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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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Five-year revival plan for PIA by March, promises CEO

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Internat­ional Airlines (PIA) will submit a five-year ‘Strategic Business Plan 2019-2023’ to the government by March.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik said the plan, currently being developed, consists of cost-cutting and revenue generation through detailed analysis of the market, right sizing operations, work centre, flights and routes for the revival of the national carrier.

PIA’s financial restructuring will be carried out through government support and at the same time the current fleet will be reviewed and purchase of new aircrafts will be decided, he said.

Explaining PIA’s financial health, he said the current operational losses are at Rs3 billion per month but this bleeding would be successfully plugged. The accumulated losses have risen to Rs431.1bn, while loans/borrowings have touched Rs247.7bn.

The government will announce a new aviation policy in February to boost PIA’s business, he said. Prime Minister Imran Khan has assigned the task of drafting a new aviation policy to Privatisation Minister Mohammad Mian Soomro and the Secretary Aviation.

The Open Skies policy of the previous governments brought losses to the national carrier, Mr Malik said. The government has already decided in principle to end the open skies policy.

“PIA’s 550 weekly international flights were brought down to 101 flights. Foreign carriers took away the business from 101 flights per week to 555 flights per week. These airlines are supported by their respective governments, particularly the Gulf carriers which get fuel subsidy whereas PIA does not get any subsidy. How can PIA compete with other airlines in the market,” he questioned.

He claimed to have taken “bold steps” for cost cutting. Duration of flights to Europe will now be reduced by an hour as a result of flying over the territories of Iran and Turkmenistan. Previously, all Europe-bound PIA flights avoided flying over these two countries just to avoid payment of fee to the civil aviation agencies of Iran and Turkmenistan, resulting in extra consumption of fuel. However, the matter has been resolved with the intervention of Army and PAF chiefs, he said.

On route economics, Mr Malik said PIA is under compulsion to operate flights to Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur and Saidu Sharif routes whether or not these routes make a profit. “The annual loss on operating flights on socio-economic routes amounts to Rs452 million,” he said.

Sharing details, Mr Malik said that in addition to the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, there are another 23 properties owned by PIA in Tashkent, Tehran, New Delhi, Bombay, New York, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

“These properties have been abandoned and virtually forgotten,” he said. “Assistance of the Foreign Office has been sought to engage ambassadors in these cities to evaluate these properties. Either these properties would be disposed off or will continue as source of income,” the CEO added.

At the press conference, the CEO said that flights on seven international routes have been stopped since these were costing Rs500m to the airline. “PIA had been facing losses on these routes for a long period,” he said. Citing the example of Islamabad-Beij­ing-Tokyo-Beijing-Islamabad route, he said an aircraft would be blocked for five days, with resting of crew members for equal number of days. Moreover, on the Tokyo-Beijing flight, PIA was allowed to pick only 80 passengers on a 350-seat aircraft, he added.

As part of cost-saving operations, PIA has now introduced five new international routes including Islamabad-Doha-Isla­mabad, Karachi-Jeddah-Karachi, Multan-Muscat-Multan, Sialkot-Sharjah-Sialkot, Peshawar-Al Ain-Peshawar and Lahore-Bang­kok-Kuala Lumpur-Karachi.

“In these routes, PIA is getting 95pc seat occupancy. Aircraft from loss-making routes have been shifted to profitable ones.”

On the occasion, the privatisation minister announced that PIA will start Peshawar-Kuala Lumpur flights from April.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019

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Islamabad, Kabul agree on prisoner exchange

PESHAWAR: Afghan Ambassador Shukrullah Atif Mashal on Tuesday claimed that Kabul and Islamabad had agreed to work out a mechanism for swapping prisoners, who had either completed their prison terms or were granted bail but couldn’t be freed due to certain reasons.

Addressing refugees here, the ambassador said the prisoners’ issue had come under discussion during a recent visit of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Kabul.

He said both sides had agreed on the exchange of prisoners.

Mr Mashal said the Afghan embassy’s team would visit various prisons in Pakistan for identification of prisoners.

“Many prisoners arrested in pity nature offences in the two countries should be released,” he said.

The ambassador said a 10-member team of Afghan government would visit prisons in Pakistan to find out prisoners, who had either completed their jail terms or were granted bails but couldn’t be released.

Afghan ambassador says mechanism to be developed for swapping detainees, who have served jail terms or got bail

He said he would also inspect prisons.

Mr Mashal said the Afghan government would facilitate Pakistani officials to inspect jails in Afghanistan to identify Pakistani prisoners, who couldn’t be freed due to some reasons.

The envoy, who assumed the charge in Islamabad around three weeks ago, didn’t explain whether the deal will be applicable to prisoners detained on charges of subversive activities and other heinous crimes in the two countries.

Both countries have yet to sign extradition or prisoner exchange treaties.

Earlier, during a brief chat with media, the Afghan ambassador failed to come up with a reply when asked about media reports that Afghan Taliban leader Hafez Mohibullah has been detained in Peshawar.

He said efforts were under way for peace in Afghanistan.

“We are here to work for peace in Afghanistan,” he said declining to comment on the detention of the Taliban leader.

The ambassador was very apprehensive about ill-treatment of Afghan nationals at the hands of Pakistani security personnel at Torkham border-crossing point and said the issue had been discussed with Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He said he would visit Torkham to review situation and would discuss the matter with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman and Corps Commander Shaheen Mazhar Mahmood today (Wednesday).

Mr Mashal said Afghan citizens coming to Pakistan were lined up at the entry gate for hours.

“We don’t need verbal promises. They (Pakistanis) should fulfil the promise of friendship, which they have been making,” he insisted.

The envoy said Pakistani authorities had promised to facilitate the entry of Afghan travelers at Torkham. He said he had proposed to make separate arrangements for women, elders and ambulance service at Torkham border to prevent mess and keep them from long wait.

Mr Mashal complained that every Afghan visa applicant was paying $200 outside Pakistani diplomatic mission in Kabul. He said the issue needed to be resolved.

The ambassador said officials of Pakistani missions in Kabul and Jalalabad were not involved in the illegal practice.

He said he had asked General Bajwa to increase the number of visas for Afghans and allow other consulates in Afghanistan to facilitate visa seekers.

Pakistani mission in Kabul issues 300 to 350 visas to Afghan nationals on a daily basis.

Mr Mashal expressed concern about the reports of the officials receiving bribes from Afghan truckers transporting goods under the Afghan Transit Trade.

He said ‘malpractices’ of the police and personnel of other law-enforcement agencies had a negative impact on the bilateral trade and therefore, Pakistani government should take measures for stopping illegal practices at checkposts.

The ambassador said he met Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and took up that issue with him as well.

He said Afghanistan wanted to increase the volume of trade with Pakistan. He asked Afghan and Pakistani traders to begin joint business ventures.

Mr Mashal said durable peace in Afghanistan was not only in the interest of Afghan nation but it would promote peace in the entire region.

He urged Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to play role for peace in his country.

“On average, 100 to 150 people are killed in Afghanistan daily. How long this bloodshed will continue as millions of people will continue to live in Pakistan as refugees,” he said asking his countrymen to stop living life as refugees by returning as soon as possible.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019

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Pakistan should strengthen ties with neighbours instead of US: Hina Rabbani Khar

LAHORE: Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan always chose to be a client state instead of becoming strategic partner of one country or the other. With a begging bowl in both hands, Pakistan cannot command respect in the comity of nations.

Speaking in a session on the US-Pakistan relationship at ThinkFest here on Saturday, she said Pakistan always imagined itself as a complete strategic partner, which was far-fetched. Pakistan’s most important relations should be with its neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, India, Iran and China instead of the US. “The US does not deserve that much importance as is given in Pakistan because our economy is not dependent on US aid, as is widely believed.”

Referring to the incumbent rulers’ claims of copying China, she said Beijing had brought its people out of poverty, while the Islamabad rulers were doing the opposite.

United States Institute of Peace Associate Vice President Moeed Yusuf said the US-Pakistan relations were non-existent during the past 18 months. Regretting that Pakistan was looking elsewhere instead of involving itself in the region to resolve local and regional issues, he said there could be no conversation on the US-Pak ties till the Afghanistan issue was resolved. For Pakistan, he said, the idea was to consider how to work with the US and China simultaneously.

Speaking on the future of democracy in Pakistan, author Aqil Shah from Oklahoma University said democracy gave the freedom to speak up and enabled accommodating ethnic divisions peacefully. He, however, said the democracy in vogue in Pakistan was a hybrid regime where elected representatives were answerable to both the people and army generals.

He alleged that the 2018 general elections were manoeuvered to ensure that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his party did not come back to power and that the rule was given to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), calling the ruling party “Pakistan Tehreek-i-Establishment”.

He further said that the corruption narrative was a universal phenomenon and not exclusive to Pakistan.

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood claimed that democracy in Pakistan was getting stronger and robust. While the PTI government took over just a few months ago, people had high expectations from them to resolve serious issues, including the economic crisis.

He said education had faced a serious neglect in the past and was separated into different streams to create a divide among people. He said there was a small pool of audience attending the ThinkFest, but even this much crowd could not be attracted if the event took place in Dera Ghazi Khan or Sibbi.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019

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Trump and PM Khan ‘may find some sort of common ground’ during meeting: ex-US envoy Munter

Former United States ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter on Sunday said President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan “may find some sort of common ground” if and when a meeting is held between the two leaders.

Addressing an event organised by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations, the former envoy said Trump and Khan are in power because they both have “very good political sense”.

“They have the fingertip feeling, as we say, they’re very clever with people,” he said while speaking at the event, ‘Brunch & Conversation with Ambassador Cameron Munter’, held at Karachi’s Movenpick Hotel.

Munter said there was a possibility that if the two leaders meet, they might find some common ground that could help improve their bilateral relationship.”Not the kind that typical analytical diplomats find, but they may find that there is common ground in some way,” he added.

On January 2, President Trump had ,expressed his desire to meet Prime Minister Khan, for talks on US-led efforts to jump-start the Afghan peace process. “I look forward to meeting the folks from the new leadership in Pakis­tan [and] we will be doing that in not-too-distant future,” he had said.

Following this, the Foreign Office had welcomed Trump’s remarks on ties with Pakistan and said the government was ,keenly waiting for the engagement at the highest level,.

“We look forward to positive engagement with the US at the leadership level,” FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal had said during a weekly media briefing.

During the event today, Munter expressed a desire for better relations between Washington and Islamabad, DawnNewsTV reported.

The former US envoy said that at a tactical level there was still a sense that the kind of ties the United States has with the Pakistani military are “valuable and important, if for no other reason then that there is still a residual [American] force in Afghanistan”.

He said it was the “competence” of the Pakistan Army that made them a “good partner” for Washington, and cited the example of the 2010 floods in Pakistan. During the catastrophic floods, he said he had opted not to call the PPP government to help the affected people, and instead approached the Pakistani military.

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Asad says tax-free mini-budget to be unveiled on 23rd

KARACHI: Dispelling the impression that the up­­coming mini-budget be­ing announced on Janu­ary 23 would be loaded with new taxes, federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Asad Umar has said that it will focus on ease of doing business and other measures to facilitate trade and industrialisation.

The minister was addressing members of the business community during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Saturday.

The minister also visited the residence of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) member and former chairman of Rice Exporters Asso­ciation of Pakistan (Reap) Rahim Janoo.

Talks with IMF under way though govt not in a hurry to approach it for support, minister tells business community

Mr Umar said last year had been difficult not only for the government but also for the business community as during the five months of the current fiscal (July-Nov­e­mber) only $818 million came under Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) against $1.35 billion in the same period of last financial year.

However, he said, the country’s standing in the index for ease of doing business improved to 136 from a recent ranking of 147 among 190 countries but the PTI government would strive hard to bring it down to double digit.

The minister disclosed the World Bank had taken a number of measures for improving ease of doing business for Pakistan but they were still below the level of other economies in the region.

He said cost of doing business was a major problem for the industry in Pakistan as it was higher than other regional countries particularly with regard to the utilities costs and tariffs. Citing an example, he said gas tariffs in Bangladesh, India and Vietnam are $3.35, $4.60 and $6 respectively, whereas it was $7.96 along with added cost of Rs2,000 as Gas Infrastruc­ture Develop­ment Cess (GIDC) in Pakistan.

The minister agreed that multiple taxes in Pakistan was another hurdle in fast industrialisation and economic growth as a lot of time was consumed by entrepreneurs in sorting tax issues and all this had to be corrected in due course as the government was fully committed to promoting investment and generating jobs.

Rs400bn refunds outstanding

Responding to a question raised by FPCCI President Daroo Khan Achakzai, the minister said that Rs400 billion outstanding refunds pending with the government and belonging to export trade would be disbursed soon.

The finance minister said the country’s biggest province Balochistan deserved to be given special attention as the country’s development depended on its progress and prosperity.

Border trade

He said that for improving border trade at Chaman, a special committee had been set up under Balochistan Chief Minister Jamal Kamal Khan and commander of the army’s southern command, and provincial finance minister and members of the Quetta chamber as its members.

Mr Umar said the government wanted to bring structural changes in border trade and also make it legal as locals had been depending on it for centuries. He also said that credit facility would be provided for trade in Balochistan, as banks were currently reluctant to give credit.

Mr Umar said that a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Gwadar was being developed but it would take some time. He said both the federal and provincial governments had agreed to work in the meantime on existing industrial estate at Hub and all infrastructure facilities including power of 1,200 megawatts would be set up. “We are focused to remove all unnecessary departments, which become hurdle in way of progress and added that presently five departments are engaged in a work that could be done by one,” he lamented.

Responding to a question, the minister said negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were under way though the government was not in a hurry to approach the IMF for support.

Addressing the business community, Mr Umar said the private sector would have a leading role in the 21st century whereas the government would only provide infrastructure and work as facilitator by removing all sorts of bottlenecks for quick investment and industrialization.

He said professionals were being inducted in financial institutions on merit while the discretionary powers of low-ranking officials of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) were being withdrawn.

In reply to a question, the minister said there was nothing secret about the debts taken under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as their details had already been made public.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019

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Five ‘BLA men’ remanded for keeping explosives, unlicensed weapons

KARACHI: The administrative judge of the antiterrorism courts on Saturday remanded five suspects, said to be involved in an attack on the Chinese consulate general in Karachi last year, in police custody in explosives and illicit weapons cases.

The investigating officer, Nusrat Shaikh, produced the suspects — Ahmed Hussain, Nadir Khan alias Baladi, Ali Ahmed alias Hashim, Abdul Latif and Mohammad Aslam — before the judge and submitted that they were arrested during a raid in Sadiq Baloch Goth, Taiser Town, and explosive substances as well as unlicensed weapons were found in their possession.

The IO submitted that the suspects were required for questioning as the police had to arrest their absconding accomplices and trace their criminal record since they were also involved in some other cases.

Police filed an ‘A-class’ report last month stating that suspects in Chinese CG case are not traceable

The administrative judge handed over the suspects to the police on five-day physical remand and directed the IO to produce them again on the next date along with a progress report.

A main case was registered against the suspects under Sections 4/5 of Explosive Substances Act, 1908 read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Gulshan-i-Maymar police station. They were also booked in four connected cases under Section 21(i)(a) of Sindh Arms Act, 2013.

The remand papers were silent about their alleged involvement in the Chinese CG attack and their affiliation with any banned militant outfit.

It was mentioned in the FIRs that police conducted a raid on a tip-off that the accomplices of the militants who attacked the Chinese CG were planning to carry out more attacks.

However, the Karachi police chief had told a press conference on Friday that the held suspects facilitated the militants who stormed the Chinese mission in Karachi and were associated with the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

Three heavily armed militants carried out the gun-and-grenade attack on the consulate in a high-security zone of Clifton on Nov 23, 2018 in which two policemen and two visa applicants (father and son) were killed before the suspects were gunned down. One private security guard of the foreign mission sustained injuries.

Last month, police had filed an A-class report in the consulate attack case stating that the suspects were not traceable.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019

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APS commission calls former Peshawar corps commander, others

PESHAWAR: The Judicial Commission inquiring into the 2014 Army Public School carnage has summoned then Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Hidayat-ur-Rehman and four other army officers for recording their statements before finalising its report about the tragedy.

The other army officers asked to record their statements are: Chairman, Board of Governors of Army Public School and College, Brig Mudassir Azam; an officer of 102 Brigade, HQ-11 Corps, Inayatullah; Major Doctor Asim Shehzad of the Army Medical Corps; and secretary of the BOG Brig Maj ICB Imran.

The focal person of the commission, Imranullah Khan, in a media briefing on Friday, said that a letter had been sent to the army officers through the Ministry of Defence by the single-member tribunal comprising Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan of the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

Those summoned for recording statements include four army officials, former home secretary and police chief

Similarly, he said that another letter had been sent to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary to summon the then provincial police officer Nasir Khan Durrani, the then secretary home and tribal affairs department Syed Akhtar Ali Shah and the then deputy inspector general of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Muhammad Alam Shinwari.

In both letters the tribunal has asked the ministry of defence and the chief secretary that the schedule of attendance of the said officers be conveyed to the tribunal within three days as the proceedings of the commission were time-restricted and it had to submit its report accordingly.

The commission had first received a detailed written statement from the ministry of defence to a questionnaire sent by it and subsequently it recorded the statement of a representative of the ministry.

About the appearance of the army officers, the tribunal in its letter states that after recording the statement of the representative of the ministry of defence, the commission considered the said officers relevant to the APS incident, as essential consequential witnesses, to ensure a thorough probe as per the grievances of complainants and in the light of the directives of the Supreme Court.

The focal person said that the commission was constituted on Oct 12, 2018 by the PHC on the order of the Supreme Court and had been functioning since Oct 19.

Answering a question, Mr Imranullah said that the commission had been given six weeks by the Supreme Court during which it had recorded statements of the parents, injured students and officials of police and the CTD. He added that as several important statements were left, the apex court had allowed more time for the probe.

He said that the commission on Friday also recorded statements of the then capital city police chief Ijaz Ahmad and a police official, Wisal Khan, who had received injuries in the APS occurrence.

He said that so far the commission had recorded statements of 93 parents of the slain and injured students apart from some officials of the CTD.

Justice Ibrahim Khan had visited the APS along with his team, including the commission’s registrar Inamullah Wazir, its secretary Ajmal Tahir and the focal person Imranullah on Dec 28. During the visit they were briefed about the incident by Brig Shakirullah and Brig Aamer along with their teammates in detail.

A bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had on Oct 5 ordered the formation of a commission of inquiry comprising a judge of the PHC for probing the APS carnage.

The APS tragedy of Dec 16, 2014 had left 144 persons, including 122 students, dead.

The chief justice had taken notice of the issue last year when during his visit to Peshawar several of the parents of the deceased students had approached him and requested him to redress their grievances.

The prime demand of the complainants is fixing responsibility for negligence on the officers concerned due to which the occurrence had taken place.

Following the carnage, the parents had come to know about a confidential letter through which the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) had on Aug 28, 2014, informed different provincial and federal authorities that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had made a plan to carry out terrorist activities targeting the Army Public School and College and other educational institutions run by the army and to kill maximum number of children of army officers to avenge the killings of their accomplices.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2019

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‘Attack on Chinese consulate in Karachi planned in Afghanistan with support of Indian agency’

Karachi Police Chief Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh during a media briefing on Friday said that ,the attack on the Chinese consulate, in Karachi was planned in Afghanistan and carried out with the assistance of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

In November last year, three heavily armed militants attempted to enter the Chinese consulate in the ‘high security zone’ of Clifton’s Block-4 but ,were shot dead in an encounter with law enforcers,. The gun-and-grenade assault also claimed the lives of two police officials and two visa applicants, and injured a private guard of the foreign mission. The banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) had claimed credit for the attack.

The additional inspector general of police disclosed that at least five facilitators have been arrested so far from Karachi, Hub and Quetta during the probe.

He said that based on the police’s investigation, the attack was aimed at sabotaging the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and meant to create trouble between Pakistan and China. “They wanted China to believe that Karachi is not [a] safe [city].”

Sharing the details of the attack, he said that the trained terrorists had been observing the consulate and particularly its visa section for almost four months. “They used to sit in the visa section of the consulate to observe when the gates open and other details.”

“They transported weapons in a boat engine from Quetta to Karachi through train service,” he said, adding that the weapons and other material were dumped at a house in Baldia Town area of Karachi.

“The terrorists used fake computerised national identity cards,” he said. “We are writing to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Pakistan Railways to upgrade their security mechanism so that the facilities of the railways and the National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra) are not abused by terrorists.”

He shared several photographs “recovered from the cell phones of the terrorists”. One of the facilitators was a cousin of ,Aslam alias Acho — the alleged mastermind of the attack, — while another was the brother-in-law of another high-profile terrorist, who is considered to be the second to Acho, said Shaikh.

Shaikh added that there were reports that Acho and some other high-profile terrorists had been killed in an attack in Afghanistan but he refused to believe the news until and unless he “sees the bodies or any solid proof”.

It is an old tactic of terrorists to get themselves declared ‘killed’ to divert the attention of law enforcement agencies, he added.

Consulate’s reconnaissance

Earlier, sources familiar with the proceedings of the investigation ,had told Dawn, that one of the killed militants, Abdul Raziq, resident of Kharan, with his accomplice Abdul Latif, hailing from Khuzdar in Balochistan, had visited Karachi on Aug 6 also. They had both stayed at hotels in Lyari and Saddar and conducted reconnaissance of the consulate.

With the help of technology, it was also discovered that the killed militants had also stayed in Sindh’s two cities, Shahdadpur and Sukkur, before going back to Quetta. They returned to Karachi via Hub, Balochistan, on the night of Nov 23 and stayed for a while in the Shershah area of Karachi before launching the gun-and-grenade attack.

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‘Will not let Asghar Khan’s efforts go to waste’: SC decides against closing 2012 case

The Supreme Court on Friday, a day after the family of late Air Marshal Asghar Khan opposed the closure of a case related to financial scams of the 1990s, summoned the defence secretary to apprise it of the status of cases against army officers allegedly involved in the case.

The apex court had notified Khan’s heirs after the ,Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last month suggested, that the case relating to the ,implementation of the 2012 verdict, be closed since the authorities did not have enough evidence to launch a criminal prosecution against the individuals named in the judgement of the apex court.

In 1996, Asghar Khan had filed a human rights petition in the SC, accusing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of doling out money to a group of politicians in the 1990s.

The case was initiated by the air marshal after Benazir Bhutto’s interior minister, retired general Naseerullah Babar, had claimed in the National Assembly in 1994 that the ISI had disbursed funds to “purchase” the loyalty of politicians and public figures so as to manipulate the 1990 elections, form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), and bring about the defeat of the PPP.

Sixteen years after the petition was filed, the SC in its judgement — penned by then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry — ruled that the 1990 general elections had been polluted by dishing out Rs140m to a particular group of politicians only to deprive the people of being represented by their chosen representatives.

According to the FIA report, 18 politicians in their statements submitted in the SC denied receiving the funds to allegedly manipulate the 1990 polls.

The agency has contended that the statements of witnesses recorded in the case so far had gaps and did not correlate with each other. Moreover, the investigation agency has also remained unsuccessful in securing financial records from the relevant banks since the matter is 24 years old.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, while hearing the case today, questioned how the court could just dismiss its decision. “We will get further investigation done,” he asserted, adding that Salman Akram Raja would assist the court.

“How can this case proceed?” he asked. “A verdict has already been announced, but look what’s happening now, when it is time for implementation.”

Justice Nisar recalled that it had been suggested “that some individuals should be separated from the case”.

“That should not happen,” Raja said. “A man has said ‘I have distributed the money’,” he pointed out.

“We will not let Asghar Khan’s efforts go to waste,” Justice Nisar asserted. “The Asghar Khan family was not taken into confidence over the suggestion that the case be closed. If the FIA lacked the authority, it could have gotten the investigation done by another institution,” the chief justice added.

“When the verdict was announced, I met then-chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry,” the top judge recounted. “I said to Chaudhry that he had announced such a massive verdict that if the court now does nothing more, even that was enough.”

“The Asghar Khan and Asia Bibi case verdicts are historical,” Raja commented.

“A military court is trying the army officers who were involved. There is a separate trial against civilians,” the chief justice said. “The cabinet had said that a military court would try them (army officers). How can we reach a final conclusion after separate investigations?” he wondered.

“We don’t know what action the military has taken so far, why not summon a report from them too?” he suggested.

“Don’t get the impression that the military is beyond the jurisdiction of this court,” Justice Nisar said. “As the chief justice, I would like to tell them that all this is within our jurisdiction.”

“Why don’t we summon the defence secretary?” he suggested.

The court in today’s hearing decided that it was not satisfied with the conclusions reached by the FIA and asked the agency to submit a response to ,Khan’s family’s joint reply,.

The SC also ordered that a notice be sent to the defence secretary and asked him to apprise the court on which army officer’s cases were sent to military courts and what progress had been made in the investigation. The court ordered the reply to be submitted in a week and adjourned the case until Jan 25.

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Military test fires newly-inducted air defence weapon system

Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday said induction of long-range air defence weapon system LY80 has greatly enhanced the capability of the military’s air defence arm, ,Radio Pakistan, reported.

Gen Bajwa said this while witnessing the firepower capability display along with Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan at the air defence firing range near Karachi.

“The LY80 weapon system will strengthen the national defence,” Gen Bajwa was quoted as saying.

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While interacting with the officers and troops, the army chief congratulated the army air defence for the successful conduct of firepower capability display.

Firing by the air defence weapon systems was the culminating event of the two-week-long exercise Al-Bayza 2019, read a statement issued by the military’s media wing.

Hallmark of the event was the first-ever fire by the recently inducted long-range air defence weapon system LY80.

LY80 weapon system will strengthen the national defence. —ISPR

LY80 weapon system will strengthen the national defence. —ISPR

“Induction of LY-80 has realised the concept of a comprehensive, layered and integrated air defence capability with enhanced lethality,” read the Inter-Services Public relations statement.

Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan congratulated the Pakistan Army over induction of LY 80, saying the system has reinforced the country’s overall air defence capability.

The commander Karachi corps, the commander of Army Air Defence Command and other senior officials also witnessed the event.

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Reuters journalists lose appeal against 7-year sentence

A Myanmar judge dismissed an appeal on Friday by two Reuters journalists jailed for seven years while investigating atrocities committed against the Rohingya, dashing slim hopes that the pair could be freed early.

Reporters Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were ,arrested in Yangon, in December 2017 and later jailed for violating the state secrets act, a charge Reuters said was trumped up to muzzle their reporting.

Prosecutors say the two had classified information regarding security operations in Rakhine state, from where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled during an army-led crackdown the United Nations has ,dubbed “ethnic cleansing”,.

Aung Naing, a judge at the Yangon Regional High Court, said on Friday the original verdict was “not wrong according to the law” and was a “reasonable decision”.

“The court decides to dismiss the appeal,” he said.

Lawyers can now appeal to the Supreme Court in Myanmar, a process that could take an estimated six months.

The reporters’ wives cried after the decision which condemns the pair to continue their stay at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, where they have been held for the last 13 months.

The two men — who were not present for the decision — have insisted they were victims of a police set-up, pointing to testimony from a serving officer who said a superior ordered others to entrap them.

At the time of the arrest they were probing a massacre of 10 Rohingya.

The original trial was widely regarded as a sham and seen as punishment for their investigation, ,sparking outrage, around the world including from United States Vice President Mike Pence.

Outside the country, the two men have been hailed as media freedom heroes and ,jointly named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2018,, alongside other persecuted and slain journalists.

But they have gained little sympathy within Myanmar.

The violent military campaign in 2017 forced more than 720,000 Rohingya across the border to Bangladesh, with refugees bringing accounts of murder, rape and arson.

UN investigators have called for top generals to be investigated for genocide and singled out civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi for criticism for failing to stop the crackdown.

The image of the formerly renowned champion of human rights has been ,further damaged by the Reuters trial,, and she has yet to speak up in their defence.

Reacting to the verdict outside the court the European Union ambassador to Myanmar Kristian Schmidt said he looked to the president of Myanmar to “correct” the injustice with a possible pardon.

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Court declares Gen Ashfaq Kayani’s brother ‘proclaimed offender’ in Ashiyana housing scam

An accountability court on Thursday declared Kamran Kayani, brother of former army chief retired Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Paragon City Housing Society’s director Nadeem Zia and Khalid Hussain as proclaimed offenders in a case pertaining to the ,Ashiyana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam,.

Accountability Court Judge Syed Najamul Hassan conducted the case proceedings, wherein bureaucrat Fawad Hassan Fawad and other accused were produced.

At the outset of the proceedings, a reply was submitted on behalf of Superintendent Kot Lakhpat Jail, wherein it was stated that PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif was lodged in a sub-jail in Islamabad and a medical board had advised him bed rest.

The court ordered to produce Sharif before the court on next hearing. To which, Sharif’s counsel Amjad Pervez submitted that if medical board permits then he has no objection in producing Sharif before the court.

However, NAB Prosecutor Waris Janjua argued that the matter was being delayed as the same ‘reasons’ were used during the last hearing.

At this stage, a police inspector told the court that raids were conducted to arrest Kamran Kayani, Khalid Hussain, and Nadeem Zia after issuance of their ,arrest warrants during the last hearing,, but their houses were locked.

Upon this, the NAB prosecutor pleaded with the court to issue directions for initiating the process of declaring the accused as proclaimed offenders.

The court, after hearing arguments of all parties, ordered for initiating the process of declaring Kayani, Hussain, and Zia as proclaimed offenders.

Furthermore, the court directed for publication of notices in newspapers, ordering the accused to appear in the court till February 11.

The court also ordered for producing Sharif on the next date of hearing, while adjourning the matter till January 24.

If the said accused fail to appear in the court despite the publication of notices in newspapers, it would result in seizure of their properties and issuance of further warrants.

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Asghar Khan’s heirs oppose FIA’s suggestion to close 2012 case

Late Asghar Khan’s legal heirs on Thursday submitted their ,joint reply to a notice, in connection with the implementation ,of the landmark 2012 verdict in the Asghar Khan case,, asking that an inquiry in accordance with the Supreme Court’s six-year-old order be continued.

The apex court had issued a notice to the heirs of the late Asghar Khan after the ,Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last month suggested, that the case relating to the implementation of the 2012 verdict be closed.

The 2012 SC verdict was issued on a petition filed in 1996 by Asghar Khan, requesting the top court to look into allegations that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had secretly bankrolled many politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs140 million.

In the latest development, Khan’s wife Amina Asghar Khan, his daughters Nasreen Ahmed Khattak and Sheereen Awan, and son Ali opposed the FIA’s suggestion and highlighted what they perceived to be halfhearted efforts of the authorities.

“The late air marshal, Asghar Khan endeavored to cleanse the democratic process from unlawful interference by any person, military or civilian, no matter highly placed. This endeavor has not yet achieved fruition and a just end. Consequently, the family of late air marshal Asghar Khan seeks to continue his endeavor and opposes the closure of the inquiry sought by the FIA,” said the written reply.

The family also sought conclusion of the trial against the military personal involved and the placement of the result of the trial before the people of Pakistan.

Citing the FIA’s progress in the case, the reply mentioned it was clear that “no attempt has been made by the FIA to approach for evidence the central figure retired Brig Hamid Saeed Akhtar, who had confessed before the court his personal role in carrying out the unlawful operation regarding disbursement of funds” to various politicians and institutions before the general election of 1990.

The joint reply claimed that the Ministry of Defence did not support the FIA in execution of the court orders. “In these circumstances, the request to close the inquiry and the case is unwarranted,” it added.

Additionally, the family members expressed their concerns that “more than six years after the final judgement of the apex court, proceedings against none of the military personnel involved in the matter, including retd Gen Aslam Baig and retd Gen Asad Durrani who had confessed their wrongdoing against the Constitution and the law, have been concluded”.

On Dec 29, 2018, the FIA had suggested that the apex court close the case relating to the implementation of the Asghar Khan verdict for want of concrete evidence. A report furnished before the court by the FIA stated that the authorities did not have enough evidence to launch a criminal prosecution against the individuals named in the judgement.

According to the FIA report, 18 politicians in their statements submitted in the SC denied receiving the funds to allegedly manipulate the 1990 polls.

The agency contended that the statements of witnesses recorded in the case so far had gaps and did not correlate with each other. Moreover, the investigation agency has also remained unsuccessful in securing financial records from the relevant banks since the matter is 24 years old.

Asghar Khan case

In 1996, Asghar Khan had filed a human rights petition in the SC, accusing the ISI of doling out money to a group of politicians in the 1990s.

The case was initiated by the air marshal after Benazir Bhutto’s interior minister, retired general Naseerullah Babar, had claimed in the National Assembly in 1994 that the ISI had disbursed funds to “purchase” the loyalty of politicians and public figures so as to manipulate the 1990 elections, form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), and bring about the defeat of the PPP.

Sixteen years after the petition was filed, the SC in its judgement — penned by then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry — ruled that the 1990 general elections had been polluted by dishing out Rs140m to a particular group of politicians only to deprive the people of being represented by their chosen representatives.

The court had, however, thrown the ball back to the then PPP government by directing it to take necessary action under the Constitution and law against former army chief retired Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and former director general of ISI retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani for their role in facilitating the group of politicians and political parties to ensure their success against their rivals in the 1990 elections.

On May 7 last year, the SC bench had ,rejected Beg and Durrani’s petitions to review, the October 19, 2012 apex court verdict in the Asghar Khan case.

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Army asks US to adopt ‘regional approach’ on terrorism

ISLAMABAD: The army top brass on Thursday hoped for “success” of US efforts for Afghan reconciliation process and called for dealing with terrorism through a regional approach.

“Forum highlighted importance of regional approach to eliminate roots of terrorism and attached hopes for success of ongoing Afghan reconciliation process while supporting all stakeholders to bring Afghan war to a peaceful logical conclusion,” an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement on the 216th corps commanders’ conference said.

The corps commanders’ conference, which is a monthly feature at the GHQ, this time specially focused on regional security and the situation on the eastern and western borders, including the Line of Control, while reviewing the geo-strategic environment. Additionally, the meeting took stock of the internal security situation and the ongoing security operations.

Voices hope for success of American efforts for Afghan reconciliation process

Pakistan renewed its commitment to facilitate the reconciliation process after US President Donald Trump last week ,wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan,, seeking his government’s help for Afghan peace. Backing reconciliation in Afghanistan has been Islamabad’s longstanding position.

When the Trump administration intensified the efforts for seeking a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict and appointed Ambassa­dor Zalmay Khalilzad as the point-man for the initiative in September, Pakistani authorities, in a major gesture, released senior Taliban figure Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on US request to help the process.

Speaking at a press conference at the ISPR office, military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had said last Thursday: “This political reconciliation must succeed. … We wish that US leaves Afghanistan as friend of the region, not as a failure”. He had further said that Pakistan was taking “every step” needed to make the US succeed in its efforts for reconciliation. “We will facilitate it as much as we can,” he added.

While Taliban have held several meetings with US officials over the past few months, they have been categorically refusing to join talks with Kabul or become part of an intra-Afghan dialogue until there is a clear time frame for withdrawal of US-led coalition forces from Afghanistan. The militants have, moreover, been continuing with attacks.

Terrorism has been a major concern for the US as it seeks Pakistan’s help in reconciliation. The message from the corps commanders’ meeting is that instead of pushing Pakistan hard on this count, the US should try to take a holistic view of the situation by adopting a “regional approach to eliminate roots of terrorism”. This assertion implies that the military leadership is asking the US to press Kabul and New Delhi to stop their activities targeting Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmmod Qureshi, speaking in the National Assembly earlier this week, had made a rare call for India’s cooperation on Afghanistan. “Since India is present in Afghanistan, its cooperation in this regard will also be required,” he had said.

The military, the corps commanders resolved, would continue with its actions for “consolidating gains of counterterrorism military operations”. They noted that improvements in security situation of the country had paved the way for socio-economic progress and development.

“We shall continue to support all state institutions for peace, stability and progress of the country in best interest of the people of Pakistan,” Army Chief Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa, who chaired the meeting, said.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2018

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CPEC is Pakistan’s national priority, China told

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday reaffirmed its commitment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by pledging to complete it as a national priority.

The assurance was conveyed to the Chinese side by the Foreign Office at the inaugural round of bilateral political consultations. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani delegation at the meeting, while the Chinese side was headed by Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou.

“Pakistan side conveyed that CPEC is a national priority for the government and Pakistan remains committed to the successful implementation of CPEC,” the FO said in a statement on the meeting.

“The two sides also resolved to work together towards completion of the ongoing projects and agreed to expand CPEC to new areas of cooperation in line with the vision of the leadership of Pakistan,” it added.

The reiteration comes ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of the CPEC in Beijing next week.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had last month ,paid his maiden visit to China,. During the trip, which analysts say reinforced Pak-China bond, the two countries showed “complete consensus on the future trajectory of CPEC, timely completion of its ongoing projects and joint efforts for realisation of its full potential with a focus on socio-economic development, job creation and livelihoods and accelerating cooperation in industrial development, industrial parks and agriculture”.

However, there is speculation that despite the positivity exhibited during Mr Khan’s Beijing trip, the Chinese have concerns about the future of the CPEC.

Explore: ,Was Imran’s visit to China a failure? Yes. Here’s why,

The Pakistani and Chinese delegations at their political consultations “agreed to build on the consensus developed during Mr Khan’s visit”, the FO said.

“They reaffirmed ‘all-weather strategic cooperative partnership’ between the two countries and expressed their satisfaction at the strong bilateral ties in political, economic, security, cultural and other spheres,” the statement said.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou also called on Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi after the political consultations.

Mr Qureshi said the prime minister’s visit to China marked “a milestone in the history of bilateral relations and has deepened the bond of trust and friendship between two nations”. Reassuring the Chinese delegation about the CPEC, he said Pakistan would complete this project as envisaged by the leadership of both countries.

Mr Qureshi confirmed Pakistan’s participation in the 2nd meeting of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan foreign ministers’ trilateral mechanism to be held in Kabul on Dec 15.

The Chinese vice foreign minister also visited the General Headquarters for a meeting with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“During the meeting matters of mutual interest, regional security and enhanced bilateral cooperation came under discussion,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Gen Bajwa underscored that Pak-China relations were all-weather and based on mutual trust and confidence. “The visiting dignitary commended the sacrifices and resilience of the people and armed forces of Pakistan and appreciated the role Pakistan Army has played in battling the scourge of terrorism,” the ISPR said.

Last month security forces had foiled a terrorist attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi. The Chinese government had on that occasion praised Pakistani security forces for their timely action and emphasised on ensuring the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2018

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Street criminals in Karachi to be jailed for up to 7 years: CM Shah

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, while chairing the 23rd session of the apex committee in Karachi, vowed to end the rampant street crime in the port city, for which he claimed legal reforms are being considered.

As part of amendments to the law, the chief minister said, the cases of streets crimes would be heard by special magistrates under Section 30 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC), adding that those convicted will be handed prison sentences ranging from three to seven years.

“We need to end the menace of street crime,” CM Shah said, adding that all law enforcement agencies were working together on the issue.

The 23rd meeting of the apex committee was attended by Karachi corps commander, Sindh chief secretary, director general (DG) Rangers, Sindh inspector general of police and other officials.

Furthermore, the apex committee was apprised that Sindh Police and Rangers had conducted a security audit of the entire province. At this, CM Shah issued instructions to fix the weaknesses identified during the security audits.

The meeting was also informed that 62 buildings and other institutions in the province, previously named after Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain, had been renamed.

During the meeting, the implementation of the decisions taken in the previous session were also reviewed.

While speaking to the media after the apex committee meeting, Sindh Chief Minister’s Adviser on Information Murtaza Wahab said that a pilot project will be initiated in the Safe City project red zone.

He said that those who repeatedly commit crimes will be dealt with in a different way. “They are repeatedly given bail,” he said adding that they would be stopped.

Wahab added that to improve the Safe City project, cyber crime will also be controlled and help will be taken from the Army. Safe City cameras will also be improved.

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