Posts Tagged ‘india’

FO says not aware of quadrilateral meeting of spy chiefs

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday expressed ignorance about a reported meeting of spy chiefs of Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan in Islamabad over the growing threat to the region from the militant Islamic State in Afghanistan.

Officials, however, privately confirmed to Dawn that the unprecedented meeting took place on Tuesday, which could besides dealing with IS provide a basis for greater regional cooperation for peace in Afghanistan.

The meeting, which was supposed to be secret, was ,first reported by Russian newswire TASS,. The Voice of America (VoA) also ,carried a report, on the meeting.

TASS had quoted spokesman of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Ivanov as saying that heads of intelligence services of Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan met in Islamabad to discuss measures against assembling of IS terrorists returning from Iraq and Syria in Afghanistan.

TASS had said that the director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, represented Russia at the meeting.

“The discussions focused on the dangers arising from a build-up of the Islamic State on the Afghan territory,” Ivanov said.

Russia has been extremely worried about IS threat emanating from the war-ravaged Afghanistan. Its officials held a number of meetings with Pakistani officials before the latest quadrilateral event.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had in February raised the issue of IS expanding its footprint in Afghanistan during the visit of the then Pakistani foreign minister Khawaja Asif to Moscow.

“This trend of spread of ISIS is extremely worrying and the US and Nato tried to obfuscate and neglect the facts and presented information that did not correspond with the reality. ISIS presence is serious. …It boosts the risk of terrorists infiltrating into Central Asian countries from where they can enter the Russian Federation,” Lavrov had said and criticised US and Nato for failing to provide explanations about flight of unmarked helicopters to areas having IS presence.

Pakistan and Russia had later at the 7th meeting of their Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism in March also reiterated this concern.

Pakistan, it is said, had also been discussing the matter with China and Iran. In those meetings Pakistan had expressed alarm over relocation of IS terrorists from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan, particularly its north-eastern parts.

The meeting of spymasters of the four countries, nevertheless, took many, particularly US, by surprise. The US, it is said, is particularly concerned over the emerging regional cooperation because it sees it as a potential challenge to its role in Afghanistan.

Russia and Iran have played a major role in the defeat of IS both in Syria and Iraq.

FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal, speaking at the weekly media briefing, renewed the call for Taliban to renounce kinetic options and join the peace and reconciliation process to end the conflict in Afghanistan.

He recalled that Pakistan and Afghanistan were discussing the Taliban issue under the newly-instituted bilateral mechanism — the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity.

Indian spy

Dr Faisal said that Pakistan on July 17 would be filing the second counter-rejoinder in International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, adds APP.

“Our team has prepared a comprehensive reply to Indian rejoinder, which will be filed on July 17,” the FO spokesman said.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018

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PCB to charge Ahmed Shehzad after dope test turns up positive

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday decided to issue a charge-sheet to Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad after his dope test was confirmed positive by an independent review board.

“Independent Review Board report on doping case has been received by PCB. Cricketer Ahmad Shahzad has tested positive for a banned substance. PCB will issue charge sheet today,” the board said in a tweet.

Independent Review Board Report on doping case has been received by PCB. Cricketer Ahmad Shahzad has tested positive for a banned substance. PCB will issue charge sheet today.

— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) ,July 10, 2018,

A source in the board said that the board had previously refrained from naming Shehzad as it wanted to be completely sure about the dope test because of Shehzad’s seniority.

The source explained that the delay in the results had been because samples were sent to an Indian lab for confirmation after Shehzad was tested positive in Pakistan. The report from India arrived yesterday, confirming results of the previous test.

“A player has reportedly tested positive for a prohibited substance. But under ICC rules PCB cannot name the player or charge-sheet him until the chemical report is confirmed by the Anti-Dope Agency of the government. We should have an answer in a day or two,” PCB had tweeted on June 20.

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Imran Khan unveils PTI manifesto ‘Road to Naya Pakistan’

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Monday unveiled his party’s much-awaited manifesto for general elections 2018, announcing that he would turn Pakistan into a welfare state if voted into power.

Titled “Road to Naya Pakistan”, the manifesto is composed of seven chapters and explains in detail the PTI’s agenda for the next government.

One of the primary points of the manifesto, Khan said, is to turn Pakistan into a Islamic welfare state — a model the principles of which he said are also followed in Scandinavian countries.

Read the entire PTI manifesto ,here,.

“We will make the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) autonomous and pursue all cases of corruption,” Khan said. “We will empower the people and devolve the power to the village level.

“We will introduce a non-political model of policing like the one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the rest of the provinces as well. And to ensure that Pakistanis get instant and quality justice, we will introduce comprehensive judicial reforms.”

Khan outlined the major issues of all the regions and vowed to resolve them. “We will bring prominent changes to the administrative structure in Karachi; ensure successful completion of Fata’s merger with KP and will allocate specific funds for it; promote politics of understanding in Balochistan; raise the movement of south Punjab province, and empower Gilgit Baltistan.”

Special report: ,Demystifying political manifestos through a business lens,

The PTI chief further said that his party would boost the economy by creating 10 millions jobs and promoting small-to-mid-level industries. “We will make Pakistan business-friendly and turn the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into a game-changer by enhancing bilateral relations.”

Khan also talked about water preservation via the building of dam, which he said would make the agricultural industry profitable for the farmers.

The manifesto, he said, also has plans on introducing educational reforms in schools, religious seminaries and vocational centres.

,PPP was the first, among the major political parties to share its manifesto, ,followed by PML-N,.

Khan said that his party would safeguard national security and defeat the terrorists’ narrative, human resources, finances and weaponry to tackle the internal threats the country faces. However, he said that in order to curb the proliferation of arms and ammunition at international level, the PTI government would also invite India for strategic discussions.

He also delineated his party’s environmental agenda, saying that they would “plant 10 billion trees to tackle environmental changes.”

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Clutch Fakhar Zaman soars to number 2 spot in ICC T20I rankings

Fakhar Zaman, who cemented his reputation as a clutch former on Sunday, has deservedly ,soared to number two, in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) T20I player rankings for batsmen.

The Man from Mardan, who ,made his name, with a scintillating century in the ICC Champions Trophy final against India last year, was at it again in the Tri-nation T20 series decided against Australia on Sunday.

Unfazed by wickets tumbling around him, Fakhar ,smashed a 46-ball 91, that paved way for Pakistan to track down the Aussies’ 188-run target with four balls and six wickets to spare.

In all, Zaman scored a staggering 278 run in five outings in the Zimbabwe-hosted tournament at an average of 55-6 — almost unheard-of figures for the game’s shortest international formats.

His incredible production was duly rewarded as the latest rankings published by the ICC has seen him soar to the number two spot, behind just Australia captain Aaron Finch. Zaman now has 842 rating points — just 49 less than Finch’s tally.

Zaman’s ascension sees India’s Lokesh Rahul, previously number two, deteriorate to number three. Also among the casualties of Zaman’s rise is his teammate Babar Azam, who is currently inactive owing to a forearm injury he suffered in March during the tour of England.

Meanwhile, spin starlet Shadab Khan continues to occupy the second spot in the corresponding T20I ratings for bowlers.

Elsewhere, Azam is number two in the ODI rankings for batsmen, trailing Indian captain Virat Kohli only. Hasan Ali is number three in the 50-over rankings for bowlers, whereas Mohammad Hafeez is number two in the all-rounder lists.

No Pakistani player ranks among the top five in any of the Test cricket rankings.

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India’s Supreme Court upholds death sentences of 2012 Delhi gang rape convicts

India’s Supreme Court on Monday upheld death sentences for three men over the infamous gang rape and murder of a woman in New Delhi in 2012 that sparked national protests and soul-searching.

The victim, a physiotherapy student, was raped and left for dead by a gang of five men and a teenager on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012.

“The review petition of all the three convicts has been rejected,” A.P. Singh, a lawyer for the defendants, told reporters.

The 23-year-old woman, on course to be the first professional in the family, was coming home from the cinema with a male friend.

The six gang raped and tortured her with an iron bar as the bus drove loops through the Indian capital.
Singh was dumped on the streets 45 minutes later with horrific internal injuries, and died 13 days later in a Singapore hospital.

The brutality of the attack, and her determination to survive long enough to identify her attackers to police, triggered angry demonstrations by thousands of people in Delhi and nationwide.

Read more: ,Indian media needs to rethink how it reports rape,

The case also put the treatment of women in the world’s largest democracy in the global spotlight and led to a stiffening of sentences for sex crimes.

Four of the men were convicted in September 2013 for murder, gang rape, theft, conspiracy and “unnatural acts” after a seven-month trial in a fast-track court.

Only three of them were involved in the appeal rejected on Monday.

A fifth man, the suspected ringleader, was found dead in jail in a suspected suicide, while a 17-year-old was sentenced to three years in a detention centre and has since been released.

Sentencing the four in 2013, Judge Yogesh Khanna said the case fell into the “rarest of rare category” which justifies capital punishment in India.

But the four men have maintained innocence and have launched repeated appeals against their conviction.

After Monday’s unsuccessful appeal, the convicts can still file a curative petition ? the last legal challenge ? to thwart their hanging and also seek a pardon from the president.

Following the 2012 case and subsequent protests, some of which were violent, there were demands to overhaul the laws on sexual assaults.

A panel entrusted with reviewing the legislation rejected public appeals for the death penalty for rape but boosted the jail terms to 20 years.

But the government then buckled under public pressure and approved capital punishment for repeat offenders.

40,000 rapes reported in one year

There were some 40,000 rapes reported in India in 2016, according to the most recent official figures available.

But activists say this is just the tip of the iceberg as many victims are afraid to report the crimes due to threats by perpetrators or the social stigma attached to sexual assaults.

Read more: ,Survey terms India most dangerous country for women,

More than 1,300 people have been sentenced to death in the past decade, and India ranks 10th globally in the number of sentences handed down.

More than 370 convicts were on death row as on December 2017, the last official count, down from 399 the previous year.

But many were spared the noose by higher courts on appeals, including 35 who were acquitted outright.

Out of the 371 death row convicts in 2017, 43 were awarded the punishment for crimes involving fatal sexual assaults.

But India hardly carries out any hangings.

Just four convicts have been executed in the last 25 years, including Dhananjoy Chatterjee for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. He was hanged in 2004.

Three other hangings ? in 2010, 2011 and 2015 ? were of convicts facing terrorism charges.

These included Ajmal Kasab, who was found guilty for attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that left more than 160 dead.

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Three killed in Srinagar on Wani anniversary

SRINAGAR: Indian troops shot dead three stone-throwing protesters, including a teenage girl, in India-held Kashmir on Saturday as tensions rose ahead of the ,death anniversary of a popular freedom fighter,.

Also read: ,They say Kashmir is ours but they don’t consider Kashmiris as their own, claims Burhan Wani’s father,

Witnesses said soldiers opened fire in the southern district of Kulgam after hundreds of people angry at an army search operation for suspected militants gathered in protest, some hurling objects.

A government doctor said that the dead included two men aged 20 and 22 years and a 16-year-old girl.

“The three had bullet injuries and succumbed soon after their arrival at the hospital,” the doctor at a sub-district hospital in Kulgam said on condition of anonymity.

Police chief S.P. Vaid confirmed the deaths.

The killings come on the eve of the second death anniversary of Burhan Wani, a charismatic 22-year-old freedom fighter killed by government forces two years ago on July 8.

Kashmiri leaders have called for a shutdown on Sunday to commemorate Wani’s death.

Wani’s killing has triggered a sustained wave of protests that have so far claimed the lives of at least 100 civilians, with last year the deadliest in the region for the past decade.

Thousands of others were injured by shotgun pellets fired by the Indian army.

India has about 500,000 soldiers in the part of Kashmir it controls, where armed groups are fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Last month, the UN human rights chief released a report, calling for an investigation into alleged abuses perpetrated by Indian security forces in Kashmir.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2018

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Sunni Tehreek to back PTI candidates

SAHIWAL: After the court verdict against PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, many political elements who had been sitting on the fence so far have started switching over to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) camp.

On Friday night, Pakistan Sunni Tehreek (PST) district president Muhammad Ijaz Qadri announced his party’s support for PTI candidates in the district.

Talking to the media in the presence of PTI candidates Chaudhry Nouraz Shakoor (NA-147) and Shaikh Muhammad Chohan (PP-197), Mr Qadri said the decision was taken by the PST central leadership.

He criticised the PML-N governments policies and performance during the last 10 years.

He said that by awarding death sentence to Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, attempting to amend the oath of public representatives and showing a “soft corner” for India, the PML-N government had hurt sentiments of millions of Muslims.

He also rapped Nawaz for remaining silent on the arrest of RAW agent Kulbhoshan and supporting trade relations with New Delhi, saying such gestures would not be tolerated by religious political parties.

“It is in this background that the PST decided to support the PTI candidates,” he said.

During the press conference, a former PML-N traders wing activist, Rao Ashfaq Ahmed, and PPP activist Khalid Mahmood Chogata also announced joining the PTI.

SECURITY: The district police have devised a comprehensive plan for providing “fool proof” security at the polling stations during the upcoming elections.

District Police Officer Gulam Mubashir Makan told the media in his office polling stations had been assigned A, B and C categories according to their sensitivity. He said special security arrangements for these polling stations had been made with the help of army teams. He said the police were strictly monitoring the election campaign in the district to check any violation of the ECP code of conduct.

He said three cases had so far been registered against different candidates, while one of them, PPP’s Amir Shahbaz (NA-147), was fined Rs50,000 for violation of CoC.

He said there was a complete ban on taking out motorcycle and car rallies in the district without permission of the district administration.

The corner meetings could be held in-doors only, while for holding such events outdoors permission must be sought, he added.

The DPO said no political party had so far sought permission for holding a big political gathering for which Zafar Ali Stadium had been marked.

Deputy Commissioner Zaman Wattoo told the media that 15 chairmen and vice chairmen of union councils had been issued show cause notices for organising political events for different candidates.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2018

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Academics protest denial of Indian visa to Pakistani delegates

NEW DELHI: In protest against the decision of Ministry of External Affairs to ,deny visas to Pakistani, academics for attending a seminar in New Delhi, nearly 80 scholars from several universities such as Yale, Harvard and Princeton have mooted a resolution to not hold conferences in such countries any more, The Indian Express has ,reported,.

India had banned the scholars from attending the conference organised by the Association for Asian Studies and Ashoka University in New Delhi. The Association for Asian Studies, since 2014, has been holding an annual conference called AAS in Asia. The previous conferences were held in Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, while this year’s event is scheduled to be held from July 5 to 8 at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.

About 80 scholars attended a protest meeting, which raised enough funds to rent a hall at the conference’s venue in New Delhi so that the banned academics could join them digitally.

“As a scholar of Pakistani origin working on Pakistan, I received the AAS’ reply to the Indian government’s restrictions on Pakistani scholars [including those who are dual nationals but originally from Pakistan] with deep concern and disappointment,” a statement by Salman Hussain from The Graduate Centre, CUNY, read. Hussain is one of the academics who was not allowed to travel to India.

“I am dismayed with the AAS’ tepid response to the blanket ban — based on the association’s presumption that this reaction was expected of the Indian government given the tense relations between the two countries,” Hussain added.

The academics, at the meeting, mooted four resolutions. One of them was to demand that all future conferences by the Association of Asian Studies should be in countries that “do not have official or unofficial policies” to exclude people based on their nationality. Another resolution urged the Indian government to reconsider its ban on the scholars.

Independent researcher Sinjini Mukherjee, one of the organisers of the protest meeting, said there has been no final decision yet.

In a letter to Ashoka University dated February 19, the Ministry of External Affairs had reportedly told the organisers explicitly not to include Pakistani scholars at the event.

“The ministry has no objection from the political angle for the proposed event with foreign participants [except participants from Pakistan], as stated in your aforesaid communication, subject to the clearance of Ministry of Home Affairs as applicable and nodal ministry,” the letter read.

Several academics have criticised the Association for Asian Studies for failing to inform the participants about the ban.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2018

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District profile: Arbab family row to liven up Tharparkar contest

The indecisiveness of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on how to best safeguard its interests has turned Tharparkar into a major electoral battlefield. There is an uneasiness among the minorities — that form a considerable section of the total vote — who feel they have been ignored when party tickets were awarded. The PPP failed to decide for weeks on who to back as their candidates in two constituencies — NA-222 in the national assembly, and PS-56 in the provincial assembly. The delay caused much confusion among the voters.

Tharparkar is spread across about 20,000 square kilometres. With 2,400 villages, the district has a population of approximately 1.6 million. There are 574,333 registered voters; of them 254,522 are women. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, about 180,000 women have not been registered — and are missing voters.

The people are represented by two national and four provincial assembly seats. The district also has a sizeable Hindu community, which takes up roughly half of the total vote.

Historically, the district had been dominated by the Thakurs — the powerful Hindu community — for several decades, before and after partition. That changed after Laxman Singh moved to India following the war in 1971. Many Thakurs and other prominent Hindu families migrated to India, which changed the political dynamics of the area. The Arbabs, who had been allied with the Thakurs, quickly moved to fill the vacuum.

Before 1971, along with the Thakurs, non-natives from other areas have been contesting and winning elections in the district. The Arbabs were the only locals who were influential enough to pose a challenge to outsiders. However, the people are not overly eager in supporting the Arbabs considering their modest performance when in power.

4 communities will play a major role in NA-221, the Nohri, Rahimoon, Samejo and Kohli, with each boasting about 40,000 voters in the constituency.

As the socio-economic dynamics of the district changed — however slow-paced — new classes emerged. Groups found space in the absence of the Thakurs, and Muslim communities including the Nohri, Samejo and Rahimoon grabbed the opportunity to consolidate power. Thar was somewhat politically split among community lines in the 2013 elections. Considering none of the local communities have worked out a solution among themselves, the electorate seems divided. The non-native phenomenon demonstrates itself in NA-221 as Shah Mehmood Qureshi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) squares off against Noor Mohammad Jillani of the PPP, in what promises to be a tough battle. Both individuals are spiritual leaders of thousands of dedicated followers — or mureeds. The constituency includes Chachro, Nagarparkar and the newly created taluka Dahli.

Four communities will play a major role in NA-221, the Nohri, Rahimoon, Samejo and Kohli, with each boasting about 40,000 voters in the constituency. The Baloch and some other communities also matter, but it is these four that will determine the outcome of the polls. Except the Kohli, all three communities are divided into two groups. A section of them looks set to ally with Arbab Ghulam Rahim — former chief minister of Sindh — who has extended support to the PTI, and another section is likely to follow Arbab Lutfullah, who has decided to back Jillani.

In NA-222, which includes the towns of Islamkot, Mithi and Diplo, the PPP — after much deliberation — has chosen Dr Mahesh Malani to run against Arbab Zakaullah of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA). Dr Malani is a relative newcomer, but has been working with people in the area to cultivate a campaign. However, on the outside, things look difficult for the PPP in the constituency. The district has four provincial seats: PS-54, PS-55, PS-56 and PS-57. Due to the unique electorate base — divided between the Muslims and the Hindus — the PPP, and other parties found it difficult to find a candidate who was appealing to everyone.

PS-54 will see Dost Mohammad Rahimoon of the PPP take on Arbab Razak Rahimoon of the GDA. Dost Mohammad won the seat back in 2013, and has the support of the Samejo community.

PS-55 has historically been won by non-natives. This year, for the first time two locals from the area — Abdul Ghani Khoso and Ali Akbar Rahimoon, both associated with the PPP — filed nomination papers, but were overlooked by the party in favor of Qasim Siraj Soomro, who is poised to compete with Arbab Anwar Jabbar of the GDA.

PS-56 — Islamkot taluka — was a problem particularly. The PPP had to choose a candidate who was not only loyal to the party, but was also acceptable to voters in the Hindu community. Eventually, the PPP gave its ticket to Faqir Sher Mohammad Bilalani. To compliment the move, the PPP also decided to nominate Dr Malani for the NA-222 constituency.

The biggest showdown is set to take place in PS-57. The split in the Arbab family will split the votes between the two main candidates as Arbab Lutfullah takes on his uncle, Arbab Rahim. In 2013, the latter was successful, but the constituency has been reshaped following the dispute in the family.

The district is not known for its ideological voters, and political parties must therefore rely on individuals who hold sway over the electorate. With the Arbab family divided, and the minorities not overly satisfied with the choice of candidates, the results of the polls may not be as predictable as in previous elections.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2018

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FO hopes Afghan Taliban will accept Kabul talks offer

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office expressed the hope on Thursday that the Afghan Taliban would avail themselves of Kabul’s unconditional offer of talks to find a politically-negotiated solution of the protracted conflict.

Speaking at the weekly media briefing, FO Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said: “We hope that Taliban would grab the opportunity for the unconditional peace talks.”

The United States has once again ramped up pressure on Pakistan to either convince the militant group to join peace talks or expel their leaders and other cadres that it believed to be based here.

Denies knowledge of Nawaz seeking asylum in UK

The US sees Pakistan-based Taliban as the main obstacle to initiation of peace process in Afghanistan.

Senior State Department official Alice Wells earlier this week visited Islamabad and met senior political and military leaders and some of the foreign ambassadors. Ahead of her visit, she, according to Reuters, said that US had so far not seen “sustained and decisive action on the part of Islamabad”.

Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and Afghan Ambassador Dr Omar Zakhilwal met on Wednesday to follow up on their discussions with Amb Wells. The US officials had met both of them separately during her visit.

Dr Faisal said that Pakistan was ready to play its part, but bringing Taliban to the negotiating table was the shared responsibility of all stakeholders.

This year’s unprecedented Eid ceasefire had raised hopes of peace in Afghanistan, but those hopes were dashed after Taliban resumed attacks immediately after Eid.

President Ashraf Ghani ordered continuation of counterterrorism operations last week after Taliban did not reciprocate his gesture.


The FO spokesman again called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish an independent international commission of inquiry for India-Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had last month recommended setting up of a ‘Commission of Inquiry’, the UN’s highest-level probe, to investigate human rights violations in Kashmir.

“It is essential for the UNSG and the UNHRC to visit IOK to ensure the credibility of the international multilateral system and to prevent the human rights charter from being reduced to verbal rhetoric,” Dr Faisal said.

In reply to a question about a claim attributed to former president Asif Ali Zardari, the FO spokesman denied having any knowledge about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.

“It is not obligatory on the country wherein the political asylum is taken to inform the country of origin,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2018

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Indian envoy hopes bilateral ties will improve after elections in Pakistan

India’s High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, while addressing a seminar in Islamabad, hoped that the relations between India and Pakistan will improve after the 2018 general elections.

“We hope that Pak-India relations will improve following the general elections in Pakistan,” Bisaria said, adding that the two countries started facing strained relations since 1999.

“There has been a mutual contract to not harass diplomats from either side,” the Indian high commissioner said while referring to ,the agreement, which was announced through a statement simultaneously issued by the Foreign Office and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in March this year.

The statement reads: “India and Pakistan have mutually agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats and diplomatic premises, in line with the 1992 ‘Code of Conduct’ for treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan.”

He also said that poverty is both countries’ mutual enemy and that the people of both nations do not hate each other.

“The truth is that terrorist events hindered the talks between the two countries,” he said while adding that the two countries need to take baby steps in order to make their relationship better.

Afghan envoy says Pakistan’s policies created Taliban

Afghan Ambassador Dr Omar Zakhilwal alleged that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan used to be a part of the Afghan Taliban and they have benefitted from the policies of Pakistan government.

The allegations came during a heated argument with former Inter-Services Public Relations chief retired Maj Gen Ather Abbas at the seminar.

“Taliban have been in Pakistan and the TTP has held control of various areas of the country,” the Afghan envoy alleged, adding that even the “Lal Masjid was once under the Taliban’s control”.

Responding to the Afghan envoy’s remarks, Abbas remarked that Pakistan has never tried to influence the Afghan government.

“Pakistan has always tried to broker peace through political operations,” he asserted.

“Pakistan has dealt with its fair share of problems, just like Afghanistan,” Gen Abbas said while adding that the “Afghan conflict has directly affected Pakistan and its people”.

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PML-N’s 2018 manifesto unveiled with a call to ‘honour the vote’

Senior PML-N leaders on Thursday presented the party’s ,manifesto, ahead of the July 25 general elections at a ceremony in Lahore.

Former state minister Marriyum Aurangzeb began by reading out a message from former prime minister and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, who regretted the “political conspiracies” his government was allegedly subjected to after coming into power in 2013.

The fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Pakistan in connection with CPEC-related investment had to be postponed proved “how harmful dharnas (sit-ins) were for the national interest”, he was quoted as saying.

See PML-N’s complete manifesto for 2018 elections ,here,.

Sharif also criticised the “unprecedented” court decisions that led to his ouster as prime minister and removal as party head.

Examine: ,The PML-N made bold claims in its 2013 manifesto. How many of those promises did it keep?,

It is incumbent upon the PML-N to ensure the progress of democracy, political harmony, protection of rights of minorities, respect for women and supremacy of the Constitution in Pakistan, he said.

PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif presents the manifesto. — DawnNewsTV

PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif presents the manifesto. — DawnNewsTV

PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif in his address claimed that the PML-N had introduced 11,000MW electricity to the national grid in its recently-concluded five-year tenure. Shahbaz, whose speech was briefly interrupted by a heckler, said his party had brought peace to the entire country, especially Karachi, through military operations.

“The [PML-N] manifesto is a roadmap to include Pakistan among the top 25 world economies,” ,said, party leader and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal. The policy statement envisages the introduction of an “agricultural industrial revolution” in Pakistan, he added.

All set for launch of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Election Manifesto for 2018 General Elections. President PML-N Mian Shahbaz Sharif will present party Manifesto. ,#PMLNManifesto2018, ,,

— PML(N) (@pmln_org) ,July 5, 2018,

In its manifesto, headlined with the slogan “Vote ko izzat do — khidmat ko vote do” [Honour the vote — vote for performance], the party has, among other elaborate promises, pledged to:

  • Aspire for economic transformation by raising the GDP growth rate to over 7 per cent
  • Expand scope of investments
  • Minimise losses in state-owned enterprises
  • Eliminate poverty by 2030 through welfare programmes
  • Enable enterprise creation and employment
  • Impart technical training among people
  • Continue tax reforms to raise the tax-to-GDP ratio from 13pc to 16pc
  • Create at least 100,000-200,000 jobs
  • Expedite completion of long-term CPEC plan
  • Promote value addition in agriculture and increase productivity
  • Assist farmers with a farmer support package
  • Increase the size of the IT industry from $3.1 billion to $10bn
  • Expand e-governance and citizen-centric services
  • Bridge the digital divide by doubling the access to affordable broadband
  • Scale up free public Wi-Fi hotspots to all major cities
  • Increase representation of youth in democratic forums
  • Open Pakistan to the world
  • Improve Pakistan’s ranking to the top 50 on tourism and competitive index
  • Add 15,000MW of power by 2025, including 5,000-7,000MW through Thar coal and hydroelectricity
  • Provide energy coupons to the poor and require other segments to pay commercial rates
  • Ensure speedy implementation of National Water Policy
  • Create a world-class railway system
  • Achieve universal primary enrollment by 2023
  • Increase education spending to 4pc of GDP and funding for higher education to 0.5pc of GDP
  • Ensure universal access to preventive and primary health care
  • Undertake proper registration of madressahs through a system agreed by all stakeholders
  • Launch special welfare programmes for the uplift of minorities
  • Increase maternity leave duration up to six months, with a minimum leave period of three months
  • Establish community-level “Awami Adalat” [public courts] in easily accessible locations
  • Reimagine the national narrative to foster tolerance, dialogue and diversity
  • Rehabilitate and mainstream recruits of extremist organisations through social welfare programmes
  • Hold dialogue with India to reduce tensions on an equal and strictly reciprocal basis for regional peace
  • Strengthen inter-institutional dialogue to develop a shared vision of strategic issues
  • Fortify ties with China even further, develop relations with Russia
  • Make administrative and regulatory changes to ensure freedom of speech and expression

President PMLN Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif launching the manifesto of the party. ,#PMLNManifesto18, ,,

— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) ,July 5, 2018,

Private sector is the generator of jobs. We will implement policies to help private sector grow & expand. PMLN will provide an attractive investment climate by bringing down the cost of doing business & facilitating the prospective businessmen. ,#PMLNManifesto2018,

— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) ,July 5, 2018,

What is a manifesto?

A manifesto is known as a “published verbal declaration” through which parties express their “intentions, views and vision” about national issues and also make public their “motives” and “targets” which they plan to achieve after assuming power.

Political experts believe that a manifesto is actually a pledge a political party makes with people before elections and later it acts as a gauge to measure its performance.

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You can’t win without electables and money: Imran

IN a reference to new entrants to PTI,  Imran Khan says that the newcomers would have to comply with the party’s policies and discipline, and that those who didn’t would be kicked out.—White Star

IN a reference to new entrants to PTI, Imran Khan says that the newcomers would have to comply with the party’s policies and discipline, and that those who didn’t would be kicked out.—White Star

FOR Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, the key to the Prime Minister House lies in understanding the country’s complex political realities.

In a conversation with Dawn during his ,election campaign in Karachi, on Wednesday, Mr Khan said that although he cannot vouch for each of the near 700 national and provincial-level candidates his party has fielded to contest the upcoming elections, he is playing with what exists in Pakistan’s political class.

“You contest elections to win. You don’t contest elections to be a good boy. I want to win. I am fighting elections in Pakistan, not Europe. I can’t import European politicians,” Mr Khan said.

He talked about the importance of manpower and financial resources for a successful election campaign.

PTI chief says Nawaz Sharif tried his best (to mend relations with India). “I will give him the credit. Nawaz Sharif tried everything, even personal [gestures] calling him [Modi] over to his house.”

“After 1997, I came to the conclusion that unless we took people in the party who know the art of winning election, we will not be able to succeed.

“This is not Europe, where all you need to do is tell people what you stand for and they will go out and vote for you. In Pakistan, you need money and thousands of trained polling agents who can bring out people on the day of election. If you do not have those workers, you cannot contest the election.”

Even as his critics question why he has awarded tickets to political turncoats instead of workers who have had a long association with the party, Mr Khan said: “The political class here doesn’t change that much. You can introduce new actors but you can’t change the political class wholesale. This is why I give the example of Mahathir Mohamad, who changed Malaysia with the same political class by giving them clean leadership.”

He denies that he has compromised his ideals by awarding tickets to ,electables,. “It would be a compromise if I did not stick to my objectives after coming into power, and if I did not run a clean government.”

Mr Khan said that the new faces would have to comply with PTI’s policies and discipline, and that those who didn’t would be kicked out.

When asked if his campaign slogan of ‘Naya Pakistan’ is only achievable with a ‘new PTI’, Mr Khan said there was no change in his strategy. “This is a joke going around that I have now gathered electables. I always sought out electables, but before this they were not willing to join us.

“Forget MPAs and MNAs, in the past we have even invited electables from union councils in other cities to join us. It is after the success of the 2011 rally at Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore that people changed their minds and started to join us.”

Relations with India

While there is very little that the PTI chief would give Nawaz Sharif credit for, when it comes to the former prime minister’s efforts to improve relations with India, Mr Khan concedes that Nawaz tried his best.

“Nawaz Sharif tried his best [to mend relations with India],” said Mr Khan. “I will give him the credit.”

“Nawaz Sharif tried everything, even personal [gestures] calling him [Modi] over to his house. No one got in his way. But I think it is the policy of the Narendra Modi government to try and isolate Pakistan. They have a very aggressive anti-Pakistan posture because Modi wants to blame Pakistan for all the barbarism they are doing in Kashmir. What can one do in the face of this attitude?”

Civil-military relations

Asked how he would tackle the delicate relationship between the civil and military leadership if his party came to power, Mr Khan said good governance would be his strength.

“When you have democratic governments that perform and deliver, that is their strength. We have had military influence on politics in Pakistan because we have had the worst political governments. I am not saying it is justified but where there is a vacuum something will fill it.”

He added: “Under crooked and corrupt governments, people welcome the military with open arms. In 1999 when Musharraf’s martial law was declared, people were celebrating in Lahore – Nawaz’s political centre! – because governance had failed.”

He recalled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the strongest prime minister to come through electoral process who was totally in charge of the country’s affairs.

‘Military did not interfere in Bhutto’s govt’

“He [Bhutto] was the strongest prime minister. He dismissed many army officers. No one could say he was not in charge. When people talk about military interference, they should know that the military did not interfere in Bhutto’s government, because he was a powerful prime minister.”

When asked to comment on the military’s influence in setting Pakistan’s foreign policy, Mr Khan said: “The army will get involved where there are security situations. If you look at the US policy in Afghanistan, a lot of the US-Afghan policy was influenced by Pentagon. Even when Barack Obama didn’t want to continue the war in Afghanistan, he did it because he was convinced by Pentagon.”

Possibility of forming coalition

Although he is confident about his chances of making federal government with a simple majority, when asked about an alternative plan, Mr Khan said: “A coalition depends on the partner in question. If the coalition partner allows us to implement our manifesto, it’s fine.”

He added that his party had trouble with former coalition partner Qaumi Watan Party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and that it had to kick out members who resisted their anti-corruption code. “If the head of a political party is corrupt, then it would be difficult to make a coalition with them.”

On eradicating militancy

Although it is a position he has been criticised for, Mr Khan remains adamant on engaging militants in dialogue.

“There has to be a dual policy: one is dialogue and the other is military action. I have been labelled ‘Taliban Khan’ just because I did not agree with this one-dimensional policy that Pakistan implemented under American pressure.”

He said the war in Afghanistan was a classic example of how military solutions alone did not work. “The US has been there for 15 years with a military option but has failed. If there is consensus among the American and Afghan governments and allies that they want unconditional peace talks with Taliban, it means the military option has failed.”

Confidence ahead of polls

“I am as confident as I’ve ever been and more prepared than before,” said Mr Khan.

Ahead of polls on July 25, surveys conducted by the Jang Media Group showed the PTI gaining ground.

A survey by Pulse Consultant showed the PTI ahead with the support of 30 per cent of respondents nationwide, compared to 27pc for the PML-N. The Pakistan Peoples Party was at 17pc.

A separate nationwide poll by Gallup Pakistan had the PML-N on top with 26pc, the PTI with 25pc and the PPP at 16pc.

According to Reuters, the new polls indicate a swing towards Mr Khan’s party compared to similar nationwide polls in 2017 that had put the PML-N 8-9 percentage points ahead of the PTI.

“I don’t know what will happen but I am more optimistic than I have been in my 22 years in politics,” Mr Khan said.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018

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Bilawal says building dams is not judiciary’s job

NAWABSHAH: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that building dams is the job of the legislature and government, through consensus.

Talking to journalists at Zardari House here on Wednesday, he said there was not a single country in the world where the judicial branch of government had constructed any dam. Therefore, the job must be left to the government, legislature and executive.

He was apparently referring to the ,chief justice’s repeated calls for the construction of dams, to face the challenge of future water crises.

“If three provincial assemblies have rejected the construction of a dam and their own report says that the dam will not be feasible when India is opposed and criticised for undermining the rights of lower riparian areas, then the same argument should be considered for dams at home,” he said.

Bilawal said that it was the PPP which constructed small dams in Sindh, but there was a need for consensus for the construction of other dams.

Opposes postponement, boycott of elections

Answering a question, he said there had been a water crisis in Pakistan and the PPP had been struggling to overcome it since the time of Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister.

He said the federal government did not support the PPP on that important issue and there was no other political party to raise the issue.

Bilawal said Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa never introduced any project for water whereas the PPP had been seriously working on it as 1,800-kilometre-long canals had been lined, which would save water; 2,000 reverse osmosis plants were installed to make water sweet and drinkable. Asia’s biggest water filtration plant was installed in Nawabshah whereas no filtration plant was installed by any other province.

He criticised the Indus River System Authority’s role and said that the PPP regularly raised the issue on the floor of the assembly. However, as the elections were approaching, every party was talking about water crisis.

‘No reason to postpone elections’

He said he was in the field and campaigning with his election manifesto, but the others who had not presented their manifestos might want a delay in elections so they could rig and win. Otherwise there was no reason for postponing the polls.

Bilawal said he had been receiving an overwhelming response from the people since he left Karachi. “The rivals did a lot of propaganda against the PPP and thought they would make the people believe their lies, but they got a clear message that the people were with the PPP and wanted a people’s government,” he said.

Answering a question, he said the PPP wanted free and fair elections on time.

In reply to a question about a post-election alliance with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, he said it would be really difficult owing to the PTI policy on terrorism, water, democracy and their views about Benazir Bhutto.

He said the people were not with any puppet alliance, politicians, nor they wanted any puppet government. “Those who talked about division of Sindh and those who wanted to save Sindh are together without any manifesto and agenda,” he said.

‘Smooth second democratic transition’

He said the PPP had always struggled for democracy and would never step back from it. “Pakistan has progressed towards democracy and it is a success that Pakistan is going for a smooth second democratic transition and the elements against democracy are united to sabotage it but the people are with us,” he said.

He asked those forces to leave it to the people as any threat or pressure would not work and the people would elect the party they wanted.

Answering a question about a possible boycott of elections by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Bilawal said the PPP had always discouraged boycotts and had earlier advised the PML-N not to boycott elections and if they (PML-N) foresaw their defeat, it did not mean they should run away from the race.

He said that every party should be in the race and the decision should be left to the people.

Earlier, he was warmly received by party workers and supporters at Khan Pump on Sanghar Road, where he arrived at around 2.30am.

Addressing the gathering, he said the PPP had carried out huge development works throughout Sindh.

Bilawal later reached Zardari House, where he stayed overnight and left for Sakrand at around 3pm. His caravan would proceed on the National Highway from Sakrand to Qazi Ahmed, Moro, Naushahro Feroze, Khairpur and would stay overnight at Sukkur.

Later, speaking to party workers and supporters at Sakrand, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari praised sacrifices of the people of the town for democracy during the MRD movement.

He said that it was his first election and he was among the people with a promise to continue the vision and mission of his mother, Benazir Bhutto, and serve the people.

He said the comprehensive manifesto of the party had solutions to the problems of inflation, energy shortage, poverty, education, health and water.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018

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SC asks public to donate money for construction of Diamer-Bhasha, Mohmand dams

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued directives that the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams should start immediately, and appealed to the general public, including Pakistanis residing abroad, to donate for the cause.

The apex court formed a committee under the chairmanship of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chief to monitor the progress of construction and directed that an account be opened with the SC’s registrar in which all donations will be collected. It also said that all those donating for the cause will not be asked of their sources of income.

Moreover, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar initiated the donation process by announcing Rs1 million donation for the cause during the hearing of the case pertaining to the construction of Kalabagh dam.

“It was said that ‘even the Supreme Court’s father’ cannot construct dams,” the CJP noted, reminding the naysayers that the Constitution had given the court the power to make it happen.

Justice Nisar hoped that “the passion that was seen during the 1965 war [with India] would be visible again for the construction of dams”.

The four-member special bench, comprising Justice Umar Atta Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar, ordered the Wapda chairman-led committee to present a report after completing the formalities within three weeks.

Earlier, court aide Mujeeb Pirzada said that only the benefits of Kalabagh dam were being described ignoring the fact that there were some serious demerits to its construction.

Pirzada explained that the construction of the dam would mean that the supply of water to other areas would be affected. He also claimed that the construction of Kalabagh dam would adversely impact sugarcane and rice production.

“But dams are the nation’s need and we need to build them,” the CJP responded at Pirzada’s concerns about livelihoods of farmers being affected because of the dam.

Meanwhile, the secretary finance urged the court to issue an order to increase the price of water for agriculture to Rs1,500 per acre which, he said, would bring annual revenues of Rs70 billion which could be used to construct a dam in 10 years.

The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) briefed the court that the country has a storage capacity of 13.7 million acre-feet (MAF) of the 138 MAF of water flowing into the country. The briefing said that the construction of two more dams will generate a capacity to store additional 7 MAF of water.

It noted that the country’s needs stand at 25 MAF of water and a new dam would be required every ten years after the construction of two new dams.

Details of dams revealed in today’s hearing:

  • Diamer-Bhasha dam: To be built in KP and Gilgit-Baltistan falling in Kohistan and Bhasha areas. Will have the capacity to store 6.4 MAF of water and create 4,500MW electricity.
  • Mohmand dam: To be built on Swat river in Manda area. Wil have the capacity to store 0.676 MAF of water and create 800MW electricity.

“We should have confidence in ourselves,” the CJP said, adding: “It is possible that we get more money than the required amount.” Justice Nisar also disclosed that Rs900 billion “are going to arrive soon” but said that matter should be kept secret for now.

During his briefing, former Wapda chairman Shamsul Mulk said that while 46,000 dams had been constructed in the past century across the globe, Pakistan had only constructed three

The chief justice asked him whether the construction of Kalabagh was inevitable, at which Mulk responded that Kalabagh dam was the need of the hour for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Justice Nisar then said that because of it being controversial, “we should look at the other two dams” at which Mulk said that it would be good if Diamer-Bhasha and Mohamand dams are constructed.

“We are thankful that you have consented to the construction of the other two dams,” he told the former Wapda chairman, adding that his expertise would be required in future.

Towards the end of the hearing, Attorney General Khalid Jawed said that the debate around the dams would continue unless the court issues an order for their construction. He added that the bureaucracy needs to brought into action and that the institutions would have to act if the court issues an order.

The court then ordered to immediately begin construction of the two dams.

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WhatsApp ‘horrified’ over India lynchings, promises action

WhatsApp said on Wednesday it was “horrified” by a spate of lynchings in India sparked by false rumours shared on its platform as the government accused the messaging service of irresponsibility.

More than 20 people have been killed in India in the last two months, according to media reports, after rumours were spread on smartphones about child kidnappers, thieves and sexual predators.

,When a text can trigger a lynching: WhatsApp struggles with incendiary messages in India,

The attacks — usually targeting outsiders — have left authorities scrambling to mount an effective response, with awareness campaigns and public alerts having limited effect.

A stern statement issued by the electronics and IT ministry late on Tuesday expressed the government’s “deep disapproval” to the senior management of WhatsApp over the “irresponsible and explosive messages”.

“The government has also conveyed in no uncertain terms that WhatsApp must take immediate action to end this menace,” it added.

In a letter to the Indian government, WhatsApp said it “cares deeply about people’s safety” and had taken steps to combat the scourge of fake news and hoaxes.

Also read: ,Reality, reason and rumour in the age of WhatsApp,

“We’re horrified by these terrible acts of violence and wanted to respond quickly to the very important issues you have raised,” WhatsApp said in the letter seen by AFP.

The company said it was working with Indian researchers to better understand the problem and had introduced changes it said would reduce the spread of unwanted messages.

It would also soon launch a new label in India to help users identify messages that had been forwarded as opposed to written by someone they know.

Rumours on WhatsApp about child kidnappers saw eight men killed in eastern Indian last year but the same information has since resurfaced.

Attacks have been reported in at least 11 states recently, most recently in Maharashtra where five men were bludgeoned to death by a crazed mob on Sunday.

Last week a “rumour buster” official tasked with warning the public against such hoaxes was killed in northeastern Tripura.

With more than 200 million users, India is WhatsApp’s biggest market. Its parent company ,Facebook has also been grappling, with a global data privacy scandal.

WhatsApp said it planned to run a public safety campaign in India “given its importance” to the company, and mentioned efforts by police to use its platform to raise awareness about its misuse.

“We believe that false news, misinformation and the spread of hoaxes are issues best tackled collectively: by government, civil society and technology companies working together,” WhatsApp said.

“With the right action, we can help improve everyone’s safety. “

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Can the country afford seven children per family, asks CJP

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday expressed surprise over a debate regarding family planning and its connection to religion, wondering “what the nation had gotten itself into”.

Is the country capable of supporting seven children per family, he asked. “The rate at which the population is growing in the country is [no less than] a bomb.”

Also read: ,Exploding population bomb,

A three-member Supreme Court (SC) bench, headed by the CJP and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, was hearing a suo motu case pertaining to ,increasing population, in the country.

Commenting on Justice Nisar’s remark about whether birth control is allowed in religion or not, Justice Bandial said that “there are relevant verses in the Holy Quran regarding [there being a] gap between children”.

During today’s hearing, the health secretary told the court that the government did not have a monitoring system in place to regulate health centres or keep records of the growth in the country’s population.

He said that in Indonesia — the country with the largest Muslim population in the world — authorities held an awareness campaign in mosques to educate the population about the importance of population control.

The representative from Punjab Population Welfare Department (PWD), however, argued that during the 1970-80s, the growth rate of population was 3.7 per cent, whereas now it had fallen to 2.4pc. He added that the government “cannot stop anyone from having kids”.

The CJP said that 2,100 welfare centres in Punjab had “zero performance” and plans were only on paper.

When asked about the budget allocated to the welfare centres, the Punjab deputy secretary responded that in addition to the Rs3.6 billion that is provided by the Public Sector Development Programme, the department receives around Rs1.5 billion annually.

The CJP demanded representatives from the Population Welfare Department to tell the court about the policies formed by the government to control population growth and criticised them for “receiving salaries for doing nothing”.

He said that the country does not have the resources to feed so many people and added that a single policy must be implemented throughout Pakistan.

Expressing concern over the ballooning population, Justice Nisar said that the authorities need to take immediate action to control the situation. He ordered all stakeholders of the case to submit recommendations to the court and adjourned the hearing for a while.

Following the adjournment, the top court issued directions for the formation of two separate bodies to devise a uniform policy to control the country’s population.

A committee led by former principal secretary to the prime minister Fawad Hasan Fawad was tasked with preparing a report within 15 days and submitting it in the court.

Meanwhile, the attorney general was directed to form a task force that will submit its recommendations in the shape of a report within three weeks.

According to last year’s census provisional results, Pakistan has a population of 207.8 million — a 57 per cent increase since the last census in 1998.

The latest population census has shown that Pakistan has moved up the ladder becoming the fifth most populous nation only behind India, China, the United States and Indonesia.

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