At least 6 policemen martyred in suicide attack targeting police van in Quetta

  • ,Quetta’s security challenges,

At least six policemen were martyred and seven others were injured when a suicide bomber targeted a police van on Airport Road in Quetta on Tuesday evening, Quetta DIG Razzaq Cheema told DawnNewsTV.

Moreover, two suicide bombers also attacked a Frontier Corps (FC) checkpost in Quetta’s Mian Ghundi area, however, the FC personnel killed the attackers following an exchange of fire, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

“The first suicide bomber blew himself up outside a FC checkpost in the outskirts of Quetta city after he was spotted by the guards,” Balochistan Home Secretary Ghulam Ali Baloch told AFP.

“Just in the next moments, another bomber who was covering the first attacker exchanged fire with the security forces and later blew himself up.” Some eight paramilitary officials were wounded in this attack, he added.

Around half an hour later a third bomber drove his motorcycle into a police truck on a road leading to the airport, killing at least six policemen, Baloch added.

Moazam Jah Ansari, Quetta’s police chief, confirmed the attacks and said the bombing of the police truck was so powerful that the vehicle overturned.

It was not clear whether the third bomber was wearing an explosive vest or if the bike was filled with explosives.

“Seven policemen were injured in this attack,” he said, adding that the three blasts may have been coordinated.

Policeman walks past the vehicle targeted by suicide bomber. —AP

Policeman walks past the vehicle targeted by suicide bomber. —AP

Police and FC personnel rushed to the blast site and cordoned off the area. No militant group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks.

In January this year, at least ,seven people were killed, on Quetta’s Zarghoon Road when a suicide bomber rammed into a parked police truck, injuring 16 people, police said.

Quetta’s security challenges

Balochistan has faced a number of security challenges in recent months, with security personnel in the province often being targeted in roadside explosions and suicide attacks.

Five people were killed and 27 others had suffered injuries in a ,suicide attack on a convoy of a paramilitary force, in the Sariab Road area of Quetta in November last year.

In October, seven policemen belonging to the Rapid Response Group (RRG) of Balochistan Police and a passer-by were ,killed in a suicide blast,, also in Sariab area.

Fifteen people, including eight soldiers, were martyred when a suicide bomber ,targeted a military truck, near the Pishin bus stop in Quetta in August.

Earlier in June, 14 people ? including seven policemen ? ,lost their lives in a suicide blast, that shook Shuhada Chowk in Quetta’s Gulistan Road area.

Balochistan has been experiencing incidents of violence and targeted killings for over a decade. More than 1,400 incidents targeting the minority Shia and Hazara community have taken place in the province during the past 15 years.

This is a developing story. More details to follow.

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PM Abbasi, chief ministers unanimously approve first-ever National Water Policy

  • ,Salient features of National Water Policy,

The Council of Common Interest (CCI) in its 37th meeting held at the PM Office on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in chair, unanimously approved the first-ever National Water Policy (NWP) of Pakistan.

The chief ministers of the four provinces and senior officials attended the meeting in which Sartaj Aziz, the deputy chairman of Planning Commission of Pakistan, briefed the CCI on the draft of the policy.

Aziz said the policy has been prepared after consultation with all major stakeholders and a national level seminar was also held to reach a consensus. Proposals presented in the 36th CCI meeting have also been incorporated in the policy, he added.

Salient features of National Water Policy

  • Water use and allocation on priority
  • Integrated planning for development and use of water resources
  • Environmental integrity of the Basin
  • Impact of climate change
  • Trans-boundary water sharing
  • Irrigated and rain-fed agriculture
  • Drinking water and sanitation
  • Hydropower and industry uses
  • Ground water resources
  • Water rights and obligations
  • Sustainable water infrastructure
  • Water related hazards
  • Quality management
  • Awareness and research
  • Conservation measures
  • Legal framework and capacity building of water sector institutions

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with chief ministers of the four provinces signs "Pakistan Water Charter". —APP

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with chief ministers of the four provinces signs "Pakistan Water Charter". —APP

During the meeting, the CCI was briefed about the implementation of NWP will be undertaken through a national level body namely National Water Council (NWC) to be chaired by the prime minister and comprising federal ministers for water resources; finance; power; planning development and reforms and all provincial chief ministers as members.

In the meeting, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government presented a brief on implementation of Kazi Committee Methodology (KCM) for calculation of Net Hydel Profits (NHP).

After deliberation, the CCI directed the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, Planning Commission of Pakistan and Ministry of Water Resources to reconcile the claims in consultation with the provinces and resubmit the issue for decision in the next CCI meeting.

Later, the prime minister along with the four chief ministers signed the Pakistan Water Charter pledging commitment to the National Water Policy.

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Stalemate as fresh round of negotiations with US ends

    FOREIGN Secretary Tehmina Janjua receives Ambassador Alice Wells for a call at the Foreign Office on Monday.

    FOREIGN Secretary Tehmina Janjua receives Ambassador Alice Wells for a call at the Foreign Office on Monday.

    ISLAMABAD: Another round of Pakistan-United States talks aimed at getting Islamabad to fulfil Washing­ton’s expectations, envisioned in its South Asia and Afghanistan policy, ended here on Monday without any breakthrough or breakdown, but new issues have been added to the already heavy and complicated agenda.

    A senior official of the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Alice Wells visited Islamabad on Monday on a daylong trip for continuing her talks with Pakistani officials on the US list of expectations. Ambassador Wells met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Foreign Office. This was her second trip in less than a month. She last visited Pakistan from March 28 to April 3.

    Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal only tweeted a picture of Ambassador Wells at the FO with the caption: “FS receives Amb Wells for a call at MOFA today.” No press release was issued on the meeting afterwards.

    More issues have been added to an already heavy agenda; Alice Wells holds talks with Tehmina Janjua

    The US embassy’s statement on the meeting was also unusually very brief. Ambassador Wells “visited Islamabad today for meetings with Foreign Secretary Janjua and other senior officials. In her meetings, she discussed the status of the United States’ South Asia strategy and efforts to make progress on regional security and stability,” the statement read and contained a link to President Trump’s Fort Myers speech in which he unveiled the US Strategy on South Asia and Afghanistan.

    The strategy, to quote Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, reflects the intention of the Trump administration “to hold Pakistan accountable for its failure to deny sanctuary to militant proxies” and “encourage(s) restraint in Pakistan’s military nuclear and missile programs, and seek(s) continued, closer alignment of Pakistan’s nonproliferation policies with our own”. The US has been calling on Pakistan to take decisive action against all militant and terrorist groups allegedly based on its territory.

    Pakistan, on the other hand, strongly denies the allegation and insists that no organised sanctuary exists on its soil. Moreover, it calls for ending terrorist sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border from where militants attack it. Islamabad has also been demanding an early repatriation of Afghan refugees.

    A diplomatic source said the agenda points of both sides at the meeting at FO were same as before with the addition of two new issues — the restrictions on Pakistani diplomats that would take effect from May 1 and traffic accident involving US defence attaché Col Joseph Hall, who had earlier this month ran a red light killing a motorcyclist. Pakistan has demanded waiver of diplomatic immunity enjoyed by Col Hall so that he could be prosecuted.

    “There was no forward movement. But at the same time we must acknowledge that both sides continue to remain engaged in search of the elusive common ground,” the source said.

    Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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    US diplomat who ran over biker in Islamabad placed on ‘black list’, IHC told

      The federal government on Tuesday informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the ,American diplomat who rammed over a biker, in Islamabad cannot stand trial in Pakistan because of diplomatic immunity.

      However, the diplomat has been put on the ,black list, and thus, cannot leave Pakistan, according to Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Raja Khalid.

      Earlier this month, a military attaché Col Joseph Emanuel Hall had rammed his vehicle into a motorcycle in the federal capital, killing a citizen Ateeq Beg and injuring his cousin. He had escaped arrest because of diplomatic immunity but a first information report (FIR) regarding the incident was registered with Kohsar Police Station.

      Read: ,Family of man killed by US diplomat’s car rally in Islamabad,

      DAG Khalid informed the IHC on Tuesday that placing the diplomat’s name on the Exit Control List is a very lengthy process and, as things stand today, he can neither be arrested nor can his trial take place in the country.

      He added that the Vienna Convention gives diplomatic immunity to the American military attaché so he can be tried only if his immunity is withdrawn.

      Justice Amir Farooq, presiding over the case, ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit its reply in the case following which the director general (DG) protocol appeared in the court and said that the United States has been contacted on the issue of diplomatic immunity for Col Hall.

      Being placed on the black list would mean the diplomat’s movements would be limited and monitored.

      During last week’s hearing, Justice Farooq had remarked: “Him being a diplomat does not mean he can kill our citizens.”

      The judge had also reprimanded Kohsar SHO for failing to take the accused’s statement and conducting a blood test following the incident, saying: “The police itself destroys cases this way.”

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      Move to close down Karachi’s Do Darya food street sparks unease

      • ,‘Not an easy fight’,
      • ,Expensive properties in the offing,

      KARACHI: The Do Darya food street set up along the city’s coastline is on the verge of closure to pave the way for some upcoming high-end, seafront residential and commercial projects in Defence Phase VIII.

      With hashtags #DoDarya, #SaveDoDarya doing rounds on social media, many citizens seem totally dejected at the idea of losing this scenic location to upscale developments.

      Unlike the food streets in other parts of the city, the 1.5-kilometre-long food street offers a fine dining experience along with cooling sea breeze and scenic views and attracts visitors from all over Karachi and many foreigners.

      Around 10 years ago, this barren area was notorious for drugs and other crimes. People feared to venture on this side and those who had bought plots in Phase VIII often dreaded the decision.

      However, the investors who leased the spots at Do Darya took the risk and set up their food outlets in an outdoor setting. The concept took off and there was no looking back.

      A Do Darya restaurateur said: “This place was barren. We were given a lease for five years [by the Defence Housing Authority]. We were given the assurance that it would be extended for another 20-25 years. We made sure to set up the place, bring value to the area and have thousands of people coming in every weekend.

      “DHA had informed us that the lease would not be renewed, so we filed a case against them in 2014 and got a stay order … the tenure of that stay order is set to finish in about two months,” he said, requesting anonymity.

      ‘Not an easy fight’

      “DHA hopes we will vacate the area in about two months but we are fighting. It’s not an easy fight but we are trying,” the restaurant owner said, adding: “On an average, Rs250 million has been spent on the property and this investment is not coming back. When we vacate the premises, I can assure you they [DHA] won’t even let us walk away with wooden planks.”

      The area offers employment to around 5,000 workers, including cooks, guards, waiters and valets.

      A source said that the DHA had already taken over a number of establishments in the vicinity and posted its guards there.

      A visit to the locality shows that some restaurants have shut down, with vehicles of DHA Vigilance patrolling the section.

      A spokesman for the DHA was not available for comments when contacted.

      Expensive properties in the offing

      “The plots belong to the Army Sports Club and Navy Sports Club while the other pieces of land have been earmarked for Chinese investors who plan to build high-end, seafront properties,” said a realtor.

      Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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      Ishaq Dar summoned by Supreme Court on May 8

        The Supreme Court on Tuesday summoned defunct finance minister Ishaq Dar ? who has been in London since Oct 2017 ? to appear for a hearing regarding his eligibility to hold a seat in the Senate.

        Dar, who was re-elected to the Upper House on March 3, 2018, as an independent PML-N-backed candidate, has not yet taken oath as a Senator.

        His eligibility was challenged by PPP’s Nawazish Pirzada who contended that an absconder could not contest elections. Dar was declared an absconder by the accountability court last year for his failure to appear in court since he has been in London allegedly receiving medical treatment.

        Chief Justice (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar ? who has heading a three-judge bench hearing the case today ? asked Dar’s lawyer where the former minister is. The lawyer, Salman Akram Raja, told the court his client has “a medical issue”.

        The CJP, however, rejected the explanation saying that Dar “has no illness”.

        “He has been ill for quite some time,” Justice Nisar observed. He then told Raja to find out when Dar would return, and to inform the court. “We will be present here until 8pm,” the CJP said. “Find out and tell us.”

        Additionally, the CJP assured Raja that Dar would not be arrested upon his return. “We will grant him interim bail and pass orders against his arrest,” he said.

        The court subsequently summoned Dar on May 8 for a hearing of the case.

        “Ishaq Dar should obey court orders,” the CJP said, adding: “If he doesn’t appear, we will make whatever decision we deem appropriate.”

        More details to follow.

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        ECP extends deadline for voter registration till April 30

          The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday extended the deadline for voter registration and modification of voter lists till April 30.

          The voters were earlier asked to check theirs and their family members’ vote and other relevant details to highlight any discrepancy, request corrections, or get their votes transferred from the designated place to another by today. They now have till Monday, April 30, to visit display centres and make sure that necessary changes are made.

          Read: ,Are you a registered voter? If not, here’s what you need to know before the deadline ends,

          The ECP had prepared preliminary electoral rolls with the names of over ,104 million voters, and put them on display at over 14,000 display centres across the country from March 26 for inspection by the general public.

          The lists contain the names of 8.1 million new voters.

          The data show 21 per cent increase in the number of voters since the last general elections in 2013. The names of about 800,000 voters have been removed from the list that was used in the 2013 general elections, according to the ECP.

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          Chinese ambassador invites Pakistanis to take advantage of CPEC and Chinese expertise

          • ,’Close friends’,

          Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing on Tuesday invited Pakistani citizens to take advantage of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as Chinese expertise.

          He was addressing the ,CPEC Summit,, being hosted by the Dawn Media Group in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Development, which kicked off at Karachi’s Bagh-i-Jinnah on Monday.

          Various speakers — including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Punjab and Sindh chief ministers, and several prominent researchers and analysts — had addressed the conference on the first day of the event.

          Talking about the Chinese model of economy, Jing, while quoting Chinese President Xi Jinping, said that China has the largest foreign reserves. “In the past 40 years, China has developed; it has combined a socialist system with a market economy that suits the country.”

          He extended his cooperation to Pakistan, saying, “China wants the entire region to develop. We want Pakistan, our iron brother, to develop.”

          Read: ,Caution and optimism at CPEC conference,

          “Our purpose is a better life for Pakistani people [particularly] through the scientific implementation of CPEC,” he said, adding that currently, his government was focusing on the infrastructure structure [under the project].

          “I am sure with our combined efforts, CPEC will be successful and our state to state relations will be further strengthened and become an example for the [global] community,” he remarked.

          ‘Close friends’

          Senator Mushahid Hussain also spoke at the event, touching upon bilateral relations between the two countries. “When we look at China-Pakistan relations, both countries are seen as best friends. Pakistan is the only country that supports the core interests of China, and vice versa.”

          Pakistan has supported China in all its border conflicts, he added, saying: “Economic power is shifting from the West to the East. China is growing from a regional to a global power. It has become a major player in international politics and global affairs, like climate change.”

          A day earlier, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that CPEC has now become a reality. “Two power projects under the initiative have been completed and the third one is about to be finished.”

          “We look upon CPEC as a partnership between two governments,” he had said, adding, “It is a new form of cooperation.”

          The summit is one of the biggest events to be held in the country on CPEC aimed at educating the public about the objectives of CPEC and its umbrella project, the Belt and Road Initiative.

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          SC tells Geo to pay salaries ‘at the earliest’

            ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court directed the administration of Geo TV on Monday to ensure that salaries not paid to employees for the past three months were disbursed at the earliest.

            Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the editor-in-chief of Geo-Jang Group, appeared before a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. The issue of non-payment of salaries had arisen recently during the hearing of a media commission case.

            Mr Rahman informed the court that some financial problems had led to the delay in payment of salaries.

            The court, however, observed there was no justification for not paying salaries and directed Mr Rahman to resolve the issue at the earliest.

            The court formed a committee, to be headed by journalist Hamid Mir, to work out a solution. The employees and the administration will have two representatives each in the committee.

            During the hearing, the group’s owner assured the apex court that the issue would be resolved soon. He sought three months for clearing dues, but the chief justice turned down the request, saying that employees had already been suffering for too long.

            Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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            Van plows into Toronto crowd in ‘deliberate’ act, leaving 10 dead

            • ,’Really fast’,
            • ,’Deliberate’ but no terror link,

            At least 10 people have died after a man plowed a white rental van into a crowd of pedestrians in Canada’s biggest city Toronto on Monday, in what police dubbed a “deliberate” attack.

            The incident took place in broad daylight around 16 kilometres from a conference centre hosting a meeting of G7 ministers, but officials said they had no evidence of a link to the event.

            “The actions definitely looked deliberate,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told journalists.

            Police officers stand near one of the bodies on the street after a truck drove up on the curb and hit several pedestrians in Toronto. — AFP

            Police officers stand near one of the bodies on the street after a truck drove up on the curb and hit several pedestrians in Toronto. — AFP

            Ralph Goodale, the minister of public security, added that “on the basis of all available information at the present time, there would appear to be no national security connection to this particular incident”.

            “Horrible day in Toronto,” he had posted earlier on Twitter. “Senseless violence takes heavy toll.”

            Police arrested a suspect — who police identified later as 25-year-old Alek Minassian from a northern Toronto suburb — at the scene of the attack, whose initial death toll of nine jumped to 10 after one person succumbed to injuries.

            Fifteen people remained in hospitals throughout the city, Saunders said, adding that local, provincial and federal investigators were probing the case.

            At the scene, at least three bodies could be seen under orange sheets and a long stretch of road was sealed off with police incident tape.

            The suspect and a police officer faced off, their guns drawn. The suspect eventually surrendered his weapon and was taken into custody.

            Vehicle attacks have been carried out to deadly effect by extremists in a number of capitals and major cities, including London, Paris, New York and Nice.

            Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the G7 meeting would continue as planned into Tuesday, with officials discussing ways to secure democratic societies from foreign interference.

            “The work of the ministers obviously goes on. This is a very sad day for the people of Toronto and the people of Canada,” she said.

            ‘Really fast’

            Officers were called to the scene — on Yonge Street at the corner with Finch Avenue — around 1:30pm (1730 GMT), police said.

            A white rental van with a dented front bumper was stopped on the sidewalk of a major intersection, surrounded by police vehicles.

            “He was going really fast,” witness Alex Shaker told CTV television.

            “All I could see was just people one by one getting knocked out, knocked out, one by one,” Shaker said.

            “There are so many people lying down on the streets.”

            Another witness, Jamie Eopni, told local Toronto television station CP24: “It was crashing into everything. It destroyed a bench. If anybody was on that street, they would have been hit on the sidewalk.”

            ‘Deliberate’ but no terror link

            Though the act seemed “deliberate,” officials did not identify a terror link. Canada has only rarely been the scene of terror attacks.

            In October, a man stabbed a police officer in the western city of Edmonton before slamming his van into a group of pedestrians, hurting four people.

            And in Quebec in October 2014, a Canadian man ran over two soldiers in a parking lot with his car, killing one of them. The driver was shot dead by police when he attacked them with a knife.

            In March 2016, a Canadian who claimed to have radical Islamist sympathies attacked two soldiers at a military recruitment centre in Toronto.

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            Pakistan, China pledge to work for regional stability through SCO

              FOREIGN Minister Khawaja Asif shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on Monday.—APP

              FOREIGN Minister Khawaja Asif shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on Monday.—APP

              BEJING: Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif has said that Pakistan and China have resolved to enhance bilateral cooperation with the pledge to play a key role for regional stability through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

              Talking to media, along with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after their meeting on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) moot held here at Diaoyutai State Guest House on Monday, he said Mr Wang termed Pakistan and China close friends, all-weather strategic and cooperative partners during their meeting.

              He said Mr Wang also appreciated Pakistan’s active participation in the SCO and expressed Beijing’s strong support to Islamabad’s efforts in enhancing regional peace and cooperation besides its tireless efforts in countering terrorism in the country.

              Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, along with foreign ministers of other SCO member countries, also met Chinese President Xi Jinping here at the Great Hall.

              Asif meets Chinese president, foreign minister

              Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Yevgeniy Sysoyev also attended the meeting.

              Welcoming the foreign ministers, President Xi said the SCO set a new pilot model for mutual respect, as well as a just, fair, win-win relationship, since its founding 17 years ago.

              Mr Asif in his meeting with Mr Wang highly appreciated the vibrant role of the SCO in the region and said it was significantly vital forum for regional cooperation.

              He said Pakistan was looking forward to productive and fruitful meeting of the heads of states of the SCO at Qingdao in June this year. President Mamnoon Hussain would participate in the summit.

              The foreign minister expressed his appreciation for the Chinese initiative of Pakistan-China-Afghanistan Foreign Ministers Trilateral Mechanism for enhancing cooperation with Afghanistan.

              He also apprised Mr Wang of grave situation prevailing in India-held Kashmir.

              Mr Asif congratulated Mr Wang on his re-election as foreign minister and his elevation as state councillor. He also congratulated him on re-election of Xi Jinping as president of People’s Republic of China and as core leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

              He informed him about Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s visit to China earlier this month and his participation in successful and productive Boao Forum for Asia conference.

              Mr Wang said that China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic and cooperative partners and friendship between the two countries had received support from the peoples’ hearts, with solid public opinion foundation.

              “No matter how the international and regional situation changes, the mutual trust between China and Pakistan remains unbreakable. No matter how domestic situations of the two countries change, the friendship between China and Pakistan is as stable as always. No matter how geopolitical structure adjusts, the cooperation between China and Pakistan enjoys continuous development,” he added.

              He said that China-Pakistan relations showcased strong soundness, stability and persistence, which were not only conducive to both countries, but also increasingly becoming an anchor of regional peace and stability.

              Mr Wang said China firmly supports Pakistan in defending its sovereignty and national dignity, its constant development and growth, and in fighting terrorism and safeguarding national security.

              Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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              SC hints at enhancing contempt law punishment

              • ,CJP seeks report on police security,
              CJP Saqib Nisar says laws should be made to provide security to those who genuinely need it.

              CJP Saqib Nisar says laws should be made to provide security to those who genuinely need it.

              ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court is seized with a number of contempt of court cases, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday hinted at interpreting Article 204 of the Constitution in a way to enhance the sentence until the convict purges his contempt before the court.

              “We are considering interpreting Article 204 of the Constitution independent of the provisions of the contempt of court ordinance (COCO) 2003 in a manner that punishment of six months may continue until the accused purges himself before the court,” the chief justice observed.

              The observation came during the hearing of a set of appeals by seven former senior members of the Islamabad capital administration and police personnel convicted of roughing up former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on March 13, 2007.

              The apex court initiates contempt of court proceedings under Article 204 of the Constitution read with COCO, 2003. While Article 204 empowers the court to initiate a contempt charge against individuals for scandalising the courts, Section 5 of COCO provides a punishment of six months or a fine extending up to Rs100,000.

              CJP says apex court never stopped authorities from providing ‘permissible security’ to ex-PM Nawaz Sharif

              Under the 2003 contempt law, an appeal is heard by a five-member or larger bench.

              The appeals were moved against the Nov 1, 2007 order of the Supreme Court that had sentenced Islamabad’s senior administration officials and police personnel for manhandling Justice Chaudhry by preventing him from marching towards the apex court to answer the allegation of misuse of office before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). However, soon after the announcement, the sentence was suspended for 15 days on the request of the convicts for filing appeals against the convictions.

              Former Islamabad chief commissioner Khalid Pervaiz and deputy commissioner Chaudhry Mohammad Ali were sentenced to imprisonment till rising of the court, while former inspector general of police Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed and senior superintendent of police retired captain Zafar Iqbal were sentenced to 15 days in jail. Deputy superintendent of police Jamil Hashmi, police inspector Rukhsar Mehdi and assistant sub-inspector Mohammad Siraj were sentenced to one month imprisonment.

              Later, a 10-member bench barred the respective departments from taking any adverse action against the appellants till pendency of their appeals.

              On Monday, the chief justice suggested senior counsel Sheikh Ehsanud Din to ask the former chief justice whether he was willing to pardon the contemnors.

              Subsequently, the counsel contacted the former chief justice and later told the court that Justice Chaudhry had communicated to him that he had nothing to do with the issue but it concerned with the prestige of the institution.

              At this, the CJP observed that the Supreme Court would then proceed in accordance with law and referred the matter to a five-judge bench, as the appeals in contempt cases are always heard by larger benches.

              CJP seeks report on police security

              While resuming hearing of suo motu notice of availability of police security to non-entitled individuals, the Supreme Court observed that certain laws or rules be developed to provide police security only to those individuals who were at high risk and genuinely needed such security.

              The court, however, observed that a policy so made should not be subjective but objective.

              As a result of the notice, more than ,12,600 police personnel deputed on security duties were withdrawn, by the federal and the provincial governments from the individuals who were not entitled to keep them. In the exercise, police guards provided to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali and many others were withdrawn.

              On Monday, the chief justice said Mr Wali complained about the withdrawal of police security, observing that the same should be provided to him if it was necessary. He explained that the apex court never stopped the authorities from providing “permissible security” to ex-PM Nawaz Sharif. Security should be provided to individuals whether a politician, a lawyer or a media person if they were facing life threats, he added.

              The CJP recalled that a senior lawyer pleading a high-profile case had approached the court seeking protection and in turn the court entitled him for the provision of police security.

              Appearing before the apex court, Islamabad IGP Dr Sultan Azam Temuri said the police department had constituted a threat assessment committee comprising officials including those from intelligence agencies. The committee was tasked with examining requests for police security and deciding the cases, he added.

              CJP Nisar observed that the “real purpose” of taking the suo motu notice was to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is not wasted in providing police security to non-entitled individuals. The court then asked the top officials of police to submit a comprehensive report on the issue within a week.

              Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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              Mystery grows over pro-Saudi tabloid ‘The New Kindgom’ making rounds in the US

              • ,Courting the Saudis,
              • ,Publicity for the prince?,
              • ,The Trump connection,

              It landed with a thud on newsstands at Walmart and rural supermarkets last month: ninety-seven fawning pages saluting Saudi Arabia, whose ambitious crown prince was soon to arrive in the US ,on a PR blitz to transform his country’s image,.

              As questions swirled about the glossy magazine’s origins, the Saudis said they were just as perplexed as everyone else, declaring on Twitter: “If you find out, we’d love to know.”

              But files obtained by The Associated Press show that a digital copy of the magazine, produced by American Media Inc. (AMI), was quietly shared with officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington almost three weeks before its publication.

              How the early copy made it to the Saudis is unclear. Yet the revelation adds another mysterious twist to a murky tale playing out against the backdrop of bids by both President Donald Trump and David Pecker, the tabloid publisher who supports him, to build goodwill with the Saudi kingdom’s leaders.

              Courting the Saudis

              The worlds of Trump, the Saudis and AMI have overlapped before, often in dizzying ways. The Trump administration has aggressively courted the Saudis and found a willing partner on a range of issues, including Iran, counterterrorism and Middle East peace, in the kingdom’s royal family. And AMI’s flagship publication, The National Enquirer, has been accused by critics of acting as a keeper of secrets for Trump.

              AMI denies that it shared an advance copy of “The New Kingdom” with the Saudis or consulted with them on the project, and AMI says the Saudis did not pay the company to produce the magazine. But an individual with knowledge of the situation said AMI indeed reached out to Saudi officials in the US before publication to seek help with the content. The Saudis never responded, said the individual, who wasn’t authorised to comment publicly and requested anonymity.

              Merely sharing an advance copy with the Saudis, while a deviation from traditional journalistic practice, is not legally problematic for AMI. But the unusual circumstances and continuing mystery of the magazine’s origins have led legal experts to point out a separate issue in federal lobbying law: if the Saudis or any other foreign government did direct or pay any company to produce such a magazine, that company would be required to register with the government under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

              There is no evidence any such direction, in this case, occurred.

              Publicity for the prince?

              Why would American Media, best-known for publishing salacious stories of sex and scandal, sink money into printing 200,000 copies of a magazine with a grinning Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman splashed across the cover?

              Read: ,MBS: Reformist crown prince with firm vision,

              The crown prince is no household name in the US, especially in states like Nebraska where the magazine showed up. And at $13.99 a copy and with no advertisements, the publication seems unlikely to be a money-maker.

              Prince Mohammed has won praise in the West for trying to ,modernise Saudi Arabia, and improve some rights for women, but the magazine omits any criticism on such core issues as his hard-hitting tactics, Saudi Arabia’s restrictive political system and the country’s bloody intervention in Yemen’s civil war and strong-handed tactics toward Lebanon.

              AMI spokesman Jon Hammond said he expected the magazine to turn a profit by selling 60,000 copies, comparing it to other AMI special editions on the Olympics, the Kennedys and Elvis Presley — topics that, unlike the Saudi crown prince, are of obvious widespread interest to tabloid readers in the US.

              “Absolutely not,” Hammond responded when asked by the AP if American Media had collaborated with the Saudis on the magazine or been paid by them.

              Saud Kabli, the Saudi Embassy’s communications director, said the embassy had “no role in the production of the magazine”.

              “We don’t have a problem with the magazine, but we just don’t think it is effective,” Kabli said.

              Metadata embedded in the PDF file, obtained by the AP from two different individuals, show it was produced by an AMI production employee at 8:41 pm on Feb 19. Shortly thereafter, it started circulating internally among Saudi officials, including the embassy’s military office, according to individuals familiar with the situation. It was also passed to Nail al-Jubeir, the former embassy spokesman and brother of Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, recently named Saudi ambassador to Ireland, the individuals said.

              By the next day — Feb 20 — Saudi officials had started forwarding it to Washington foreign policy contacts, giving them an early look, said the individuals, who weren’t authorised to discuss the situation and requested anonymity.

              A month later, on March 19, Prince Mohammed arrived in the US, with the magazine serving as his literary red carpet.

              Explore: ,Saudi crown prince’s globe-trotting charm offensive,

              “Meet the next king,” the cover exclaimed, describing the crown prince as “our closest Middle East ally destroying terrorism” and the visionary behind a “city of the future” which “will be operated by robots”.

              The magazine draws heavily from newswire photos and stock images — many with no connection to Saudi Arabia, according to Tineye, a reverse-image search tool. Among the supposed Saudi Arabian highlights pictured are sand-dune surfing in Namibia, a massive indoor greenhouse in the Netherlands and wildlife pictures taken in Zambia and Israel.

              “There are lots of things that warrant answers,” political law attorney Josh Rosenstein said about the pro-Saudi magazine.

              The Trump connection

              As Saudi Arabia starts to open up to Western entertainment, American Media has sought to expand its media empire into the Kingdom — the kind of lucrative opportunity that often comes with the blessing of the Saudi royal court. Last summer, Pecker dined at the White House with Trump and a French businessman with close business ties to the Saudis, and later traveled to Riyadh to pitch Saudi investors on helping AMI acquire Time magazine, The New York Times reported. AMI denied making such an ask.

              Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide, Jared Kushner, has also tried to enlist Prince Mohammed’s help with his ambitious Mideast peace initiative. Kushner paid an unannounced visit early in the administration to Saudi Arabia, which also was Trump’s first overseas destination as president.

              Kushner’s family real estate firm, The Kushner Cos., once sought money from a Saudi investor to buy out its partner in a Manhattan skyscraper that had been losing money for years.

              Pecker is close to Trump and his struggling tabloid empire also has ties to the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Following an FBI raid on Cohen’s office this month, investigators are believed to be examining whether The National Enquirer was involved with Trump’s campaign.

              The Enquirer endorsed Trump’s quest for the presidency. During the 2016 race, the tabloid paid a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump $150,000 to keep silent about the relationship. Last week, the company agreed to let the model, Karen McDougal, out of that contract.

              The AP has also reported that AMI had made a $30,000 payment eight months earlier to a former doorman at a Trump building who had a juicy tip about him, requiring the doorman to sign a contract that effectively prevented him from going public. AMI said it paid the doorman not for his silence, but for exclusive rights to the story, which AMI never published because it said the story could not be authenticated.

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              JI reviewing its role in KP govt, says Sirajul Haq

                LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: As the relationship between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) appears to have turned sour on the issue of Senate elections, JI chief Senator Sirajul Haq on Monday declared that his party was “reviewing its role” in the PTI-led provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

                Talking to Dawn in Lahore, the JI chief claimed that they had held back so far because budget preparations were under way and a member of their party held the portfolio of finance ministry in the KP government.

                “The Jamaat has decided that it should neither weaken the KP government nor become the reason for its downfall when budget preparations are under way,” Mr Haq said, ignoring the fact that PTI chairman Imran Khan had already announced that KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak will not present the provincial budget this year.

                “On top of that, only a few weeks of its (KP government) life are left anyway,” Mr Haq said in an apparent reference to the ,challenge put before him by the PTI, — to quit the government if they believed that the PTI had played a negative role in the Senate elections.

                The two parties have had strained relationship since the Senate elections in which the JI did not support the PTI-backed candidate for Senate chairperson seat, Sadiq Sanjrani.

                The differences between the two parties became apparent when, while talking to the media at Mansoora last week, Mr Haq disclosed that KP CM Khattak had told him that the ,PTI had received directions from somewhere to support Mr Sanjrani, for the office of Senate chairman. The PTI had reacted strongly to this “disclosure”.

                Mr Haq had revealed that Mr Khattak had called him some days before the Senate chairman’s election and sought JI’s votes for their nominee. The JI chief claimed that when he asked about the name of the nominee, Mr Khattak feigned ignorance and said that he was also not aware of the name yet because the decision was coming from the top and the only thing he knew was that the nominee was from Balochistan.

                The JI chief hastened to add that he did not understand what Mr Khattak had meant by “from the top”.

                When asked why he had waited so long time to reveal this, Mr Haq said he had only responded to a query put before him by a media person.

                Amid a back-and-forth between leaders of both parties, Mr Khattak explained that he meant that he had received instructions from Banigala — the residence of party chairman Imran Khan.

                “No one can issue orders to me. I receive orders only from Allah and in party matters, from Imran Khan,” the chief minister explained, while responding to a question during a press conference in Islamabad on Monday. He added that he had told the JI chief that the PTI had decided to support a candidate from Balochistan for the post of Senate chairperson, while for the post of deputy chairperson they would support a candidate from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). He, however, criticised Fata senators for not showing unity and forcing the PTI to vote for the Pakistan Peoples Party’s candidate.

                The JI has already announced its decision to join the recently-revived Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and, according to sources, the party is expected to take some important decisions with respect to its relations with the PTI and its role in the KP government in consultation with other component parties of the MMA during a meeting of the alliance scheduled for April 27.

                Reacting angrily to the JI chief’s disclosure, PTI’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhry challenged the JI to quit the KP coalition government.

                “I am surprised as to why the JI has not yet quit the PTI-led KP government,” Mr Chaudhry had said in a statement issued by the party’s media office in Islamabad on Sunday.

                The PTI leader had regretted that on one hand, the JI had filed a petition in the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and, on the other hand, had become an ally of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, alleging that the Jamaat’s politics was based on “hypocrisy”.

                “The JI has so much love for the government that it is not ready to come out of the PTI-led coalition in KP,” the PTI leader said, terming the Mr Haq’s allegations against his party “baseless”.

                Once again on Monday, Mr Chaudhry attacked the Jamaat, saying there “there is a need to check on whose agenda Sirajul Haq is working,” and added: “At present, both Nawaz Sharif and Sirajul Haq seem to have the same tone and tenor.”

                Separately, Mr Chaudhry dared the ruling PML-N to take action against its party members who had voted for PTI’s Chaudhry Sarwar in the Senate elections.

                Mr Chaudhry said the PTI had taken a courageous step by taking action against its 20 MPAs who were found to be involved in horse-trading in the Senate elections. He said the PML-N had been alleging that Chaudhry Sarwar had been elected through bribers and after purchasing votes. He said if the PML-N’s allegations were true, it should immediately take action against its legislators who were a part of the alleged horse-trading.

                Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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                Missing Indian Sikh pilgrim returns home today

                  LAHORE: A Sikh pilgrim who had arrived in Pakistan from India to attend the annual Baisakhi festival but went missing later has been traced and will be sent back home on Tuesday (today) via the Wagah border.

                  Amarjeet Singh, 23, had arrived from India on April 12 and was scheduled to return with a group of over 1,700 pilgrims on April 21— the last day of his visa duration.

                  Explore: ,Glare and galore at Baisakhi festival,

                  “But a couple of days before his visa expired, probably April 18, he left the group in Nankana Sahib and went missing. Since the issue was so sensitive, the law enforcement agencies made extensive efforts to get any clue in this regard,” said an official source in the evacuee trust property board (ETPB). His mother was also worried as her son did not return on April 21 with the others.

                  Amarjeet, he added, was later found in Sheikhupura where he had been residing at the residence of his friend. “Now he is in the custody of a law enforcement agency. And in a day or two, he will be sent back to India,” he said.

                  When contacted, ETPB secretary Tariq Wazir said that Amarjeet would be sent back to India on Tuesday. “Actually he had left the group and gone to meet his friend in Sheikhupura, near Nankana. But after a couple of days, family of Amarjeet’s friend contacted us on its own, confirming his stay at their home,” the ETPB secretary told Dawn on Monday.

                  “They will hand over Amarjeet to us on Tuesday after which we will send him back to India,” he added.

                  Earlier, the ETPB administration had informed the ministries of interior and foreign affairs and other departments concerned about Amarjeet gone missing. The foreign office had confirmed the report as well.

                  Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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                  ‘CPEC is a reality’: Two-day summit kicks off in Karachi

                  • ,’CPEC is not a debt trap’,
                  • ,’CPEC is a reality’,
                  • ,’CPEC not only about economic growth’,
                  • ,’CPEC is not about roads and motorways; it’s about connectivity.’,
                  • ,’China and Pakistan have enjoyed great relations for past 5 generations’,
                  • ,‘KP’s hospitality being extended to economic friendships through CPEC’,
                  • ,‘One can’t imagine CPEC without Gwadar’,
                  • ,Objectives of CPEC,

                  The ,two-day CPEC Summit,, being hosted by the Dawn Media Group in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Development, kicked off at Karachi’s Bagh-i-Jinnah on Monday.

                  Various speakers, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing, addressed the conference on the first day of the event.

                  While addressing the summit, PM Abbasi remarked that while the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was unheard of merely three years ago, the world acknowledges it as a reality today.

                  The prime minister and all of the other speakers discussed the importance of CPEC with the attendees of the summit.

                  Representatives of all four provinces discussed the importance of the joint initiative with reference to the development that it has brought to their particular region.

                  ‘CPEC is not a debt trap’

                  Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal in his address talked about the progress and development made in the country during the tenure of the PML-N’s government.

                  Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal addressing the CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

                  Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal addressing the CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

                  “This event proves that Karachi is changing,” he said, adding that when the PML-N came to power in 2013, the city was known for target killings and extortion.

                  “This is an age of development and growth, with the speed of an electron,” he remarked.

                  Talking about the Belt and Road initiative, he termed it a huge opportunity. “Pakistan will become a hub of development with the help of this project.

                  “We made regional connectivity a key component of our Vision2025 project,” he said, terming CPEC the biggest flagship project of the One Belt One Road initiative.

                  PM Abbasi, Sindh CM Shah, Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing at the first day of CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

                  PM Abbasi, Sindh CM Shah, Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing at the first day of CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

                  “China extended its hand towards Pakistan when no one wanted to invest even 10 dollars.”

                  Addressing the reservations about CPEC, Iqbal said: “There are lobbies that are not happy with CPEC — it is not a debt trap.”

                  “Some say China will become the East India Company; they haven’t read history. China seeks partnership. There is nothing to fear for Pakistani businesses [...] this is propaganda.”

                  “Long live China-Pak friendship,” Iqbal concluded.

                  ‘CPEC is a reality’

                  PM Abbasi addressing the CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

                  PM Abbasi addressing the CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

                  “We look upon CPEC as a partnership between two governments,” said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi — the event’s chief guest — at the inauguration of the summit in the morning. “It is a new form of cooperation.”

                  “Three years ago CPEC was unheard of — today it is known globally. The BRI initiative of Chinese President Xi is a project for generations,” he said, “Recently, we discussed security and connectivity with Afghanistan, which also recognises CPEC as an opportunity.”

                  “CPEC has now become a reality — two power projects under the initiative have been completed and the third one is about to be finished.”

                  ‘CPEC not only about economic growth’

                  For the past 40 years, China has made every effort to develop and grow its economy, said Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing in his address.

                  “We’ve combined socialism and market economy to benefit people.”

                  Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing speaking at the CPEC Summit. ? DawnNewsTV

                  Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing speaking at the CPEC Summit. ? DawnNewsTV

                  “China wants to see its relationship with Pakistan serve as an example for its relations with other states,” said Jing while speaking on the CPEC.

                  “We look at CPEC as a significant project. I’m proud that after five years of implementation, it [CPEC] has contributed to Pakistan’s development.”

                  “CPEC is not just about economic growth; we want to develop a community.”

                  ‘CPEC is not about roads and motorways; it’s about connectivity.’

                  Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif addressed the summit in the session ‘View from Punjab’.

                  “CPEC has helped strengthen the federation of Pakistan; today, Pakistan is a happening place and CPEC has proven that it is a country where people’s money is safe,” he said.

                  Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif — DawnNewsTV

                  Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif — DawnNewsTV

                  “CPEC has been a turning point in Pakistan’s history,” he said, adding: “Those who doubt intentions of the Chinese are enemies of Pakistan.”

                  He negated the impression that CPEC was limited to one area or province, saying, “Together with Sindh, Balochistan, KP, FATA and AJK, we will build a better tomorrow.”

                  “China is one of Pakistan’s most reliable friends. Once the Chinese were convinced that people of Pakistan rightly deserved their support, then came President Xi’s vision of ,Belt and Road Initiative, (BRI) which came to be known as CPEC,” said Shahbaz.

                  Praising China’s support further, the Punjab CM said there has been no conditions or mantra of “do more” — a reference to the ,often repeated demand from the United States, — from the neighbouring country.

                  “CPEC is not about roads and motorways; it’s about connectivity.”

                  ‘China and Pakistan have enjoyed great relations for past 5 generations’

                  Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah addressed the summit in the session ‘View from Sindh’.

                  “The past five generations of the Chinese leadership and previous Pakistan governments have all had a great working relationship with each other,” the CM said.

                  Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah — DawnNewsTV

                  Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah — DawnNewsTV

                  He added: “When China stood isolated on the world stage, it was Pakistan under the leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that staunchly supported its neighbour. Today, China Pakistan Economic Corridor has seen light of day because of President Xi Jinping and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s vision.”

                  Speaking about the development taking place in Sindh under the CPEC plan, CM Shah said: “CPEC has resulted in the optimal utilisation of two commercial ports and the opening of Keti Bunder. The development of our commercial ports is in line with the CPEC plan, and Sindh pledges its full cooperation and facilitation in this regard.”

                  “Sindh had started working towards renewable energy projects long before the formal launch of CPEC and it remains the the only province which has a land grant policy for renewable energy parks,” the CM said, adding that the long-term vision of the Sindh government has produced “turning results.”

                  He elaborated that Sindh currently contributes 930 megawatts of wind energy to the national grid, “a large chunk of which comes from three early-harvest CPEC projects.”

                  He also told the audience that an additional 300MW generated through wind power projects would be added to the grid once the projects are completed in October 2018.

                  ‘KP’s hospitality being extended to economic friendships through CPEC’

                  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Secretary Hassan Ansari, who was representing the KP government at the summit, said that the province is responsible for the production of 15pc of Pakistan’s natural gas output.

                  “In hydropower, KP has the potential of producing 30,000MW of energy. There are a number of fruits that grow in the province around the CPEC route,” Ansari briefed the attendees of the summit.

                  Ansari also said that two hydropower projects in Chitral are part of the CPEC framework.

                  ‘One can’t imagine CPEC without Gwadar’

                  Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, who claimed to be representing the people of Balochistan and not the provincial government, said, “CPEC could not be conceived without Gwadar.”

                  Bizenjo said that Balochistan constitutes 43pc of Pakistan, and is home to Reko Diq, the second largest copper reserve in the world, and many other minerals.

                  “The people of Balochistan are hopeful that CPEC will grow and when it does, they will get to grow with it,” he explained.

                  Objectives of CPEC

                  A symposium, “The dynamics of economy and finance”, preceded the inauguration ceremony.

                  The discussion featured, among others, former State Bank governor Ishrat Husain and former finance ministers Shaukat Tarin and Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

                  It’s one of the biggest events to be held in the country on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor aimed at educating the public about the objectives of CPEC and its umbrella project, the Belt and Road Initiative.

                  The highlight of the second day will be a session titl¬ed “The view from China”. Yao Jing is slated to be the main speaker.

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                  Careem users’ personal data compromised in massive data breach

                  • ,What you can do to protect yourself,
                  • ,Steps taken by Careem,
                  • ,Possible extortion attempt?,

                  Ride-hailing service Careem on Monday warned users that their personal data had been compromised in a massive cyber-security breach.

                  The breach affects all customers and captains who signed up with the service before January 14, 2018. Users who signed up with the service after that date have not been affected, Careem said in an emailed statement.

                  Responding to’s questions, a representative from Careem’s global press team said that at the time of the data breach, there were 14 million customers and 558,000 captains active on the system across 13 countries.

                  The company separately reported that sensitive information like customers’ names, email addresses, phone numbers and trip history data (pick-up and drop-off points) ,had been stolen, by hackers.

                  However, “there is no evidence that your password or credit card number have been compromised,” Careem assured its users. “Customers’ credit card information is kept on an external third-party PCP-compliant server,” Careem claimed.

                  Careem did not comment on the origin or nature of the cyber security breach. In response to a query, it simply said: “We do not know the identity of the hacker.”

                  What you can do to protect yourself

                  The company has recommended to users the following steps to safeguard their personal information:

                  “Implement good password management by updating your Careem password, as well as other accounts on which you use similar details. Use a strong mix of characters, and try not to use the same password for multiple sites,” the handout read.

                  In addition, users were advised to “remain cautious of any unsolicited communications that ask for personal information or refer to a web page asking for personal information”; to “avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unfamiliar emails”; and to “continue to review bank account and credit card statements for suspicious activity.”

                  “If you see anything unexpected, call your bank,” the statement read.

                  Steps taken by Careem

                  A Careem representative told that as soon as the breach was detected, “an internal security team engaged leading cybersecurity experts to investigate the issue and strengthen our security systems to protect us against further attack.”

                  “Specifically, we have introduced enhanced monitoring capabilities across our infrastructure that allows us to detect and respond quickly to security issues, as well as upgrading access controls for our users using market-leading, multi-factor authentication procedures.”

                  “While we feel our response has been robust, we are also implementing a further programme of updates to further develop our security capabilities over coming months,” read the statement.

                  “Throughout the incident, our priority has been to protect the data and privacy of our customers and captains. Since discovering the issue, we have worked to understand what happened, who was affected, and what we needed to do to strengthen our network defences,” the company said.

                  Responding to a query regarding the possible repercussions of the leaking of personal data and trip histories for journalists, politically exposed persons, social activists and other marginalised groups and what is being done to address the matter, the company simply said: “This is an ongoing investigation with law enforcement agencies, so we’re limited in the details we can provide at this time. Throughout the incident, our priority has been to protect the data and privacy of our customers and captains. We’ve seen no cases of fraud or misuse tied to the incident.”

                  When asked if Careem is aware of any attempt to sell or ransom the data acquired by the hackers, the representative only repeated that: “We’ve seen no cases of fraud or misuse tied to the incident.”

                  Possible extortion attempt?

                  The breach closely echoes an incident involving Careem rival Uber, which was hit by a similar data breach in October 2016.

                  “Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc, a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers,” Bloomberg had reported on November 22, 2017.

                  “Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world,” the company had told Bloomberg.

                  The personal information of about seven million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 US driver’s license numbers, Bloomberg had reported.

                  In Uber’s case, however, users’ trip history data had not been compromised.

                  Careem, which launched in Pakistan in March 2016, has since become one of the most popular ride-sharing services in the country.

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