Posts Tagged ‘Mand’

Imran asks Punjab, KP to fine-tune new LG system

LAHORE: Prime Minis­ter Imran Khan on Sunday granted yet another extension in ,the deadline for local government reforms,, this time by 48 hours, and directed the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to fine-tune the new LG system, besides issuing orders for formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into loss of Punjab’s official record in fire incidents.

During his second visit to Lahore since assuming the Prime Minister’s Office, Imran Khan also chided the Indian leadership’s arrogance and said: “If India hurls threats, it will be given a befitting reply by the Pakistani nation. However, he declared, “Pakistan wants peace, friendship and trade to develop the region.”

He asserted that Pakistan would never bow to any pressure, not even by any super power.

He expressed these views while addressing the bureaucracy after holding meetings with Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and his cabinet members to review Punjab’s progress on the government’s 100-day agenda.

Says India will be given a befitting reply if it hurls threats though Pakistan wants peace, friendship and trade

Speaking to police officers and civil servants, Mr Khan said Pakistan wanted to have cordial relations with all nations and promote trade and economic ties to overcome the financial crisis. With a vital geo-strategic positioning, he said, Pakistan could attract massive foreign investment, provided it streamlined its governance system and win investors’ confidence. “I did not go to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to beg but to invite investment for Pakistan,” he explained.

De-politicisation of bureaucracy

In a tacit reference to the Pakpattan incident that resulted in the transfer of a district police officer, Mr Khan said he had allowed the bureaucracy to report any political meddling in official working to top bosses. He took serious note of complaints by two deputy commissioners and a police officer who, he said, had violated the chain of command. “Any move of making complaints public will not be tolerated from now onwards and will invite strict disciplinary action,” he warned.

He said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government wanted to free bureaucracy from political pressure and asked the bureaucracy to seize the opportunity and deliver in the best interest of people. He urged the bureaucracy to shun political affiliations and perform their duties professionally for the well-being of people and the country.

Mr Khan said that PTI members had been instructed that any issue they would face at the hands of bureaucracy should be reported to the chief minister, who himself would eventually sort out matters with the chief secretary and police chief.

“The PTI legislators will not directly interfere in bureaucracy’s functioning,” he promised.

He said bureaucrats should think afresh and serve the masses on merit. “This new mindset actually means Naya Pakistan,” he said, adding that the prime minister and chief minister offices would establish complaint cells to address grievances of the masses.

Three points for new LG system

Following the PM’s meeting with the Punjab cabinet, a separate meeting with CM Buzdar, a senior minister and law minister on local government system, federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry told the media that Mr Khan had held a detailed discussion on new local government system and finalised three basic principles – the LG system should be simple, hold direct elections and ensure empowering elected representatives to serve the masses at the grassroots level.

As the village councils’ experiment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had rendered results, the PM wanted to resize union councils in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, he said. “Village council is a smaller unit catering to some 2,000 to 6,000 people, while each UC in Punjab covers around 30,000 people. The discussion is hovering around whether village councils be created or UC size be reconsidered,” he explained.

Besides, he said, there was a question whether the direct mayor election should be held at tehsil or district level.

Mr Chaudhry said the prime minister also assigned targets to respective ministers demanding that they should come up to the expectations to the leadership as well as the people of Punjab, who were looking towards them with a new hope. “The incumbent PTI government wanted to behave as a people-friendly government,” he said.

Audit reports of metro bus projects received

The information minister said the prime minister ordered investigation into all fire incidents that burnt important record in government offices.

He said reports of simple audit into metro bus projects in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan had been received but forensic audits would take time. “All these scandals will expose those involved in corruption and they will land in jails,” he asserted.

Answering a question, the information minister said ousted premier Nawaz Sharif’s political future was dark and now he should pray for his personal future as the Hill Metals Establishment case was near conclusion. He said the case found unaccounted for transactions worth Rs800 million to Maryam Nawaz and Rs160 million to a cook’s account. “Nawaz Sharif should bring nation’s money back to Pakistan,” he said.

‘Modi caught in scandals’

Answering a question about Pakistan’s offer and consequent Indian reply, the information minister said Pakistan wanted peace and wanted that the neighbouring atomic powers hold a dialogue on all longstanding issues. While India by cancelling the scheduled meeting of foreign ministers indicated its desire to weaken Pakistan, “this is not possible because only regions rise, not individual countries,” he said.

Mr Chaudhry said Indian premier Narendra Modi had been caught in an internal “Rafale scandal” involving $8 billion to $10 billion and wanted to shift public attention from internal to external politics to save his skin. He said Modi should contest his own case instead of shifting the blame on Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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Electricity tariff likely to go up by Rs2

ISLAMABAD: After having raised gas prices, the PTI government is working on a proposal to increase electricity tariff by an average of Rs2 per unit to partially finance the ever-rising circular debt.

A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet has been called on Tuesday to take up a two-point agenda — electricity tariff and presentation on LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals — sought by the power division and petroleum division, respectively.

While announcing ,up to 143pc increase in gas prices last week,, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had said his ministry was not satisfied with LNG matters finalised by the previous government and “seriously examining” issues relating to LNG terminals.

He said the petroleum ministry, National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency were simultaneously and thoroughly working on the subject as one of the two terminals was running on full capacity while the other was operating at below capacity since their inception. He said a report on faults and weaknesses of LNG mechanism would be submitted to the ECC for addressing them.

Report on weaknesses of LNG mechanism to be submitted to ECC tomorrow

A senior official told Dawn that the power division was seeking an approval for implementation of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (Nepra) determination suggesting a gross increase of Rs3.90 per unit in consumer tariff under relaxed benchmarks for ex-Wapda distribution companies (Discos). After taking into account the amount of subsidy earmarked in the budget, the net increase in average consumer tariff has been worked out at about Rs2 per unit with a total impact of Rs200 billion.

Under the Nepra determination for 10 Discos, the average tariff has been increased to Rs15.45 per unit from Rs11.50, following the resolution of all outstanding issues pending before courts or at various levels of settlement or late notifications on account of prior-year adjustments, capacity payments, net hydel profit and additional power purchases.

The overall impact of net hydel profit to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as part of various decisions taken by the Council of Common Interests for the fiscal year 2017-18 was worked out at Rs250bn, but about Rs70bn of that amount was already part of the tariff being paid by consumers.

The regulator has now forwarded a fresh schedule of tariff showing additional tariff requirement for each consumer category for all Discos separately and after adjusting tariff differential subsidy in the budget, the fresh tariff increase for consumers was estimated at Rs2 per unit.

Nepra had concluded on Sept 7 the process of making public hearing on quarterly adjustments for prior-year power purchase prices for the fiscal year 2017-18 when it heard the requests of six distribution companies for quarterly adjustments.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had already given a go-ahead for notification of base tariff increase for Discos on the basis of a briefing given by the power division and Nepra with an impact of about Rs2 per unit or Rs200 billion on the existing power rates.

The regulator had worked out prior-year adjustments for the fiscal year 2015-16 that were notified by the federal government on March 22. The notified determination provides mechanism for quarterly adjustments on account of power purchase price.

Discos had sought prior-year adjustments against capacity payments, operation & maintenance, use of system charges and transmission & distribution losses other than fuel component.

Officials explained that the Nepra-determined tariff for fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16 could not be notified by the power division despite a lapse of almost four years. The division and power companies had filed a request for review with higher allowances for theft and losses which was rejected by the regulator. The government challenged the decision in the court which remanded the case back to the regulator with a directive to resolve the matter.

The regulator delivered its determination in October last year as desired by the power division, but a final tariff could not be notified as the then government shied away from taking a political decision so close to the elections that it had been insisting for over three years through amendments to the Nepra ordinance.

During a recent presentation by the power division, the ECC was given a rundown on the impact of industrial support package, Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s subsidised units, Balochistan agricultural tubewells and Fata receivables, as well as the impact of the existing time lag on tariff determination mechanism of Nepra.

The ECC had decided that there was no reason to keep sitting on the tariff determination and more so when it was providing relief in cash flows to the power sector marred by circular debt.

In the process, all Discos suffered financial losses — including the electric supply companies of Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad that were in profit until two years ago and placed in the privatisation list through capital market listings, but later withdrawn because of negative balance sheets.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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PML-N, PPP mull over joining hands in by-polls

ISLAMABAD: After going separate ways during the recent election for the key offices of prime minister and president and causing serious damage to the opposition’s unity, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are now considering joining hands in the coming by-elections.

A PML-N delegation, headed by Opposition Leader in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, met PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bokhari at his residence here on Sunday and conveyed him a message of the PML-N leadership that the two parties must work together from the platform of joint opposition inside and outside the parliament.

The PML-N delegation comprised Senator Chaudhry Tanveer, former minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and former MNA Anjum Aqeel.

Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Mr Bokhari said the two sides had discussed the possibilities of fielding joint candidates in next month’s by-elections to be held in 11 constituencies of the National Assembly and 26 of the provincial assemblies. These seats have fallen vacant due to different reasons, including resignations by those elected on more than one seat and death of some contesting candidates.

Zafar-led delegation conveys party high-command’s message to Peoples Party

Mr Bokhari said they had discussed various options and proposals, but refused to provide details, saying he could not do so before discussing them with his party’s leadership. He said the PML-N leaders had also sought time so that they could also consult their leadership.

In reply to a question, the PPP leader said cooperation between the two parties would not be limited to two or three seats, and they would have to agree on a formula for all the constituencies.

Asked if the PML-N delegation had conveyed any message of their supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, Mr Bokhari said, “The message was simple that we should work as joint opposition inside and outside the parliament to give a tough time to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.”

He expressed the hope that there would be more meetings between the two parties in a few days and said that not only the PML-N, but other opposition parties would also be taken on board, if they (the PPP and PML-N) reached consensus.

Similarly, when contacted, PML-N’s Raja Zafarul Haq said the two sides had agreed to increase coordination and cooperation with a view to playing an effective role of opposition. He said they had discussed the option of jointly contesting the upcoming by-elections, but no final decision had been made so far.

Sources said the main purpose of the visit of the PML-N’s delegation was to seek cooperation on the two National Assembly seats — NA-53 Islamabad and NA-60 Rawalpindi. However, they said, Mr Bokhari made no commitment with the PML-N team and stressed the need for a broader cooperation and adjustments on all the seats being contested in the by-polls.

The sources said that PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif was reaching Islamabad on Monday (today) after which contacts between the country’s two major parties and arch rivals of the past were expected to increase. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is also expected to be present in the capital as the National Assembly is also in session.

It was the first direct and formal contact between the two parties after the Sept 4 presidential elections in which the PPP had fielded Chuadhry Aitzaz Ahsan whereas the PML-N and other opposition parties had nominated Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as their joint candidate against the PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi.

Despite hectic efforts and mediation of other parties, the PML-N had refused to vote for Mr Ahsan due to his controversial remarks about the illness of Nawaz Sharif and his wife Kulsoom Nawaz whereas the PPP had also refused to withdraw from the race.

The failure of the opposition parties to field a joint candidate virtually provided a walkover to Dr Arif Alvi who managed to win the election without facing any difficulty.

And after facing humiliation in the presidential poll, the two parties started passing the buck holding each other responsible for it.

Making a direct attack, PML-N information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan had alleged that Mr Zardari had damaged democracy. He alleged that the PPP had ditched the combined opposition twice — first by refusing to vote for Shahbaz Sharif in the election for the prime minister and then by unilaterally nominating Aitzaz Ahsan as the presidential candidate.

Another PML-N leader Engineer Amir Muqam was of the opinion that Prime Minister Imran Khan and president-elect Dr Alvi should be “thankful” to Mr Zardari for the party’s victory in the presidential election.

Similarly, when a reporter sought Mr Zardari’s comments on the PML-N allegations, he had said with his usual smile on his face: “They are saying that Zardari has broken the opposition alliance. Why shouldn’t we say that Mian Sahab (Shahbaz Sharif) has never been in the opposition?”

The grand opposition alliance formed by 11 parties soon after the July 25 elections had fallen apart within weeks following the PPP’s refusal to vote for PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif against PTI chief Imran Khan in the election of prime minister despite agreeing on a formula during a meeting of the multiparty conference.

The PPP backed out of its commitment and asked the PML-N to replace Mr Sharif with some other candidate, explaining that the party could not vote for him as he had made some controversial remarks against Mr Zardari during the election campaign.

The cracks within the opposition ranks deepened when the PPP unilaterally nominated Mr Ahsan as the presidential candidate, drawing the ire of other opposition parties.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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NA set to amend rules to introduce PM’s Question Hour

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly is set to take up on Monday (today) an amendment to its rules making it mandatory for the prime minister to respond to questions of the members about government affairs on the floor of the house.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan will move an amendment to Rule 69 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business 2007 in the assembly, which suggests insertion of a sub-rule introducing “Prime Minister’s Question Hour”, according to an 11-point agenda issued by the NA Secretariat for Monday’s sitting.

Soon after winning the election of prime minister, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan had announced that he would make himself available on a fortnightly basis to the members of parliament to reply to their questions relating different matters on the floor of the house on the pattern of the British parliament.

Under the amendment, Imran will be bound to reply to questions on first Wednesday of each session and subject to his availability

However, the new rule suggests that the prime minster will be bound to reply to questions only on the first Wednesday of each session and subject to his availability.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Chapter, subject to availability of the prime minister, there shall be ‘Prime Minister’s Question Hour’ on the first Wednesday once in each session for answering questions on the matters relating to the overall substantive policy or the performance of government,” reads the new sub-rule (2) to be inserted in Rule 69 of the assembly rules.

Though the prime minister has a privilege of getting the floor of the National Assembly any time he wants to speak on any matter, Imran Khan wants to see the rules amended with a view to make it mandatory for future prime ministers as well to respond to the questions of MNAs.

Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani of the Pakistan Peoples Party was the only prime minister who was found to be present in the assembly during the question hour most of the time and even used to give replies to questions of the members, despite the fact that it was not mandatory for him. In 2012, the rules of the Senate were amended under which one hour was allocated for the prime minister to give reply to questions.

Rule 61 of the Senate says: “The prime minister shall whenever possible personally respond to points raised by members whenever he is present in the house. However, the prime minister shall attend the Prime Minister’s Zero Hour at least once in each week when the Senate is in session.”

However, this rule was never implemented as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif attended the Senate sessions only three to four times throughout his more than four-year rule.

Even former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani, who was otherwise known for strictly running the house under rules, never raised the issue of non-implementation of the rule. Similarly, though the senators usually complained about the absence of the prime minister and ministers from the house, they never called for implementation of the rule.

Debate on mini-budget

Besides taking up the proposed amendment, the members of the assembly are also expected to take part in a general debate on the mini-budget presented by Finance Minister Asad Umar last week.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry will lay the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 (No IX of 2018) and the minister of state for parliamentary affairs will present the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 (No XIII of 2018) in the assembly, which will be meeting after a five-day recess.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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‘We will strengthen you and you will strengthen the nation,’ PM Khan tells civil servants

Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to completely overhaul the governance systems of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the centre during a televised speech to civil servants on Sunday, which followed a high-level meeting in Lahore.

“There is a dire need to fix the way the police works and to depoliticise bureaucracy. Merit needs to be brought in and laws need to be practiced in letter and spirit,” he stressed.

“Never again, during any other government’s tenure, will you be given the freedom to do your job professionally,” he said.

In the address, he urged civil servants to value the freedom the PTI government will be providing them and not let it go to waste. He assured them that their work will not be interferred with and they will face “no pressure to engage in any wrongdoing whatsoever”.

Referring to the police, he said: “When the institution of police is politicised, it ceases to remain professional. When police starts taking sides, people are no longer willing to place their trust in it.”

Read more: ,Imran promises wide-ranging reforms: ‘All policies for the people’,

He said Pakistan, in the 1960s, had been an exemplary nation where meritocracy thrived “but it was brought down due to politicisation and lateral entities”.

The task now, he explained, was to reverse this direction the nation had been steered towards. He called on civil servants to help him in this initiative.

A warning

PM Khan cautioned, however, that the authority being given to civil servants came with added responsibility.

He said he was “very hurt that a police officer and two bureaucrats publicised what should have been a matter that goes up their chain of command.”

He was referring to the much publicised Pakpattan ‘incident’ which had resulted in the ,transfer of the district police officer, for alleged ‘misconduct’.

“Which government allows such a thing to take place? The IG should have been approached or the chief secretary,” the PM remarked, visibly irked as he further stressed the need for depoliticising the bureaucracy.

Issuing a final warning, the PM made clear that such ‘politicisation’ of the state’s inner workings will never again be tolerated.

“If such a thing occurs again, [which seems to be] based on some [political] agenda, I assure you the people involved will not be left off the hook and will be dealt with very strictly,” he said.

“This is simply an abuse of powers granted by the government [for you] to do good,” he said.

Explore: ,For a democratic Pakistan, more power needs to be given to local governments,

He said that ‘Naya Pakistan’ entails a new mindset and a new way of thinking, and expressed confidence that the nation would surpass the heights he believes it had reached in the ’60s.

“We will strengthen you and you will strengthen the nation,” he said, issuing a call of action to inspire civil servants to serve the people they are tasked with servicing.

“You have to keep your doors open and really listen to the people … so that people walk away satisfied simply because someone listened to them,” he explained.

He said that nationwide complaint cells would also be introduced, including one in the PM House where he will be regularly monitoring performance so that the government can respond in a timely manner to the people’s needs and bring an improvement in their lives.

“I request all police officials to take ownership and personally monitor their police stations so that the common man is not slighted against and justice is served” he said.

Good governance equals investment

The PM said that Pakistan’s problems all largely boil down to poor governance. He said that if governance is improved, Pakistan can secure major investment from abroad.

“I have just come back from a tour of UAE. We did not go there begging but to ask for funds. Their condition always is that our governance be improved and red tape reduced.”

He said that that Pakistan’s foremost priority should lie with improving governance, not only to fix internal deficiencies but to also create a more welcoming environment for investment which Pakistan sorely needs.

“Pakistan has great geo-strategic importance in the region. The biggest market right now, China, lies right to our north. India, if our relations with them improve, then they are the world’s second-biggest market.”

“I do hope that this ,arrogance that the Indian leadership has, [displayed] goes away. They have this misconception … when we reach out for friendship it is because we know that if our relations improve, the sub-continent has a real chance of defeating poverty.

“Our gesture should never be misconstrued as weakness. We are a nation that will never take pressure from anyone, be it a global power, lying down,” the premier said.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 23, 2018 at 6:25 pm

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Swiss region overwhelmingly votes for ‘burqa ban’

A second Swiss canton will introduce a regional “burqa ban”, after voters in St Gallen on Sunday emphatically backed prohibiting all face-covering garments in public spaces.

At the same time, voters across Switzerland resoundingly rejected initiatives aimed at boosting local farming and promoting more ethical and environmental standards in food production, amid fears of cost hikes and reduced consumer choice.

In the northeastern canton of St Gallen, nearly 67 per cent of voters came out in favour of introducing the implicit “burqa ban”, according to official results, which showed turnout was 36 per cent.

That paves the way for the canton to follow the example of the southern region of Ticino, where ,a law was introduced two years ago, that appeared to be aimed at burqas and other Muslim veils.

Three other cantons — Zurich, Solothurn and Glarus — have rejected introducing such bans in recent years.

A text stipulating that “any person who renders themselves unrecognisable by covering their face in a public space, and thus endangers public security or social and religious peace will be fined” was adopted by lawmakers in St Gallen late last year.

That law passed the regional parliament with support from the populist right and centre parties — but the issue was put to the people after the Green and Green Liberal parties demanded a referendum.

Supporters of the ban insisted in campaign literature that “it is integral to our culture and our values to be able to look each other in the eyes without hiding”.

‘Islamophobic’

The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland on Sunday slammed the ban as “Islamophobic”.

Other opponents have insisted the ban was useless, stressing that very few women wear burqas or other face-covering veils in St Gallen.

Opponents have also pointed out that the canton already has a law prohibiting face-covering during demonstrations that require police authorisation as well as at sporting events.

A review published recently on the effect of the law introduced in Ticino in 2016 meanwhile showed that football fans had felt the most impact, while fines for burqa-use could be counted on one hand, the ATS news agency reported.

Switzerland’s government last year opposed an initiative aimed at creating a nationwide burqa ban, saying it should be up to the regions to determine if such measures are appropriate.

Voters across Switzerland are however expected to be called to vote on the issue next year after the populist rightwing Swiss People’s Party gathered the 100,000 signatures needed to put any subject to a referendum as part of Switzerland’s famous direct democratic system.

Swiss snub ‘fair food’

At the national level, the Swiss meanwhile overwhelmingly rejected two schemes linked to agriculture and food security which urged a shift towards more ethical and environmentally friendly food production, as well as protection for Swiss farmers against cheap food imports.

The final results showed that 61 and 68 per cent of voters respectively rejected the “Fair Food” and “Food Sovereignty” initiatives.

The “Food Sovereignty” initiative, which had the backing of Switzerland’s powerful farmers’ union, had among other things called for turning a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMO) into a total ban.

Early polls had suggested strong backing for both initiatives, but support fell after the government, parliament and other opponents argued they could send prices skyrocketing, limit consumer choice and might violate Switzerland’s international trade obligations.

Geneva and three other French-speaking cantons supported both initiatives, but the German-speaking part of the country voted massively against them.

Also on Sunday, Swiss voters overwhelmingly backed a proposal to enshrine support for cycling in the constitution.

All 26 cantons and nearly 74 per cent of voters came out in favour of adding an article to the constitution giving federal authorities more responsibility for developing cycling paths across the country.

The text meanwhile only provides federal authorities with the possibility of stepping in on matters related to promoting cycling without obliging them to do so, and the cantons are expected to remain largely in charge.

The national votes this time failed to garner much excitement, resulting in below-average turnout, with only 37 per cent of eligible voters casting their ballots.

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SC to hear NAB plea against transfer of Sharifs’ cases

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will take up on Tuesday an appeal of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Javed Iqbal challenging the transfer of Al-Azizia/Hill Metal and Flagship Investment references against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif from one accountability court to another.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan will begin hearing the plea filed by NAB against the order of the Islamabad High Court that transferred the two references against Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar from Judge Moham­mad Bashir to Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik of the accountability court on Aug 7.

The Sharifs were sent to jail by Judge Mohammad Bashir in another reference pertaining to Avenfield apartments on July 6.

Ousted PM, Judge Bashir respondents in NAB petition against IHC order

Both the former prime minister and Judge Mohammad Bashir are respondents in the NAB petition.

Earlier on Sept 18, an SC bench, headed by the CJP, had rejected a NAB’s petition by not only dubbing it ‘frivolous’ but also slapping a fine of Rs20,000 as to be deposited by NAB in the Pakistan Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams Fund. The previous plea had been moved against the IHC’s decision to hear petitions of the Sharifs against the suspension of sentences awarded to the ousted PM, his daughter and son-in-law by the accountability court in the Avenfield apartments reference.

A day after the rejection of NAB’s plea by the apex court, the IHC suspended their jail term till a decision on the petitions filed by the Sharifs and ordered their release from Adiala jail.

No bias highlighted against judge: NAB

In its fresh appeal, NAB argued that the IHC fell into grave error by transferring the two references when no actual and specific bias or prejudice was highlighted against the earlier accountability court judge.

The petition pleaded that none of the reasons spelled out in the short order of the IHC of transferring the trial to another court were germane to the case law on the subject of the transfer of cases. In fact, the petition argued, they are not akin to the grounds and causes of such action.

NAB highlighted that the references against the Sharifs were filed before Judge Mohammad Bashir of the Islamabad accountability court in compliance with the SC directions on recommendations of the Panamagate Joint Investigations Team (JIT), headed by Wajid Zia.

The commonality of grounds in all the references had never been visualized by the superior courts for the transfer of the cases, NAB argued. The perceived notion attributed to the accountability judge was not tenable in law related to the transfer of cases, it pleaded.

Questioning the high court order, the appeal pleaded whether or not it was imperative and in the interest of justice, fair play and equality that the trial court judge, who had earlier recorded depositions of witnesses and seen their demeanour, was better equipped to understand testimonies in the related references.

The petitioner also asked whether the grounds raised in the applications for transfer of cases were in accordance with the law and canons of justice and could be made a ground for the transfer of the reference.

The bureau questioned whether the respondents (Sharifs) had ever raised objection to neutrality of the accountability judge during the trial and whether or not their fresh application for the transfer of the cases before the high court was not a ploy to prolong and protract the proceedings by depriving the parties from the right of a fair trial as envisaged under Article 10-A of the Constitution.

The appeal argued that the successor judge (Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik) would neither be acquainted with the earlier proceedings nor would be fully aware of the demeanour of the witnesses and arguments made on different miscellaneous applications.

The appeal asked if the high court could at all look into the merits of the case while dealing with the transfer applications. It further questioned whether or not the transfer order was against the established norms of justice and principles of the transfer of cases.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018

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Gunmen attack Iran military parade, killing at least 24

A Revolutionary Guard member carries a wounded boy after a shooting during a military parade marking the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran on Saturday. — AP

A Revolutionary Guard member carries a wounded boy after a shooting during a military parade marking the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran on Saturday. — AP

Gunmen attacked an annual Iranian military parade Saturday in the country’s oil-rich southwest, killing at least 24 people and wounding 53 others, local media reported.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault in Ahvaz, which saw gunfire spray into a crowd of marching Guardsmen, bystanders and government officials watching from a nearby riser. However, Iran faced a bloody assault last year from the Islamic State group and Arab separatists in the region have attacked oil pipelines there in the past.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately blamed the attack on regional countries and their “US masters,” further raising regional tensions as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers is in jeopardy after President Donald Trump withdrew America from the accord.

“Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives,” he wrote on Twitter.

State television aired footage of the aftermath of the assault on Ahvaz’s Quds, or Jerusalem, Boulevard, which like many other places around the country saw an annual parade marking the start of Iran’s long 1980s war with Iraq. The images included paramedics trying to help one person in military fatigues as other armed security personnel shouted at each other. The semi-official ISNA news agency published photographs of the attack’s aftermath, with bloodied troops in dress uniforms helping each other walk away.

A local news agency in Khuzestan province, of which Ahvaz is the capital, aired grainy mobile phone footage showing parade goers fleeing as soldiers lay flat on the ground. Gunfire rang out in the background.

“Security forces have restored security in the area but the parade has totally been disrupted,” a reporter on the scene for Iranian state television said by phone in a live broadcast. “People have been killed but we have no figures yet.”

Zarif on Twitter said that the gunmen were “terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime”. He did not immediately elaborate. However, Arab separatist groups in the region have launched attacks on oil pipelines there in the past and Iran. The separatists also accuse Iran’s Shiite theocracy of discriminating against its Sunni Arab citizens. Iran has blamed its Mideast archrival, the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for funding their activity.

Reports of how the attack unfolded remained unclear immediately afterward. The state TV reporter said the gunfire came from a park behind a riser. The semi-official Fars news agency, which is close to the Guard, said two gunmen on a motorcycle wearing khaki uniforms carried out the attack.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, top center, reviews army troops marching during the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran on Saturday. ? AP

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, top center, reviews army troops marching during the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran on Saturday. ? AP

The state-run IRNA news agency said the attack killed 24 people and wounded 53, citing “knowledgeable sources” without elaborating. It said gunmen were dressed in Guard uniforms and targeted a riser where military and police commanders were sitting.

Khuzestan Gov. Gholamreza Shariati told IRNA that two gunmen were killed and two others were arrested.

Who carried out the assault also remained in question. State television immediately described the assailants as “takfiri gunmen”, a term previously used to describe the Islamic State group. Iran has been deeply involved in the fight against IS in Iraq and has aided embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s long war.

Among those involved are members of the Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Guard also has vast holdings in Iran’s economy.

Meanwhile, Guard spokesman Gen. Ramazan Sharif told ISNA that an Arab separatist group carried out the attack, without elaborating. However, those groups in the past previously have only attacked unguarded oil pipelines at night.

Saturday’s attack comes after a coordinated ,June 7, 2017 Islamic State group assault, on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran. At least 18 people were killed and more than 50 wounded.

Khomeini led the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Western-backed shah to become Iran’s first supreme leader until his death in 1989. The assault shocked Tehran, which largely has avoided militant attacks in the decades after the tumult surrounding the Islamic Revolution.

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Hasan Ali, Afghanistan’s Asghar and Rashid fined for misconduct in Asia Cup match

Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali and Afghanistan’s Asghar Afghan and Rashid Khan were all fined 15 per cent of their match fees for violations of the ICC Code of Conduct, the ,International Cricket Council, said on Saturday.

All three players also received one demerit point each for breaching Level 1 of the code of conduct in separate incidents during last night’s Super-Four match of the Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi.

According to the ICC, Hasan and Asghar pleaded guilty to breaching Article 2.1.1 of the ,ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel,.

The said article deals with “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game”.

Hasan, in the 33rd over of Afghanistan’s innings, “threatened to throw the ball towards striker Hashmatullah Shahidi after fielding off his own bowling,” a press released issued by the ICC said.

Asghar, the Afghanistan skipper, was found guilty of brushing his shoulder with Hasan Ali in the 37th over as he passed him while taking a run.

Rashid, on the other hand, was found to have violated Article 2.1.7, which deals with “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batsman upon his/her dismissal during an International Match”.

He was charged and fined for giving a sendoff to Asif Ali in the 47th over of Pakistan’s innings “by holding up a finger and staring at the batsman, an action that could have provoked an aggressive reaction from the departing batsman”, according to the ICC website.

According to the handout, Hasan and Rashid have received demerit points for the first time. However, it is the second occasion that Asghar has been handed a demerit point within a 24-month period.

In February 2017, “Asghar received a reprimand and one demerit point for showing dissent against an umpire’s decision in an ODI against Zimbabwe,” the ICC said.

The charges were levelled by on-field umpires Anil Chaudhary and Shaun George, third umpire Rod Tucker and fourth umpire Anisur Rahman. All three players accepted the sanctions proposed by Andy Pycroft of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees.

According to the ICC, a Level 1 breach “carries a minimum penalty of an official reprimand, a maximum penalty of 50 per cent of a player’s match fee, and one or two demerit points”.

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No precedent of how India ‘trampled diplomatic norms’ by cancelling meeting: FM Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said he was “deeply saddened” by how New Delhi first accepted and later ,backtracked from a meeting between Qureshi and his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj.

Speaking to reporters at Islamabad airport before departing on a visit to the United States, the minister said it was their understanding that it would be beneficial for the entire region if countries sat down for dialogue and find solutions to the outstanding issues.

“I was deeply saddened by how India first accepted our goodwill gesture and then backtracked from it,” he said.

Qureshi said the Indian government had to “look for reasons” to justify cancelling the meeting after initially agreeing to it, adding that New Delhi had used the issue of stamps of Kashmiri freedom fighters as an “excuse”.

He said it was inappropriate on India’s part to state a development from July (the issuance of stamps) as the reason to cancel the meeting that was due to take place in September.

“It was an opportunity [for progress in bilateral ties], which I think India’s domestic circumstances did not allow to materialise,” the foreign minister said.

“There is no precedent of how diplomatic norms were trampled” by India in the cancellation of the meeting, he added.

New Delhi had on Friday called off a meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), just a day after confirming the development.

India Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, confirming the development, cited “unclean intentions” on Pakistan’s side.

The MEA spokesperson referred to the “killing of Indian security forces” allegedly by “Pakistani entities” and Islamabad’s decision to release stamps allegedly “glorifying terrorists” as the reasons behind the cancellation of the meeting.

Pakistan Post had issued 20 special postage stamps on July 24, according to ,The Nation,, carrying photos of Burhan Wani and his two associates. Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri freedom fighter, was slain by Indian troops in 2016.

Although the stamps were issued on July 24, a day before the general elections were held, the issue was ,raised by Indian media, in the 24 hours after New Delhi agreed to the meeting.

US engagements

Foreign Minister Qureshi will reach Washington today on a visit that includes talks with the Trump administration and the new Pakistani government’s first interaction with the United Nations.

The minister’s first official engagement of this week-long tour is an address to the Pakistani community in Washington, and the same day he flies to New York to attend the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, which began on Sept 18.

The high-level General Assembly debate, however, begins on Sept 25 and is scheduled to last for nine working days. Qureshi is expected to address the General Assembly on Sept 29.

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Ecuadorian Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the president-elect of the 73rd session, will chair the debate on “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.”

The main event of Qureshi’s visit, however, is an expected meeting with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Washington.

This would be a follow-up to their first meeting in Islamabad earlier this month when they agreed to work together to “reset” the troubled relations between their countries.

A tweet by the Government of Pakistan quoted the foreign minister as saying that he will present Pakistan’s stance on different matters at the UNGA session. He also expressed the confidence that his meeting with Pompeo “will prove to be important in taking forward bilateral relations with Washington”.

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Sattar, MQM-P leaders allege rigging, challenge election results in SHC

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Farooq Sattar and five other party members filed petitions in the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Saturday, alleging that their defeat in the recent general elections was a result of rigging.

Amir Moeen Pirzada from NA-241, Waqar Shah from PS-97, Masood Mehmood from PS-98, Asif Ali Khan from PS-126 and Jamal Ahmed from PS-130 also filed petitions, urging the high court to order recounting in their constituencies as they suspected rigging.

Sattar, who had lost from Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Aamir Hussain Liaquat from NA-245, cast doubts on the election results saying that MQM-P members who contested elections were not given Form-45. While talking to the media, he claimed that MQM-P members were “forcefully declared as losers” and that the elections were “engineered”.

Take a look: ,NA-245 — a new constituency where Farooq Sattar is pitted against Aamir Liaquat,

He also asked why the “presiding officers drove our polling agents out [of the rooms] during the counting process”.

“Imran Khan had promised to reopen as many constituencies as we ask,” Sattar said and added that he had evidence of rigging in his constituency. He then demanded the video footage of the counting between 7pm-1am.

“They [presiding officers] turned some people’s victories into losses and others losses into victories,” he said.

Pirzada, in his petition, alleged that ballot papers from his constituency were burned and dumped in a trash heap. He further said that he, along with other petitioners from the MQM-P, lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of Pakistan, but the body “remained silent even after such a huge incident”.

Though Sattar highlighted the reservations of MQM-P members who lost the elections, he distanced himself from the other party members at the SHC. He filed his petition separately and did not talk to the other MQM-P leaders who were in the high court building at the time.

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India cancels New York meeting with Pakistan, says PM Khan’s ‘true face revealed’

New Delhi on Friday called off a meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, just a day after confirming the development.

Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, ,confirming the development,, cited “unclean intentions” on Pakistan’s side.

“It is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new Prime Minister Imran Khan has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office,” he said. “Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless.”

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi termed the development “unfortunate”, saying: “We had already told India that if they take one step towards us, we will take two. However, it seems that they faltered after taking just one step.”

Qureshi was referring to Imran Khan’s ,victory speech last month, in which the then PM-elect had expressed his desire to “improve relations with India, if their leadership also wants it”.

“If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but we at least need a start,” Khan had said.

Qureshi, while talking to DawnNewsTV, said that the world should see that “Pakistan has held a positive outlook towards the situation while India’s attitude has not been so forthcoming”.

When asked if Pakistan would still continue to extend an olive branch to India despite the rigid attitude shown by New Delhi, Qureshi negated the idea and said, “we said that we want dialogue — but in a dignified manner.”

Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, while speaking to GeoTV, said that the whole world is watching and sees what India has done.

“The world sees that we talked about peace and dialogue. They see that we are doing whatever we can for that cause. On the other hand, there are two ways to look at what India has done, one of which suggests that Indian extremist groups are sabotaging the relationship between India and Pakistan, and the Indian government is working under that same extremist mindset.”

“We have been extending the hand of friendship all through, PM Khan said in his first speech that if they take one step towards us, we will take two. The prime minister invited Indian cricketers to his oath-taking. [Navjot Singh] Sidhu came for that event and look at what happened to him when he returned to India. This shows how much extremism is found in the Indian society,” Chaudhry said.

He added: “This shows that Pakistan stands for peace but there is a section of the Indian society that does not want this and that section holds a lot of influence there. This, however, does not affect us as FM Qureshi is going to fly to the UNGA meeting tonight, there he has meetings lined up with the ministers of a number of countries. He will also address the UNGA meeting.”

“The whole world is watching and they see Pakistan as a serious country and a country that wishes for peace. On the other hand, they also see the non-seriousness portrayed by India and that too is a victory for Pakistan and it will reflect on our position in history,” the information minister concluded.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman took to Twitter to condemn the move, saying: “Shame that on #InternationalPeaceDay India has refused to talk peace with Pakistan in even a routine manner at the @UN on the sidelines of the General Assembly.”

“Running from talks won’t change the fact that this time Indian repression in Kashmir has been ,noticed in a UN report,,” she added.

Diplomatic impasse

The MEA spokesperson referred to the “killing of Indian security forces” allegedly by “Pakistani entities” and Islamabad’s decision to release stamps allegedly “glorifying terrorists” as the reasons behind the cancellation of talks.

Pakistan Post had issued 20 special postage stamps on July 24, ,according to The Nation,, carrying photos of Burhan Wani and his two associates. Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri freedom fighter, was slain by Indian troops in 2017.

Although the stamps were issued on July 24, a day before the general elections were held, the issue was raised by ,Indian media, in the last 24 hours.

A day earlier on Thursday, Raveesh Kumar had confirmed India’s agreement to Pakistan’s request for a meeting between Foreign Minister Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the UNGA.

The requests were made by PM Khan and Qureshi in two separate letters handed to Indian officials.

“I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side, a meeting between the external affairs minister and the Pakistani foreign minister will take place on the sidelines of the UNGA at a mutually convenient date and time,” Kumar had said, stressing that the planned meeting should not be misconstrued as a dialogue.

“I must differentiate between meeting and a dialogue,” said the Indian official. “This is a meeting and not dialogue. This is a meeting which we have agreed to, based on a request which we have got from the Pakistani side.”

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IHK authorities impose restrictions against Muharram processions

Authorities in India-held Kashmir (IHK) on Friday imposed curfew-like restrictions in parts of the valley including Srinagar to prevent Shia devotees from holding or participating in Ashura processions on Muharram 10.

Heavy contingents of Indian troops and police officials have been deployed in Srinagar and other towns in IHK to prevent mourners from carrying out Muharram processions and anti-India rallies after Friday prayers, the ,Kashmir Media Service, reported.

Restrictions were imposed in the parts of Srinagar falling under the jurisdictions of Nowhatta, Khanya, Safa Kadal, Maharaj Gunj, Kothibagh and Rainwari police stations.

Despite the restrictions, a large number of mourners led by Hurriyat leader Nissar Hussain Rathar, tried to reach the city centre. However, Indian police detained scores of them near Srinagar’s Badshah Chowk area, ,KMS, reported.

The mourners were also seen chanting slogans in favour of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and displaying his pictures in the ongoing Muharram processions in the territory.

The main Muharram 10 procession in Srinagar used to kick off at Aabi Guzar and end at Zadibal but was banned by Indian authorities in 1989.

All-Pakistan Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted that curbs, curfews and house arrests are continuing in the restive valley even on Ashura.

“No Friday prayers allowed at many mosques in the city including #JamaMasjid by the rulers. Even majlis-i-tableegh to pay tributes to Imam Hussain (AS) and martyrs Of Karbala which I was going to address [have been] barred,” Farooq said.

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Kashmiri Shias detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

Kashmiri Shias detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

A Kashmiri Shia is detained by Indian police as devotees defy restrictions for a Muharram procession in Srinagar on September 21, 2018. ? AFP

Kashmiri Shia women participate in a Muharram procession in Srinagar, IHK, on Sept 20. ? AP

Kashmiri Shia women participate in a Muharram procession in Srinagar, IHK, on Sept 20. ? AP

Kashmiri Shias attend a Muharram procession in Srinagar, IHK on Sept 20. ? AP

Kashmiri Shias attend a Muharram procession in Srinagar, IHK on Sept 20. ? AP

A Kashmiri Shia woman holds a child as she participates in a Muharram procession in Srinagar. ? AP

A Kashmiri Shia woman holds a child as she participates in a Muharram procession in Srinagar. ? AP

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Oil industry wants govt to delay launch of high-quality Euro-V diesel

KARACHI: Reluctant to adopt environment-friendly diesel as transport fuel, the country’s oil industry has asked the government to delay accepting Kuwait’s demand to phase out low quality high-speed diesel — Euro-II — by Dec 2020.

State-run Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC) — Pakistan’s largest fuel supplier — had asked Islamabad in July to upgrade its market and fuel supply network for higher grade gas oil, commonly known as High Speed Diesel (HSD), to remain its long-term client.

Pakistan generally imports half of the country’s diesel requirement from Kuwait under a long-term arrangement between their respective state-run companies — Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and KPC.

PSO imports about 0.4-0.5 million tonnes of diesel per month from KPC against country’s total monthly consumption of about 0.8m tonnes. About 220,000 tonnes per month production comes from domestic refineries. As a result, the PSO has asked the petroleum division to take note of the situation and review pricing mechanism.

PSO is currently procuring gas oil of 500ppm under a long-term contract with KPC that has already been extended till December 2020, but KPC would not be able to provide that poor quality fuel beyond early 2020 because of its upgradation.

KPC had told PSO that Euro-II diesel containing 500ppm (sulphur particles per million), which is currently in Pakistan’s use, would not be available for imports from 2020 onwards because it would start producing Euro-V diesel containing 10ppm after the completion of its Clean Fuel Project.

The PSO has reported that existing pricing based on 500ppm sulphur (Euro-II) will not be commercially feasible for it because 10ppm sulphur (Euro-V) is almost $1 per barrel more expensive. The government last month sought feedback from the oil industry on non-availability of HSD grade Euro-II from KPC with effect from early 2020.

The Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) responded that the issue needed to be examined on techno-economic and commercial viability. It said the prevailing HSD specification notified by the petroleum division would need to be reviewed since KPC has indicated that lubricity improvers will be added for Euro-V.

The OCAC said ultra-low sulphur diesel such as Euro-V is achieved through desulfurisation. As a diesel’s sulfur level (500ppm) is reduced, the fuel’s inherent lubricity characteristics are also reduced. Diesel fuels with poor lubricity characteristics can lead pump wear and eventually vehicle failure. Therefore, lubrication properties have become a key parameter of low-sulfur diesel-fuel specifications.

Also, it will potentially translate into a scenario of Euro-II and Euro-IV both being replaced with Euro-V. Almost 50 per cent of the diesel in the market will still be Euro-II as produced by the local refineries which need to be involved in the assessment of impact on both refinery pricing and product specification as they will continue to produce 500ppm diesel, the OCAC said.

On top of that, since vehicle manufacturers and assemblers were also important stakeholders, they should also be involved before finalising industry switchover from Euro-II to Euro-V. The OCAC said that Euro-II was primarily used by transportation sector; hence a study needs to be conducted on the impact of conversion from Euro-II to Euro-V.

Moreover, Euro-V specification will create additional burden as consumers will be required to pay a higher price. Therefore, a study should be conducted to facilitate an informed decision keeping in view the long-term impact, the OCAC pleaded.

The PSO had explained that discrepancy in imports with regard to specifications and pricing issues would occur if it imports 10ppm diesel and other oil marketing companies import 500ppm diesel, unless the government makes it mandatory for all diesel imports from 2020 to shift to a uniform 10ppm sulphur Euro-V level to ensure better quality and environmental friendly fuel in the country.

The government had earlier announced a policy to improve fuel grades and KPC’s specifications were generally in line with measures highlighted in the policy but local refineries had some issues with the upgradation timeline because of the additional investments required.

He said all the stakeholders – oil marketing companies and refineries, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority and Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan – had been requested to give their technical and professional input on the situation.

Pakistan’s total demand for petroleum, oil and lubricants products is estimated to increase by 17.5pc from 27m tonnes this year to about 32m tonnes in five years, according to OCAC – an umbrella organisation of oil companies.

The cost of existing oil imports generally lies between $12-14 billion per year. HSD would be a key driver for growth in consumption of petroleum products. Its consumption is estimated to increase by 46.4pc to 13.7m tonnes in five years from current level of 9.3m tonnes. The demand for motor gasoline, commonly known as petrol, currently stands at about 7.97m tonnes that would jump to 14.17m tonnes in 2021-22, showing an increase of about 78pc.

The imports of diesel in the country shifted to Euro-II specifications or 500ppm in January 2017. The OMCs and refineries declined to introduce Euro-III & Euro-IV compliant HSD, claiming that it was not feasible to sell the higher grade product in the Pakistani market when the petroleum division proposed better grades in a deregulated environment, and subsequently upgrade local refineries capable of matching the quality of the imported product.

Higher grade fuels are considered more efficient and eco-friendly, but are relatively expensive. Pakistan used to have 0.5pc sulphur content HSD, which produced 5,000ppm until December 2016. This was switched to 0.05ppm Euro-II having 500ppm. Euro-III should have 0.035pc (350ppm), Euro-IV 0.005ppm (50ppm) and Euro-V 0.001ppm (10ppm).

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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Muharram 9 observed across Pakistan amid tight security

The 9th of Muharram was observed on Thursday amid stringent security arrangements across Pakistan and with due solemnity and sanctity to pay homage to the sacrifices of Imam Husain and his companions in Karbala.

Cities across the nation echoed with nohas, marsiayas and mourning in various majalis and processions.

Ulema and zakireen shed light on the teachings of Imam Husain and his great companions.

Pakistani security personnel patrol in Karachi. —AFP

Pakistani security personnel patrol in Karachi. —AFP

In the federal capital, 2,586 policemen, Pakistan Rangers and Frontier Constabulary men were deployed to ensure security for 17 processions.

In Lahore, as many as eight DSPs, 19 SHOs, and more than 2,000 policemen under the supervision of two SPs were performing duties to protect the processions of 9th Muharram-ul-Haram.

Mourning procession with Zuljana passing through a road in Quetta. —APP

Mourning procession with Zuljana passing through a road in Quetta. —APP

In Karachi, the traditionally significant areas in connection with Muharrum related activities remained Karbala Gamey Shah, Bibi Pak Daman, Shadman Colony, Model Town, the inside Mochi Gate, Chowk Nawab Sahib, Nisar Havaili, Bhati Gate’s Mubarak Havaili, Pando Street (Islampura), Minhajul Hussain, Niaz Beg village, Khaima Sadaat near Jain Mandir, Bhaekeywal Morr in Iqbal Town, Batapur, Samanabad, Sadar, among many other places of the provincial metropolis.

The main mourning procession of Muharram 9, amidst extra-ordinary security arrangements, emerged from Nishter Park.

Scouts posted along procession route in Karachi. —APP

Scouts posted along procession route in Karachi. —APP

Law enforcers including police and Rangers along with scouts were deployed all along the route of the main procession, which culminated at Hussainiya Irania Imambargah at Kharadar.

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) including welfare organisations set up sabeels (stalls for refreshment drinks and snacks) and stalls of emergency medical aid facility as per tradition on the route of the procession.

Various small mourning processions taken out from different parts of the metropolis also merged into the main procession.

Cellular phone services remained suspended in sensitive areas and pillion riding was declared completely banned in all areas of the city.

Procession participants in Karachi touch the Zuljana, a symbolisation of the horse used by Imam Husain in the Karbala battle. —AFP

Procession participants in Karachi touch the Zuljana, a symbolisation of the horse used by Imam Husain in the Karbala battle. —AFP

All link roads and lanes leading to the route of main procession had been blocked with the help of containers and heavy vehicles to stop unwanted entries.

The traffic police had given an alternate route plan for the public to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the roads of the port city.

Elaborate security arrangements were made for the maintenance of law and order and to provide security to the mourning processions. Walk through gates, snipers and thousands of police officers were deployed along the procession route.

The district municipal corporations have taken necessary steps to provide civic facilities like cleaning of sewerage lines, repair of roads and lighting arrangements on the routes of procession to facilitate the mourners.

Control rooms were set up while CCTV cameras were also placed to avoid any untoward incident.

Youm-e-Ashur, the 10th of Muharram, will be observed with reverence and religious solemnity in the country on Friday.

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Pakistan, Saudi Arabia pledge to defeat terrorism

PRIME Minister Imran Khan shakes hands with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.—APP

PRIME Minister Imran Khan shakes hands with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Reaffirming their intention to stand by each other at all times, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have pledged to continue their decades-old partnership to defeat the scourge of extremism and terrorism.

The two countries ,reiterated the pledge, during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meetings with Saudi leadership in Jeddah on Wednesday.

The PM called on Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and extended an invitation to the Saudi leadership to visit Pakistan at an early date. “The offer was graciously accepted, in principle, by the Saudi leadership,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

Saudi King, Crown Prince accept PM Imran’s invitation to visit Pakistan

Acknowledging each other’s efforts and sacrifices, the two sides agreed on the need to promote peace and security to ensure progress, development and prosperity.

As the PM briefed the Saudi leadership about Pakistan’s successes and sacrifices in its fight against terrorism and highlighted the role of “actors trying to destabilise Pakistan”, the latter apprised the former of the steps taken by the Kingdom to curb extremism and terrorism and shared views “on the forces spreading extremist ideologies in the region”.

Mr Khan strongly condemned the efforts to promote religious extremism, sectarianism and terrorism.

Both the countries expressed complete solidarity with each other in their “efforts at preserving their sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

The two sides agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation as well as their collaboration at the regional and multilateral forums to promote peace and security.

Guard of honour

It was the prime minister’s first foreign visit after assuming office. He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood.

He was received by King Salman at his palace in Jeddah, where Mr Khan was presented with a guard of honour and a state banquet was hosted for him and his entourage.

In the meeting, the two leaders discussed bilateral relationship, the regional and global political situation and the issues confronting Muslim Ummah, according to a statement issued from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

They expressed their desire to further enhance and diversify bilateral cooperation and to continue close coordination on issues of mutual interest.

Crown Prince hosts dinner for Imran

During the visit, the PM also held a meeting with the Saudi crown prince, who hosted a dinner in his honour.

The two leaders accompanied by their ministers and senior officials, held detailed discussions on ways to strengthen bilateral relationship and on the regional political and security situation.

They exchanged ideas on enhancing cooperation in political, defence, economic, commercial and cultural sectors, developing joint ventures in line with their respective developmental needs, strengthening collaboration in human resource sector and addressing the issues faced by Pakistani expatriates in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi leadership congratulated Pakistan on its successful democratic transition, in a peaceful and fair manner and felicitated Mr Khan on his election as the PM.

Appreciating the PM’s idea of transforming his country into a welfare state based on Islamic socio-economic principles, the Saudi leadership assured Pakistan of its maximum assistance.

Pakistan thanked Saudi Arabia for its steadfast and continued support.

ABU DHABI: Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE’s Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan here on Wednesday after completing his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia.—APP

ABU DHABI: Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE’s Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan here on Wednesday after completing his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia.—APP

Plight of Kashmiris discussed

The PM informed the Saudi leadership about the plight of the Muslims of India-held Kashmir, suffering grievous human rights violations.

Mentioning the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the human rights violations in held Jammu and Kashmir, he stressed the need for Islamic solidarity and unity in raising the issue forcefully at the UN Human Rights Council.

The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to the just struggle of the Palestinian people to restore their rights and achieve the independence of the state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

They also stressed that the international community must respect the just struggle of the people living under foreign occupation and the legitimate right to self-determination, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

With a view to developing tangible and meaningful bilateral cooperation in key areas, the two countries agreed to intensify consultations and coordination in order to strengthen their strategic partnership.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia reaffirmed their historical and brotherly ties, rooted in bonds of common religion, shared culture and values and quest for regional and global peace and security.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the convergence of views on a host of regional and global issues, as well as the issues faced by Muslim Ummah.

They reaffirmed their intention to stand by each other at all times.

Pakistan praised the Saudi leadership on a smooth and successful organisation of Haj this year and acknowledged the eminent position of respect and reverence among the Muslim Ummah enjoyed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

It also commended the visionary leadership of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

Overseas Pakistanis

Meanwhile, the prime minister also addressed the Pakistani community in Jeddah in which he assured them the government would constitute the ministry of overseas Pakistanis so that it could become helpful for the expats as well as the investors.

The PM and his delegation later arrived in Abu Dhabi from Saudi Arabia.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018

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After Saudi, PM Khan visits UAE; welcomed by Abu Dhabi crown prince

Prime Minister Imran Khan reached United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday in the second instalment of his two-day official Saudi/UAE tour.

He was received at the Abu Dhabi airport by Shaikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

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Earlier in the day, the PM met Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his maiden visit to the kingdom.

During his meeting with the royals, the prime minister discussed matters of regional and bilateral interest. The leaders also talked about economic relations between the two countries.

On his arrival in Jeddah, the prime minister was presented with a guard of honour and the national anthems of both countries were played. King Salman held a banquet for the premier and his delegation.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also hosted a dinner for PM Khan when the leaders met. The prime minister commended the crown prince’s vision to turn Saudi Arabia into a modern economy.

During their meeting, the leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations as well as steps that can be taken to enhance cooperation in political, defence, economic, commercial and cultural sectors. They also discussed challenges that are being faced by the Muslim world.

PM Khan brought up the issues of Pakistani expatriates living in Saudi Arabia as well.

The prime minister also highlighted the human rights offences by the Indian army in held Kashmir. The leaders reaffirmed their support for Palestine’s struggle for an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The premier extended an invitation for the crown prince to visit Pakistan, which was accepted, in principle, by the Saudi leadership.

This is Khan’s first foreign tour as prime minister. Talking to ,Al Arabiya,, he said that “anyone who comes to power in Pakistan will visit Saudi Arabia first” as the two countries share a “strong people to people relationship”.

“Saudi Arabia has in the past helped Pakistan when [the country] has been in need,” he said.

The prime minister held a meeting with the secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation as well. The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Pakistani ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Finance Minister Asad Umar meets Saudi Minister of Finance. — Photo courtesy: *Arab News* Twitter

Finance Minister Asad Umar meets Saudi Minister of Finance. — Photo courtesy: Arab News Twitter

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Asad Umar — who is accompanying PM Khan — met his Saudi counterpart Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan as ,they discussed, “aspects of financial and economic cooperation”.

Information Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry — also part of the premier’s delegation — ,met, the Saudi Minister of Media Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad earlier in the day. The two discussed ways to expand media cooperation between the two states.

Later in the day, the prime minister and his delegation travelled to the UAE where they were received by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The premier, accompanied by Qureshi and the prime minister’s adviser on commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, as well as Umer and Chaudhry, ,landed in Madinah, on Tuesday. He was received at the airport by the governor of Medina, Shahzada Faisal Bin Salman, and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Khan Hasham Bin Siddique.

On his arrival in Makkah last night, PM Khan and his delegation performed Umrah. The doors of the Holy Kaaba were opened for the prime minister, where he offered prayers.

Pakistan would like to play a reconciliatory role in Muslim world, says PM Khan

During his interview to Al Arabiya, PM Khan said that Pakistan wanted to play a reconciliatory role in the Muslim world.

“We feel that it’s very important that there should not be any conflict in the Muslim world,” the premier said and added that there were already several conflicts plaguing the Muslim world, “starting from Libya to Somalia, to Syria, Afghanistan… Pakistan has [also] suffered a lot”.

“Conflict in the Muslim world is weakening all of us. Ideally, Pakistan would like to play a role of putting out these fires.”

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