TTP appoints Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud as chief after Fazlullah’s killing

New TTP chief Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud. — DawnNewsTV

New TTP chief Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud. — DawnNewsTV

The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced it had appointed a new leader on Saturday after the militant group confirmed for the first time its former chief Mullah Fazlullah was ,killed in a US drone strike, last week.

US forces targeted Fazlullah in a counterterrorism strike on June 14 in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, close to the border with Pakistan.

US officials had not confirmed whether the strike was successful but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani later ,confirmed the killing, to Caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in phone calls.

Examine: ,Does Fazlullah’s death matter?,

In a statement sent to AFP on Saturday, TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani confirmed Fazlullah was killed in the US drone strike.

“It is a matter of pride that all leaders of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan have been martyred by infidels,” Khurasani said, referring to Fazlullah’s two predecessors who were also killed in drone strikes.

The group’s shura council elected Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud to replace him, he added.

The Pakistan Army has called Fazlullah’s apparent death a “positive development”.

Editorial: ,Regional ties after TTP chief’s killing,

He is believed to have ordered the failed 2012 assassination of Malala Yousafzai, who became a global symbol of the fight for girls’ rights to schooling, and who later won the Nobel Peace Prize.

TTP was also behind the massacre of more than 150 people, including more than 100 schoolchildren, at Peshawar’s Army Public School in December 2014.

The militant leader went into hiding in Afghanistan in 2009 and his death “gives relief to scores of Pakistani families who fell victims to TTP terror including the APS massacre”, an Inter-Services Public Relations statement had said.

Who is the new TTP chief?

In contrast to Fazlullah’s infamous brutality, the new TTP leader has a scholastic and literary background.

Mehsud, 40, studied at a number of religious seminaries in Pakistan to specialise in different fields of religious teaching. He served as a deputy to Baitullah Mehsud, who has been blamed for the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The new leader Mehsud earlier this year authored a book in which he described the planning of Bhutto’s assassination, identifying the militants involved, including one who is still at large and believed to be hiding in South Waziristan.

Mehsud also fought against the US-backed Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and took part in TTP attacks against Pakistani security forces.

According to a ,Dawn report,, he hails from Gorgoray area of Sararogha tehsil and belongs to Mechikhel, a sub-clan of the Mehsud tribe. He also remained a qazi (judge) of Sharia court established by Baitullah Mehsud.

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Imran Khan cleared to contest Karachi’s NA-243 seat

The Sindh Elections Appellate Tribunal on Saturday rejected a petition against the acceptance of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s nomination papers, clearing him to contest the election from Karachi’s NA-243.

The appeal had been filed by a candidate from former chief justice Chaudhry Iftikhar’s Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party (PJDP).

The appeal had pointed to Khan’s alleged failure to disclose the sponsors of his foreign trips and information on who bears the expenditure of his children as well as his failure to mention his alleged daughter in the nomination papers.

While Khan will be able to contest the election on the Karachi seat — which comprises Gulshan-i-Iqbal and parts of Jamshed Quarters — his appeals against the rejection of nomination papers from NA-95 (Mianwali) and NA-53 (Islamabad) are still pending with the Punjab and Islamabad election tribunals.

Other than these seats, the PTI chief is also in the run for NA-35 (Bannu) and NA-131 (Lahore). Khan yesterday announced he would formally begin his election campaign from Mianwali, from where he was elected in 2002.

The tribunal also issued notices on appeals against the rejection of papers of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Farooq Sattar and the acceptance of former chief minister Murad Ali Shah’s nomination papers.

Meanwhile, the Punjab tribunal cleared Maryam Nawaz to contest elections from PP-173, rejecting an appeal against acceptance of her nomination papers.

A separate appeal, filed by PTI’s Yameen Rashid, is still pending with the tribunal against the acceptance of Maryam’s papers for NA-125.

The PML-N, however, announced yesterday that its board had decided that the former prime minister’s daughter would contest the elections from NA-127 (Lahore) and PP-173.

PMLN Parliamentary Board has decided that ,@MaryamNSharif, will contest election for National Assembly from NA-127 and PP-173 ,,

— PML(N) (@pmln_org) ,June 22, 2018,

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Independent candidate in Muzaffargarh declares over Rs400 billion in assets

An independent candidate contesting from NA-182 and PP-270 in Muzaffargarh has declared around Rs403 billion in assets, it emerged on Saturday.

The candidate, Mohammad Hussain Shaikh, claims that he owns land comprising almost 40 per cent of Muzaffargarh city as well as the Lang Malana, Taliri, Chak Taliri and Latkaran areas.

He claims that the land had previously been disputed, but a Supreme Court bench comprising the chief justice, Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Umar Atta Bandial recently decided in his favour in a case that had went on for around 88 years.

While talking to DawnNewsTV, Shaikh said that the land owned by him was worth approximately Rs403.11 billion. His nomination papers, a copy of which is available with DawnNewsTV, also state the worth of the previously disputed land at between Rs300 and Rs400 billion, in addition to other pieces of land valued in tens of millions of rupees.

Shaikh is now the richest candidate according to details of assets declared in the nomination papers that have come forward so far.

Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari have all declared assets worth hundreds of millions of rupees. PML-N’s Amir Muqam and PPP’s Arbab Alamgir have also declared assets worth billions.

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‘Electables’ are essential for poll triumph, Imran tells protesters

ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the ,demand, that only long-time party workers be given tickets for coming general elections, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said on Friday that winning the elections was the top priority of his party and it was possible only through electable candidates.

Speaking to party workers who have been staging a sit-in outside his Banigala residence for over a week while demanding tickets for PTI loyalists, Mr Khan said that there was no question of (a difference between) new and old workers.

He said that the 126 days of the sit-in staged in 2014 were not as difficult for him as the three weeks during which party tickets were distributed.

Urges caretaker govt to take public into confidence over economic conditions of country

“We worked 12 hours a day to decide about the tickets. We received as many as 4,500 applications for tickets and awarded around 550 tickets,” the PTI chief said. “After observing reaction over ticket distribution, I decided to review the process. I have been working on it for the last one week and have also got surveys conducted in many areas to ensure fair distribution of tickets.”

He said that there were complaints about only 10 per cent tickets but during the review process it was observed that there was almost no difference between the candidates who were awarded tickets and who were not. In some constituencies long-time workers were ignored because newcomers were more aware about how to contest elections.

“It is not an easy task to review ticket distribution and the process will be completed in three to four days. I have not awarded a single ticket to my relative or friend. However I want to make it clear that tickets will be awarded to those who know the science of contesting elections because change cannot be brought without winning the elections. So our first priority is to win the elections,” Mr Khan said.

About reserved seats, he said that it was more difficult to award tickets to women workers, adding that it was being considered that women candidates should be able to understand the proceedings of assemblies and play a role in legislation.

Following Mr Khan’s speech, protesters ended their dharna outside his residence.

Meanwhile, the PTI chief has urged the caretaker government to take the people into confidence over economic conditions of the country.

He said in a tweet that though the PML-N government had saved billions of dollars because of decline in oil prices at international level, at the end of its five-year tenure it had left the national economy in a dismal state.

“The former government has left Pakistan with record fiscal and current account deficit, negligible net foreign exchange reserves, highest circular debt, highest losses in state owned enterprises, highest debt to Gross Domestic Product at 70 per cent and downwards economic ratings,” Mr Khan said.

In another tweet, he said that the caretaker government must elaborate the correct economic situation to the nation.

He said that headlines of different newspapers claimed that the current account deficit had hit record $16 billion in 11 months and international rating agency Moody’s had downgraded Pakistan’s rating. Similarly newspapers claimed that foreign direct investment had decreased, as compared to last year, and progress was visible only in advertisements, he said.

PPP criticises Rangers deployment at Banigala

Pakistan Peoples Party secretary general Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari has criticised deployment of Rangers outside the residence of the PTI chief.

He said in a statement that Mr Khan had been provided unusual protocol and Rangers had been deployed at Banigala to “protect him from disgruntled workers of his own party”. A large number of policemen have also been deployed at his residence.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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Amnesty scheme sees massive response

ISLAMABAD: With days to go before its end, the ,tax amnesty scheme, announced by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government has seen a surge of interest. According to multiple well-placed sources in the Federal Board of Revenue, so far Rs21 billion has already been raised under it in the form of taxes till June 21.

The tax amount created through the amnesty declaration and deposited in the banks stood at nearly Rs5bn, while the remaining tax amount of Rs16bn has been created in the FBR online system through the submission of challans.

The deadline of the scheme is June 30 which, according to the law, is non-extendable. Pressure is mounting on the government from various sides to extend the deadline.

Rs21bn tax raised thus far; according to law, June 30 deadline can’t be extended

Looking at the numbers of declarations coming in, and those in the pipeline, the sources in the FBR and finance ministry said the total amount of tax paid on assets declared under the scheme could well go as high as Rs100bn, though it was too early to properly calculate this number at this stage.

The details of tax amount created so far were shared with caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar on Thursday for approval before sharing it with the media. The minister received the figures, but directed top officials of the FBR not to disclose them to the media at this stage.

It was in this background that FBR spokesperson Dr Muhammad Iqbal at a press conference on Friday did not disclose the tax figure created officially, preferring to say only that the response thus far had been “encouraging”. He went on to claim that its success would help resolve the current account deficit and balance of payment issues. He said the number of beneficiaries of the scheme was increasing every day, and categorically stated that the FBR had no power to extend the deadline.

The scheme became effective from April 10 and expires on June 30. It allows people to voluntarily declare domestic as well as foreign assets that had till April 10 been held beyond the tax authorities’ knowledge and reach. It offers varying rates that will be charged on these assets, ranging from 2 to 5 per cent, depending on whether it is a domestic or foreign asset, the asset class, and whether or not it is being repatriated to the country or now. This is the fourth in a series of amnesty schemes announced by the PML-N government in five years, and comes at a time when many holders of black money abroad are already very concerned about the OECD tax information treaty that Pakistan has signed which will enable automatic sharing of information with many other countries. That automatic sharing is set to begin on Sept 1 of this year.

The FBR spokesperson said the response from people increased overwhelmingly after remarks from Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar that the bureau could pursue the scheme. A Supreme Court bench was hearing the case on the matter at its Lahore registry.

A source in the finance ministry told Dawn that after green signal from the Supreme Court, Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar held several meetings with top officials of the FBR to energise the scheme.

Several technical flaws were discovered in the scheme meant for declaration of foreign assets which needed clarification and improvement along the way. “We have addressed almost all queries and issues raised by intended people who want to declare their foreign assets,” the FBR source told Dawn. These apprehensions were removed in consultation with chartered accounts that are in direct contact with intended clients.

The FBR spokesperson said that several legal measures were already taken in the last budget to penalise those people who would not avail this scheme. He said it would be difficult for people, especially for those who did not disclose their foreign assets.

In the 1958 amnesty scheme, an amount of Rs1.12bn was recovered from undeclared assets, followed by Rs920m in 1968, Rs1.5bn in 1976, Rs10bn in 2000 and Rs3.16bn in 2008. There are several other schemes which were also offered in 1985, 1991, 1998, 2012 and 2016. However, the FBR did not disclose their revenue recovery or beneficiaries.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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Bilawal has more stakes abroad than in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has more assets in the United Arab Emirates than in Pakistan and has extended over Rs1.24 billion loan to four companies from the money he inherited from his mother and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after her ,assassination,.

The total value of his shares in the four companies forms only a small fraction of the amount he has lent to them.

A perusal of his statement of assets submitted with his nomination papers shows that he has lent Rs777.75 million to Tempo Global Growth and has Rs87,513 shares of the company.

Faryal Talpur declares Rs323.17m assets, Dr Azra Fazal in her documents claims to have Rs99.10m assets

Another huge chunk of Rs273.63 million has been provided as loan to Tempo Global Gains — apparently a sister organisation of Tempo Global Growth. Mr Bhutto-Zardari owns 112 shares of Tempo Global Gains.

Likewise, Radiant Investment Services, where his investment in 68 shares has been mentioned as Rs2.77 million, has been given a loan of Rs125.58 million. Another company Royale Properties International has been given a Rs68.55 million loan. He holds 340 shares of the company valuing Rs87,514.

He also lent Rs47.67 million to Victory Enterprises, UK. He owns four company shares worth Rs526.

Besides, he has shares in two villas in Dubai — one of which is situated in Jumairah — but their value has not been mentioned in the statement.

According to his documents, he owns seven watches, 10 sets of jewellery and ornaments, nine sets of cufflinks, and two pet dogs gifted to him by his mother though he has not mentioned cost or value of the items.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari has declared in his nomination papers that he holds a resident visa of the UAE granted to him by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the UAE.

His paternal aunt Faryal Talpur and her spouse Mir Munawar Ali Talpur also have UAE Iqama, as she has Rs6.50 million business ventures in Sharjah and Mr Talpur has invested around Rs300,000 in Dubai.

In the documents submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan, Mrs Talpur declared that her net assets were valued at Rs323.17 million including arms and ammunition worth Rs283,000.

She has a house in F-8 sector of Islamabad and two houses in Karachi. She also owns one plot each in Gwadar, Lahore and Rawalpindi, and more than 320 acres of agricultural land in Tando Allayar, Sanghar, Nawabshah and Mirpurkhas districts.

Mrs Talpur paid Rs3.83 million agricultural income tax in the financial year closing on June 30, 2017.

She has investments in two rice mills, Asif Apartments, Land Mark, Zardari Group and fuel stations with a total worth of Rs32.92 million. She has three vehicles valued at Rs11.61 million, while her cash holding is more than Rs147.30 million.

At the same time, she has given over Rs30.69 loan against her credit including a personal loan of Rs4.50 million obtained in Dubai.

The net worth of Mr Talpur, who is a candidate himself for the national assembly seat from Mirpurkhas, is Rs45.07 million — far less than that of his wife.

The statement of assets also shows that their daughter, Ayesha Talpur, has more cash and properties than her father. She has Rs128.28 million assets while her younger sister, Fatima Talpur, has cash and owns land worth Rs15.63 million.

Mr Talpur has one ancestral house in Kot Ghulam Mohammad and a plot in Lahore besides agricultural land holdings in Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad. He holds arms and ammunitions worth Rs1.24 million. His farm animals are valued at Rs980,000 and he has three vehicles worth Rs24.45 million.

He keeps around Rs2.15 million cash in hand whereas he has Rs1.89 million in his eight bank accounts besides prize bonds worth Rs4 million.

There is no loan or financial liability on Mr Talpur as per his documents.

The net assets of Dr Azra Fazal, who is wife of senior bureaucrat Dr Fazalullah Pechuho and elder sister of PPP chairman Asif Ali Zardari, has reached Rs99.10 million with an increase of Rs9 million in one year.

The documents Dr Azra submitted to the ECP show that she has no stakes outside Pakistan nor does she receive any remittance from abroad. She stated she’s MBBS (MCPS), chancellor of SZABIST, an agriculturalist and a politician.

Dr Azra has significant land and residential plots in Karachi and Islamabad as well as cash holdings. She also owns a tractor valued at Rs1.65 million.

She has Rs14.77 millioncash in hand, prize bonds worth Rs8 million and Rs6.48 million in several banks including Rs4,609 in Sindh Bank.

Apart from furniture and other articles of personal use including a generator worth Rs2.18 million she has 40-tola gold jewellery.

Dr Azra has invested Rs3.56 million in apparently family businesses Asif Apartments and Land Mark. She has made Rs23.93 million capital investment in Sujawal Academy.

She has a house in DHA Karachi, an under-construction house in Islamabad, a plot in Gwadar, four-acre industrial plot in Nawabshah, while she has also made payments for two plots in DHA Karachi and one in Islamabad.

She has more than 263-acre agricultural land at seven different areas of Shaheed Benazirabad and Sanghar, giving her an income of Rs8.92 million.

She paid Rs1.30 million agricultural income tax in the fiscal year 2016-17. Her income from other sources was Rs15.70 million in the same year when she paid Rs480,905 income tax.

Dr Pechuho, too, has no interests in any other country. His net worth is Rs28.39 million, including four vehicles worth more than Rs90 million.

He has cash in hand, bank balance and prize bonds valued at around Rs7 million.

He has three tractors, a farm house and agricultural land in Nawabshah and Sanghar districts, residential plot in DHA Karachi and shares in ancestral house in Sukkur.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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Case against ex-army officials adjourned on NAB request

ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday sought over one-and-a-half month adjournment in the hearing of a corruption reference against some former senior army officials since some accused are outside the country and the bureau is planning to bring them back with the help of the ministry of foreign affairs.

Accountability Court judge Mohammad Bashir adjour­ned the proceedings in the ,Royal Palm Golf Club corruption reference, till Aug 3.

On Friday, all the accused persons, except Brig Akhtar Ali Baig and three accused persons of Malaysian origin, were absent. The court had summoned all the accused to hand over to them the copies of the reference to frame charges against them at a later stage.

A NAB official told the court that it was trying to involve the foreign affairs ministry to bring all the accused persons, including a Malaysian citizen, in the dock.

NAB filed the reference in April this year after the matter remained dormant for 17 years.

Those nominated as accused by NAB include former ISI chief retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi, who was also former chairman of the Pakistan Railways and former federal minister for communications and railways’, retired Lt Gen Saeed-uz-Zaman, a former secretary and chairman of the Railways Board, retired Maj Gen Hamid Hassan Butt, retired Brig Akhtar Ali Baig, Iqbal Samad Khan, Khurshid Ahmed Khan, Abdul Ghaffar, Ramzan Sheikh, Pervaiz Qureshi, sponsors of the Royal Palm Golf Club, and five other officers allegedly involved in illegal award of lease of Railways Golf Club in Lahore.

NAB’s investigation said in 2001, the railways offered the lease of its golf club in Lahore for 33 years for which several firms submitted bids. During the bidding process, the lease period was illegally enhanced from 33 years to 49 years. Moreover, the land offered for lease was also increased illegally from 103 acres to 140 acres by demolishing the Railway Officers Colony. Hence the precious piece of land of the railways was leased out illegally in a non-transparent manner to grant illegal benefits to the leaseholder and owner of Mainland Hasnain Pakistan Ltd, a private firm.

According to NAB, it has been established during the investigation that accused persons had committed corruption through misuse of authority by illegally awarding 49-year lease of Railways Golf Club measuring 140 acres in 2001 to Mainland Hasnain Pakistan Ltd for commercial purposes, causing a loss of around Rs2.2 billion to the national exchequer.

The reference against the four army officers had been filed after observation of the Islamabad High Court that retired military officials could not hide behind the army’s accountability process.

Interestingly, the military officials had been summoned by NAB in the same case in 2012 for recording their statements but no action was taken against them.

The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly, in its meeting on Sept 14, 2012, had called for cancellation of the controversial lease agreement. It had recommended a fresh bidding for the land and also called for strict disciplinary action against the former bosses of the railways, including the three retired generals, who had endorsed the agreement.

A comprehensive report issued by the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Railways on the allotment of land for setting up the golf club had exposed several financial and administrative irregularities and recommended prosecution of all members of the railways executive committee.

The Federal Investigation Agency carried out a separate investigation on the special committee’s instruction. Its report said that 141 acres had been allotted at a nominal price, causing a loss of Rs4.82bn to the national exchequer, because the land utilisation charge had been reduced from Rs52.43 to only Rs4 per square yard.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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IHC dismisses Nawaz’s plea in Avenfield case

ISLAMABAD: The Isla­mabad High Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) supreme leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif ,seeking, a simultaneous decision on three references filed against him in the accountability court and postponement of final arguments in the Avenfield properties case.

As per the judgement of an IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, the petition has become infructuous since the lead defence counsel has already started final arguments in the Avenfield reference.

Referring to the arguments of defence counsel Amjad Pervez and additional deputy prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, the verdict said that since the final arguments by the defence counsel were already “under way” and likely to be concluded soon, the plea to stop them had become infructuous.

Accountability court told ex-PM’s name is not mentioned in evidence produced by prosecution

The petition had contended that since evidence in all three references was similar, the defence of the accused would be exposed if the final arguments in one of the references were recorded before closure of evidence.

Mr Pervez argued that the prosecution had relied on five of the 10 volumes of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report in the three references whereas the entire prosecution case revolved around the Gulf Steel Mills, its sale proceed, investment with the Qatari royal family and settlement of the invested amount.

He said the accountability court had in its written order in November last year given a commitment that the common witnesses would be testified together and the verdict in all three references would be announced simultaneously to avoid inconsistency.

The NAB prosecutor informed the court that after filing the petition in the IHC for postponement of the final arguments in the Avenfield reference, the lead defence counsel had refused to advance final arguments, but now the proceedings were in progress in the accountability court.

Accountability court’s proceedings

Lead defence counsel Khawaja Haris told the accountability court on Friday that the name of Nawaz Sharif had not been mentioned even in one of the 81 pieces of evidence produced by the prosecution in the Avenfield properties reference.

He argued that the documents of Capital FZE, the company owned by former prime minister’s son Hussain Nawaz, did not relate to the Avenfield reference in any manner. According to the counsel, the money trail — sale proceeds of the Gulf Steel Mills, investment with the Qatari royal family and settlement for the Avenfield apartments — did not mention any role of Mr Sharif.

Advocate Haris said that neither Tariq Shafi, who testified before the JIT that investigated corruption allegations in the Panama Papers case, nor any other witness had linked the ex-premier with the London properties, he adding that even JIT head Wajid Zia had admitted that the JIT could not get any direct evidence against Mr Sharif regarding ownership of the London apartments.

About the Queen’s Court 1999 order in a case related to Al-Tawfeek Investment and Hudaibia Engineering Limited, he said it had never mentioned that the loan was obtained after pledging the Avenfield apartments.

Moreover, Advocate Haris argued, neither the JIT nor the NAB investigation team had recorded the statements of witnesses, lawyer of Al-Tawfeek Investment Shezi Nackvi and the solicitors whose opinions were incorporated in the JIT report to establish allegations against the Sharif family.

When accountability judge Mohammad Bashir asked the counsel if he would continue arguments on Saturday, he said that due to some other commitments it was not possible for him to attend the proceedings on weekly holiday.

Subsequently, the judge adjourned the hearing till Monday.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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Police suspect extortionists behind Charanjeet’s murder

PESHAWAR: The counter terrorism department on Thursday arrested another suspect over the killing of Sikh peace activist Charanjeet Singh here.

Prime suspect in the case Shahryar was ,taken into custody on June 14,.

,Mr Charanjeet was killed by gunmen on May 29, in the Scheme Chowk area, where he’d a shop for several years.

Another suspect arrested; policeman shot dead in Hayatabad

In a statement issued here, the CTD said it had arrested Tariq in Badabher area after the main suspect informed the police about his role in the killing.

It said the police had registered a case against Tariq under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

A senior police official told Dawn that the local extortionists were behind Mr Charanjeet’s murder and that apparently, it had nothing to do with militancy.

He said the peace activist had received threatening calls from extortionists but the sought-after amount was not known.

POLICEMAN KILLED: Gunmen killed a policeman in Hayatabad area here on Thursday night.

A police official told Dawn that constable Shah Fahd was gunned down by two motorcyclists at around at 10:30pm when he was guarding the NAB Colony in Phase V area of Hayatabad.

He said the attackers later fled.

The policeman’s funeral prayers were offered in the Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines, where provincial police chief Mohammad Tahir, provincial NAB director general Farmanullah Jan, city police chief Qazi Jamilur Rehman and other senior officials were in attendance.

In a statement, the NAB said it was working with the police to catch and punish culprits.

HEROIN FACTORY SEIZED: The local police on Friday announced that they had busted a heroin factory here with the help of a federal intelligence agency.

SSP (operations) Javed Iqbal told reporters that acting on a tip-off, the police intercepted two cars and seized six kilogrammes of heroin from their hidden cavities before arresting Mohammad Zeeshan, Abdullah, Saddam and Zaman.

He said the arrested men told investigators that they had acquired drugs from Bashirabad area of the city.

The SSP said the police arrested another accused Sabaun and raided a heroin factory in Bashirabad area on his pointation.

He said the raid led to the seizure of seven kilogrammes of heroin, three kilogrammes of chemicals and equipment used in drug production, and arrest of two accused Shah Alam and Saeedullah.

The SSP said two accused were at large.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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Qureshi, Tareen lock horns on ticket distribution issue

MULTAN: While Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers from Multan called off their four-day ,protest, in front of party chief Imran Khan’s Banigala residence in Islamabad after receiving assurances on Friday, tensions over distribution of tickets continued to simmer as two of the party’s leaders from southern Punjab engaged in a war of words over the issue.

The PTI workers from Multan had held a sit-in for four days in front of Mr Khan’s house to protest against the party’s decision to allow the so-called ‘electables’, new entrants to the party, to supersede committed workers who had struggled for the party’s success, when it came to distribution of tickets for the election.

At a press conference on Friday, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that people who were trying to accommodate former federal minister Sikandar Hayat Bosan in the PTI and had arranged his meeting (with Imran Khan) should now face the party workers (protesting at Banigala).

Mr Bosan has been campaigning for elections from NA-154 as a PTI nominee, even though the party is yet to name him officially. He is believed to have been roped into the PTI camp led by Jahangir Tareen.

Mr Qureshi said that Mr Bosan had been a part of the PML-N’s cabinet till May 30, and had joined the PTI recently. He said the PTI chairman was aware of the situation and would soon take a final decision regarding NA-154.

When PTI’s former secretary Jahangir Khan Tareen, who was in Lodhran on Friday, was contacted, he promised to give a detailed answer after watching Mr Qureshi’s press conference.

In response to a question about Mr Bosan’s decision to join the PTI, Mr Tareen said all the members of the party’s parliamentary board had taken an oath not to make its proceedings public. “Now whosoever is violating the oath will face the consequences,” he said.

While Mr Qureshi stated that he did not support the PTI workers camped in front of Banigala, Mr Tareen said that everyone had a right to make efforts to get a party ticket.

“If anyone is involved in politics of sit-ins to get a party ticket, we do not consider it wrong as we ourselves had started the politics of sit-ins. However the tickets will be awarded on merit. Imran Khan is himself distributing each ticket and chairing the meetings in this regard,” Mr Tareen said, adding that 90 per cent decisions regarding the distribution of party tickets had been taken already and would be made public soon.

Other than Mr Bosan, Mr Qureshi also objected to award of tickets to former PML-N MNA Nazir Jutt and his daughter Ayesha Jutt, and said that PTI leader Ishaq Khakwani was behind their induction into the party. Mr Khakwani is considered close to Mr Tareen.

The PTI vice chairman opposed the ‘growing’ demand for a ticket for another PTI leader considered close to Mr Tareen, Aun Abbas Bappi, who is also PTI’s south Punjab general secretary.

Mr Bappi had earlier accused Mr Qureshi of using his influence to get tickets for his relatives.

Mr Tareen suggested that Mr Qureshi should remove Mr Bappi’s reservations against him instead of levelling allegations against others.

In reply to a question about his differences with Mr Tareen, the PTI vice chairman sarcastically said he had no competition with someone who had been disqualified from contesting the election. “There is no competition with a man who is not at all in the game,” he said.

In response, Mr Tareen clarified that he was very much in the game — aludding to his participation in party affairs.

Mr Qureshi said that the PTI had offered seat adjustment to Jamshed Dasti in Muzaffargarh as he had opposed the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party in the National Assembly for the last five years.

“I contacted him and offered to adjust seats, so that both of his provincial assembly candidates would contest on PTI tickets… this he has accepted. Now the adjustment has been finalised,” he said, adding that democracy was a game of numbers and Imran Khan could become prime minister if the right numbers were achieved.

To a question about reserved seats, Mr Tareen criticised how the PTI had ignored women party workers from southern Punjab, and said it was unjustified. “I personally have reservations over the way the lists were prepared. Separate lists were prepared for each region including south Punjab but justice was not done in the distribution of tickets and a few individuals were responsible for it; however still there is some space for it as we will win many seats which will help us to accommodate the female workers,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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Policeman among six killed in India held Kashmir

SRINAGAR: At least four militants, a police official and a civilian were killed during a gun battle in ,India-held Kashmir, on Friday, triggering anti-India protests and clashes in which several people were injured.

Indian forces raided a cluster of homes on a tip that militants were hiding in the southern Srigufwara area and they came under fire from militants, police claimed.

Four militants and a police official with the counterinsurgency force were killed in the fighting, said Col Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman.

Police said a civilian husband and wife were hit by gunfire as soldiers cornered the militants in the couple’s house. Residents said the couple was not given time by Indian forces to leave their home.

They were evacuated to a hospital where the husband was declared dead on arrival. Police said at least two soldiers were also wounded in the fighting. As the fighting raged, protests and clashes broke out nearby and in other neighbourhoods as residents tried to help the trapped militants escape.

Indian forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the stone-throwing protesters, injuring at least 20.

Authorities suspended mobile phone internet service in several districts of the disputed Himalayan region, a common practice to make organising protests more difficult and stop the spread of news.

Large anti-India protests and clashes later erupted on the outskirts of Srinagar, as thousands gathered to participate in the funeral of one of the slain militants. Protesters, chanting pro-militant slogans and demanding the end of Indian rule in the disputed region, blocked a major highway and fought pitched battles with Indian forces. Several people were reportedly injured in the clashes.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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Over $15.25bn sent abroad in a year, SC told

STATE Bank Governor Tariq  Bajwa headed the 12-member committee of experts that submitted a report to the 
apex court.

STATE Bank Governor Tariq Bajwa headed the 12-member committee of experts that submitted a report to the
apex court.

ISLAMABAD: A sum of $15.25 billion was transferred abroad by individual account holders in Pakistan during the financial year 2016-17 through normal banking channels, while a substantial amount was transferred abroad under unauthorised and undocumented hundi and hawala mechanism.

This information was part of a report submitted to the Supreme Court by a 12-member committee of experts, headed by ,State Bank Governor Tariq Bajwa,. The committee, which had been constituted on the orders of a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, was tasked to trace assets and bank accounts stashed abroad by Pakistani nationals.

The court initiated suo motu hearing of the matter pertaining to illegal transfer of money from Pakistan to other countries when it came to its notice that a large number of Pakistanis had neither disclosed the accounts they were maintaining in other countries nor paid taxes on the money in accordance with the law.

Court informed that Foreign Assets (Declaration and Repatriation) Ordinance 2018 promulgated after its March 26 order

In its report, the committee stated that both types of outflows — regular channel and hundi or hawala — had a huge impact on the stability of the country’s foreign exchange reserves and adversely affected the exchange rate of the Pakistani rupee. As a result, the report feared, the national economy had become vulnerable to pressure due to foreign currency obligations of the state. This trend could cause undue and disruptive inflation besides draining the exchequer of substantial amounts of tax, it stated.

The court earlier recalled that the committee had urged the federal government to announce a scheme for voluntary disclosure of foreign assets owned by Pakistanis, providing them an opportunity to declare or transfer foreign assets to Pakistan in lieu of payment of tax.

The SC was informed that after its March 26 order, the federal government promulgated the Foreign Assets (Declaration and Repatriation) Ordinance 2018. The significant feature of the act is the promised immunity from taxation and penal action in respect of undeclared foreign assets subject to payment of taxes etc.

The apex court said the government had made legislative amendments in the relevant laws for regulating the cash feeding of foreign currency accounts by restricting the privilege to tax filers only.

A regulatory check in cash movement of foreign currency above $100,000 within Pakistan had been imposed, the court said, adding the immunity from taxation of inward remittances under Section 111(4)(a) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 had been limited to a maximum $100,000 per annum.

It is acknowledged by the SBP governor and the committee members that the suo motu proceedings had encouraged the federal government to review its policy leading to the legislative and regulatory changes.

The apex court also acknowledged that it was not an expert in economic, fiscal or financial matters but was persuaded to initiate the suo motu proceedings amid grave public concern over the country’s declining foreign exchange reserves, exchange rate of rupee and the corresponding inflationary trend of imported essential commodities, and government’s indifference towards the unhindered outflows of valuable foreign exchange encouraged by immunities from scrutiny and taxation.

Thus, the proceedings were aimed at drawing attention of the federal legislative and regulatory bodies towards issues of national priority, the court said, adding that legislation on the subject was a good start to curtail misuse of privileges granted by the law and executive regulation.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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PPP to hire copter for Bilawal’s electioneering

LAHORE: The PPP plans to hire a helicopter for one week for Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s electioneering in Punjab.

The party has yet to finalise its nominees for Punjab, the largest federating unit of the country, though it has announced candidates in other three provinces.

A PPP Punjab chapter leader told Dawn on Friday that as time for electioneering is short this time, the party had decided to hire the helicopter for the chairman’s province-wide tour. The Punjab chapter has ensured eight-day availability of the chairman and the provincial leadership is working out a hectic schedule of public meetings accordingly, he said.

He said Mr Bilawal tour would start from Rahim Yar Khan and culminate in Lahore. At least three rallies will be held every day.

According to him, candidates and workers from three to four adjacent constituencies will be invited to a public meeting as the paucity of time makes it impossible for the chairman to visit every constituency.

The party has yet to select its candidates for the province and it has been left with only five days to do the job as the nominees are to file their tickets to the Election Commission of Pakistan by June 28.

Senior PPP leader Abdul Qadir Shaheen says the party has finalised 90 per cent of the candidates. The announcement of candidates, he says, is being delayed to see selection of other parties, particularly the PML-N, so that adjustments could be made accordingly.

He said a hasty decision may give an opportunity to the people to disturb the PPP vote-bank who contest elections at all costs whether they are granted ticket by one party or not. The situation becomes critical in such constituencies where the party has equal chances of winning or losing the polls and there one needs to properly handle and accommodate these “trouble-makers”.

Mr Shaheen, who is also PPP’s manifesto committee member, says the manifesto is being given final touches these days and will be unveiled by the chairman in Karachi on June 27.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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Musharraf resigns as APML chairman

Former president Pervez Musharraf has resigned as the chairman of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), according to the new party chairman, Dr Mohammad Amjad.

Dr Amjad told DawnNewsTV that Musharraf had tendered his resignation to the party on June 18 due to the Peshawar High Court’s 2013 verdict which had disqualified him from politics for life.

That verdict has been challenged on Musharraf’s behalf in the Supreme Court, which had issued a directive earlier this month allowing him to file his nomination papers only if he returned and was present in the court hearing on June 13 in Lahore, cautioning that the fate of the papers would be subject to the final decision in the present case.

Read more: ,SC gives Musharraf time until tomorrow, wonders why the ‘commando’ is ‘so afraid’,

Although Musharraf’s representatives had submitted his nomination papers for Chitral’s NA-1 seat, the former military ruler ,failed to return to Pakistan, after which the ,SC withdrew its directive, allowing nomination papers to be filed.

Musharraf explained that he had put off his return after the ,SC order forced him to change his mind,.

Speaking to journalists via video link, the former president said the apex court order “barring the authorities from arresting me till my appearance before the august court has forced me to rethink my plans about return”.

“There will be no benefit of my return to the country if I am arrested just after my appearance before the court,” he said.

“The entire world knows that I am not a coward, but now I will wait for an appropriate time to return,” he claimed.

Subsequently, Musharraf resigned from APML chairmanship, and also sent his resignation to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

After he stepped down, the party’s Central Executive Committee elected Dr Amjad as their new leader, with Mehreen Malik Adam set to serve as secretary general.

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Fake Facebook post posing as attempts to mislead public

A fake Facebook post screenshot doctored to pose as surfaced on social media on Thursday.

The fake post attempts to mislead the public and stakeholders by suggesting that Afghanistan accepted the ,Durand Line, as an official border. It presented an image of Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and falsely claims this was discussed in a meeting.

The doctored image, which copies elements of Dawn’s social media and Facebook layout, led to the Afghan National Security Council (NSC) issuing a press release that mistakenly assumed the post was legitimate.

In order to ensure authorities and the public do not fall prey to such mischievous machinations in future, the following points detail how it can be identified that the Facebook post is fake.

1. Time stamp

A typical Facebook post has a time stamp and a privacy icon below the publisher’s name.

The doctored image has “3 Std.” written where the time stamp is located, while Facebook’s standard format is 34 mins, 2 hrs, and Friday at 7:29pm for minutes, hours and days.

2. Position of the ‘like’ thumb icon

Facebook places the ‘like’ thumb icon below posts. In the fake post, the thumb icon is floating at the top right near the menu button. It is also not correctly aligned with the menu button.

3. Stylistical differences with Dawn

The Facebook caption of the fake post introduces General Bajwa as “Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa”. A Pakistani publication does not need to tell its readers that General Bajwa is Pakistan’s army chief. Dawn, as shown in the lede of this very story, introduces General Bajwa as “Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa”. This may be verified in stories.

Dawn’s contraction for Chief of Army Staff is COAS, and not CoAS — unlike how it’s done in the fake post.

The caption also fails to capitalise the line in Durand Line which is not Dawn style.

The fake post ends with an exclamation mark, which as policy, Dawn does not use in hard news posts.

All of the above can be verified by browsing stories and Facebook page

This is not the first attempt to mislead the public by circulating fake news using platforms.

From January to April, 2017 came under multiple cyber attacks where attempts were made to hack and hijack its official social media accounts and the accounts of its staff. The attempts failed. The statement released at the time reads:

“Hate speech and content that is blasphemous, indecent, prohibited, illegal, or likely to arouse societal discord or disturb tranquility will not be tolerated,” the statement said.

Hackers and malicious groups attempt to damage reputations and stir up virulent and negative campaigns to serve their agenda… Dawn had been a target of such online campaigns in the past, too.

The group sought its readers’ help in the “fight against hackers who are bent upon spreading fear, hatred and disinformation; who through their actions, are attacking our shared commitment to the progress of Pakistan”.

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Journalist Marvi Sirmed’s home ransacked; electronic devices, travel documents stolen

Journalist and activist Marvi Sirmed’s laptops and other valuables have been burgled from her home in Islamabad, her husband reported on Thursday.

Manzoor Sirmed reported on Twitter that the family had found their home ransacked upon returning from Lahore after Eid. He said that laptops and other valuables present in the house were taken away.

On return from Lahore after Eid found our home in Islamabad broken into, creating panic all around. Third time our mine, ,@RwailSirmed, laptops & ,@MarviSirmed, 's valuables looted.

— Sirmed Manzoor (@sirmedmanzoor) ,June 21, 2018,

,Daily Times, — which Marvi is a correspondent of — reported that two laptops, one smartphone, passports of family members and other travel documents were taken.

Surprisingly, her jewellery — apart from a gold ring and two bangles — was largely left untouched.

Marvi also told the Daily Times that the ‘burglars’ had detached her new passports from old ones “and took the valid ones while leaving the expired ones behind”.

The publication’s editor, Raza Rumi, posted pictures of the ransacked house on Twitter, highlighting the peculiarity of the ‘robbery’.

“Everything [was] scanned but only laptops, one smartphone and travel documents [were] taken by the ‘thieves’.”

Extremely disturbing. ,@dailytimespak, correspondent & staff writer ,@marvisirmed,’s home in ,#Islamabad, was ransacked while she & her hubby ,@sirmedmanzoor, were away for Eid holidays. Everything scanned but only laptops,1 smartphone & travel docs taken by the ‘thieves’. ,#ruleoflaw, ,,

— Raza Ahmad Rumi (@Razarumi) ,June 21, 2018,

Rights organisations, journalists, activists and other prominent Pakistanis expressed their concerns on Twitter over the incident.

Thieves interested in laptops and mobiles of ,@marvisirmed, & ,@sirmedmanzoor, seems to be the disturbing new normal in ,#Pakistan, . ,#Islamabad, police would be unable to trace the thieves as usual bcoz journalists can be targeted with impunity.,,

— Arshad Sharif (@arsched) ,June 22, 2018,

It’s highly condemnable that residence of ,@marvisirmed, & ,@sirmedmanzoor, was ransacked. It has happened before to them, high time for authorities to give us believable answer as who are the culprits. With you in solidarity Marvi& Sirmed

— Owais Tohid (@OwaisTohid) ,June 21, 2018,

This is beyond disturbing. Beyond, even, outrageous. Uncouth and vile intimidation of the worst kind. When you see this happening all around you, you have to wonder just how scared those who do this must be to resort to such tactics. Depressed.

— Adil Najam عادل نجم (@AdilNajam) ,June 22, 2018,

Our council member ,@marvisirmed,'s long-standing record as a human rights defender speaks for itself in an environment that is increasingly hostile to dissent. Base attempts to intimidate her and others are utterly insupportable. ,@meranaam, ,@dailytimespak, ,,

— Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (@HRCP87) ,June 22, 2018,

The incident adds to growing concerns over what seems to be the systematic targeting of individuals and institutions critical of the state.

Waqas Goraya, a prominent Pakistani blogger based abroad, alleged yesterday that his family had received phone calls and unsolicited visits from personnel said to be representing security agencies. He alleged that his family — especially his elderly parents — were being harassed and threatened with abductions if he did not “shut up” on social media.

Goraya had been one of the bloggers who was disappeared in early 2017. He had later alleged that he was abducted, held and tortured by security agencies for three weeks.

Another prominent journalist/activist, Gul Bukhari, was briefly abducted at the start of this month while on her way to work. She was later released after hours in illegal detention. It is believed that she was targeted for her outspoken views and criticism of anti-democratic forces.

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US official reminds Pakistan it’s still on notice

US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G. Wells acknowledges during a congressional hearing that Pakistan “has an important role to play and has legitimate interests” in Afghanistan.

US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G. Wells acknowledges during a congressional hearing that Pakistan “has an important role to play and has legitimate interests” in Afghanistan.

WASHINGTON: The United States has reminded Pakistan that it’s still on notice to eliminate all terrorist sanctuaries from its territory, although relations between the two countries show some signs of improvement.

The reminder — conveyed by US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G. Wells at a congressional hearing on Wednesday — re-emphasises the point that Washington never fails to mention the need for Pakistan to eliminate terrorism.

Take a look: ,In tit-for-tat move, Pakistan imposes travel restrictions on US diplomats,

“Pakistan is on notice that we expect its unequivocal cooperation ending sanctuaries that the Taliban have enjoyed since the remnants of their toppled regime fled into Pakistan in 2001,” said Ms Wells while reviewing one year of the Trump administration’s South Asia Strategy.

Islamabad has rejected such American allegations and urged Washington not to blame it for failures

In a New Year Day message this year, President Donald Trump too had put Pakistan on notice, accusing it of “taking billions and billions of dollars” from the United States while “housing the same terrorists” that it was supposed to fight. And a few days after the speech, Washington suspended more than two billion dollars of security aid to Pakistan.

Pakistan has rejected these allegations as unfounded and has urged Washington not to blame Islamabad for its failures in Afghanistan.

In her testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “US policy toward Afghanistan”, Ms Wells acknowledged that the policy of coercing Pakistan into accepting US demands had not been very successful.

“Despite some positive indicators, we have not yet seen Pakistan take the sustained or decisive steps that we would have expected to see ten months after the announcement of the (Trump administration’s) South Asia strategy,” she said.

The senior US official acknowledged that Pakistan “has an important role to play and has legitimate interests” in Afghanistan, which “it wants to ensure are met during any peace process”.

The United States, she said, was not only aware of Pakistan’s interests but was also willing to work with Islamabad to ally its concerns.

“The dialogue that we have with Pakistan seeks to address those concerns while also encouraging additional concrete support for Afghan peace efforts,” she said.

Her statement indicates that the Trump administration has reached the same conclusion that their predecessors had after years of engagement in Afghanistan — it’s an unwinnable war.

“Of course, the Taliban remain a resilient foe. Afghan forces are still labouring to regain control of large areas of rural Afghanistan,” Ms Wells said.

“Equally – if not more troubling – IS Khorasan has increased the pace and scope of its attacks against urban targets, often with a devastating civilian toll”.

The US official noted that the attacks had increasingly focused on ethnic and religious minorities, and were clearly aimed at stoking sectarian and political tensions to undermine popular support for a peace process.

Ms Wells identified four key areas where the US was working to help bolster prospects for an eventual settlement: Supporting Afghan efforts to reduce violence and protect a peace process from spoilers, encouraging all political actors — including the Taliban — to participate in the peace process, supporting Kabul’s efforts to eliminate the conditions that cause militancy and encouraging Afghanistan’s close and distant neighbours to back the peace process.

For Pakistan, she had a clearer message: work with the US to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table and arrest or expel those Taliban elements that do not join the peace process.

“More broadly, all of Afghanistan’s neighbours — from Iran and Russia, to India, China, and the Central Asian states — have repeatedly stated their support for an Afghan peace process,” said Ms Well, counting this among the indicators of success of the Trump administration’s Afghan policy.

Unfortunately, in the past such indicators did not lead to real peace in Afghanistan, which has been in a state of war for more than three decades now.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2018

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