Posts Tagged ‘kashmir’

Top court’s powers extended to Gilgit-Baltistan, rules Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday, while giving a written order regarding the ,constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and the grant of fundamental rights to its citizens, ruled that the powers of the top court also extend to the region.

The written order also states that no part of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan can be abolished or amended without proper legislation.

A seven-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had on January 7 ,reserved its verdict, regarding a set of petitions challenging the Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009, as well as the right of the citizens of the area to be governed through their chosen representatives.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018 was earlier opposed by protesters hailing from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who demanded that GB should be declared a part of Pakistan instead of being administered through presidential orders.

The proposed reforms draft states that the federal government intends to grant GB the status of a provisional province, “subject to the decision of the plebiscite to be conducted under the UN resolutions”, with all privileges provided by the Constitution.

The move, however, would require an amendment in the Constitution, which needs a two-thirds majority in the parliament and “would take time”. Therefore, as an interim measure, the government plans to give such fundamental rights to GB residents as enjoyed by the people of any other province.

Today’s order clarified that no changes will be made to the current state of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir and that the constitutional status of these areas shall be determined through a referendum. It further said that this process should take place within 14 days.

The order said that India and Pakistan are responsible for giving more rights to the [people of] the areas under their control and until the referendum happens, Pakistan is bound to give Gilgit-Baltistan as many rights as possible. The order also pointed out that several administrative offices have already been created in the area under the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018.

Gilgit-Baltistan courts hold the right to review the law-making done by the Gilgit-Baltistan Council. However, these courts do not hold constitutional rights within Pakistan.

The people of Gilgit-Baltistan will be able to challenge the appellant court’s decisions in the Supreme court of Pakistan.

The SC has also given the suggestion regarding changes to be made in the presidential ordinance and also clarified that the president of Pakistan can enforce the Order upon the proposal of the federation.

However, it has also been made clear that the 2018 Order cannot be amended. If the Parliament makes any changes to this order they can be “examined on the touchstone of the Constitution”.

The order further said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have the same rights as the people of Pakistan.

Upon hearing the court’s order, members of the Gilgit-Baltistan Bar Council thanked the chief justice and asked him for the order’s Urdu translation to also be released.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 17, 2019 at 9:26 am

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Fight against India joins two Kashmir teens in life and death

On a hot day in August, members of a Kashmiri youth soccer team watched their 16-year-old captain, Saqib Bilal Sheikh, and goalkeeper Mudassir Rashid Parray, two years his junior, walk off the field toward a man on a motorcycle. The two teenagers were not seen again until months later, when they were returned to their hometown in body bags.

Dying with his teammate in an 18-hour firefight in December, Mudassir became the youngest fighter slain fighting Indian troops in a three-decade uprising in Kashmir. The Kashmiri struggle is drawing greater numbers of teenage boys and young men as New Delhi has increased its suppression of protest against Indian rule in the Himalayan region.

Maimoona Rashid holds the only photograph she has of her brother Mudassir Rashid Parray in Hajin village, north of Srinagar. ? AP

Maimoona Rashid holds the only photograph she has of her brother Mudassir Rashid Parray in Hajin village, north of Srinagar. ? AP

Anti-India unrest has been on the rise since a charismatic Kashmiri leader was killed in a 2016 gunbattle with Indian troops in southern Kashmir. Police say since then, hundreds of young Kashmiris have joined groups of fighters, leading to a surge in attacks on Indian troops and pro-India Kashmiri politicians in the region, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety.

Indian authorities have responded by stepping up operations against Kashmiri fighters and cracking down on civilian protests, often responding to stone-pelting with live bullets.

“Young people feel frustrated and pushed to the wall,” said Khurram Parvez, a programme coordinator for the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.

Saqib and Mudassir came from different economic backgrounds, united by their passion for soccer and their hometown, Hajin, which since the 1990s has seen brutal fighting between anti-India fighters and pro-India groups armed and funded by the Indian military.

Mehbooba shows a picture of her son Saqib Bilal Sheikh on a mobile phone as father Bilal Ahmed Shiekh, looks on while talking to the Associated Press in Hajin village, north of Srinagar.

Mehbooba shows a picture of her son Saqib Bilal Sheikh on a mobile phone as father Bilal Ahmed Shiekh, looks on while talking to the Associated Press in Hajin village, north of Srinagar.

The two boys watched as the peaceful summertime street marches that began in Kashmir in 2008 turned into battlegrounds.

Their parents had generally distanced themselves from the civilian uprising against India. But both families described their sons as martyrs, speaking to a common resentment of India in Kashmir as a violent occupying force.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, Ghulam Mohiuddin wipes his tears as he talks to the Associated Press about his grandson Saqib Bilal Sheikh in Hajin village.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, Ghulam Mohiuddin wipes his tears as he talks to the Associated Press about his grandson Saqib Bilal Sheikh in Hajin village.

Saqib, who was famous among his friends for appearing as an extra in the Bollywood film “Haider,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” set in Kashmir, grew up in a wealthy farming family, excelled at school and aspired to become an engineer.

From their two-story home in Hajin, Saqib’s elder brother, Aqib Bilal, played a video on his phone of his brother using an iron to straighten his thick, black hair. He flipped through one of his brother’s notebooks: mathematics exercises, physics notes and poetry.

In this Dec 26, 2018, photo, books belonging to Kashmiri boy Saqib Bilal Sheikh are stacked inside his room in Hajin village, north of Srinagar. — AP

In this Dec 26, 2018, photo, books belonging to Kashmiri boy Saqib Bilal Sheikh are stacked inside his room in Hajin village, north of Srinagar. — AP

One couplet, written in Urdu, read, “Everyone should participate in the freedom struggle; everyone’s dream is freedom but no one wants to fight and die for it!”

Unlike Saqib, Mudassir was skinny, soft-spoken and shy, and struggled with his studies.

He sometimes took menial jobs to help his sickly parents, younger sister and mentally disabled elder brother, his parents said from their modest home, some 500 metres away from the Bilals.

“At such a tender age, he was already our family’s backbone,” Mudassir’s father, Abdul Rashid Parray, said as he shuffled kangri, a traditional earthenware firepot filled with embers used in Kashmir to keep warm in the harsh winter months.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, Fareeda Rasheed, mother of Kashmiri boy Mudassir Rashid Parray grieves inside her house in Hajin village. — AP

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, Fareeda Rasheed, mother of Kashmiri boy Mudassir Rashid Parray grieves inside her house in Hajin village. — AP

“Police snatched my son from us,” Mudassir’s mother, Fareeda Begum, shouted in tears, surrounded by consoling women.

“He was fated to die on that day,” Parray said in response. “Thank God he died as a martyr.”

Mudassir’s cousin Ahmed, who gave only his middle name, fearing reprisal from the authorities, said police had detained and tortured Mudassir for over two weeks in 2017, listing him as an “over-ground worker,” a term Indian forces use to describe people who actively support the uprising.

Police denied detaining Mudassir, saying they only brought him into the station to counsel him as part of what police call a de-radicalisation campaign.

“We called Mudassir to dissuade him from participating in protests and stone-pelting,” said the area’s police chief, Sheikh Zulfkar Azad. “We counseled his father as well. But Mudassir had already been too radicalised.”

Conflict observers say last year’s death toll was the highest since 2009, including at least 260 Kashmiri fighters, 160 civilians and 150 Indian forces.

The United Nations has called for an independent international investigation into reports of rape, torture and extrajudicial killings in Kashmir. In a June report, the UN particularly criticised Indian troops for firing shotgun pellets at protesters, blinding and injuring hundreds of people, including children.

India’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the report as “fallacious.”

Indian-occupied Kashmir has seen several uprisings, including the ongoing armed movement launched in 1989 to demand independence or a merger with Pakistan. Since then, about 70,000 people mainly civilians and Kashmiri fighters as well as Indian soldiers and police have been killed.

The conflict has intensified since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 amid rising attacks by Hindu hard-liners against minorities, further deepening frustration with New Delhi’s occupation of Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharitya Janata Party-led government has toughened its stance against both Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists with policies that experts say are intended to project the BJP as strong and uncompromising.

“This all becomes perversely useful for the BJP in the run-up to elections” due this year, said Paul Staniland, a political science professor focused on South Asia at the University of Chicago.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, a Kashmiri man along with his daughter drives past a graffiti on the house of Mudassir Rashid Parray, referring to him as a martyr, in Hajin village, north of Srinagar.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, a Kashmiri man along with his daughter drives past a graffiti on the house of Mudassir Rashid Parray, referring to him as a martyr, in Hajin village, north of Srinagar.

Amid mounting public defiance against India’s occupation of Kashmir including publicly mourning dead fighters as martyrs, flouting curfews, producing resistance art and engaging in social media activism some former federal ministers and Hindu nationalists have questioned Modi’s Kashmir policy.

India is holding Kashmir “only by dint of the fact that we have our armed forces there,” India’s former finance and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha said during a recent panel discussion in New Delhi.

“Unfortunately, Kashmiri body bags and anti-Pakistan rhetoric sells well in India for gaining votes,” said Parvez, the human rights activist. “That’s exactly what Modi’s party is doing.”

Modi’s policies have also led to strengthening the resolve of those fighting for an end to India’s rule in Kashmir.

“How can any Kashmiri ever back India?” said Ali Mohammed, one of the Parrays’ neighbours.

In this Dec 26, 2018, photo, Bazila Bilal shows the trophies and medals of her brother Saqib Bilal Sheikh inside her home in Hajin village. — AP

In this Dec 26, 2018, photo, Bazila Bilal shows the trophies and medals of her brother Saqib Bilal Sheikh inside her home in Hajin village. — AP

“Supporting India is like supporting soldiers killing and blinding children and destroying our homes. Supporting India is just inhumane.”

On the evening of Dec 8, Indian troops surrounded a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Srinagar, and cornered Mudassir, Saqib and a Kashmiri commander, leading to a fierce gunfight. As the battle raged, residents tried to march to the site, hurling stones at the troops.

Troops destroyed at least seven homes in the fighting, blasting them with explosives and shells. By the end of the night-long clash, the boys and the Kashmiri commander were dead.

One bitterly cold December day, Saqib’s maternal Uncle Asim Aijaz visited a cemetery in Hajin reserved for martyrs, where over three dozen Kashmiri fighters and civilians killed in the armed conflict in the area are buried, to pray and light incense at the two boys’ common grave.

“This occupation must die, not our young kids,” he said.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 16, 2019 at 11:25 am

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‘Breakthrough’ as India greenlights Chenab hydropower projects inspection by Pakistan

After ,more than four months of dilly-dallying,, India has agreed to fulfil its commitment of getting its two hydropower projects — 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnal — inspected by Pakistani experts, officials said on Friday.

Pakistani Commissioner for Indus Waters Mehr Ali Shah said a delegation of Pakistani experts will visit the two Indian project sites on Chenab River for an inspection, scheduled for later this month.

“India has also given positive signals regarding inspection of other projects constructed on Chenab River,” he revealed while speaking to DawnNewsTV.

Examine: ,Why the Indus Water Treaty has stood the test of time,

Shah said Pakistan had achieved this “success” after forcefully raising the issue of India’s violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)

Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda hailed the development as a “major breakthrough”, saying a delegation led by Shah will visit the Indian hydropower projects at the Chenab Basin for an inspection between January 27 and February 1.

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“It’s indeed a feather in [the] Ministry for water resources’ cap. We welcome this gesture from India and we expect the same spirit for resolution of other outstanding issues,” the minister said in a series of tweets.

Vawda observed that Pakistan and India have been engaged in the dispute relating to IWT “for ages”, but New Delhi had now agreed to schedule the visit of Pakistani experts “due to our continued efforts”.

India had ,originally agreed to allow Pakistani experts to inspect, the aforementioned two projects during the 115th meeting of the Permanent Commission for Indus Waters (PCIW) held between the two countries from August 29 to 30 in Lahore last year.

Besides agreeing to an inspection of the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal projects, which was scheduled for September, India had also consented to a survey by Pakistani experts of the Kishanganga project at Jhelum basin at a later stage. Reciprocally, Pakistan had agreed to allow India to carry out inspection of Kotri Barrage over the Indus after September.

After initially scheduling the inspection of the projects at Chenab Basin by Pakistani experts from October 7 to 11, New Delhi had ,postponed the same, on the pretext of local bodies’ elections in the respective areas.

During the last week of October, the Pakistani Indus water commissioner had telephoned his Indian counterpart, Pradeep Kumar Saxena, and urged him to give a schedule for the experts’ visit. However, Saxena then said it wouldn’t be possible during the first or second week of De­c­em­ber due to local Punchayat elections in Indian occupied Kashmir — the region where these projects are located.

After a reminder in November, Islamabad had on December 24 ,once again urged India, through a letter to fulfil the commitment it made in August to schedule the hydropower projects’ inspection by Pakistani experts.

Pakistan’s objections

Pakistan has objections to the pondage and freeboard of Lower Kalnal, and pondage, filling criteria and spillway of Pakal Dul hydropower projects on Marusadar River — a right bank tributary of the Chenab.

Read: ,Pakistan’s concerns regarding India’s Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal projects,

Under the Indus Waters Treaty, both Pakistan and India are bound to inspect projects and share data related to water flow, storage and releases, and floods.

The treaty also empowers the two countries to mutually resolve their water related issues on their own or through arbitration and appointment of independent experts and other relevant forums.

Under the provisions of IWT, waters of the eastern rivers — Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — had been allocated to India and the western rivers — the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — to Pakistan, except for certain non-consumptive uses by India.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 11, 2019 at 9:25 pm

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Woman killed in ‘indiscriminate’ shelling by Indian troops across LoC

A woman lost her life and another sustained injuries as Indian troops on Wednesday targeted civilian population in two different areas of Azad Kashmir from across the line of control (LoC), officials said.

Neelum Deputy Commissioner Raja Mahmood Shahid told Dawn that “indiscriminate” shelling by Indian troops began at about 8:50am in the morning and continued till 2pm intermittently, during which the troops targeted civilian population in district headquarters Athmuqam and its surrounding hamlets.

A mortar shell landed in the courtyard of a house in Bugna village on the outskirts of the district headquarters, killing Sajida Bibi, a 35-year-old mother of six, he said.

“Splinters from the shell pierced through her neck, causing huge loss of blood that led to her on the spot death,” the deputy commissioner said after visiting the aggrieved family. Shahid handed over a cheque of Rs0.3 million on behalf of the AJK government to the heirs of the deceased woman.

According to the deputy commissioner, Pakistani forces gave a “befitting response to the unprovoked shelling by Indian forces.”

It’s for the second time that Indian troops have directly targeted civilian population of Athmuqam in less than two weeks.

In the ,previous incident on December 31,, a woman was killed and nine others, including two constables, were wounded in India’s ruthless shelling of the town.

The deputy commissioner briefed that the residents of highly vulnerable areas had been asked to move to safer places while educational institutions had been closed for the time being.

An emergency cell has also been set up for any emergency or information by the district disaster management authority, he added.

Elsewhere, a 35-years old woman, identified as Parveen Bibi, was injured after being hit by shrapnel from a mortar shell in Nali village of Barnala, said Bhimber Deputy Commissioner Sardar Khalid, of which Barnala is one of three subdivisions.

The woman was admitted to the military dressing centre in Bhimber where her condition was stated to be out of danger, he added.

Khalid further informed that Indian troops also resorted to small arms fire in Baghsar sector but no casualties were reported from there.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 10, 2019 at 1:25 am

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List of public holidays for 2019 released by interior ministry

The Ministry of Interior has released a list of public holidays to fall in 2019. The notification from the ministry clarifies that Muslim festivals will be subject to change according to the sighting of the moon. In case of a change in the dates for such holidays, a separate notification will be issued.

The holidays include:

  • Kashmir Day —
    February 5 (Tuesday)

  • Pakistan Day —
    March 23 (Saturday)

  • Labour Day —
    May 1 (Wednesday)

  • Eidul Fitr — June 5, 6, 7 (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)

  • Eidul Azha —
    August 12, 13, 14 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

  • Independence day —
    August 14 (Wednesday)

  • Ashura — September 9, 10 (Monday, Tuesday)

  • Eid-i-Miladun Nabi — November 10 (Sunday)

  • Quaid-i-Azam Day — December 25 (Wednesday)

The following dates will be considered bank holidays. However, while banks will remain shut to the public on these days, employees will have to report to work as usual.

  • May 6 (corresponding to the first day of Ramazan)

  • July 1

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Pakistan rejects ‘politically motivated’ listing as violator of religious freedoms by US

As Washington announced that Islamabad had been ,added to a list of violators of religious freedoms,, Pakistan on Wednesday rejected the “unilateral and politically motivated pronouncement”, and suggested the US introspect over the “exponential rise” of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in America.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ,had on Tuesday said, that Pakistan was joining Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, North Korea, Burma, Eritrea, Sudan and Tajikistan on a list of countries that have “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom”.

The Foreign Office (FO) today issued Islamabad’s reaction to the listing, saying: “Pakistan rejects the US State Department’s unilateral and politically motivated pronouncement … Besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions over the credentials and impartiality of the self-proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise.”

The FO explained measures that the government had taken to safeguard the rights of its citizens, including the use of legal and administrative mechanisms, adding that Islamabad submits compliance reports on its obligations with respect to fundamental freedoms as a party to seven of nine core human rights treaties.


How Pakistan safeguards its minorities, according to FO:

  • Equal treatment of minorities enshrined in Constitution
  • Special seats reserved for minorities in Parliament
  • National Commission on Human Rights addresses concerns over violations of minorities’ rights
  • Successive governments make protection of minorities a priority
  • Judiciary has made several landmark decisions to protect the properties and places of worship of minority communities

“Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities,” the statement asserted.

The FO suggested that honest introspection on Washington’s part would have been a timely move in order to ascertain the causes behind the exponential rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the US.

“Sadly, the proponents of human rights worldwide close their eyes to the systematic persecution of minorities subjected to alien domination and foreign occupation such as in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement added.

The FO described Pakistan as a “multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together.”

Last year, Pompeo had placed Pakistan on a special watch list — a step short of the designation — which is used to persuade the targeted nation into introducing reforms suggested in annual US reports for religious freedom.

The designation is based on these annual reports and opens the door for further actions, including US economic sanctions. The US has already imposed strict economic sanctions on Pakistan for its alleged refusal to follow the Trump administration’s Afghan strategy.

The designation also includes al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, Isis, Isis-Khorasan, and the Taliban as entities of particular concern.

Blacklisting Pakistan a ‘brazen political tactic’: Mazari

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari expressed surprise at the US administration’s decision to designate Pakistan among “countries of particular concern”, terming it a “brazen political tactic to pressure Pakistan to mitigate US failures in Afghanistan”.

The PTI minister, in her official statement on the development, acknowledged that “there is no doubt that Pakistan’s record on religions freedom is not ideal” but questioned if “the EU’s record” is any better “given the restrictions on churches, the banning of certain dress codes of Mulsims, refusal of entry of certain preachers — the list continues.”

Mazari reminded the US that “in our own neighbourhood we have India where Muslims are being targeted and where the BJP is supporting violence against Muslims ostensibly over beef.”

“The timing of the US move smacks of pure political blackmailing because it comes in the wake of Pakistan opening the Katarpur corridor to ease access for the Sikhs of India,” the statement reads.

The human rights minister said that she would “like to educate the Trump administration” that a “diverse denominations of Christian churches are present in Pakistan”, including Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian and others.

Mazari made it clear that the US attempt to pressurise “Pakistan to do its bidding” will not work, directing their attention to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent remarks that he would net allow the country to be anyone’s “hired gun” anymore.

“It is time for the US to take responsibility for its failures in Afghanistan … and if it is serious about religious freedoms then it needs to examine the record of Modi’s India and and some of its EU allies,” she added.

Pompeo waives CPC sanctions for Pakistan

A US Embassy spokesperson today told DawnNewsTV that Pompeo, along with placing Pakistan on the list, had concurrently issued a waiver of ‘country of particular concern’ (CPC) sanctions against Pakistan “as required by ‘the important national interest of the United States’.”

The spokesperson explained that each country given the CPC designation “presents unique challenges, as well as a different potential for change”.

“The measures the United States carries out or waives with respect to a CPC are part of a broader strategy that aims to improve respect for religious freedom in that country,” the spokesperson added.

“In certain instances, the Secretary (Pompeo) has determined that a waiver of the Presidential Action was required in the important national interest of the United States.”

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - December 12, 2018 at 10:26 am

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Opposition parties insist on Shahbaz’s name for PAC chairman

All opposition parties in the National Assembly have reaffirmed their demand that the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should be given to the leader of the opposition, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif announced on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the joint opposition leadership, Shahbaz said the opposition parties had once again concluded that the opposition leader should become the PAC chairman, “which has been the tradition for the past 10 years”.

Editorial: ,PTI must break deadlock over PAC chairmanship,

Accompanied by PPP and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal leaders, Shahbaz said the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had been giving the “lame excuse” that he, being the PML-N head, could not preside over the audit review of matters pertaining to his party’s previous government.

Shahbaz Sharif talks to reporters in the parliament alongside leaders of other opposition parties. — Photo by author

Shahbaz Sharif talks to reporters in the parliament alongside leaders of other opposition parties. — Photo by author

Shahbaz said the opposition parties had devised an alternative to avoid this possible conflict of interest: He (Shahbaz) can be nominated as the PAC chairman, but he will not head meetings in which audit paras of the previous PML-N government are scrutinised. Instead, a sub-committee can be formed to examine matters related to the previous administration, and the PTI can nominate its own chairman for the sub-committee, Shahbaz added.

“[But] the opposition has made it clear that the PAC chairman will be the opposition leader,” the PML-N president said, adding that he was thankful to the opposition parties for reposing their confidence in him through their “rightful stand”.

Shahbaz said the opposition parties also resolved to devise a joint strategy for NA and prevent the “wastage of time” of the lower house.

The PML-N president criticised what he referred to as official “high-handedness” over the ,placement of his son,, Hamza Shahbaz’s name on the no-fly list. He said it was a sign of a “civilian dictatorship”.

Shahbaz also condemned the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) move to ,issue summons to PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, in a property case and to take PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Salman Rafique into ,custody,. He once again alleged that NAB and Prime Minister Imran Khan were in an “unholy alliance”.

Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif calls on Speaker Asad Qaiser. — Photo: NA Secretariat

Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif calls on Speaker Asad Qaiser. — Photo: NA Secretariat

Shahbaz later met Speaker Asad Qaiser in his chamber and informed him about the decision of the opposition parties that the PAC chairmanship should be held by the opposition leader.

PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf while talking to reporters said the opposition parties had suggested that while Shahbaz could be named as the PAC chairman, the committee would be chaired by a PTI lawmaker during meetings in which audit paras of the Nawaz Sharif government are to be scrutinised.

“This issue is not as complicated as it has been made,” he said.

Standing committees a ‘top priority’: speaker

Also on Tuesday, the speaker chaired a meeting of senior government leaders to find ways to kick-start legislative business in the lower house.

Speaker Asad Qaiser chairs a meeting of govt leaders. — Photo: NA Secretariat

Speaker Asad Qaiser chairs a meeting of govt leaders. — Photo: NA Secretariat

The meeting was attended by the ministers for defence, foreign affairs, law and justice, Kashmir affairs, parliamentary affairs; NA deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri, PTI chief whip in NA Malik Aamir Dogar and the parliamentary secretary for law and justice.

Participants of the meeting gave their suggestions to make the legislative process expeditious and effective.

Speaker Qaiser directed the ministers to start communicating with opposition parties to jointly work on promoting issues of national and public interest.

He said it was his “top priority” to remove all obstacles in the formation of standing committees. He expressed the hope that all such hurdles would be removed in the current NA session.

The deadlock

The National Assembly ,had gone into its sixth session from Monday, with Speaker Qaiser still struggling to end the deadlock between the government and the opposition over the issue of the PAC chairmanship.

Last week, Qaiser during a chat with reporters had stated that he was in contact with both the government and the opposition parties over the issue of the committees and hopefully it would soon be resolved “amicably”.

The speaker had to stop the process of the formation of the committees due to the opposition’s threat to boycott all the committees if the ruling party did not offer the PAC chairmanship to Opposition Leader Shahbaz as per the “parliamentary traditions”.

The opposition parties claim that Qaiser in a meeting with them had previously agreed to their demand of nominating Shahbaz as the PAC chairman, but later backtracked from his commitment due to resistance from his party members.

The PTI is unwilling to give the PAC chairmanship to Shahbaz, saying it could not allow him to review the projects that had been initiated and executed by the government of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has stated many times that the government could go ahead with the formation of the committees without the opposition.

The inordinate delay in the formation of the committees has started to affect the functioning of the parliament, which has almost become dysfunctional as far as legislative work is concerned. With the present government already completing its 100 days in office, the NA has been able to only pass the Finance (Supplementary) Bill.

Under the rules, the speaker was bound to constitute all the standing and functional committees “within 30 days after the election of the Leader of the House (prime minister)”. Since the prime minister was elected on August 18, the speaker had time till September 17 for the formation of over three dozen house committees.

All the opposition parties had already handed over the names of their members for the committees to the NA Secretariat as per rules, but the speaker had to stop the process when the opposition announced that its members would withdraw from all the committees if the PAC chairmanship was not offered to them as per tradition.

Although there is no restriction on the government in the rules to give the chairmanship of the PAC to the opposition parties, it has been a parliamentary practice and tradition for the past 10 years that the office is given to an opposition member in order to ensure transparency in financial matters.

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

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Govt releases 41pc less funds for development projects

ISLAMABAD: With tight fiscal position and revenue shortfall, the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) continues to shrink during the current fiscal year.

In the first five months (July-November) of the current year, total PSDP releases by the Planning Commission amount to Rs182 billion against Rs305bn of the same period last year, showing a reduction of 40.3 per cent.

According to latest data released by the Planning Commission, the total spending at Rs182bn as of Dec 7, 2018 accounted for almost 27pc of the total revised PSDP allocation of Rs675bn. Exactly until this period last year, the Planning Commission had released Rs305bn that accounted for more than 38pc of the revised allocation of Rs800bn.

The data suggested that about Rs71bn has been released by the Planning Commission to all 39 federal ministries and divisions in five months this year. This worked out at 24.4pc of Rs291.5bn annual allocation for these ministries.

In comparison, Rs71.14bn had been released to these ministries the same period last year, accounting for 23.6pc of revised allocation of Rs301bn.

The data showed the Planning Commission could not release any funds for development of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) even though an allocation of Rs10bn had been approved in the supplementary budget presented by the PTI government in September as federal contribution to 10-year development programme of the region now being merged as districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Last year, the government had released about Rs10.5bn for states and tribal regions in five months against an annual allocation of Rs26.9bn.

Releases for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) have been higher this year. For example, the Planning Commission released Rs10.7bn in five months of AJK against a total allocation of Rs25.8bn. During the same period last year, Rs8.56bn were provided to AJK against the same allocation of Rs25.8. Likewise, GB was provided with Rs7.8bn this year against an allocation of Rs17.5bn compared to Rs7.44bn out of Rs18.3bn.

In contrast, the releases out of federal budget to corporations as percentage of total allocations were higher this year, mainly because of near completion of most of the projects that have been under implementation for a few years, majority of them under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. In absolute terms, the releases for National Highway Authority (NHA) and power companies had been significantly lower this year.

This is evident from the fact that the commission released a total of Rs90bn to two leading corporations – NHA and the power sector – accounting for more than 41pc against revised allocations of Rs218.6bn. In comparison, an amount of Rs130bn had been released to these two sectors in five months last year that stood at 34pc of revised allocation of Rs385bn.

On the other hand, the government could release only Rs1.23bn to three special programmes against a total allocation of Rs78bn. These allocations included Rs33.5bn each for development for settlement of internally displaced persons and security enhancement, Rs7bn for Prime Minister’s Youth Programme and Rs4bn for gas infrastructure development. During the same period last year, an amount of Rs45bn was disbursed was released to these sectors against a total allocation of Rs135bn.

Under disbursement mechanism approved in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, 20pc allocated funds are required to be released in each of the first two quarters and 30pc each in the third and fourth quarters of the financial year.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2018

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Rally held to condemn abuses in held-Kashmir

MUZAFFARABAD: Peo­ple from different walks of life held a protest demonstration on Monday to draw the international community’s attention to human rights violations in India-held Kashmir (IHK).

The demonstration was held under the aegis of the International Forum for Justice and Human Rights (IFJHR), a Srinagar-based organisation, to commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on this day in 1948.

Participants, who included students and civil society activists, marched through the Muzaffarabad-Islamabad highway near the Ambore refugee camp, amid downpour, while chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.

They carried banners and placards inscribed with slogans condemning human rights abuses by Indian troops in IHK.

“Where is justice in case of Jammu and Kashmir,” read one placard.

Speaking on the occasion, IFJHR vice chairman Mus­h­taqul Islam regretted that those who proclaimed themselves as champions of human rights were silent on rights violations in IHK. “Before marking this day as fashion, they should first stop human rights violations in India-held territory,” he stressed.

Uzair Ahmed Ghazali, a migrant leader, lamented that while the West had been maintaining “shameless silence” over human rights violations by non-Muslim states such as India, Israel and Myanmar, it had been using the same term as a tool to subdue Muslim countries.

“There should be an end to this hypocrisy and double standards,” he said.

PPP leader Shaukat Javed Mir appreciated the June 2018 report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a “significant breakthrough” after a long time.

However, he stressed that the UN must establish an international inquiry commission to investigate human rights violations in occupied Kashmir as suggested by the report.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2018

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New panel formed to consider proposals for GB citizens’ rights

ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court on Friday ordered constitution of a fresh committee to consider the proposals and recommendations being developed by a different group for the grant of fundamental rights to the citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

Headed by Attorney General (AG) Anwar Mansoor, the fresh committee will consist of Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan — a senior counsel who has also been appointed by the SC as amicus curiae — GB Bar Council vice chairman Javed Ahmed, petitioner’s counsel Salman Akram Raja, the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan’s secretary, Chaudhry Afrasiab and GB law minister Aurengzeb Khan.

A seven-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had taken up a set of petitions challenging the Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009 as well as the right of the citizens of the area to be governed through their chosen representatives.

SC directs govt to share recommendations earlier adopted by high-level body

The Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018 was earlier opposed by protesters hailing from Northern Areas who demanded that GB should be declared a part of Pakistan instead of being administered through presidential orders.

At the last hearing on Dec 3, the apex court had hinted at announcing a meaningful judgement to grant fundamental rights to the citizens of GB. On that day the SC had ordered the government to furnish before it the recommendations adopted by a high-level committee constituted to carefully examine constitutional, administrative and governance reforms for GB. The same proposals should also be provided to the petitioners as well as to Mr Ahsan.

Now the court had directed the AG to share the proposals adopted by the high-level committee and also asked GB representatives to share their proposals and observations.

The court, however, said that it would determine the proposals before its final order.

The new committee was formed when the AG sought more time for addition of proposals to the recommendations developed by the high-level committee. Since the proposals were not provided to the amicus curiae and the counsel for the petitioners, the court ordered the new committee to meet up at the AG office at 3pm where proposals should be shared and be advanced by all stakeholders.

The court said the proposals would be considered before its final order, adding that a final report should be submitted before the court by Tuesday.

The case will be taken up again on Dec 24.

The CJP observed that the GB people were complaining that they were not being given the authority.

The AG, however, explained that the draft bill being made sought to hand over the authority over law enforcement and administrative matters to the GB government in line with the Constitution.

“We cannot make it (GB) a separate province but we can give it the same powers that provinces have,” the AG stated

The petition being adjudicated upon seeks to declare the Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) No 786 (1) of Sept 9, 2009, Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009, which was amended lately in February 2015 empowering the minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas (KANA) to act as the GB governor as illegal, unlawful and contrary to the May 1999 SC judgement in the Aljihad Trust case.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

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Only PM can rein in ‘disastrous’ population growth, says CJP at symposium

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday termed unbridled population growth as the “most disastrous issue” for Pakistan, and regretted that the “menace” was not given any attention in the past 60 years.

He made the remarks while addressing a symposium in the capital on the alarming population growth in Pakistan.

“Our water reserves and resources are depleting, but our mouths [to feed] are increasing,” he said while addressing the event that was attended by several high-profile personalities, including judges and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar addresses the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar addresses the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

CJP Nisar called on the prime minister to probe why no dam had been built in Pakistan in the past 40 years and why the country was facing such an “alarming” situation.

“Today we have no water management in Pakistan. Water is life, without water we cannot conceive a life,” he said.

The top judge said that the apex court had created a task force which presented its recommendations after holding a few sessions but added that “that was the extent of their power”.

“The judiciary does not have any mechanism to act on these recommendations,” he said. “The only person who can get any implementation done is the prime minister,” he said.

He said the Supreme Court has played its part in amplifying and understanding human rights and now it was the Executive’s job to take them forward.

Justice Nisar said the burden on the judicial system did not go back to just the past five to seven years but it was centuries old.

“The tools have to be given to us by the parliament,” he said, regretting that so much time had passed but laws had not been updated.

“Perhaps the time has come to stop boycotting the parliament and sit in the parliament and [start doing] our actual duty,” he said.

CJP Nisar said models used by other countries to restrain their population growth were before the country and that they just needed to be implemented and awareness needed to be created.

“I am hopeful that with good intentions, we will reach our dream in a few years,” the top judge said.

Problems exist due to ‘short-term thinking’: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan began his address by thanking the top judge for inviting him to the event. “I am glad I am not being presented in courtroom number one,” he joked.

Speaking at the day-long symposium, Khan expressed “the nation’s resolve to address the population growth in the country”, reported ,Radio Pakistan,.

Addressing CJP Nisar, the premier said that the steps that the top judge had taken should have been taken by democratic governments instead.

PM Imran Khan speaks at the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

PM Imran Khan speaks at the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

“The democratic governments unfortunately only used to think about five years,” he said, adding that nothing could be accomplished in that time span for major issues.

“We are in these problems because of a short-term thinking,” Prime Minister Khan regretted.

The premier recalled the family planning campaigns shown on television in the 1960s, saying those were very “effective”.

He said that people were under the impression that (formerly) East Pakistan had been a burden on the country’s population, but today Bangladesh had gotten ahead of Pakistan because of their long-term thinking.

“As the population continues to grow, our food security will be affected,” he cautioned.

Prime Minister Khan thanked the CJP for raising the matter of population growth which he called a very “serious issue”.

He said the government has formed task forces to address population growth, adding that he was glad that all provincial chief ministers were on board for the initiative.

Khan noted that the delivery system of contraceptives in the country was an issue but what was actually needed was an ambition to resolve the problem.

“There is a big role for the ulema,” he said, citing examples of Iran and Bangladesh where population control campaigns were done from mosques. The premier said Pakistan too needed to involve its mosques in the campaign.

‘Singularity of narrative’

The event is being attended by provincial chief ministers, judges of the Supreme Court, ministers and other officials including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.

Former senator Javed Jabbar, while addressing the symposium, acknowledged former president Ayub Khan’s contribution, noting that while he may not have been a democratically elected leader, credit should be given to him for highlighting family planning.

“Why have we forgotten the narrative [in the last fifty years]?” he asked. “There needs to be a singularity of narrative.”

Renowned religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jamil observed that the problem in Pakistan was “illiteracy” and stressed the importance of education to bring population growth under control.

He noted that while the symposium was being held in Islamabad, the problem is more prevalent in rural areas.

Vice-president of the Population Council, John Bongaarts, the first speaker of the event, highlighted the levels of contraceptives used in Pakistan as compared to other countries in the region such as Bangladesh and India.

Furthermore, he presented the benefits of family planning programmes, adding that this was an extremely important event for Pakistan.

Co-chair of the World Health Organisation High-Level Independent Commission on Non-communicable diseases, Dr Sania Nishtar, while addressing the symposium, said “today is a landmark day” and remarked that the “stellar show of strength” of various stakeholders was “critical” to the cause.

A documentary on population dynamics was presented at the event.

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‘Not a brick should move’: LHC stays demolition of Punjab Governor House wall

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday stayed the government’s decision to demolish the outer wall of the Punjab Governor House, ,work on which had started,. The demolition would have offered a clear view of the majestic colonial-era building to the public from The Mall.

A view of the Punjab Governor House in Lahore. —Wikimedia Commons

A view of the Punjab Governor House in Lahore. —Wikimedia Commons

“Not a brick should be removed from its place,” Justice Mamoonur Rashid ordered after hearing initial arguments in a petition against the razing of the wall.

“Everyone will be behind bars if the walls are razed,” the judge warned, directing that work on the demolition be stopped immediately until further orders of the court.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had ,ordered the demolition, of the Governor House’s boundary wall on Saturday. Instantly responding to his instructions, the Punjab government had started preparations to raze the outer wall on Sunday afternoon.

At the outset of the hearing, the court inquired whether the wall of the gubernatorial office had already been razed. He was informed by the lawyer for the petitioner, Khawaja Mohsin Abbas, that work had been initiated to do the same.

The judge remarked that the wall had been present since his childhood, and asked under whose authority the facility falls.

The petitioner’s lawyer informed the court that the Governor House building is a historical cultural heritage which is older than a century. He said permission had not been sought from the cabinet to tear down its boundary.

He said as per previous orders of the Supreme Court, it was mandatory for the government to issue ads in newspapers before undertaking projects such as this.

The petition, which names the federal government, Punjab government and others as respondents, stated that Prime Minister’s Khan order to demolish the Governor House wall would waste taxpayers’ money.

Razing the wall would be a violation of not just the SC’s orders, but also of the Antiquities Act 1975, the petitioner said, asking the high court to issue a stay order against work on the demolition of the wall.

Responding to the arguments, the lawyer representing the government stated that the Governor House building was not being demolished itself, and that only its walls would be razed.

After hearing both sides, Justice Rashid stayed the demolition project and issued notices to the federal and Punjab governments, seeking their replies.

“If anything is done against the court orders, no one will be spared,” the judge warned.

Officials had earlier said the wall from the left side of the Governor House’s main entrance on The Mall to the corner of the Alhamra Hall and a few yards on the Kashmir Road would be demolished and replaced with iron grills.

As the work began on the demolition on Sunday, workers were seen removing barbed wires installed on iron grills fixed on the over-10-foot high wall of the historic building. The barbed wire was installed on the boundary walls of all the public and other sensitive buildings in the wake of terrorist attacks in the country in the recent past.

While security officials voiced their concerns regarding the move, reports in the media had said the wall demolition and installation of iron grills would cost the government exchequer to the tune of around Rs60 million.

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Govt criticised for opening Kartarpur border

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had ,opened Kartarpur Corridor, with India without taking parliament into confidence.

Speaking at a function here on Sunday, he said India was closing routes with Pakistan while Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government was taking unilateral steps to facilitate movement of Indian citizens coming to Pakistan.

He insisted that Kartarpur Corridor was opened to appease his (Imran’s) foreign masters, especially a religious minority community. He said Pakistan would pay the price for the unilateral decision, adding the government should take parliament into confidence before opening of the new corridor on the eastern border.

Mr Rehman said the previous government had taken parliament on board before signing the agreement on CPEC with the Chinese government. He said the former prime minister was declared traitor only for inviting Indian prime minister, while the sitting prime minister provided corridor facility to India.

“Is it patriotism to provide corridor to India and put Kashmir issue on the back burner,” Mr Rehman questioned and said Pakistan had been isolated due to flawed internal and external policies.

Commenting on the PTI government’s 100 day plan, he said after economic disaster the prime minister had now offered “chicken-eggs” plan to deceive masses. He said record depreciation of rupee had caused set back to the economy.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2018

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Man sentenced to death for rape, murder of minor girl in Dera Ismail Khan

A sessions court in Dera Ismail Khan on Saturday sentenced a man to death on three counts and imposed a fine of Rs0.9 million on him for the rape and murder of a minor girl.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Usman Wali Khan announced the verdict, sentencing the convict under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), and 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The minor girl was kidnapped on January 26, 2017, during a wedding ceremony in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Dera Ismail Khan in an area that falls in the jurisdiction of the Town police station.

A First Information Report was registered on a complaint of the girl’s paternal uncle by Town police, who initially treated the matter as a missing person’s case.

According to police, the child’s body was found two days later after which an investigation was conducted which led to the arrest on January 29 of the minor girl’s distant cousin, Mohammad Bilal, who confessed to the rape and killing.

Police investigators told the court during the trial that Bilal abducted his minor cousin, took her to a place where he raped her, and later hanged her to death. They also revealed that Bilal had sent a marriage proposal to the victim’s family for her elder sister which was turned down by them.

The girl’s family members were present during the trial and expressed satisfaction at the outcome.

The court has ordered that of the Rs0.9m fine imposed on the convict, Rs0.7m be given to the girl’s family.

The judge also informed the convict that he can challenge the verdict within 15 days.

Rise in child abuse cases

A report ,released by the NGO, Sahil had revealed in August that cases of child abuse increased by 32 per cent in the first six months of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017.

Read: ,More than 12 children abused every day in first half of 2018: report,

The report found that a total of 2,322 child abuse cases were reported by newspapers in all four provinces, as well as Islamabad, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. In comparison, 1,764 such incidents were reported from January to June 2017.

More than 12 children were abused every day during the January to June period of this year, the data shows.

One of the authors of the report, Mamtaz Gohar had told Dawn that although child abuse cases were expected to fall in the wake of the Zainab rape and murder case, they had unfortunately increased.

“However, another view is that the Zainab murder case gave victims’ families courage to speak out rather than hide incidents of sexual abuse. The good thing is that, soon after that case, a drastic change has been noticed in the attitude and behaviour of families towards such cases,” he said.

Imran Ali, who was convicted for the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur earlier this year, was executed in October.

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Armies can’t conquer Kashmiris’ passion for freedom, says information minister

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Friday advised the Indian government to accept that the Kashmir issue has no military solution.

Chaudhry was addressing a seminar of the All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group in Islamabad.

“[Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi just announced that [his government] will give a package of billions of rupees to [Indian Occupied] Kashmir,” Chaudhry said. “But independence cannot be bought with money. Independence is a sentiment felt in the heart, a narrative of the heart.”

The information minister said that India’s allegation that Pakistan was instigating unrest in Kashmir had no foundation and the Indian government had only adopted this stance because it was unable to crush the struggle for freedom in the region. He urged Indian authorities to realise that “armies cannot conquer the narrative of the heart”.

Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s stance on Occupied Kashmir was not inspired by the “beauty of Kashmir”.

“We don’t view the Kashmir issue from a territorial point of view. We look at it from a humanitarian angle,” he said, adding that the “pain of Kashmiris is felt by Pakistan”.

The information minister further said that pro-Pakistan sentiment in Kashmir was very high and political parties which contested elections in the territory realised this.

“[Kashmiri leader] Umar Farooq told me that political parties contesting elections in Kashmir knew that if they adopted an anti-Pakistan narrative, their voter base would alienate them,” he said.

Quoting author Arundhati Roy, Chaudhry said, “The time when India controlled Kashmir is long gone; now the narrative of Kashmir dominates India.”

He emphasised the importance of peace in the region, saying that friendly relations between India and Pakistan would lead to trade and an improved economy, which would benefit both countries.

Referring to the Indian government’s ,refusal to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation conference, if it was hosted by Pakistan, the information minister said that “Saarc was suffering” due to Delhi’s position on the matter.

“As soon as Indian authorities and intellectuals realise that they will have to adopt a realistic approach towards the Kashmir issue and that it needs to be solved, we can move forward.”

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Govt still hopeful New Delhi’s response will change after elections, PM tells Indian media

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an interaction with the representatives of Indian media at PM Office on Thursday, said he had tried to reach out to New Delhi since the day he assumed office but received a “bad response” after which he “decided to wait until after the Indian election for a gesture from their side”, The Hindu ,reported,.

The “bad response” referred to here is when a meeting scheduled between the foreign ministers of the two countries along the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was called off by New Delhi citing ,”unclean intentions”,.

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On the day the PTI government completed 100 days in power, the premier stressed on the country’s commitment to and desire for peace, saying it was not in Pakistan’s interest to let its soil be used for terrorism, according to ,The Indian Express,.

“It is not in our interest to allow the use of Pakistan’s territory for terror outside. People in Pakistan want peace with India. The mindset of people here has changed,” the publication reported Prime Minister Khan as saying.

His remarks come just a day following Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj’s refusal to come to the table for dialogue between the two countries at the Saarc platform.

She had brushed off any possibility of improvement in relations between India and Pakistan, despite the opening of the Kartarpur crossing. “Until and unless Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, there will be no dialogue and ,we will not participate in Saarc, [conference],” Swaraj had asserted.

To a question put forth by ,India Today TV, on what actions his government was taking with respect to the chief of the ,banned Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) outfit,, Hafiz Saeed, considered by India to be the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, the premier reminded them that there was a legal case against him in Pakistan.

According to ,NDTV,, he said: “There are UN sanctions against Hafiz Saeed. There is already a clampdown on the Jamaatud Dawa chief. These are the issues we have inherited”. Khan mentioned that his government “cannot be held responsible for the past”.

When asked whether there would be a “grand gesture” by Pakistan in dealing with Hafiz Saeed or gangster Dawood Ibrahim, Prime Minister Khan said that such gestures can be made “only up to a certain point” following which reciprocity must be demonstrated.

“India must reciprocate… we understand till your elections in 6 months but after that, we need a response,” India Today TV quoted him as having asserted.

The premier had made a strong case for the two countries to make tangible efforts to improve relations following the Kartarpur foundation stone laying ceremony held a day earlier.

“I am saying today, that our political leaders, our army, and all other institutions are all on one page. We wish to move forward, we want a civilised relationship. We have just one problem, Kashmir. If a man can walk on the moon, what problems are there that we cannot resolve?” he asked.

“If India takes one step forward, Pakistan will take two steps forward in friendship,” Khan had promised.

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Indigenous multi-role drone unveiled in IDEAS

KARACHI: Day two of the 10th International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2018 here on Wed­nesday was witness to the unveiling of a new indigenous multi-role drone built by Global Industrial and Defence Solution (GIDS). The drone was introduced by Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat, one of the chief guests of the exhibition being organised under the aegis of the Defence Export Promotion Organi­sation at the Karachi Expo Centre.

Named Shahpar, the drone is capable of flying at an altitude of 17,000 feet for up to seven hours. GIDS describes Shahpar as a medium-range tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with autonomous take-off and landing. It is said to be able to carry various types of payloads integrated for reconnaissance and day and night surveillance. Shahpar’s other features include accurate lateral, longitudinal trajectory control, mission planning, management and control, geo-referencing and geo-pointing for terrestrial targets. The drone’s cameras can focus up to a radius of 250 kilometres and can operate in any weather.

Visitors

The first two days of the exhibition have been earmarked for delegations, trade visitors and networking activities. The visitors with proper accreditation parked their cars in the designated parking areas to take a shuttle from there to reach the Expo Centre.

A couple had brought with them their six-month-old baby Fahad Ghaziani. When someone asked them if they had accreditation for the baby, they shook their heads and said they didn’t think that anyone would stop them from taking inside an infant. Later, the mother was seen roaming about the stalls all alone.

First two days of exhibition earmarked for delegations, trade visitors and networking activities

Most Pakistan stalls were located aro­und the entrance. There were arm­ed vehicles and tanks that people wanted to climb on mostly for the sake of pictures. Right in the centre was JF-17 Thunder, the pride and joy of the Aircraft Manufacturing Factory at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra.

The aircraft has been developed to meet tactical and strategic needs of the Pakistan Air Force. It is designed to accommodate future upgrades and additional requirements. Equipped with advanced electronics, it is capable of carrying multitude air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons having compatibility with western weapon systems. It was surrounded by its ammunition, which the visitors skipped and hopped through to climb up to its cockpit, for pictures.

“Is that the plane’s steering wheel?” a woman’s voice could be heard from inside the cockpit of Super Mushshak aircraft also on display near JF-17. Maqsood Ahmed, the man in uniform representing the aircraft’s manufacturers, Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, smiled in reply before explaining that it was not a steering wheel but the plane’s control stick. Another woman wanted to know why Super Mushshak didn’t have its ammunition laying around like JF-17 and was politely informed by another representative in uniform, with the name tag ‘Nawaz’ on his chest, that it was because it was primarily a trainer aircraft and not for combat really. Then someone else had an issue with its small size.

“Well, we just let them come sit with us inside the cockpit. Most just want someone to photograph them there while others take selfies as we make small talk with them about the weather or how they are today. They all seem very happy,” said Mr Ahmed in the cockpit.

Passing the Kashmir Hall set up as a marquee for seminars and conferences, one could get to the main building. Hall-1 mostly had Turkish and Russian stalls. Hall-2 also Hall-3 had Turkish and Chinese stalls, while Hall-4 and Hall-5 had many international stalls representing Italy, Poland, etc, as well as Pakistani stalls.

Conferences

The first conference of the day was organised by the Pakistan Army early in the day. It was titled “In pursuit of peace, Pak Armed Forces contributions in bringing peace and stability in the country and region” in which National Defence University President Lt Gen Majid Ehsan, Ambassador Najmuddin Sheikh, Azad Jammu & Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan, Ambassador Riaz Khokhar, Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani and Ambassador Abdul Basit highlighted the importance of the Pakistan armed forces’ role in stability of peace in the country and particularly in the region. The conference was attended by a large number of local and foreign delegates.

The National Centre for Maritime Policy Research Karachi chapter of the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) under the auspices of Pakistan Navy also organised a maritime conference titled “Maritime security dynamics and requirement of innovative solutions for Indian Ocean Region”.

The conference was also attended by Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi and other high-level civil and military officials, eminent maritime stakeholders and world renowned defence industry entrepreneurs.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2018

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