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The Times of India
61-yr-old Telangana man shot dead by teen outside apartment in US
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 22:18:03 GMT
Sunil Edla (61) was fatally shot by the minor boy outside his residence in Ventnor City in New Jersey at around 8 p.m. on November 15 (local time). Sunil, hailing from Medak district of Telangana, was working as night auditor in hospitality industry in Atlantic City. more...
Superbugs kill more in India than globally
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:01:21 GMT
According to the study, conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and The Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) among others, the overall morality rate due to drug resistant bacteria in India was 13% in 2015. more...
Election With Times: Why Chhattisgarh matters
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 03:54:51 GMT
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‘Even before Test debut, Viru said he’d hit 300’
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:30:00 GMT
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India 'taking no prisoners' in Australia: Shastri
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 06:16:47 GMT
Despite Australia's form nosediving since the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March resulted in bans for Steve Smith and David Warner, Ravi Shastri doesn't believe they have lost their aura. more...
Haryana CM sparks row with rape remark
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 05:05:10 GMT
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Pvt hospitals treat 68% of Modicare beneficiaries
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:20:29 GMT
Under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana — the secondary and tertiary care arm of the government-funded health insurance scheme — 2,32,592 beneficiaries received hospitalisation under in less than two months of its rollout on Sept 23, according to data compiled by the National Health Agency (NHA). more...
Deepika and Ranveer arrived in Mumbai
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:14:37 GMT
Finally, fans got to see a few glimpses of the newly married couple, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh as they arrived in Mumbai. The couple left for Mumbai from the Milan airport few hours before and were expected to reach Mumbai by 8:00 am IST. more...
GST faces CAG test, report likely soon
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 05:52:01 GMT
The audit aspect would include registration, refund, input tax credit, transition credit mechanism, ease of payment of taxes and the impact on the economic activity. The CAG team has already visited the GST Commissionerates in major states to get clarity on the functioning of the new indirect tax system and its efficiency and effectiveness. more...
Sabarimala row: BJP leader sent to 14-day custody
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 03:50:48 GMT
JP leader K Surendran who was taken into custody at Nilackal has been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. more...
15 phones that would cost you up to Rs 9 crore
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:07:45 GMT
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Brain-dead soldier gives new life to colleague
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 03:27:30 GMT
The relatives of a 29-year-old lance naik from Latur, who was declared brain-dead while serving at Siachen Glacier, donated his vital organs to give a new lease of life to a fellow soldier in need of a heart transplant. The recipient, also a lance naik, is under observation. more...
Don't throttle credit flow, Jaitley tells RBI
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 21:05:47 GMT
Delivering the keynote address at the Economic Times Awards, he came out in support of the RBI's asset quality review, initiated by former governor Raghuram Rajan. "The asset quality review showed that bad loans were hidden under the carpet. It showed that disclosures were not transparent or honourable," Jaitley said. more...
APEC summit: Police called on Chinese delegates
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 05:28:05 GMT
The Chinese delegates "tried to barge in" to the office of Papua New Guinea's foreign minister on Saturday, in an eleventh-hour bid to influence a summit draft communique, but were denied entry. "It's not appropriate for the minister to negotiate solo with the Chinese. The Chinese negotiating officials know this," the minister said. more...
Bag of veggies for just Rs 10 at this Andhra market
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 03:31:35 GMT
Rajanna Rythu bazaar, launched by local legislator Alla Ramakrishna Reddy of the YSR Congress Party has become a big success. Locals are visiting this market in hordes to pick up vegetable bags available at a highly subsidised rate. A bag full of vegetables is available at just Rs 10 at the Rajanna Rythu bazaar. more...
Modi in Male, seeks to counter China influence
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:34:02 GMT
Modi's day-long visit was intended to cement the opportunity provided by the victory of opposition candidate Solih after Yameen had imposed emergency, jailed judges and political opponents while cosying up to Chinese interests in return for Beijing's support to his unpopular regime. more...
Blog: Let’s not dance to tune of Hindu martial music
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 02:44:40 GMT
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Beware of SIM swap, WhatsApp and more
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:12:58 GMT
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The Dawn News - Home
$1bn Saudi assistance to reach SBP tomorrow, says Umar
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 06:58:48 +0500
ISLAMABAD: Amid hopes of reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a basic economic policy framework programme, Pakistan is likely to receive the first tranche of $1 billion under the balance of payments support from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within the next couple of days, boosting the country’s plummeting foreign currency reserves. The money would hopefully reach the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) by Monday, Finance Minister Asad Umar told Dawn in an exclusive talk. He said, “My Saudi Arabian counterpart has given me an assurance in this regard.” The second and third tranche will be received over the next two months. Finance minister optimistic about reaching basic agreement with IMF by 20th Last month Saudi Arabia had agreed to provide a $6bn package to Pakistan to support its ailing economy. The package included $3bn balance of payments support and another $3bn in deferred payments on oil import. Mr Umar said the facility of deferred payment on oil import would mature by next month. However, the finance minister, who sounded very confident that an immediate balance of payments crisis had been overcome with the help of bilateral assistance from Saudi Arabia and China, did not give any figure. “This will be an unprecedented help from China,” the minister said, adding that he had committed not to disclose details before it was finalised. “I will not divulge the details at this moment,” he reiterated. He claimed that the only reason of going to the IMF was to accelerate the pace of economic growth and not to seek loan to fill any gap. He explained that he was not negotiating terms of a loan but of a ‘broader economic reforms package’. The available IMF funding quota for Pakistan is approximately $6-6.5 billion. The government had taken several steps including reduction in expenditures to bring drastic cut in the current account deficit. “We will reduce the current account deficit to $12bn by the end of June 2019, almost $7bn reduction,” the minister declared, explaining that this was the government target for the first year. He said the IMF package would play a small part in filling the balance of payments gap directly though it would pave the way for getting loans from multilateral donors and commercial creditors. Pakistan was negotiating the basic economic policy framework agreement with the IMF, he said. “This will be our basic achievement which we are hoping to reach by Nov 20,” he said, adding that details could be negotiated later. He said there was no difference of opinion about putting economy on the right course with the IMF support. The only issues that could come up during the talks were related to ‘pace of adjustments’ and ‘pace of burden’. “Our direction is very clear that we will place burden only on higher income individuals,” he said. It was common understanding that IMF would ask for more revenue to reduce fiscal deficit, reducing line losses in gas and power sector and increase it further, he said. But it would be the government decision whether to pass on the burden, he added. “I will not hide behind IMF if I believe that certain measures are required to fix economic issues,” he said, claiming that both sides had already reached an agreement on basic facts and also exchanged the frameworks. On Monday, the minister said that he would be in a better position to see whether there was a larger agreement or gaps still existed in the negotiations. He clarified that it would be the government decision how to reduce the fiscal deficit. Mr Umar admitted that increase in revenue was one of the major areas of discussion. He made it clear that the shape and quantum of total additional revenue would be decided by the government and not the IMF. About privatisation, he said Pakistan and IMF had no differences on structural reforms, as his government had identified seven companies for privatisation out of 50 to 60 state-owned enterprises placed on active privatisation list for many years. Even if LNG company was privatised, its cumulative impact would be more than the whole five years privatisation progamme of the previous government, he claimed. The placement of 50 to 60 companies on active privatisation plan was to make these entities redundant, he said, adding that the PTI government had already declared that strategic assets such as Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Railways and Pakistan International Airlines would not be privatised but would be restructured on professional lines. He added that the government had given a 45-day ultimatum to the PSM management to come up with a comprehensive plan with regard to running the mills at its full capacity. Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018 more...
Govt completing first 100 days without legislative work
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 06:59:03 +0500
ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) may have something to defend in terms of its 100-day performance, but it has completely failed to deliver when it comes to legislative work. The inordinate delay in the formation of the committees by Speaker Asad Qaiser has almost made parliament non-functional which is evident from the fact that so far the National Assembly during its four sessions since August 13 has not passed any legislation, except the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2018, known as a mini-budget. And the government has managed to pull off this “achievement” because under the Constitution, the finance bill, which is also called a “money bill”, is not required to be sent to any committee or to the Senate for approval. With no legislative work to do, almost all the previous sittings of the lower house of parliament witnessed debates and speeches on insignificant matters, with members continuing their corruption tirades against each other, causing uproar and even scuffles. On Nov 6, the legislators were allowed to move four private member’s bills in the assembly and the speaker referred them to the committees which don’t even exist. Salient features of the PTI agenda were expeditious merger of Fata with KP, bifurcation of Punjab province and reconciliation with estranged Baloch leaders The speaker, who has been struggling to run the house smoothly, is on a tightrope because of the ongoing tussle between the PTI and the opposition parties over the issue of chairmanship of the all-powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and he has stopped the process of formation of the committees due to the opposition’s threat to boycott all the committees if the ruling party does not offer the PAC chairmanship to Opposition Leader and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif as per “parliamentary traditions”. And after the categorical announcement by Prime Minister Imran Khan that the government would never allow Mr Sharif to become the PAC head, it seems unlikely that the speaker would be able to constitute the committee by Nov 26, when the present government will be completing its first 100 days in office. Leaders from both the sides admit that a deadlock over the issue of PAC chairmanship still persists with no party willing to budge from its stated position. Under the rules, the speaker is bound to constitute all the standing and functional committees of the house “within 30 days after the election of the Leader of the House (prime minister)”. Since PTI Chairman Imran Khan was elected prime minister on August 18, the speaker had time till September 17 for the formation of over three dozen house committees. Although there is no restriction on the government in the rules to give the chairmanship of the PAC to the opposition parties, it has been a parliamentary practice and tradition for the past 10 years that the office is given to an opposition member in order to ensure transparency in financial matters. According to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the federal cabinet in its meeting on November 15 decided that the prime minister would “unveil the 100-day achievements of the government before the nation on Nov 29”. Some three months before the July 25 general elections, Mr Khan had unveiled his party’s ambitious ‘agenda’ outlining the party’s commitments for starting work within the first 100 days of forming its government after the elections. The salient features of the agenda were expeditious merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, bifurcation of Punjab province and reconciliation with estranged Baloch leaders. The 100-day agenda, prepared by the Policy Unit of the PTI’s Election Management Cell headed by former chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shahzad Arbab, also contained a plan for introducing a development package for Karachi and a programme for alleviation of poverty, besides a number of steps for the improvement of the economy. Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018 more...
JUI-S says won’t allow exhumation of Sami’s body
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 07:00:44 +0500
NOWSHERA: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) on Saturday said it would not allow exhumation of the body of Maulana Samiul Haq for a postmortem as police had got permission from a sessions judge of Rawalpindi in this regard. “We have not yet received any official or court order regarding exhumation of the body of Shaheed Maulana Samiul Haq, but why will we allow the postmortem today which was refused yesterday (immediately after the incident),” said JUI-S provincial chief Maulana Yousaf Shah. He said that they had not received any notice regarding postmortem, adding it was the right of heirs of a family to allow police to conduct it or not. He said that in this connection the decision of Shariat Court was also available that the government could not force a family for the postmortem. The JUI-S leader said that the history showed that the government had never arrested any culprit on the basis of postmortems. He said that the government had failed to arrest the killers so far and now was trying to hide its failure on the pretext of postmortem. Mr Shah said that let the government arrest the killers of SP Tahir Dawar as his postmortem had been done by both the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He, however, said that a final decision would be taken after receiving proper notice. Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018 more...
NAB law may be amended to allow court to grant bail: SC
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 06:58:48 +0500
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has suggested that lawmakers may consider amending the National Accountability Ordina­nce (NAO) 1999 to enable an accused person to apply for bail to an accountability court. “In the changed scenario, the legislature may, if so advised, consider amending the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 appropriately so as to enable an accused person to apply for his bail before the relevant accountability court in the first instance,” wrote Justice Asif Saeed Khosa in a judgement on the plea of Tallat Ishaq, who had sought leave to appeal against the Jan 31 ruling of the Balochistan High Court in which his post-arrest bail was refused in a corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against him and others under Section 18(g) read with Section 24(b) of the NAO. Justice Khosa also recommended revising the unrealistic time frame for conclusion of a trial as specified in Section 16(a) of the NAO. The time frame under the NAB law is 30 days. In a judgement, Justice Khosa also recommends revising unrealistic time frame for conclusion of trial The intention behind introduction of Section 9(b) of the NAO, which ousted the jurisdiction of the superior courts regarding grant of bail in a case under NAO, already stood neutralised due to opening of the door for bail through exercise of constitutional jurisdiction of a high court, Justice Khosa observed. Resultantly, the entire burden was being shouldered by the high courts, which was an unnecessary drain on their precious time, he explained, adding that the high courts and the Supreme Court had always felt difficulty in adjusting the requirements of “without lawful authority” and “of no legal effect” relevant to a writ of certiorari (Article 199(1)(a)(ii) of the Constitution) with the requirements of bail provided in Section 497 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Ishaq was facing the allegation that in his capacity as superintendent in the office of Director Development, Quetta Division, he had acquired assets beyond known sources of income in his own name and in the names of his wife and others. According to the prosecution, he had acquired 17 immovable properties worth Rs93 million and six vehicles. The same question was highlighted by senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed while defending former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz before the apex court in the appeal moved by NAB against the Sept 19 decision of the Islamabad High Court to suspend the jail term awarded to the Sharifs in the Avenfield apartments reference. In this case the Supreme Court has already constituted a larger bench to consider if constitutional jurisdiction to grant bail should be invoked when there is a statutory ouster of courts to grant bail pending appeal against special courts, like the accountability court, particularly in cases involving grant of bail by suspending the sentence and release on bail during pendency of the appeal. The larger bench will also ponder over the jurisdiction of the superior courts regarding ouster of Section 426 of the CrPC for suspension of sentences in NAB cases. It will also ascertain the principles regulating bail under sections 497 and 498 of the CrPC while considering the suspension of sentences. In his verdict, Justice Khosa observed that the stand taken by Ishaq before the apex court regarding properties in question were ostensibly mutually contradictory. “The case against Ishaq is quite distinguishable from the case against his co-accused who had been admitted to bail by the high court since Ishaq is the principal accused in this case whereas the co-accused are alleged to be Benamidars only,” Justice Khosa observed, adding that no reason was cited to show why delay occurred in the conclusion of his trial and who was responsible for it. Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018 more...
Law enforcers see sub-nationalist groups behind Quaidabad blast
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 06:59:34 +0500
KARACHI: Police have launched investigations into the Quaidabad bomb blast, which killed two teenage boys and wounded 12 other persons on Friday night, and law enforcers said that their assessment suggested involvement of sub-nationalist groups in the deadly incident, it emerged on Saturday. Two teenagers were killed and 12 other persons, mostly vendors, sustained injuries when a bomb planted under a pushcart went off on Friday night near the Quaidabad flyover. The dead and wounded were shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. CM terms blast a conspiracy to sabotage peace Ten of the injured persons were discharged after first aid, said Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the JPMC. Two seriously injured persons were admitted for treatment. One of them had sustained injuries in the head, but his condition was improving. Another injured person’s leg was amputated to save his life. He was badly injured in the blast and was shifted to the intensive care unit of the hospital, added Dr Jamali. The funeral of one of the dead teenagers, Ali Hasan, was held in the city on Saturday, which was attended by politicians and officials. He was stated to be the only brother of seven sisters. Probe Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department has taken over investigations from the local police and launched their own probe into it. Sources familiar with the preliminary investigations of the case told Dawn that the modus operandi and type of explosive material indicated the involvement of sub-nationalist groups, who may be belonging to Sindh or Balochistan. Regarding a possible motive for the blast, a security official on condition of anonymity told Dawn that it had been observed that the Sindhi or Baloch sub-nationalist groups tended to carry out terror acts “to make their presence felt” whenever an important day or event was expected to arrive. The sources said that it was a remote-controlled device, weighing around two kilograms. The law enforcers found another improvised explosive device at the crime scene, which was defused by the police’s Bomb Disposal Squad officials. It also weighed around two kilograms and was also a remote-controlled device. The security official said they suspected that another bomb was planted to cause maximum damage to human life when law enforcers were supposed to arrive there to inspect the place, but it was defused on time by the bomb experts. ‘A conspiracy to sabotage peace’ Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday visited the JPMC and inquired about the health of the persons injured in the Quaidabad blast. He directed the hospital administration to provide proper health facilities to the wounded. Talking to the media on the occasion, Mr Shah said such incidents were a conspiracy to disturb the peace. He said he had sought an immediate report from Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam. Answering a question about lack of proper forensic laboratory in Sindh, Mr Shah said he hoped that such a forensic lab would be established here soon. He said the Sindh government was assessing why Punjab’s forensic lab leaked information to the media about findings of the samples collected from the home of two minor brothers who died from eating “poisonous food” in the city last week. He said at this stage, it would be premature to comment on the death of two minor brothers till a complete report is received. The CM expressed his concern about the prime minister’s reported statement of taking U-turns and apprehended that it might adversely affect foreign investment in the country. Reward Meanwhile, IGP Imam praised the 12 BDS and CTD officials who defused another bomb near the Quaidabad flyover on Friday night and announced Rs50,000 for each official. While expressing his regrets over the loss of two lives and injuries to others, the police chief vowed that the culprits would be caught soon. Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018 more...
Nawaz, other relatives meet Shahbaz at NAB office
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 06:58:48 +0500
LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday met his younger brother and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif at the National Accountability Bureau’s Lahore office where he is in custody in connection with the Ashiyana-i-Iqbal housing project case. Nawaz, accompanied by his daughter Maryam Nawaz, Shahbaz’s wife Nusrat and son Hamza, held a two-hour meeting with the leader of opposition in the National Assembly. On Oct 5, NAB arrested Shahbaz in the case in which he is accused of cancelling the contract of the successful bidder, M/S Chaudhry Latif & Sons, instead allegedly obliging M/S Lahore Casa Develo­pers (JV) — a proxy group of M/S Paragon City (Pvt) Limited — and causing losses of millions to the exchequer. NAB has also arrested Shahbaz in the Ramazan Sugar Mills case. The former chief minister has been accused of ordering construction of a bridge to benefit the sugar mills and spending public money on the project in Chiniot. According to NAB, Shahbaz allegedly approved an amount of Rs200 million for the construction of the bridge. NAB has already written to the interior ministry for placing the names of Hamza Shahbaz and his younger brother Salman Shahbaz on the Exit Control List (ECL). They are facing a NAB inquiry in the Ramazan Sugar Mills case. Hamza is also facing an inquiry in the Saaf Pani Company case for presiding over some meetings of its board of directors and allegedly issuing orders regarding award of contracts. Salman is in London and has skipped the last three NAB hearings. Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018 more...
Pakistan witnessed negative wage growth in 2015-16: ILO
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 06:59:09 +0500
A home-based worker from Mithi displays arts and crafts materials that a cluster of women create and supply to dealers in various parts of the country.—Photo by Sumaira Jajja ISLAMABAD: The Inter­na­tional Labour Organisa­tion (ILO) has warned that Asia-Pacific still faces structural weaknesses in its labour markets despite two decades of economic growth. In its ‘Asia-Pacific Employ­ment’ and ‘Social Outlook 2018’, released on Friday, ILO pointed out that although the regional unemployment rate is projected to remain 4.1 per cent through 2020, the vulnerable employment rate is expect to creep up towards 49pc, reversing a downward trend of at least two decades. The region’s future prospects will require that economic growth go hand in hand with a further expansion of decent work, it says. While real wage growth surpassed labour productivity growth between 2010 and 2016 in almost all countries, the increase in wages of employees looked especially strong in China, Thailand and Vietnam. However, negative wage growth was witnessed in Pakis­tan in 2015-16 at minus 4.7pc. In Pakistan’s education sector, 6.6pc of the total female employment in 2016 was well behind the 72.9pc share in agriculture and 12.7pc in manufacturing. Pakistan stands out with 15.3pc of women working from their homes, and 37pc working on the land (in agriculture) in 2017. Structural transformation has been strongly felt in the region, with employment moving from agriculture mainly into services and only to some extent into industry. Most of the loss in agriculture was taken up by the increase in employment in the services sector, where 740 million jobs have been gained since 2000. Manufacturing jobs dec­rea­sed slightly from the peak in the mid-2000s, with more job losses accruing to women than men. The report says while the Asia-Pacific region has made rapid progress to substantially reduce extreme poverty, one fourth of all workers in the region — 446m workers — still lived in moderate or extreme poverty in 2017 and nearly half of the workforce — 930m people — were still making a living in vulnerable employment as own-account or unpaid contributing family workers. With 1.9bn workers — 1.2bn men and 700m women, the Asia-Pacific region represented 60pc of the global workforce in 2017. Asia and the Pacific has the most people working, relative to the working-age population. Employment-to-population ratio stands at 59.7pc, compared with 58.6pc at the global level. Large numbers of workers in the region, especially those in low-paid jobs, work more than 48 hours per week. The average hours worked in Southern Asia and Eastern Asia in 2017 were the world’s highest, at 46.4 and 46.3 hours per week, respectively. In Eastern Asia, almost one in five workers worked in excess of 60 hours per week. The regional unemployment rate at 4.1pc is the world’s lowest and well below the global rate of 5.5pc in 2017. But while the global unemployment rate has held steady since 2015, the rate in the Asia-Pacific region has increased slightly by 0.1 percentage point. In total there were 80.9m unemployed persons in Asia and the Pacific in 2018. At 10.4pc, unemployment rate among youth remained unchanged from 2015, while the global rate increased to 12.6pc. Thirty five per cent of the region’s unemployed were youth (aged 15—24), although youth made up only 20pc of the working-age population. In general terms, the labour market gains evident in the Asia-Pacific region in the past few years remain present but fragile. Decent work deficits persist in all countries in the region and continue to weigh heavily on development trajectories. Over the coming years, economic growth is expected to remain strong in the region, with growth rates of 5.6pc expected for 2018 and 2019, compared with 3.9pc at the global level. Yet, there are lingering fragilities in the foundations of growth in the region that have the potential to offset the positive forecasts. Recent threats of increased trade protectionism are already having an impact on investment in the manufacturing sector, which many workers in the region continue to rely on for their livelihoods and occasionally their first foray into paid employment. Demographic trends, and in particular the impact of ageing societies, are adding strain to the already-limited social protection systems and call into question the future labour productivity gains. Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018 more...
Model Town killings: SC issues notices to Nawaz, others on plea for fresh JIT
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 06:59:43 +0500
LAHORE: The Supreme Court has issued notices to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and 137 others nominated in a case lodged by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) regarding the 2014 Model Town incident. Bisma Amjad, an aggrieved woman of the incident, filed an application to the chief justice requesting to constitute a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the killings of innocent workers of the PAT/Idara Minhajul Quran. The other parliamentarians and bureaucrats nominated by the PAT include Punjab opposition leader Hamza Shahbaz, former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, ex-railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq, ex-defence minister Khwaja Asif, former information minister Pervez Rashid, former state minister Abid Sher Ali, former interior minister Nisar Ali Khan, then personal secretary to chief minister Syed Tauqir Shah, former home minister Azam Suleman and then Lahore Commissioner Rashid Mahmood Langrial. The [accused] police officers include ex-IGP Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera, former DIG Operations Lahore Rana Abdul Jabbar and then SP Security Salman Ali Khan. A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will hear the application on Nov 19. The court would decide a legal point whether a new JIT could be formed at this stage of the case. On Sept 26 last, a three-judge bench of the Lahore High Court with a majority decision by 2 to 1, had dismissed two criminal revision appeals challenging a trial court’s decision on a private complaint by the PAT to the extent of non-summoning of 12 suspects including PML-N’s leaders and bureaucrats. The majority decision said, “It may not be proper for this court (LHC) to enter into reasoning for non-summoning the respondents as accused at this point in time when no allegation is made against the respondents and proceeding against them on the basis of such complaint would be abuse of process of court.” It ruled that the matter could not be remanded to the trial court for further inquiry in specified manner as the judge of the ATC applied his mind while recording order of non-summoning respondents as accused, therefore, it could not be said that the reasoning given for non-summoning the respondents as accused by the trial judge was illegal and perverse. At least 14 persons were killed and over 100 injured during an ‘anti-encroachment’ operation outside the Model Town residence of PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri on June 17, 2014. Jawad Hamid of PAT had filed the private complaint before the trial court. Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018 more...
Regime forces seize last IS pocket in southern Syria
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 06:58:55 +0500
BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces on Saturday took back control of the militant Islamic State (IS) group’s last holdout in southern Syria after months of fighting, a war monitor said. In another IS pocket in eastern Syria, meanwhile, air strikes by the US-led coalition killed 43 people, mostly civilians, the monitor said. Regime forces retook Tulul al-Safa, between the provinces of Damascus and Sweida, “after IS fighters withdrew from it and headed east into the Badia desert”, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Regime forces have been fighting the militants in the area since a deadly July attack on the Druze minority in Sweida province. In recent weeks, air strikes on the Tulul al-Safa pocket had increased and hundreds of regime fighters were sent as reinforcements, the Syrian Observatory said. Air strikes by US-led coalition kill over 40 in another IS pocket The jihadists’ withdrawal was likely “under a deal with the regime forces” after weeks of encirclement and air raids, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. State news agency SANA reported the Syrian forces had made “a great advance in Tulul al-Safa” and said they were combing the area for any remaining militants. In the July 25 attack, IS killed more than 250 people, most of them civilians, in a wave of suicide bombings, shootings, and stabbings across Sweida province. The jihadists also kidnapped around 30 people — mostly women and children — during the deadliest assault on Syria’s Druze community in the seven-year civil war. Twenty-three of the hostages have since returned home, while the remainder appear to have died or been executed by the militants. Air strikes Seventeen children were among 36 IS family members killed in the village of Abu Husn in Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border, the Observatory said. Another seven bodies had not yet been identified as either civilians or IS fighters, it said. The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the militants from the pocket around Abu Husn. “It’s the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the IS pocket” in September, the Observatory chief said. The coalition has repeatedly said it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties. “The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions,” spokesman Sean Ryan said this week. IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled. But the jihadist group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries. In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor. The SDF in September announced an assault to oust the militants from the eastern pocket, which includes the town of Hajin and the village of Al-Shaafa. The alliance made slow advances until last month when tough militant resistance pushed the SDF out of the whole of the IS pocket. Following the setback, hundreds of Kurdish fighters were deployed to the area’s outskirts as reinforcements. But the SDF then put the offensive on hold to protest Turkish shelling of Kurdish militia positions in northern Syria. Turkey considers the Kurdish militia leading the SDF to be “terrorists”, while its Nato ally the United States has depended on them to fight IS in Syria. On Sunday, the SDF said it was resuming its offensive against IS after “intensive contacts” with the coalition and “strong diplomatic activity” to defuse the crisis. Since 2014, the coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher. Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests. Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018 more...
SC orders Anwar Majeed, Hussain Lawai to be transferred out of Karachi
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 14:56:37 +0500
The Supreme Court on Saturday ordered that Summit Bank Vice-Chairman Hussain Lawai and Omni Group officials Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed — three of several being probed over alleged laundering of billions of rupees through fake bank accounts — be transferred out of Karachi. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar directed that Lawai and Abdul Ghani be moved to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi and Anwar Majeed to Pims hospital in Islamabad. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the case requested the court to transfer the suspects out of the port city so they could interview them — a move that was opposed by Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed's counsel. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, while heading a two-member SC bench today, asked Anwar's counsel: "Why do you say this again and again that Anwar Majeed and others should not be transferred from Karachi to anywhere?" The top judge dismissed the counsel's objection, noting: "These are very influential people. They cannot be investigated while still in Sindh." The chief justice also directed the JIT to complete and furnish its report in 10 days. Anwar's counsel told the court that Omni Group has to pay Rs1.2 billion to Silkbank; Rs1.8bn to Summit Bank; Rs4.98bn to the National Bank of Pakistan and Rs4.6bn to Sindh Bank. The counsel said that the payments will be made in the form of "cash and properties". Justice Nisar warned the counsel that "legal action will be taken if the payments were not made by decided-upon dates". During a hearing in September, the CJP had warned against any external pressure being applied in the case. "Convey my message to the Sindh chief minister as well," he had said. "Any pressure in this case will not be tolerated." Fake bank accounts case In July, the FIA had arrested Lawai and banker Taha Raza, and booked them for allegedly facilitating the opening of the 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group. In August, Anwar — former president Asif Zardari's close aide — was also taken into custody. In October, a progress report compiled by the aforesaid JIT had revealed that transactions of Rs54 billion were made through 107 fake bank accounts. more...
New London property belonging to Sharif family to be referred to NAB: Shahzad Akbar
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 17:00:15 +0500
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Saturday said that the Assets Recovery Unit was referring the case of a new London property belonging to the Sharif family to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). While bringing attention to a property that he said "had been revealed by the media", Akbar — in a press conference alongside Adviser to PM Iftikhar Durrani — said that investigative journalists were his closest partners in the responsibility he had been given. He said that a media channel had broken the news of a property [Frederick Close] located in Central London which "had a current value of 2.2 or 2.3 million pounds". Akbar added that the rental income and ownership documents for this property from 2012 to 2016 had been available "but were put away in files". According to these documents, the flat in London was under the name of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the late wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The special assistant to PM said that as the premier and a member of the National Assembly (MNA), it was Nawaz Sharif's responsibility to declare the ownership of his dependents, including his wife's. He said that this declaration could have been made in two ways; on a wealth statement that every citizen is required to submit while declaring his/her spouse's assets — or as a member of the parliament in the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) forms. Akbar added that as an MNA, there is also an annual declaration submitted in the assembly. While holding up a document of the ECP forms and wealth statement, Akbar said that this property had not been shared anywhere and this made it a new case of assets beyond known income. He said that further investigation of assets beyond known income should be carried out by NAB while tax related liability has been given to the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR). While saying that the case will be pursued by both [NAB and FBR], Akbar added that they have also asked Britain for fresh ownership documents of the concerned property. Akbar said that according to the land registry, in August 2016 this property was transferred to Hassan Nawaz's name. The latest date for its sale is from March 2018, Akbar added. "We have asked Britain for all these documents and they might come in a week or two. We will put all of that in front of you, what the whole trail of this was — till when this property was under the Sharif family and when they sold it and for how much." "The question comes up again which has remained the question in all the cases: where did these properties come from, what was their source of income, and what is their trail of money. "When you don't declare something and get caught, the first question is where did it come from, you have to declare a source of income for it," he remarked. He also spoke about the alleged misuse of the Prime Minister's plane, saying three hundred forty million rupees were illegally spent on air travels. He said Sharif's daughter, Maryam Nawaz, used the Prime Minister's aircraft illegally while former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif spent Rs600 million on air travel. In July this year, an accountability court in its verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference had handed the ousted prime minister 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and his daughter Maryam was given 7 years for abetment after she was found "instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father". Sharif's son-in-law retired Captain Safdar was given 1 year jail time. NAB had filed the reference regarding the high-end properties in London, along with two others, on the Supreme Court's directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict last year which deseated Nawaz as the prime minister. PML-N's rebuttal Responding to Akbar's assertions, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb contended that if the government — which she said is reliant on "operating under lies and U-turns" — would examine the facts before levelling further accusations, "it would not need to make U-turns". Defending Shahbaz's use of helicopters, she said that the former Punjab chief minister had only ever resorted to helicopter use "to fulfil his responsibilities in service to the people" and that it was his "rightful claim and well within the ambit of law to do so". She said that the Civil Aviation Authority had declared the Punjab government aircraft unfit for use and despite his position, Shahbaz had refused to purchase a new helicopter worth Rs4 billion. The PML-N president "with disregard to his life" continued to use the faulty copter, which was later destoryed in a crash. Aurangzeb said the helicopter facility was provided by the federal government whenever needed and rent for its use was paid each time. She claimed that not even a penny was taken from the Punjab government for this purpose "for which no record is available in the logbooks". She said that the prime minister should answer for his own use of the helicopter instead of blaming others for its unlawful use adding that unlike the PM, Shahbaz had never taken a helicopter "for tours and recreation". more...
Police seek court's permission to exhume Maulana Samiul Haq's remains
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 01:09:17 +0500
The investigation team probing the murder of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-S leader Maulana Samiul Haq has approached Additional District and Sessions Judge, Nowshera, with a request that they be allowed to exhume the deceased leader's remains and conduct a post-mortem, police officials said. The request was filed in the court of ADSJ Hidayatullah Khan by Sub-Inspector Jameel of the homicide unit at Rawalpindi's airport police station. The application asserts that a post-mortem examination is necessary to investigate the murder and to fulfil the requirements laid down by the law for a murder investigation. An influential religious scholar and former senator, Maulana Samiul Haq was assassinated at his residence in Rawalpindi on November 2. He was buried in his hometown of Akora Khattak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Samples have already been taken from his house by the police, including hair of three lengths, a bed sheet with blood on it, three glasses, fingerprints of three separate individuals and a bloodstained kurta. In all, more than 25 different samples collected from the scene of the murder have been sent to the laboratory. Police experts from the IT department are working on retrieving the data of incoming and outgoing phone calls on the maulana's phone. Police have also been questioning people who had been in telephonic contact with Haq during the last month, or if they had been called by the JUI-S chief himself. A sessions judge in Rawalpindi had allowed the police to hand over the body of Maulana Samiul Haq to his family, which contended that “Sharia does not allow the post-mortem of a Muslim’s body”. Some senior police officers Dawn talked to said as per the law, an autopsy is carried out to know the cause of death in unnatural death (particularly murder) cases but its absence may weaken the case to give the benefit of doubt to the killer(s) in later stages. more...
PM Khan to meet UAE royalty during day-long visit tomorrow
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 17:48:21 +0500
Prime Minister Imran Khan will travel to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for a day-long visit during which he will meet the country's top leadership, the Foreign Office has announced. The premier will undertake the visit at the invitation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. "Matters of bilateral, regional and global interest will be discussed in the meeting between the prime minister and the crown prince," the FO statement said. Khan will be accompanied on the trip by the ministers for foreign affairs, finance, petroleum and power and the adviser to the prime minister on commerce. According to the FO, the prime minister will also hold a meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE. The premier's latest visit to the UAE comes on the heels of increased bilateral contacts aimed at forging closer economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries in areas of common interest. Khan had first visited the Emirates in September following his election as the prime minister — a trip during which he met the Abu Dhabi crown prince. The trip was followed by a visit to Pakistan by a UAE delegation comprising CEOs/senior officials of major companies including Mubadala Petroleum, ADIA (Sovereign Wealth Funds), Etisalat, DP World, Dubai Investment Authority, Emaar Properties, Aldahra Agriculture and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. The areas identified for cooperation during the discussions included agriculture, agricultural exports, fruit and vegetables, food processing industry, energy, housing, water etc., Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had revealed at the time. The UAE side had also expressed interest in the establishment of an oil refinery and a state-of-the-art energy terminal in Pakistan. Qureshi had said the two sides also discussed how the UAE could facilitate Pakistan, like Saudi Arabia, in oil supply through preferential treatment. Following his visit to the Gulf state, Prime Minister Khan will embark on a two-day official tour of Malaysia on November 20. The premier has already been to Saudi Arabia and China, both of whom had assured him of financial assistance in the face of Pakistan's mounting balance of payments crisis. more...
CTD begins probe as CM Murad terms Quaidabad blast a 'conspiracy to sabotage peace'
Sun, 18 Nov 2018 00:20:58 +0500
Police have launched an investigation into the roadside blast in Karachi's Quaidabad area, which claimed the lives of two teenagers and caused injuries to a dozen other people late on Friday night. The probe was launched by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) after it took over the investigation from the local police. The two teenagers were killed and 12 others, most of whom were vendors, sustained injuries when a bomb planted under a vendor’s cart went off on near the Quaidabad flyover. The dead and the wounded were shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC). Ten injured persons were discharged after being administered first aid, said JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali. Two others with serious injuries were admitted for treatment. One of them sustained injuries on his head but his condition is improving now. The second person’s leg was amputated to save his life as he was badly hurt in the blast and he was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, Dr Jamali told Dawn. One of the deceased teenagers, Ali Hasan’s funeral was held in the city on Saturday which was attended by politicians and officials. He was stated to be the only brother of seven sisters. Preliminary findings Sources familiar with the preliminary investigation of the case said the modus operandi and type of explosive material used in the blast indicated the involvement of "sub-nationalist groups", which may belong to either Sindh or Balochistan. Speaking about the possible motive of the explosion, a security official on condition of anonymity told Dawn that it has been observed that Sindhi or Baloch sub-nationalist groups tend to carry out terrorist acts on soft targets just “to make their presence felt” whenever an important day or event was expected to take place. According to sources, the detonated bomb was a remote-controlled device that contained around two kilogrammes of explosive material. Law enforcement personnel also seized another improvised explosive device from the crime scene which was defused by the police’s Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) unit. It was also a remote-controlled device that contained around 2kg of explosive material. The security official said they suspected that the second bomb was planted to cause maximum damage to human lives when law enforcers were supposed to arrive there to inspect the site, but fortunately, it was defused by bomb experts in a timely manner. 'Govt making efforts to maintain law and order' Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah earlier today visited the JPMC and inquired about the health of people injured in the Quaidabad blast. He directed the hospital administration to provide better health facilities to the wounded persons. Talking to reporters, Shah said incidents such as the explosion were a "conspiracy to sabotage peace". He said he has sought an immediate report into the incident from the Sindh inspector general of police. He believed that the kind of explosive material used in the blast would be determined after proper inquiry. Shah claimed that the provincial government was making concerted efforts to maintain law and order and such incidents were aimed at destroying the peace. To a question about the lack of an adequate forensic lab in Sindh, the chief minister said he hoped that such a facility would be established in the province soon. Meanwhile, Sindh IGP Dr Syed Kaleem Imam appreciated the performance of 12 BDS and CTD officials for timely disposal of the second bomb at Quaidabad flyover and announced a cash reward of Rs50,000 for each personnel. While regretting the loss of life and injuries caused by the blast, the Sindh police chief vowed that the culprits would be taken to task soon. more...
Former police officer gunned down in Quetta
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 21:23:30 +0500
A former deputy inspector general of police was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Quetta on Saturday evening, police said. Muhammad Naeem Kakar was walking after offering prayers at a mosque when unknown attackers opened fire on him in Junior Assistant Colony area, DIG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema told DawnNewsTV. Kakar was critically injured in the firing and breathed his last at the Combined Military Hospital. Cheema said the assailants escaped unhurt from the site. Police and personnel of other law enforcement agencies were quick at the spot. An investigation has been ordered into the incident. "At this point of time, I cannot say whether it was a targeted killing or not," DIG Cheema said. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. Kakar had served as DIG special branch and on other important positions in Balochistan. The incident comes less than a month after a police constable was shot dead in Nawan Killi area of the provincial capital. Police officers are said to be high-risk targets in Balochistan. Balochistan has been divided into two areas – A and B – based on how their security is organised. Police are responsible for maintaining law and order in Category A areas ─ 10 per cent of the province ─ while Category B is under the control of the Balochistan Levies. However, 90pc of violent crime occurs in Category A areas that are covered by police. The high level of organisation in police ranks is believed to be one of the factors that incite violence against it by terrorist outfits. Around 2001, at the onset of the deterioration in Balochistan’s security situation, Baloch separatists would target police constables in Quetta, mainly because most cops hailed from Punjab. With the passage of time, as the ethnic composition of the police department changed, sectarian and militant outfits began carrying out attacks against cops. In recent years, most targeted attacks against policemen have been claimed by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) or the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). A number of attacks in Balochistan last year targeted senior police officials. According to the police department, it has lost over 830 officers and constables in different incidents since 1979. more...
MQM worker handed 24 years in prison for dumping weapons at Karachi amusement park
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 22:25:35 +0500
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi on Saturday awarded a collective sentence of 24 years imprisonment to a suspect associated with the Altaf Hussain-led Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in a case pertaining to dumping of explosives and illicit arms in Karachi's Go Aish amusement park. Noman Khan was found guilty of possessing explosive substances and illegal weapons which he had dumped in the park in 2017. He was booked in two separate cases of possession of explosive substances and unlicensed weapons registered at the Gulistan-e-Johar police station. The ATC-XX judge, who conducted the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, pronounced in his verdict that the prosecution had proved its allegations against the accused, and sentenced him to 14 years rigorous imprisonment under Section 7(ff) of the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997. The judge further handed down ten years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs100,000 in the second case of explosive substances and unlicensed weapons. In case of failure to pay the fine, the convict will undergo an additional jail term of one year. However, all the sentences will run concurrently. Examine: The MQM crisis According to the prosecution, the Rangers received information that an accused named Imbisat, who belonged to MQM-London, had hidden explosive materials and illegal weapons in the public park with the intention to commit targeted killing and terrorism in the city. The paramilitary force subsequently raided a storeroom on March 21, 2017, and found a huge cache of arms and ammunition. Law enforcement personnel later arrested Noman, while the main accused (Imbisat) was shown as an absconder in the report submitted by the investigating officer of the case. The defence counsel, Abid Zaman, denied the allegations levelled by the paramilitary force against Noman, arguing that he had been framed in the two cases. On the other hand, assistant prosecutor general Jawad Awan argued that the prosecution had evidence available to establish the convict's role in the allegations against him and requested the judge to sentence him in accordance with the law. Noman, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges, has decided to challenge the ATC's verdict. Meanwhile, the case against Imbisat has been shelved, to be reopened upon his arrest or surrender. more...
CIA concludes Saudi Crown Prince behind Khashoggi murder: reports
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 10:57:55 +0500
The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded Saudi's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US media reported on Friday, citing people close to the matter. The US assessment directly contradicts the conclusions of a Saudi prosecutor one day prior, which exonerated the prince of involvement in the brutal murder. But The Washington Post, which broke the story, said the CIA found that 15 Saudi agents flew on government aircraft to Istanbul and assassinated Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate. Queried by AFP, the CIA declined to comment. Khashoggi, a Post columnist, had gone to the consulate to obtain documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee. Saudi Arabia — which quickly dismissed the reported CIA findings — has repeatedly changed its official narrative of the October 2 murder, first denying any knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts and later saying he was killed when an argument degenerated into a fistfight. In the latest version presented by the Saudi prosecutor on Thursday, a 15-member squad was formed to bring Khashoggi back from Istanbul "by means of persuasion" — but instead ended up killing the journalist and dismembering his body in a "rogue" operation. The CIA scrubbed multiple intelligence sources, the Post said, among them a phone call between the prince's brother — the Saudi ambassador to the United States — and Khashoggi. The ambassador reportedly told the late journalist that he would be safe to go to the consulate in Istanbul and get the papers he needed. 'Some things you can't do' But a Saudi embassy spokesperson said that Ambassador Khalid bin Salman had never discussed "anything related to going to Turkey" with Khashoggi. "Amb Prince Khalid bin Salman has never had any phone conversations with (Khashoggi)," the statement posted on the ambassador's Twitter account said. "The claims in this purported assessment is false," it said. Meanwhile, the US intelligence agency also said in determining the crown prince's role it considered him a "de facto ruler" in Saudi Arabia: "The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved," the Post quoted an official as saying. That official dubbed Prince Mohammed a "good technocrat" — but also someone unpredictable who "goes from zero to 60, doesn't seem to understand that there are some things you can't do". The New York Times later reported that the CIA findings were also based on calls from the kill team to one of the crown prince's senior aides. But the paper said that while the intercepts showed Prince Mohammed was working to lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, the crown prince had not said in the calls that he wanted Khashoggi killed. The NYT cited officials as saying US and Turkish intelligence as of yet has not found direct evidence connecting the prince to Khashoggi's killing. The CIA conclusions nevertheless threaten to further fray relations between Washington and key ally Riyadh, which has sought to end discussion of the murder and rejected calls for an international investigation. On Thursday, the US Treasury slapped sanctions on 17 people, including close aides of Prince Mohammed, suggesting a coordinated effort between Riyadh and Washington to pre-empt the threat of harsher actions from an outraged US Congress. US President Donald Trump has shied from directly blaming the Crown Prince but on Friday agreed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that "any cover up of the incident should not be allowed". more...
SC dissolves Punjab Healthcare Commission's board
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 12:07:01 +0500
The Supreme Court on Saturday dissolved the Board of Commissioners-Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) and ordered for a new board to be formed within two weeks. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had yesterday summoned provincial health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and members of the PHC board to explain the resignation of retired Justice Amir Raza A Khan from the post of the commission’s chairperson. The matter had caught the court's attention during a suo motu case regarding exorbitant prices of health facilities at private hospitals. Read: Health services reform After the hearing resumed today, the CJP, while heading a two-member bench, asked for Hussain Naqi — one of the board members. "Where is Hussain Naqi because of whom retired Justice Amir Raza A Khan was forced to resign?" the top judge asked. Naqi responded to Justice Nisar's call-out, at which the judge asked him to introduce himself. "I have been the union secretary of Islamia College," Naqi said. "So leave the board and run the union," the judge countered. "Why should I leave? I have been elected," Naqi shot back. The chief justice informed Naqi that the board now stands dissolved, and also expressed his displeasure at him raising his voice in court. "How dare you raise your voice in court," he fumed. "We will give you a contempt-of-court notice." "I am 20 years your senior," Naqi pleaded. "Hear me out!" At this, the chief justice said: "You are an impudent man, [you should] ask the court for forgiveness. Take Hussain Naqi out of my court." Naqi tendered his apology to the court. The chief justice also expressed his disappointment with Dr Rashid, saying: "We had a lot of expectations from you. What kind of people have you appointed as board members?" During yesterday's hearing, the chief justice had taken strong notice of alleged humiliation meted out to retired Justice Khan in the first meeting of the commission’s board. He had observed that the political government would not be allowed to capture the independence of regulatory authorities. When asked to explain the episode, PHC chief operating officer Dr Ajmal Khan had expressed his inability to disclose the information for being an employee of the commission. At this, the chief justice had directed Dr Rashid, the health minister, and all the members of the board of commissioners to appear before him on Saturday (today). more...
SP Tahir Dawar's brother rejects JIT, calls for investigation at 'international level'
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 17:11:35 +0500
The brother of martyred Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar on Saturday rejected the seven-member joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe his sibling's brutal murder. On Friday, the Islamabad chief commissioner constituted a JIT, and assigned SP Police Investigation, Islamabad as the team's convener. However, Ahmeduddin Dawar — SP Dawar's brother — said he "reject[s] the JIT formed in Pakistan." "My brother went missing from a sensitive city, and his body was found in Afghanistan," he said, adding that the case does not involve "a single country but two countries". "And when two countries are connected then the decision should also be made at an international level," he added. "Due to the nature of this case, an international JIT should be formed to [investigate this]." Meanwhile, KP Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Khan Mehsud paid a condolence visit at the family's Hayatabad residence and expressed the hope that Islamabad police would be successful in solving the case. He cautioned that patience in this time is of utmost importance and that people should wait for the results of the police investigation. IG Mehsud said that while it was not within his authority to comment on an international probe, since it was a matter under federal jurisdiction, he felt confident that the JIT would give conclusive results soon. "I was in constant communication with the Islamabad police since the day of the abduction," the senior official said, adding that the capital police was investigating the matter from the outset. He said the KP police will extend all possible assistance to the investigation team. SP Dawar, chief of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in the G-10/4 area of Islamabad on October 26. On Nov 13, his body was found in a remote area of the Afghan province of Nangarhar and a day later, the Foreign Office said that Afghan officials had confirmed that the tortured body found was indeed that of Dawar. Following a two-day delay and hours-long negotiations on Thursday, the Afghan side had reluctantly handed over the body of the officer of Peshawar police to his family. The issue of handing over of the body of SP Dawar flared up a diplomatic row as government officials accused the Afghan side of playing politics over a body and delaying its handover. more...
Taking U-turns is sign of leadership: PM
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 06:41:22 +0500
ISLAMABAD: Prime Min­is­ter Imran Khan has said the real leader of a nation always makes U-turns and changes his or her strategy according to the situation and the need of the hour. He was talking to journalists who met him in the Prime Minister Office (PMO). “The leader who does not do timely U-turns is not a real leader,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by a participant. Mr Khan gave the example of the ‘failure of German leader Adolf Hitler and French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte in the wars in Russia’ and said: “Both Hitler and Napoleon faced defeat as they did not change their strategies according to the situation and (as a result) their armies were marooned in Russia.” Imran says Hitler and Napoleon faced defeat in Russia because they were not able to change their strategies according to situation “Leaders should always be ready to take U-turns according to the requirement of their duties and best interests of the nation,” the prime minister added. Interestingly, the opposition always blames Mr Khan for making U-turns in politics and backing out from what he promises to the nation. In fact, quite often he is dubbed as “master of U-turns”. Reacting to the prime minister’s remarks, senior leader of the Pakistan Peo­ples Party Syed Khursheed Shah said that Mr Khan had “called himself Hitler” in his “U-turn remarks”. Mr Shah said Hitler was a dictator and by giving his example Mr Khan had proved that he too was a dictator. Talking about the performance of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the prime minister said the anti-graft watchdog should first take up cases of bigwigs and then go for petty suspects. “NAB is an independent institution and I hope that the bureau will take it into account how many cases it can take to logical conclusion on the basis of its capabilities and human resources,” the prime minister added. 100-day plan The prime minister said the government would soon present a comprehensive plan for elimination of poverty, better education and health facilities and some other reforms. “The first 100 days of any government determine its direction and policies,” he added. Unfortunately, he said, it had never been tried to bring in what he called “real” democracy in the country, adding that instead of democracy, kleptocracy had so far ruled the country, where rulers (mis)used their powers for their own interests. The prime minister deplored that despite obtaining huge foreign loans in the past, Pakistan was still among Third World countries. “We do not know the amount of resources our country has,” he maintained. Only in oil and gas sectors six per cent of the resources had so far been tapped, he said. “Unfortunately none of the governments in the past paid attention to exploring other natural resources.” Stressing the need for merit and fair play, Mr Khan said (previous) rulers had intentionally weakened state institutions so that they [institutions] could not make them [rulers] accountable for their deeds. “We are not at war against democrats but those who destroyed the country and plundered its wealth,” he said. Lauding the performance of his party in the July 25 elections, Mr Khan said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had lost about 55 seats, 14 of the National Assembly and the rest of provincial legislatures, with the margin of 3,000 to 4,000 votes. “We have offered to the opposition to open any of the constituencies but its objective is only to malign the government by levelling false allegations of rigging,” he added. “Maulana Fazlur Rehman (chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F) and other opposition leaders are making a hue and cry because they have been wiped out from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the polls,” he said. The prime minister said the PTI government had inherited a number of problems, including crippling economy, but he was hopeful of overcoming all of them. “Improving exports, investments and foreign remittances are among top priorities of the government,” he said. Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018 more...
Foreign Minister Qureshi calls on UAE counterpart in Abu Dhabi
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 13:55:26 +0500
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with his United Arab Emirates (UAE) counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on the sidelines of Sir Bani Yas Forum in Abu Dhabi, Radio Pakistan reported on Saturday. During the meeting, matters pertaining to bilateral cooperation and regional issues of mutual interest came under discussion. The minister is in the UAE on a two-day trip to attend the 9th Sir Bani Yas Forum. Participants of the Forum will discuss the changing environment of the Middle East and efforts to bring peace in the region. According to the Foreign Office, the minister will apprise the participants of the meeting about Islamabad's position on the region. A day earlier, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal shared that the minister had left for the UAE. In his tweet, Faisal added that foreign ministers from various countries will attend the conference which is being organised by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. FM Qureshi, during his official visit, will also hold meetings with leadership of the UAE and other countries. more...
At least 2 dead, 8 injured in explosion near Quaidabad flyover in Karachi
Fri, 16 Nov 2018 23:26:02 +0500
Two teenagers were killed while eight others injured in an explosion in Quaidabad area of the metropolis on Friday night, according to police and hospital officials. Following the blast, police and rescue teams rushed to the site and shifted the injured to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for treatment. JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemi Jamali confirmed the death of two persons, saying they succumbed to injuries on their way to the hospital. She said the hospital received eight injured, of which three are in critical condition. Both deceased were teenagers, one of them was identified as Papu Mushtaq, 16, while the identity of other deceased aged 18 years remained unknown. The injured men were identified as Rasheed, 18, Mushtaq, 22, Haq Nawaz, 55, Siddiq 55, Araslan, 35, Allah Ditta, 25, Qamar Abbas, 28, and Shahab, 26. Karachi police chief Ameer Sheikh said some vendors at a makeshift market were selling fruit and other items of daily use near the Quaidabad flyover when the bomb went off nearby. The senior officer said that the exact nature of the explosion was being determined. The law enforcement officials cordoned off the area soon after the attack and collected evidence for an investigation into the incident and to ascertain the nature of the blast. Shah Latif Town police said that some unidentified thing present under the fruit cart exploded near Aman Hospital adjacent to the deputy commissioner’s office. DSP Malir City Ali Hassan also said that a cart belonging to a fruit vendor present near the DC office "had some unknown things present under it which exploded". He too could not confirm the cause of the blast but said that a Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) had been called to the site which was busy assessing another explosive device recovered from the site of the blast, said to be planted within a "tiffin box", DawnNewsTV reported. The surrounding area experienced a breakdown of electricity following the blast, which is yet to be restored, according to DawnNewsTV. Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was quick to take notice of the incident and sought a report from the Additional IG Karachi and directed that all possible assistance be given for the treatment of the injured persons. Governor Imran Ismail also took notice of the blast and sought a report from IG Sindh. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility from any group. more...
JIT put unreasonable terms for Qatari prince’s statement: Nawaz
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 06:41:22 +0500
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday told the accountability court seized with the Al-Azizia reference that the joint investigation team (JIT) constituted in the Panama Papers case “imposed extremely strict, unreasonable conditions” for recording the statement of Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani. The Qatari prince was the “missing link” in the money trail of the Sharif family for their London properties and businesses in the UK and Saudi Arabia. A day earlier, the former premier had testified that he was not a participant in the transactions between the Qatari royal family and the Sharifs. And on Friday, he said the prince was a key witness regarding his family’s money trail but the JIT deliberately ignored him during the course of its investigations. In Al-Azizia reference former premier has so far answered 120 questions out of a total of 151 Continuing with his testimony, he said: “I have no personal knowledge of the correspondence between Wajid Zia and his Excellency Mr Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani, nor am I the subject matter of any of the letters in the said correspondence.” He claimed the Qatari prince, at every stage of the investigations, confirmed the money trail and also offered to verify the contents of the transactions between the two families. In response to the suggestion that the Qatari prince was unwilling to accept the jurisdiction of the Pakistani criminal justice system, Mr Sharif replied: “This is incorrect. Prince Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani never denied the jurisdiction of the Pakistani courts, or to be part of any inquiry or investigation by the JIT for purposes of confirmation of the contents of the letters [that confirmed money trail]... and [he] even asked the JIT to provide him a questionnaire in advance prior to the arrival of JIT in Doha... on the contrary [JIT] imposed extremely strict, unreasonable conditions for recording of his statement.” According to Mr Sharif, the Qatari prince “repeatedly offered to verify the contents of his aforementioned letters; he had also repeatedly invited the JIT members to visit Doha so as to facilitate them to verify in person the contents of his letters”. He further testified that he never relied upon these letters but his co-accused [Hussain Nawaz] produced the letters in his defence to establish the money trail before the Supreme Court during the hearing of the Panama Papers case. During that case the Sharif family had taken the stance before the top court that they had acquired properties in London and established businesses in the UK and Saudi Arabia with the sale proceeds of the Gulf Steel Mills, which was set up by his father Mian Mohammad Sharif during the 1970s. In response to a question about remittances sent to him by Hussain Nawaz from the account of the Hill Metal Establishment, Mr Sharif admitted that his son remitted the amount to his accounts and that more than 70 per cent of the remitted amount was transferred to the account of his daughter Maryam Nawaz. He said the amount was remitted to his accounts as a gift and this was properly declared in his tax returns as well. The former prime minister said that an amount of Rs100 million was donated to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in 2013. On Friday Mr Sharif responded to a total of 30 questions. During his testimony, being recorded under Section 342 of the criminal procedure code, he has so far answered 120 questions out of a total of 151. Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik adjourned further proceedings till Monday. Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018 more...
New police office on the cards to look after south Punjab
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 06:42:04 +0500
LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to establish South Punjab Police Office (SPPO) to look into the affairs of the southern part of the province. The initiative is being taken in light of the discussion around the possible creation of a south Punjab province. Some police officers believe that initially the newly proposed police office would continue to work under the Punjab inspector general. Later, it could be separated from the current police department in case a new province was carved out. According to the proposed scheme, the SPPO shall be headed by an additional inspector general (addl IG) (BPS-21 officer) and supported by a deputy inspector general (DIG) police and two assistant inspectors general (AIG). Besides, in order to improve the estate management function of the Central Police Office (CPO) a separate vacancy of a DIG shall be created. A summary to this effect has been moved by the CPO to Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for immediate creation of five new slots -- one BPS-21, two BPS-20 and two others of AIGs. A copy of the summary is available with Dawn. The summary stated that south Punjab consisted of Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur. As per the last census, the total population of the region is over 34 million, while the district police force’s strength in the southern districts is around 29,000. “In line with the vision of the Punjab government to facilitate the people of the region, the SPPO is needed to be established; it will be headed by an additional IG,” the summary states. He will also supervise regional police officers (RPOs) of DG Khan, Multan and Bahawalpur, look after maintenance of public order, crime, special operations, public security and delivery of public service in south Punjab. A post of DIG (headquarters) south Punjab shall be created to work as principal staff officer to and assist the additional IG. He shall be responsible for transfers/postings of police officers and ministerial staff posted in south Punjab, discipline and service representation of the staff, coordination with the CPO (IG office), distribution of work in the region etc. Similarly, the AIG (discipline) shall be responsible for discipline- and establishment-related issues of the staff posted in the region, monitoring of accountability policy implementation, supervision of secret branches and directive cells etc. He shall also deal with issues such as death in police custody, involvement of police officers in criminal and corruption cases, maintenance of record and declaration of assets etc. The AIG (operations) shall be responsible for collection of information/facts on major, sensational and special reports/cases/crimes, and public order situations from districts and regions along with police action taken for the perusal of additional IG of the newly proposed region. He shall also be responsible for the transmission of operation orders of the additional IG to the regions and districts concerned and seeking progress and follow-ups, liaison with other police units for crosschecking of information provided by the field formations, preparation of reports regarding crimes etc. The AIG shall also act as staff officer to the additional IG, according to the summary. The summary also recommended creation of a post of DIG (infrastructure, development and estate management). The proposed officer shall be responsible for raising physical infrastructure of the police establishments, especially the new police stations and police posts in the region, and for the efficient resource utilisation in the region. Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018 more...
PTI minister denies PM slammed Sanjrani’s ruling against Fawad
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 06:41:22 +0500
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan on Friday denied fellow cabinet member Fawad Chaudhry’s claim that the cabinet at its meeting a day earlier had expressed annoyance over the Senate chairman’s ruling and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s quote that nobody had the right to humiliate ministers. While the clarification was welcomed by the opposition, it raised many questions and prompted dem­ands for action against Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry for misleading the nation, misquoting the PM and spreading disinformation about the cabinet proceedings. Mr Chaudhry in a media briefing on Thursday had announced that the cabinet had expressed annoyance over the ban placed by the Senate chairman on his participation in the ongoing session of the upper house of parliament unless he tendered an apology for chiding top opposition leaders by name. He also quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan as saying “nobody had the right to humiliate ministers like this”. Opposition in Senate demands action against information minister for wrong account of cabinet proceedings Asserting that democracy was the way forward, the minister for parliamentary affairs said, “We definitely are inexperienced, but are not a severed kite.” Parliament would stay and “those hurling threats at parliament” would cease to exist, he said, adding that there were no cracks in parliament but in the ranks of the foes of democracy. The issue was raised in the house by former chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, who said forces of popular fascism wanted to destroy democratic institutions functioning under the Constitution. “Very few of us will be able to come out of the debris if parliament crumbles,” he warned. Referring to the briefing on the cabinet proceedings, Mr Rabbani said the Senate chairman’s ruling apparently evoked a strong reaction from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government. The PPP stalwart said some remarks had also been attributed to the Prime Minister. However, he said: “I will give the benefit of the doubt to the Prime Minister.” He noted that the chair’s rulings had not even been questioned during dictatorial regimes. He said it had indirectly been threatened that the cabinet ministers could boycott the Senate and asserted that the cabinet, together with ministers of state, was collectively responsible to parliament under Article 90 (6) of the Constitution. He recalled that Mr Chaudhry also remarked that the Senate chairman was not directly elected like himself. He said the chairman held a constitutional office and the procedure for his election was defined in the Constitution. He said the President of Pakistan was also indirectly elected and the chief executive after his election as member of the National Assembly was indirectly elected as Prime Minister. “Casting aspersions on the custodian of the house has never happened before,” he added. He also objected to the PTI minister’s remarks that a hue and cry was raised in the Senate whenever the government talked about corruption. “The people you talk about are in the dock. How can you raise in the house the matters which are sub judice?” he questioned, asking if corruption was confined to some specific parties only. Calling for across-the-board accountability of all, including the judiciary and the civil and military bureaucracy, the former Senate chairman proposed a federal accountability commission having representation of all stakeholders with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) working under it. He asserted that the witch-hunt must be brought to an end and said the proposed commission should decide about references. Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) also endorsed the views expressed by the opposition party leader. PPP parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman also welcomed the statement made by the minister for the parliamentary affairs but said the cabinet should take proper action against the information minister. “The Senate had already taken the required action and now we want to see an action from the executive,” she demanded. Maula Bux Chandio said if the Prime Minister had not spoken against the Senate chairman ruling during the cabinet meeting, an action must be taken against the information minister. IMF terms Meanwhile, Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati assured the house that parliament would be taken into confidence over the terms and conditions agreed upon by the government with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loan. Earlier, Ms Rehman had questioned the government for shrouding its negotiations with the IMF. “In one week of requisition and another week of normal session, I have submitted two calling attention notices and one adjournment motion on the IMF. Nothing was communicated in writing and I could be wrong but we were informally told that the instruments cannot be admitted, because the IMF team was in town and the terms were not settled yet. This has never happened in the past even when IMF teams were visiting.” She said talks were held between the IMF and Pakistan and the whole world was talking about it, yet the opposition had no right to ask about the terms of the negotiation? The IMF was making headlines. The rupee was declining, current account deficit had widened by 34 per cent and yet taxes were being levied to collect more than Rs160 billion, she said. “Why can’t we take on this urgent and critical matter openly in the Senate? It is the Senate’s right to ask questions and it is the government’s responsibility to answer,” the former opposition leader in Senate insisted. The session was later prorogued sine die. Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018 more...
Khashoggi murder: What we know about the Saudi suspects
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 14:32:27 +0500
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered on October 2 in his country's consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was drugged and dismembered and his remains were then removed from the consulate, the Saudi public prosecutor's office said on Thursday. Here is what is known about the Saudis accused of involvement in the murder that has provoked an international outcry. 21 suspects A total of 21 people, all Saudi citizens, are in custody in connection with Khashoggi's killing, the Saudi prosecutor's office said, without identifying them. Of the 21 suspects, 11 have been indicted while investigations continue into the others. The prosecutor's office said it was seeking the death penalty against five accused who "are charged with ordering and committing the crime". 5 Saudi officials sacked On Oct 20, Riyadh announced the sacking of five Saudi officials — two of them part of Prince Mohammed's inner circle — and the detention of 18 suspects, whose names were not released. General Ahmad al-Assiri, who was fired as deputy head of intelligence, was implicated in the prosecutor's statement, which said that a "former" deputy intelligence chief ordered the "leader of the mission" to "bring back the victim by means of persuasion, and if persuasion fails, to do so by force". Royal media adviser Saud al-Qahtani has also been fired. Although not named by the prosecutor's office, it said a "former adviser" played a central role in the operation. Mohammed al-Rumaih, Abdullah al-Shaya and Rashad al-Muhamadi, who all held posts in the kingdom's intelligence service, were also sacked following the killing. US sanctions 17 Saudis The United States on Thursday slapped economic sanctions on 17 Saudis allegedly involved in the Khashoggi murder. Among them are: Qahtani for "being part of the planning and execution of the operation that led to the killing" of Khashoggi, the US Treasury said. Maher Mutreb, a close aide to Qahtani, who "coordinated and executed" the operation. Mohammed al-Otaibi, the Saudi consul in Istanbul, where the journalist was killed. The Washington Post reported on Friday that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had concluded Prince Mohammed, the "de facto ruler" of the kingdom, was behind the killing of Khashoggi. Read more: CIA concludes Saudi Crown Prince behind Khashoggi murder: reports However, The New York Times said that while telephone intercepts showed Prince Mohammed was working to lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, he had not said in the calls that he wanted the journalist killed. Saudi prosecutor's office spokesman Shaalan al-Shaalan said on Thursday that the prince had "no knowledge" of Khashoggi's murder. Khashoggi's body A physical altercation after Khashoggi entered the consulate led to him being "forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death, may Allah bless his soul", the prosecutor's office said. It said his body was then dismembered, "transferred outside the consulate" and handed over to a "collaborator". What was done with Khashoggi's remains afterwards is still unknown. more...
Ex-chairman Sethi serves another legal notice on Pakistan Cricket Board
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 06:41:44 +0500
LAHORE: Former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Najam Sethi, on Friday issued another legal notice to the PCB after not being satisfied with the reply to the first notice he sent late last month in a case of defamation. Sethi issued the first legal notice on Oct 29 after the PCB put figures of his perks and benefits on its website. Disagreeing with the figures, Sethi issued a legal notice to the Board and warned it of a legal action for defaming his name. On Nov 9, the PCB sent a reply to Sethi against his first legal notice. However on Friday, he sent another legal notice as he was not satisfied with the reply. To a question, Sethi told Dawn sending the second notice to the PCB was a legal requirement, adding if they do not apologise to him (Sethi), he will have no other option but to move the court against the Board for what he called its attempt to defame him. Sources told Dawn that Ehsan Mani has been advised within the PCB not to get involved in any such activities like posting the details of previous chairmen on the website, as it may trigger a controversy. However, sources added, Ehsan differed with the advice just because he might be facing pressure from high-ups. In his second legal notice, Sethi rejected PCB’s stance that the figures about his perks and benefits were issued as an ordinary practice. “In the light of the foregoing we reiterate our demand that the PCB and Mr. Ehsan Mani apologise to Mr Najam Sethi for this blatantly malicious attack on him. It is not in dispute that the figures published by the PCB are misleading and incorrect. The reply claims that this disclosure was motivated solely by PCB’s transparency and accountability policy but no such policy has been actually produced or referred to the reply. The reply also fails to enumerate any single instance where any comparable disclosure has been made by the PCB in the past. And the reply further fails to disclosure has been made by the PCB in the past. And the reply further fails to disclose any rational reason why the chart focuses almost exclusively on the expenses of Mr Sethi,” it concludes. Meanwhile, while giving reply to PCB’s responses, the legal notice states, “As of Aug 20, 2018, no such “transparency and accountability policy” relating to expenses and benefits of members of the PCB Board of Governors, Chairman of the PCB or heads of committees set up by the BoG had been approved by the Board of the PCB. “To the best of Mr Sethi’s knowledge, no such policy has been adopted by the BoG after Aug 20, 2018 either. No such policy shown to have been adopted in the minutes of any BoG meeting since the new Chairman (Ehsan Mani) was elected. The reply is therefore false,” he said. About PCB’s reply relating to two controversial amounts of Rs14,181,570 as PSL allowance and of Rs6,064,516 Sethi has replied: “You claim that there are no amounts noted in the Chart which are incorrect. This is false. The chart is titled “chairman PCB expense and benefits” and if notes an amount of Rs14,181,570 as “PSL Allowance” paid to Mr Sethi. However, you have now admitted that this amount was never paid to Mr Sethi. It is therefore an admitted fact that the chart is misleading and incorrect. “The reply claims that the amounts stated in the chart are not misleading because the amount of Rs14,181,570 was approved as PSL Allowance for Mr Sethi and because a “payment…was made to Mr Sethi vide cheque dated Aug 10, 2018 for Rs6,064,516: once again, this is false and misleading. “It is now admitted by you that no payment was ever received by Mr Sethi as PSL Allowance. Indeed, to the best of Mr Sethi’s knowledge, no cheque for any amount of PSL Allowance was ever even received by him and PCB has furthermore, even if it is assumed (without conceding) that a cheque for Rs6,064,516 was received by Mr Sethi, the fact remains that no cheque for the remaining amount of PSL Allowance (per our calculations, a pre-tax amount of Rs7,134,725) was ever made out by the PCB, let alone received by Mr Sethi. “Indeed even today, the PCB does not claim that it made out any such cheque for the remaining amount of the PSL Allowance. It is therefore again evident that the amounts shown as PSL Allowance in the chart were only included to malign Mr Sethi,” the legal notice further stated. Moreover, Sethi’s reply also claims that current PCB chairman is not living in any furnished apartment provided by PCB as of Sept 30, 2018. However, this is deliberately misleading. First, the deliberate emphasis on Sept 30, 2018 only highlights the fact that Mr Mani has ordered the Admin Department of PCB to rent access to a furnished apartment paid for by the PCB as per the chairman’s perks. Second, to the extent that Mr Mani was not using a furnished apartment, he was certainly using a five-star hotel room paid for by the PCB. Presumably all of this will be revealed if and when the PCB discloses Mr Mani’s expenses for the quarter ending on Dec 31, 2018. Sethi also objected over the PCB treatment given to another chairman Shaharyar M. Khan for not issuing his perks and benefits of entire three years but only for one year, and 25 other individuals, too. Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018 more...
With circular debt crossing Rs1.2tr, firms told to recover arrears
Sat, 17 Nov 2018 06:41:29 +0500
ISLAMABAD: As the total circular debt of the power sector is estimated to have crossed Rs1.2 trillion, the power division has set specific targets for distribution companies to recover arrears from previous bills and ensure 100pc recovery of current billing. A meeting, presided over by Federal Power Minister Omer Ayub Khan on Friday, set targets for six distribution companies (Disco) for collection of Rs83bn of past bills and asked them to ensure 100pc recovery targets for current electricity billing. The meeting was also attended by Nadeem Babar, chairman of the Energy Task Force appointed by the prime minister, and chief executives of the Pakistan Electric Power Company and Discos concerned. “It was decided to freeze the figures of old receivables as on Oct 31, 2018, with targets to achieve 100pc recovery of current billings besides reducing line losses as per the goals set by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra),” said an official statement. The decision is part of ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials for a fresh bailout package that requires creating over Rs140bn fiscal space from the power sector through recovery of old bills to minimise the circular debt or else the government would need to further increase power tariffs during the current year. The minister directed CEOs to end theft and illegal hooking of electricity and take strict action against those involved in it with the help of the Provincial Task Force established in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Informed sources said that the total outstanding bills payable by consumers including public and private sector stood at about Rs870bn and that was the major reason for repeated increases in circular debt. The power division also directed Discos to ensure that defaulters did not use electricity through hooking and operation must be intensified without any fear or favour. The meeting assigned specific targets to Discos. For example, the Lahore Electric Supply Company was given the target of recovering Rs25bn additional funds from January to June 2019 from consumers against old bills, in addition to ensuring 100pc current collection. This will be achieved through Rs8bn recovery from running defaulters, Rs11bn from disconnected defaulters, Rs3bn deferred cases and Rs3bn saving through one per cent reduction in line losses. Likewise, the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) was given the target of extra recovery of Rs41bn above the full current billing. It was tasked to recover Rs25bn from running defaulters, Rs10bn from disconnected defaulters besides Rs6bn saving by reducing line losses by 4pc. Pesco will also ensure removal of hooks (Kunda) within two months and SDOs, XENs and SEs concerned shall be held responsible for this. Pesco will launch an awareness campaign to educate consumers that their wrong bills will be corrected and meters will be installed instantly after payment of dues which will also lead to reduction of load management hours in their areas. The Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) was asked to ensure extra recovery of Rs10.2bn by reducing line losses to Nepra target of 15pc and recovery of old receivables including Rs6bn from disconnected and Rs2bn from running defaulters. The Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) will ensure extra recovery of Rs3bn and reduce line losses by 1pc. The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) will also ensure extra Rs2billion collection by recovering old receivables besides bringing line losses at Nepra’s targets of 8.65pc. The meeting warned that recoveries should be made against outstanding bills and there should be no overbilling or unfair means be adopted for achieving these targets. A joint secretary of the power division and management of Pepco were directed to evolve a comprehensive monitoring mechanism to ensure that all CEOs personally supervised the drive against theft and shall meet the district administration in this regard. The total circular debt currently stood at about Rs1.2 trillion including Rs566bn fresh flow and Rs582bn old stock parked in the power holding company. The power sector authorities believe that line loss and lower than billed recovery are causing about Rs202bn and Rs205bn, respectively, circular debt every year. Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018 more...

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