Posts Tagged ‘Banned’

IHK authorities impose restrictions against Muharram processions

Authorities in India-held Kashmir (IHK) on Friday imposed curfew-like restrictions in parts of the valley including Srinagar to prevent Shia devotees from holding or participating in Ashura processions on Muharram 10.

Heavy contingents of Indian troops and police officials have been deployed in Srinagar and other towns in IHK to prevent mourners from carrying out Muharram processions and anti-India rallies after Friday prayers, the ,Kashmir Media Service, reported.

Restrictions were imposed in the parts of Srinagar falling under the jurisdictions of Nowhatta, Khanya, Safa Kadal, Maharaj Gunj, Kothibagh and Rainwari police stations.

Despite the restrictions, a large number of mourners led by Hurriyat leader Nissar Hussain Rathar, tried to reach the city centre. However, Indian police detained scores of them near Srinagar’s Badshah Chowk area, ,KMS, reported.

The mourners were also seen chanting slogans in favour of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and displaying his pictures in the ongoing Muharram processions in the territory.

The main Muharram 10 procession in Srinagar used to kick off at Aabi Guzar and end at Zadibal but was banned by Indian authorities in 1989.

All-Pakistan Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted that curbs, curfews and house arrests are continuing in the restive valley even on Ashura.

“No Friday prayers allowed at many mosques in the city including #JamaMasjid by the rulers. Even majlis-i-tableegh to pay tributes to Imam Hussain (AS) and martyrs Of Karbala which I was going to address [have been] barred,” Farooq said.

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Kashmiri Shias detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

Kashmiri Shias detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

Kashmiri Shia women participate in a Muharram procession in Srinagar, IHK, on Sept 20. ? AP

Kashmiri Shia women participate in a Muharram procession in Srinagar, IHK, on Sept 20. ? AP

Kashmiri Shias attend a Muharram procession in Srinagar, IHK on Sept 20. ? AP

Kashmiri Shias attend a Muharram procession in Srinagar, IHK on Sept 20. ? AP

A Kashmiri Shia woman holds a child as she participates in a Muharram procession in Srinagar. ? AP

A Kashmiri Shia woman holds a child as she participates in a Muharram procession in Srinagar. ? AP

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 21, 2018 at 4:25 pm

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Ashura being observed today amid tight security

QUETTA: Frontier Corps personnel seal a shop in a market on Muharram procession route here on Thursday.—PPI

QUETTA: Frontier Corps personnel seal a shop in a market on Muharram procession route here on Thursday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Ashura will be observed on Friday with solemnity to pay homage to Imam Hussain and other martyrs of Karbala amid strict security to protect mourners from any terrorist attack across the country.

Apart from the security measures, local administrations, all over the country, have placed hospitals and ambulance services on high alert. Moreover, the governments of the four provinces, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan have taken adequate measures to ensure security on the day.

As there will be no Ashura procession in the federal capital, police and administration of Islamabad will cooperate with the Rawalpindi administration to carry out checks at all entry points between the twin cities.

However, extraordinary security arrangements have been made in Rawalpindi considering the past incident at Raja Bazaar as Ashura has coincided with Friday.

In 2013, authorities had to impose a curfew in parts of Rawalpindi after sectarian clashes erupted during a Muharram 10 (on Friday) procession near Fawara Chowk, that left at least eight people dead and dozens injured.

The security has remained a matter of concern for over a decade because of a number of incidents of suicide attacks and sectarian violence.

Apart from police, Ran­gers and Frontier Corps personnel have been deployed in many cities on the routes of Ashura processions, while the army is also kept standby and can be called in case of an emergency.

Pillion-riding has been banned in many cities across the country. Although a blanket blackout of cellular service across the country is not under consideration on 10th Muharram, citizens can face partial suspension of the service in different cities due to security reasons, said sources in cellular companies.

Police have already conducted a survey of procession routes across the country and sealed all shops, houses and buildings on the routes after a thorough check by bomb disposal squads.

On Thursday, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi reviewed the security arrangements of main procession in Sector G-6 Islamabad. He said no compromise or sluggishness would be tolerated over such arrangements as it is prime responsibility of the government to ensure protection to the lives and property of the citizens.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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Muharram 9 observed across Pakistan amid tight security

The 9th of Muharram was observed on Thursday amid stringent security arrangements across Pakistan and with due solemnity and sanctity to pay homage to the sacrifices of Imam Husain and his companions in Karbala.

Cities across the nation echoed with nohas, marsiayas and mourning in various majalis and processions.

Ulema and zakireen shed light on the teachings of Imam Husain and his great companions.

Pakistani security personnel patrol in Karachi. —AFP

Pakistani security personnel patrol in Karachi. —AFP

In the federal capital, 2,586 policemen, Pakistan Rangers and Frontier Constabulary men were deployed to ensure security for 17 processions.

In Lahore, as many as eight DSPs, 19 SHOs, and more than 2,000 policemen under the supervision of two SPs were performing duties to protect the processions of 9th Muharram-ul-Haram.

Mourning procession with Zuljana passing through a road in Quetta. —APP

Mourning procession with Zuljana passing through a road in Quetta. —APP

In Karachi, the traditionally significant areas in connection with Muharrum related activities remained Karbala Gamey Shah, Bibi Pak Daman, Shadman Colony, Model Town, the inside Mochi Gate, Chowk Nawab Sahib, Nisar Havaili, Bhati Gate’s Mubarak Havaili, Pando Street (Islampura), Minhajul Hussain, Niaz Beg village, Khaima Sadaat near Jain Mandir, Bhaekeywal Morr in Iqbal Town, Batapur, Samanabad, Sadar, among many other places of the provincial metropolis.

The main mourning procession of Muharram 9, amidst extra-ordinary security arrangements, emerged from Nishter Park.

Scouts posted along procession route in Karachi. —APP

Scouts posted along procession route in Karachi. —APP

Law enforcers including police and Rangers along with scouts were deployed all along the route of the main procession, which culminated at Hussainiya Irania Imambargah at Kharadar.

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) including welfare organisations set up sabeels (stalls for refreshment drinks and snacks) and stalls of emergency medical aid facility as per tradition on the route of the procession.

Various small mourning processions taken out from different parts of the metropolis also merged into the main procession.

Cellular phone services remained suspended in sensitive areas and pillion riding was declared completely banned in all areas of the city.

Procession participants in Karachi touch the Zuljana, a symbolisation of the horse used by Imam Husain in the Karbala battle. —AFP

Procession participants in Karachi touch the Zuljana, a symbolisation of the horse used by Imam Husain in the Karbala battle. —AFP

All link roads and lanes leading to the route of main procession had been blocked with the help of containers and heavy vehicles to stop unwanted entries.

The traffic police had given an alternate route plan for the public to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the roads of the port city.

Elaborate security arrangements were made for the maintenance of law and order and to provide security to the mourning processions. Walk through gates, snipers and thousands of police officers were deployed along the procession route.

The district municipal corporations have taken necessary steps to provide civic facilities like cleaning of sewerage lines, repair of roads and lighting arrangements on the routes of procession to facilitate the mourners.

Control rooms were set up while CCTV cameras were also placed to avoid any untoward incident.

Youm-e-Ashur, the 10th of Muharram, will be observed with reverence and religious solemnity in the country on Friday.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 20, 2018 at 8:25 pm

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India bans instant divorce by Muslim men

India’s government on Wednesday approved an ordinance to implement a top court ruling striking down the Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce.

The government decision came after it failed to get approval of parliament a year after the court ruled that the practice of triple “talaq” violated the constitutional rights of Muslim women.

Most of the 170 million Muslims in India are governed by the Islamic law for family matters and disputes.

The laws include allowing men to divorce by simply uttering the Arabic word “talaq”, or divorce, three times and not necessarily consecutively, but at any time, and by any medium, including telephone, text message or social media post.

The government will have another six months to get the parliament’s approval for the ordinance to become law.

But in the meantime, suspects can be prosecuted using the ordinance.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that nearly 22 countries, including neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned the practice and appealed to the opposition to approve the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill.

All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had told the court that while they considered the practice wrong, they opposed any court intervention and asked that the matter be left to the community.

But several progressive Muslim activists decried the law board’s position.

After the ,Supreme Court verdict,, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced a bill criminalising the practice and it was approved in December by the lower house of Parliament, where his party commands a majority.

But it couldn’t get the approval of the upper house, where the opposition controls the majority of seats.

The main opposition Congress party is opposing a three-year prison sentence for the offenders and wants a parliamentary committee to discuss the issue to reach a consensus. It favours a lesser sentence.

In India, triple talaq has continued with the protection of laws that allow Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities to follow religious laws in matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption.

While most Hindu personal laws have been overhauled and codified over the years, Muslim laws have been left to religious authorities and left largely untouched.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 19, 2018 at 2:25 pm

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SC terms relocation illegal, gives Sharif family 2 months to shift sugar mills back to central Punjab

The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday termed the relocation of sugar mills to southern Punjab as illegal and ordered that Ittefaq Suger Mills, Chaudhry Sugar Mills and Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills — all owned by members of the Sharif family — should be shifted back to central Punjab within two months.

The sugar mills were relocated from central Punjab to the southern region of the province after the former provincial government amended a 2006 notification — that banned the establishment of new sugar mills and the expansion and relocation of the existing ones — in 2015.

In 2016, former PTI secretary general Jahangir Tareen had challenged the relocation of mills before the Lahore High Court which ,declared the relocation illegal, in its ruling issued last year.

The mill owners, however, had ,challenged the LHC verdict in the top court,, where it was heard by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar.

Earlier this year, Justice Nisar had ordered that the mills stay in their current location until the cane crushing season is over. Now that the season is over, the chief justice, in a short order issued on Thursday, said that the mills be relocated to their original locations in central Punjab within two months.

The buildings of the mills, which will be vacated after the relocation, should not be demolished and instead used for any other purpose, the top judge said.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 13, 2018 at 6:25 pm

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CJP lashes out at dam critics, says they are ‘pursuing someone else’s agenda’

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday, while hearing a case on the Dadhocha dam, lashed out at critics opposing the construction of dams in the country, saying that they were pursuing “someone else’s agenda”.

The CJP, recalling a scientist’s remark that the Supreme Court should form its own political party, said: “There is no need for anyone to say this. It is a matter of fundamental rights.”

Justice Nisar said that dams were being constructed for Pakistan’s future generations.

He added that there would be “no compromise on this issue”, whether those criticising the move were “well-known scientists or political leaders”.

He claimed that those opposing the construction of dams are “working on someone else’s agenda, and the agenda is that ‘dams shouldn’t be built in Pakistan’.”

“We won’t let the agenda to not build dams be successful.” the CJP said. “We will build dams under all circumstances.”

The CJP, who was heading a three-judge bench, made the remarks during a case pertaining to land earmarked for the construction of the Dadhocha dam.

In 2006, the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) had purchased 18,000 kanals at the site where the dam was to be built and launched a housing scheme as a joint venture with Bahria Town. The DHA Valley scheme, meant for the bereaved families of martyred military personnel, was proposed as the dam site.

On Aug 4, 2015, the SC in a suo motu case directed the Punjab government to construct the dam at the originally proposed site. Soon after these directives, the government banned the sale and purchase of land in the area and allocated funds for the construction of the dam in its annual development plan for 2017-18.

On the SC’s directives, ,the Punjab government in 2017 initiated the process, to construct the dam at a cost of Rs7 billion to overcome the water shortage in Rawalpindi.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had previously ,initiated investigations, against DHA Islamabad, Bahria Town and Capital Development Authority administrations for the Rs62 billion DHA Valley project and its Phase-II (extension) scams.

In today’s hearing, the court asked the Punjab government to examine the DHA-Bahria joint venture, and asked the JV to present its recommendations on the matter to the provincial government.

The SC also asked the Punjab government to examine the Irrigation Department’s recommendations and, if it is not satisfied with them, to inform the court and present its own recommendations.

The Punjab government was asked to inform the court of when the dam would be completed by and how much expense would be incurred during its construction.

The Punjab Irrigation Department secretary told the court that the provincial government had allocated funds for the acquisition of land for the dam. He added that the Bahria Town-DHA JV was proposed on an 11-kanal site.

The Chief Justice asked what obstacles the Punjab government was facing in the construction of the dam by Bahria Town, and added: “I know that commission mafia’s, commission will be cut and this is the obstacle.”

“I won’t let anyone take any cuts, nor will I let them appropriate commission,” he asserted.

The top judge said that the commission mafia should fear God, and that the dam project was under strain because of this commission mafia. He asked them, without naming them, to think about themselves, the country and the future of its citizens.

The CJP suggested the secretary call the Punjab chief minister and his cabinet regarding the issue, to which the secretary responded that there was no need for it since he was looking over it.

The CJP responded that the construction of dam is a national cause and they would need to “come together for it”.

Justice Nisar told the secretary that he should be giving money instead of taking money, to which the secretary responded that he had already contributed money to the Dam Fund.

The hearing was postponed till next week.

Pindi water shortage and the Dadhocha dam

According to official figures, Rawalpindi requires 50 MGD of water. It is supplied 40 MGD from the 410 tubewells in the city, Rawal Dam and Khanpur Dam.

A senior Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) official earlier told Dawn that the water deficit would increase from 10MGD to 41MGD by 2025 if our options were not explored, since the Rawal dam has outlived its design life and cannot supply more than 22MGD water ? which remains unavailable during droughts.

The official had said that rainwater is wasted due to a lack of dams and was of the opinion that work should be started on the Chirah dam as well so that water is available in the future when the demand increases.

Read more: ,Punjab Planning Commission approves Rs6bn Daducha Dam,

The proposed Dadhocha dam will be constructed upstream on Soan River and all the rainwater from Murree and the Kahuta Hills will gather in the lake at Dadhocha Village, near Sihala on Kahuta Road.

The dam may also raise the underground water table, which has been depleting fast in the garrison city.

A senior district administration official told Dawn earlier this year that the villages of Bhun, Launa and Bhaoni would be submerged in the dam, and that seven industrial and commercial units, 218 houses and other areas would be affected by the project.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 12, 2018 at 10:25 pm

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ECP rejects plea to cancel registration of Pakistan Rah-i-Haq Party

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has rejected a petition seeking to cancel the registration of the Pakistan Rah-i-Haq Party (PRHP), which allegedly has links with the banned outfit Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). The commission directed the petitioner to approach the federal government.

Petitioner Gul Zohra Rizvi’s lawyer appeared before a two-member bench of the ECP headed by the Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza and argued that Muavia Azam, son of Maulana Azam Tariq — leader of the now defunct Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) — has after his election to the Punjab Assembly, joined the PRHP.

Insisting that the PRHP had links with the SSP, which kept changing names after being outlawed, he argued that the registration of the party be cancelled under section 212 of the elections act.

The ECP member from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, retired Justice Irshad Qaiser, asked if according to the petitioner the PRHP was involved in acts of terrorism. The response of the petitioner’s counsel was that the flags of all those who ran in the polls under the banner of the PRHP were the same as the flags of the SSP. The petitioner claimed that Muavia Azam’s name appeared in the fourth schedule.

The commission after hearing arguments announced the verdict, rejecting the plea for cancelling the enlistment of the PRHP and directed the petitioner to approach the government.

Section 212 of the elections act, which deals with the procedure for dissolution of a political party reads “Where the Federal Government is satisfied on the basis of a reference from the Commission or information received from any other source that a political party is a foreign-aided political party or has been formed or is operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan or is indulging in terrorism, the Government shall, by a notification in the official Gazette, make such declaration.”

Under the law, within 15 days of making a declaration the government shall refer the matter to the Supreme Court. If the apex court upholds the declaration made against the political party, it shall be dissolved.

Meanwhile, the ECP reserved judgement on a petition seeking the removal of disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The petitioner’s counsel asked the two-member bench of the ECP to form a full bench for hearing the case.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018

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Informed prime minister about what reaction to Atif Mian’s appointment would be: Qadri

A meeting of religious scholars was convened in Islamabad on Friday under the chairmanship of Federal Minister of Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri to discuss various matters, including Muharram preparations.

During the meeting, the religious affairs minister revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had called him for consultation regarding renowned economist Dr Atif Mian’s appointment to the government’s Economic Advisory Council.

“I told him what reaction there would be,” he said.

He said he had told the prime minsiter that “whoever had been declared a non-Muslim will remain a non-Muslim; however, the state has to fulfill its responsibilities to grant minorities their due rights, as is incumbent upon it.

“Atif Mian’s appointment was based on his expertise in economic affairs rather than his religious beliefs,” he said, while at the same time revealing that “upon indication [of his faith] the notice of his appointment was retracted”.

The minister said that since the matter was settled, there was no need to dissect the matter and no further investigation was necessary.

Muharram preparations

During the course of the meeting, preparations for the upcoming month of Muharram were discussed and a joint notification was issued pertaining to the same.

The notification called on clerics to desist from issuing any inflammatory statements against other sects.

“Religious differences should be settled through consultation, reflection and serious dialogue,” it said. “National platforms should not be used to ridicule other sects,” it added, before listing the religious personalities that ought not to be criticised and asking all schools of thought to remain united on national issues.

During the meeting, Allama Izhar Bukhari put forth the recommendation that all TV channels who invite ‘controversial’ ulema to air their beliefs be banned. He also proposed that “those who sing songs all year round and then lecture us in Muharram” be banned from the airwaves as well.

The various groups of scholars vowed to maintain an atmosphere of “love, tolerance and mutual understanding between them” throughout the holy month.

They also “promised to respect the viewpoint of those following a different path”.

Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat also vowed to ensure peace and stability during the month and to work with the government towards the same.

The also recommended that action be taken without discrimination against anyone disrespecting sacred figures, the national flag or the army.

Blasphemous caricatures contest

The religious affairs minister praised Prime Minister Imran Khan for his stand against the blasphemous caricatures contest in the Netherlands, which they said “no leader since Quaid-i-Azam had ever taken”.

“The way letters were issued to various foreign ministries, and the issue raised on different international platforms, is an unprecedented diplomatic measure,” he said.

On conclusion of the meeting, the federal ministry of religious affairs appealed to provincial governments to hold such meetings at the provincial and district level as well.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 8, 2018 at 8:25 am

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Construction beyond six storeys in Bahria Town banned

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday restrained the Bahria Town Karachi from constructing any building of more than six storeys.

A three-member bench of the court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a petition filed by the Association of Builders and Developers (Abad) against illegal construction of high-rise buildings in Bahria Town Karachi.

Take a look: ,Bahria Town Karachi: Greed unlimited,

Counsel for Abad Advocate Faisal Siddiqui contended that construction work was being carried out in the housing society without permission of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).

He argued that Bahria Town was constructing buildings of more than six storeys in violation of an apex court order.

“Any construction beyond six storeys in Bahria Town Karachi is prohibited till further orders,” CJP Nisar ruled. “In case of non-compliance, not only the management of Bahria Town but its chairman and chief executive officer will also be held responsible,” he added.

The apex court had earlier imposed a ban on construction of high-rise buildings in the society on March 16, 2017 and had restrained the SBCA and cantonment boards from issuing building approval plans for new high-rise and multi-storey commercial and residential projects.

The judgement came in a matter relating to non-availability of potable water and deteriorating sanitation conditions in Karachi and the rest of the province, and the court only allowed construction of buildings with ground plus first floors.

However, on Jan 14 the court granted provisional permission to builders for construction of six storeys in the city after Abad and other such bodies had moved the court for review of its March 16 judgement. They contended that SBCA had imposed a ban on construction of multi-storey buildings in the city due to the recommendation of a judicial commission though there was no shortage of water but there was a problem of water distribution.

The chief justice had observed that construction business was linked with other industries and he did not want to close it down, but shortage of water was a major problem of the city and the court had to determine whether or not people’s rights were affected due to the permission granted for construction of high-rise buildings.

The court warned the builders that if permission for construction of six-storey buildings was violated, then “exemplary cost” would be imposed on the owner of the building concerned and the money would be given to the buyers.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2018

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HRCP concerned over increase in media curbs

ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday expressed concern over increase in media curbs and held both government and military agencies responsible for the situation.

While launching its ,fact-finding report, “Curbs on freedom of expression in Pakistan” at a press conference, the commission called on the federal and provincial governments and other state institutions and services to take appropriate steps to prohibit and prevent unauthorised, illegal interference with freedom of expression in the country.

“There should be no interference in the sale and distribution of any newspaper, nor should any TV channels be deliberately displaced. The system of issuing ‘press advice’ on the part of state agencies must cease immediately and the complaints documented in HRCP’s report redressed. The state must also set up complete and effective information commissions in each province to implement its obligations under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017,” speakers said on the occasion.

Commission’s spokesperson points out that in a number of areas newspapers have been banned and there is no one to tell who has placed this ban

HRCP spokesperson I.A. Rehman said that in a number of areas newspapers were banned. On the other hand, no one was ready to tell who has banned Dawn, The News and Jang, he said.

“HRCP talked to a number of bookshop owners, stall holders and hawkers over the issue and they confirmed that the complaints were correct, but none of them was ready to be quoted out of fear,” he said.

“Press advice is given even during live TV programmes. There is fear in the environment due to which not only people will stop speaking but they will also stop thinking,” he said.

Mr Rehman said that the journalist community had been deliberately divided by some elements. Massive campaigns were launched against some journalists on social media, he said.

Former Awami National Party Senator Afrasiab Khattak, who worked on the report, said that for the past few years the country had been facing a creeping coup.

“Initially media groups were controlled and now efforts have been started to control journalists. It is our duty to stand with those who have been raising voice as democracy cannot be ensured without freedom of media,” he said.

He said that security departments wanted to dominate, but they did not want to become accountable. He said the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement came into being because political parties stopped speaking about the rights of people.

Former Senator Farhatullah Babar said it had been observed that rather than approaching journalists directly the owners were approached to stop news and force the journalists to exercise self-censorship.

He said the civil-military equation had been written on terms of military alone and consequently some state institutions exercised power without accountability and were averse to transparency. This lay at the root of curbs on expression, he said.

Mr Babar said the freedom of expression was the right of every citizen, not only of journalists, and asked people to make maximum use of the right to information law to expose wrongdoings, promote transparency and accountability. He also called for implementing the December 2016 unanimous report of the Senate on speedy and inexpensive justice that also included legislation to make the Inter-Services Intelligence accountable for its actions.

Senior journalist M. Ziauddin said that it was strange that no one took responsibility about banning the circulation of newspapers and news channels.

“In the past after such issues negotiations were used to be held between media and the government but now the government also seems helpless. If there is an issue of Khalai Makhlooq, it should talk to us. Today, the situation is worse than the Press and Publication Ordinance which was used in the past to curb media,” he said.

Veteran journalist Rashid Rehman said the HRCP wanted to launch the report before the general elections, but while the report was being finalised and printed, things had become even worse.

“While anchorpersons speak, voice is muted a number of times. Even on social media and an organised campaign has been started,” he said.

Rights activist Marvi Sirmed said that there were a number of examples in which journalists, who were criticising a state institution, were threatened by militant organisations despite the fact that they had never filed any story against militants.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 30, 2018 at 4:25 am

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Govt bans VIP protocol at airports

ISLAMABAD: As part of its austerity plan, the government has banned VIP protocol given by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to influential people at airports.

The decision is being implemented by the government from Sunday as the ministry of interior has directed all officials concerned of the investigation agency’s immigration wing to implement it.

It is worth mentioning that such decisions had also been taken by previous governments but they could not implement them in a letter and spirit.

“We have decided to strictly implement the decision to provide equal opportunities to all travellers without any discrimination,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn.

Action will be taken against officials seen giving special treatment to any traveller

It had been observed that influential people were given VIP protocol at airports so that they could avoid standing in long queues and get cleared their luggage without any hustle, he said.

“We have seen that influential people used to seek assistance of FIA officials at airports who (officials) accompanied them to promptly clear their luggage,” the minister said.

The VIP protocol was usually given to politicians, legislators, senior bureaucrats, judges, military officials and journalists.

The interior ministry has directed the FIA that no government official or other VIPs would be given protocol at airports across the country.

In case any FIA official is caught giving protocol to a VIP, he would face strict action, the ministry warned in a letter sent to all zones of the agency.

According to the interior ministry, immigration counters at airports would be monitored and if any VIP was seen being given special treatment, the immigration staff and official in charge of their shift would be immediately suspended.

The ministry also directed the FIA to not harass passengers leaving the country.

The investigation agency was also directed to facilitate passengers of international flights at the time of their arrival at country’s airports.

Interestingly, all previous governments had decided to eliminate VIP culture at airports but there was a VIP lounge at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad where VIPs and influential people sat in a luxurious atmosphere, meanwhile their luggage was get cleared by officials of FIA, Airport Security Staff or Civil Aviation Authority.

However, there is no such lounge available at the new Islamabad airport established near Fatehjang where all passengers have to follow the normal procedure.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2018

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Sindh cabinet declares Thar drought-hit; orders desalination plant for Karachi

KARACHI: The Sindh government on Monday declared Thar a drought-hit area, decided to install desalination plant in Karachi and convert the Governor House into a museum if vacated by the federal government.

The decisions were taken by the new cabinet in its meeting, presided over by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, here on Monday.

The meeting, which lasted two-and-a-half hours from 5pm, was informed that the law and order situation was under control and instructions were issued to the authorities concerned to ensure cleanliness during Eidul Azha.

It was decided in the meeting that Keenjhar, Haleji, Hydero and other depressions be developed as a reliable reservoir for water supply to Karachi.

‘Governor House will be converted into a museum if federal govt vacates it’

Briefing the media after the meeting, Minister Sardar Shah and Adviser Murtaza Wahab said that according to a senior member of the Board of Revenue, Iqbal Durrani, all the 167 dehs of Tharparkar and 25 dehs of Umerkot were calamity hit.

They added that Mithi received only 58mm rain during the last three months while Islamkot received 24mm, Diplo 51mm, Kaloi 10mm, Chachhro 105mm, Dahli 120mm and Nagarparkar 40mm of rain.

Barrister Wahab further said that 323,435 families in Thar and 43,240 families in Umerkot were affected.

He maintained that the cabinet decided to give 50kg of wheat to each family every month.

The chief minister directed the senior member to seek information about drought in Achhro Thar, Kachho and Kohistan from the deputy commissioners concerned so that their residents could be helped.

He also constituted a committee comprising Revenue Minister Makhdoom Mahboob and Education Minister Sardar Shah to visit Thar along with Mr Durrani and provincial secretaries of health and food, and recommend relief measures.

Taking notice of the water supply schemes in Karachi, Mr Shah directed Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani to start work on installing desalination plant in Karachi so that the water issue of the city could be resolved.

He formed a committee under Mr Ghani to prepare a report within 12 days.

Mr Durrani informed the cabinet that the Governor House was Sindh government’s property. The cabinet proposed to covert the Governor House into a museum and its land into a park if the governor chose to vacate it.

Law and order

Home Secretary Mohammad Haroon told the meeting that the overall law and order situation in the province was under control.

He said necessary instructions had been issued to commissioners, DCs, IGP, DIGs about law and order, cleanliness and other arrangements during Eid.

He added that all the DCs had been authorised to issue licences to dealers/charities for purchase and sale of animal hides after fulfilling legal formalities.

Mr Haroon further said that the list of banned organisations (Schedule IV) had been publicised and provided to all the authorities concerned so that their activities could be monitored.

The chief minister told the IG that a bomb blast had taken place in Shikarpur last year on the occasion of Eid and asked him to take strict precautionary measures in Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Dadu and nearby districts.

Budget

The chief minister said the last government [of the PPP] had passed a budget for three months to enable the caretaker government to make necessary expenditures up to September 2018.

“Now, we have to prepare a new budget before Sept 30 and present it in the house.

“The financial situation of the province is not so good as we have not received the funds from the federal government,” he said.

Talking about the suo motu case regarding utilisation of luxury vehicles, Mr Shah directed the chief secretary to include the issue in the agenda of the cabinet’s next meeting so that an appropriate decision could be taken about the vehicles.

Water position

Irrigation Secretary Jamal Shah briefed the cabinet about water and said the rice crop suffered huge loss due to its shortage.

He said the government was giving priority to drinking water and added that the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams would be beneficial for the country.

The secretary added there were suggestions to defer rice sowing season from May 1 until June 15.

He went on to say that groundwater resources may be tapped and saline water agriculture be promoted.

The chief minister said he had banned cultivation of rice on the left bank of the Indus. He directed the chief secretary to get report from all DCs about the cultivation of rice on the left bank of the river so that action could be taken.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2018

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Ban on animal import from Afghanistan enters third day

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

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

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

Talks between livestock dealers, Afghan customs officials fail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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Twitter threatened with shutdown in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Micro-blogging website Twitter, a platform that has in recent years become ,integral to political parties,, stands in danger of being banned because of the government’s inability to force the tech giant to bend to its notions of what is suitable for public consumption or falls within the constitutional realm of legitimate free speech.

On Wednesday, the Pak­istan Telecommuni­cation Authority (PTA) informed the Senate Standing Com­mittee on Cabinet Secre­tariat that while Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms complied with requests from the government to block objectionable content, Twitter did not oblige.

“Out of a hundred requests from Pakistan to block certain offensive material, roughly five per cent are entertained. Twitter ignores all the remaining requests,” Director General of PTA’s Internet Policy and Web Analysis, Nisar Ahmed, told the committee.

The committee met for a briefing on penalties fixed by the PTA against ‘derogatory’ comments spreading through social media targeting the state, its citizens and its institutions.

Mr Ahmed informed the committee about last week’s Islamabad High Court (IHC) directive to the regulatory body to serve Twitter with a final notice, asking the website to respond to requests from Pakistan or face the risk of being blocked in the country.

“The PTA has conveyed the court’s concern to Twitter, but has not got a response. The regulatory authority will implement court orders if Twitter does not respond to the final notice,” said Mr Ahmed. He further explained to the committee members that the IHC had taken notice of the increase in objectionable content posted on social media websites.

The official told the committee that Twitter was not as popular in Pakistan as Facebook, and so they had little to lose if Twitter was blocked. However, the platform would lose business if it was shut down in the country, the senior official told the members. “The court is determined to teach Twitter a lesson — they will lose business,” he added.

He informed the committee that Facebook had been extremely cooperative with Pakistan, and had obliged when asked to block content that might be perceived offensive.

“In fact, Facebook has appointed a focal person to address the concerns from Pakistan. The focal person is a Pakistani national who understands the traditions, customs and concerns of our society. YouTube is now also offering a local version in the country and removing offensive material, and the website is no longer an issue,” the official elaborated.

According to the PTA, social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube and DailyMotion now saw Pakistan as an emerging information technology market, which they could tap into to exponentially grow their businesses.

“These companies do not only wish to keep growing in Pakistan, but have also planned to bring underdeveloped cities and towns out of — through training programmes — their current states to put them on a par with developed areas,” Mr Ahmed concluded.

When Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf information sectary Fawad Chaudhry was contacted for his views on the matter, he said that his party was against any kind of censorship on free media.

“Those who do not wish to see objectionable and offensive content should not search for such content. Social media is not just for recreation and entertainment. There are jobs and households associated with the business. Blocking social media websites will have both social and economic impacts,” said Mr Chaudhry, who is tipped to become information minister in the new government.

In the past, similar attempts have been made to block the spread of social media: Facebook was banned in the country twice in 2008 and then again in 2010. In September 2012, following government directions, the PTA blocked access to YouTube throughout the country and it remained inaccessible for over two years.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2018

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106 terror financing cases filed in Punjab since 2015

LAHORE: The Punjab police have registered 106 cases of terror financing involving proscribed organisations since 2015, and arrested 144 suspects, 42 of whom were convicted by courts.

This has been stated in a report which is part of similar narrations three other provinces have prepared for a briefing the Pakistani authorities are scheduled to give to a delegation of the UN Security Council’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Wednesday (Aug 15) on steps taken to curtail financial and other activities of the organisations proscribed by the world body, including the Jamaatud Dawa. The report from Punjab sent to Islamabad on Sunday.

Since 2015, officials said, 26 accused were convicted of receiving or donating funds and handed more than five years of imprisonment.

Figure is part of a report to be discussed with FATF delegation

“Like all other provinces, Punjab has also sent to the federal government its report on implementation of the actions suggested by the UN against the proscribed organisations,” a senior official told Dawn.

Officials said a preparatory meeting was held in Islamabad under the federal interior secretary a few days ago in which the provinces were asked to prepare their reports.

The UN has proscribed 18 organisations, including JuD, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation and Al Qaeda. In addition, Pakistan has also itself banned another 54 organisations.

The officials said that senior officials of Foreign Office would brief the FATF delegation on the status of the proscribed organisations.

Since 2015, they said, Punjab had detected 3,077 social media sites run by these organisations and blocked 2,273 of them. In this connection, 58 cases were registered, 59 suspects arrested and 37 of them convicted for cyber crime.

More than 250 cases were registered over fund raising by the proscribed organisations under which 416 suspects were arrested and 137 of them convicted by courts.

The Punjab police registered 575 cases against these organisations and arrested 827 of their active members, 303 of whom were convicted by courts for different violations.

Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 902 cases were registered against the members of these organisations, 1,192 suspects were arrested and 527 of them convicted.

Like the previous year, the officials said, the Punjab government had disallowed the proscribed organisations to collect hides of sacrificial animals during the forthcoming Eidul Azha.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2018

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Sit-in by Muslims against Chinese govt’s plan to demolish mosque

BEIJING: Hundreds of ethnic Hui Muslims are staging a sit-in protest in China’s western region of Ningxia against government plans to demolish a huge new mosque, amid tightening curbs on Islam to pull its practice in line with the Chinese mainstream.

China officially guarantees freedom of religion, but in recent years officials nervous about the possibility of radicalisation and violence have tightened controls in heavily Muslim areas.

The Weizhou grand mosque, with numerous domes and minarets in a Middle Eastern style, had not received proper permits before construction, officials in the town of Weizhou said in a notice on Aug 3.

Read: ,China tells all mosques to raise national flag to ‘promote a spirit of patriotism’,

The mosque would be forcibly demolished on Friday, they added in the notice, widely circulated among Chinese Muslims on social media.

Government reportedly says mosque won’t be razed if its domes are replaced with pagodas

The order provoked anger among villagers, but talks between mosque representatives and officials have failed to reach agreement, as worshippers rejected a government plan to spare the mosque if its domes were replaced with pagodas more in keeping with Chinese style, one source in the area said.

Hundreds of villagers gathered at the mosque on Friday morning, and the town’s mayor was expected to hold discussions, added the source, who requested anonymity.

“If we sign, we are selling out our religious faith,” a Weizhou mosque supporter said in a note on messaging app WeChat, urging villagers not to sign on to the mosque rebuilding plan.

“I can’t talk about this issue,” said Ding Xuexiao, the mosque’s director, when reached by telephone. Mosque imam Ma Liguo said the situation was “currently being coordinated”.

Neither of the men would elaborate.

There was a protest at the mosque on Friday, a man at a government religious office in the county, the Islamic Association, confirmed, adding that the government only wanted the structure “renovated to reduce its scale”.

“The work with the public is ongoing. There has not been a specific consensus reached on the rectification plan,” said the man, who declined to be identified.

Videos on social media on Thursday, which could not be independently verified, showed large crowds gathered outside the mosque and police vans parked nearby. The protest appeared to be peaceful.

Senior Chinese officials have urged Muslims to guard against creeping Islamisation, such as foreign styles copied on mosques, and strive to practice their faith in a more “Chinese” way.

Well-integrated in society with decades of smooth ties with the government, many Hui have watched with detachment as authorities have subjected the far western region of Xinjiang and its Uighur Muslims to near-martial law, with armed police checkpoints, reeducation centres, and mass DNA collection.

The treatment of Uighurs has spurred an international outcry, with US officials saying tens of thousands of people have been detained in Xinjiang’s detention centres.

But Beijing’s policy of “Sinification” of religion has increasingly alarmed many Hui, who fear it is widening its strict measures in Xinjiang to additional Muslim areas, such as Ningxia and neighbouring Gansu province.

In the crackdown, the government has banned religious education for young people in mosques, ordered that the call to prayer over loudspeakers be silenced, and sought to stamp out what it sees as Arab elements in mosques.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2018

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At Trump’s hotel, revenue went up this spring — thanks to a visit from big-spending Saudis

The general manager of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan had a rare bit of good news to report to investors this spring: after two years of decline, revenue from room rentals went up 13 per cent in the first three months of 2018.

What caused the uptick at President Donald Trump’s flagship hotel in New York? One major factor: “a last-minute [visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia][1],” wrote general manager Prince A Sanders in a May 15 letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

Neither Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nor members of the royal family stayed at Trump’s hotel, Sanders said. He said the Trump hotel didn’t have suites big enough to accommodate them. But “due to our close industry relationships,” he wrote, “we were able to accommodate many of the accompanying travellers.”

The previously unreported letter — describing a five-day stay in March that was enough to boost the hotel’s revenue for the entire quarter — shows how little is known about the business that the president’s company does with foreign officials.

Such transactions have fuelled criticism that Trump is reaping revenue from foreign governments, even as he controls US foreign policy toward those countries. Trump’s company has disclosed few details about the business it does with foreign customers, saying it already reveals more than is required.

Neither Trump Organisation nor the Saudi embassy answered questions about whether the Saudi government paid for anyone’s stay at the hotel. Sanders did not respond to requests for comment.

For now, just a handful of foreign government clients at Trump properties have been publicly identified through media reports and statements from foreign officials.

But a broader list could eventually come out.

Last week, a federal judge in Maryland gave the go-ahead to a lawsuit alleging that by accepting government business at his properties, Trump is violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clauses” — dusty 18th-century measures meant to prevent presidents from putting their private bank accounts ahead of the public interest.

If it stands, the ruling could force the company to provide new details about its relationships with foreign governments, states and even federal agencies.

“This was how the Framers protected against corruption,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who filed the landmark suit along with DC Attorney General Karl A Racine, saying they intended for these answers to be public. “They wanted to make sure the president would put the country above himself.”

The Justice Department, which is representing Trump in his official capacity, has argued that the Founding Fathers only meant to stop presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments — not to stop presidents from conducting private business.

Frosh has said he believes the case could end up eventually before the Supreme Court. So far, neither the Justice Department nor Trump’s private attorney has said if they will appeal the decision.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump said he has given up day-to-day control over his businesses. But he still owns them and can withdraw money from them.

From the start of Trump’s administration, his company has said it sees nothing wrong with continuing to do business with foreign states.

“The renting of a hotel room from one of the Trump businesses is not correlated to President Trump’s performance of the duties of the Office of President,” Bobby R Burchfield, a Republican attorney that the Trump Organisation hired as an outside ethics adviser, wrote in a recent article in the Texas Review of Law & Politics.

Under pressure, the Trump Organisation agreed last year to donate profits from foreign government clients to the US Treasury. This year, it announced the amount of the donation for 2017: $151,470.

But it declined to say which foreign governments those profits had come from, or how much they had spent in total.

Officials with Trump’s DC hotel — the property that is the subject of the emoluments suit — have told The Post that they aren’t actively courting foreign business, but acknowledged they also are not turning it away.

The Embassy of Kuwait, for instance, has held its national day celebration twice at Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington.

This year, the Embassy of the Philippines also became a Trump customer, holding its Philippine independence day party in the Trump hotel’s ballroom. Trump has had warm relations with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, even as human-rights groups have condemned Duterte for a crackdown on drug users that has left thousands dead.

“Having it at a hotel that happens to have [Trump’s] name… it’s a statement,” Jose Manuel Romualdez, the Philippine ambassador to the United States, told Philippine TV station ABS-CBN during the event. “It’s a statement that we have a good relationship with this president.” He said the embassy chose Trump’s hotel as a venue, but private donors actually paid.

Such transactions have fuelled criticism that President Trump is reaping revenue from foreign governments, even as he controls US foreign policy toward those countries

Also, last year Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was spotted at Trump’s DC hotel, along with a sizable entourage, during an official trip to Washington. (Najib was later ousted in an election.)

And the Saudi government spent $270,000 at Trump’s DC hotel last year, according to filings by a lobbying firm acting on the Saudis’ behalf. Press reports indicated that the money paid for hotel rooms, food and parking for US veterans groups brought to the District of Columbia to lobby against a bill the Saudi government opposed.

Beyond that list, there have been other events at Trump properties that had some connection to foreign governments — but the source of payment is unclear.

Earlier this year, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida hosted part of a “Polish American Leadership Summit”, which was organised in part by Polish government ministries, according to the summit’s website. When The Post inquired about whether the Polish government had paid to rent the room, an embassy spokeswoman referred questions to the organisers of the event, who declined to comment.

In the case of the Saudi visit to New York earlier this year, a spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy said that none of Mohammed’s official travelling delegation stayed at Trump International Hotel in New York. But she said the Saudi embassy did not know if the Saudi government had paid for anyone else’s stay at the hotel during the crown prince’s visit.

The crown prince visited New York from March 26 to 30, as part of a longer, multicity American tour.

Although Trump’s hotel in Washington has prospered during his presidency, some other properties — further from the seat of power — have struggled. In New York, for instance, Trump’s hotel in SoHo lost business, and last year its owners cut ties with the Trump Organisation.

Trump International Hotel in Manhattan — the one remaining Trump-branded hotel in New York — saw room revenue drop from 2015 to 2017, according to figures obtained by The Post. So the Saudi visit was a welcome boost.

The DC and Maryland attorneys general hope to use their emoluments lawsuit as a kind of legal pry bar, cracking open the Trump Organisation’s secrecy about its customers.

In last week’s ruling, federal Judge Peter J Messitte sided with them in a long-running debate about what the Founding Fathers really meant when they banned presidents from taking “emoluments” from foreign states.

Messitte agreed that, in the modern context, this covered not just outright gifts from foreign states, but also regular business transactions — “even those involving services given at fair market value.”

Now — unless the ruling is overturned on appeal — that could allow the plaintiffs to ask the Trump Organisation for a list of those transactions. Their search would be limited to the Trump hotel in Washington, but the plaintiffs are clearly hoping that their victory will inspire other suits aimed at Trump’s properties in places like New York.

The case may also bring new scrutiny on the Trump Organisation’s business relationship with the US government, which owns the building that houses Trump’s DC hotel. Before he became president, Trump won a long-term lease to operate a hotel there.

Democrats in Congress say this relationship is now a separate kind of prohibited emolument — an unfair benefit given to Trump by his own government.

A clause in the lease says that “No… elected official of the Government of the United States… shall be admitted to any share or part” of the hotel’s ownership.

But, after Trump was in office, the General Services Administration ruled that he could still keep the lease.

That decision is now being probed by two independent inquiries, from the Government Accountability Office and the GSA’s inspector general. Messitte could allow the plaintiffs to seek information about the lease.

Georgetown University law professor John Mikhail, who has been studying the emoluments clauses, said these inquiries together could shatter the veil of privacy that Trump’s company has maintained — even while its owner is in the White House.

“He has very constantly refused to conform to well-established norms about conflict of interest and corruption and the appearance of corruption,” Mikhail said. “At some point in time he may be told by a court — you lose. You have to comply.”

—The Washington Post Service

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, August 6th, 2018

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