Posts Tagged ‘Karachi’

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

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

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

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

A dissenting note was written by Justice Maqbool Baqir.

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

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

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

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

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Extended Champions Trophy hangover a reason for Test debacle: Rashid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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Govt to abolish advance tax on sale, purchase of shares

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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

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

Read: ,How the system failed us,

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

Take a look: ,A crime unpunished,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘NAB will not arrest PPP leaders at the whim of a federal minister’

A day after Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for what he implied was ,leniency on part of the watchdog,, the bureau clarified on Wednesday that it would never arrest anyone merely at the whim of a minister.

On Tuesday, the minister had told reporters at the residence of PTI’s Haleem Adil Shaikh in Karachi that he was surprised as to why NAB was not arresting Asif Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah despite the fact that their names had appeared in the joint investigation team (JIT) report as “key suspects”.

Take a look: ,NAB chairman should appear before parliament, demands Zardari,

“It’s quite unfortunate that the performance of NAB is not satisfactory and moving at a slow pace,” he had said, adding that, “Zardari and Faryal Talpur have held the people of Sindh hostage while Murad Ali Shah facilitated all their wrongdoings despite holding a key office in the province and all this is documented in the JIT report. Despite all these facts [they] have not been arrested yet, which is quite surprising.”

NAB in today’s press release rejected the impression that it was moving at a slow pace. In a statement, the watchdog said it has so far not received written orders from the Supreme Court in this regard and that it will devise its strategy as per the apex court’s orders.

Moreover, the bureau announced it has decided to write to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to acquire content of news items pertaining to the “statements of a minister regarding a case being followed by NAB”.

The watchdog was referring to Fawad Chaudhry as he had said on multiple occasions that NAB should withdraw the case against Prime Minister Imran Khan and that it should also apologise in this regard.

The statement read that NAB would examine the entire issue as to why it was being asked to shut and withdraw the case. The anti-corruption watchdog will also examine the issue under the NAB law if the statements were tantamount to attempts to manipulate NAB proceedings, it added.

“NAB rejects all types of pressures and assures that all investigations are carried out as per the law and the Constitution to uphold the requisites of justice,” the statement read.

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Ownership of Karachi’s JPMC, NICVD, NICH to remain with federal govt, SC rules

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the Sindh government’s request for ownership of three major Karachi hospitals, and wrapped up a dispute between the provincial government and the Centre over the control of the hospitals.

The Sindh government had approached the Supreme Court with the claim that since the subject of health had been devolved to provinces under the 18th Amendment, the management of the hospitals ? namely the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical College (JPMC), National Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) ? should rest with it.

A five-member bench headed by the chief justice had taken up a set of appeals by the Sindh government against the July 4, 2016 verdict of the Sindh High Court, declaring that these institutions fell within the scope of the Entry 16 of the federal legislative list and, therefore, within the exclusive federal domain.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar who was heading the three-judge bench hearing the case read out the verdict in court today. The reasons behind the ruling would be listed in a detailed judgement later.

The court in its verdict rejected the Sindh government’s request and said that control of all three hospitals would remain with the Centre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019

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SC rejects Bahria Town’s offer to deposit Rs250 billion to avoid NAB reference

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Bahria Town’s offer to deposit Rs250 billion to avoid legal proceedings for illegally acquiring land for its projects in Karachi, Islamabad and Murree.

An implementation bench of the apex court was hearing a case pertaining to the implementation on a ,May 4, SC verdict against Bahria Town,. Under the order, the court had barred M/s Bahria Town Karachi from selling any plot or constructed apartment in the housing scheme on the outskirts of the port city, declaring the grant of land to the Malir Develop­ment Authority and its exchange with the land of the private land developers illegal and void ab initio.

At the outset of today’s hearing, a counsel on behalf of Bahria Town offered to submit Rs200 billion to waive off charges against the real estate developer.

Justice Azmat Saeed, who was heading the three-member bench, reminded the counsel that a fine of Rs285 billion had been imposed on Bahria Town in 2004. “If the fine money is increased by 40 per cent, it will amount to Rs300bn.”

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

Justice Saeed noted that three separate verdicts had been passed against Bahria Town, so it should make “separate and reasonable” offers for its projects in Karachi, Islamabad and Murree.

At this, Bahira Town’s counsel increased the offer to Rs250bn.

“This is not a suitable way to deal with [the apex court],” Justice Saeed said, reprimanding the lawyer. “We may ask the National Accountability Bureau to file a reference.”

The counsel sought one week’s time to file a reply. Justice Saeed granted the plea and directed Bahria Town to submit written offers in all the three cases.

“Our mistake was not that big,” the counsel argued.

“Mistake is supposed to be of one or two kanals, not of thousands of acres,” the judge replied.

The implementation bench was formed after the court had dropped the review petitions filed against its May 4 judgement barring Bahria Town Karachi from selling any plots or constructed apartments.

In its May 4 judgement, the court had declared the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) and its exchange with the land of Bahria Town illegal and void. It had also directed NAB to continue its probe into the matters of the developer.

During the last hearing in the case, the bench had ordered the bureau to file separate references on a ,series of matters stemming from the Bahria Town Karachi project,, including the arrears of three MDA projects.

During an earlier hearing, the court had ,reprimanded NAB, Pakistan Space, and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) and the administration of Bahria Town, over what it termed their “non-cooperation” in implementing a ruling of the apex court.

Justice Saeed had warned the respondents that the judges were “about to lose their temperament” and directed NAB to ensure progress “through its actions”.

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SC rejects Bahria Town’s offer to deposit Rs250bn to avoid NAB reference

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Bahria Town’s offer to deposit Rs250 billion to avoid legal proceedings for illegally acquiring land for its projects in Karachi, Islamabad and Murree.

An implementation bench of the apex court was hearing a case pertaining to the implementation on a ,May 4, SC verdict against Bahria Town,. Under the order, the court had barred M/s Bahria Town Karachi from selling any plot or constructed apartment in the housing scheme on the outskirts of the port city, declaring the grant of land to the Malir Develop­ment Authority and its exchange with the land of the private land developers illegal and void ab initio.

At the outset of today’s hearing, a counsel on behalf of Bahria Town offered to submit Rs200 billion to waive off charges against the real estate developer.

Justice Azmat Saeed, who was heading the three-member bench, reminded the counsel that a fine of Rs285 billion had been imposed on Bahria Town in 2004. “If the fine money is increased by 40 per cent, it will amount to Rs300bn.”

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

Justice Saeed noted that three separate verdicts had been passed against Bahria Town, so it should make “separate and reasonable” offers for its projects in Karachi, Islamabad and Murree.

At this, Bahira Town’s counsel increased the offer to Rs250bn.

“This is not a suitable way to deal with [the apex court],” Justice Saeed said, reprimanding the lawyer. “We may ask the National Accountability Bureau to file a reference.”

The counsel sought one week’s time to file a reply. Justice Saeed granted the plea and directed Bahria Town to submit written offers in all the three cases.

“Our mistake was not that big,” the counsel argued.

“Mistake is supposed to be of one or two kanals, not of thousands of acres,” the judge replied.

The implementation bench was formed after the court had dropped the review petitions filed against its May 4 judgement barring Bahria Town Karachi from selling any plots or constructed apartments.

In its May 4 judgement, the court had declared the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) and its exchange with the land of Bahria Town illegal and void. It had also directed NAB to continue its probe into the matters of the developer.

During the last hearing in the case, the bench had ordered the bureau to file separate references on a ,series of matters stemming from the Bahria Town Karachi project,, including the arrears of three MDA projects.

During an earlier hearing, the court had ,reprimanded NAB, Pakistan Space, and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) and the administration of Bahria Town, over what it termed their “non-cooperation” in implementing a ruling of the apex court.

Justice Saeed had warned the respondents that the judges were “about to lose their temperament” and directed NAB to ensure progress “through its actions”.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 15, 2019 at 1:25 pm

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‘Electric atmosphere’: Duminy, Sammy hype up PSL’s Pakistan-leg to AB de Villiers

South African ace AB de Villiers’ decision to travel to Pakistan for the home-leg of the Pakistan Super League 2019 has earned him plaudits from his former Proteas teammates and others.

De Villiers, the top pick of last year’s draft, on Monday ,announced, that he will be visiting Pakistan in March as part of the Lahore Qalandars roster to play PSL matches at the Gaddafi Stadium.

The hard-hitting African’s decision has delighted his erstwhile national teammate and PSL 2019 champion JP Duminy, who represented Islamabad United last year but will miss the tournament’s next edition due to an injury.

“I am delighted that AB has decided to play Lahore Qalandars’ back-to-back matches at the Gaddafi Stadium on 9 and 10 March. I am sure when he takes the field, he will be amazed to see the electric atmosphere, passion and excitement in the crowds,” Duminy is ,quoted as saying, by PSL-T20.com.

“The March visit will also allow AB to sense the status and respect he commands in this part of the world, as well as the impact he has made on Pakistan cricket. These people love cricket and have tremendous respect for high-performing cricketers like AB.

“The HBL PSL is a tournament which is growing fast, and with its successful staging in Pakistan, prospects of international cricket returning to the country have also brightened.

“I am sure when AB will look back at his glittering and marvellous career, he will say with pride and satisfaction that he also played a part in the revival of international cricket in Pakistan.”

Fans will line-up in huge numbers to see AB play: Sammy

West Indies star and Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy, arguably the most popular of PSL’s foreign imports, recalled his experience of playing in Pakistan for De Villiers’ benefit.

“AB has entertained the world through his exploits,” he said. “I am glad that he has decided to show his skills in Lahore, which I am sure will be hugely appreciated by the courteous and supportive Pakistan cricket fans.

“De Villiers is a champion cricketer and I am excited for the players who will get to experience playing in Lahore with him and for the thousands of crazy Pakistan cricket fans who, I am sure, will line-up in huge numbers to see AB play.

“I played in Lahore and Karachi in 2017 and 2018 and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The excitement and enthusiasm I saw in Lahore and Karachi was second to none and it just drives home the fact that this game is what it is because of these lovely fans.

“Sadly, I will not get a chance to play against AB in Lahore but I will be watching the match on the television and I am sure we will get to see some great cricket.”

AB playing means a lot to Pakistan fans: Jordan

England fast bowler Chris Jordan, who will again represent Peshawar Zalmi, also lauded De Villiers’ decision, saying: “I am glad AB de Villiers was able to make this decision of touring Pakistan.

“The love and appreciation that we received when we played in Lahore and Karachi was beyond amazing. Pakistani fans just love their cricket and to be able to experience that is something I cherish till date and look forward to this year as well. I am sure AB will have a very similar experience.

“When you play in Pakistan, it just puts into perspective what an entire generation of their fans has missed out on and, seeing how the fans are reacting to this news, clearly it means a lot to them that AB will be playing in front of them. AB de Villiers is a great addition to this group of international cricketers who want to see international cricket return to Pakistan.”

De Villiers’ Lahore Qalandars will be in action on the opening day of PSL 2019 when they take on reigning champions Islamabad United in Dubai. The PSL 2019 starts on Feb 14 and ends in Karachi on March 17.

The 2019 edition of the PCB’s flagship product will see eight of its matches played in Pakistan – three in Lahore and five in Karachi.

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Govt will ‘need to take practical steps’ if PPP does not bring change to Sindh, warns Fawad

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry warned on Tuesday that if the PPP is unable to bring change to Sindh and the chief minister does not resign, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government “will need to take practical steps”.

Chaudhry, while speaking to reporters upon arrival in Karachi, explained that the government wants “the PPP to bring change themselves”, and for a new chief minister to take the place of Murad Shah, a senior PPP leader who was ,named in the joint investigation team’s report, in the fake accounts case.

“We want to first give them an opportunity [to bring change]. If this opportunity is not availed, and they do not take advantage of it, and Murad Shah does not resign, then we will certainly need to take practical steps here,” he said.

When asked about the possibility of the PTI forming a forward bloc in the PPP to remove the provincial government, Chaudhry responded that any person who carries the pain of the people of Sindh in his heart will want change in the province, no matter what party he belongs to.

He said that even ‘serious’ members of the PPP wanted change, adding that when this issue began, PPP members had themselves contacted the PTI and asked it to step forward for change.

“It is also a right of the people of Sindh to see the wave of change that the three other provinces have seen, that all of Pakistan has seen. It is the right of the people of Sindh that they become part of this change,” he added.

The federal minister pointed out that Sindh had not contributed to the National Finance Commission award for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) although the “other provinces and the federal government had given their share for its development”.

The PTI-run Federal, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments had ,decided on Jan 4, to jointly provide the equivalent of 3pc of the federal divisible pool for uplifting Fata after its merger with KP.

Chaudhry claimed that although the PPP paints itself as a “vision of democracy”, when the time for action came, it disassociated itself from Fata.

He alleged that Sindh’s money would “not be spent on the poor people” of the province. “It will go to the Omni Group and into branches of the Zardari Gropu of companies. The painful thing is that Sindh’s funds are being spent in London and Dubai.”

He claimed that those who are “closest to the people will talk about change”, and that a large majority of the PPP MPAs would side with the PTI.

PTI-PPP tussle heats up

A tussle between the PPP and PTI over money laundering and the fake bank accounts case has heated up in recent days, with the ruling party in Sindh accusing the Centre of attempting to dislodge the provincial government and warning it of dire consequences if any attempt is made to arrest top party cadre.

Chaudhry’s two-day trip to Sindh scheduled for December was shelved after Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar’s observations during an earlier hearing of the fake accounts case indicated that the PTI was trying to topple the PPP government.

Chaudhry was allegedly tasked by the prime minister to ,meet leaders of political parties apart from the PPP, during his earlier trip to Sindh and seek their support for dislodging the PPP government.

The information minister, however, ,has denied that his party wishes to dislodge the PPP, government. “We do not want to dislodge the PPP government in Sindh but want to forge consensus on the demand for resignation of Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to ensure fair trial of Asif Ali Zardari and company,” he had said earlier, adding that the PTI had no intention to impose governor’s rule in Sindh or repeal the 18th Amendment.

The information minister had explained ,during an earlier press conference, that his visit had been cancelled by Prime MInister Imran Khan to reject the impression that the Centre wanted to topple the Sindh government.

PPP is the majority party in the Sindh Assembly with 99 seats while the PTI and its allies have a total of 64 seats. The PTI requires 18 more members to outnumber the PPP to form its government in the province. However, it is believed that it would be a hard nut to crack to defeat the PPP in the provincial assembly as the party enjoys a formidable position in the province since long and has been in office there for over a decade.

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Tickets for PSL matches in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi available online

Tickets for the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2019 matches in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are now available online on ,www.q-tickets.com,, the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) official website for the tournament announced on Tuesday.

“Details about online Dubai and Pakistan leg tickets will be announced soon while box office ticket sales information for all five HBL PSL venues — Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Lahore and Karachi — will also be shared in due course,” read the announcement.

Sharjah will be the centre stage for the HBL PSL matches for the fourth successive year, since the inception of the league in 2016. The emirate will host a total of eight games, said the statement.

The fourth edition begins in Dubai on Feb 14 when defending champions Islamabad United take on Lahore Qalandars.

The first match in Sharjah will be played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Wednesday, Feb 20, between Quetta Gladiators and Multan Sultans at 9pm (PST). Sharjah crowd favourite Peshawar Zalmi will take on Karachi Kings on Thursday, Feb 21, at the same time followed by a double-header on Friday, Feb, 22.

The league is coming to Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Stadium for the first time with a total of four matches scheduled at the venue on March 4 and 5.

Five matches ,will be played at Karachi’s National Stadium,, including the March 17 final, while Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium will play host to three matches as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) continues to increase the number of matches in the country with every edition. Lahore hosted the final in the second edition of the league before hosting two matches last season when Karachi hosted the final.

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Military courts not needed any more, says Senate deputy chairman

KARACHI: As the current two-year term of military courts is set to expire in March, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) sounds firm about opposing the move for their extension as a party member holding key office in parliament said on Monday that special judicial arrangements were made as a temporary solution and they were not needed any more.

Deputy Chairman of the Senate Saleem Mandviwalla, while giving reasons for his and his party’s opinion against the military courts, also cited the context and the law and order situation at the time they were proposed and set up, which he believed had changed altogether over the past two years.

“When the military courts were proposed and set up, there was a particular atmosphere and situation which developed consensus and paved the way for their creation,” he said while talking to reporters at the Karachi Press Club.

Mandviwalla says security situation in country has changed altogether over the past two years

“The situation has completely changed over past two years. I don’t think they are needed any more. The judiciary a couple of years ago was under threat that also allowed the military courts to bridge the gap. In the current situation, we don’t need military courts.”

Earlier this month, the law ministry informed a National Assembly’s standing committee that the summary for a second extension in the military courts had been forwarded to the federal cabinet for approval.

Mr Mandviwalla’s thoughts came hardly a month after his party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari unequivocally said that his party would not support another extension to the military courts, whose current two-year term is set to expire in March.

Answering a question about his party’s intention to remove Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani from office, he didn’t go into detail and share anything with clarity and only referred to “democratic process” for any move or change.

“We have always opposed dictatorial and undemocratic moves for any change or initiative,” he said. “We would welcome any move and would like to be a part of that if it meets all democratic norms and parliamentary values. Anything beyond this simple policy is not acceptable to us, neither we are planning anything like that.”

Mr Mandviwalla had last week confirmed reports that efforts were under way to remove Mr Sanjrani from office in a move that may further deepen the political crisis surrounding parliament amid a widening gap between the ruling and opposition parties.

The Senate deputy chairman congratulated the newly elected body of the Karachi Press Club and assured support of his party against unannounced censorship and layoffs of media members from their organisations.

“Our authorities and the institutions must realise that they can’t fight the fifth generation war without a free and vibrant media,” he said. “The PPP has the history of always encouraging the freedom of the press and supporting the journalists fraternity for their role and services to democracy.”

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2019

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Opposition set to give tough time to ruling coalition in NA

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly is set to go into its seventh session on Monday (today) with Speaker Asad Qaiser still ,struggling with the formation, of the house committees as the opposition parties flexing its muscles to give a tough time to the ruling coalition on a number of issues, including the ongoing energy crisis, alleged one-sided accountability process, the government’s move to present another mini-budget and the recent increase in the prices of medicines.

The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is also planning a strong protest on the floor of the assembly, if the speaker does not issue the production order for former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafique, who has been in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) along with his brother Salman Rafique in connection with an inquiry into a housing society scam.

Sources in the National Assembly Secretariat told Dawn that the speaker had already ,issued the production order, for Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif while the process of the issuance of the production order for Mr Rafique was under way.

Seventh session of National Assembly begins today

Mr Sharif has been attending the NA sessions and meetings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the speaker’s production orders since his arrest by NAB on Oct 6 last year in the Ashiyana housing scam.

Mr Rafique had been ,arrested by NAB on Dec 11, last year at a time when the assembly was already in session. The opposition parties had lodged a strong protest and even boycotted most of the sittings before the speaker issued production order only a day before prorogation of the house on Dec 21.

The speaker has already summoned a meeting of the House Business Advisory Committee comprising representatives of all the parties present in the assembly before start of the session in which he is expected to take up the issue of the formation of the committees, besides discussing the agenda for the upcoming session which is expected to continue for more than two weeks as the government intends to present a mini-budget on Jan 23.

Finance Minister Asad Umar, while speaking to the members of the business community during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry on Saturday, had announced that the government would ,present a mini-budget on Jan 23, and dispelled the impression that it would be loaded with new taxes.

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

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the PML-N are questioning the government’s move to present second mini-budget in less than six months.

Strongly opposing the plan, PPP’s vice president Senator Sherry Rehman had asked if the government, which was determined to bring about a revolution, would introduce mini-budgets every four months. She alleged that the mini-budget was being unveiled to meet the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund.

She regretted that just a day after an increase in the prices of drugs, the government announced its plans about unveiling a mini-budget.

Similarly, the PML-N leaders, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, had also questioned the government’s move to present another mini-budget. Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, the PML-N leaders had lashed out at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for its “directionless and failed” economic policies, which had drastically brought down the country’s growth rate in just five months.

House committees

Despite succeeding in ,breaking the deadlock, between the government and the opposition over the issue of the PAC chairmanship last month, Speaker Asad Qaiser is still struggling to complete the process of the formation of house committees.

The delay in the formation of over three dozen committees has badly affected the legislative work of parliament, and the National Assembly which came into existence in August after the general elections held in July is functioning with only two committees, including the PAC.

Sources said that an understanding between the government and the opposition had already been reached on the distribution of the chairmanship of 38 standing committees. Under the agreed formula, the chairmanship of 18 committees would go to the opposition while the remaining 20 committees would be headed by the PTI and its allies.

However, they said, the two sides were yet to discuss the committees to be distributed among the treasury and the opposition members. The opposition parties, the sources said, wanted to head the important committees like interior, foreign affairs, power and finance.

The speaker had met Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan and the opposition leaders in the last two days and after his meeting with the government and the opposition representatives, he expressed the hope that he would constitute the committees during the session.

Meanwhile, the NA Secretariat on Sunday issued a nine-point agenda for the Monday’s sitting which includes presentation of a report by the government on “I-Voting Pilot test in 35 constituencies held on October 14 last year, as required under Section 94 of the Elections Act, 2017”.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

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Minister terms all previous budgets fake

LAHORE: Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday said that all previous budgets were fake and now real budgets were being presented.

“The upcoming January 23 mini-budget will lay a foundation of Pakistan’s strong economy,” he said and added that the PTI government would come up to the expectations of people.

The information minister’s remarks come a day after Finance Minister Asad Umar on Saturday dispelled the impression that the ,upcoming mini-budget, would be loaded with new taxes. While addressing members of the business community in Karachi, Mr Umar had said that the mini-budget would focus on ease of doing business and measures to facilitate trade and industrialisation.

Says governance will improve in two to three years

The information minister urged people to have trust in the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, adding that governance would improve in two to three years.

“Have patience for two to three years and this government’s governance will be of par excellence,” he told the media at ThinkFest at Alhamra Arts Council.

Mr Chaudhry said PM Khan did not believe in giving relief (NRO) to any corrupt.

“One has already landed in jail, while the other will follow suit,” he said while referring to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, respectively.

He reiterated that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari were pressurising (the government) in and out of parliament but they would not get any NRO.

The information minister said that Mr Sharif’s and Mr Zardari’s parties had collapsed.

“They have dug their political graves with their style of politics. We didn’t contribute anything [to their troubles],” Mr Chaudhry said.

The minister expressed wonder over the way the trial of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif was being conducted, saying they were enjoying all freedom when compared with incarceration of Wali Khan, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and other high-profile people who remained in prison. “Nawaz Sharif flew to London during his trial and his lawyers cross-examined witnesses for 22 days.”

He said that Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif was in jail only on papers as he was living in his house and holding meetings and sometimes even called the NAB and prosecutors to appear before him. “I haven’t seen such a trial in my life,” he said and added, “still they are heading towards their political death”.

Responding to a question about former US Ambassador Cameron Munter that Pakistan had misused funds given by the US to counter terrorism as well as promote education, Mr Chaudhry brushed aside Mr Munter’s statement, saying he had retired long ago and did not know anything happening now.

He pointed out that the US had already discontinued the Coalition Support Fund. However, he added, Pakistan-US relations were now improving. He said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had visited Pakistan and later Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met him in Washington leading to improvement in Pak-US ties.

“I guess Munter has not visited Washington for quite some time,” he said.

Referring to the PPP leaders’ names on the ECL, he said the direction was given by the JIT and the government had just implemented it.

Regarding his re-scheduled visit to Sindh and PPP minister Saeed Ghani’s assertion that he could stop him entering Sindh, Mr Chaudhry said Sindh was part of Pakistan and no one could stop him from going there. He said he was going to Sindh in connection with the affairs of his ministry and would obviously meet his colleagues there.

Mr Chaudhry said the information ministry would come up with a calendar of mega events in the country in a couple of weeks to allow space to thinkers and writers to speak up their minds.

Emphasising the need for promotion of tourism, he said Pakistan had decided to allow visa-free entry to people from 66 countries.

“People from across the globe will be invited to participate in various literary, cultural, social and religious festivals,” the minister said and added that the government was working on mechanisms to keep the events safe.

He said authors would be encouraged and film industry would be revived.

“PM Imran Khan’s vision is not just political but also social, and he wants to generate activity that will bring people closer unlike past rulers, who only worked to fill their coffers,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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