Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Punjab govt decides to remove Dr Umar Saif as PITB chairman

The Punjab government has decided to remove Dr Umar Saif as the chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), it emerged on Monday.

Talking to Dawn.com, Dr Saif confirmed that the government has approved a summary to replace him. No notification, however, has been issued in this regard as yet.

“It is the prerogative of the government to appoint anyone they wish,” he said.

“I have worked for the government for seven years. I hope they appoint someone who can take this forward.”

Dr Saif, who is also the vice-chancellor of Lahore’s Information Technology University (ITU), in a Facebook post said it had been his privilege to serve the country “for as long as I could”.

“I served 5 successive governments and established two institutions: PITB, which became the main reform engine for the government with over 300 projects in Punjab and other provinces, and ITU, which in just 5 years, became one of the premier technology universities of Pakistan with close to 100 PhD faculty members,” he wrote.

“In the end, I served for as long as I could — beyond provincial boundaries and political divides — and gave it all I had. I am sure those who come in future will take these institutions to new heights.”

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr Saif led projects such as Plan9, PlanX and Tech Hubb Connect at the PITB. Under his watch, the board also played a key role in digitalising the police department, land record and other departments of the Punjab government.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 12, 2018 at 4:25 pm

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Fawad Chaudhry thanks PPP, PML-N for ‘maturity’ in supporting govt over handling of protests

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, during a press talk in Lahore on Monday, said that all segments of the society — including those belonging to religious circles — had condemned the inciteful speeches and violence during recent protests held in reaction to the ,Supreme Court’s acquittal of Asia Bibi,.

He thanked the PML-N, PPP and other opposition parties for their “maturity” and their cooperation with the government on the matter.

“[The opposition parties] told the world that Pakistan is united,” the minister said.

He assured that action would be taken against those who destroyed public and private property during the three-day long protests.

He condemned elements who were “using religion for politics” and said that the Centre had ordered all provincial governments to submit details of the property damages incurred during the protests by tonight.

“The model of our government is [based on] the state of Madina,” said the information minister. “We have to give minorities, as well as other citizens, their constitutional rights.”

He referred to a video showing ,protesters looting a child selling bananas, on a push cart which had gone viral on social media, and questioned the moral standing of the demonstrators.

“The way they (protesters) pulled rickshaw drivers out [of their vehicles] and set fire to their rickshaws, mistreated women by dragging them out of their cars and setting the cars alight [shows] that they don’t have any moral values,” he said. “They wear the garb of religion, but they have no connection to religion.”

He vowed that the government would compensate every citizen who suffered losses due to the protests.

In response to a question, the information minister said that the government did not support censorship.

However, he expressed hope that social media channels would cooperate with the government to curb online hate speech and religious hatred.

Chaudhry said that while the government had a relationship with Facebook — that had taken actions against “hundreds of accounts” for spreading hate speech — there was no agreement with Twitter to monitor accounts that promote religious hatred.

Read more: ,Twitter threatened with shutdown in Pakistan,

The information minister further said that the police had arrested several people who were involved in rioting.

Chaudhry dismissed the criticism over the government’s ,deal with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP),, saying that the government only had two options: to end protests through negotiations or by using force.

“If we had used force, there would have been bloodshed,” he said, adding that the negotiating delegation should be “given credit” for arriving at a peaceful agreement. However, he said, the state will “have to look for a solution” to such occurrences.

“The state cannot allow few thousand people to get up and shut down cities whenever they want,” he asserted.

Last week, the top court had set aside Asia Bibi’s death sentence, declared her innocent and ordered her immediate release from prison, where she had been locked up for nearly nine years on blasphemy charges.

The verdict was followed by protests and sit-ins across the country by religio-political parties — most prominently the TLP — that continued for three days and disrupted everyday life and business activities.

The inciteful language used by protest leaders was condemned by Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as ministers, who vowed that the writ of the state would be upheld.

Late on Friday, the ,government reached an agreement with TLP,, in which it said that the state would “initiate legal process” to place Asia Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List. The government also assured the TLP that it would not contest the review petition filed against the acquittal. In turn, the TLP offered an apology if it “hurt the sentiments or inconvenienced anyone without reason”

Visit to China ‘as successful as Saudi trip’

The information minister said that ,Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China, had been “as successful as that to Saudi Arabia”.

He said that further details of the trip would be disclosed by the ministers of finance and planning upon the conclusion of the official visit.

He disclosed that it had been agreed that trade with China would be conducted in the Yuan instead of the US Dollar.

The PM is in China on a four-day visit to review the entire range of bilateral relations and to participate in the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 5, 2018 at 7:25 pm

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Appeasement to avoid bloodshed sends a dangerous message to non-state actors: Mazari

A day after religio-political parties ,called off their protests, against the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict in the Asia Bibi case after ,an agreement with the government,, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari via Twitter on Sunday highlighted the dangers of “appeasing non-state actors”.

The minister shared her thoughts on how ,”appeasement historically never works”,, citing the example of the 1938 Munich pact in which Britain and France told Nazi Germany they would not object to its annexation of parts of the former Czechoslovakia.

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“Appeasement to avoid ‘bloodshed’ in a war-weary Europe led to massive bloodshed and destruction in the form of World War II,” Mazari said.

The Munich agreement was one of a number of pacts signed between 1934-39 to appease Nazis. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed on August 23, 1939 ? a non-aggression agreement between Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union ? also contained a secret agreement between the two countries to carve up Poland. It led to the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, widely regarded as the start of World War II.

She added: “Appeasement to ‘avoid bloodshed’ sends a dangerous message to non-state actors and undermines the very concept of democratic, peaceful protest.”

“The state has to enforce rule of law, Constitution and stand by state institutions, especially when they are targeted.”

Mazari said that “despite sceptics and beyond despondency”, she trusted Prime Minister Imran Khan to deliver on his commitments to the rule of law, Constitution and defence of state institutions, “as well as to human rights guaranteed in the Constitution ? not just in the present situation, but also on issues like enforced disappearances.”

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The protests which began on Oct 30, the day the ,SC judgement on Asia Bibi’s appeal, was announced, continued across the country for three days.

The protests finally cleared up on Saturday after an agreement was struck, in which the government conceded to “initiate the legal process” to place Asia Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List, refrain from opposing a review petition against the SC judgement in the case, and agreed to redress any deaths that may have occurred during the protests and release those taken into custody in connection with the sit-in.

Read more: ,TLP ends protest after deal with government,

Twitter refused to block TLP chief’s account

Notable political commentator and author Ayesha Siddiqa posed a question to the human rights minister wondering whether her ministry had gotten in touch with Facebook and Twitter to block the social media accounts associated with Tehreek-i-Labbaik chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who had largely spearheaded the protests against the SC verdict.

Mazari responded that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had been “asked to do this by the relevant minister on Friday, and I am shocked it hasn’t happened”.

She added: “Just checked with the information minister, who was informed that Twitter refusing our request.”

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 4, 2018 at 10:25 am

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Creative Chaos CEO steps down over discrimination against hijab-wearing employee

The chief executive officer of a Karachi-based software house was asked to resign on Friday after a newly recruited female employee was told to either stop wearing her hijab at work or leave.

The incident came to light through a Facebook post which detailed how the female recruit, just a few days into her employment with Creative Chaos, was told by her line manager that she could keep her job only if she would take off her hijab.

The said person told Dawn.com that the implication was that her wearing the hijab would spoil the company’s image as an “all-embracing” workplace.

Read: ,Hijab — a hurdle for a job?,

The discriminatory policy was reportedly defended in a meeting of the affected employee with the company’s CEO, Jawwad Kadir, who, the woman claims, refused to make the demand in writing but pushed her to resign, even recommending her two Islamic banks as possible alternatives.

The victim says that she was also warned not to consider legal options against the company.

After the Facebook post narrating the incident went viral and drew sharp criticism on social media, Kadir publicly confirmed that the incident had indeed taken place, and also issued an apology.

“Yesterday, a senior member of our staff asked a colleague to resign on unprofessional and unethical grounds,” admitted Kadir. “She was told that her obligations may come in the way of her performance.

“Not only is this action disgraceful but shows extremely poor moral judgement by her hiring manager. I take full responsibility for this failure and am deeply ashamed that a colleague was put through distress and trauma.”

Apology shared by Creative Chaos on Facebook.

Apology shared by Creative Chaos on Facebook.

Read: ,Guard who denied women entry to Punjab secretariat ‘for not wearing dupatta’ issued show cause notice,

Kadir, in his public apology, stated that the manager responsible had been suspended and a transparent inquiry ordered. Moreover, he said that the victim has been asked to withdraw her resignation and resume her job.

However, his initial statement made no mention of the employee’s claim that he himself had also asked her to resign on the controversial grounds.

Later in the evening, the software house in a Facebook post said Kadir had been asked to step down “for workplace discrimination”.

In an email sent to board members and associates, titled “My apology is not enough”, Kadir said he was resigning as CEO of the software house.

“I have crossed a line which I deeply regret,” Kadir wrote in the email, a copy of which was provided to Dawn.com by a source.

“I have jeopardised the image of Creative Chaos and tarnished its reputation due to my inability to act in accordance with the ethos of [the company] and moral code of human decency,” he added. “The buck stops at the CEO.”

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - October 20, 2018 at 1:25 am

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20 men jailed for sexual abuse of teenage girls in northern England

Twenty men have been jailed for raping and abusing more than a dozen girls in a northern England town, in what a judge called a “vile and wicked” campaign of exploitation.

The men in the town of Huddersfield were found guilty in three trials this year, but the verdicts could not be reported until a judge lifted reporting restrictions on Friday.

The cases are the latest in a series of prosecutions in northern English towns and cities for child sexual exploitation involving British Asian men of mostly Pakistani heritage.

The men were accused of being part of a gang that groomed vulnerable girls described in court as from “isolated” backgrounds and were convicted of more than 120 offences against 15 victims aged between 11 and 17.

This undated handout photo shows, top row from left, Nasarat Hussain, Sajid Hussain, Faisal Nadeem, Mohammed Azeem, Wiqas Mahmud, and bottom row from left, Manzoor Hassan, Niaz Ahmed, Mohammed Imran Ibrar, Asif Bashir and Mohammed Akram, ten of the twenty men jailed in Huddersfield, England. — West Yorkshire Police via AP

This undated handout photo shows, top row from left, Nasarat Hussain, Sajid Hussain, Faisal Nadeem, Mohammed Azeem, Wiqas Mahmud, and bottom row from left, Manzoor Hassan, Niaz Ahmed, Mohammed Imran Ibrar, Asif Bashir and Mohammed Akram, ten of the twenty men jailed in Huddersfield, England. — West Yorkshire Police via AP

Prosecutors said the victims were plied with alcohol and drugs before being sexually abused by the men at parties and in cars, parking lots, a snooker centre and a fast-food restaurant.

Amere Singh Dhaliwal, whom prosecutors said was the gang’s ringleader, was found guilty of 22 counts of rape and sentenced earlier this year to a minimum of 18 years in prison. The judge told him that “the way you treated these girls defies understanding.”

“This abuse was vile and wicked,” judge Geoffrey Marson said as he passed sentence at Leeds Crown Court.

The other men received sentences of between five and 18 years in prison.

The cases in Huddersfield, Rochdale and other towns in which most of the victims were white have heightened ethnic tensions in Britain and spurred criticism of local authorities, who failed to protect vulnerable girls, and of police, who often did not listen to the victims.

In August, a UK appeals court had ,upheld a government decision, to strip three men of citizenship who were convicted of grooming girls for sex. They now face deportation to Pakistan.

Far-right figures have used the crimes to argue that “Muslim grooming gangs” pose a particular threat to Britain.

Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, was jailed for contempt of court in May after broadcasting live on Facebook outside the trial of some of the Huddersfield gang, breaching reporting restrictions.

Police statistics in Britain show that most offenders in child exploitation cases are white men, and most of the abuse takes place online, at home or in institutions such as schools.

But former prosecutor Nazir Afzal, who has brought many abusers to trial, says Pakistani men are disproportionately involved in the sort of street grooming seen in recent high-profile cases.

He says that reflects the high number of South Asian men working for taxi firms and takeaway restaurants in the late-night economy, as well as their widespread sexist attitudes about women.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - at 1:25 am

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Guard who denied women entry to Punjab secretariat ‘for not wearing dupatta’ issued show cause notice

Responding to claims that she had issued orders to bar women not wearing a dupatta from entering the Ministers Block of the Punjab Civil Secretariat, Punjab Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid on Friday denied the allegation and said the guard who made that claim had been issued a show-cause notice and was being investigated.

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The provincial minister for primary and secondary healthcare said the allegation was “quite absurd indeed”.

Prior to the clarification, reports had been circulating on social media that some women not wearing a dupatta were prevented from entering the building by a security guard, who claimed that he was required to do so by Dr Rashid.

On Twitter, a woman shared a video of her encounter with the security of the Minister’s Block of the Punjab Civil Secretariat, where she said she had gone after hearing that women were not being allowed to enter without a dupatta.

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In the video, the guard claimed that a woman had come to meet Dr Yasmin Rashid wearing “a certain type of dress”, “after which she [Dr Rashid] had given orders that from next time, no one without a dupatta would be allowed entry”.

When asked if the orders were issued in writing, the guard had claimed that they were “verbal orders”.

The guard also claimed that another minister had also said that “you have eyes and should stop ‘them’ [women in 'inappropriate' dressing] from entering the offices so that every man does not look at ‘them’ in a certain way.”

When the woman in the video insisted that there was nothing objectionable about her outfit, the guard claimed that this was not his decision and the rules had been changed only a few days ago.

The woman then asked if she was required to wear the dupatta around her neck or on her head, to which the guard responded that if she did not want to cover her head, she could wear it as a sash.

She again asked him if there was a written order regarding these instructions, to which he said there was no written order, and that the security had been told that “if we see something we have to be careful”.

When the woman made it clear that she did not have a dupatta, the guard initially asked her if he wanted her to arrange one for him, then relented and issued her a visitor’s pass before walking away.

This video was shared on Friday by a user on ,Facebook,, who said it had been recorded by her aunt. It was not clear when it was shot.

Another user, Noor Imran, had shared a similar experience on Twitter on Oct 16, claiming that she was refused entry to a government building because she wasn’t wearing a dupatta.

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In subsequent tweets, she added: “My colleague with me had a headscarf and a dupatta [and] lent me hers to enter. I threw it on my shoulder and told her to let me go now. She [the guard] then said, “Cover your head with it”. I was like why? I have a dupatta now! And I walked off.”

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She updated the Twitter thread on Thursday saying two of her colleagues had visited the same place again, and one who had a dupatta but did not have her head covered was stopped and asked to cover her head.

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According to Imran, the colleague said she had entered without it the day before and asked why she had to cover her head today.

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Imran said on Twitter that, “I was told this is a rule for the entire minister’s block”.

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The PTI also tweeted a denial about reports alleging that the minister was responsible for the orders.

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“One should not hurl any blame/allegation without concrete evidence. You may report the incident to concerned authorities,” they wrote.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - at 1:25 am

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Three detained for running banned outfits’ web pages

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday arrested three ‘activists’ of banned outfits for allegedly operating web pages of their respective organisations on social media, Dawn has learnt.

According to FIA officials, the arrested people are members of a network operating the web pages of the banned outfits for the last couple of years and are affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Tehreek-i-Jafaria Pakistan (TJP). They have been booked in three separate cases under various sections of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act and Anti-Terrorism Act.

Two of the arrested men affiliated with the TJP are residents of Rawalpindi and Taxila, while the third belonging to LeJ lives in Islamabad.

The arrests came as a result of an inquiry initiated by the FIA’s Counter Terrorism Wing in June last year after cyber activities of the banned outfits were spotted on social media. The FIA officials said internet protocol (IP) addresses, mobile phone numbers and email addresses attached with social media pages and used while operating the pages had been put under surveillance.

FIA says the suspects belonging to LeJ, TJP have been booked under various sections of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act and Anti-Terrorism Act

They said the investigators during the inquiry also got assistance from the administrators of social media websites, including Facebook. Moreover, they added, investigation agencies of a few other countries were also approached for assistance.

As a result of more than one year’s surveillance on their e-activities and inquiry, the officials said, the FIA identified these three persons who were operating the banned outfits’ pages on social media, claiming that the agency had sufficient evidence against them for their involvement in such activities. They said efforts were under way to trace their other accomplices.

The accused were operating the pages of the proscribed organisations through their Facebook accounts, the FIA officials said, adding that they were found involved in “disseminating, glorifying and advancing the objectives of the proscribed organisations”.

They said the FIA had launched further investigations to identify and determine the role of the persons who had provided internet connection and other technical assistance to the accused. The cases have been registered against them under sections 9, 10-A and ATA 9, 11F and 11W of PECA.

Section 10 of PECA has also been included in the case registered against the accused affiliated with LeJ.

A senior FIA official told Dawn that there were 75 banned outfits in the country and 36 of them were active on social media as their activists were operating the pages. The arrested persons, he said, were spreading ideology of their banned outfits through social media and hatred against other sects.

The official claimed that the three accused were also registering members, supporters and activists through social media pages, adding that the status of the followers of these pages was also being verified and action against them would be taken, if required.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - October 16, 2018 at 7:25 am

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Robbery, attempted kidnapping incidents involving Careem captains reported in Karachi

Ride-hailing service Careem is in hot water after two separate incidents of robbery and attempted kidnapping allegedly by its captains were reported on social media in the last 24 hours.

On Wednesday, a female customer, Syeda Alina Saeed, narrated her ordeal on Facebook, saying that she had escaped a kidnapping attempt by a Careem captain on Sept 24 near Korangi Creek, Karachi. Saeed claimed that the driver continued towards the deserted road of Korangi Creek despite her protests and started throwing things at her.

She managed to get out of the car after pulling the handbrake, which slowed down the car and distracted the driver. However, the captain followed her out and tried to attack her physically, which resulted in bruises on her arms. After some cars stopped to inquire about the incident, the driver claimed that the woman had not paid the fare, said Saeed in her post.

Following the incident, ,Saeed posted screenshots, of an email exchange with Careem in which she mentioned the details of the attempted kidnapping as well as the driver. The company, replying to her email, assured Saeed that the captain was no longer working with the cab-hailing service. Saeed in her post said that she would lodge a first information report (FIR) of the incident.

A second complaint appeared on a Facebook group Soul Sisters Pakistan on Thursday by a member who posted on behalf of her friend — who claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint by one of the company’s driver a day earlier.

According to the post, the victim had booked a ride on Wednesday evening and was driven to a sparsely populated area where the Careem captain allegedly robbed her at gunpoint.

“He took all her cash and snatched her phone ‘deleted’ the Careem app [...] and returned the phone back to her,” the post read, adding that the incident took place in DHA. The user claimed that the captain then dropped her friend off at her destination. The post, however, did not mention if the customer had informed the police about the incident.

Speaking about the incident to Dawn.com, a Careem spokesperson said that the company was looking into the matter. She said that the customer, who had allegedly been robbed, had not reached out to Careem herself and the authorities had found out about the incident from social media.

The spokesperson further said that the company had gotten in touch with the customer and was getting more details about the incident. If the captain was found guilty, the spokesperson said, he would be blocked from the Careem network.

When asked if the company would approach law enforcement agencies, the spokesperson said that registering a case with the police would be the customer’s decision, adding the Careem security and legal team would assist by providing the evidence gathered by the company to the police.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 27, 2018 at 12:25 pm

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Pakistani women selected for Facebook’s leadership programme

KARACHI: For Kanwal Ahmed, Soul Sisters Paki­stan (SSP) — a Facebook group she started five years ago — was just an idea she developed for herself and the women around her.

However, around two months ago, things changed when Facebook got in touch with her with two opportunities — the first, a fellowship in the first global Facebook community leadership programme; and second, the social media giant’s initiative for entrepreneurs in collaboration with ‘Idea Croron Ka’— which is a reality show on Neo TV that gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their ideas to potential investors.

Joining Ms Ahmed on the reality show segment are five other women from Pakistan — Binish Umair and Ishroon Nazish who run the Karachi Schools Guide group on Facebook, Saba Mohsin Shaikh of Karachi Chefs at Home, Marham’s Asma Omer, Rabia Aziz-Rizvi of Special Needs Pakistan and Nadia Patel Gangjee of Sheops.

Ms Gangjee will also be participating with the SSP’s founder in the Facebook leadership programme.

“As per the Facebook leadership programme, I will be working with Facebook on developing my leadership skills and vision for SSP that will be backed with some funding from Facebook,” Ms Ahmed said.

Discussing the ‘Idea Croron Ka’, Ms Ahmed (who has more than 83,000 women on her group) explained that the social media giant had handpicked a few online community groups from Pakistan and asked the group admins what they would do with the funding. In the latest season, these women would have the opportunity to share their vision and each of them would receive a grant of up to $20,000.

“We’ve been inspired by the many positive stories of what happens when people come together to support each other – from women entrepreneurs and school teachers to families with special needs. That’s why we’re committed to helping Pakistanis build community and are delighted to be announcing this partnership with Idea Croron Ka,” said Clair Deevy, APAC Director of Community Affairs at Facebook.

Support groups

Talking to Dawn about SSP, Ms Ahmed said: “I wanted us to be able to express ourselves freely without the fear of being judged in a society that often silences our voices. Growth was never the aim. But amplifying our voices always was. So for me, the fact that SSP is finally getting the opportunity to develop this way is both exciting and motivating.”

For Ms Aziz-Rizvi of the Special Needs Pakistan community, her group reaches out to people from all over the world.

“We have members who have differently abled children, siblings, parents, members who want to learn more about syndromes, diseases and special education even members who just want to learn how to be compassionate, tolerant and kind,” she said.

“The group started in 2013 after I gave birth to my daughter Aaliya, who was born with Apert Syndrome. There was no guidance, no support group and no one to understand my anguish. I realised how many mothers and families must be struggling just to keep themselves sane from the chaos of the medical dilemmas. So I started to blog about my daughter, her experiences, hospital traumas, her journey and how people treated her. My Apert Rose started a movement of followers on Facebook and ever since I’ve been writing,” she added.

Binish Umair’s random idea led her and her friend Ishroon Nazish to start Karachi School Guide about four years ago when Ms Umair was looking for a school for her child.

“In the first year we had about 200 new members every month but now we have 97,000 members. We don’t just look at schools but also parenting issues, teachers share their problems with us and we also have school managements on board. The group acts as a bridge between parents, students, schools and tutors,” she said on Tuesday.

Talking about Sheops — which started out as a small Whatsapp group but now has 150,000 members — Ms Gangjee said: “When I started Sheops I never thought it would go this far, go international and partner with companies like Facebook.

“Sheops is Pakistan’s first online women’s marketplace and community facilitating women entrepreneurs and women-oriented businesses, to start and scale their businesses leveraging technology; via a safe, bespoke platform. We also train and assist stay-at-home women to monetise their talents, turning them into a business, in effect increasing digital and financial inclusion of women,” she added.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 26, 2018 at 6:25 am

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Rohingya crisis: Myanmar jails Reuters reporters for 7 years for breaching state secrets law

Two Reuters journalists accused of ,breaching Myanmar’s state secrets law, during their reporting of a massacre of Rohingya Muslims were jailed for seven years on Monday, drawing outrage over the attack on media freedom and calls for their immediate release.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who have been held in Yangon’s Insein prison since their arrest in December, were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, a draconian British colonial-era law which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.

The case has sparked an outcry among the international community as an attempt to muzzle reporting on last year’s crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces on the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

The army-led “clearance operations” drove 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying with them widespread accounts of atrocities — rape, murder and arson — by Myanmar security forces.

The reporters denied the charges, insisting they were set up while exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine village of Inn Din in September last year.

They said they were arrested after being invited to dinner by police in Yangon who handed them documents. As they left the restaurant, the pair were detained for possessing classified material.

Judge Ye Lwin was unmoved by their testimony. “It is found that the culprits intended to harm the interests of the state. And so they have been found guilty under the state secrets act,” he told the packed Yangon court.

“They are sentenced to seven years in prison each.”

As they were led to the waiting prison van the handcuffed duo, both Myanmar nationals, gave brief but emotional statements on the court steps.

“The government can detain us in the prison but… don’t close the ears and eyes of the people,” Kyaw Soe Oo said.

Wa Lone who gave a defiant “thumbs up” to the masssed ranks of reporters, said “we will face it (the verdict) with stability and courage.”

‘Crimes against humanity’

Defence lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said that an appeal would be lodged “as soon as possible” against the verdict which Reuters denounced as based on “false charges”.

“Today is a sad day for Myanmar… and the press everywhere,” Stephen J.

Adler, Reuters Editor-in-Chief, said in a statement, adding that the outcome was “designed to silence their reporting and intimidate the press”.

The army has published its version of events at Inn Din village, conceding the Rohingya men were killed while in custody but saying it was a one-off act of abuse by a mix of security forces and ethnic Rakhine locals.

Monday’s ruling comes a week after the release of an explosive United Nations-led study into abuses in Rakhine, accusing Myanmar’s army chief of heading up a campaign of “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” against the Rohingya.

It also strongly criticised de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to use moral authority to stand up for the stateless minority.

The same day, Facebook pulled down the pages of Myanmar’s army chief Min Aung Hlaing and other military top brass, in what the company said was a bid to prevent them from further fanning “ethnic and religious tensions”.

As calls for Myanmar’s military leaders to face an international tribunal mount, they have remained defiant, insisting last year’s crackdown was a proportionate response to attacks by Rohingya militants.

Suu Kyi’s reputation as a defender of human rights has been eviscerated by her refusal to speak out against the military for its handling of the Rohingya crisis or in support of the jailed reporters.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 3, 2018 at 8:25 am

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Cabinet forms six bodies to execute reforms agenda

ISLAMABAD: In a move to implement ,its 100-day plan of ‘change’,, the federal cabinet on Tuesday set up six committees to introduce reforms in different sectors and to carve out a new province from Punjab, besides appointing the Intelligence Bureau (IB) director general and the head of National Counterterrorism Authority (Nacta).

The cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, also decided to expedite the process of the merger of the erstwhile Federally Admin­istered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The cabinet decided to appoint Nacta chairman Dr Mohammad Suleman Khan (a grade-22 officer of the police service) as IB director general, while commandant of the National Police Academy Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak, also a grade 22 officer, has been appointed as Nacta chairman in his place.

Forming a task force for the creation of a new province, the government decided to hold negotiations with two major opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — in an attempt to seek the support of a two-thirds majority in the national and Punjab assemblies for necessary legislation in this regard.

While briefing the media about the decisions taken at the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the task force for the new province in southern Punjab would have Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Federal Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiyar as its members. “Both Mr Qureshi and Mr Bakhtiyar will soon meet leaders of N-League and the PPP to seek their support for the passage of legislation required for the creation of the new province.”

New Nacta, IB chiefs appointed; two ministers to seek PPP, PML-N support for a new province

Mr Chaudhry said the creation of a new province was part of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf manifesto. He added that the task force was formed to seek recommendations how significant progress could be achieved during the first 100 days of the PTI-led coalition government.

Another task force was formed on National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law reforms with main focus to retrieve national wealth laundered to other countries. Another task force constituted on Criminal Procedure Code reforms was asked to give its recommendations within 90 days to address the problems being faced by anti-terrorism courts.

Other task forces were set up for introducing austerity measures, reforms in civil services /federal government restructuring, civil laws and the health sector.

One of the important decisions made in the meeting was that the government would not remove any official working on a contractual basis.

The information minister said the prime minister would review performance of the task forces every fortnight.

Regarding China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the minister said that Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiyar would soon give a detailed briefing to the prime minister on CPEC projects.

About providing jobs to 10 million people, the minister said the government would not induct 10m people in its departments but would create opportunities where eligible people could apply. He said the government’s adviser for austerity would oversee reforms in the planning department and also make reforms in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

Mr Chaudhry said Law Minister Farogh Nasim would work on NAB laws to suggest amendments to make the bureau more effective. He said necessary amendments would also be made to civil laws to address women inheritance issues and delay in decision of cases.

About a task force to retrieve laundered money from off-shore banks, the minister said NAB prosecutor Shahzad Akbar was heading the task force.

“Mr Akbar has recently visit London and met concerned British officials to get details properties and assets made by Pakistanis there. He will present its report to the prime minister within two weeks,” he disclosed.

The minister said Arbab Shehzad had been assigned the task of early materialisation of Fata’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said the government would launch a countrywide tree plantation campaign on Sept 2.

PTI govt, army relations

Responding to a question about PTI-led government’s relation with the army, Mr Chuadhry said both were on the same page. “They are not only on the same page but in the same book,” he said in a lighter vein.

The information minister believed that the newly appointed Nacta chairman, Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak, would make the authority a more vibrant and effective organisation.

Adviser to prime minister on climate change Amin Aslam said a total of 192 different points would be established in the country, where saplings would be given to the people free of cost for plantation. “The prime minister will initiate this project here in Islamabad, while the chief ministers will lead the campaign in their respective provinces,” he explained.

In this regard, he said, the provincial governments had been invited to discuss their targets with the Centre.

The adviser said plants pick-up points would be identified through a Facebook page that was being created. “The page will tell people that from where they can collect plants,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 29, 2018 at 8:25 am

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Federal cabinet discusses creating 10m job opportunities, building 5m houses

The federal cabinet met on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad where it discussed the formation of task forces to tackle the matter of creating 10 million jobs and building 5 million houses, as promised by the incumbent government in its 100-day plan.

The meeting also reviewed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the prime minister will soon be given a detailed presentation on the various CPEC projects, ,Radio Pakistan, reported.

Later, briefing media persons about the decisions taken during the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the task forces will complete their working on the matters and present their plan in 90-days’ time.

“The prime minister will also review the performance of these task forces after every 15 days,” Chaudhry said.

Answering a question about how more jobs will be created, Chaudhry said the government will not employ unnecessary help in its own departments, “that is not how you create jobs, our task is to create opportunities where eligible people can apply, that is what the task force is working on.”

Reformation of laws

“Government reforms are an important matter and under which civil service reforms hold a high degree of importance. Our adviser for austerity has been tasked with presenting federal government reforms within 90 days,” the minister said.

“He will also be overseeing reforms in the planning department. A large amount of money goes into Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for which he [the austerity adviser] will be bringing in reforms,” he added.

The minister also said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws will be amended to make the body more effective and that Law Minister Farogh Nasim will work on this matter.

“Necessary amendments will also be introduced in civil laws to address women inheritance issues and delay in decision of cases,” he added.

Plan for south Punjab province and integration of Fata

The cabinet also touched upon the matter of forming a separate province in southern Punjab, Chaudhry said. “PTI government will hold talks with the PPP, PML-N and other parties to draft a ‘workable plan’ for the creation of a province in south Punjab,” Chaudhry told the media.

“Creating a province is no small task. We will need consensus and a two-thirds majority for which we will begin talks with the PPP and PML-N,” the information minister maintained.

He also said that Arbab Shehzad has been assigned the task of early materialisation of the Fata merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

10-billion tree tsunami drive launched

The information minister said the government will hold ‘Plant for Pakistan Day’ on September 2, where 1.5 million saplings will be planted all over the country.

Climate Change Adviser Aslam briefed the media about the initiative and said that the drive was an important step “to save Pakistan from becoming a desert.”

“The prime minister will initiate this project here in Islamabad while the chief ministers will lead it in their respective provinces,” Aslam said.

“All provincial governments have been called in to discuss their targets with us and hopefully all those targets will be achieved on the day of the drive,” Aslam told the media persons.

The adviser briefed that the government was creating 190 points all over the country where the forest department will work with the municipal administration.

“There will be pick-up points, [which will be identified through] a Facebook page that is being created. This page will tell people that from where they can collect plants and who will provide them,” the adviser said while expressing hope that all Pakistanis will take part in the campaign.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 28, 2018 at 10:26 pm

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Attack on Ahmadi worship place: Fake social media posts spurred violence in Ghaseetpura

FAISALABAD: Unbridled unauthenticated fake posts on social media created problems for the police to maintain ,the law and order in Ghaseetpura, in the Balochni police area that witnessed an attack on Ahmadi worship place on Thursday.

Scores of such posts were seen on social media which claimed that seven Muslims were killed by the firing of the Ahmadi community and others were injured while police were not providing security to the Muslims. However, not a single casualty has been reported or confirmed by any government institutes like hospitals, Rescue 1122, police and other law enforcement agencies. But the social media worked like fuel to the fire and played a major part in fanning the emotions of the Muslims who did not know the reality.

Meanwhile, sensing the situation of the area, SSP (operations) Haider Sultan has been tasked with ensuring all the preventive measures and picketing and patrol in the area to avert any further untoward incident. Besides, a six-member team of police, headed by the SSP (investigation), has been formed to supervise investigation into the incident which is stated to be the result of a feud between the Ahmadi and Muslims in Ghaseetpura. Eighteen people were injured in the violence. The SP Jaranwala, SP legal, DSP Khurrianwala, DSP organised crime and SHO Sargodha Road Police Station are members of the committee.

The SHO Sargodha Road has been appointed as investigating officer in the case as only an inspector can investigate the case registered under section of 7-ATA and Balochni SHO is a sub-inspector. The police booked about 200 people from both the communities.

The violence in Ghaseetpura had started following a cockfight as two Muslim guys had allegedly hit the rooster of an Ahmadi man.

“We had to struggle on two fronts – Ghaseetpura and social media–and frankly speaking provocative posts of the social media were very tough to tackle. The posts claimed that the Ahmadi community had gunned down the Muslims,” a police officer, requesting anonymity, told Dawn. He said one could independently check that the issue had nothing to do with religion, rather it was a pure personal dispute which was given a religious colour.

The officer said monitor and control of the social media, particularly the posts related to religious issues, for social harmony, were the need of the hour. He suggested strict action against the persons involved in fake social media posts irrespective of their religion as they provoked the people, causing irreparable loss to society.

“We have forwarded some posts of social media to the concerned quarters to check such posts as claimed deaths of the Muslims in the clash though till date no death had occurred and people had sustained minor injuries,” the police officer said.

Ahtshamul Haq, a human rights activist, said we had no check on social media, especially facebook, where pages had launched for spreading wrong information and even misquoting the Hadiths and sayings. He said such pages must be blocked by bringing their administrators to the book.

He said in this case of Ahmadi-Muslim communities clash scores of fake posts were shared by some elements to instigate the people against each other which brought a bad name for the image of Pakistan. He added that it was the prime responsibility of the government to ensure free and fair investigation into the incident, bringing the culprits to the book.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 27, 2018 at 6:25 am

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Multiple rockets hit Afghan capital, clashes underway: officials

Multiple rockets hit near the diplomatic area in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on early Tuesday, as officials said fighting broke out between security forces and militants in the city’s old quarter.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the assault, which came as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was making a speech marking the first day of the Eidul Azha, days after offering the Taliban a conditional three-month ceasefire.

An Afghan army helicopter swooped in low over the street near the Eidgah Mosque in a central district of the city and fired a rocket on a militant position, sending a plume of dust into the sky.

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish confirmed that militants had taken over a building near the mosque and fired several rockets.

“Two people have been wounded. Security forces are fighting the terrorists,” he told AFP.

People who moments earlier had been buying livestock for the Eid feast could be seen sprinting for shelter as cars swerved in the road to flee the fighting. Blasts and gunfire could be heard as security forces cordoned off the area.

The attackers appeared to be in a building behind the mosque, which was partially destroyed in another attack several years earlier and is not believed to have been in use for Eid.

A heavy security presence could also be seen near the Kabul Stadium.

Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said fighting began around 9:00 am, and that multiple rockets had been fired on at least two areas of Kabul. He said he could not confirm casualties as yet.

“Some attackers have taken a position behind the Eidgah mosque of Kabul city. The police forces are at the scene, and the area is blocked by forces. An operation has been launched to arrest or gun the attackers down,” he said.

The mosque is located relatively near the presidential palace, where Ghani was speaking. The sound of a blast could be heard in the background as his speech was aired live on Facebook.

Islamabad condemns the attack

Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the rocket attack near the Afghan presidential palace, stating that targeting innocent people on the religious feast “depicts a defeated mindset”.

The prime minister expressed his complete support to the Afghan government as well as Afghan people.

Earlier in the day, the Foreign Office had also denounced the attack.

FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal had taken to Twitter to say: “Pakistan condemns reports of attacks at the Afghan presidential palace. Such incidents, especially at the joyous occasion of Eid, are more reprehensible.”

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Ghani’s ceasefire offer

Ghani had unveiled hus government’s latest ceasefire gambit during an Independence Day address late Sunday, saying security forces would observe the truce beginning this week — but only if the militants reciprocated.

The truce offer was welcomed by the United States and Nato after nearly 17 years of war, but the Taliban have yet to respond.

The move followed an extraordinarily violent week in Afghanistan that saw that Taliban storm the provincial capital of Ghazni — just a two-hour drive from Kabul — and press the fight against security forces across the country, with estimates suggesting hundreds of people may have been killed.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 21, 2018 at 11:25 am

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

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

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

Guests are seen at the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

Guests are seen at the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

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

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

COAS Gen Bajwa meets guests.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UN chief extends felicitations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The work begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 18, 2018 at 1:26 pm

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‘Slapping’ of citizen: PTI MPA Imran Ali Shah suspended until disciplinary committee takes final decision

After a video of newly elected Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MPA Imran Ali Shah physically assaulting a citizen drew ire on social media, the party’s Sindh president Firdaus Shamim Naqvi clarified that the under-fire lawmaker’s party membership will remain suspended until their provincial disciplinary committee reviews the matter and takes a final decision.

“The party membership of Imran Shah will remain suspended until a final decision is made on this matter,” Naqvi is quoted as saying by the party’s Karachi media department. “We received his response, which was forwarded to the disciplinary committee. The final decision will be in accordance with whatever the committee recommends.”

“In the Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan) of Imran Khan there will be one law for the powerful and weak,” Naqvi added.

Naqvi’s clarification was in contrast to the party’s earlier statement saying that contrary to ,media reports,, Shah had not been suspended.

In that statement, which was shared with DawnNewsTV, the party also said that Shah had sought 24 hours more to submit his response to the committee.

Shah, who was elected from Karachi’s PS-129 constituency, was caught on video slapping a man multiple times during a heated argument in the middle of a road. The video showed Shah accompanied by his armed guards who also threatened the man.

Party leadership had also taken notice of the incident and issued a show-cause notice to the MPA-elect, while Naqvi had tweeted that he had launched a probe into the incident.

Shah had subsequently posted a video apologising for “hurting anyone’s feelings”, and insisting that he had only “pushed” the man, even though the clip circulated on the internet had showed him raising his hand and hitting the man multiple times.

Shah further said that he had stepped out of his car after he saw the man “repeatedly hitting a poor man’s car” and added that he “could not stand back and watch ‘injustice’ take place like this”.

On Wednesday, Shah posted a video apparently on his own Twitter account showing him hugging a man identified as ‘Dawood’, and looking apologetic. In another tweet, Shah posted pictures with the man as well.

PTI Spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry tweeted today that the party had referred the matter to the PTI Sindh Chapter. “They’ll inquire into the issue and if needed appropriate action will be taken,” he added.

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‘Would he have apologised if my father was not friends with PTI leaders?’

Meanwhile, Facebook page ,It’s all about Pakistan, posted a statement attributed to Dawood’s son questioning the writ of the state.

The statement claimed that Dawood was a senior additional director of the Civil Aviation Authority and a friend of PTI MPA Firdaus Naqvi and MNA Najeeb Haroon. Haroon and Shah were on the same PTI panel (NA-256, PS-129) in the July 25 elections.

The post questioned if Shah would have still visited Dawood and offered an apology “if he was not the friend of Firdous Shamim sahab and Najeeb Haroon sahab”.

The post referred to Shah’s apology video, saying that even if Dawood had “bumped into another car and that man and my father exchanged some words”, he had still not launched a physical attack.

The statement clarified that Dawood did not associate Shah’s actions with PTI, but went on to criticise the lack of action by law enforcing authorities.

It also asked users if they would have “accepted the apology” had the man been their father.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 16, 2018 at 9:25 pm

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106 die in Kerala floods as Indian state faces ‘extremely grave’ crisis

Hundreds of troops led a desperate operation to rescue families trapped by mounting floods in India’s Kerala state Thursday as the death toll reached 106 with nearly 150,000 left homeless.

Helicopters airlifted stranded victims from rooftops and dam gates were thrown open as incessant torrential rain brought fresh havoc to the southern state that is a major international tourist draw.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state now faces an “extremely grave” crisis with more downpours predicted. The region’s main airport has been ordered closed until August 26.

The state, famed for palm-lined beaches at resorts such as Bekal and tea plantations, is always battered by the annual monsoon but this year’s damage has been the worst in almost a century.

The death toll had jumped to 106 late Thursday, a state disaster management official told AFP.

Media reports said up to 30 more people were feared dead in landslides and rivers that burst their banks, flooding scores of villages.

At least eight people were killed when an irrigation dam burst and a landslide hit three houses in the town of Nenmara, Palakkad district, authorities said.

Vijayan said 80 dams have reached danger levels and appealed to the population not to ignore evacuation orders.

Army and coastguard helicopters, lifeboats and navy diving teams have been brought to the stricken state where an extra 540 troops were deployed on Thursday.

More are due in coming days.

The army said helicopters carried out scores of rescue operations. They also dropped food and water and appealed for victims to stand in open fields or on rooftops away from trees so helicopters were not damaged during rescue efforts.

One state official said more than 1,330 camps have been opened across Kerala and 147,000 people had sought shelter by Thursday evening.

“At least 6,500 people are stranded in different parts of Kerala and the situation in three districts is particularly grim,” a separate state disaster management official told AFP.

Floods have also hit other states, including Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, where eight people at a popular picnic spot were swept away by a sudden surge of water.

‘Please help’

In Kerala families could be seen paddling boats provided by the military, while in some areas families commandeered local wooden boats to ferry themselves to safety.

The government says 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of Kerala roads have been destroyed or damaged and hundreds of homes lost.

It has ordered the opening of gates at 34 dams and reservoirs where water levels reached danger levels.

Indian television broadcast images of cars and livestock washed away in the floods while men and women waded through chest-high waters that flowed through village streets.

Many used social media to send rooftop distress calls, some with video.

A member of parliament from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, shared on Twitter an appeal for help made by a woman who said she was trapped on the third floor of a temple with phone batteries running out.

“Over 36 people including myself and family stranded here. Phone network and charge finishing please help in any possible way,” Devika Sreekumar said in the Facebook post.

Greeta Mathew pleaded for help for her family in a Twitter message.

“Anybody reading this,PLZ HELP. My relatives are stuck on the upper floor of house with an 8 months pregnant lady, in Edayaranmula, Pathanamthitta dist. All rescue control rooms’ numbers busy. No rescue team reached yet. No contact with family since last evening,” she said.

North and central Kerala has been worst hit by the floods but all 14 of the state’s districts have been put on “red alert” as heavy rain is predicted for several days.

In the main city of Kochi, the international airport will remain closed until at least August 26, authorities said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday on Twitter that he has ordered the defence ministry “to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala”.

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