the elections had been rigged with the connivance of ECP-appointed returning officers. The PTI had alleged that the ROs amended the result of the elections after polling ended. Khan claimed that when the time came to tabulate the results, no one was allowed in the rooms, which was against the rules. He later also said that the Army had been involved in the rigging as its personnel were the ones who stopped representatives of political parties from entering the rooms where the results were being tabulated. Signs of possible rigging voters should watch out for • The absence of a party’s polling agent from the polling station. This could mean that a rival political party or another power has control of the station. • Camera/gaps on secrecy screen at the booth: means the ballot is not secret. • CNICs not being duly checked by the ECP-appointed polling officer. If voters' identity is not being verified, it could be that it is being done so that one person can vote more than once. • Polling officer not announcing loudly the name of the voter so agents can cut them off their list. This is again related to verification of voters. • No stamp on vote and/or counter file: the votes cast will later not be considered valid. How can I report rigging? • File a complaint with the political party. • Approach monitoring teams of the ECP. ECP complaint numbers: (051) 9210812-6 — Fax: (051) 9210809-11 • Inform the presiding officer. • Report malpractice/discrepancies on social media. Make videos wherever allowed. • Report to independent national and international election observers. Pre-rigged elections? Some political parties, especially the PML-N, have already begun crying foul, with their candidates being threatened, arrested by NAB and returning party tickets at the last moment. If these allegations are true, these are all signs of pre-poll rigging. However, substantive evidence to this effect has yet to be collected. It remains to be seen whether the kind of coercion being anticipated by Nawaz and his party (denying people the right to vote; manipulating the count) or the kind of rigging Imran accused PML-N of last time (RO elections) still take place. Fafen's Bari feels that rigging on the polling day at least will be tougher this time around as provisions of the Elections Act ensure increased participation of political party representatives in the counting process, making it more transparent than it was in the past. Still, the recently held Senate elections have provided a blueprint for post-election rigging that should concern voters and give sleepless nights to now out-of-favour political parties: what if their mandates are stolen? Design by Mushba Said Information compiled from websites of ECP and Fafen more...
Jibran Nasir says 'extremist elements' trying to disrupt his political campaign
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 21:28:19 +0500
Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir, who is contesting general election as an independent candidate from PS-111 and NA-247 in Karachi, held a press conference on Wednesday to address what he termed the "incidents of violence" against his supporters and campaign volunteers. The presser, that was broadcast live on Facebook, was held a day after a handful of men reportedly interrupted a corner meeting held by Nasir in Delhi Colony where they told him to explain to them his religious views and accused him of blasphemy. Addressing media representatives outside the Karachi Press Club, Nasir claimed that some "extremist elements" wanted to hijack his campaign by inciting hatred among people "because they are scared of a candidate who wanted to highlight the actual problems and issues being faced by the public". Nasir vowed that he will continue to focus on his manifesto that is based on development issues and will not back off from his stance as that would be his real defeat. "I am being accused of blasphemy without any proof," he said. "The volunteers working for my campaign are being threatened." Despite the intimidation, Nasir said his team had never retaliated or tried to "take the law into their own hands". The activist-turned-politician claimed that extremist elements were spreading propaganda against him on religious grounds because there were no corruption cases that could be used to go after him. "They (miscreants) appear at every corner meeting and ask me about my religious beliefs and when I tell them, they claim that I'm lying," he said. "They demand that I curse a community that has already been declared non-Muslim by the Constitution." "The community, known as the Ahmedis, is not even allowed to protest when one of them is targeted. What religion teaches us to oppress those who are already being oppressed?" he asked, adding that Jinnah had created Pakistan in order to protect the subcontinent's Muslims, who were an oppressed minority in pre-Partition India. Jinnah's vision, Nasir said, was to create a state where minorities were protected and safe. "Am I wrong to follow in the footsteps of Jinnah?" he questioned. Nasir repeated that some people were trying to incite hatred and recalled how similar propaganda resulted in the tragic murder of Mashal Khan at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan last year. Khan was killed by a mob that accused him of committing blasphemy and the accusations against him later turned out to be false. He urged political parties to discourage hateful behaviour as that would discourage youth from entering politics. Nasir told reporters that he had written a letter to the authorities, asking them to arrest the men who tried to inflame the situation during his corner meetings. The men could be identified from the videos shared on Nasir's Facebook page. "We didn't ask the authorities to provide us security and turn us into VIPs because that is not the solution," he said, adding that if no action was taken against the men, they will continue to incite hatred. more...
PM asked to ensure free, fair elections
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 06:30:10 +0500
ISLAMABAD: Chairman National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan has urged the Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk to activate all state machinery to ensure free and fair elections. “Elections are an essential feature of democracy. A free and fair election provides confidence to its citizens that their right of opinion is safe and reliable in terms of confidentiality. ‘Fair’ means that all registered political parties have an equal right to contest the elections, campaign for voter support and hold meetings and rallies,” he said, according to a statement issued on Wednesday. “A country cannot be truly democratic until its citizens have the opportunity to choose their representatives through elections that are free and fair. Essential development efforts cannot succeed without a legitimate and democratically elected government that is responsive and accountable to its citizens,” said Justice Chowhan. NCHR asks caretakers to provide a level playing field to all parties He further said the present state of affair needed improvement in this direction and unfair elections would be against human rights and democratic norms. “There are rumours that all the players do not enjoy equal playgrounds. This will be dangerous for democracy and ultimately for country,” the NCHR chairman said. He said electoral laws must offer equal conditions and opportunities for citizens to have access to polling stations and to vote. They also must offer equal conditions and opportunities to all parties and candidates taking part in the elections. Democracy granted rights to citizens and equally imposed responsibilities in reciprocation to those rights, he said. “The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is requested to attend to complaints pertaining to rigging or undue influence by any political party. This will be in great interest of human rights and for democracy. The caretaker cabinet in Pakistan has one primary role that is to create conducive environment for free and fair elections in the country,” he said. Chairman NCHR urged Nasirul Mulk to activate all state machinery to play due role in the conduct of free and fair election, which was the duty of the interim setup. “The armed and security forces are at the disposal of ECP in pursuit for fair and free election and this should be visibly shown. This initiates another important issue regarding the impartial and non-political role of these forces to avoid any notion of irregularity and intimidation by any political party,” he said. Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018 more...
PTI asks ECP to address concerns of other parties
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 06:29:28 +0500
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to remove concerns being voiced by some political parties and observers about the transparency of the elections. “Holding free and fair elections is the constitutional responsibility of the ECP. The ECP is responsible to analyse the concerns voiced by some journalistic and political circles regarding transparency of the upcoming polls,” PTI’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhry said in a statement, apparently issued in response to allegations by certain political parties, particularly the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, that the parties were not being provided level playing field for the polls. Mr Chaudhry asked the ECP to brief the nation over the veracity of these allegations and concerns. He said some political parties, including the PML-N, and “self-styled” champions of democracy were trying to hide behind the lame narrative of rigging after anticipating their defeat in the polls. “For the first time in the country’s history, the PML-N is in the field without its own umpires,” he claimed, adding that “the ECP must explain whether it’s an attempt to make general elections controversial”. Mr Chaudhry, who is himself contesting the election on a National Assembly seat from Jhelum, said that the ECP was bound by the Constitution to address legitimate concerns of all stakeholders. However, he said, it was also the ECP’s duty to hold to account those who were trying to fan anarchic trends in the garb of elections. “The ECP should take notice of the rapidly evolving political situation of the country and brief the nation about the actuality of the concerns raised,” he said. Last week, Mr Chaudhry had refuted allegations of the PPP and the PML-N that the PTI was being supported by the establishment and was getting special treatment and claimed that the July 25 elections would be the fairest in the country’s history. Meanwhile, PML-Q leaders Ajmal Wazir and Fiza Junejo, the daughter of former prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo, announced on Wednes­day their decision to join the PTI. Both leaders met PTI chairman Imran Khan and expressed their trust in the PTI leadership and the party’s manifesto. Mr Khan welcomed the two leaders into the party. The PTI chairman through a special video message asked the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to participate in the upcoming polls with full commitment and resolve. “Be ready for the decisive fight. The 25th July will define the country’s fate. Come and vote for PTI if you want a prosperous Pakistan,” Mr Khan said in the message released by the party. “This is a historic election and your active participation will ensure a strong PTI government,” Mr Khan said. “We have to reform our basic structures and for this we need a powerful government,” he said, adding that “a powerful government is only possible if people come out and vote”. Expressing his grief over recent terror incidents, he stated that Haroon Bilour’s death and Mastung incident were extremely heartbreaking. “Unfortunately, I was unable to go to offer condolence to Haroon Bilour’s family and had to cancel many jalsas, but I want you to understand that this election is very important for you and for the future of your generations,” he said. Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018 more...
Punjab interim CM promises best possible security on election day
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 10:34:24 +0500
Bilawal questions 'non-level playing field' for parties, 'favouritism' shown to Imran Khan
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 14:51:00 +0500
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday lambasted the "favouritism" being shown towards the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, alleging that in the run-up to the elections there is a movement underway to form "a puppet alliance" and a new Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, giving Khan and his party a leg up in the polls. "If Imran Khan is so popular, if his politics is on a high [as is being presented] and people are with him, why is there a need for favouritism towards him? Why is there a need to give a non-level playing field to other political parties?" Bilawal asked, speaking to reporters in Lala Musa, where he is campaigning for the upcoming elections. "Why is Imran Khan afraid of free and fair elections?" he wondered. "It is because he knows that, be it the GDA [Grand Democratic Alliance] or the PTI or whoever else, they cannot compete on a level playing field." "Khan sahab is under the false impression that he can become the prime minister through conspiracies; he will fail in this conspiracy," the PPP chief claimed. "You might gain from the politics of hate and abuse in the short term, but in the long term, a lot of damage will be done to the nation and its youth," Bilawal cautioned, in response to a question regarding the controversial language used by PTI leaders. The PPP chief claimed that it was not just the PPP and PML-N who held reservations over the fairness of the election, but also the Awami National Party, political leaders in Balochistan, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and international media. He repeated his demand for "a more extensive and comprehensive Charter of Democracy which includes a multitude of political parties" as democracy is facing new challenges today. Read more: Bilawal calls for new charter of democracy among all parties A 36-point CoD was signed between exiled former prime ministers and arch-rivals of the past, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, in London in May 2006 during the military regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf. Through the document, the two parties had admitted their past mistakes of dislodging each other’s governments with the support of the establishment and vowed to respect each other’s mandate in future. They had also agreed on a number of constitutional reforms and steps to improve functioning of various institutions, including the military, judiciary and National Accountability Bureau (NAB). But soon after the formation of the PPP government in 2008 following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the two parties had started accusing each other of violating the CoD. They had agreed to abolish NAB but failed to do so during their respective tenures. Both sides have accused each other of violating the CoD. Bilawal on Tuesday called for a broad-based consensus among all parties on the "principles within the CoD, 18th Amendment and democracy as whole to agree that they would not compromise on the basic constitutional rights, freedom of press, freedom of political association and freedom of speech". more...
Sami welcomes US talks offer to Afghan Taliban
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 06:30:18 +0500
PESHAWAR: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islami-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq on Wednesday welcomed a US offer of direct talks with the Afghan Taliban. In a statement issued here, the JUI-S chief termed the US peace overture as pragmatic. He said talks were the only way to restore peace in the country and seek an honourable exit for Washington from there as well. He said the US should not hesitate to acknowledge the fact that the Taliban were the most formidable political and military reality of the country. He said the world would also welcome resumption of talks between the US and Taliban. However, he warned that forces inimical to the peace and vested interests won’t let peace overtures to succeed as their survival rested on the continuing bloodshed in the country. Mr Sami also demanded removal of important Taliban leaders’ names from the most wanted list. Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018 more...
Pakistan backs UN response to Indian allegations against Kashmir report
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 13:53:48 +0500
Pakistan on Wednesday supported the United Nations' (UN) dismissal of Indian allegations against its report on the poor human rights situation in Kashmir. The first-ever UN report on alleged rights violations committed by both India and Pakistan in Kashmir released last month focuses mainly on India-held Kashmir (IHK), and accuses Indian troops of being responsible for an estimated 145 unlawful killings, far surpassing the 20 people estimated to have been killed by militant groups during that period. It also speaks of "a range of human rights abuses" in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), but notes they "are of a different calibre or magnitude and of a more structural nature". When the report first came out, India termed it a biased account. According to the Times of India (TOI), the Indian Ministry of External Affairs rejected the report, describing it as "fallacious, tendentious and motivated", and questioned the intent in releasing such a report. It was also said to have violated India's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The report came up once again at a United Nations Security council session on Children and Armed Conflict on Tuesday, when Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi made a reference to it during the session, NDTV reported. Explore: The UN Kashmir report is an opportunity for Pakistan to take the higher moral ground over India According to NDTV, India's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Tanmaya Lal hit back at Lodhi during the session, reiterating the Indian Foreign Ministry's stance. He said the "so called" report reflects the "clear bias of an official who was acting without any mandate whatsoever and relied on unverified sources of information." UN dismisses Indian allegations UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a press release issued on Tuesday responded to India's allegations against the report, saying that it had been developed through remote monitoring, after Indian and Pakistani authorities failed to grant the UN team unconditional access to the region. "'Nefarious conspiracy', 'Pakistan-authored report', 'fallacious', 'mala fide' – these are some of the accusations levelled by numerous Indian media outlets against the UN Human Rights Office for our publication last month," the UN said. "Since the report was published, we have been deeply disappointed by the reaction of the Indian authorities, who dismissed the report as 'fallacious, tendentious and motivated' without examining it and responding to the very serious concerns about the human rights situation" in IHK and AJK. According to the UN press release, the report contains 388 footnotes that list the sources used in its compilation. "These include official sources such as the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha – India’s parliament – as well as the Supreme Court of India, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, the Union Ministry of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff and even a former vice president," the UN said, adding that the accusations made by India regarding the use of "unverified information" in the compiling of the report are "puzzling". "We are disturbed by the sustained attempts to distract and divert the focus away from the human rights violations on both sides of the Line of Control," it added. Supporting the UN’s stance, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal reiterated the UN's stance against Indian allegations, adding that: "India failed to address the very serious concerns raised by OHCHR #Kashmir about the grave human rights situation in IOK." He added that Pakistan welcomes the establishment of by a UN-proposed Commission of Inquiry ─ the highest level of probe under the UN system ─ "for international investigation into human rights violations" in both AJK and IHK. India has, however, rejected it and claims that the high commissioner lacks the mandate to commission such a report. Read the complete report here. more...
Nawaz Sharif provided a cook, lawn to walk in at Adiala jail: officials
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 21:06:00 +0500
Punjab Information Minister Ahmed Waqas Riaz on Wednesday said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is being provided all the facilities that he is entitled to while serving his 10-year sentence in Adiala jail, Rawalpindi. The ousted prime minister was shifted to the jail on July 13 and was assigned the 'Better Class' category of the prison the next day, July 14, Riaz told a press conference. He said Maryam Nawaz, too, is being provided adequate facilities in the women's jail. The caretaker government's clarification came in apparent response to a letter written to the government by PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif two days ago seeking better facilities for Nawaz. Also read: Senator, lawyers not allowed to meet Nawaz In his letter to Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk and Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Hasan Askari Rizvi, Shahbaz had drawn their attention to what he called the "abysmal conditions" in which Nawaz was being kept in Adiala jail. “During my visit and meeting along with other family members I found Nawaz Sharif in a pathetic prison environment which is highly detrimental to his health and well-being. He was not even given newspaper to read, his bed was a mattress on the floor and washroom was not clean and there was no air conditioner in the room. No attendant was there and the medical check-up facility was also not up to the mark,” the former Punjab chief minister had written. However, a handout released by deputy inspector general (DIG) Prisons Malik Mubashir today appeared to contradict the situation. According to the statement, Nawaz was provided Better Class facilities by the Punjab government on July 14 after the former premier submitted an application to this effect and due to his entitlement as a former member of the National Assembly. Being a Better Class prisoner, Nawaz has been provided with the following facilities: The option to obtain his personal clothes, bed, mattress, shoes, table, chair, a 21-inch television, radio, toiletries, newspapers and other similar items at his own expense He has been jailed in a separate cell in a Better Class portion of the jail In his room, he has been issued a steel bed, table, chair, newspapers, sheets for his personal bed, personal clothes, one ceiling fan, two bracket fans and toiletries. He has also been allowed to keep a 21-inch TV. He has been provided adequate space to take a walk and he "regularly goes for a stroll in the lawn attached to his cell". The jail's medical staff and Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC) consultants regularly conduct his medical check-up and his health is "satisfactory" A specialised cook has been providing the diet recommended for him by an RIC nutritionist The recommended diet that he is provided includes fruits, salad, dates and qeema (minced meat) His family members and friends can meet him on Thursdays, if he so desires, while his lawyers can meet him on any one day of the week According to the DIG prisons, Nawaz's family members, lawyers and family doctor met him on July 14, while he has also met his daughter Maryam and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar within the jail. Minister Riaz meanwhile emphasised that nobody could run a political campaign from the jail and those violating the prison rules will be proceeded against strictly. more...
Army's top command should rein in spy agencies: Islamabad High Court judge
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 19:14:45 +0500
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Wednesday criticised the alleged interference of the country's intelligence agencies in the affairs of the judiciary, media and the executive, warning that such an intrusion may eventually lead to a "big loss". Justice Siddiqui, who is the senior puisne judge of the IHC, made the observations while wrapping up a case concerning two missing brothers who were allegedly disappeared by a spy agency. The judge is currently facing a trial in a reference on misconduct moved in the Supreme Judicial Council on the complaint by a retired employee of the Capital Development Authority for alleged refurbishment of official residence beyond entitlement. Justice Siddiqui also made headlines last year when he criticised the armed forces for their role as the "mediator" in the agreement that led to an end of the sit-in by religious groups at Islamabad's Faizabad Interchange in November. "Who is the army to adopt a mediator's role?" the judge had questioned at the time. "Where does the law assign this role to a major general?" In the order sheet issued after today's hearing, Justice Siddiqui not only censured Islamabad police for their failure to protect citizens from enforced disappearances, but also criticised intelligence agencies, especially Inter-Services Intelligence, for allegedly exceeding their sanctioned mandate. The judge observed that “police is in league with the mighty agencies, who have disrupted the civic fiber of the country by establishing [a] state over the State of Pakistan”, and warned that this is leading to what he termed a “disastrous situation”. “I must observe that persons [at] the helm of affairs of all the institutions need to protect [their] hard-earned independence and take remedial steps to stop the invasion by [the] personnel of [a] particular institution and intelligence agencies,” the court order noted. Read the complete IHC order Accusing the spy agencies of interfering in the affairs of the third pillar of the state, Justice Siddiqui wrote: “Everyone knows [...] how proceedings are manipulated, from where strings are pulled and when power [is] wielded and maneuver[ed] to achieve the desired results.” “It is [a] matter of great concern that even benches are constituted and cases are marked to different benches on the direction of such elements,” he added. Justice Siddiqui's remarks came after he, despite being a senior puisne judge, was not included in a division bench formed to hear appeals filed by ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and retired Captain Mohammad Safdar against their conviction in the Avenfield properties reference. Instead, the division bench was formed comprising two junior judges. The bench has since taken up the appeals and adjourned proceedings till after the July 25 general elections. The order sheet today read, “It is time to save the institution of the judiciary from all kind of influences, otherwise we may not be able to answer [to] Allah Almighty.” “To remain like a silent spectator is against the oath made by every judge, provided by the Constitution. In case of our failure, the Pakistani nation and history will not remember the judges with good names [sic],” it added. Justice Siddiqui directed court officials to forward a copy of the order to the defence and interior secretaries as well as to the chief of army staff and the ISI director general. Earlier, Islamabad police had produced Rabnawaz, a man who was allegedly picked up by unknown persons, before Justice Siddiqui. The abductee had told the court that “he went to Vehari on his own.” However, his brother, Iftikhar Raja, had stated that Rabnawaz was perjuring himself and that he had in fact been abducted by spy agencies and subjected to physical and mental torture. Raja said it was in his knowledge that his brother had been harassed and threatened with dire consequences in order to prevent him from recording any statement contrary to what has been dictated by his abductors. In the order sheet, Justice Siddiqui noted that “it is expected from the top echelon of [the] army that by appreciating the delicacy, sensitivity and alarming [nature of the] situation, some remedial steps to stop their agencies from interfering into the affairs of other departments and to refrain [them] from assuming the role not assigned by [the] law shall be taken." If the measures are not taken, the judge concluded, "these practices shall ruffle the people of Pakistan, which by no stretch of imagination is good for the prestigious institution of the Pakistan Army as well as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan." more...
MQM-L targeting ex-party men, opponents in Karachi: Rangers
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 17:49:18 +0500
The Pakistan Rangers Sindh on Wednesday claimed that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London (MQM-L) has set up teams across Karachi to target political leaders who have quit the group to join other political parties, as well as its opponents. The Rangers in a press release announced the arrest of two MQM-L workers allegedly tasked with sabotaging the election process by targeting candidates and local politicians and disrupting the law and order situation in Karachi. The press release claimed that the suspects, Muhammad Bilal Lodhi and Muhammad Irshad, were associated with MQM-L's South Africa network. The two were arrested from Orangi Town with the help of police. The Rangers said that the arrested suspects confessed to their involvement in planning terrorist activities in the city ahead of the elections. They also admitted to planning attacks on PS-128 candidates Mohsin Javed (PML-N) and Arif Hussain Qureshi (PPP), as well as Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) office bearers Moin and Azhar, the press release added. Weapons were also recovered from the suspects. They have now been handed over to the police for legal proceedings, the Rangers said. The Altaf Hussain-led MQM ran into trouble in August 2016 when a controversial speech by its leader resulted in many of its key office-bearers distancing themselves from Hussain. The party had broken into two major groups — MQM-Pakistan and the MQM-L. Athough the MQM-P is registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and is contesting under the party's traditional symbol 'kite', MQM-L has announced a boycott of the upcoming polls. more...

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