Members of 21-strong new cabinet administered oath by president

The ceremony for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet members to take oath is taking place at the President House in Islamabad.

President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to the nominated cabinet members. Newly sworn in Prime Minister Imran Khan was by his side.

The ceremony commenced with the national anthem. This was followed by recitation of verses from the Holy Quran.

The new cabinet members include 16 federal ministers and five advisers.

PTI’s vice chairman Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi will be the country’s new foreign minister, a position where he had previously served during the last PPP government between 2008-13 under the then president Asif Zardari and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Qureshi had resigned from the cabinet after developing differences with the party leadership during a reshuffle in the cabinet.

Qureshi had also once served as provincial finance minister in the cabinet of Nawaz Sharif when he was the chief minister of the Punjab during the military rule of Gen Ziaul Haq.

With no surprise, Asad Umar has been made minister for finance and revenue whereas the portfolio of the information and broadcasting has been given to PTI’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhry, who had also previously served as spokesman for Gen Musharraf’s All-Pakistan Muslim League (APML) and remained part of the media team of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari before joining the PTI.

Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who defeated PML-N’s estranged leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the July 25 elections in two constituencies, has been allocated the portfolio of petroleum ministry. Nisar had also served as petroleum minister in the first two governments of Nawaz Sharif.

Dr Shireen Mazari has been given the portfolio of human rights, whereas former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak is the country’s new defence minister.

Former PTI information secretary Shafqat Mehmood has been given the portfolio of federal education and professional training with the additional charge of national history and literary heritage division. Having Masters’ degree from Harvard University, Mehmood had served as senator in the 1990s. He also served as Punjab information minister in the PML-N government in 1999.

Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar, who had previously served as minister of state for foreign affairs during the military regime of Gen Musharraf, has been made the minister for water resources.

PTI MNA from Rawalpindi Aamir Mehmood Kiyani is the minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.

Among those who have been given representation in the federal cabinet for being leaders of the PTI’s allies are Senator Farogh Naseem of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (law and justice); Chaudhry Tariq Bashir Cheema of the PML-Q (states and frontier regions); Zubaida Jalal of the Balochistan Awami Party (defence production); Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (railways); Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui of the MQM-P (information technology and telecommunication); Dr Fehmida Mirza of the Grand Democratic Alliance (inter-provincial coordination) and an independent MNA from Fata Noorul Haq Qadri (religious affairs and interfaith harmony).

Senator Naseem, who had served as the youngest advocate general of Sindh, also represented former military ruler Gen Musharraf in a court hearing the high treason case under Article 6 of the Constitution.

Zubaida Jalal, too, was an active member of the cabinet as education minister during the regime of Gen Musharraf.

AML chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has managed to get back the portfolio of railways, the position he had previously enjoyed during the rule of Gen Musharraf. Previously, he had served as a cabinet member under former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Dr Fehmida Mirza, who had enjoyed the honour of the first woman speaker of the National Assembly during the PPP government from 2008 to 2013, contested the July 25 elections from the platform of the GDA after her spouse Dr Zulfiqar Mirza had developed differences with the government.

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Prime Minister Khan asks nation to have compassion for poor, adopt austerity

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inaugural address to the nation since ,being elected the country’s new premier, was broadcast at 9.30pm on Sunday, August 19 by Pakistan Television.

The address — essentially a road map to the ‘Naya Pakistan’ PM Khan has promised his supporters — began following a recitation from Holy Quran and the playing of the national anthem.

The new premier promised wide ranging reforms with a focus on safeguarding Pakistan’s resources and their redistribution from the rich to the disadvantaged.

He began by thanking those who had stood by him in his political struggle.

“I want to thank all my supporters who have been with me on this journey for the last 22 years,” he started. “I salute all those who stood by me in my most difficult times; those who bore ridicule to support me … I could not have been here without you.”

Clarifying that he had stepped into politics not to pursue it as a career or profession, PM Khan said his only motivation was to help set Pakistan “on the path envisioned by [Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali] Jinnah and [Allama Mohammad] Iqbal.”

The prime minister then moved on to identifying Pakistan’s economic challenges and later spoke about how he would go about fixing them.

Foremost on his mind were Pakistan’s debt liabilities.

“Never in Pakistan’s history have we faced such difficult economic circumstances,” he said. “Our debt burden is now at Rs28 trillion. We haven’t been as indebted in our entire history as we have become in the last ten years,” he regretted.

“The interest that we have to pay on our debt obligations too has reached levels where we have to take on more debt just to settle it,” he said.

Meanwhile, “our human development index ranking is also in the doldrums” he observed. Quoting from a United Nations report, PM outlined deficiencies in Pakistan’s human development, noting that: “We are unfortunately among the five countries where infant mortality is highest because they do not have access to clean water.”

“We also have the highest rates of mortality for pregnant women,” he regretted.

He also spoke passionately about Pakistan suffering from the highest incidences of stunting in children. “I have been saying this for ages and nobody took me seriously. We are talking about 45 per cent of this nation’s children. They are not getting proper nutrition. They are not developing properly. They are automatically left behind. What must their parents go through seeing their children in such a state?” he asked.

Khan then pointed to the difference in the lifestyles of Pakistan’s rich and poor.

“I want to speak about how the rich and powerful live in this country,” he said. “The prime minister has 524 servants and 80 cars. The prime minister, which is me, also has 33 bulletproof cars. The prime ministers all have helicopters and aeroplanes to fly them. We have massive governor houses and every conceivable luxury.”

How could it be, he asked, that: “On one hand we don’t have money to spend on our people, and on the other we have people living like our colonial masters used to live?”

Exhorting the rich and the privileged to reassess their priorities, he urged: “We need to be compassionate towards our compatriots: towards those who cannot afford to eat twice a day. We need to ask what will happen to the 25 million children out of school. We need to ask what happens to our population. We need to ask how we are to grapple with climate change.

“This is the time that we decide to change our destiny.”

The prime minster then explained he will use the examples of governance set forth by the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) “to bring the nation out of its plight.”

“What did the Holy Prophet do to unite all the tribes living in the Arabian peninsula?” he asked. “What did he do to mould them [the Arabs] into one of the most powerful nations on earth? I want to speak on those principles today.

“I want to speak about how we are going to lift ourselves based on that model.”

The prime minster then proceeded to give a five-point agenda:

“The first thing is the supremacy of law,” he said. “The law has to be the same for everyone.

“The second thing is Zakat. What does Zakat mean? It means that I spend based on what I have on those who do not have enough. This is called progressive taxation. The rich pay more to subsidise the poor. This happens in Scandinavian countries, where there is good healthcare, good education and justice for all. The disabled, the orphans and widows have support.

“The third is compassion. In the west, they care for animals in ways that would put us to shame. The have shelters for animals. Animals fare better there than humans do here. We need to incorporate those lessons.

“The fourth is merit. Without merit you cannot do anything. The responsibilities of the ruler entail that they are sadiq and ameen. They have to be truthful . They can have no conflict of interest. The west has these laws. In our country, you see people amassing untold riches during their tenure in power.

“The fifth is education. The Holy Prophet stressed education above everything else. After the Battle of Badr, he made it incumbent on his people to attain an education. Look at us today: we are nowhere because we have not followed his instructions.”

Perhaps realising that he was placing a tall order for his supporters, he said: “You should not feel overwhelmed. We are in this together and we will find a way out together.”

He then proceeded to explain what he himself was doing towards that goal.

Measures to cut down on expenses

PM Khan detailed how he plans on cutting down his own as well the country’s expenditure, saying: “I will keep only two people with me out of the [prime minister's staff of] 524. I will be staying in a three-bedroom house that served as the military secretary’s house.

“I will have to keep two of the cars because my intelligence agencies tell me my life is under threat. I also wish I did not have to move out of Banigala, but I have been forced to do so because it is not safe to stay there.”

“We will be auctioning off all the other bullet proof cars,” he promised. “I invite businesses to come and buy them. We will put the proceeds of that auction in the state treasury.

“I also wish that all the governor houses are kept as simple as possible,” he said. “I further wish that the PM House will be turned into a university. It is in a great location to be one.

“I am forming a committee under Dr Ishrat Husain to figure out how to cut expenses nationwide,” he revealed.

He also urged his supporters to adopt austerity measures.

“I want you to understand that the money we lavish on ourselves could be spent on those who our state has left behind. Naya Pakistan also requires a ‘nayi soch‘. We have to think about those who we have left behind.”

Tax reforms instead of loans

On reforming the financial sector, PM Khan explained that instead of trying to rebuild the economy via external loans, his government will try and fulfill its needs from within.

“No country can succeed by taking on debt again and again,” he said. “Debts are taken for brief periods of time. We cannot go on the way we have. And you need to realise that when these people give us money, they attach conditions to it.

“I will be ashamed to go abroad and ask for money. If the leader of the nation has to go and ask for debt, how will my nation feel?

“We also need to pay our taxes. I am going to fix the Federal Board of Revenue on a priority basis. It has lost its credibility and that is why people don’t pay taxes. I will promise my people that I will protect your tax money and spend it on you.

“We will keep our end of the bargain, but I want you to pay your taxes too. That is your responsibility. Pay your taxes so that we can lift our destitute out of poverty.

“I promise you, if I can assure you that your tax money will be spent on you, we will not face these deficits in the future. God willing, this will not happen again.

“We are also creating a task force to repatriate wealth looted from this country. We need to put an end to money laundering. It is our biggest problem right now.

“We need to boost our exports. How will that happen? We will need to help export industries. We have made a business advisory council to help address their challenges.

“Then we need to boost investment. We need to bring in money from abroad. There is going to be an office in the prime minister’s secretariat dedicated to this purpose.

“We need to help our small and medium businesses. They are the backbone of our economy. We need to reduce the cost and difficulties of doing business for them.”

Message to overseas Pakistanis

PM Khan invited overseas Pakistanis to invest in the country and help rebuild the economy. “We need to facilitate overseas Pakistanis,” he said. “Our embassies need to facilitate them in every way we can.

“I have a special message for overseas Pakistanis. We are trying our best to create a good investment environment for you. We want that you bring your money to Pakistan and park it in Pakistani banks as ee are short of foreign exchange. Send your money through official accounts. We need your help.”

Rooting out corruption

The prime minister said that rooting out corruption will also be a high priority for his government.

“I will meet the NAB chairman and facilitate him with whatever he needs,” he said. “We will also enact a law for whistleblowers like we did in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Whoever helps identify corruption will get a share of the money that we recover. The SECP and the FIA will be fixed on a priority basis.

“I have kept the FIA and the interior ministry under me because I want to personally oversee our efforts to eradicate corruption.

“I want you all to understand that the moment we start going after corrupt people, they will start raising a hue and cry. They are everywhere. They will come out on the streets. They will say that democracy is in danger. I want you all to continue standing with me. We will save this country or these corrupt people will save themselves.”

Revamping the judiciary

PM Khan said that he will seek Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s help to revamp the judicial system.

“The next focus will be on revamping our judiciary,” he said. “We have a massive backlog of cases. We will sit with the chief justice and discuss how we can ensure that cases can be wrapped up within a year. We have to do this for our people.

“I want to make a special request to the chief justice. There are quite a few widows who have approached me for help. They are embroiled in property disputes. I want to request the chief justice: please, at least for widows, resolve such cases at the earliest.

“I declare this as my resolve: the weak who are systematically discriminated against in our country will always have my support.”

KP police model to be implemented in Punjab

The prime minister said he has asked former KP IG Nasir Khan Durrani to implement the KP police model in Punjab.

“We also need to fix our police,” Khan said. “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police is our biggest success. We won the election because of how good our police had become. The former IG who oversaw those successes, Nasir Khan Durrani, has been asked to help fix the Punjab police and he has agreed.

“We do not have the power to do so in Sindh, but we will work with the Sindh government as well to do what we can.”

Educational reforms

The prime minister said his focus will be to improve public sector education as well as madressahs (seminaries).

“We also need to fix our education system,” he said. “We need to focus on government schools, which are in a shambles. I know that salaried individuals are making huge sacrifices to make sure their children get a decent education. They sometimes work two jobs to give their children the best they can.

“We therefore need to make sure our government schools are good enough that everyone can send their children to them. This is an emergency.”

“We also cannot leave madressah students behind. They too should become engineers and doctors and generals. Why do we not give them the opportunity? We need to do it.”

Healthcare reforms

PM Khan stressed the need to “fix the healthcare system. It is immensely difficult to fix the pre-existing system. It takes a long time: the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health system did not start showing results till the fifth year. But we still need to do it.

“We also need to introduce the health card all over Pakistan. We have given every household in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rs550,000 in case of a healthcare emergency. We should give it all over Pakistan.”

Dams to be built to end water crisis

Khan said that a “water crisis is brewing” which require dams to be built to resolve it.

“There was a crisis brewing but we weren’t prepared,” he said. “We have an emergency. Karachi doesn’t have water due to the tanker mafia. Quetta and Islamabad too.

“A ministry will work towards saving water. New methods will be taught to farmers. Canals will be lined to save water, while the Bhasha Dam will be constructed at all costs. It’s a commendable initiative started by the chief justice.”

Civil service reforms

The PM said that he will enforce meritocracy to restore civil service to its formerly held high standards. “In the 1960s we were considered one of the best in the world,” he said. “It is unfortunate how we have fallen behind. Dr Ishrat Hussain is forming a committee to bring merit back.

“We will not tolerate any political interference in anyone’s appointment. I just want people ready to work for the nation.

“But an ordinary man, when he steps into any govt office, also has to be given respect. This is his right, which he will be given. Bonuses will be given to those who serve people in a timely manner. Otherwise, penalties will also be imposed.”

Devolution of power

Khan stressed the need to transfer the power to the local government, saying: “Power must be given to the bottom-most tier. Nazims will be directly elected in districts, while checks and balances will be kept.

“Development funds are given to MNAs and MPAs but the development takes place in baldiyaat.”

Plan for the youth

The prime minister said that “jobs must be given to the country’s youth. A big project of housing will be started. It will be a one-window operation [create] jobs and [to boost] industries. The youth will be given loans without interest so they can become entrepreneurs.

“Cricket grounds have been taken over and houses schemes made over them. We need to build playgrounds and parks for them.”

Environmental issues

Khan said he will replicate KP’s billion tree in the entire country. “We planted 1 billion trees in KP,” he said. “We will bring our expertise and plant trees all over the country. Karachi has a heatwave as it has nothing but concrete. A large-scale initiative will be initiated to make Pakistan green again.”

“The menace of pollution has to be addressed immediately as it leads to the spread of innumerable diseases.”

Compassion for the underprivileged

The prime minister vowed that his government will have compassion for and take care of the neglected and the underprivileged.

“Street children are our children, and if we don’t look after them who will?” said Khan. “Widows and the handicapped … we will take responsibility of all.

“I want us to develop compassion in our hearts. It’s in the animal kingdom where it is the survival of the fittest. In human beings, it [should be] different.

“The Madina model”

PM Khan said he “will follow Medina’s example” to rid Pakistan of its chronic problems.

“They did not borrow from Roman or Persian empires,” he said. “They strengthened the people and made them self-sufficient. They adopted simple ways.

“I will show you that, I will lead a simple life. I will save every penny, I will do no business as my doing so will only harm other businessmen.”

Take ownership and help me help you: PM

The prime minister, at the end of his maiden address, told the nation to play a more proactive role in the rebuilding.

“I need your help,” he said. “When you are being robbed you don’t wait for the police to come. You nab them and hand them over. [Similarly], you should help me catch these robbers of the nation. This is the social media age. Keep check on and report such people. We have to act as a team. Help me protect your money.”

“We have to take ownership and serve the nation. My vision is: one day will come when Pakistan will have no one taking Zakat. If we succeed in our nation building we will offer aid to other countries.

“This is my idea for Pakistan. This is the Pakistan I want to see.”

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Punjab Assembly elects PTI’s Usman Buzdar as chief minister

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Usman Buzdar was on Sunday elected as the Punjab chief minister.

During an election held in the Punjab Assembly, Buzdar secured 186 votes as compared to 159 votes polled in favour of PML-N’s Hamza Shahbaz Sharif.

Addressing the Punjab Assembly after his election, Buzdar said that he would like to tell the people questioning the merit of his nomination that his belonging to one of the poorest areas of Punjab qualifies him for the post.

“I understand the problems faced by people in those regions because I belong there, that is my merit,” the newly elected CM said.

Discussing his agenda for the province Buzdar said, “Our first priority is to bring good governance to Punjab. We will then move on to strengthening our institutions.”

He added: “I am promising today that we will break status quo. All our MPAs will be empowered and all of them will act like chief ministers in their own areas.”

Buzdar was already expected to win the election as the PTI had ,shown its strength in elections, for the post of speaker and deputy speaker in the assembly.

Opposition lawmakers chant slogans in the Punjab Assembly.— DawnNewsTV

The chief minister was elected through a head count. Around 345 out of total 354 MPAs cast their votes in the election. The PML-N MPAs were wearing black armbands in protest against alleged rigging in the July 25 election. They also recorded their protest and chanted slogans demanding the speaker to start the polling process.

PPP lawmakers did not cast their votes in the election for the chief minister. Earlier at least five out of total seven PPP members in the assembly, had left the assembly building without casting their votes. One PPP member opted to remain in the assembly but did not cast his vote.

Controversy around PTI’s Buzdar

Buzdar’s nomination turned controversial when reports surfaced that the CM contender had allegedly been involved in a murder case in 1998 filed after a clash broke out during local body polls, leaving six members of the Chakarani tribe ? a sub-clan of the Buzdar tribe ? dead.

Although the case was sent to an anti-terrorism court, a jirga was instrumental in reaching a settlement whereby compensation money of Rs7.5 million was paid to the heirs of the deceased.

However, PTI Chairman Imran Khan was quick to defend Buzdar, saying that he had handpicked the CM nominee after “due diligence over the past two weeks” and “found him to be an honest man”.

He added that Buzdar belonged to a under-developed area of Punjab, where there is “no water, electricity or hospital”.

Buzdar, he said, is “well acquainted with how people live in those areas, and secondly, he is aware of how the poor lead their lives. When he will assume the office of the chief minister he will know the nature of the plight that faces the underprivileged people of Pakistan.”

PTI Spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry also defended Buzdar, saying the case against him had been politically motivated.

Will register protest against rigging: Hamza

Hamza Shahbaz on Sunday vowed that the PML-N would register its protest against alleged rigging in the July 25 polls ? both on the streets and in the assemblies.

He said that his party would continue to take part in the democratic process, but vowed to prevent a ‘rigged system’ from functioning.

Hamza demanded a parliamentary commission be constituted immediately to probe the allegations, DawnNewsTV reported.

Elahi against forward bloc

Elahi, while speaking to the media on Sunday, said that he is personally against the politics of forward blocs. He reminded the opposition that they would gain nothing through agitation and accused the opposition of not walking the talk: “Hindering democratic process is not a service to democracy,” he said.

Speaker, deputy speaker polls dominated by PTI

On Thursday, PTI-backed PML-Q leader Elahi was elected speaker with 201 votes — more than expected. Elahi was up against PML-N’s Iqbal Gujar, who received 147 votes ? 15 less than expected. The PTI-backed candidate was expected to receive 185 votes, including 10 from the PML-Q, whereas the PML-N candidate was expected to get 162 votes.

The PPP boycotted the election, with MPA Hassan Murtaza citing the “PML-N’s attitude” toward his party as the reason behind the move.

PTI’s Dost Mazari also defeated PML-N’s Waris Kalo in the contest for deputy speaker, with Mazari securing 187 votes against Kalo’s 159 votes.

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Pompeo to visit Islamabad for talks with PM Khan

United States (US) Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is likely to visit Islamabad in the first week of September for consultations with Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team on issues of mutual interests, diplomatic and official sources told Dawn.

Pompeo, who is expected in Islamabad on Sept 5, will likely be the first foreign dignitary to meet the newly elected prime minister, who took oath of his office on Saturday.

During his talks with Pakistani officials, Secretary Pompeo may focus on two major issues: efforts to revive once close ties between the two states and Pakistan’s support for a US-led move to jump-starting the Afghan peace process, the sources said.

Alice Wells, who heads the Bureau for South Asian affairs at the State Department, may also accompany Pompeo, the sources added.

Earlier this week, US officials urged Pakistan to help end the Afghan war, adding that recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan have not discouraged them from negotiating peace with some Taliban factions.

“What we’re seeing here is, there are some factions, some elements of the Taliban that clearly are not on board with peace. Others do want to have peace negotiations and peace discussions,” said State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert while commenting on this week’s terrorist attacks in Kabul that killed almost 50 people.

On Tuesday, a senior US official reminded Pakistan that now was the time to peacefully end the 17-year old war in Afghanistan and encouraged Islamabad to play a leading role in this process.

Apparently, Washington believes that Pakistan still has enough influence over the Afghan Taliban to persuade them to join the peace process, and wants Islamabad to help establish a political setup in Kabul that would allow a peaceful withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

On Monday, Secretary Pompeo telephoned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and sought his support for arranging another ceasefire in Afghanistan.

The first ceasefire ? on Eidul Fitr ? led to the first face-to-face talks between US and Taliban officials in Doha last month. Both sides are now trying to hold the second round ? also in Doha ? in September.

In recent statements, US officials have also expressed the desire to restore their once close ties with Pakistan.

On Saturday, the US State Department said that it recognises and welcomes the new Pakistani prime minister, dispelling the impression that Washington was not happy with Imran Khan’s election.

In an earlier statement, a senior US official had hoped that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government would work with the US for translating tough issues into mutual achievements.

“We recognise and welcome the newly elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on taking the oath of office,” Nauert said.

Usually, the State Department prefers to comment on such issues on a working day but Nauert released this statement on Saturday, hours after Khan took the oath of his office.

“For over 70 years, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been a vital one,” she said. “The United States looks forward to working with Pakistan’s new civilian government to promote peace and prosperity in Pakistan and the region.”

In her speech at the Pakistan Embassy earlier this week, Wells not only welcomed Imran Khan’s election but also expressed the desire to work with his government for resolving difficult issues.

Wells noted that the new leader had also recognised the importance of US-Pakistan relationship in his public statements and in his first meeting with US Embassy officials in Islamabad.

“The issues are tough, no doubt, but together, I know we can translate these shared interests into further action that achieves our mutual objectives,” she said.

She also said that now was the time to peacefully end the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan and encouraged the new Pakistani government to play a leading role in this process.

“A negotiated political settlement to the 17-year-long conflict in Afghanistan is a critical shared goal, and an area where we all would hope to see progress in the coming months,” she said. “In order to further these shared objectives, the United States relies on its relationships with the government, businesses, and people of Pakistan.”

“In a similar message on Tuesday, Secretary Pompeo also stressed this point and expressed the desire to work with Pakistan to “advance (the) shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia.”

On July 27, the State Department had expressed “concerns about flaws in the pre-voting electoral process”, noting that “these included constraints placed on freedoms of expression and association” during the campaign period. The department pointed out that such practices were “at odds with Pakistani authorities’ stated goal of a fully fair and transparent election.”

Relations between Pakistan and the US nosedived in January when President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of providing “safe haven” to the terrorists who kill American soldiers in Afghanistan while taking billions of dollars in aid from Washington.

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‘Navjot, we want peace’: Sidhu talks about encounter with Gen Bajwa, what to expect from PM Khan

Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in an interview with NDTV on Saturday opened up about his exchange with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing in ceremony, and shared what he thinks India could expect from the new Pakistani PM.

Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan ? on Khan’s invitation ? sparked backlash from conservative quarters in India, including Haryana Minister Anil Vij, and activists belonging to Indian PM Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, who criticised the Indian politician and called him ‘disloyal’ for visiting Pakistan.

Read more: ,Sidhu draws criticism in India for visiting Pakistan and embracing Gen Bajwa,

Photos of the event showing Army chief Gen Bajwa hugging Sidhu also prompted curiosity about what transpired between the army chief and Indian politician.

‘Khan was not nervous’

Sidhu said it was a “great honour” to have been invited to Khan’s oath-taking ceremony.

“It was a very humbling kind of experience that a 35-year-old relationship of trust culminated in an invitation from him when he became prime minister of Pakistan.”

When asked whether Khan seemed nervous during the ceremony, Sidhu laughed. “Not at all, he was not nervous. I personally feel he was as confident as I’ve always seem him.”

“After the swearing in, he walked up to me and gave me a big hug and said, ‘Thank you very much for coming,’ and then he said, like an elder brother would say to a younger brother, ‘Shabaash, I’m proud of you.’”

“Then we had a conversation with for almost 30 to 40 minutes at the Secretariat where he met the winning World Cup team and I was with them. So it’s just a great feeling, to be part of all this, part of celebration.”

Gen Bajwa’s gesture of goodwill

“He [Gen Bajwa] was very warm and he said, ‘Navjot, we want peace.’ That was wonderful to hear,” Sidhu said.

“Without me saying anything, he said that, ‘When you celebrate the 550th birthday of Baba Nanak… we’ll open the Kartarpur-Sahib Corridor.’ It was like a dream come true and I was so overjoyed.”

“He asked, ‘Happy?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, I’m very happy,’ and he came forward and said, ‘We’ll even think of doing better things,’” Sindhu told NDTV.

However, Sidhu clarified that Gen Bajwa was not the only military man to greet him at PM Khan’s oath-taking ceremony.

“All the three army chiefs had to come and meet the people sitting in the front row, so I met the naval chief and the air marshall as well. And in between, Bajwa sahab walks up to me and says, ‘You know, I’m a general who wanted to be a cricketer.’ So it was his dream.”

Sidhu also said that he and Gen Bajwa also bonded over their shared lineage: “He’s a [Punjabi] Jaat. Bajwas, Cheemas, Sidhus, Sandhus, they come from the Jaat family.”

What to expect from PM Khan

When asked what one could expect from the new prime minister, Navjot appeared sure that “there will be no compromises. He will not compromise.”

“The second thing that I can be very sure of is that he has clarity of thought. He will listen to everybody, but he will do what he thinks is the right perspective.”

“When you have someone that you feel is a person of credibility, of trust, someone who’s gone through the ordeal of life, someone who’s actually taken those hard, tough tests and had the tenacity to claw out of those difficult situations ? because character is not made in a crisis, it is exhibited ? and that is where i’m coming from,” he said.

“I have hope, and I have that trust. Only time will tell, the next six months, one year. Because nobody can actually come up with a policy and implement it in five months, six months. That’s too early. I think you’ve got to give someone at least a year to assess the direction in which he is going to go.”

“And there’s one thing I am sure about ? he will be taking the positive direction and according to me, positive anything is better than negative nothing.”

‘Hope India takes step towards Pakistan’

Recalling PM Khan’s first address to the nation after the election, in which the PTI chief had said if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two ? Sidhu expressed hope that “India takes that one step.

However, he added, “Whatever has to be done, has to be done by the government.”

“I think we need to take cognisance of the fact that this is a change, and any change will bring hope,” he added.

“I pray to God that India takes that one step, because this is something which is new, this is something which is a new dawn, and ultimately, if we have to move forward [with] peace and talks on the table, moving in a positive direction is the only way.”

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UK, Iran, US, Turkey look forward to working with Imran-led govt

ISLAMABAD / WASHINGTON: Telephone calls and messages continued to pour in on Saturday to congratulate Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on his election as prime minister of Pakistan.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and senior officials of the US State Department all extended greetings to Mr Khan.

“The prime minister congratulated him on his party’s success in Pakistan’s elections and on his new position,” a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement from London, after a telephonic conversation between PM May and PM Khan. The statement was shared with the local media by the British High Commission.

British PM and her Pakistani counterpart agree to hold meeting soon

PM May also tweeted about the conversation. “Pleased to talk to @ImranKhanPTI, Prime Minister of Pakistan. The UK and Pakistan share deep and important links. There is plenty for our two countries to work together on, not least increasing bilateral trade and mutual security issues.”

The statement quoted PM May as having noted the importance of Pakistan delivering on its commitments to strengthen institutions responsible for upholding the rule of law, and to advance the rights of women and minorities.

The two also agreed to meet soon.

In a letter addressed to PM Khan, the Iranian president expressed Tehran’s readiness to expand ties and cooperation with Islamabad.

“I sincerely congratulate on your election as the Pakistan prime minister which rose up from the will of the brave and distinguished Pakistani nation,” said President Rouhani according to the official website of the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The US State Department says that it recognises and welcomes Prime Minister Khan, dispelling the impression that Washington is not happy with his election.

In an earlier statement, a senior US official had hoped that the PTI government would work with the United States for translating tough issues into mutual achievements.

“We recognise and welcome the newly elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on taking the oath of office,” said State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert.

Usually, the State Department prefers to comment on such issues on a working day but Ms Heather released this statement on Saturday, hours after Mr Khan took the oath of his office.

“For over 70 years, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been a vital one,” she said. “The United States looks forward to working with Pakistan’s new civilian government to promote peace and prosperity in Pakistan and the region.”

In her speech at the Pakistan Embassy, Alice Wells, who heads the South Asia Bureau at the State Department, not only welcomed Imran Khan’s election but also expressed the desire to work with his government to resolve difficult issues.

Ms Wells noted that the new Pakistani leader had also recognised the importance of US-Pakistan relationship in his public statements and in his first meeting with US Embassy officials in Islamabad.

“The issues are tough, no doubt, but together, I know we can translate these shared interests into further action that achieves our mutual objectives,” she said.

She also said that now was the time to peacefully end the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan and encouraged the new Pakistani government to play a leading role in this process.

“A negotiated political settlement to the 17-year-long conflict in Afghanistan is a critical shared goal, and an area where we all would hope to see progress in the coming months,” she said. “In order to further these shared objectives, the United States relies on its relationships with the government, businesses, and people of Pakistan.”

In a similar message on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had stressed this point and expressed the desire to work with Pakistan to “advance (the) shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia.”

On July 27, the State Department had expressed “concerns about flaws in the pre-voting electoral process”, noting that “these included constraints placed on freedoms of expression and association” during the campaign period. The department pointed out that such practices were “at odds with Pakistani authorities’ stated goal of a fully fair and transparent election.”

President Erdogan in his letter to Prime Minister Khan wished him success, adds APP.

“I wholeheartedly believe that our relations, which take their strength from our peerless bonds of fraternity and amity, will develop even further in every field towards the welfare and prosperity of our two peoples.

“The solidarity that you have displayed and the support that you have extended to us in the recent critical period that our country has been passing through, reinforces our belief that your sapient leadership will help further advance bilateral relations between Turkey and Pakistan to new heights,” the letter read.

President Erdogan reiterated his best wishes for the welfare and well-being of the brotherly people of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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PIA’s chief operations officer sacked

KARACHI: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has sacked its chief operations officer, Zia Qadir Qureshi, it was learnt on Saturday.

According to sources, Mr Qureshi was sacked on Friday because he could not perform his duties according to work standards of the PIA. They said he had also failed to achieve objectives for which he had been hired.

Take a look: ,SC orders auditor general to complete PIA audit within 10 weeks,

Responding to Dawn queries, PIA spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar confirmed on Saturday that Mr Qureshi’s contract had been terminated.

The Auditor General’s office termed Mr Qureshi’s appointment an “undue favour”. It called for the immediate termination of his services and an action against those who had hired him.

The sources said Mr Qureshi, said to be a blue-eyed boy of adviser to the former prime minister on aviation Mehtab Abbasi, was hired on a contract at Rs1.5 million per month on June 5, 2017. Mr Qureshi was just three months short of reaching the age of superannuation (October 2017) at the time of his appointment.

In the termination letter, issued by PIA’s Chief Human Resources Officer Asma Bajwa who herself is a contractual employee, told Mr Qureshi that “continuation of your appointment beyond the age of superannuation in Oct 2017 was subject to bi-annual review of your performance”.

The sources said Mr Qureshi was called twice for performance review meetings but he could not attend them.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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Property tycoon loses plea for using Bahria Town as brand name

RAWALPINDI: Property tycoon Malik Riaz may not use the brand name ‘Bahria Town’ for his real estate projects as the sessions court of Rawalpindi has rejected his appeal seeking the nomenclature.

In March 2015, handing down a verdict in a case between the naval subsidiary Bahria Foundation and Mr Riaz, a civil judge accepted the former’s petition – originally filed in 2002 – to restrain the latter from using the name ‘Bahria’ for his housing society.

Bahria Town challenged the verdict in the additional district and sessions court and the case was pending adjudication.

Sessions court rejects Malik Riaz’s appeal against verdict of civil court handed down in 2015

The Supreme Court earlier this month directed the sessions court to conclude the proceeding in two weeks.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Hakim Khan Bakkhar on Saturday rejected Bahria Town’s appeal and upheld the verdict of the civil judge.

When contacted, a senior official of Bahria Town, retired Col Khalil, said Malik Riaz, not Bahria Town, had become a brand name. He said the housing society would explore the legal course.

According to the details of the case, Hussain Global – a property firm linked to Mr Riaz – signed an agreement with the Bahria Foundation in 1996 to set up Bahria Town.

The foundation was established in January 1982 as a charitable trust under the Endowment Act 1890. The Bahria Foundation Committee of Administration, headed by the chief of the naval staff, consists of eight members, including the foundation’s managing director.

Under the agreement that Mr Riaz signed with the foundation, the naval subsidiary was offered a 10pc share for the use of the name ‘Bahria’ for the private housing scheme. The remaining amount was divided among Hussain Global, Mr Riaz and his family members.

In the year 2000, the foundation asked Mr Riaz not to use the name ‘Bahria’ for his housing society. On Feb 24 the same year, the property mogul signed an agreement with the Bahria Foundation to the same effect.

Agreeing not to use the name permanently, Mr Riaz’s people did request that they may be allowed to retain the name for another 18 months.

However, in 2002, Malik Riaz obtained a stay order from a local court, alleging that Bahria Foundation had forced him to sign the agreement.

Since then, the tycoon has expanded his housing project manifold and sold a large number of housing and commercial units in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

ADSJ Bakkhar conducted day-to-day proceeding in the matter.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Sheikh Ilyas represented the housing society.

According to the counsel, the official of Bahria Town agreed to relinquish the brand name to the foundation under coercion.

However, Bahria Foundation’s counsel Sheikh Khizer Rashid argued that the foundation never pressured Mr Riaz who agreed not to use the name of his own free will.

The property tycoon had signed the deal in the presence of the company’s registrar, he said, adding Mr Riaz did not appear in court to prove the allegation that he was forced to sign the 2002 agreement.

He said using the nomenclature of Bahria, associated with Pakistan Navy, was bringing disrepute for the armed forces. Therefore, the private housing society should not be allowed to use the title.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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Polish blogger announces travel show for Pakistan

Polish travel blogger Eva zu Beck speaks at the press conference on Saturday. — White Star

Polish travel blogger Eva zu Beck speaks at the press conference on Saturday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: Expressing her love for Pakistan, Polish travel blogger Eva zu Beck, who stirred ,the ‘Kiki Challenge’ controversy in a PIA simulator, recently, announced her decision to launch the world’s first interactive travel show for Pakistan combining social media, TV, live content, written words and on the ground activities.

Ms Beck announced the launch of her new venture at the National Press Club on Saturday. She said it was her passion to promote tourism in Pakistan and fight misrepresentation of the country in the social media.

“Nearly 40pc of travellers take the idea of their destinations through social media. We find Pakistan totally missing in that space.”

It is my passion to promote tourism and fight misrepresentation of the country on social media, Eva zu Beck says

She also identified challenges faced by Pakistan’s tourism sector which included lack of tourist friendly infrastructure and limited information about transport, hotels, guesthouses etc.

She said her initiative might lead to the availability of such information.

She said the mission of the show would be to transform how international travellers think about Pakistan and create a positive and long-lasting change to the local tourism industry.

“It is high time we establish Pakistan as a destination for travellers looking to experience the perfect combination of nature and culture in a single setting,” said Ms Beck.

“The big question that nobody is asking is how we can develop the local tourism industry in responsible and environment friendly ways?”

She said in attracting more attention to Pakistan as a tourism hub, the travel show would work with local organisations to expand the current tourism infrastructure and ensure responsible growth.

“In addition to promoting tourism in Pakistan at the international level, this programme will showcase the creativity and media innovation coming out of the country’s young generation. At the heart of the undertaking will be collaboration with local talent and foreign influencers,” she added.

Ms Beck attracted criticism from local authorities while trying to promote Pakistan’s soft image through her strong social media outreach on Independence Day.

She recorded a PIA “Kiki Challenge” video that was featured across all the major media outlets. But the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sensed some corruption case in the matter and took notice of the video.

Ms Beck at the press conference said she did not receive any written notice from NAB.

“I know about the notice as much as you all know about it,” she said, adding she was blogging about Karachi when she was contacted by the PIA marketing team to work on this unusual idea.

“It was a training plane parked in a covered training area and the challenge was done with all formal permission,” she added. “I received overwhelming positive response from every section of society.”

She said she was overwhelmed by the love and encouragement in Pakistan.

“I came here with a totally different perception. The perception about Pakistan on foreign media is totally opposite of what the reality is,” she added.

The Senate Standing Committee on Aviation recently also discussed the Polish tourist’s video.

Members, including Senator Sherry Rehman, criticised the objections over the matter and wondered what was wrong in the video.

“We should not make it an issue. There was nothing wrong in it and we should not criticise everything. Even she (tourist) does not need to apologise for promoting Pakistan,” said Ms Rehman.

After graduating from the University of Oxford, Ms Beck spent five years developing Culture Trip, a London-based travel media start-up that has five million social media fans and over one billion video views.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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Woman gives birth in ambulance after refusal from three hospitals

KASUR: A woman gave birth to a baby in an ambulance after being denied admission to three public health facilities late on Friday near village Wadana on Ferozepur Road.

According to Muhammad Liaqat, father of the newborn, he took his wife first to the Kasur District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital for labour pains treatment late on Friday. The doctor on duty referred the patient to the Lahore General Hospital because of her critical condition and for want of surgeon in the hospital. He and his wife had to travel to the Lahore hospital with another patient in the ambulance as no other ambulance was available at that time of night.

Liaqat, powerloom worker, said that the Lahore General Hospital also refused to admit his wife on a plea the gyne ward was already overcrowded and referred them to the Services Hospital, which also refused to get his wife in.

Wife of power loom worker spends whole night in vehicle

Liaqat again rushed to the Lahore General Hospital and requested the staff to admit his wife but in vain. He said that seeing the deteriorating condition of his wife, he decided to take her to a private hospital in Kasur after contacting an employee there.

On way to Kasur, she gave birth to the baby near village Wadana on Ferozpur Road in the ambulance early on Saturday. Liaqat said he felt helpless as well as embarrassed as his sister was with them and he had to handle the delivery in the ambulance in front of his sister. He also said that they spent the entire night moving from one hospital to another but no one was ready to treat his wife in public hospital.

He said he had to spend a hefty amount on the post-delivery treatment. He said though doctors had refused admission to them saying that it was not a normal delivery, the birth, however, was done normally in the ambulance. He said that his wife had been regularly visiting the DHQ Hospital for the last few months but the doctors never told her that the delivery was not normal. He demanded that the chief justice take notice of the situation.

BLASPHEMY CASE: ThePattoki police arrested on Saturday the caretaker of a mosque for his blasphemous act at village Jodh Singh Chak 13.

According to police, the suspect packed torn and old pages of the Holy Quran lying in the mosque in the bags and threw them into an old well adjacent to the mosque.

A villager saw him throwing the bags and reported the matter to other villagers.

A large number of villagers gathered outside the mosque and seized the man. Someone alerted the police which took him custody.

Later, the police registered a case under section 295-B (defiling, damaging or desecrating a copy or an extract of the Holy Quran) against the suspect, whose name is being held by this newspaper as per its policy.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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Buzdar’s nomination greeted with hopes, doubts

DERA GHAZI KHAN: The nomination of first-time MPA and former tehsil nazim of the mountainous tribal area tehsil of Dera Ghazi Khan district Usman Buzdar as Punjab chief minister has been received with both high hopes and doubts by local political pundits and politicians. Mr Buzdar is also under the media scrutiny for a murder case registered against him and his family members in 1998.

Former chief minister Dost Muhammad Khosa told Dawn the nomination of Mr Buzdar as the chief minister was a good measure but an inexperience person at the top slot would automatically make Chaudhry Sarwar (governor designated) the most powerful man in the province. He said that in the future, Mr Buzdar might be replaced with some other party stalwart.

Former Punjab Assembly deputy speaker Sher Ali Gorchani welcomed the nomination of Mr Buzdar calling it a good omen for the deprived people of trans- Indus districts of Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. He said Mr Buzdar should be a full-term chief minister, and not a stopgap one.

CM-in-waiting was nominated in murder case in 1998

Former PPP MPA Khawaja Nizamul Mehmood, who defeated Mr Buzdar in the elections of 2013 and remained runner-up in the 2018 elections as an independent candidate, also congratulated his rival over his nomination for the chief executive of the province, and said he hoped he would deliver results to the deprived masses.

Political analyst Ibrahim Baig said that Jahangir Tareen and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi would be remotely controlling the Punjab affairs. He said that in case his appeal against disqualification was accepted, Mr Tareen might replace him within weeks. In case Mr Buzdar remained the chief minister for five years, this would be a good step for the deprived area.

With spotlight on Mr Buzdar for the prized post, the murder case against him, his father and brother by Border Military Police Station of Sorra registered in 1998 was also making the rounds. The case was settled through a jirga in 2000. During the local bodies elections in 1998, an armed clash erupted between sub clans of Buzdar tribe – Chakaranis and Ladwanis. The Ladwanis were allegedly being backed by Mr Buzdar. The clash left six Chakarani tribesmen dead on the polling station of Goasani Sarbil. Later, a case was registered against 33 Ladwanis, besides Usman Buzdar (at that time he was contesting elections for the district assembly against Hiyat khan Chakarani ), his father Fateh Muhammad Buzdar and Jammadar of Border Military Police Umer Buzdar.

Hiyat Chakarani told Dawn that at that time, the Ladwanis were being backed by the Buzdar sardars. He alleged that sardars had provided weapons to the common tribesmen for rigging at the polling station of Goasani Sarbil. Later, the case was sent to the anti-terrorism court but it was decided through a jirga held under the supervision of custodian of Khawja Shah Sulaiman shrine- Khawja Attaullah. The compensation money was settle Rs7.5 million which was paid to the heirs of six deceased.

Fawad Chaudhry, the spokesperson for the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, told Dawn the case against Mr Buzdar was politically motivated and has been quashed.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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Sidhu hopeful if India takes one step, Imran will take two

ISLAMABAD: Former Indian cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday told mediapersons at Prime Minister House that he was quite happy that his close friend had become the prime minister of Pakistan.

A number of times he used poetic language and verses to give his message and claimed that he had come to Pakistan with the message of love. He also said he was taking back 100 times more love compared to what he had brought to Pakistan.

He said Punjab was constituted of five rivers but two of them were on one side and two on the other side of the border. River Ravi flows on both sides of the border (in India and Pakistan), he said.

He said Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa told him that he wanted friendship and peace.

In reply to questions from the mediapersons, Mr Sidhu said he had not come here for politics, adding he got a message of friendship from Imran Khan whom he knew for the last 35 years. He said he also did cricket commentary along with Mr Khan. He said the message of love was for all and he would convey the same to India as well.

He said he would also go to the Indian High Commission as he had got an invitation from there. He said all issues were settled on the table.

“I don’t want to swim in the red sea, let us create a blue ocean and create a place where everybody could swim,” he said.

He said he was quite confident that if India takes one step towards Pakistan Imran Khan would take two steps towards India.

Earlier, Mr Sidhu met Imran Khan in the Prime Minister House. The members of the Pakistan cricket team that won the 1992 world cup were also present there.

Pakistani star cricketer and commentator Rameez Raja said he was thankful to Mr Sidhu for extending the hand of friendship towards us.

He said relations between the two countries could be improved through the efforts of both the nations.

He said it was good that Imran Khan was not a traditional politician so he could play a better role in improving relations between the two countries.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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One option to protect Palestinians is a new force, says UN chief

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a new report that options to ,protect Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation, range from establishing an armed military or police force to deploying civilian observers or beefing up the UN presence on the ground.

The UN chief stressed in the report circulated on Friday evening that every option would require the cooperation of Israelis and Palestinians, “a sustained cessation of hostilities and additional resources.” But the prospect of getting Israel’s consent, especially for a UN or non-UN armed force, remains highly unlikely.

Guterres was responding to a request in a Palestinian-backed resolution adopted by the General Assembly in June that blamed Israel for violence in Gaza and deplored its “excessive use of force.” It asked the secretary general for proposals to protect Palestinian civilians and recommendations “regarding an international protection mechanism.”

In the 14-page report, the secretary general said the combination of more than 50 years of Israeli military occupation, “constant security threats, weak political institutions and a deadlocked peace process, provides for a protection challenge that is highly complex politically, legally and practically.”

Guterres stressed that the solution to protecting Palestinian civilians is a political settlement to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Until that is achieved, he called on the 193 nations in the General Assembly to explore “all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian population,” adding that the measures “would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”

He said additional UN human rights, political and coordination experts could strengthen UN prevention capabilities, increase the organisation’s visibility and “demonstrate the international community’s attention and commitment” to protecting Palestinian civilians.

He said expanding current UN programmes and humanitarian and development assistance could more effectively address Palestinian needs. But he said the UN appeal for about $540 million for basic services and support to 1.9 million vulnerable Palestinians is currently only 24.5 per cent funded. And he said major cuts in funding to the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, “have created an increasingly complicated and desperate socio-economic environment.” This was a reference to the US cut of around $300 million in funding for UNRWA earlier this year which has resulted in a $217 million budget shortfall.

He said establishing a UN or non-UN civilian observer mission with a mandate to report on the protection of Palestinian civilians and their well-being “would particularly be relevant in sensitive areas such as checkpoints, the Gaza fence, and areas near settlements.” He said the observers could provide local mediation. He said the UN could provide armed military or police forces, if given a mandate by the Security Council, “to deter and, if necessary, ensure the safety of the civilian population.” As an alternative, he said a group of “like-minded” countries operating under a UN mandate to provide physical protection rather than a UN mission.

Guterres stressed that a UN civilian observer mission or a new military or police mission established by the UN, or operating under a UN mandate, would require Security Council approval. He also noted that UN missions currently operating in the region don’t provide for the protection of civilians and it would be up to council members to expand mandates to include protection.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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Ban on animal import from Afghanistan enters third day

LANDI KOTAL: The ban on the import of sacrificial animals from Afghanistan continued for the third consecutive day on Saturday as the talks between local livestock dealers and Afghan customs officials on Torkham border on the matter failed.

The livestock dealers insisted that Afghan customs officials refused to relax ban until Pakistan allowed cattle export to Afghanistan ahead of Eidul Azha.

Afghanistan had slapped the ban few days ago after Pakistan suspended cattle export to it to ensure availability of sacrificial animals in the local market to stabilise prices.

Talks between livestock dealers, Afghan customs officials fail

The ban caused sheep prices to surge in local markets with livestock dealers claiming that thousands of sheep and goats were stranded on Afghan side of the border.

Earlier, the local dealers had agreed to pay Rs650 as customs tax per animal to Pakistani customs authorities on Torkham border. The Khasadar officials also began receiving Rs8,000 from every truck taking Afghan sacrificial animals to Landi Kotal.

The livestock dealers however declared the charges illegal saying the provincial government recently banned levy by the Khasadar personnel on all types of trade goods imported from Afghanistan, including sacrificial animals.

Dealer Haji Dadeen told Dawn that the smuggling of sheep via the Gurruko-Bazaar Zakhakhel route had begun after the ban on their movement by Torkham border.

He said the volunteers of Bazaar Zakhakhel peace committee charged Rs1,000 for every sheep and goat brought to Bazaar Zakhakhel from Afghanistan via unfrequented route of Gurruko and then Landi Kotal livestock market.

The dealer said the distance between Bazaar Zakhakhel and Landi Kotal was much longer then the Torkham border, which was only seven kilometers long.

He said a number of sheep and goats died due to thirst and suffocation on the way from Afghan border hill point to Bazaar Zakhakhel and Landi Kotal.

The dealer said the local market was short of sacrificial animals due to the Afghan ban causing prices to surge by at least Rs3,000 per animal. He also complained about the additional transportation charges and ‘illegal’ tax imposed by the peace committee volunteers.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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Smokers’ corner: Sindh’s winds of political change

In the recently concluded general election, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) once again managed to sweep Sindh. Out of the 61 designated National Assembly seats in the province, the PPP won 43. In Sindh’s provincial assembly, it won 74 seats, capturing a clear majority to, once again, form a government here on its own.

But as has been the case since the 1988 election, post-election analyses by academics and the media have squarely focused on the election results in Punjab. This is understandable because Punjab is the country’s largest province. A sweeping win by a party here is sometimes enough to carry it into power.

This time, the election results of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) also make an interesting analysis due to the fact that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) became one of those rare parties which, ever since the early 1990s, managed to win two consecutive majorities in this otherwise finicky province.

Is the political influence of feudalism merely a stereotype that lazy ‘experts’ keep associating with Sindh?

The election results of Sindh and Balochistan, on the other hand, were once again only casually discussed. There is enough literature and some insightful analyses available on the evolution of voter behaviour in Punjab, but there is almost nothing in this context on Sindh and Balochistan.

Indeed, what with the ever-splintering Baloch and Pakhtun nationalist parties in Balochistan ever since the 1970 elections, Balochistan’s electoral landscape has always been a tough nut to crack.

However, elections in Sindh’s vast and heavily-populated capital, Karachi, have often enjoyed much academic and media attention. One can access numerous studies in the shape of books, articles and research papers on the electoral politics of Karachi. But that’s about it.

What one does come across regarding Sindh’s electoral politics are ‘analyses’ which fail to go beyond certain hackneyed and clichéd assessments about why Sindh, beyond Karachi, votes the way it has been doing since the 1970 elections.

As I closely studied newspaper and magazine reports and analyses on election results in Sindh, during each and every election held here since 1988, the following words continued to crop up: feudalism, political rigidity, anti-change, uneducated…

Till today, most analysts and columnists treat Sindh (and its Sindhi majority) as entities stuck in some time warp, unable or unwilling to move beyond the Bhuttos of the PPP and being completely under the thumb of evil feudal lords. This view suffers from severe intellectual laziness.

During the 2013 election, a couple of popular TV news anchors decided to actually visit Sindh outside of Karachi. After showing the token bad conditions of the roads and terrible sanitary conditions in a few cities of the province, they went around interviewing potential voters. I remember a well-known TV anchor couldn’t hold back exhibiting his frustration when a majority of the men and women he spoke to said they would vote for the PPP.

Asking his cameraman to show an overflowing gutter in Dadu, he turned around to an interviewee and asked, “This overflowing gutter is what the PPP has given you, yet you still want to vote for them?” To this the young interviewee responded in Urdu: “Do gutters spill out sherbet in Lahore?”

The problem is that a majority of analysts and “experts” have continued to depend on the idea of the Sindhi and Sindh which was developed decades ago. This idea of an unchanging, immobile Sindhi, meekly rolling over in the presence of feudal lords first emerged when the province began receiving millions of migrants from India after the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

There was a clear cultural clash between the province’s ingrained Sindhi majority and the incoming Urdu-speaking migrants. The migrants were more urbane and had arrived from various parts of India, whereas the Sindhis were culturally homogenous and attached to the lands they had been living on for centuries. This is why, along with the Baloch, Pakhtun and Bengali ethnic groups, the Sindhis too felt that their culture was being undermined by a so-called Punjabi and Mohajir elite.

The Mohajir community began to lose its early elitist status during the Ayub Khan regime (1958-1969) when under Ayub (who was from KP), the mainstreaming of the Pakhtun community began. The Sindhi community experienced similar mainstreaming after the 1970 election.

Despite the fact that the PPP was founded by a Sindhi — Z.A. Bhutto — the percentage of votes his party received in Punjab in 1970 was more than what it received in Sindh. Yet, this did not stop him from drawing Sindhis into the economic and political mainstream of the country. He largely did this to neutralise the radical Sindhi nationalists of the province.

The mainstreaming of the larger Sindhi community slowed down in the 1980s, when Gen Ziaul Haq’s policies traumatised the community and attracted some severe reactions from the ethnic group. After Zia’s demise in 1988 and the PPP’s resurgence, the process of mainstreaming the Sindhi community again picked up pace under Benazir Bhutto.

Even though there is not much literature or in-depth studies available on this process, one way of tracing it was to go through reports penned by the sales teams of various commercial enterprises. For example, some six years ago, I got my hands on two detailed marketing reports published by a juice company and a car battery manufacturing company.

The reports were penned by these companies’ sales staff that had travelled to various cities of Sindh. Both reports spoke about villages that were turning into towns and towns into cities. The reports also found an expanding and robust Sindhi middle class rapidly emerging in the cities and exhibiting ‘consumer behaviour’ that was similar to the middle classes of Karachi.

The PPP has been a central component of the aforementioned process. Political economist S. Akbar Zaidi and Hamida Khuhro, the late historian, have often demonstrated that feudalism has been a rapidly receding force in Sindh. They are of the view that the so-called feudal system now has only marginal political influence on the electoral dynamics of the province.

The PPP has adjusted to this shifting reality by drawing in lesser landowners, petty bourgeoisie and members of minority groups in Sindh, many of who downed various members of established landed families in the recent elections.

Political scientist Haris Gazdar, in his February 2008 essay in Economic & Politics Weekly, wrote that a majority of Sindhis view the PPP as “the party that gives voice to their regional interests at the national level.” This observation is echoed by another political economist, Asad Sayeed, who explains the PPP’s role in Sindh as that of a mainstream entity that gives the Sindhis access to federal level politics and economics.

Published in Dawn, EOS, August 19th, 2018

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IHC grants protective bail to Zardari in fake accounts case

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday granted protective bail to former president and Pakistan People Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari in a money laundering case two days after his arrest warrants had been issued by a banking court.

IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb after a brief in-chamber hearing accepted the plea seeking protective/transitory bail to the former president in the case registered with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under Sections 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly Inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code, Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 3 and 4 of the Anti-money Laundering Act.

Petitioner says FIA director general is brother of a GDA candidate

In his petition, Mr Zardari claimed that FIA director general Bashir Ahmed Memon, whose brother had contested the general election last month on a ticket of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) — an anti-PPP alliance in Sindh — and FIA’s additional director general Najaf Mirza against whom the petitioner had lodged an FIR in 2005 for a murder assault dragged him in the controversial case despite the fact that his name was not among those nominated in the FIR.

According to Mr Zardari, Mr Mirza is the cousin of his rival Dr Zulfiqar Mirza.

The banking court of Karachi issued arrest warrants for Mr Zardari and 15 others in the money laundering and fake bank accounts case on Aug 16.

Mr Zardari appeared in the IHC along with his lawyers Aitzaz Ahsan, Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, Shahbaz Khosa and Javed Iqbal Wains. Besides Senator Sherry Rehman and his daughter Aseefa also accompanied him.

The PPP co-chairman contended that the FIA was “trying to involve the petitioner in false criminal case in order to malign the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party”.

The petition stated: “In the recent general elections, the petitioner has been elected as member of the National Assembly and has also taken oath and has fully participated in the election of speaker and deputy speaker… leading his party to participate in this democratic process.”

It added: “A few days back, the petitioner came to know through the media that some inquiry with regard to fake bank accounts is being carried out by the FIA…on August 17, 2018 the petitioner came to know through electronic media that special court for banking offences, Sindh, at Karachi has issued warrants of arrest against the petitioner on the FIA request.”

Apprehending immediate arrest by the FIA, the petitioner sought bail before arrest/transitory bail in order to approach the competent court of jurisdiction in Karachi.

According to the petition, there is not an iota of evidence with the prosecution which could prima facie connect the petitioner with the commission of alleged offences. In such a situation, issuance of warrants of arrest against the petitioner is the extreme step of high-handedness on the part of the prosecution.

Earlier, the FIA had asked the banking court to issue arrest warrants for those who had been declared absconders by the agency in its charge sheet.

The FIA had declared the former president, MPA Faryal Talpur, Anwar Majeed, Abdul Ghani Majeed, Aslam Masood, Mohammad Arif Khan, Adeel Shah Rashidi, Nasser Abdullah Hussain, Mohammad Ashraf, Adnan Jawed, Mohammad Umair, Iqbal Arain, Qasim Ali, Shahzad Ali, Azam Wazir Khan, Sher Mohammad Mugheri, Zain Malik, Mohammad Iqbal Khan Noori, Nimr Majid and Mustafa Zulqernain absconders.

Just two days before the day of polling, Mr Zardari’s sister MPA Talpur had been granted bail by a lower court against a surety bond of Rs2 million and submission of her passport. On Aug 15, FIA officials arrested Anwar Majeed, said to be a close aide of Mr Zardari, and his sons on the Supreme Court premises after they appeared before it in the case.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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Prime Minister Imran Khan: PTI chairman sworn in as 22nd premier of Pakistan

Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi was on Saturday sworn in as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan in a simple ceremony hosted at the Aiwan-i-Sadr.

The ceremony, scheduled to begin at 9:30am, started a little after 10am.

Guests are seen at the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

Guests are seen at the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

The ceremony commenced with the playing of the national anthem, followed by a recitation from the Holy Quran.

High-profile guests, including caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and Navy Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, were present at the ceremony.

COAS Gen Bajwa meets guests.

Other notable guests included senior PTI leaders, cricketer-turned-commentator Rameez Raja, newly elected Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, singers Salman Ahmed and Abrarul Haq, actor Javaid Sheikh and former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza.

A visibly overwhelmed Khan, clad in a traditional sherwani, smiled sheepishly as he had some difficulty with following the oath in Urdu. It was administered to him by President Mamnoon Hussain and televised live by state broadcaster PTV.

Imran Khan inspects a guard of honour at PM House. — DawnNewsTV

Imran Khan inspects a guard of honour at PM House. — DawnNewsTV

PM Khan swore to “bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan”, and to “discharge my duties and perform my functions honestly, to the best of my ability… and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of Pakistan.”

The ceremony marked an end to decades of rotating leadership between the ousted PML-N and the PPP, punctuated by periods of military rule.

After taking oath as premier, Khan and First Lady Bushra Imran greeted various guests and accepted felicitations from them.

First Lady Bushra Imran in attendance at the oath-taking ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

First Lady Bushra Imran in attendance at the oath-taking ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

This was Bushra’s first public appearance since their wedding earlier this year.

As the swearing-in ceremony concluded, Khan was ushered to Prime Minister House, where he was presented a guard of honour by contingents from Pakistan’s three armed forces.

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Khan had invited the rest of the 1992 team to the ceremony, and fast bowler Wasim Akram was pictured smiling among the crowd.

Indian cricket star Navjot Singh Sidhu at the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

Another cricketer-turned-politician, India’s Navjot Singh Sidhu, was seated in the front row and was earlier warmly embraced by Gen Bajwa after an animated conversation between the two.

The guests had been asked to carry their NIC or accreditation cards but not to bring with them any handbags, purses, mobiles phones or any other electronic gadgetry.

According to a tweet by PTI’s official Twitter account, the ceremony’s menu of nine dishes was reduced to refreshments only on Khan’s request as part of his “austerity drive”.

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A ,notification, issued by the Cabinet Division after the ceremony said Khan has entered the office of the prime minister after taking the oath.

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President Mamnoon Hussain administers the oath of office to Imran Khan. — Photo: Prime Minister's Office/Facebook

President Mamnoon Hussain administers the oath of office to Imran Khan. — Photo: Prime Minister’s Office/Facebook

UN chief extends felicitations

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres congratulated Khan on assuming the office of prime minister of Pakistan.

The message came hours after Khan’s oath-taking ceremony took place in Islamabad.

The Government of Pakistan Twitter account shared felicitations from the UN chief.

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“The UN chief hopes for deepening of UN-Pak cooperation in various fields including the world body’s flagship peacekeeping operations around the globe,” the tweet read.

The UN chief had also ,congratulated the people of Pakistan, upon the conclusion of elections and said that he “looks forward to the formation of a new government” after the July 25 general elections.

The University of Bradford also congratulated Khan, who is a former chancellor, commending his “incredible journey” from a cricket hero to premiership.

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The work begins

After the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the biggest parliamentary party in the wake of the July 25 polls, all 120 of the party’s parliamentary committee members had rubber-stamped Khan’s candidacy for the post of the prime minister.

PTI vice-president Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks to a reporter after arriving for Imran Khan's oath-taking. — DawnNewsTV

PTI vice-president Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks to a reporter after arriving for Imran Khan’s oath-taking. — DawnNewsTV

The party formed enough alliances and recruited enough independents to gain the numbers required to get Khan elected as the PM in Friday’s parliamentary vote.

Khan and his party campaigned on promises to end widespread graft while building an “Islamic welfare state”.

“First of all, we will start strict accountability. I promise to my God that everyone who looted this country will be made accountable,” he said in his speech as PM-elect on Friday.

PTI candidates were also voted speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly this week, putting Khan in a strong position to carry forward his legislative agenda.

He will face myriad challenges, including militant extremism, water shortages, and a booming population negating growth in the country, among others.

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Most pressing is a looming economic crisis, with speculation that Pakistan will have to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

Khan will also have to contend with the same issue as many predecessors: how to maintain a power balance in civil-military relations.

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