Fresh judicial policy sought to curb delay in justice

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will commence on Monday (today) hearing of a petition seeking fresh rules for lower courts to decide suits, petitions and appeals within a stipulated time limit.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan will take up the joint petition moved by Umeer Ijaz Gilani, Attaullah Hakeem Kundi, Mohammad Haider Imtiaz, Raheel Ahmed and Hadiya Aziz, all lawyers.

The petition requests the court to direct the national judiciary policy makers to revise the National Judicial Policy, including a policy on delay reduction, based upon scientific assessment of the present state of affairs and its causes, and submit the same to the apex court.

According to the petition, the petitioners are personally aggrieved by the lack of enforcement of the fundamental right of access to justice and the loss of reputation of the judicial system in the eyes of the people of Pakistan due to delays in dispensation of justice.

Citing a number of studies published by eminent social scientists including the World Justice Index, The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey and the one conducted by the apex court itself, the petition says the evidence highlights that the right of access to justice is being violated in the country in a systematic and wholesale manner. Litigants of all kinds who seek to enforce their right through courts face inordinate delays which cannot be reasonably predicted, it argues.

Quoting a research conducted by the Supreme Court on a directive of former chief justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, the petition contends that it takes an average of 25 years to conclude litigation in Pakistan.

Likewise another study of the lower courts conducted by one of the petitioners suggests that the shelf-life of an average case in the civil courts of Punjab is over 37 months and from institution to the passing of decree, an average case requires around 58 hearings, it adds.

Recently the chief justice during a meeting of the administrative tribunals and special courts regretted that with a budget of Rs4.3 billion, 330 special courts and administrative tribunals were still seized with 159,243 cases.

Surprisingly, an average disposal of cases by these tribunals or special courts varies from four to seven months. The average salary of presiding officers of the tribunals or special courts is Rs1.18 million in case they are retired judges of high court or Rs330,000 to Rs420,000 if they are sessions judges.

The chief justice at the recent meeting said many presiding officers of the tribunals or special courts handed down judgements after a year when they should be issuing decisions within one month. “Though the judiciary is facing a number of challenges, it is our duty not to let these difficulties impede in dispensing justice,” he observed.

The petition requests the apex court to order the registrars of the high courts to make fresh rules under Article 202 of the Constitution and Section 122 of the Criminal Procedure Code for imposing costs on litigants who pursue frivolous petitions or for prosecution of perjurers, stipulate maximum time limit for different kinds of suits, petitions and appeals and regulate alternative dispute resolution in addition to discipline the lawyers who abuse the process of the court.

The petition urges the Supreme Court to order the federal and provincial governments to submit reports on the total number of pending cases, including suits, petitions, appeals and revisions.

The registrars of the high courts should furnish the total number of prosecutions initiated and convictions obtained under Sections 193 to 196 of the Pakistan Penal Code by judges under their superintendence during the past three years, the petition says.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2018

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Another governor refuses to step down in Afghanistan

MAZAR-I-SHARIF: A second Afghan provincial governor defied an attempt by President Ashraf Ghani to remove him on Sunday, deepening a political crisis that has underlined the weakness of the Western-backed government in Kabul.

Abdulkarim Khaddam, governor of the northern province of Samangan, followed the leader of neighbouring Balkh province, Atta Mohammad Noor, in rejecting an order to step down, issued last week as part of a shakeup of regional governors.

“I do not accept my removal because it is political,” Mr Khaddam said in a televised statement. “I have served Samangan well and my people won’t let me go,” he said.

Mr Ghani has been struggling for weeks to resolve the conflict with Atta Noor, who has refused to cede the governorship of Balkh, a province straddling key trade routes into Central Asia that includes Afghanistan’s second-biggest city Mazar-i-Sharif.

With Taliban fighters active across much of the country and the capital Kabul regularly hit by devastating suicide attacks, the disputes have added to a picture of weakness and division that has undermined support for Mr Ghani’s government ahead of elections scheduled for this year.

It is unclear whether the dispute would threaten Mr Ghani’s government as Samangan, a mountainous and largely undeveloped region, has little of the strategic importance of Balkh, one of the richest provinces in the country.

But the standoff has underlined the fractious political climate, marked by increasingly open divisions between Afghanistan’s mixes of different ethnicities.

Mr Khaddam is an ethnic Turkman but both he and Mr Noor are from Jamiat-i-Islami, a party mainly supported by Persian-speaking ethnic Tajiks that has been increasingly hostile to Mr Ghani, an ethnic Pakhtun.

Although Mr Ghani nominally shares power with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah from Jamiat, the two sides have become more and more alienated, with Jamiat accusing Mr Ghani of monopolising power and favouring his own Pakhtun supporters.

Formed in the wake of the disputed 2014 election that forced the two rival candidates, Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah, into an uneasy partnership, the government has struggled to present a united front amid growing criticism of its handling of the insurgency.

The splits have been thrown into sharp relief by a row over new electronic ID cards, which have drawn bitter opposition as they register national identity as “Afghan”, a term used in the past for Pakhtuns, traditionally the most powerful ethnic group.

Many Tajiks see the term as a means of entrenching longstanding Pakhtun dominance and refuse to accept the cards.

In a symbolic move to build support for the new so-called “e-tazkiras”, Mr Ghani and his wife, were among the first to take their new cards last week.

However, the move only underlined divisions in the government, with Jamiat leaders refusing to follow suit and declaring that the issue required a national consensus to be developed through further debate.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2018

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Saudi women allowed to start business without male relative’s permission

RIYADH: Women in Saudi Arabia can now open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative, as the kingdom pushes to expand a fast-growing private sector.

The policy change announced by the Saudi government also marks a major step away from the strict guardianship system that has ruled the country for decades.

“Women can now launch their own businesses and benefit from (governmental) e-services without having to prove consent from a guardian,” the ministry of commerce and investment said on its website.

Under Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, women are required to present proof of permission from a male “guardian” — normally the husband, father or brother — to do any government paperwork, travel or enrol in classes.

Long dependent on crude production for economic revenue, Saudi Arabia is pushing to expand the country’s private sector, including an expansion of female employment under a reform plan for a post-oil era.

While women still face a host of restrictions in the ultra­conservative Muslim kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s pub­lic prosecutor’s office this month said it would begin recruiting women investigators for the first time.

The kingdom has also opened 140 positions for women at airports and border crossings, a historic first that the government said drew 107,000 female applicants.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful heir to the Saudi throne, has been leading the drive to expand the role of women in the workforce in recent months.

His father, King Salman, in September approved the end of a decades-long ban on driving, which goes into effect in June.

The 32-year-old prince pledged a “moderate, open” Saudi Arabia in October, breaking with ultra-conservative clerics in favour of an image catering to foreign investors and Saudi youth.

Prince Mohammed is widely seen as the chief architect behind Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” reform programme, which seeks to elevate the percentage of women in the work force from 22 per cent to nearly one-third.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2018

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PTI confirms Imran Khan’s marriage to Bushra Maneka in Lahore

  • ,Speculation around third marriage,

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan married Bushra Maneka, a respected Pir [faith healer] in Pakpattan, in "a simple ceremony" in Lahore on Sunday, the party's spokesperson told DawnNews.

Confirming Khan's third marriage, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhary said that the ceremony was held at the residence of Bushra's brother.

Nikah of Imran Khan and Bushra Maneka. ? DawnNews

Nikah of Imran Khan and Bushra Maneka. ? DawnNews

Party leader Inamul Haq told DawnNews that only close relatives, including the bride's mother, and friends participated in the ceremony — Khan's sisters, however, were not in attendance. Mufti Saeed performed the nikah in the presence of Awn Chaudhary and Zulfi Bukhari who appeared as witnesses, said PTI members.

The ceremony was a low-profile one as per the desire of Imran Khan, Haq added. He expressed hope that Imran Khan's marriage would prove blessed not only for him and his wife but for the entire nation.

Imran Khan signing papers in Lahore at his nikah ceremony. ? DawnNews

Imran Khan signing papers in Lahore at his nikah ceremony. ? DawnNews

PTI leaders, including Naeemul Haque, Shireen Mazari, Jahangir Tareen, and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, congratulated Khan and his new wife on their marriage on Twitter.

Bushra Maneka is in her 40s, and belongs to the Wattoo clan, of which the Manekas are a sub-clan. Earlier, she was married to Khawar Farid Maneka, a senior customs official in Islamabad but parted ways in recent times.

The PTI chief has been married twice before. His first marriage was with Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of a British billionaire in 1995. The couple divorced in 2004.

Khan's second marriage to Reham Khan dissolved 10 months after a public ceremony had taken place in January, 2015.

Speculation around third marriage

The News in an article published in January claimed that Khan had married for the third time in a secret ceremony on January 1, saying that Mufti Saeed had performed the nikkah. PTI had ,originally refuted the claim,, calling the speculation "ridiculous". A day later, however, the party had 'clarified' that Khan had only proposed marriage to Bushra Maneka.

Read: ,What brings PTI chief to a remote town?,

Soon after, the party leader had also broken his silence on the speculation ,through a series of tweets,, saying, "My only crime is wanting to get married". Khan, who has two sons from his first marriage, had also appealed to people to pray for his "personal happiness".

,During an interview the same month,, Khan had said: “I met Bushra [Maneka] almost two years ago. I will like to reiterate that every time I met her, with family and alone, she has been in purdah. My interest in her lies in the fact that I have not seen or met anyone with her level of spirituality.”

He had made it clear that he only sent the proposal for marriage after she divorced her husband.

Khan’s connection with the Manekas was confirmed by PTI leader Naeemul Haq in 2016 when rumours were doing the rounds that the PTI chief had married a UK-based relative of the family on the advice of his spiritual patron, Bushra Bibi, also known as Ms Pinki Pir.

Haq had then denied reports about Khan’s third marriage but confirmed in his tweet that his leader had “spiritual relationship” with the Maneka family.

A source close to the family had told Dawn that Khan first visited Bushra ahead of the NA-154 (Lodhran) by-poll in 2015 and was very pleased when Jahangir Tareen won the seat according to her prediction. Since then he has been visiting her regularly, the source had added.

Mumtaz Hayat Maneka, a young Aitchisonian from the Maneka clan, had said the PTI leader had a lot of reverence for Pinki Bibi as a true follower.

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Banks have mixed feelings on FATF move

IT’S business as usual for banks amid media reports that the United States and its European allies have ,tabled a motion before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to place Pakistan on a watchlist of countries considered non-compliant with global terrorist-financing regulations.

Paris-based FATF could adopt the motion against Pakistan during its meeting this week, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday.

The FATF, an intergovernmental body of 37 full member countries, sets global standards for fighting illicit finance. Pakistan is its associate member and is part of its affiliate body Asia-Pacific Group (APG).

Senior bankers say they are watching the development with mixed feelings of confidence and unease: they are confident that the move to put Pakistan on the FATF watchlist will not succeed, but feel uneasy because it seems there is more to this issue than meets the eye.

This impression has become stronger after the weekly media briefing by Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal on Thursday. In response to a question raised about the resolution put forwarded to the FATF, he challenged that “the real aim of this politically motivated move is to hamper Pakistan’s economic growth”.

Top bankers are apparently confident that the FATF will refrain from putting Pakistan on the watchlist as, according to them, most members of the global task force will appreciate our seriousness in the fight against illicit finance. But they share this optimism in private conversations and refuse to go on record.

Top bankers are apparently confident that the Paris-based body, which sets global standards for fighting illicit finance, will not put Pakistan on its ‘grey list’

Banks in Pakistan have already tightened internal controls on all transactions to ensure full compliance of State Bank of Pakistan’s regulations on anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), inquiries reveal.

The Reuters quoted Pakistan’s de facto finance minister Miftah Ismail as saying: “We are now working with the US, UK, Germany and France for the nomination to be withdrawn,” Mr Ismail told Reuters. “We are also quite hopeful that even if the US did not withdraw the nomination we will prevail and not be put on the watchlist.”

Pakistan promulgated a presidential ordinance earlier this month to further augment its efforts towards fuller compliance with FATF requirements. Under this ordinance, which has yet to be ratified by parliament, UN-proscribed organisations and individuals are to be automatically proscribed in Pakistan. That means all assets of such organisations and individuals can be taken over by the state, their bank accounts can be frozen and all sources of their funding can be blocked.

After the promulgation of this ordinance, Punjab authorities have started taking over all the moveable and immovable assets of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF). The JuD’s famous Muridke Markaz along with its various schools, seminaries and health facilities has also been taken over.

“When the FATF meets in Paris next week, Pakistan can comfortably explain we are more seriously cracking down on terror financing than the US is willing to acknowledge,” says the head of a local bank. “Hopefully we will not be put on the grey list.”

Being placed on the grey list means a country has a deficient anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing regime.

State Minister for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal told the Senate on Thursday that the government was aggressively contesting the move to include Pakistan on the FATF watchlist. He informed the upper house that the interior minister and adviser to the prime minister on finance were already on overseas visits to seek support for Pakistan.

Pakistan was put on the FATF grey list back in 2012. Its name was removed from the list towards the end of February 2015 after visible improvements in the country’s AML/CTF regime.

That has been very helpful for banks, senior bankers say, recalling how during those three years they had to explain at length to their correspondent banks that it was not technical banking-related issues that had led to placement of Pakistan on the grey list. “We used to tell them that banks on their part were as vigilant as those in the developed world but because of the fact that actions against a few UN-proscribed organisations were not fully compliant with FATF standards, our country had been placed on the grey list.”

Pakistan’s banking system is gradually becoming more responsible in complying with the AML/CTF regime, but past instances of weaknesses in the system misused for money laundering cannot be forgotten.

The Supreme Court has recently tasked a high-level committee headed by SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa to find ways for retrieving money stashed abroad illegally in banks and properties by Pakistani citizens.

And in August last year, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) of New York sought to slap $630m on Habib Bank Ltd after its New York branch failed to comply with laws designed to combat illicit money transfers. The bank finally managed an out-of-court settlement and paid $225m in fines in early September.

“From then on, the SBP has become stricter in enforcing rules for curbing money laundering and potential terror financing of our banking system, with an emphasis on banks’ overseas operations,” says a senior executive of one of the top five banks.

It was barely two to three months after the DFS action against HBL that the State Bank also updated its AML/CFT regulations. In addition, the central bank has also been aggressively persuading banks to enforce the know-your-customer regime in letter and spirit.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, February 19th, 2018

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Nawaz thunders at opponents, vows clean sweep of 2018 election

  • ,Nawaz ousted by those who wish to put a stop to your votes, Maryam tells supporters,
  • ,Gold crown for Maryam,

As the PML-N flexed its muscles at a charged rally in Sheikhupura on Sunday, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to clean sweep the upcoming General Election, reiterating his claim that he had been removed from office for pursuing an agenda of development and progress.

The PML-N chief and his daughter Maryam Nawaz addressed a large gathering of supporters at Sheikhupura's Company Bagh, where both claimed the former premier was "punished" for serving the people.

Nawaz took on both, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the PPP, claiming none of his opponents had ever undertaken a single development project. "Ask the PPP, ask the blue-eyed boy's (ladla) party," he said in a veiled reference to PTI chief Imran Khan, "The name of a single project that they have either started or completed."

He expressed hope that those talking about the umpire's finger ? another veiled reference to Khan, who famously during his party's 2014 sit-in had said the "umpire was about to raise his finger" ? would face a defeat in the 2018 election.

"We already bid the PPP goodbye, and now the time has come to see off the people who talk about the umpire's finger," he added.

Sharif maintained that Peshawar and Karachi had been ruined by the PTI and PPP whereas his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had continuously delivered development projects one after another and transformed Lahore into the most beautiful city in the country.

"The country had been touching new highs of progress, when they ousted Nawaz Sharif because he eliminated terrorism, load shedding, and started work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)," he said adding that the PML-N government led by him had secured foreign investment of $56 billion in the country.

"I ask why was I ousted. Do you people realise the reason behind my ouster?" he asked, and then responded to his own question, saying that he knew he had been disqualified as 'punishment' for making motorways in the 1990s, for making Pakistan a nuclear power and then pushing an agenda of development.

Addressing a crowd of party workers and supports, the former premier said he had been elected for five years in 1990, 1997 and 2013 but was ousted after two, three and four years respectively during each term as prime minister.

He also claimed credit for several positive developments in the country, ranging from the restoration of peace in Karachi to making progress in the education, power and health sectors.

Nawaz ousted by those who wish to put a stop to your votes, Maryam tells supporters

Nawaz's daughter, Maryam, took the stage before her father asking whether his supporters agreed with the Supreme Court's decision to disqualify him as prime minister.

"This is not just a case against Nawaz Sharif, it is a case against each person who voted for him," she said. "Despite your votes, Nawaz Sharif was not allowed to finish his term. This has happened with him thrice, not just one time," she added.

"Each time he was ousted by those who wish to put a stop to your votes," she claimed. "The same happened in 1999, from 2000 to 2010, and from 2017 to 2018. Will the same spectacle be allowed to keep happening, or will you do something about it?" she asked the energetic crowd.

"Why does this happen with Nawaz Sharif each time? I know why it happens. Because whenever he comes to power, he serves you. He provides you power, he builds motorways, hospitals, universities, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. And in return, he receives your affection. This is the punishment handed to Nawaz Sharif for this each time. And in 40 years, I have only seen your love for him increase," she added.

The former PM took to the stage after his daughter, as his been a common practice at a series of rallies they have addressed this year.

Earlier in the day, Nawaz and his daughter, Maryam, arrived at the venue where a large number of supporters and party workers welcomed them.

"As we were making our way to the venue for the rally, the venue was quite far off but it seemed as though all of Sheikhupura was the rally ground," Maryam said, addressing PML-N supporters.

,,

In a video shared on Twitter after the rally, Maryam can be heard asking her father to pretend she is a journalist and to share his thoughts on the support for the party displayed on the streets.

"I have come to Sheikhupura many times, but I have not seen a display like this before," he replies.

Gold crown for Maryam

A photograph of the crown made specially for Maryam Nawaz. ? DawnNews

A photograph of the crown made specially for Maryam Nawaz. ? DawnNews

PML-N supporters in the area prepared a gold crown studded with diamonds as a gift honouring the former premier's daughter.

Speaking to DawnNews, the head of a local traders' body said: "It is an 8-tola gold crown. The diamonds were more expensive. But the lump sum is no object, we are proud to present our leaders this gift."

This is the second rally the father-daughter duo have attended in as many days.

On Saturday, Nawaz, his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza, and Maryam all put up a united front in Lodhran, where PML-N candidate Syed Iqbal Shah on Monday won the NA-154 by-poll with a sizeable margin of some 25,000 votes against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Ali Tareen, the son of Jahangir Tareen.

Maryam had separately addressed a social media workers' convention in Mansehra on Friday.

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‘Will be ready for 2018 election,’ Sattar vows as MQM-P votes in intra-party polls

The MQM-P held intra-party elections on Sunday after a disagreement between two groups in the party over Senate election nominations led to a rift between the Farooq Sattar-led faction based in Karachi's PIB Colony and the Bahadurabad faction.

The Raabita Commitee-led faction headquartered in Bahadurabad was strongly opposed to the nomination of Kamran Tessori, a favoured candidate of Sattar's, who is perceived as a newcomer by many of the party's old guard.

After a few failed rounds of talks between both groups, it appeared that the Raabita Commitee's (Coordination Committee) request to remove Tessori's name from the list of nominations was not accommodated by Sattar, even after the committee had abdicated its right to nominate senators completely for the sake of maintaining unity in the party.

The committee subsequently removed Sattar from his position as party convener, shortly after which Sattar announced the dissolution of the committee and called fresh intra-party polls to determine the party's new leader.

Polling to elect members of the new Raabita Committee and Central Executive Council took place at Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Ground.

Sattar, in a video statement, said that the elections were being held at the KMC Ground in Karachi's PIB Colony area and at the MQM's Hyderabad Zonal Office.

He appealed to all workers from Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas, Dadu, Badin, Thatta, Khairpur, Shikarpur, Gotki to come forward and participate in the elections.

"The rift in the party can only be resolved with these elections. Just like the party was saved on August 23, the February 18 intra-party elections will rescue the party," he said, referring to the party's 2016 split from its London office after founder Altaf Hussain made incendiary anti-Pakistan statements.

"I have an unblemished 35-year-long political career. I put this fact before you and ask you to place your trust in me. I will not disappoint you. We will be ready for the 2018 general election, we will mend this rift between the party and will never look back. We will win back all our seats with pride and honour," he claimed.

MQM-P's Kamran Tessori while speaking to journalists in Islamabad today, said: "I've paid a visit to the shrine of Bari Imam Sahab and prayed that the crisis some conspirators have created is averted and some concrete solution emerges soon."

"It's our leader Dr Farooq Sattar's primary wish that the party and it's workers not remain divided. The intra-party elections are taking place today in Karachi, Hyderabad and interior Punjab and Sindh. It will be proven today whether this party is a party of the workers or of those who shove the manifesto and Constitution in our faces."

"I pray that the results this evening are in accordance with the wishes of the party members and all the efforts they have put in are not wasted."

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Plane crashes in Iran, killing all 66 aboard

Iran's Aseman Airlines plane carrying 66 people crashed on the outskirts of Iran's central city of Semirom, Isfahan province, on Sunday morning, ,Tehran Times reported,.

The plane was heading from Tehran to the southwestern city of Yasouj when it disappeared from radar, the publication said quoting Fars news agency.

A spokesman for Aseman Airlines spokesman told state TV that the crash has killed all 66 people who were on board. Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai spoke to state TV on Sunday.

He said that the flight carried 60 passengers, including one child, and six crew members, adding that the plane crashed in Mount Dena, which is some 440 meters (1,440 feet) tall.

Due to foggy condition, rescue helicopters couldn't reach the crash site in the Zagros Mountains, state TV reported.

The ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short-distance regional flying, went down near the remote mountain town of Semirom, some 620 kilometers (390 miles) south of the capital, Tehran.

Aseman Airlines, owned by Iran's civil service pension foundation, is a semi-private air carrier headquartered in Tehran that specializes in flights to remote airfields across the country. It also flies internationally.

The carrier has a fleet of 29 aircraft, including six ATR aircraft, according to FlightRadar24, a plane-tracking website. It is Iran's third-largest airline by fleet size, behind state carrier Iran Air and Mahan Air.

The Iranian Red Crescent said it has deployed to the area and authorities said they would be investigating.

Locals described hearing the crash, though no one had found the crash site yet, according to state TV.

European airplane manufacturer ATR, a Toulouse, France-based partnership of Airbus and Italy's Leonardo S.p.A., said it had no immediate information about the crash. The manufacturer specializes in regional turboprop aircraft of 90 seats or less.

Under decades of international sanctions, Iran's commercial passenger aircraft fleet has aged, with air accidents occurring regularly in recent years.

Following the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with world powers, Iran signed deals with both Airbus and Boeing to buy scores of passenger planes.

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COAS urges US not to blame Pakistan for its failures

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Saturday asked the US to stop blaming Pakistan for its problems in Afghanistan and instead search for the reasons for its failures.

He was speaking at the Munich Security Conference where military chiefs and civilian leaders have gathered to discuss the world’s most pressing security issues. The conference is a three-day event.

Tensions between Islamabad and Washington intensified after the announcement of Trump administration’s strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan, which was very critical of Pakistan for its alleged inaction against terrorist sanctuaries allegedly used for sustaining the insurgency in Afghanistan.

A bilateral engagement process started afterwards to find common ground, but the National Security Strategy document unveiled by the US, President Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet, and suspension of security aid left little doubt that the extensive Pak-US talks had failed to resolve the differences.

Almost at the same time as suspension of security aid, Pentagon quietly opened another channel with the GHQ over the problems in security cooperation. The GHQ later shared broader sense of conversations with US Centcom Commander Gen Joseph Votel and an unnamed American senator.

It is widely believed the GHQ is running a secret dialogue with the US. Recently, at the corps commanders’ conference the military’s top brass had signalled its desire for cooperation with the US.

In Munich the army chief again categorically denied the existence of terrorist sanctuaries on the country’s soil and recalled the steps taken to prevent unauthorised movements across the porous border.

Gen Bajwa said that Pakistan was being attacked from terrorist hideouts on Afghan soil. He also emphasised the need for repatriation of 2.7 million Afghan refugees currently residing in Pakistan.

Pointing to the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Islamic State safe havens, he said terrorists had established sanctuaries on the Afghan soil along the border with Pakistan.

Gen Bajwa said Pakistan had rendered a lot of sacrifices for defeating terrorism. He also underscored the importance of international cooperation against terrorism.

Speaking about the operations launched in the country against terrorists, he said that besides kinetic operations, a lot of emphasis had been put on cutting off their financial sources.

He said Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations were being carried out under a National Action Plan.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2018

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India to get operational control of Iran’s Chabahar port

NEW DELHI: India and Iran on Saturday signed agreements, including Tehran leasing to New Delhi operational control of part of the Iranian east coast port of Chabahar for 18 months.

The $85 million project, just 90km from Gwadar port, creates a transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

India is trying to develop Chabahar as a way to gain access to the markets of Central Asia countries as well as Afghanistan.

New Delhi, Tehran sign agreements; Modi, Rouhani discuss peace in Afghanistan

But progress is slow because of concern that President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington may eventually scrap the Iran nuclear deal.

A leasing agreement giving operational control to India of Shahid Beheshti port — phase one of the Chabahar port — was signed in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Later, addressing a joint press conference with the Iranian president, Mr Modi said both countries wanted to expand bilateral ties and cooperation in economic development.

“We will support the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link so that Chabahar gateway’s potential could be fully utilised,” he said. “We want to expand connectivity, cooperation in the energy sector and the centuries-old bilateral relationship.”

Other agreements included a double taxation avoidance treaty, extradition, and cooperation in the farm sector.

Mr Rouhani, who arrived in the southern city of Hyderabad on Thurs­day, will later address industrialists.

Peace in Afghanistan

The Indian prime minister and the Iranian president agreed to step up efforts to bring stability to war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Mr Modi reiterated India’s commitment to help Afghanistan become “a peaceful, secure, permanent, prosperous and pluralistic country” after holding talks with Mr Rouhani in New Delhi on the last day of his three-day visit.

“Looking at our common interests, we are committed to stopping the expansion of such forces that promote international organised crime in terrorism, extremism, illegal drug trafficking, cyber crime and various forms,” Mr Modi said.

“We want to see our region and the world free from terrorism,” he added.

There was no mention of financial assistance or providing weapons to help Afghanistan fight militants by either leader.
They did not name Pakistan.

India has been a key supporter of Kabul’s government and has poured more than $2 billion into the country since the Taliban were toppled in 2001.

India has been a key purchaser of Iranian oil and gas, and maintained trade ties even as international sanctions were imposed on Tehran over its nuclear programme between 2012 and 2016. However, local Indian media have reported frustrations over delays in awarding a contract to develop a major gas field known as Farzad B in the Gulf.

India’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that “discussions continue” on Farzad B.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2018

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McCullum ready to play ‘selfless, fearless’ cricket for Qalandars

All through his cricketing career Lahore Qalandars captain Brendon McCullum has played with a fearlessness that only he could.

When the kiwi veteran comes out to bat, no bowler is fast enough, no ground big enough for him to change his free-scoring style. He played his cricket with his trademark swagger, and it's not going to change in the 2018 Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Ahead of the February 22 kick-off, the message from McCullum is: "We'll play selfless cricket, we'll play fearless cricket and we hope we can make our fans proud this year. We'll try and do our absolute best [to win]."

The Qalandars have been hapless in the opening two editions of the PSL, finishing bottom of the six-team tournament each time, albeit due to little fault of McCullum.

While the franchise's past record may not have been great, the 36-year-old is confident that things will be different in the upcoming season.

"I think we've made some very, very good signings over the off-season," said McCullum. "We've had a couple of disappointing years but maybe this is the year when we can stand up for the people of Lahore but also for those who support the Qalandars from all over the world."

Serving as McCullum's deputy during the 2018 PSL will be Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman, and the New Zealander seems very content with the choice the franchise has made.

"I have a trusted ally in Fakhar Zaman, which is fantastic," said McCullum. "He's going to do great things as a leader as well."

McCullum also reserved praise for head coach Aqib Javed, saying: "He [Javed] has also been very prominent from the get-go. He does wonderful things all 12 months a year. To have him at the helm is really cool."

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PCB to use ‘Insights’ software for players profiling, selection

  • ,How Insights works:,

The Pakistan Cricket Board and the Information Technology University (ITU) on Sunday joined hands to use a player profiling software to keep track of performance of cricket players and enhance their performance, a press release read.

The software called Insights – a unique match analysis and scoring facility— developed by the ITU will be used to facilitate the PCB in connection with making a detailed profile of each player, highlighting his weak and strong points based on his performance.

The programme will be used for the upcoming edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) as well as domestic matches in the country. It has been developed by project leader Talha Rehmani and his team with input and guidance from cricket experts, including chief selector Inzamamul Haq and head coach of National Cricket Academy Mushtaq Ahmed.

PCB Chairman Najam Sethi and founding Vice Chancellor of Information Technology University (ITU) Dr Umar Saif signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard.

At the MoU signing, Najam Sethi said that the PCB understands the importance of modern technology and its value for cricket both at the top and grassroot levels. "I am hopeful that this platform will help us analyse skills of our players," he added.

Dr Umar Saif, an adviser to chief minister Punjab and chairman of the PITB, said: "It's a huge step towards digitisation of cricket in the country and I hope that it helps Pakistan cricket, especially since we are set to become the pioneers of providing such a facility at grassroot level."

How Insights works:

According to the press release, Insights contains a parallel scoring application where the scores for the matches with the minutest details are entered using just an android tablet which makes it very cost effective. The handler can enter a lot of additional information alongside scores, like field placement, pitch and weather information, ball pitch spot, swing and height estimation.

The system can be used simultaneously by two users for entering the details of the same match to cover it with greater precision. A handler can add scores whereas at the same time an analyst can add information on pitch, field etc.

A user can also enter in details of each and every delivery of a match. The data collected, both of matches and individuals, will be used to draw concrete as well as soft analytical results.

Insights can identify weak and strong areas for a batsman, and the trends and factors affecting the bowling performance of every individual bowler. With the help of the software, the PCB coaches would be able to eliminate flaws and bring improvements to progress of players, said the press release.

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Trudeau touches down in India for week-long state visit

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family, accompanied by a delegation of cabinet ministers, arrived in New Delhi on Saturday evening on a week-long state visit to India, Indian media reported.

Trudeau, his wife, Sophie, and their three children were greeted at Indira Gandi International Airport by Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh and Indian Ambassador to Canada Vikas Swarup, ,NDTV reported,.

Interestingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ? who last year ,broke protocol to greet United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the airport, and also received Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife at the airport in January ? has yet to meet the Canadian PM.

The Trudeaus went sightseeing at the Taj Mahal in Agra on Sunday.

On Monday, the Canadian PM will fly to Gujarat and pay a visit to the Sabarmati Ashram. He is also expected to visit the Akshardham Temple in Gujarat. Additionally, he will lead a discussion on education and investment opportunities at the Indian Institute of Management, NDTV reported.

On Wednesday, Feb 21, Trudeau will visit Amritsar's Golden Temple. On Thursday, he is expected to visit Delhi's Jama Mosque and deliver a lecture at a gathering of Canadian and Indian business leaders, ,Indian Express, reported.

Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie arrive at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi on February 17, 2018. ? AFP

Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie arrive at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi on February 17, 2018. ? AFP

Trudeau will also make visits to Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Amritsar.

The two prime ministers will meet on Feb 23 for wide-ranging talks, prior to which there will be ,a formal ceremony for Trudeau,.

"Wheels up for India and a busy visit, focused on creating good jobs and strengthening the deep connection between the people of our two countries," Trudeau had tweeted on Friday before departing for India.

The Canadian PM said the trip was focused on creating jobs and strengthening the "deep connection" between the people of both countries, according to NDTV. The trip is being seen as outreach to the 1.4 million citizens of Indian-origin settled in Canada.

According to a statement issued by India's Ministry of External Affairs published by ,The Indian Express,, the visit is aimed at further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries in key areas of mutual interest including trade and investment, energy, science and innovation, higher education, infrastructure development, skill development and space. Cooperation in security and counter-terrorism as well as exchange of views on global and regional issues of mutual interest will also form important components of the visit.

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FATF begins today review of move to put Pakistan on grey-list

WASHINGTON: A global anti-money-laundering watchdog begins a week-long plenary session in Paris on Sunday to review proposals that include putting Pakis­tan back on a list of countries which have failed to prevent terrorist financing.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 to develop policies to combat money laundering, but after 9/11 it focuses more on preventing terrorist financing.

The FATF announced on Saturday that the Feb 18-23 meetings would discuss impo­rtant issues to protect the integrity of the global fina­ncial system and contribute to security. Over 700 delegates from the FATF global network, as well as the United Nations, Inter­nati­onal Monetary Fund, World Bank and other partners, will attend the meetings.

Pakistan’s de facto finance minister, Miftah Ismail, told Reuters last week that the ,United States and Britain had put forward a motion to place Pakistan on the FATF terrorist-financing watch list,. Later, they also persuaded France and Germany to co-sponsor the move.

At a Thursday afternoon news briefing in Washing­ton, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert hinted that the resolution had been submitted and would come up for discussion at the FATF meeting in Paris.

If adopted the resolution would place Pakistan on the FATF grey-list of “jurisdictions with deficient anti-money laundering regimes”, where it was from 2009-15.

In November 2017, the International Coopera­tion Review Group in Argentina adopted a resolution, calling attention to Pakistan’s support to the Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jaish-i- Moh­a­mmad and affiliated groups like Jamaatud Dawa. The meeting also demanded a full report on Pakistan’s eff­orts to curb terrorist financing before the FATF meetings.

“We will discuss a new counter-terrorist financing operational plan that will set out the actions the FATF will be taking in response to the changing terrorist financing threats,” the group said.

The decision to put Pakistan back on the list would be a major setback for Islamabad’s efforts to improve its image. It is also the first time ever that four countries have nominated a country for censure.

“We are now working with the US, the UK, Germany and France for the nomination to be withdrawn,” Mr Ismail told Reuters. “We are also quite hopeful that even if the US does not withdraw the nomination we will prevail and not be put on the list.”

Pakistan hopes that China, which has supported Pakis­tan in the past, will rescue it again. Pakistan has also lobbied for support with Russia, Turkey and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

But India, which is lobbying against Pakistan, sent a secretary-level delegation to Moscow on Jan 31 to persu­a­de Russia not to support Pak­istan. The Indian media reported that in his recent visits to Gulf countries, Ind­ian Prime Minister Narendra Mo­di also asked them not to support Pakistan at the FATF.

Russian Ambassador to India Nikolai Kudashev, however, told The Hindu newspaper last week that “to corner Pakistan is not Russia’s policy”. He said Moscow would base its decision on “how weighty and substantiated the proof for Pakistan’s involvement in financing terrorism will be”.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2018

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Do not test Israel, Netanyahu tells ‘tyrants of Tehran’

  • ,'Noose of terror',

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tehran on Saturday over aggressions by what he called Iran and its “proxies” in Syria, while showing what he claimed was a piece of an Iranian drone shot down in Israeli airspace.

“I have a message to the tyrants of Tehran: Do not test Israel's resolve,” Netanyahu said at the ,Munich Security Conference,.

He brandished a rectangular piece of dark green metal which he called “a piece of that Iranian drone, or what's left of it, after we shot it down."

Israel has said it shot down the drone on February 10 after it entered the country from Syria, and responded with a raid on what it said was the Iranian control systems for the craft in Syria.

It was the first time Israel had publicly acknowledged hitting Iranian targets in Syria since the 2011 start of the civil war there.

The strikes came after what Israel said was an ,incursion by an Iranian drone into its airspace, and the shooting down of one of its F16s — believed to be the first loss of an Israeli jet in combat since 1982.

Calling Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif the “smooth-talking mouthpiece of Iran's regime,” Netanyahu said: “Mr Zarif, do you recognise this? You should, it's yours.”

Again referring to Zarif, who is scheduled to speak later in Munich, the Israeli leader said: “No doubt Mr Zarif will brazenly deny Iran's involvement in Syria.” “He lies with eloquence.”

'Noose of terror'

The Israeli military has claimed the drone was a copy of a US model captured by Iran in 2011, based on an analysis of the drone's debris.

Tensions between the two countries have been building in recent months, with Israel fearing that Tehran is trying to establish a permanent presence in Syria as part of an effort to become a greater regional power in the Middle East.

At the same time, Syria appears to feel it now has the upper hand in the civil war and is more emboldened to stop Israeli air raids inside the country, analysts say.

But Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would not let Iran obtain a permanent foothold in its northern neighbour.

“Through its proxies — Shiite militias in Iraq, the Huthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza — Iran is devouring huge swathes of the Middle East,” he said.

“Israel will not allow Iran's regime to put a noose of terror around our neck,” he added.

“We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves. And we will act if necessary not just against Iran's proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”

But he stressed that Israel was not the enemy of the Iranian people, and offered his condolences to the families of the 66 people killed in an Iranian plane crash on Sunday.

“We have no quarrel with the people of Iran, only with the regime that torments them,” Netanyahu said.

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Have to work really hard to lift the trophy again: Mohammad Hafeez

Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez on Saturday said Peshawar Zalmi needed to work really hard to ensure they lift the trophy for the second time in a row, advising them against complacency.

Zalmi earlier reached Dubai and had their first practice session on Saturday.

"I have always believed that whatever you have done — good or bad — has happened and we should not live in the past," Hafeez said while speaking to DawnNews. "Yes we were champions, but we have to work really hard to maintain it."

"The core of the team is the same and youngsters that have joined in bring a lot of flare with them," he added.

Lahore-born all-rounder Saad Nasim said that the players were gelling really well and that he, along with other juniors, were receiving important guidance from the more experienced members of the team.

,,

Zalmi won the second edition of PSL under Darren Sammy's captaincy in front of a jam-packed crowd in Lahore last year. In the final, they cruised past Sarfraz Ahmed-led Quetta Gladiators which were lacking important international players including Kevin Pietersen who refused to visit Pakistan.

"We'll play selfless cricket, we'll play fearless cricket and we hope we can make our fans proud this year. We'll try and do our absolute best [to win]," ,Lahore Qalandars skipper Brendam McCullum said,, earlier on Saturday about his team's strategy.

,,

Meanwhile players and staff of Quetta Gladiators and Multan Sultans have also started reaching Dubai, where the first few matches of the league — including the opener on February 22 — will be played.

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Trump slams FBI over handling of Florida shooting while ‘focusing on Russia collusion’

President Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI on Saturday night, saying the agency “missed all of the many signals” sent by the suspect in the Florida school shooting and arguing they are “spending too much time trying to prove ,Russian collusion with the Trump campaign,”.

,,

Trump said on Twitter: “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Read: ,'Shame on you': student assails Trump at Florida anti-gun rally,

The FBI received a tip last month that the suspect in the ,Florida school shooting, had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack. But the agency said on Friday that agents failed to investigate.

The FBI’s acknowledgment that it mishandled the tip prompted a sharp rebuke from its boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and a call from Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump ally, for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign.

Trump and other Republicans have heavily criticised the FBI. They are still dissatisfied with its decision not to charge Hillary Clinton with crimes related to her use of a private email server, and they see signs of bias in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.

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