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‘Suo motu notices to be taken sparingly,’ says Justice Khosa at full court reference for CJP Nisar

A full court reference in honour of the retiring Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, is being held in Court No. 1 of the Supreme Court.

The ceremony in Islamabad is being attended by all Supreme Court judges — with the exception of Justice Mansoor Ali Shah — as well as Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor, Vice Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Kamran Murtaza, retired senior judges as well as senior journalists, among others. Justice Nisar’s family is also in attendance.

While addressing the gathering, Justice Nisar said the top court has passed many landmark verdicts. “First is the ,Gilgit-Baltistan’s verdict,.”

“Supreme Court took notice of the scarcity of water in the country. The entire nation ,gave donations, to solve the crisis. Second issue the court picked up was ,that of population growth,,” he said.

“[Judiciary] worked for the rights of the downtrodden, granted overseas Pakistanis the right to vote and gave every person the right to live with dignity. Court also took notice of private hospital charges, issuance of national identity cards by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to transgenders.

“The court also took ,notice of Tayyaba torture case, as well as the issue of children working as domestic servants.

“[I] tried to return the respect given by the people and tried to solve the issues plaguing sectors of health and education, both of which are rights granted to citizens by the Constitution.

“The role of a judge is never easy, I am aware that the decisions we make shape not just the day to day lives of individuals, but have the potential to mould the lives of generations to come.

“Fear has no place in a judge’s life, nor does the fear of opposition bring so much as a wrinkle on his forehead, for his only duty is to the Constitution and the people for whom he stands as a beacon of justice

“I worked within the code of conduct for judges and it has been my honour to have served the nation.”

The CJP thanked his fellow judges; “those who have laid down their robes and those who grace the bench with me today, for always extending their unqualified support to me in all my efforts in dispensing justice and for working tirelessly round the clock”.

“I am also grateful to the employees of the Supreme Court and particularly each and every member of my staff, all of whom have invested long hours with me.

“I am highly indebted to my beautiful family [...] I would not be here today if it were not for you all.”

‘Suo motu notices to be taken sparingly’

Addressing the full court reference, chief justice-designate Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said that he had been working alongside Justice Nisar for 20 years but will now have to part ways as per the law.

He said that the outgoing chief justice had faced many constitutional, societal and political challenges during his tenure and headed the judiciary in “very difficult circumstances”.

Justice Nisar’s services for humanitarian causes will be remembered, he added.

Outlining his plan for his upcoming tenure as top judge, Justice Khosa said that he will ensure the quick dispensation of justice.

Referring to Justice Nisar’s efforts to raise donations to build the Diamer-Bhasha dams, Justice Khosa said that he too he wanted to build a dam. “I will build a dam against fake cases, against pending cases,” he promised.

“Currently there are 1.9 million cases pending in courts. Three thousand judges cannot dispense of so many cases,” Justice Khosa noted.

“I want to build a dam against false witnesses as well,” he said, adding: “The power to take suo motu notices will be used sparingly.”

“I also want to pay off the country’s loans — I will will pay off the loans of cases that have been pending for years.”

Speaking on the role of other courts, the SC judge said: “The trial of a civilian in a military court is considered wrong across the world. It is said that military courts take less time to issue verdicts. Civilian courts should try to resolve cases in a short period of time. High courts should exercise powers within their jurisdiction.”

“When has the judiciary interfered in the matters of other institutions?” Justice Khosa asked. “Army and intelligence agencies should not interfere in civilian matters.”

“The job of the parliament is to legislate, not provide development funds. Transfers and postings are not among the parliament’s duties either.”

PBC’s Vice Chairman Murtaza, while speaking at the ceremony, said that Justice Nisar had availed the authority granted to judiciary under ,Article 184(3) (Original jurisdiction of Supreme Court),. Murtaza said that while he was one of the opponents of Article 184(3), he had no doubts about the intentions of Justice Nisar. However, Murtaza said, the “matter of Article 184(3)’s limitations must be resolved”.

Murtaza lauded Justice Nisar’s “extraordinary” service as chief justice and wondered if the Supreme Court, as an institution, would be able to continue performing in a similar manner. He stressed the need for the introduction of institutional reforms.

“Chief Justice Saqib Nisar is a very capable person,” Murtaza declared.

President of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Amanullah Kanrani also addressed the ceremony and said that recently “the judges’ tone has become so harsh that it distracts the court and lawyers from their basic purpose”.

“Lawyers are not given a chance to present facts and arguments,” he said. He further said that the “huge amount of suo motu cases” leads to a delay in the proceedings of other petitions. Kanrani also suggested that the appellants be allowed to appeal against the verdicts passed in suo motu cases.

The SCBA president also said that “informal remarks” passed by judges and lawyers during court proceedings affect the “minds of petitioners”. Kanrani insisted that there was a need to hold judges accountable.

Justice Nisar’s legacy

Justice Nisar was ,sworn in as the top judge, on Dec 31, 2016. After he hangs up his robes today, Justice Khosa ,will take over the reins of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, tomorrow when he will be administered the oath by President Arif Alvi.

Earlier in the day, after adjourning a hearing of his last case, Justice Nisar said he was “thankful to everyone”.

“I spent more than 20 years in judiciary. I always tried to issue verdicts in accordance with the law and regulations,” he said.

Among Justice Nisar’s retirement plans are to ,open a “free legal clinic”,. “I will offer free legal assistance to the oppressed, poor and helpless people at my free legal clinic,” he had disclosed, stressing that the country belongs to the disadvantaged populace as much as it does to those from the more privileged sections of society.

Herald’s ‘Person of the Year 2018′: ,Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, for judging too much,

The outgoing chief justice passed several landmark judgements during his tenure as top judge — including ,the verdict in the Aasia Bibi case, last year. He also headed the bench which decided that disqualification handed down under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution ,would be for life,.

The defining feature of his tenure, however, may be his judicial activism and frequent suo motu notices. Justice Nisar created headlines not just in the courtrooms, but by visits all over the country — to hospitals, filtration plants, lower court rooms and even prisons. Everywhere that the chief justice went, the cameras followed.

He also set up a ,fund for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, and initiated a campaign to raise awareness about population control.

At the full court reference that was held for his predecessor, former chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Nisar in his address — which many believed was an insight into his plan of action as top judge — had declared that the ,judiciary will not tolerate corruption, in any form.

Take a look: ,In search of a legacy,

“The act of corruption by state actors is a complete fraud on the exercise of their power may it be the executive or judicial limbs of the state,” Justice Nisar had observed and cautioned that it should be very clearly understood that besides cleaning ‘‘our own house of corruption, the judiciary would play its role in the eradication of corruption from other limbs of the government’’.

Justice Nisar’s judicial career

Justice Nisar has been a judge of the apex court since Feb 18, 2010. Before that he was a judge of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

Before being appointed as a judge, he was member of the Supreme Court Bar Associa­tion and Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA). He was elected as secretary general of the LHCBA in 1991.

Explore: ,Judicial overreach?,

Born on Jan 18, 1954, in Lahore, Justice Nisar did his matriculation from the Cath­edral High School, Lahore, graduation from the Gover­n­ment College, Lahore, and bac­h­elor of law from the Uni­versity of Punjab in 1979-80.

He joined the legal profession as an advocate on May 2, 1980. He was enrolled as an advocate of the high court in 1982 and advocate of the Supreme Court in 1994.

He was elevated as the judge of the high court on May 22, 1998, and of the Supreme Court on Feb 18, 2010.

Justice Nisar specialised in civil, commercial, tax and constitutional laws and appeared in a large number of important constitutional cases both in the LHC and the Supreme Court.

He was appointed as the federal law secretary on March 29, 1997, when he became the first member of the bar to be appointed to the important position.

Justice Nisar represented Pakistan in an international conference held at the Wilton Park, United Kingdom, on the subject of “Pakistan and India at Fifty”.

He led a Pakistani delegation to a conference in Manila on the subject of “Asia Region Transitional Crimes”. He also attended conferences in Switzerland and Norway.

He had also been a part-time lecturer at the Punjab Law College and Pakistan College of Law, where he taught civil procedure code and the Constitution.

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SC hands over ownership of Lahore’s Sheikh Zayed Hospital to federal govt

The Supreme Court on Thursday handed the ownership of the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Lahore to the federal government, ruling that the Centre reserves the right to build and run hospitals.

The split 4-1 verdict by a five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, said that the management of the Sheikh Zayed Hospital was transferred to the Punjab government without due legal process. The court ruled that the 18th Amendment’s interpretation in this regard was wrong as the Centre had the right to build and run hospitals.

“No law can stop the transfer of this hospital to the Centre,” the verdict said. “There should be a balance between the powers of provincial and federal government.”

A dissenting note was written by Justice Maqbool Baqir.

The judgement said that the ownership of three hospitals and the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi was also handed over to the Sindh government “illegally” and ordered that the management of all four hospitals as well as the museum be transferred to the Centre within 90 days. The provincial governments can request the court for an extension if the process of ownership’s transfer is not completed in 90 days, the ruling said.

Yesterday, a five-member bench had ,dismissed Sindh government’s appeal, over a dispute in the management of three major hospitals in Karachi — namely the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), National Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) — and ordered that their management be transferred to the federal government.

The court also ordered the federal government to reimburse the past year’s expenses of the hospitals and museum borne by the provincial governments.

At a previous hearing, CJP Nisar had said it was difficult for the court to interpret the 18th Amendment in the absence of parliamentary debate on it. He said everything was kept under wraps at the time the 18th Amendment was being drafted. In developed democracies, advertisements were issued to solicit opinions of all stakeholders a year before any constitutional amendment, he added.

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Prime Minister Khan asks ‘why lawmakers are so scared of the ECL’

Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet on Thursday asked why lawmakers were “so scared” of the Exit Control List (ECL) and why they were so keen to go abroad.

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The tweet comes ahead of a federal cabinet meeting today, in which the removal of the name of PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — among others — from the ECL is expected to be discussed, DawnNewsTV reported. According to ,Radio Pakistan,, the cabinet meeting will also discuss the overall political and economic situation of the country.

“There is so much work to be done by politicians in and for Pakistan — the land they claim to love but some cannot wait to take frequent trips abroad and lawmakers have iqamas or residences abroad,” Prime Minister Khan added in his tweet.

“Can anyone explain this strange phenomenon to those of us who would be quite happy to remain in and work for Pakistan because we actually love Pakistan,” the premier asked in another tweet.

Shortly after, Bilawal replied to the premier on Twitter, saying: “Obviously selected PM doesn’t understand the concept of human rights or freedom of movement.”

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“Funny it’s only the opposition members on ECL, government members are busy travelling. Including PM who despite promising not to travel for first six months has made more than seven trips so far!,” the PPP chairman added.

On the recommendations of the joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with probing the fake accounts case, the federal cabinet had in its meeting on December 27, 2018 ,decided to place the names of 172 individuals — who were named in the investigation report — on the ECL,, including Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Farooq H Naek and several other leaders and provincial ministers belonging to the PPP.

Last week, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had ,grilled the state prosecutor, over why the government had decided to place names of Bilawal and the Sindh chief minister on the no-fly list based on JIT’s recommendation, ordering the federal cabinet to reconsider its “hasty decision”.

The government, however, had said it would ,wait for the court’s written judgement,.

During a National Assembly session on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi ,regretted that the government had shown haste, in placing the names of 172 people on the ECL.

Attempting to placate the PPP, Qureshi said that the matter was discussed in a federal cabinet meeting and the government had decided to wait until the detailed verdict is released.

According to Qureshi, the top court had ordered the government to consider the removal of the travel ban, not to take the names off the list immediately.

Later in the day on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ,finally released its order, pertaining to the removal of the names of Bilawal as well as Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah from ECL, noting: “Removing of the names will not prevent NAB [National Accountability Bureau] to probe and in case sufficient material is found connecting these individuals with cognisable offences, it will not be precluded from making an appropriate request to the federal government to place their names on [the] ECL again or take any appropriate action provided by law.”

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Top court’s powers extended to Gilgit-Baltistan, rules Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday, while giving a written order regarding the ,constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and the grant of fundamental rights to its citizens, ruled that the powers of the top court also extend to the region.

The written order also states that no part of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan can be abolished or amended without proper legislation.

A seven-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had on January 7 ,reserved its verdict, regarding a set of petitions challenging the Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009, as well as the right of the citizens of the area to be governed through their chosen representatives.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018 was earlier opposed by protesters hailing from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who demanded that GB should be declared a part of Pakistan instead of being administered through presidential orders.

The proposed reforms draft states that the federal government intends to grant GB the status of a provisional province, “subject to the decision of the plebiscite to be conducted under the UN resolutions”, with all privileges provided by the Constitution.

The move, however, would require an amendment in the Constitution, which needs a two-thirds majority in the parliament and “would take time”. Therefore, as an interim measure, the government plans to give such fundamental rights to GB residents as enjoyed by the people of any other province.

Today’s order clarified that no changes will be made to the current state of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir and that the constitutional status of these areas shall be determined through a referendum. It further said that this process should take place within 14 days.

The order said that India and Pakistan are responsible for giving more rights to the [people of] the areas under their control and until the referendum happens, Pakistan is bound to give Gilgit-Baltistan as many rights as possible. The order also pointed out that several administrative offices have already been created in the area under the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018.

Gilgit-Baltistan courts hold the right to review the law-making done by the Gilgit-Baltistan Council. However, these courts do not hold constitutional rights within Pakistan.

The people of Gilgit-Baltistan will be able to challenge the appellant court’s decisions in the Supreme court of Pakistan.

The SC has also given the suggestion regarding changes to be made in the presidential ordinance and also clarified that the president of Pakistan can enforce the Order upon the proposal of the federation.

However, it has also been made clear that the 2018 Order cannot be amended. If the Parliament makes any changes to this order they can be “examined on the touchstone of the Constitution”.

The order further said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have the same rights as the people of Pakistan.

Upon hearing the court’s order, members of the Gilgit-Baltistan Bar Council thanked the chief justice and asked him for the order’s Urdu translation to also be released.

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Accountability court indicts Ahad Cheema, extends judicial remand by 14 days

An accountability court in Lahore on Thursday indicted former director general of the Lahore Development Authority Ahad Khan Cheema in a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

Accountability court judge Syed Najamul Hassan extended Cheema’s judicial remand for 14 days.

The bureau’s lawyer said Cheema had billions of rupees worth of assets beyond his known sources of income and added that the market value of his assets was close to Rs600 million.

NAB’s lawyer said that Cheema had kept assets under the names of his family members, including his wife Saima Ahad, mother Nusrat Afza, brother Ahmed Saood and sister Sadia Mansoor.

The court has summoned witnesses in the next hearing on Jan 30.

NAB had ,filed a reference against Cheema in October 2018, for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

According to NAB, Cheema had made property worth billions of rupees in the name of his family members. It said the suspect and his family members owned over 300 kanals of agriculture land in Hafizabad, over 190 kanals in Lahore, a flat in Hill View, Islamabad, two plots in FIA Employees Cooperative Housing Society, Islamabad, two flats and plots in Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation, Islamabad, a 10-marla plot in Faisal Town, Islamabad, two five-marla plots in Faisal Residencia Islamabad and a three-kanal plot on Bedian Road, Lahore.

Prior to this in June 2018, NAB had filed a reference against ,Cheema and five others over their alleged role, in Ashiana Housing Scheme scam.

,Read more:A timeline of developments in the Ashiana housing ‘scam’,

In the Ashiana reference, Cheema was accused of causing a loss of Rs660m to the national exchequer. The project cost ballooned to Rs3.4bn while 61,000 people who had applied for plots in the project suffered, NAB had alleged.

The former LDA director general was ,arrested in February 2018 over charges of misusing his authority, and, with criminal intent, processing and awarding Ashiana scheme project contract worth Rs14bn to the Lahore Casa Developers, a joint venture firm that was ineligible for the same. The contract, in connivance with other suspects, was awarded in violation of rules.

NAB has also approved a reference against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and former principal secretary to the ex-prime minister Fawad Hasan Fawad in the Ashiyana Housing scam.

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Peace talks with Taliban will happen soon: US envoy

KABUL: The US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan on Wednesday said talks with the Taliban will “happen very soon” but if the insurgents continue to fight, then American forces would support Afghan forces in the war.

Talks between the Taliban and American officials have hit a roadblock after the hardline militants cancelled the fourth round of peace talks last week and rejected the involvement of the Afghan government in the dialogue.

On Tuesday, the Taliban threatened to pull out of the peace process with the United States if they diverted from the issue of foreign force withdrawal from Afghanistan, a key demand of the insurgents to end the 17-year war.

The Taliban’s warning came hours after Zalmay Khalilzad landed in Afghanistan after meeting officials from India, China and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the peace process. “If the Taliban want to talk, we can talk. If they want to fight, we can fight,” Khalilzad told journalists in Kabul.

The White House has said President Donald Trump had not issued orders to the Pentagon to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but the White House has not denied reports that the United States plans to pull out some of the 14,000-strong force currently deployed.

Khalilzad said: “We hope that they [Taliban] want to make peace. But if they do not choose to come to the table, if they choose to continue fighting, the United States will stand with the Afghan people and the Afghan government and support them.”

Speaking about the next date for a meeting with the Taliban, he said: “We are hopeful it will happen very soon. That’s what we’re working towards.” “What we want is to see this conflict end through negotiation, to continue our partnership with Afghanistan and to ensure no terrorist threatens either of us,” Khalilzad told reporters.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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Extended Champions Trophy hangover a reason for Test debacle: Rashid

KARACHI: Former captain Rashid Latif has pinpointed Pakistan team’s “inappropriate preparation” as the main reason for their downfall in Test cricket.

Talking to this correspondent over phone from Islamabad, the ex-Test wicketkeeper/batsman minced no word in recalling the post-Champions Trophy attitude of the team management and the Pakistan Cricket Board as one of the major reasons for the country’s downfall in the five-day format.

“One of the main problems was the extended hangover of the [2017] Champions Trophy triumph. Captain, coaches, management, selection committee or the board, everybody was under the influence of the historic feat longer than required,” Rashid maintained.

After the Champions Trophy, Pakistan lost eight out of 13 Test matches while winning only four.

Rashid also questioned the team’s preparations leading up to the ongoing South Africa tour as well as the team combination.

“Preparations weren’t up to the mark. In the first Test, Azhar Ali came to bat at number four, who never played at this slot. In the second innings of the second Test, Azhar was pulled back at number three while Fakhar Zaman batted at number six. This is the reflection of bad preparation and is indicative of the fact that Pakistan lacked middle-order batsmen on the challenging tour,” Rashid elaborated.

“The likes of Usman Salahuddin and Saad Ali were carried for about a year but were sidelined. Similarly, [pacer] Mir Hamza was also dropped for the South Africa tour,” he pointed out.

In the third Test against South Africa, Rashid reckoned, the focus of the Pakistan team management shifted to the forthcoming ODI series. Therefore, he added, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf were included in the playing XI.

“Along with Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez and Usman Shinwari, Shan Masood has also been included in the ODI squad which I feel is an awkward move. No doubt Shan’s performance in the [South Africa] Test matches was brilliant but it doesn’t warrant an alteration to the combination of the limited-overs team,” Rashid emphasised.

While admitting there were flaws in Sarfraz Ahmed’s captaincy skills, Rashid insisted that only the skipper was not responsible for the team’s poor performances of late.

“Even this captain [Sarfraz] can produce good results with a better [team] combination or else give this combination to any captain, the problem will remain the same in Test cricket,” Rashid said.

“Unfortunately, domestic performers like Abid Ali, Usman, Saud Shakeel or Saad were not even tried and developed for the future. The players in the eyes of selection committee or the team management kept on getting frequent chances,” he added.

“We fast tracked a [promising] youngster like Shaheen Shah Afridi which is not the right approach. This performance puts a question mark on the selection committee as well as the coaching staff and the management.

“However, since the World Cup is around the corner, [major] changes presently is not advisable.

If Pakistan don’t do well in the mega event, the history will repeat itself in the name of rebuilding process,” said Rashid. “The pile of mistakes after mistakes need time and due attention for [timely] rectification.”

Rashid feels it is evident that Pakistan is in a difficult phase and noted that the 15 ODIs — against South Africa, Australia and England (five each) — prior to the World Cup are crucial.

“Pakistan also have to look for a power-hitter as no one, other than Fakhar, is in sight at the moment. Imam-ul-Haq performance will be under the scanner too.”

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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Govt to abolish advance tax on sale, purchase of shares

ISLAMABAD: The government has agreed to abolish 0.02 per cent advance tax on sale and purchase of shares in the upcoming mini-budget. It was a major demand of the stock market players.

The Ministry of Finance in its summary has suggested that Section 65C of the Income Tax Ordinance (ITO) allows incentives for listing by companies through tax credits. This incentive can be further enhanced to encourage new listings.

Details available from the finance ministry regarding the mini-budget, which will be announced on Jan 23rd, show that advance tax of 0.02pc on sale/purchase of shares will be abolished.

It has been highlighted that rates of advance tax on sale and purchase of securities was doubled from 0.01pc to 0.02pc through Finance Act 2016.

The advance tax of 0.02pc on purchase and sale of securities in lieu of tax on the commission earned is considered on the higher side.

The PSX proposals in this regard have been recommended by the Federal Board of Revenue too.

The second demand of the stock market players in regard to allow carry forward of capital losses up to 3 years. The finance ministry has also recommended that amendments may be carried out in the ITO to allow carry forward of capital losses made on disposal of securities.

The third demand was rationalisation of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on equities in line with real estate. The government acknowledged that anomaly in tax rates imposed on disposal of securities and sale of immovable property was discouraging investments in the capital market.

A flat rate of 15pc CGT was introduced irrespective of holding period in the Finance Act 2017, while there is no tax on gain on disposal of immovable property if the holding period is three years or more.

Meanwhile, a senior official of the finance ministry said the mini-budget will be focused on ease of doing business, encourage savings and investments in stock market and real estate sectors. For finalising the matter and take stakeholders into confidence in this regard, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan chairman and Commissioner Securities Market Division will meet the stockbrokers on Thursday in Karachi.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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Pakistan needs to dictate decisions on INGOs: Janjua

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua has said that the scope of activities for international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) has been defined in accordance with the nation’s requirements.

Speaking to foreign envoys on the issue of INGOs registration, she said “activities that are responsive to Pakistan’s national development priorities” had been identified.

The sectors in which INGOs are being encouraged to work are poverty alleviation, health, vocational education and training, science and technology, environmental protection, disaster management, sports and culture.

The government had started fresh registration of INGOs in 2015 after announcement of the registration policy. A total of 141 INGOs had applied for registration under the new policy, out of which applications of 74 were approved, while those of 41 were rejected.

Since the scope of activities was also restricted, some of the organizations, particularly those working on issues like democracy, governance, rule of law and security opted to close down.

The policy was criticised by donor countries as restrictive and non-transparent.

Defending the policy, Ms Janjua said the decisions on cancellation of registration and closure were in full accord with the standards of due process and that the right of appeal and opportunities to discuss mutual concerns were provided to the INGOs.

She recalled that 74 INGOs were still operational in the country.

The foreign secretary, however, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to a “mutually beneficial framework on INGOs, underpinned by rule of law, transparency and responsive to nationally determined development priorities”.

She further noted that the policy framework was “guided by Pakistan’s national context, circumstances, needs and priorities”.

It was agreed that the envoys of donor countries would remain engaged with the government for exploring options for addressing concerns of the INGO sector.

Donor countries have insisted that the new policy would affect Pakistan’s image as “a partner on human development”. They have, therefore, been demanding a “more cooperative and nuanced arrangement on INGOs”.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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Pakistan presses Afghan Taliban to meet US envoy in Islamabad

PESHAWAR: Pakistan is believed to be making serious efforts to arrange a meeting between the US special representative for Afghanistan and Afghan Taliban leaders in Islamabad to help break the deadlock and speed up the Afghan peace process, sources said.

Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said he had no knowledge of the meeting between US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad and Afghan Taliban representatives but the sources said Pakistan had conveyed to the Taliban leadership its desire to convene a meeting in Islamabad this week to push forward the peace agenda.

The Taliban did not announce its agreement to sit down with Mr Khalilzad though sources said chances of talks between the two adversaries were high. Mr Khalilzad’s visit to Islamabad was delayed and rescheduled to allow the Taliban leadership to consult each other and come up with a firm response, the sources added.

No knowledge of such meeting, says FO spokesperson

This comes in the backdrop of media reports about the arrest of a senior Taliban figure and his subsequent release and raids and arrests of some Taliban commanders to put pressure on the group to return to the negotiating table and also to get them to meet the Afghan government representatives.

This signals a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s policy long accused of protecting and facilitating the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan says it supports an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.

The Taliban have so far refused to meet representatives of the Afghan government, dubbing them as puppets of foreign occupying powers.

Islamabad has taken Kabul into confidence about its efforts to expedite the peace process. President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy Mohammad Omer Daudzai during his visit to Pakistan last week also seemed satisfied with the endeavours.

Efforts by Riyadh to hold an Afghan peace conference in Saudi Arabia fizzled out after the Taliban declined to attend it, describing the two-day International Conference of Ulema for Peace and Security in Afghanistan in July last year as “a meeting arranged with US orders”. The seven-point declaration issued at the end of the conference said suicide attacks targeting innocent people and intense killings among Muslims were all acts prohibited by Allah and His Messenger.

A subsequent meeting between the US Special Envoy and Taliban representatives in Qatar was also called off after Taliban demanded withdrawal of travel restrictions on their key leaders.

Pakistan had earlier arranged an ice-breaking meeting between representatives of the Afghan Taliban and Afghan government in Murree in July 2015, but things took a dramatic turn after Kabul accused Islamabad of trying to cover up the news about the death of the Taliban movement founder Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Since then the Afghan Taliban have been refusing to hold direct face-to-face talks with the Kabul government. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan’s renewed efforts and pressure tactics yield any positive results and prompt the Taliban to engage directly with Kabul.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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SC releases detailed order on removal of Bilawal, Murad’s names from ECL

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has finally released its order pertaining to the ,removal of the names, of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as well as Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah from the Exit Control List (ECL), but has referred the report and material collected by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in the Rs35 billion ‘fake accounts case’ to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

“But removing of the names will not prevent NAB to probe and in case sufficient material is found connecting these individuals with cognisable offences, it will not be precluded from making an appropriate request to the federal government to place their names on [the] ECL again or take any appropriate action provided by law,” says the judgement authored by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan.

Justice Ahsan was part of the three-judge bench headed by the chief justice that had taken up the fake accounts case.

The federal cabinet had been awaiting the detailed reasoning of the apex court order, and it is expected that when the issue is taken up again by the cabinet in its meeting on Thursday (today), the names may finally be removed from the ECL.

The SC order recalls how the JIT, which was represented by senior counsel Faisal Siddiqui, ,had conceded frankly, that the material against these individuals may need re-examination so that the correct conclusions can be arrived at. These names may have been ,included in the list of 172 persons, whose names had been recommended to be placed on the ECL, without the careful examination of the material available on the record, and the ramifications of this, the order says.

Referring to the names of senior counsel Farooq H. Naek and his son, and that of the brother of Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan — names that are included in the JIT report regarding certain monetary transactions involving professional fees for services rendered — the order instructs NAB to re-examine these cases in the light of the material collected by the JIT. In case no cognisable offence is detected, the names of these individuals may be removed from the JIT and ECL lists. However, no adverse action is to be taken against them until NAB concludes its inquiry / investigation, the court order decrees.

Justice Ahsan explains that all members of the JIT will be associated with NAB for the purpose of assisting in any further probe, inquiry or investigation that NAB may consider necessary or appropriate.

Likewise, all cases that have not yet come to a conclusion, or in the JIT’s opinion require further investigation, will remain under the JIT’s jurisdiction, says the order. In this case, the JIT must continue its probe under the mandate granted by the Supreme Court, and complete it within a reasonable timeframe. Thereafter, the order says, all the evidence collected is to be transmitted to NAB, without the need for a further court order, so that the law can take its course.

“We are cognisant of the fact that during the course of its probe and investigation, the JIT has discovered that funds deposited in fake accounts and circulated through the same have been used for other unlawful activities which may not have strictly fallen within the parameters of the mandate granted by this court,” Justice Ahsan has said.

In conclusion, the order endorses all of the JIT’s actions in probing these matters and holds that it will be deemed that the original mandate of the JIT was within its scope.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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Profile: Pakistan’s next Chief Justice — Asif Saeed Khosa

Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, who will be sworn in as the 26th chief justice of Pakistan on Friday (January 18), was born on December 21, 1954 in Dera Ghazi Khan. He is married with two daughters and four grandchildren.

Justice Khosa’s brothers are former bureaucrat Nasir Mahmood Khosa and former inspector general of police (IGP) of Balochistan Tariq Masood Khosa.

The judge, who is now 64 years old, received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Punjab and his LLM degree from Queens College at Cambridge in 1978.

He enrolled as an advocate at the Lahore High Court in 1979, and then at the Supreme Court in 1985. As an advocate, he conducted over 600 cases. On February 18, 2010, Justice Khosa was elevated to the position of a Supreme Court judge.

  • Justice Khosa, over a period of more than 19-and-a-half years, has ,decided, about 55,000 cases.
  • A special bench headed by Justice Khosa has ,decided, over 10,000 cases of a criminal nature since 2014, according to an ,article, published by The Express Tribune last year. “The total number of pending cases in the top court has reached near 40,000 and a few hundreds of criminal cases are left, which is being considered as a landmark achievement of the apex court,” the article read.

‘Poetic justice’

Justice Khosa is known for adding lyrical flair in his observations and judgments — most recently in the landmark Panama papers ,verdict, that de-seated Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister in 2017.

His dissenting note in the split 2:3 verdict — Khosa was among the two who held Nawaz should be disqualified — on April 20, 2017 began with a ,reference, to the popular 1969 novel ‘The Godfather’ by Mario Puzo in which he pointed out an epigraph by Honore de Balzac selected by the author: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime”, saying that “It is ironical and a sheer coincidence that the present case revolves around that very sentence attributed to Balzac.”

The literary reference became a major talking ,point, as opposition parties, in particular the PTI, latched onto it to drive home the allegations of corruption while PML-N spoke out against the choice of analogy.

Nawaz was subsequently disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution in July the same year.

Read Khosa’s article, written when he was a barrister, critical of the ambiguity inherent in Articles 62 and 63 ,here,.

In 2012, when a SC bench — headed by headed by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk — slapped former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with a contempt ,charge,, Justice Khosa authored an additional ,note, along with the detailed judgement which included an original rendition of Khalil Gibran’s poem ‘Pity the nation’.

Justice Khosa was also part of two high-profile blasphemy-related cases; he headed the bench which ,upheld, the conviction of Mumtaz Qadri in 2015 for the murder of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer and last year in October, he was part of the bench that ,acquitted, Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy charges.

Justice Khosa’s razor-sharp critique of the prosecution case is
combined with remarkable judicial prose
— lawyer Faisal Siddiqi

A column written by lawyer Faisal Siddiqi published in Dawn on the ,verdict, in the Aasia Bibi case noted:

“Justice Khosa’s razor-sharp critique of the prosecution case is combined with remarkable judicial prose, when he appears to regret the imprisonment of Aasia Bibi by holding that ‘Blasphemy is a serious offence but the insult of the appellant’s [Aasia Bibi’s] religion and religious sensibilities by the complainant party and then mixing truth with falsehood … was also not short of being blasphemous … in the circumstances of the present case she appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King Lear, ‘more sinned against than sinning’.”

Next in line

Justice Khosa has authored multiple books during his career, including ‘Heeding the Constitution’, ‘Constitutional Apologues’, and ‘Judging with Passion and Breaking New Ground’.

He also edited and compiled ‘The Constitution of Pakistan, 1973’ with all amendments up to date.

The next in line to take reins of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Khosa has previously served as the acting chief justice from June 5-11 in 2017, June 29 to July 5 in 2017, May 14-30 in 2018, and Dec 17-23 in 2018.

Justice Khosa will remain the country’s top judge for 11 months and is scheduled to retire on Dec 21, 2019.

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PAC subcommittee decides in principle on forensic audit of IIA project

ISLAMABAD: With the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) saying it needs six months to determine the law under which to file a reference, a subcommittee of the Public Accounts Committee has decided in principle to carry out a forensic audit of the Islamabad International Airport.

The subcommittee, which is led by PTI MNA Syed Fakhar Imam, has also directed the auditor general to determine whether delays in the project were caused by the contractor or the government.

The audit department has said it is quite capable of carrying out the audit as it is already auditing a private firm on Supreme Court orders, but would officially consent after a week.

NAB tells subcommittee it needs six months to determine the law under which to file a reference

While discussing delays in the escalation in cost for the airport from Rs37 billion to Rs105bn, the subcommittee was informed that the PAC has already referred some audit objections to NAB. However, a NAB official said the bureau would need six months to determine under which law it should file its reference, for which it will also consult with law experts at universities.

PML-N MNA Rana Tanveer Hussain said the six month wait would be too long, adding: “When you want to file references or take action against politicians you don’t even take a month to do it.”

Pakistan Engineering Council Chairman Jawed Salim Qureshi intervened in the discussion and said that in other countries, forensic audits are used to fix responsibility in such cases.

He added that here, government departments “ try to accept responsibility to protect the contractor from fines”.

Forensic audits investigate why a project was delayed and who was responsible, he said, adding: “It is inquired from the government department if it asked the contractor why the project was delayed and what the contractor’s reply was.”

Mr Qureshi also alleged that the project cost was deliberately stated to be Rs37bn instead of Rs81bn so “small and incompetent companies would be able to win the contract”.

Audit Works (Federal)Director General Mohammad Azhar told the subcommittee earlier that four inquiries have been conducted over delays in the completion of the airport.

“The ground-breaking of the project was held on April 7, 2007, and the project had to be completed within 30 months. However, at the time of the ground-breaking ceremony, the design of the project was not ready and even the PC-I was not approved. Even after 18 months, work on the runway was done again as work done at the time of the ground-breaking was destroyed,” he said.

Mr Azhar said that while the initial cost of the project was Rs37bn, a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) report had revealed that a number of components were not included in the project. The realistic cost of the project, he said, was Rs81bn.

“However even that price escalated and reached over Rs105bn. We have raised a number of objections and even the FIA report shows that our objections were correct,” he said.

An Aviation Division official attributed the increase in cost to the decision to upgrade technology, and the foreign exchange conversion rate.

The official said the SC took note of the issue in September 2013, after which retired Lt Gen Shahid Nawaz carried out an inquiry and a review committee, headed by Shamsul Mulk, also looked into the matter.

The IIA project was conceived of in 1984, and the procurement of land near Fateh Jang began the same year. Land was bought for Rs30,000 per kanal to Rs500,000 per kanal, averaging Rs70,000 per kanal.

A stone-laying ceremony was held in 2004, and construction began without the approval of any design. Construction projects were also awarded at the same time to 17 contractors.

The initial Rs37bn PC-I was approved in 2008, which did not include the fuel system, radar and radio control building, aprons for planes, sewerage treatment plant, electricity or the availability of water.

In order to resolve the issue of water availability, it was decided to build two dams – Ramma and Kassana – at a cost of approximately Rs1.7bn to provide 3.3 million gallons of water per day.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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Amal’s death probe body seeks curbs on SMGs use by police

ISLAMABAD: A special committee constituted by the Supreme Court in the case involving ,death of 10-year-old Amal Umer, in Karachi has recommended that police personnel engaged in patrolling to control street crimes should not carry sub-machine guns (SMGs), rather pistols or handguns.

Read: ,How the system failed us,

A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had formed the committee under the chairmanship of a retired superior court judge, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, and assigned it the task of identifying negligence on the part of police and private hospitals in dealing with emergency situations and suggest reforms after it had taken notice of the incident in which Amal died after being hit during an exchange of gunfire between police and robbers in Karachi.

Take a look: ,A crime unpunished,

In its report submitted to the court on Wednesday, the committee pointed out that Karachi had in recent past gone through a law and order crisis, which had resulted in the killing of many innocent citizens and members of law enforcement agencies. Though the situation had now improved considerably on the sectarian and ethnic fronts, the challenge posed by street crimes had grown serious and was resulting in the loss of human lives and valuables almost on a daily basis.

Personnel should be trained to use appropriate force in tricky situations, says its report

It appeared that police had not prepared for the transitory phase and were still in the mode of fighting terrorism, said the report.

The committee recommended that SMGs should be authorised for use only in sensitive areas of Karachi, including some parts of South Zone (Lyari) and West Zone, in proportion to the threats posed.

The squads deputed to protect police officers, judges and ministers should carry only one SMG per vehicle and the remaining policemen should be armed with pistols, said the report. There is a specialised unit, namely the Rapid Response Force, which should be available and duty-bound for dealing with high-risk situations, which involve the use of heavy arms and ammunition.

The committee said that police personnel lacked training, adding that Karachi was highly urbanised and in the event of a police encounter a highly trained force was required. But it has been observed that police officers do not take refresher courses and/or conduct firing practice regularly.

As a result, they end up causing collateral damage, in the shape of loss of lives of innocent citizens. Therefore, there must be a mandatory requirement of refresher courses on a regular basis (at least after every six months). The committee pointed out that training with regard to urban policing was also required. The personnel should be able to assess the appropriate amount of force that should be used in a situation. The culture of carrying out encounters should be discouraged.

The personnel should also be trained to use measures other than using arms and ammunition wherever possible. Training to take calculated and proportionate decisions was pertinent, especially in urban policing, said the committee’s report.

The committee noted that police stations were still maintaining a manual system for recording arms and ammunition, which could be manipulated in case of a serious incident. Therefore, the inventories of arms and ammunition at the headquarters and police stations should be computerised and biometric machines should be installed to make the officials accountable.

The IBS facility should be used to identify the weapons and ammunition that are given to the personnel. In this way the weapon that is issued could be easily traced whenever it is fired or goes missing.

Weapon recognition should be coordinated with the biometrics to keep a complete check on who the weapon was allotted to, how much ammunition was used, etc.

The committee also highlighted the poor management of the operational and investigation branches of police. The additional SHO concerned was involved in misappropriation of recovered amount from the culprits. The official who had prepared the recovery memo was guilty of corruption and should be awarded severe punishment, it said.

The investigation officers failed to arrest the co-accused for a very long time, even though he could have easily been traced out earlier. The investigation branch required refresher courses and better supervision of senior officers in such cases.

A comprehensive strategy was required to implement the Smart City Project in Karachi. Unfortunately for a city of 22 million people, only 2,300 cameras were operational in the city and police had to rely on private CCTV footages, said the committee. The cameras available often produced footage of poor quality.

It was high time the project was implemented in the light of existing Supreme Court orders, said the committee. “It is recommended that the legislature enact (if need be) and/or the Sindh government enforces a mandatory requirement wherein all commercial entities have to install cameras on all outside corners of their shops, establishment, building, etc, at their cost of installation, running and maintenance,” read its report.

Cameras in residential areas should be the responsibility of the Sindh government and lack of this facility should attract penal provisions such as a fine on the owner/owners, the committee added.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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NA must debate withdrawal of Rs3m from Musharraf’s accounts: PML-N

ISLAMABAD: The main opposition party in the National Assembly, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on Wednesday submitted six adjournment motions seeking debate on different issues, including ,cash withdrawal from former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s frozen bank accounts, and increase in prices of medicines.

One of the adjournment motions, a copy of which is available with Dawn, stated that recent reports of cash withdrawal from the former military ruler Gen Musharraf’s frozen bank accounts had raised serious doubts over the ongoing impartial accountability mantra of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government.

“This is a clear evidence of incompetence and politicisation of the government departments by incumbent rulers, and is a serious failure of the government in upholding court orders. It is requested to adjourn proceedings of the National Assembly and discuss the issue,” the motion stated.

Adjournment motions tabled in the house seeking discussion on drug price hike, Mohmand dam contract, power crisis

According to media reports, around Rs3 million had been withdrawn from the frozen bank accounts of former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, while speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, said that withdrawal of the money from the bank accounts showed that orders of the Supreme Court had been ignored.

The adjournment motion, regarding the increase in prices of medicines by nine to 15 per cent, stated that the recent increase in prices of medicines, including essential and life-saving drugs, had badly affected all segments of society.

“This unprecedented increase in prices of medicines has a serious impact on the welfare of the common man and the issue is clear evidence of mismanagement and incompetence of the government,” he said.

Through other adjournment motions, the PML-N has sought debate on the power crisis, award of contract for the Mohmand dam, progress in projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and increase in debt.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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Shah Mahmood regrets ‘haste’ in placing names on ECL in fake accounts case

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday regretted that the government had shown haste in placing the names of 172 people — who were named in an investigation report in a case pertaining to fake accounts — on the Exit Control List (ECL).

“We showed haste in placing the names on the ECL,” the foreign minister said. “The government does not want to do anything in a rush now.”

Qureshi was responding to criticism from the PPP over the “government’s failure” to act upon the Supreme Court’s directives to remove the names of the people from the ECL. During today’s National Assembly sitting, the PPP protested over the delay by the government to take the names off ECL despite a Supreme Court order in this regard.

On the recommendations of the joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with probing the case, the federal cabinet had in its meeting on December 27 last year decided to place the names of 172 individuals on the ECL, including Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Murad Ali Shah, Farooq H. Naek and several other leaders and provincial ministers belonging to the PPP.

Last week, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had ,grilled the state prosecutor, over why the government had decided to place names of Bilawal and Sindh CM on the no-fly list based on JIT’s recommendation, ordering the federal cabinet ,to reconsider its “hasty decision”,.

“How long will this government commit contempt of court?” asked PPP leader Shazia Marri in today’s session.

Attempting to placate the opposition party, Qureshi said that the matter was ,discussed in a federal cabinet meeting, and the government had decided to wait until the detailed verdict is released. According to Qureshi, the top court had ordered the government to consider the removal of travel ban, not to take the names off the list immediately.

“The government has not refused to remove the names from the ECL; it has only sought time,” he insisted.

PPP MNA Naveed Qamar pointed out that Chief Justice Nisar — who is heading the bench hearing the suo motu case regarding a delay into a 2015 probe into money laundering via fake bank accounts — was retiring on Jan 17, questioning if the government was waiting for him to leave office.

The foreign minister assured the lawmaker that the government “has great respect for the chief justice and his orders will be implemented even after his retirement”.

PPP leaders accused the government of “using the ECL as a tool for political victimisation”.

“Names of PTI members are removed from the ECL within 24 hours,” Qamar claimed, adding that Liaquat Jatoi, a PTI leader, was also placed on the no-fly list; however, he was travelling with “impunity”.

Qamar and Yousuf Talpur, another PPP MNA, demanded that the attorney general be summoned to the parliament to give his view on the matter.

Qureshi urged the opposition to “show patience” on the matter.

PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also backed PPP, saying that if the PML-N believed the government’s motive behind placing Bilawal’s name on the ECL was to serve democracy, it would have supported the move.

“Bilawal has never been in the government,” the former premier pointed out. “The government should have removed his name from the ECL to show generosity, without waiting for written orders.”

‘No justification for extrajudicial killings’

Waziristan MNA Mohsin Dawar raised the issue of enforced disappearances in the assembly, saying that a young man, who had allegedly been picked up from North Waziristan, was found dead.

“Does the state have the power to provide justice to the family of the murdered man?” he asked.

He regretted that former Malir SSP Rao Anwar — accused of killing four innocent men in a fake encounter — had been “set free” by the court.

Mohsin also demanded to know if the joint investigation team, formed to probe police officer Tahir Dawar’s brutal murder in November last year, had made any progress.

He seconded Abbasi’s demand that Bilawal’s name be removed from the ECL, adding that a ‘black list’ was also maintained which had no legal status.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that the government was working on the issue of enforced disappearances and hoped that the opposition will support the legislation in this regard.

She said Shehryar Afridi, the state minister for interior, should brief the parliament on the developments in Tahir Dawar’s murder investigation, adding: “We also want to know about [the progress in investigation].”

“Government is trying to rectify the issue of maintaining a black list as there is no logic behind it, the minister said.

She agreed that Rao Anwar should be punished for his crimes. “The government should look into this matter; at how he [Anwar] is enjoying privileges,” she stated.

After his arrest in the ,Naqeebullah Mehsud murder case,, the former SSP was confined for a few months to his home, declared a sub-jail, but subsequently granted bail by an anti-terrorism court in July last year.

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MQM delegation calls on PM Khan amid brewing tensions within ruling coalition

A Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) delegation on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Imran Khan at PM House in Islamabad to discuss issues ,pertaining to their coalition, in the Centre.

The meeting came in the backdrop of rising tensions between the PTI-led coalition ,government and the opposition.,

The PPP and the PML-N were reportedly forming an alliance in order ,to give ‘tough time’ to the incumbent government.,

In wake of the rising tension between the government and the major opposition parties, the PTI’s coalition partners were ,pushing the ruling party to fulfil the promises, made at the time of forming the coalition.

The MQM delegation talked about the challenges faced by people living in the megacities in Sindh. The premier responded by saying that he was aware of aware of the challenges faced by the people of Sindh. “The federal government will play its role to resolve these problems,” he said.

It was decided during the meeting that a committee will be constituted under the chairmanship of Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to strengthen the coordination between the two parties in connection with development projects on the provincial level.

The two sides also decided that obstacles in the restoration of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) will be removed on a priority basis. It was also decided that the premier will lay the foundation stone of a university in Hyderabad.

Besides the Minister for Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Minister for Law and Justice Dr Farogh Naseem and MNA Syed Ameenul Haq, the meeting was also attended by Minister for Finance Asad Umar, Special Assistant to PM Naeemul Haq and MNA Malik Mohammad Amir Dogar.

On Monday, Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) leader Sanaullah Baloch said his party had ,decided to review its relations with the ruling PTI, government in Islamabad following the by-election on a Senate seat in Balochistan.

On Tuesday, Information Minister Fawad ,Chaudhry visited the temporary headquarters, of the MQM in Bahadurabad, where he discussed implementation on several decisions made between the two coalition partners a few months ago.

On the occasion, the federal minister had brushed aside the impression of any dispute or disagreement between the two sides. The minister had told reporters, “In today’s meeting, we have discussed and reviewed the memorandum of understanding which we signed at the time of formation of the government. Several points of the MoU have already been executed while others will also meet the same fate soon.”

Earlier in the same meeting, MQM’s deputy convener Kanwar Naveed Jameel reminded the federal minister of promises of funds from the Centre for a public university in Hyderabad and other development schemes in urban Sindh.

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