Posts Tagged ‘Mand’

PM Khan to meet UAE royalty during day-long visit tomorrow

Prime Minister Imran Khan will travel to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for a day-long visit during which he will meet the country’s top leadership, the Foreign Office has announced.

The premier will undertake the visit at the invitation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

“Matters of bilateral, regional and global interest will be discussed in the meeting between the prime minister and the crown prince,” the FO statement said.

Khan will be accompanied on the trip by the ministers for foreign affairs, finance, petroleum and power and the adviser to the prime minister on commerce.

According to the FO, the prime minister will also hold a meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE.

The premier’s latest visit to the UAE comes on the heels of increased bilateral contacts aimed at forging closer economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries in areas of common interest.

Khan had ,first visited the Emirates, in September following his election as the prime minister — a trip during which he met the Abu Dhabi crown prince.

The trip was followed by a visit to Pakistan by a UAE delegation comprising CEOs/senior officials of major companies including Mubadala Petroleum, ADIA (Sovereign Wealth Funds), Etisalat, DP World, Dubai Investment Authority, Emaar Properties, Aldahra Agriculture and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

The areas identified for cooperation during the discussions included agriculture, agricultural exports, fruit and vegetables, food processing industry, energy, housing, water etc., Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had ,revealed at the time,.

The UAE side had also expressed interest in the establishment of an oil refinery and a state-of-the-art energy terminal in Pakistan.

Qureshi had said the two sides also discussed how the UAE could facilitate Pakistan, like Saudi Arabia, in oil supply through preferential treatment.

Following his visit to the Gulf state, Prime Minister Khan will ,embark on a two-day official tour, of Malaysia on November 20.

The premier has already been to Saudi Arabia and China, both of whom had assured him of financial assistance in the face of Pakistan’s mounting balance of payments crisis.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 17, 2018 at 5:25 pm

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PTI minister denies PM slammed Sanjrani’s ruling against Fawad

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan on Friday denied fellow cabinet member ,Fawad Chaudhry’s claim that the cabinet at its meeting, a day earlier had expressed annoyance over the Senate chairman’s ruling and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s quote that nobody had the right to humiliate ministers.

While the clarification was welcomed by the opposition, it raised many questions and prompted dem­ands for action against Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry for misleading the nation, misquoting the PM and spreading disinformation about the cabinet proceedings.

Mr Chaudhry in a media briefing on Thursday had announced that the cabinet had expressed annoyance over the ban placed by the Senate chairman on his participation in the ongoing session of the upper house of parliament unless he tendered an apology for chiding top opposition leaders by name. He also quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan as saying “nobody had the right to humiliate ministers like this”.

Opposition in Senate demands action against information minister for wrong account of cabinet proceedings

Asserting that democracy was the way forward, the minister for parliamentary affairs said, “We definitely are inexperienced, but are not a severed kite.” Parliament would stay and “those hurling threats at parliament” would cease to exist, he said, adding that there were no cracks in parliament but in the ranks of the foes of democracy.

The issue was raised in the house by former chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, who said forces of popular fascism wanted to destroy democratic institutions functioning under the Constitution. “Very few of us will be able to come out of the debris if parliament crumbles,” he warned.

Referring to the briefing on the cabinet proceedings, Mr Rabbani said the Senate chairman’s ruling apparently evoked a strong reaction from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government. The PPP stalwart said some remarks had also been attributed to the Prime Minister. However, he said: “I will give the benefit of the doubt to the Prime Minister.”

He noted that the chair’s rulings had not even been questioned during dictatorial regimes. He said it had indirectly been threatened that the cabinet ministers could boycott the Senate and asserted that the cabinet, together with ministers of state, was collectively responsible to parliament under Article 90 (6) of the Constitution.

He recalled that Mr Chaudhry also remarked that the Senate chairman was not directly elected like himself. He said the chairman held a constitutional office and the procedure for his election was defined in the Constitution. He said the President of Pakistan was also indirectly elected and the chief executive after his election as member of the National Assembly was indirectly elected as Prime Minister. “Casting aspersions on the custodian of the house has never happened before,” he added.

He also objected to the PTI minister’s remarks that a hue and cry was raised in the Senate whenever the government talked about corruption. “The people you talk about are in the dock. How can you raise in the house the matters which are sub judice?” he questioned, asking if corruption was confined to some specific parties only.

Calling for across-the-board accountability of all, including the judiciary and the civil and military bureaucracy, the former Senate chairman proposed a federal accountability commission having representation of all stakeholders with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) working under it.

He asserted that the witch-hunt must be brought to an end and said the proposed commission should decide about references.

Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) also endorsed the views expressed by the opposition party leader.

PPP parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman also welcomed the statement made by the minister for the parliamentary affairs but said the cabinet should take proper action against the information minister. “The Senate had already taken the required action and now we want to see an action from the executive,” she demanded.

Maula Bux Chandio said if the Prime Minister had not spoken against the Senate chairman ruling during the cabinet meeting, an action must be taken against the information minister.

IMF terms

Meanwhile, Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati assured the house that parliament would be taken into confidence over the terms and conditions agreed upon by the government with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loan.

Earlier, Ms Rehman had questioned the government for shrouding its negotiations with the IMF. “In one week of requisition and another week of normal session, I have submitted two calling attention notices and one adjournment motion on the IMF. Nothing was communicated in writing and I could be wrong but we were informally told that the instruments cannot be admitted, because the IMF team was in town and the terms were not settled yet. This has never happened in the past even when IMF teams were visiting.”

She said talks were held between the IMF and Pakistan and the whole world was talking about it, yet the opposition had no right to ask about the terms of the negotiation? The IMF was making headlines. The rupee was declining, current account deficit had widened by 34 per cent and yet taxes were being levied to collect more than Rs160 billion, she said.

“Why can’t we take on this urgent and critical matter openly in the Senate? It is the Senate’s right to ask questions and it is the government’s responsibility to answer,” the former opposition leader in Senate insisted.

The session was later prorogued sine die.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

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Ex-chairman Sethi serves another legal notice on Pakistan Cricket Board

LAHORE: Former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Najam Sethi, on Friday issued another legal notice to the PCB after not being satisfied with the reply to the first notice he sent late last month in a case of defamation.

Sethi issued the first legal notice on Oct 29 after the PCB put figures of his perks and benefits on its website.

Disagreeing with the figures, Sethi issued a legal notice to the Board and warned it of a legal action for defaming his name.

On Nov 9, the PCB sent a reply to Sethi against his first legal notice. However on Friday, he sent another legal notice as he was not satisfied with the reply.

To a question, Sethi told Dawn sending the second notice to the PCB was a legal requirement, adding if they do not apologise to him (Sethi), he will have no other option but to move the court against the Board for what he called its attempt to defame him.

Sources told Dawn that Ehsan Mani has been advised within the PCB not to get involved in any such activities like posting the details of previous chairmen on the website, as it may trigger a controversy.

However, sources added, Ehsan differed with the advice just because he might be facing pressure from high-ups.

In his second legal notice, Sethi rejected PCB’s stance that the figures about his perks and benefits were issued as an ordinary practice.

“In the light of the foregoing we reiterate our demand that the PCB and Mr. Ehsan Mani apologise to Mr Najam Sethi for this blatantly malicious attack on him. It is not in dispute that the figures published by the PCB are misleading and incorrect. The reply claims that this disclosure was motivated solely by PCB’s transparency and accountability policy but no such policy has been actually produced or referred to the reply. The reply also fails to enumerate any single instance where any comparable disclosure has been made by the PCB in the past. And the reply further fails to disclosure has been made by the PCB in the past. And the reply further fails to disclose any rational reason why the chart focuses almost exclusively on the expenses of Mr Sethi,” it concludes.

Meanwhile, while giving reply to PCB’s responses, the legal notice states, “As of Aug 20, 2018, no such “transparency and accountability policy” relating to expenses and benefits of members of the PCB Board of Governors, Chairman of the PCB or heads of committees set up by the BoG had been approved by the Board of the PCB.

“To the best of Mr Sethi’s knowledge, no such policy has been adopted by the BoG after Aug 20, 2018 either. No such policy shown to have been adopted in the minutes of any BoG meeting since the new Chairman (Ehsan Mani) was elected. The reply is therefore false,” he said.

About PCB’s reply relating to two controversial amounts of Rs14,181,570 as PSL allowance and of Rs6,064,516 Sethi has replied: “You claim that there are no amounts noted in the Chart which are incorrect. This is false. The chart is titled “chairman PCB expense and benefits” and if notes an amount of Rs14,181,570 as “PSL Allowance” paid to Mr Sethi. However, you have now admitted that this amount was never paid to Mr Sethi. It is therefore an admitted fact that the chart is misleading and incorrect.

“The reply claims that the amounts stated in the chart are not misleading because the amount of Rs14,181,570 was approved as PSL Allowance for Mr Sethi and because a “payment…was made to Mr Sethi vide cheque dated Aug 10, 2018 for Rs6,064,516: once again, this is false and misleading.

“It is now admitted by you that no payment was ever received by Mr Sethi as PSL Allowance. Indeed, to the best of Mr Sethi’s knowledge, no cheque for any amount of PSL Allowance was ever even received by him and PCB has furthermore, even if it is assumed (without conceding) that a cheque for Rs6,064,516 was received by Mr Sethi, the fact remains that no cheque for the remaining amount of PSL Allowance (per our calculations, a pre-tax amount of Rs7,134,725) was ever made out by the PCB, let alone received by Mr Sethi.

“Indeed even today, the PCB does not claim that it made out any such cheque for the remaining amount of the PSL Allowance. It is therefore again evident that the amounts shown as PSL Allowance in the chart were only included to malign Mr Sethi,” the legal notice further stated.

Moreover, Sethi’s reply also claims that current PCB chairman is not living in any furnished apartment provided by PCB as of Sept 30, 2018. However, this is deliberately misleading. First, the deliberate emphasis on Sept 30, 2018 only highlights the fact that Mr Mani has ordered the Admin Department of PCB to rent access to a furnished apartment paid for by the PCB as per the chairman’s perks. Second, to the extent that Mr Mani was not using a furnished apartment, he was certainly using a five-star hotel room paid for by the PCB. Presumably all of this will be revealed if and when the PCB discloses Mr Mani’s expenses for the quarter ending on Dec 31, 2018.

Sethi also objected over the PCB treatment given to another chairman Shaharyar M. Khan for not issuing his perks and benefits of entire three years but only for one year, and 25 other individuals, too.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

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SC censures intelligence agency for failing to provide financial details of Faizabad sit-in leaders

The Supreme Court on Friday criticised the country’s premier intelligence agency for failing to provide the financial details of leaders of the ,Faizabad sit-in,, rejecting a report submitted by the agency in this regard.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam had resumed hearing a suo motu case regarding the 20-day sit-in held at the Faizabad interchange in Islamabad/Rawalpindi by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) in November 2017. Justice Qazi Faez Isa was the other member of the bench.

“Does the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] function under the law?” Justice Isa asked during the hearing, observing that the agency had said in a report it was not its job to obtain certain details of the Faizabad sit-in leaders’ finances.

Examine: ,Another surrender,

He said the protest sit-in had caused losses of billions and that the court wanted to know whether the persons “who can bring thousands of people” to the sit-in pay taxes.

“Can the ISI not even find out about the bank account of a person?” the judge wondered. He said the agency had said in response to the court’s query that it could not furnish income tax details of the protest leaders and that it could be provided by the Federal Board of Revenue.

Justice Isa said if these things did not fall in the purview of the agency “then when [in the future] ISI interferes in other matters, we will ask: ‘is this ISI’s job?’.”

The bench then wondered if it should summon the director general of the ISI or the defence secretary for an explanation.

Brigadier Falak Naz, the director of Ministry of Defence’s law branch, said the agency could be asked to obtain the requisite details if the court so orders. “ISI looks after the national security [of the country],” he added.

“Is the sit-in not a matter of national security?” Justice Isa retorted, observing that the ISI was subservient to the country’s law and Constitution.

The bench subsequently rejected the third report on the sit-in submitted by the ISI, and two other reports by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Pemra).

The intelligence agency, ECP and Pemra were directed to submit new reports as the hearing was adjourned until next Thursday.

The court also directed the attorney general and information secretary to appear at the next hearing.

In November 2017, TLP workers demanding the resignation of then law minister Zahid Hamid had staged a weeks-long sit-in at the Faizabad interchange that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

On November 21 of the same month, the apex court had taken notice of the sit-in and directed the defence and interior secretaries to submit a detailed report on the matter.

Days later, the then PML-N government had launched against the protesters an operation which, when failed, had forced the authorities to cave and Hamid to resign.

‘Does anyone besides Pemra issue directions to media?’

The SC bench earlier grilled the Pemra chairman regarding a blackout of TV news channels that had taken place during the sit-in last year.

“Complaints had been received of [TV] channels being taken off-air during the Faizabad sit-in… what action did Pemra take against the cable operators [who took the channels off-air]?” Justice Isa asked Pemra chairman Muhammad Saleem Baig.

“Cable operators were fined Rs50,000,” Baig replied.

But Justice Isa said the fine was not mentioned anywhere in the report submitted by Pemra. “Is there any proof that you imposed the fine?” he asked the chairman.

The explanations given by the chairman failed to convince the judge, who told Baig: “You are misusing your office.”

The deputy attorney general, too, observed that were contradictions in the statements of the Pemra chairman, leading Justice Isa to remark, “You people do not care about Pakistan [because] you did not create it.”

Justice Isa said measures such as raising walls of schools and suspending mobile signals during sit-ins were “not a solution” to security issues. “Is this the level of our security?” he wondered.

The bench also asked the Pemra chairman whether anyone besides the authority also issues directions to the country’s electronic media.

“Is there a clandestine force that issues directions to the media?” Justice Isa said, to which the Pemra chairman replied in the negative.

“You are the chairman and you don’t even know that secret instructions are being received,” the judge told Baig. He said only a person of a high rank could have a channel taken off-air and “you can’t take action against [such a person]“.

Justice Isa then recalled that a sit-in had also been staged in Islamabad’s Red Zone. The sit-in, staged by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek in 2014, had demanded that a judicial commission be formed to probe rigging in the 2013 elections.

“The judgement that the commission gave is before everyone,” he said. The commission had ,concluded in its report, that the 2013 polls were in large part “organised and conducted fairly and in accordance with the law”.

“Have the people who staged the sit-in apologised after the judicial commission’s report [was released]?” Justice Isa asked.

‘Will Pakistan be run through law or street power?’

At the outset of the hearing, the SC bench expressed severe displeasure at the absence of the attorney general at the court.

“The attorney general was instructed to appear in [SC's] Lahore registry by the chief justice,” Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mehmood revealed, asking the court to adjourn the hearing.

“The instructions are not issued by the chief justice but the court,” Justice Isa responded. “We are also a court [here] and this hearing date was set on the attorney general’s wish.”

“This is not a joke,” the judge remarked, wondering what other case could be more important than the one which relates to “Pakistan being shut down”.

“The attorney general is answerable because he is paid from the public’s taxes,” he added.

Justice Isa said the government should inform the court if it does not want the case to continue. “Tell [us] whether Pakistan should be run through the law or street power,” he added.

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

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Judge orders White House to restore CNN reporter’s access

A federal judge on Friday ordered the White House to reinstate the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, whose pass was revoked after a ,heated exchange with President Donald Trump,.

Judge Timothy Kelly issued a temporary restraining order that requires the White House to restore Acosta’s access until a full hearing is held, according to the network.

CNN and other media groups, including Trumfavouritete Fox News, backed the lawsuit, which claimed that revoking Acosta’s pass violated constitutional guarantees of a free press.

Kelly, a Trump appointee to the bench, said that his ruling was based on “due process” for the journalist, and that he would hold additional proceedings on the constitutional issues at stake, including the First Amendment free press guarantee.

“I want to be very clear that I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated,” he said in the Washington courtroom, adding that he based his decision on a 1977 ruling that required the White House to offer reasons for denial of press credentials and an opportunity to respond.

Following the ruling, the White House said it would “temporarily” reinstate Acosta’s press pass.

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, “in response to the court, we will temporarily reinstate the reporter’s hard pass.” But she left open the possibility of seeking to remove Acosta’s access later and said new rules would be imposed “to ensure fair and orderly press conferences”.

CNN said in a statement: “We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days. Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press.”

Acosta said outside the courthouse: “I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week. And I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today. And let’s go back to work.”

CNN‘s lawyer argued in court on Wednesday that the White House violated Acosta’s First Amendment right to free speech in revoking his credentials.

The US Justice Department’s lawyer, James Burnham, countered that Acosta had “disrupted” last week’s news conference. Burnham insisted “there is no First Amendment right to access the White House.”

Acosta, CNN‘s chief White House correspondent, angered Trump when he persisted in questioning the president at a November 7 news conference, ignoring demands he yield the microphone.

From the podium, Trump called Acosta — a frequent target of his ire — a “rude, terrible person”.

Media organisations backing CNN included the Associated Press, Bloomberg, First Look Media Works, Gannett, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, NBC News, The New York Times, Politico, Press Freedom Defence Fund, EW Scripps Company, USA Today and The Washington Post.

“Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions,” the media groups said in a joint statement ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.

‘Broad discretion’ argument

The White House said in its legal filing that it has “broad discretion” to restrict media access to the president, disputing the argument that its actions violate the constitution.

“The president and White House possess the same broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists (and other members of the public) that they possess to select which journalists receive interviews, or which journalists they acknowledge at press conferences,” said the brief.

The filing by US Justice Department lawyers argued that “the president could choose never to hold another press briefing again and cancel all press passes, without implicating due process protections.”

CNN — part of the WarnerMedia division of AT&T — filed suit on Tuesday.

Trump’s administration initially said Acosta was banned for inappropriately touching a White House female intern as he struggled to hold on to a microphone.

The White House cited a video that analysts said had been sped up, giving the appearance that Acosta struck the intern’s arm.

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TLP hasn’t provided poll expenses’ details, ECP tells SC

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) — the party behind protest demonstrations that paralysed the twin cities — had not yet submitted details of the expenses it made during the July elections.

“The subject political party (TLP) participated in the general elections, 2018 but has not submitted the details of the Campaign Finance till date,” the ECP stated in a reply furnished before the SC, which will commence on Friday the hearing of a case relating to the 20-day Faizabad sit-in in November last year.

The TLP had participated in the 2018 general elections and bagged three seats in the Sindh Assembly.

At the last hearing on Oct 11, a two-judge SC bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam had ordered the ECP to furnish the application under which the TLP was registered as a political party and asked the accountant general to assist the court in determining whether the ECP or the federal government was empowered under the Elections Act 2017 to take remedial measures for regulating political parties on their conduct.

Contempt of court action sought against Khadim Rizvi, Afzal Qadri

In its reply, the ECP explained that it had issued notices to all political parties which had failed to submit the details of their campaign finances. It said that if they failed to follow the directives, their election symbols would be withheld, adding that all political parties participating in the elections were required to submit to the ECP the list of contributors who have donated or contributed an amount equal to or more than Rs100,000 for thier election campaigns within 60 days from the close of a financial year in terms of Section 211 of the Elections Act.

The consolidated statements of political parties’ accounts were audited by a chartered accountant highlighting annual income and expenses, sources of funds and assets and liabilities, the reply stated.

The ECP had also framed a code of conduct for political parties, contesting candidates and polling agents in terms of Section 233 of the Elections Act, it said.

The ECP explained that after the enactment of the Elections Act, all election-related laws had been repealed, including the Political Parties Order 2002 and Political Parties Rules 2002. Section 202 (4) of the Elections Act requires all political parties to submit a list of 2,000 members along with photocopies of their CNICs and proof of deposit of Rs200,000 in favour of the commission in the State Bank or the National Bank of Pakistan as enlistment fee.

The TLP, the reply said, had submitted the relevant documents on Jan 8, 2018.

The reply contended that the ECP had objected to the registration of the party with the name Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and recognised the party with the name of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, which was later accepted by the party.

Petition against TLP

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court lawyer on Thursday filed a petition in the apex court, seeking a directive for the federal government to commence the process of dissolution of the TLP as political party pursuant to Section 212 of the Elections Act for operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan. He alleged that the party had indulged in terrorism.

Barrister Masroor Shah also requested the apex court to initiate contempt of the court proceedings against TLP leaders — Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Peer Afzal Qadri — for scandalising the SC and tending to bring this august court and its judges into hatred, ridicule and contempt.

The petition asked the court to order the federal government that instead of succumbing to political exigencies and taking mere cosmetic measures, discharge its constitutional duty to protect fundamental rights of citizens and establish the rule of law in the country by taking strict meaningful legal action against Khadim Rizvi and Afzal Qadri for allegedly committing offences of sedition, incitement to mutiny, criminal intimidation, rioting and terrorism.

The petition recalled that during three days of violent protests, the TTP leadership vociferously spat venom against judges of the Supreme Court and the chief of the army staff. They did not even shy away from inciting bodyguards and personal servants of judges and the army chief to take the law into their own hands, the petition said, adding that the TLP leadership had called upon members of the armed forces to stage mutiny against their commanders.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018

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Govt rejects concern restrictions being placed on INGOs

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday rejected concerns that the working of international non-government organisations (INGOs) in the country was being restricted and the new process for their registration was non-transparent.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office sought to address the concerns expressed by a number of donor countries and media. It listed the concerns as alleged lack of clarity or insufficient information on grounds for rejection, non-transparent process, and attempts at constraining the space for INGOs and civil society in Pakistan.

“We remain committed to pursuing an open and transparent INGO policy, which is underpinned by national laws, rules and regulations. There is an inter agency mechanism that is mandated inter alia to examine applications for registration, review necessary documentation, undertake monitoring and evaluation and attend to appeals,” the statement said, noting that the policy was fully aligned with nationally determined development priorities and needs. It underscored state’s right to formulate laws, policies and regulatory frameworks in view of national context, circumstances and needs.

Recently, envoys of several countries asked the government to be flexible on the issue of registration of INGOs.

A letter signed by the envoys of the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the European Union read: “In the interests of the Pakistani people and our ongoing cooperation, we respectfully seek your leadership to help shape a more cooperative and nuanced arrangement on INGOs.”

The letter was written after the government on Oct 2 directed 18 INGOs to wrap up their operations within 60 days following the dismissal of appeals against rejection of their applications for registration.

The envoys had alleged “lack of transparency” in the registration process and regretted that the affected organisations and their donor governments had not been adequately explained about the reasons for the rejection of their appeals.

“In terms of concerns regarding lack of clarity or insufficient information on grounds for rejection, we believe that such concerns primarily have arisen from misunderstanding. In our view, the grounds for rejection are clearly laid out in the policy document provisions. With regard to transparency, our policy framework is very transparent. All information on registration requirements, required documentation, INGO policy document, MoU and details about funding, monitoring, disclosure, review and appeals mechanism are available on Ministry of Interior’s online portal. Moreover, all requirements of due process were met. Representatives of all 18 INGOs were given the right to appeal and the opportunity to provide additional details and discuss mutual concerns,” the FO said.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018

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Pakistan concerned over inordinate delay in handing over mortal remains of SP Dawar: Foreign Office

Following the burial of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar on Thursday night, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal ,took to Twitter, to express “Pakistan’s concern over the inordinate delay in handing over mortal remains” of the ,martyred police official,.

He added that the handing over [from the Afghan side] was linked to “insistence on non-diplomatic procedures and non-official individuals resulting in avoidable pain to the Shaheed’s family”.

“Diplomatic and humanitarian norms need to be observed, especially in such circumstances,” he said.

Editorial: ,SP’s murder,

SP Dawar, chief of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in the G-10/4 area of Islamabad on October 26. On Tuesday [Nov 13], his body was found in a remote area of the Afghan province of Nangarhar and a day later, FO said that Afghan officials had confirmed that the tortured body found was indeed that of Dawar.

Profile: ,Career officer Tahir Dawar,

Earlier in the day, according to senior government officials, members of a tribal jirga on the Afghan side refused to hand over the police officer’s body to Pakistani authorities. Eventually, the body was handed over to SP Dawar’s brothers.

State Minister Shehryar Afridi waits at Torkham border for SP Dawar's body. — DawnNewsTV

State Minister Shehryar Afridi waits at Torkham border for SP Dawar’s body. — DawnNewsTV

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi and KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousufzai, as well as MNA Mohsin Dawar, were present at Torkham to receive the body of SP Dawar.

The martyred police officer’s body was then dispatched to Peshawar via a helicopter, where his funeral prayers were offered at Police Lines at around 9pm. Peshawar Corps Commander Lt General Shaheen Mazhar Mahmood, Commandant Frontier Constabulary Moazzam Ansari, and other high-ranking law enforcement officials were also in attendance.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Shehryar Afridi, KP Police Chief Salahuddin Khan Mahsud, Shaukat Yousufzai, and provincial spokesperson Ajmal Wazir also attended the funeral.

Dawar’s family held a separate funeral in Hayatabad, after which he was laid to rest at a graveyard in Phase-1 area of the locality.

‘Brutal murder highly condemnable’

The Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, condemned “the brutal murder” of “a brave police officer”, and suspected the involvement of an entity “more than a terrorist organisation”.


The DG ISPR also urged “Afghan security forces to cooperate in border fencing” to “deny use of Afghan territory against Pakistan”.


Earlier in the day, the Foreign Office had offered its condolences to SP Dawar’s family, and said it had registered with the Afghan Charge d’ Affairs “our strong protest over the inordinate delay and manner of return of the body”.

“It is hoped that Afghan authorities will offer full cooperation in ascertaining the circumstances under which a Pakistani police officer was found murdered in Afghanistan,” the FO had said.

‘No compromise on SP Dawar’s murder’

In a joint presser later in the day, Afridi and Yousufzai assured that the state “will not compromise” on SP Dawar’s murder, and lamented the Afghan authorities’ behaviour over the body’s handing-over process.

“We were made to stand at the border for two, three hours,” said Yousufzai, to which Afridi added: “The behaviour that we saw at the border today was painful.”

“A game of politics was being played, trying to spread chaos in Pakistan,” added Afridi. “When an officer of the state is martyred, instead of handing his body over to the state, you place some other demands and employ delaying tactics.”

“The Afghan refugees have been given the most respect by Pakistan,” the state minister said. “We have respect for the Afghan government [but] they will have to think why such a behaviour was adopted.”

Regarding the investigation, Afridi said: “The PM has already directed KP CM, KP IGP and Islamabad IGP to conduct an immediate inquiry and furnish a report. A meeting will be held in this regard at the Prime Minister House at 3pm tomorrow.

“We will take this matter to its logical end. We will go all out. The lives of our soldiers and citizens alike are the responsibility of the state. It will be a message to all those who have made a mockery of the issue that the state will not compromise on this.”

The martyred police official’s sibling, who also sat alongside the two ministers in the presser, requested the state to “help me bring to justice whoever has done this to my brother”.

PM orders immediate inquiry into SP Dawar’s ‘shocking’ murder

On Thursday morning, Prime Minister ,Imran Khan ordered, an “immediate inquiry” into SP Dawar’s “shocking” murder.

Taking to Twitter, PM Khan said: “Have followed the shocking tragedy of the murder of SP Tahir Khan Dawar and ordered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to coordinate with Islamabad police in holding an inquiry immediately.”

MNA Mohsin Dawar, who has been vocal in demanding justice for the martyred cop since his disappearance, responded to PM Khan’s tweet, saying: “We reject an internal inquiry. We know that our investigation authorities can’t question certain powers.”

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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry barred from Senate session

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Thursday barred Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry from attending the ongoing Senate session over his failure to tender an apology to the upper house.

Over the past month, the information minister and opposition members have clashed bitterly in the parliament over the former’s invective, forcing the latter to demand an apology, and briefly boycott the session.

Subsequently, Chairman Sanjrani had given a ruling, directing Chaudhry to tender an apology.

The federal minister’s failure to oblige to the ruling today led to him being barred from the ongoing session.

On October 3, matters had come to a head after a ,scathing verbal duel, in the house between Chaudhry and Senator Mushahidullah Khan, with the latter insisting that the minister apologise over his comments about corruption that he made in the lower house of parliament the previous Thursday.

Following the barbed exchanges, the Senate had witnessed unprecedented scenes when the information minister was asked to leave the upper house of parliament after he refused to tender an apology over remarks that had offended the opposition.

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FIA asks banks to upgrade cyber security system

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has asked banks to upgrade their cyber security wings as per international standards to protect their system from further attacks by the hackers who recently stole huge sums from accounts.

In a series of meetings, which continued for two days in Karachi, it was decided that banks, including the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), would maintain a regular coordination and exchange information with the FIA.

Headed by FIA’s cybercrime wing director retired Capt Mohammad Shoaib, the investigation agency team held several meetings with IT officials of different banks, including BankIslami, before heading back to Islamabad.

Law ministry sets up body comprising intelligence officials to formulate recommendations

The meetings were conducted in the wake of recent attacks on bank accounts by the hackers, resulting in illegal transfer of money to different countries.

However, the banking sector claimed that there was no threat to the account holders’ money as the banks would reimburse their money in such case after due inquiry.

According to the FIA team, the recent wave of cyber attacks showed vulnerability of the system and, therefore, the banks were asked to upgrade their IT security as per international standards.

The banks claimed that they were fulfilling the cyber security criteria.

SBP officials informed the FIA at a meeting that broad guidelines had already been issued to all banks. The guidelines allowed banks to upgrade their IT system, the officials said. They said: “It is pertinent to mention that the ultimate responsibility for IT security rests with the board of directors and the senior management of the banks/DFIs. They must ensure that the IT systems in their respective institutions have built-in security capabilities to survive real-world threats. In case banks/DFIs do not have in-house expertise, they may like to engage outside IT consultants to prepare/assist them in IT security planning. Furthermore, the Pakistan Banks Association will also organise training programmes on the subject to enable banks to build up their in-house capacity in this area.”

Talking to Dawn, a senior official of the FIA said that banks should have a “cyber emergency response team” to act independently to counter such attacks, as other teams had to get official permission to react to any reported cyber attack.

“It is clear that there cannot be any such move without connivance of bank employee of any person affiliated with call centre,” said the FIA official, adding that banks needed to invest more in their IT sector and ATM cards had to be encrypted, while any such illegal activity by their staff should be reported to the FIA at the earliest so that the network could be busted.

Apart from the meetings held at the SBP office, the FIA team also held an exclusive meeting in BankIslami to further the probe over the complaint lodged by the bank to the FIA office in Karachi.

The bank acknowledged that a significant amount had been transferred from BankIslami by the hackers based in 45 countries. The FIA demanded the bank share data with the agency so that it could be forwarded to their partner agencies in the countries where the crime had originated.

Subcommittee formed

Meanwhile, the law ministry on Wednesday constituted a subcommittee comprising officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, FIA and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to urgently formulate recommendations to deal with all types of electronic crimes and suggest amendments to relevant laws.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee on the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, which was held at the Ministry of Law and Justice.

Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi and Parlia­mentary Secretary for Law Maleeka Bokhari also attended the meeting.

They discussed the need for establishing a forensic agency in collaboration with security agencies. Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem said there was no legal hitch to establish multiple ‘investigating agencies to look into prevention of cybercrimes’.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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SP Tahir’s body to be handed over to Pakistan tomorrow, says KP information minister

The body of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar ? who was abducted from Islamabad last month and found dead yesterday in Afghanistan ? is expected to be handed over to Pakistan authorities tomorrow, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said in a statement on Wednesday.

Police and civil administration have been ,waiting at the Torkham border since Tuesday night, to receive the slain SP’s body.

The body was earlier expected to be handed over to Pakistani authorities today. Yousafzai said a KP Police delegation had waited at the Torkham border crossing all day for SP Tahir’s body but were unsuccessful. He did not mention the reason of the delay.

Miram Sadaqat, the spokesperson of the Afghan Red Crescent, told DawnNewsTV that the organisation’s volunteers will transfer the body to the Torkham crossing as soon as Afghan authorities hand it over.

He said that Afghan police and hospital administration were “collecting information” about the body.

SP Tahir, a police officer who had survived two suicide attacks in Bannu, was ,kidnapped from Islamabad’s G-10/4 area on October 26,. A body believed to be his was found in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province yesterday.

He hailed from North Waziristan district and earlier this year was made acting SP and given charge of Peshawar police’s rural circle. Prior to that he had served as DSP of University Town and Fakirabad and had also had a stint with the Federal Investigation Agency.

Photos of the SP’s badly tortured body with a hand-written Pashto letter placed on his chest, purportedly written by a yet unidentified militant group, went viral on social media on Tuesday before police could officially confirm the happening, but a senior official said a “source” had informed them of the tragic news.

A senior KP official said that the paper found on the body mentions no militant outfit and would be investigated later. The note carries the name of Wilayat Khorasan, the nomenclature the militant Islamic State (IS) group uses to refer to the Pak-Afghan region.

It referrs to SP Dawar with his first name and says that the “cop who had arrested and killed several militants has met his fate”. The note also threatens other people to take caution “otherwise they too would meet the same fate”.

In a statement released today, the Foreign Office spokesperson had confirmed that the body of SP Tahir had been recovered along with his service card by Afghan locals.

According to the FO spokesperson, SP Tahir was discovered by residents in Dur Baba district of Nangarhar province of Afghanistan on Tuesday and handed over to the local police.

The police had shifted the body to Momand Dara district of Nangarhar from where it would be transferred to Jalalabad, the FO spokesperson said. The statement further said that the body is yet to be received by the Consul General of Pakistan in Jalalabad and it “would be subsequently transferred to Pakistan via Torkham border after completion of necessary formalities”.

Islamabad didn’t contact Kabul about SP Tahir, says Afghan envoy

Earlier today, outgoing Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal told journalists at a farewell ceremony that the Pakistani government had not reached out to Afghan authorities for any information about the missing police official.

“How did a police officer disappear from Islamabad and turn up dead in Afghanistan?” he asked.

He urged the leadership of both countries to “sit together” and talk about SP Tahir’s suspected murder.

Zakhilwal also expressed grief over the police officer’s death and said he did not have any information about the abduction.

In response to a question, he said that the Afghan government had been in touch with ,slain Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) leader Maulana Samiul Haq, and had urged him to ,play his role, to solve the Afghan issue.

“Apart from reconciliation, Pakistan and Afghanistan have no other way [to achieve peace],” he added.

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SC assails Pervaiz Elahi’s role in land demarcation

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday wondered why former chief minister Pervaiz Elahi attended to a matter pertaining to demarcation of forest land in Takht Pari, Rawalpindi, only for his personal advantage that too by abusing his authority.

“Is it not a fit case for a reference on corruption?” wondered Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, one of the members of a five-judge SC bench.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, had taken up a review petition moved by Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd against the May 4 SC verdict in which the court had held that Takht Pari, located six kilometres from Rawalpindi near G.T. Road, encompassed 2,210 acres, and not 1,741 acres.

Therefore, the judgement held, the exchange of land purportedly encroached upon by Bahria Town and the Punjab forest department as well as the attestation of mutations were based on erroneous assumption about the area.

Justice Khosa wonders if it isn’t a fit case for graft reference

The five-judge bench, however, postponed further proceedings to Dec 3 with a directive for the authorities to furnish complete revenue record of the area.

“Is it not quid pro quo that by ordering a fresh demarcation of the forest land, a large chunk of 270 kanals went to the former chief minister’s family members — Chaudhry Salik Elahi, Chaudhry Munir and Aaliya Shujaat? Is it not too much of a coincidence and what conclusion one should draw from it?” Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan asked.

He wondered when the apex court through its May 4 judgement had given an exhaustive finding, “how can we review the same. What business of approving for demarcation of the forest land has to do with the chief minister who has no role in the entire hierarchy of revenue department?”

The chief justice observed that the court could issue notices to the former Punjab chief minister and the forest department that generated the summary for approval by the chief minister under the dictated and forced command. He wondered under what authority of the law, the chief minister had approved the demarcation exercise.

Justice Khosa observed that the court could not accept the argument that though 10,000 trees were chopped off in the forest, the entire jungle was converted into a luxurious city. The land was first demarcated and then development started, he said, adding that he was surprised to learn that the people involved in the matter were roaming around freely when police instantly jailed a person accused of encroaching upon only one kanal of land.

“No one should be discriminated but all should be treated equally,” Justice Khosa said, adding that maybe the chief minister was not only the head of the provincial government but also the head of the family. “The entire structure [the way things were managed] stinks,” he regretted.

“The chief minister is bound to protect the public property as well as public trust,” the chief justice observed and said the court would not allow even a single inch of land to be encroached upon.

Senior counsel Aitzaz Ahsan, representing Bahria Town, argued that the dispute arose between his client and the forest department in 2005 as both were engaged in the demarcation of the forest land in which it was established that the land in the domain of the forest department was 1,741 acres, and not 2,210 acres.

This conclusion was supported by the revenue record and Bahria Town also paid proper compensation for acquiring the land. Thus the basic assumption on the basis of which the Supreme Court judgement came that the forest land consisted of 2,210 acres was wrong, he said, adding that it was the Board of Revenue which had moved the summary for approval of the demarcation.

When Mr Ahsan was advancing his arguments, Malik Riaz, chairman of Bahria Town, approached the rostrum to seek an audience. But the chief justice admonished him by stating that to the court he was just an ordinary litigant and nothing more and such interferences were never tolerated and invited contempt of court notices.

Malik Riaz should change his counsel or he himself should advance arguments if he had no confidence in them, the chief justice observed.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018

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Pakistan likely to escape US censure due to Aasia’s release

WASHINGTON: Pakistan may escape a new designation — a serious violator of religious freedom — thanks to the ,Supreme Court’s decision to release Aasia Bibi,, according to diplomatic sources.

In January, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that Pakistan be designated as a “country of concern” because of its alleged “serious violations of religious freedom”.

Although it’s a long-standing USCIRF demand, the US State Department has never so designated Pakistan, but it does highlight the commission’s findings in its annual reports on religious freedom.

Read more: ,Aasia enjoys constitutional rights, PM assures EU,

In December last year, the State Department named Pakistan as the first, and only, country ,on its “Special Watch List”,, a new category created in 2016.

The report for this year complained that religious minorities in Pakistan continued to face attacks from extremist groups and society at large. It also noted that “abusive enforcement of the country’s strict blasphemy laws result in the “suppression of rights for non-Muslims, Shia and Ahmedis”.

Tenzin Dorjee, the USCIRF chief, said: “The case of Asia Bibi illustrates the extent to which blasphemy laws can be exploited to target minority communities.”

But in its latest statement, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the death sentence against Aasia Bibi in 2010 on charges of insulting the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018

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Trump picks retired general for ambassador to Saudi Arabia

A retired four-star general is President Donald Trump’s pick to be US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling a key diplomatic vacancy at a time when US-Saudi relations are being tested by the slaying of a journalist critical of the Saudi royal family.

Trump announced Tuesday that he is nominating John Abizaid, the longest-serving commander of the US Central Command, to lead the US Embassy in Riyadh. It’s a post that has been empty since former ambassador Joseph Westphal left in January 2017.

If confirmed by the Senate, Abizaid would become ambassador as the Trump administration is weighing the US response to the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials claim Khashoggi was killed by a 15-member assassination squad sent from Riyadh on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has revoked the visas of the Saudis implicated in the killing. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said additional measures will be taken.

Abizaid, who retired in 2007, served in wars in Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Following the war in Iraq, Abizaid assumed control of Centcom, which overseas military operations in 20 nations stretching from northeast Africa to the Middle East to Central and South Asia.

Abizaid, of Nevada, currently works as a private consultant and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Previously, he was the distinguished chair of the Combating Terrorism Centre at the US Military Academy at West Point. He also served in various senior positions on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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Way cleared to implement reforms agenda, Senate told

ISLAMABAD: The Senate was informed on Monday that the way for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to implement its reforms agenda was clear now as the short- and medium-term balance of payments crisis had been averted.

Winding up discussion on the terms and conditions of the foreign loans obtained or being obtained, Minister of State for Finance Hammad Azhar said that there was an immediate balance of payments crisis when the present government took over.

He, however, said that Pakistan was out of the woods now with a ,support package from Saudi Arabia, and the commitment from China to bridge the remaining gap. He added that modalities for the support from China were being worked out.

The minister disclosed that data of 96,000 offshore account holders from Pakistan from 27 countries had been obtained while data from another 13 countries was in process.

About the Panama Papers, he said 444 Pakistani individuals holding bank accounts abroad had been identified, adding that 242 of them had not been proceeded against for their cases being ‘time barred’. He, however, said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had not launched action against these 242 individuals. He said action against another 150 could not be taken due to incomplete particulars.

Bill seeking to bind foreign investors to employ locals as 60pc of their workforce proposed

He disclosed that the government was in the process of improving the definition of economic indicators to bring gimmicks in economy and accountancy to an end.

Rejecting criticism of Prime Minister Imran Khan speaking about corruption in Pakistan during a visit to China, he said credibility was eroded by fudging of figures and not by the talk of corruption and accountability. “It only shows the resolve of the government to act against the corrupt,’’ he remarked.

Referring to the government’s plan to provide gas and electricity to textile and some other industrial sectors, he said they were in competition with exporters from China, India and Bangladesh.

“They will be offered concession on a par with the regional competitors,” he said.

Mr Azhar said the exports had registered an increase of 4.6 per cent in recent days, while imports had gone down.

“We do not believe in deficit finance growth. It is not appropriate to mortgage your strategic assets. Economy can only be run on the principles of economy,” said.

Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan in his speech criticised the previous PML-N government for signing a long-term contract of 15 years for import of LNG, with a dubious clause under which the agreement would remain classified for three years even after its expiration.

He said the government was now focused on exploration and open bids would be invited for ten blocks shortly, adding that a new petroleum policy would be unveiled next year. The minister said that the boards of all companies under the petroleum ministry would have representation from all provinces.

Labour protection bills

Meanwhile, former Senate opposition leader Sherry Rehman submitted two labour-related bills to amend the Board of Investment Ordinance 2001 and the Foreign Private Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act 1976. The bills aim to provide legislative support for the local workforce.

Speaking on the floor of the house, Ms Rehman said: “We have the 10th largest labour force with nearly 1.5 million people entering it annually yet there seems to be no concrete plan in place for them. With the projected surge of FDI in Pakistan, it is mandatory to enact these laws. The government should have done this much sooner.

“The first bill is an amendment to the Foreign Private Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act 1976 which aims to set a quota seeking to guarantee that foreign investors hire at least 60pc of local labour for their projects from the particular province of its operations.”

The second bill, she explained, was an amendment to the Board of Investment Ordinance 2001 which called for mapping labour expertise, capacity, training and experience in one database categorised by provinces.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018

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Journalist Nasrullah Chaudhry handed over to CTD for 2-day physical remand

An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Monday granted a two-day physical remand of journalist Nasrullah Khan Chaudhry to the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in a case pertaining to alleged recovery of anti-state and hate literature.

ATC Judge Naimatullah Phulpoto directed the investigating officer (IO) to produce the detained journalist on November 13 and also submit a charge sheet on the next hearing.

Chaudhry, a journalist associated with Urdu-language daily Nai Baat, was detained by law enforcement personnel following a raid on his residence on Friday night.

On Monday, the CTD officials disclosed his arrest in a case registered under Sections 11W(i) and 11F(i) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which pertains to printing, publishing, or disseminating any material to incite hatred, and offer support and hold meetings for a proscribed organisation.

Editorial: ,Intrusion into Karachi Press Club by armed men seems like another attempt to stifle the media,

The journalist community is continuing its protest against Chaudhry’s detention, which the journalists’ representative groups describe as an attempt to justify the ,raid by the LEAs personnel, on the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday night.

On Monday, IO Syed Ali Haider of the CTD produced the detained journalist before the administrative judge and requested for his 14-day physical remand for interrogation.

The officer informed the court that the detained suspect was allegedly an accomplice and facilitator of a notorious Al Qaeda operative named Khalid Mukashi, alleging him of giving Rs0.25 million to Khalid.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued later in the day, the CTD accused Chaudhry of providing financial help to Khalid, by giving him Rs0.25 million.

The CTD official further said that security personnel had also recovered a bag containing four copies of Nawa-i-Afghan Jihad, published in 2011, a magazine which promoted violence against the country and incited religious hatred.

In view of the initial investigation, the IO pleaded for a 14-day physical remand of the detained journalist, who is already in CTD’s custody, for further investigation.

However, Advocates Mohammad Farooq and Syed Haider Imam Rizvi, the defence counsel for Chaudhry, vehemently opposed the IO’s plea for physical remand of the journalist.

They argued that Chaudhry was innocent and was picked up after participating in a protest outside the Sindh Governor House against the raid on the KPC.

“The news about Chaudhry’s arrest in a false case has been widely reported in the international media, bringing a bad name for the country as well as Pakistani journalists,” the counsel deplored, and urged the court to dismiss the IO’s request for physical remand.

Turning down the plea for a 14-day remand, the ATCs administrative judge granted a two-day remand and directed the IO to submit the charge sheet against the suspect on Nov 13.

Meanwhile, the CTD has said that the raid carried out at the KPC last week was indeed conducted to arrest Chaudhry, who was present there at that time, but managed to flee from the scene.

The law enforcers apologised from the journalist community for raiding the press club, saying the operations were being carried out to protect the citizens of Karachi from any untoward incident, specifically in wake of the defence expo which is scheduled to be held later this month.

It is pertinent to mention that adviser to Sindh chief minister on information Murtaza Wahab had on Friday claimed that the intrusion of law enforcers in plainclothes into KPC on Thursday night was ,due to some “misunderstanding”,.

In a statement, the adviser said that initial inquiry into the incident revealed that the law enforcers went there due to “some problem in their GSM locator”.

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Rs53bn bailout packages for PIA, power companies approved

ISLAMABAD:  Federal Minister for Finance Asad Umar chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee on Monday.—INP

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance Asad Umar chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee on Monday.—INP

ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday approved Rs53 billion bailout packages for the bleeding national airline and power companies to avoid a halt to their operations.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet which also ordered the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to zero-rated export industries, including their captive power plants, during the winter. The meeting was presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umar.

Informed sources said new chairman of the Pakistan International Airlines Air Marshal Arshad Mahmood Malik reported to the ECC that he had firmed up a business plan for PIA’s revival, but the airline’s current “liquidity crisis has now reached an alarming level which may lead to grounding of its aircraft”.

ECC directs SSGC to ensure uninterrupted supply to zero-rated export industries during winter

The ECC was told that the national flag carrier currently faced one of the most difficult situations owing to accumulated losses which resulted in a severe cash flow crisis hampering its operations due to fuel price fluctuations, steep currency depreciation and unavailability of an airworthy fleet. This was causing a “delay/default like situation” in discharging obligations to creditors, particularly aircraft lessors, fuel suppliers and other banks.

Among other things, the PIA suffered Rs2.9bn shortfall on GoP [government of Pakistan] sovereign guarantee of $126 million debt profile as of end-Sept 2018 only because of a difference in the exchange rate. The GoP guarantee was issued for the business plan at a rate of Rs110.58 per dollar in December last year that reached Rs133.50 — about Rs23 per dollar loss.

Secondly, the government had allowed Rs20bn additional sovereign guarantee (translating into $181m at the exchange rate of Rs110.585 against dollar) limit in May this year for engine overhauling. The currency depreciation to Rs133.5 per dollar last month created a $31m (Rs4.14bn) shortfall.

Thirdly, another Rs10bn was required to meet debt servicing obligations to creditors to ensure smooth operations of the PIA for another two months.

On the basis of these demands, the ECC allowed three different additional guarantees — Rs2.9bn to meet shortfall in the business plan, Rs4.14bn for engine overhauling and Rs10bn to avoid default.

The ECC directed the PIA management to improve the airline’s business model and devise a strategic plan for solution of its financial and administrative problems on a long-term basis. It approved a proposal for issuance of government guarantees for raising Rs17.022bn for immediate requirements of the PIA.

The ECC also approved a summary of the Ministry of Energy (power division) for raising fresh financing of Rs35.806bn through a syndicate of banks for the Power Holding Private Limited (PHPL). The decision was taken to ease a financing crunch in the entire energy sector supply chain arising out of power sector circular debt and affecting fuel suppliers as well.

It was reported that total receivables of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) had crossed Rs350bn in recent days, including about Rs300bn from the power sector and more than Rs20bn from the PIA.

The previous government had approved Rs50bn payments to the power sector in the terminal days, but only Rs5bn could be injected into the system and the banking sector declined to provide more funds to power companies due to overexposure.

The ECC directed the SSGC management to withdraw the gas load management notices it had issued to these industries regarding non-supplies during the winter and clarified that gas supply to the zero-rated export industry, including its processing and captive units, would remain unaffected during the winter. Likewise, there would be no gas load management for domestic consumers of the SSGC, it ordered.

The ECC allocated 12mmcfd (million cubic feet per day) of gas to the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited from the Dhok Hussain gas field and 10mmcfd of gas to SSGC from the Bitrism gas field.

The maritime affairs secretary briefed the meeting on the working of LNG terminals at Port Qasim and the associated administrative and financial issues.

The ECC directed the ministries of maritime affairs and petroleum to work closely to assess the requirements for setting up new gas terminals and other necessary details in this regard.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018

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