Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

Imran wants peace in Kabul without fighting others’ war

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has categorically said Pakistan will no longer fight others’ war and those who had been asking Pakistan to “do more” now want us to mediate between the Afghan warlords and the US-backed Afghan government.

“We need peace in Afghanistan but ,Pakistan will not fight others’ war, [in the neighbouring country],” the prime minister said while addressing a group of students, hailing from Balochistan, at PM Office on Friday.

He said a wrong impression had been created by the country’s leadership in the past that Pakistan would be harmed if it did not fight someone else’s war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan being urged to play the role of mediator, PM tells students from Balochistan

Referring to the oft-repeated “do more” demand, he said Pakistan was asked to fight their [US] war in Afghanistan. “I have been saying for past many years that war is no solution to Afghanistan’s problem and now it has also been realised by the US,” he added. He held the US authorities and Afghan government responsible for failing to restore peace and stability across Afgha­nistan. “More than 40 per cent areas in Afghanistan are not under the control of the Afghan government,” he added.

The prime minister earlier in a tweet had asked the US government to reassess causes of their failures in Afghanistan instead of passing the blame on to Pakistan. “Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140,000 Nato troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before,” he had tweeted.

Pakistan joined the US-led war in Afghanistan in 2001 and paid a heavy price as mentioned by the prime minister on many occasions. However, the present government has taken a firm stance that the country will watch its own interests and not become a part of the US-led war in the neighbouring country.

Water situation

In a separate meeting, the prime minister was briefed by federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda and Water and Power Development Authority chairman retired lieutenant general Muzammil Hussain about water crisis and the measures being taken to overcome water shortage in the country. Mr Khan was also apprised of ongoing work on the construction of major dams and water-related projects.

Mr Khan appreciated the efforts being made by the water ministry and Wapda for addressing the looming water crisis in the country.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

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Controversy over Form-45 refuses to abate

ISLAMABAD: As the ,controversy over Forms-45, not signed by the polling agents in the 2018 general polls intensifies, the PPP has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to make public surveillance camera footage of the constituencies from where party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari contested polls.

The controversy has been sparked by an audit of Form-45. Though experts say that the absence of polling agents’ signatures from Forms-45 is no violation of the law, unless it is proven that they were not allowed to sign the key electoral document, the controversy that started right after election day continues to simmer.

Take a look: ,What’s the big deal with Form 45?,

The former senator who is in charge of the PPP election cell, Taj Haider, said in a statement that according to data released by the Free and Fair Election Network, not a single Form-45 on two seats ie NA-246 and NA-200, from where PPP chairman Mr Bhutto-Zardari contested, carried signatures of his polling agents or those of polling agents of any other candidate of any political party.

PPP terms issue pre-poll rigging

On NA-8, the third seat from where Mr Bhutto-Zardari contested, only two Forms-45 carry the signatures of his polling agents. On this seat, the number of Forms-45 signed by polling agents of candidates belonging to four other political parties is also two each. “These three seats from where Mr Bhutto-Zardari contested are enough to indicate a general pattern of counting after throwing out polling agents from all polling stations,” Mr Haider remarked.

Mr Haider called the ECP’s explanation merely another attempt to deceive and confuse the public, adding that all pages of Form-45 have been uploaded on the ECP website. Terming ‘funny’ the ECP’s assertion that in many cases, polling agents signed the Form-45 on the back page, the PPP leader said that not allotting any space on Form-45 for the signature of polling agents was part of pre-poll rigging. Continuing, he said that Section 90(13) of the Election Act 2017 makes it mandatory for presiding officers to provide copies of the results of counts (Form-45) and ballot paper accounts (Form-46), signed by polling agents, to the polling agents and also to “obtain a receipt for such copy.” “Notwithstanding the frivolous assertion that the Forms-45 were signed at their back, can the ECP produce received receipts of copies of these forms, signed by polling agents, from the three NA constituencies from which the PPP chairman contested, or those of any other political party candidate?” asked Mr Haider.

The party election cell authority explained that the provision of installing surveillance cameras in polling stations “to record poll proceedings, the counting of vote processes and the preparation of results by the presiding officer” under Section 59(12) had been extended by the ECP to all sensitive polling stations. “Can the ECP make public any recording of the surveillance cameras covering the counting of vote processes and the preparation of results by presiding officers in the constituencies contested by the PPP chairman,” he challenged. In addition, he alleged, violations of law that had taken place in the electoral constituencies contested by the PPP chairman represented the general pattern of violations committed with impurity all over Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

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Midterm polls govt’s way to ensure absolute majority: Rabbani

KARACHI: Former Senate chairman Senator Raza Rabbani has said that the idea of midterm elections in the country is being floated to ensure that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) gets absolute majority in the National Assembly.

Addressing a press conference in the Sindh Assembly building here on Friday, he said: “It seems Imran Khan, who doesn’t have absolute majority right now, will be handed the desired majority in the house through the midterm elections.”

He said the government lacked a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and it seemed the government “would be given” such a majority through the midterm elections. “What dynamics and forces have compelled him [the prime minister] for new elections that early?” he asked.

He said that it was unfortunate that the jurisdiction of judiciary and other institutions was not being respected as defined in the Constitution. “In my opinion, at present there is a serious crisis of governance in the country. Unfortunately, the mechanisms for judiciary, executive and legislative, as defined in the Constitution, were neither being acted upon accordingly, nor were they being respected,” he regretted, adding that every institution was interfering in the other’s constitutional jurisdiction.

Mr Rabbani said the country was on the verge of an economic disaster and parliament had become virtually crippled.

“No one knows on what preconditions we are getting the loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and on what interest? Neither the people of this country nor parliament is being taken into confidence over such a crucial deal,” he said.

He said it was high time that parliament was strengthened to deal with challenging times. He deplored the waning influence of the Council of Common Interests and demanded that the government announce the new National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.

“The NFC Award was not awarded during dictatorships and such negative tradition should not be followed by democratic governments,” said Senator Rabbani.

He said the Senate should be empowered to allow for any delays in the NFC Award, adding that any cuts in the award would not be in the interest of less populous provinces.

Mr Rabbani proposed an amendment to Article 57 of the Constitution to make chief ministers members of the Senate so that they could raise issues involving their provinces before members of the upper house.

He also proposed that a senator of necessity become a resident of a province from where he or she was being elected. Senator Rabbani also demanded mandatory approval by the Senate for the federal budget.

He said the country could not be rescued from persisting crises until parliament and federation were strengthened “no matter how heavy loans we get”.

He said the 18th Amendment was not a divine book and could be amended. However, he expressed his concern that plans were afoot to interfere in provincial subjects like health and education by the federal government through ordinances.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

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Society’s mindset needs to be changed to combat harassment: Mazari

ISLAMABAD: Other than implementing laws, there is a need to change the society’s mindset to combat harassment, Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari said on Friday.

“Our ministry is working on creating awareness about the laws, especially for people who are differently abled,” Dr Mazari said at a seminar on Harassment Faced by Women with Disabilities in Pakistan.

Harassment faced by women with disabilities is a global issue, the minister said. She said the State of Pakistan does not make any discrimination and that the actual discrimination comes from family and society level.

“Our laws provide equal access to women and we need to tackle the real issue of priority which women, especially those with disabilities, have been facing from society and families,” she said.

Dr Mazari informed the gathering of her ministry’s efforts towards working on devising new legislation for protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

“The new bill regarding the rights of people with disabilities will be implemented as soon it is passed through parliamentary process. This bill focuses on the rights of people with disabilities in general and women, children and transgender in particular,” the minister said.

Earlier in her discussion with a UN Women delegation headed by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the two discussed various human rights issues and matters related to mutual cooperation especially focusing on implementation of existing laws particularly for women empowerment, gender-based violence, child abuse and protection of their rights. Both sides agreed on extending cooperation to protect the basic rights especially the rights of women.

The pivotal points discussed in the meeting were human rights issues apropos Pakistan with special emphasis on gender equality and women empowerment.

UNDP Pakistan Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne was also attending the event.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

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‘Do not want Pakistan treated like a hired gun’: PM Khan on US ties

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in ,an interview with The Washington Post,, expressed his desire to have “a proper relationship with the US” akin to Islamabad’s ties with China rather than the one “where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun”.

The prime minister, in an exclusive interview with the American newspaper on Thursday, said: “I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun — given money to fight someone else’s war. It not only cost us human lives, devastation of our tribal areas, but it also cost us our dignity.

When asked to elaborate on the ideal nature of relationship that he would like to have with Washington, PM Khan added: “For instance, our relationship with China is not one-dimensional. It’s a trade relationship between two countries. We want a similar relationship with the US.”

The prime minister rejected the notion that he is “anti-US”, saying that disagreeing with Washington’s policies did not make him “anti-American”.

“This is a very imperialistic approach. ‘You’re either with me or against me’,” he said.

When asked if he wanted relations between Pakistan and the US to “warm up”, the prime minister responded: “Who would not want to be friends with a superpower?”

The premier, however, stuck to his ,anti-drone attacks stance, and wondered why anyone would support it. “Who would allow a drone attack in their country when, with one attack, you kill one terrorist and 10 friends and neighbours?” he questioned. “Has there ever been a case of a country being bombed by its own ally? Of course I objected to it. All it did was create more anti-Americanism.”

‘Humiliating US did not trust Pakistan over OBL operation’

The prime minister also condemned the ,2011 US operation in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden,, saying that it was “humiliating” that the US did not trust Pakistan to kill the terrorist.

“It was humiliating that we were losing our soldiers and civilians and [suffering terrorist] bomb attacks because we were participating in the US war, and then our ally did not trust us to kill bin Laden,” he regretted and added that the US “should have tipped off Pakistan”.

When asked if he, at one time, had condemned bin Laden’s killing itself and called it a “cold-blooded murder”, the premier said he “didn’t know where this came from”.

“Coldblooded murder!” he repeated in exasperation.

The prime minister also dismissed ,US’ allegations, that there were safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan, saying that the security forces had briefed him on the matter and told him that they had asked Washington “time and time again” to point out where the sanctuaries are.

However, he did not discount the possibility of some Afghan Taliban, “maybe 2,000 to 3,000″ crossing the border under the guise of refugees and residing in camps.

The prime minister also discussed his ,recent spat with US President Donald Trump,, clarifying that it was not a “Twitter war, it was just setting the record right”.

He insisted that peace in Afghanistan was ,in Pakistan’s interests,, and assured that Islamabad would “try [its] best to put pressure on the [Afghan] Taliban” in order to bring them to the table and hold negotiations.

“Putting pressure on the [Afghan] Taliban is easier said than done,” he warned. “Bear in mind that about 40 per cent of Afghanistan is now out of the government’s hands.”

Take a look: ,US-Taliban talks,

The premier reminded the interviewer of his long-held stance that the Afghan conflict did not have a military solution, adding that he was termed “Taliban Khan” for it. “Now I’m happy that everyone realises there is only a political solution. From Pakistan’s point of view, we do not want the Americans to leave Afghanistan in a hurry like they did in 1989.”

Prime Minister Khan dismissed the accusation that past Pakistani governments had “lied” to the US, adding that the American administration had been “misinformed”.

“Is it possible that the greatest military machine in the history of mankind — 150,000 Nato troops with the best equipment and over $1 trillion — are they saying that just a few thousand Pakistani insurgents are the reason they didn’t win in Afghanistan?” he asked. “The United States expected Pakistan to take on the Afghan Taliban. But the Afghan Taliban were not hitting Pakistan. Tehreek-i-Taliban and al-Qaeda were hitting us.”

Hopes for Pak-India talks

Prime Minister Khan also regretted that his government’s ,repeated overtures, for peaceful negotiations with New Delhi had been turned down.

,Unfortunate that Indian media tried to politicise Kartarpur border opening: PM Khan,

“The ruling party [in India] has an anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan approach,” he pointed out. “Let’s hope that after the election is over, we can again resume talks with India.”

He maintained that he wanted the case of the Mumbai attacks to be resolved, adding that he has “asked our government to find out the status of the case”.

‘Straight forward’

When asked about the ,recent arrests, of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) workers and leaders, including its party chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Prime Minister Khan said that the matter was “straight forward”.

“I had ,gone on television and warned everyone, that we will stand by the Supreme Court verdict,” he recalled. “If you don’t stand by what the Supreme Court says, then there’s no state left. The head of the TLP then passed a death sentence on the Supreme Court judges and kept saying that they should be killed.”

The prime minister reiterated his plan to end poverty from the country, with or without the International Monetary Fund’s programme.

He said that the country had received monetary help from Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates, but said the latter two countries wanted the figures to remain “confidential”.

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Islamabad knows peace in Afghanistan unlikely without its support: US general

WASHINGTON: A senior US general has informed Congress that Pakistan knows very clearly there can be no peace in Afghanistan without their assistance and the United States has to make it “attractive” for them to cooperate.

Lt Gen Kenneth F. McKenzie, the next commander of the US Central Command, also said at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the death toll of Afghan security forces was unsustainable and that’s why a peace deal was needed.

“Their losses have been very high. They are fighting hard, but their losses are not going to be sustainable unless we correct this problem,” Lt Gen McKenzie told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Senator Mazie Keiko Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, introduced the Pakistan factor in the debate when she asked the general why he believed Pakistan had a role in the Afghan peace process. “Are there any indications that Pakistan wishes to play that kind of a role?” the senator asked.

“I do believe that any solution in Afghanistan is going to require the assistance of Pakistan. It has to be a regional solution, not just a solution centred in Afghanistan,” Gen McKenzie replied.

He said Pakistan would be interested in playing this role because “it’s in Pakistan’s long-term interests to have a government in Afghanistan that is stable, that they can do business with”.

But Gen McKenzie also acknowledged that Pakistan has “not shown indications, by and large, over the last few years, of being a serious partner in this regard”.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassa­dor Zalmay Khalilzad was ,meeting Pakistani leaders, to find some way forward, he said, noting that “it will be hard to reach a settlement without some form of assistance in Pakistan”.

“And you say that Pakistan has still not acknowledged that it has a potential major role to play,” Senator Hirono asked.

“Pakistan knows very clearly that their assistance will be required to reach an end state in Afghanistan. I think the task that we have is to make it attractive to them so that they see that it is in their best interests to do that,” Gen McKenzie replied.

“You use the words like attractive to them that means they will want something from us in return,” asked the senator. She also asked if the general believed the Taliban too have a major role in a future setup in Afghanistan.

“I believe that it does,” said Gen McKenzie while responding to her question about Pakistan. The Taliban, he reminded the lawmaker, still had around 60,000 in Afghanistan, compared to a US-led Nato force of about 16,000.

In a written statement shared with Dawn, the White House National Security Council also underlined some of the points raised by the general.

It noted that in a ,letter he sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan, earlier this week, President Donald Trump sought “Pakistan’s full support” for the Afghan peace process and for Ambassador Khalilzad’s reconciliation mission.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018

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95pc Forms-45 not signed by polling agents, reveals Fafen audit

ISLAMABAD: The first-ever comprehensive audit of Form-45 has revealed that 95 per cent of the total 78,467 such forms tabulating results of the count prepared for the elections in 249 constituencies of the National Assembly had not been signed by the polling agents of political parties and candidates.

The audit carried out by the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) — a group of non-governmental organisations working to reform electoral processes — also discloses that in as many as 48 NA constituencies, not even a single form had been signed by the polling agents. The number could be higher when data of the remaining 23 constituencies will be available. The elections were held in 270 of the 272 NA constituencies while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) uploaded the data of 249 constituencies on its official website.

According to Fafen, the proportion of un-signed Forms-45 was as high as 98pc in Balochistan where only 49 of the 2,437 such forms had been signed by the polling agents. It stood at 97pc in Sindh where merely 573 of the 17,493 forms bore signatures of the polling agents. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 634 of the 13,790 forms had been signed which means 95pc of them had not been signed. The proportion of un-signed forms was 94pc in Punjab where 2,705 of the 43,971 forms had been signed. The situation was comparatively better in the federal capital where 195 (25pc) of the 786 forms had been signed.

ECP rejects Fafen claim and says it will shortly release its own ‘authentic data’

Overall, 4,156 out of the 78,467 forms had been signed by the polling agents.

Under Section 90 (12) of the Elections Act, 2017, the presiding officer at each polling station is duty-bound to obtain on Form-45 and Form-46 the signatures of polling agents who are present at the time of finalisation of election results at the polling station. In case of refusal by any polling agent to sign the form, the Presiding Officers are duty-bound to record a note on the respective forms.

Although a legal requirement, neither Form-45 nor Form-46 has any specific section for the signing of polling agents. Notwithstanding the operational weaknesses of the legal requirement, which was also part of the previous Represen­tation of Peoples Act, 1976 (Section 38, Subsection 13), Fafen documented the scale of enforcement of the provision.

The network says that the consistent weak enforcement of this provision points to the need for parliamentary action for legislative amendment to ensure that this procedure is implemented in letter and spirit to bolster political parties and public confidence in election results.

When contacted, senior Fafen representative Mudassir Rizvi said that implementation of Section 90 (12) of the Elections Act was nearly impossible for the simple reason that this legal provision was subject to the presence of polling agents at the time of finalisation of Form-45 at a polling station.

“In case a political party contends that its polling agent was not asked by the presiding officer of a certain polling station to sign Form-45, it will have to prove the charge in an election tribunal by providing adequate evidence admissible under Pakistan’s law of evidence. In case of general election 2018, political parties will have to individually prove more than 70,000 such instances in election tribunals, which is impossible. This is because the law itself is weak,” he remarked.

ECP reaction

A senior ECP official, when contacted, rejected Fafen’s claim that 95pc Forms-45 did not bear signatures of the polling agents and said the commission would shortly release its own “authentic data”. He said Fafen’s data was based merely on the first page of Form-45 whereas more than one form had been used at various polling stations.

He said a second form had to be used where the number of candidates was more than eight and another form if the number exceeded 16. Moreover, in many cases polling agents had affixed signatures on back of the forms which had not been uploaded on the ECP website, he added.

The official said that another problem was that candidates had engaged inexperienced polling agents who were in many cases ‘hired’ for their daylong services. However, he agreed that the legal provision required a suitable amendment.

‘PPP stand vindicated’

In charge of the PPP election cell and former senator Taj Haider said the Fafen data fully vindicated the stand of the Pakistan Peoples Party of throwing out by force of polling agents at the time of vote count and not getting Form-45 signed by polling agents in blatant and gross violation of Section 90(12) of the Elections Act.

He pointed out that in a data covering 78,000 Forms-45 only 66 had been signed by the PPP polling agents. “The ECP propaganda that the polling agents of losing parties had left the polling station on their own is falsified by the fact that only 112 Forms-45 bear the signatures of PTI polling agents and only 78 those of PML-N polling agents,” he said.

Curiously enough, he added, there were 4,028 signed forms on which no political party had been mentioned. “One wonders if these signatures are genuine, or have been put there by some ‘duty conscious’ polling staff in order to increase the number of signed Forms-45,” he remarked.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018

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

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

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

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

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar addresses the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar addresses the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PM Imran Khan speaks at the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

PM Imran Khan speaks at the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Singularity of narrative’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A documentary on population dynamics was presented at the event.

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NAB’s special prosecutor in Zulfi Bukhari case tenders resignation

The special prosecutor for National Accountability Bureau in ,the Zulfi Bukhari case,, Imran Shafique, tendered his resignation on Tuesday citing his wish to join the Islamabad Bar Association as an “independent professional lawyer”.

In addition to representing the bureau in the case against the appointment of Bukhari, the special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, Shafique was the NAB’s special prosecutor in many high profile cases such as in the corruption reference against former finance minister Ishaq Dar, which subsequently led to Dar’s assets being ,confiscated,.

In his resignation letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Shafique wrote: “I realise my national duty to combat corruption, and as a lead prosecutor in Ishaq Dar’s case I would be available to offer my assistance, even after leaving NAB”.

Explore: ,Is the NAB law a discriminatory piece of legislation?,

He was inducted into the bureau as special prosecutor in May 2017 and has described his time serving NAB as a “great and profound learning experience”.

NAB spokesperson Nawazish Ali, when asked to comment on the development, said that the anti-graft body had yet to receive the resignation letter.

Prior to joining the accountability bureau, Shafique was serving as an associate to former justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui — the Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge who was ,removed from his post, by the president on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

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PML-N, PPP term PM’s interview disappointing

ISLAMABAD: Terming the ,latest interview, of Prime Minister Imran Khan “a total disappointment”, leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Monday expressed their surprise over Mr Khan’s remarks about the possibility of fresh elections in the country.

In a statement, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the opposition didn’t need to do anything to topple the government because its “disastrous performance in the first 100 days and the incompetence of Imran Khan and his associates are already doing the job”.

“A prime minister who has given a vote of no confidence in his own government with this statement of early elections does not deserve the top office of the country for even one day, and should resign with immediate effect,” she said.

Ms Aurangzeb, who served as information minister in the previous PML-N government, ridiculed the prime minister’s statement that he had learnt from television that his “pathetic government” had caused another landslide devaluation of the rupee. The PML-N leader referred to the prime minister’s observation that the PML-N government’s finance minster Ishaq Dar had artificially controlled the exchange rate for dollar.

“Either that stance was a lie or his current position is a farce,” she added.

Ms Aurangzeb said that Mr Khan had once again used the “same lame NRO rhetoric” to distract the attention of the nation away from “the massive failures” of his government.

In a separate statement, PPP’s Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said it was very “irresponsible” of the prime minister to talk about early elections.

Senator Khokhar, who is also a spokesman for PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, said it was disappointing that the PTI government wasn’t even trying to solve problems.

“The nation has already paid the price of unpredictability and instability,” he said, recalling that the stock exchange recently suffered a drop of 1,300 points in a day “while Imran Khan is busy making immature, irresponsible and condemnable statements”.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fafen has missed key points in its report: PPP

ISLAMABAD: Senator Taj Haider, the head of the central election cell of the Pakistan Peoples Party, has said that the ,report on the recent polls, issued by the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) has missed the major cause of contention regarding rigging allegations.

The critical issue of signatures of polling agents on Form-45 was not mentioned in the report, Senator Haider claimed. The omission was all the more shocking considering the audit and analysis methodology designed by Fafen clearly stated that the signature issue would be investigated. “Each Form-45 must carry the signatures of polling agents,” Fafen had outlined before issuing the report.

The Fafen report issued on Friday validated the position of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which has been caught in a controversy since the general elections held on July 25. Fafen backed the ECP on two major issues — the first was criticism by opposition parties over the Form-45 controversy and the second was reports of the expulsion of polling agents from polling stations during the vote count.

Poll observer body says it has complete data and will release it soon

In its findings, Fafen disclosed that the incidence of non-provision of Form-45 to candidates and their agents at polling stations had dropped from 7.5 per cent in the 2013 polls to 2.5pc in 2018.

Senator Haider pointed to Sections 90 (12) and 90(16) of the Elections Act 2017, and claimed that signatures of polling agents were a mandatory provision on Form-45, which shows the result of the count, and Form-46, which is the ballot paper account. These sections further make it mandatory for the presiding officer to record why the polling agent in question refused to sign both forms. Fafen, before publishing the report, had prepared an audit methodology in which it had highlighted the importance of these checks.

While all other checks and counter-checks that did not impact the results have been laboriously recorded in the Fafen report, the ones that could possibly point to alleged massive rigging have been completely ignored. This kind of omission could only be on purpose, said the PPP senator.

He added that the report appeared to be yet another attempt to blow up the irrelevant issues out of proportion in order to cover up the crucial problems with the ­election ­­process.

Mr Haider said he hoped that Fafen was not under the same kind of pressure that the media had been exposed to, and argued that he was certain that Fafen had details on the Form-45 issue and that the organisation would bring the matter out into the light.

In response to the PPP’s reaction, a Fafen representative said they had the complete data with them which was being published. However, he said that in order to remove the immediate concerns of the parties they would soon release the required data in a day or two.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2018

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Struggle for rights to continue, says Achakzai

QUETTA: Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chairman Meh­mood Khan Achakzai has said that his party will continue its peaceful struggle for protection of people’s constitutional and dem­­­ocratic rights.

Speaking at a public meeting held here on Sunday to commemorate the 45th death anniversary of Khan Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai, he said: “This is our country and our loyalty is to a federal and democratic Pakistan where equal rights of every nationality, ethnicity and minority are guaranteed by the constitution which the state should hold sacrosanct and supreme.”

Senior PkMAP leaders Ayaz Khan Jogezai, Abdur Rauf Lala, Senator Usman Kakar, Obaibullah Babit, Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal and Nasrullah Zerey also spoke on the occasion.

They paid tribute to the late Samad Khan Achakzai and underlined the need to follow in his footsteps and political and ideological philosophy.

Asserts PkMAP’s loyalty is to a democratic Pakistan where equal rights to all are guaranteed

Mr Achakzai said he believed in non-violence and peaceful struggle. He said Pakistan needed to be a genuinely democratic federation where people enjoyed constitutional guarantee of their fundamental, political, economic and cultural rights. He said the establishment had no right to interfere in politics.

The PkMAP chief called for convening a multi-party conference to take stock of the political and economic situation.

He expressed concern over the ongoing violence and alleged violation of rights, particularly in the Pakhtun belt.

“Pakhtuns are not terrorists. We should erase such stereotypes and concocted images,” he said, adding that “Pakhtuns love their land”.

He said in order to establish peace in Afghanistan, its sovereignty should be respected by all the powers involved.

“Conducive environment needed to be created to enable the Afghans to bring peace to their country,” he suggested.

Senator Usman Kakar criticised the government for its lack of democratic credentials and inefficiencies.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2018

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PM Imran Khan orders demolition of walls of Punjab Governor House

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday ordered the demolition of the walls of Punjab Governor House, in a follow-up to his promise in his ,first address to the nation, of turning the Prime Minister House and governor houses into public spaces.

Education minister Shafqat Mehmood had ,announced, in September that the Governor House in Lahore will be opened to the public. The promise was fulfilled when the building was ,opened by the PTI government, later that same month.

Punjab Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan confirmed the prime minister’s instructions to tear down the walls at a press conference held after a meeting of the Punjab cabinet.

He remarked that the Governor House walls “were there to put fear in the hearts of people”.

Chohan said such institutions had always remained inaccessible with people considering it unthinkable to just walk in.

“Governor House is not a historical building. It is an office,” he stressed.

Chohan revealed that Prime Minister Khan had instructed Chief Minister Usman Buzdar that the walls be brought down. He said the steps to this end will be taken within the next 48-72 hours.

The education minister had earlier said that the schools and vocational training institutes located inside the compound of the Punjab Governor House, which is spread over 700 kanals, will be separated and the gubernatorial office itself would be converted into a museum and an art gallery. The property’s grounds will be opened to the public as a park, which will include a small zoo.

Provincial departments’ performance

Briefing the media about the cabinet meeting, the information minister said a detailed briefing was given by cabinet members to the prime minister regarding the performance of their departments and their future targets.

He said Khan urged the provincial cabinet to expedite efforts for the economic and social uplift of the common man. Additionally, Chief Minister Buzdar was given instructions to monitor the performance of the provincial departments.

The minister said that the “effects” of the previous committees’ actions and their “accomplishments” were there for everyone to see and vowed that no person shall be given undue favours any more.

He said the expenditure of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat had been reduced from Rs55 billion to Rs7-8 billion, whereas the Prime Minister’s Secretariat witnessed savings of Rs18 billion.

Chohan said the ministers had also been asked to provide a 2-page summary of what they had achieved and what they have targetted to achieve.

He said the prime minister had spoken to the Price Control Committee regarding inflation and the rise in prices of commodities and how prices can be better controlled.

Prime Minister Khan also expressed reservations regarding transfers and postings across the province, Chohan said.

He said an event will be hosted between December 8 and 10 regarding the provincial government’s performance which will unveil the achievements of each department.

Every minister will share his or her ministry’s performance with the people through press conferences between December 10 and 20, Chohan added.

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Former US president George H.W. Bush dead at 94

George H.W. Bush — the upper-crust war hero-turned-oilman and diplomat who steered America through the end of the Cold War as president and led a political dynasty that saw his son win the White House — died on Friday. He was 94.

George W. Bush called his father a “man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” in a statement announcing his death.

“The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41′s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”

Bush’s passing comes just months after the death in April of his wife and revered first lady Barbara Bush — his “most beloved woman in the world” — to whom he was married for 73 years.

The 41st American president was a foreign policy realist who navigated the turbulent but largely peaceful fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and assembled an unprecedented coalition to defeat Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein two years later.

But the decorated war pilot and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief suffered the ignominy of being a one-term president, denied a second term over a weak economy when he lost the 1992 election to upstart Democrat Bill Clinton.

His favoring of stability and international consensus stands in sharp contrast to the provocative bluster of fellow Republican and current White House occupant Donald Trump, a man whom Bush did not vote for in 2016.

Bush presided over economic malaise at home, and infuriated his fellow Republicans during a budget battle with rival Democrats by famously breaking his vow: “Read my Lips: No new taxes”.

But he was the respected patriarch of a blue-blood political dynasty — son George spent eight years in the White House, and son Jeb served as governor of Florida.

At the time of his death, Bush was the American president to have lived the longest.

Jimmy Carter was born a few months later, so he could quickly reset the record.

“America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude,” former president Barack Obama said in a statement.

War, oil, politics

George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts into a wealthy New England political dynasty — the son of Prescott Bush, a successful banker and US senator for Connecticut.

Bush had a pampered upbringing and attended the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, but delayed his acceptance to Yale in order to enlist in the US Navy on his 18th birthday and head off to war.

He flew 58 combat missions during World War II. Shot down over the Pacific by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, he parachuted out and was rescued by a submarine after huddling in a life raft for four hours while enemy forces circled.

Bush married Barbara Pierce in January 1945, shortly before the war ended, and the couple went on to have six children, including one, Robin, who died as a child.

Instead of joining his father in banking upon graduation from Yale University, Bush headed to bleak west Texas to break into the rough-and-tumble oil business.

He surprised many with his success, and by 1958 had settled in Houston as president of an offshore drilling company.

In the 1960s, Bush, now independently wealthy, turned to politics.

He was a local Republican Party chairman, and in 1966 won a seat in the US House of Representatives. He served there until 1970, when he lost a bid for the Senate.

Over the next decade, he held several high-level posts that took him and Barbara around the world: head of the Republican National Committee, US ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China and director of the CIA, where he was praised for restoring morale after revelations of widespread illegal activity.

He served as vice president to Ronald Reagan after losing to him in the 1980 Republican primary, an eight-year period of hands-on training for the top post he would go on to win by a solid margin in 1988, as the Cold War was coming to an end.

‘This will not stand’

In a major test of the post-Cold War order, Saddam’s million-man army invaded Kuwait in 1990 and looked set to roll into Saudi Arabia, which would have given the Iraqi strongman more than 40 percent of the world’s oil reserves.

Bush famously vowed: “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.”

He assembled a coalition of 32 nations to drive Iraqi forces out in a matter of weeks with a lightning air and ground assault.

Some 425,000 US troops backed by 118,000 allied soldiers took part in Operation Desert Storm, decimating Saddam’s military machine without ousting him from power — a task that would be accomplished 12 years later by Bush’s son.

Buoyed by his victory in the Gulf, Bush and his hard-nosed and widely respected secretary of state James Baker cobbled together the 1991 Madrid Conference to launch the Arab-Israeli peace process.

The conference was mainly symbolic, but it set the stage for the Oslo Accords two years later.

In late 1989, Bush sent US troops to Panama to oust strongman Manuel Noriega. He also set the groundwork for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Domestically, however, the economy stalled and Bush broke his pledge not to raise taxes in order to reach a budget deal with Democrats — a cardinal sin in the eyes of Republicans.

In 1992, Bush lost his re-election bid to Clinton — whose aide coined the now famous slogan “It’s the economy, stupid” — as eccentric third-party candidate Ross Perot syphoned off conservative votes.

The elder Bush’s cautious realpolitik would later be contrasted to his son’s far more costly ambition to transform the Middle East, but “Bush 41″ refused to weigh in on the debate, insisting he was proud of the presidency of “Bush 43″.

Active post-presidency

After retiring from public life, Bush fulfilled a wartime pledge to one day jump out of a plane for fun and famously went skydiving on his 75th, 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays.

He joined Clinton to raise funds for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In 2011, Obama awarded Bush the highest US civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom.

He worked with Carter, Clinton, Obama and son George to raise money for hurricane victims in Texas in 2017.

In 2001, Bush became just the second US president after John Adams to see his son become president.

Son Jeb made his own presidential run in 2016, but fell short in the Republican primaries against Trump.

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Opposition rejects Imran’s speech as ‘a pack of lies’

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Thursday criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan ,over his speech which he delivered at a special ceremony, marking completion of the first 100 days of his government, terming it “ineffective” and “a pack of lies”.

Reacting to the speeches made by the prime minister and his cabinet members at the ceremony held at Convention Centre, the spokespersons for the two parties blasted the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for its “failed economic policies, unprecedented price hike and its much-hyped austerity drive”.

Take a look: ,First 100 Days Of PTI In Government – Performance Report,

Terming the 100-day performance of the government “unimpressive, ridiculous and full of lies and U-turns,” PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that her party would issue a ‘fact sheet’ on the government’s ‘real performance’ and expose its ‘lies and U-turns’ at a news conference on Friday.

Some three months before the July 25 general elections, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had unveiled his party’s ambitious ‘agenda’ outlining his commitments for starting work within the first 100 days of forming a government.

PML-N to issue ‘fact sheet’ about PTI government’s ‘real’ performance today

The salient features of the agenda were expeditious merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, bifurcation of Punjab province and reconciliation with estranged Baloch leaders. The agenda also contained a plan for introducing a development package for Karachi and a programme for poverty alleviation, besides a number of steps for improvement of the economy.

The opposition parties alleged that the government had totally failed to deliver on almost all the fronts, especially the economy and law and order situation.

Ms Aurangzeb said “the hopeless and useless government after failing to do anything on its own is now trying to take credit for the projects and initiatives of the PML-N government.” She said that Mr Khan was now taking the credit for the health cards schemes which had already been launched during the Nawaz Sharif government in the country’s 36 districts.

She regretted that the present government despite making tall claims had not initiated any programme for poverty alleviation.

“Instead of highlighting achievements of the first 100 days, the government has announced a plan for the next 100 days,” she said, adding that the nation kept on waiting to hear from the prime minister anything positive about the performance of the government.

The PML-N spokesperson said it seemed that a contest of telling lies among the ministers was going on at the Convention Centre, but at the end it was Imran Khan himself who won the medal.

“(Finance Minister) Asad Umar stood second and (Foreign Minister) Shah Mehmood Qureshi secured third position in the contest. (Information Minister) Fawad Chaudhry, who always stood first in such competitions, was nowhere to be seen,” she said in a light-hearted way.

Ms Aurangzeb asked Mr Khan to tell the nation “why foreign exchange reserves have come down from $17 billion in May to $11bn? Why the dollar has attained highest gain in the country’s history? Why inflation is at the highest? Why there has been a 67 per cent reduction in the foreign direct investment?”

She said that Imran Khan had himself admitted that his wife Bushra had to daily remind him that he was the prime minister of the country, confirming the opposition’s claim that Mr Khan was still doing “container politics”.

PPP’s Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who is also the spokesman for party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, said in a statement that the speech of the “selected prime minister” was “totally unimpressive”.

“Despite ruling the country for 100 days, Imran Khan had nothing to tell the nation,” he said.

Mr Khokhar said that Imran Khan had centred his government’s foreign policy on “the begging bowl” and his claim of purging the police and bureaucracy of political influence had already been exposed.

He said that before talking about elimination of corruption, Mr Khan should look at his companions and hand them over to the National Accountability Bureau.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2018

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PM Khan puts greater focus on ‘future plans’ in 100-day review speech

Prime Minister Imran Khan put a greater focus on his government’s plans ahead rather than analyse the tasks already accomplished, at a special event held at the Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad on Thursday to review his first 100 days in power.

Khan, who was the last of an assortment of speakers at the event attended by government functionaries, began by thanking First Lady Bushra Bibi for putting up with his tough schedule, adding that “I have taken just a single day off in the first 100 days”.

He said the policies adopted by his government in the first century of days in power were inspired by the state of Madina.

Read: ,First 100 Days Of PTI In Government – Performance Report,

“In Madina, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) adopted policies that were based on compassion; all policies were made for the poor,” he said. “The tax system of Zakat was established where money was collected from the rich and redistributed to the downtrodden.”

PM Khan delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

PM Khan delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

A major contributing factor to the “downtrodden’s” plight, the prime minister said, is corruption, and explained why he took a hardened stance against the practice.

“The difference between developed and underdeveloped countries is corruption,” he said. “We have so many assets but we are still behind, and our institutions are in shambles — all because of corruption.

“I did not know the extent of theft and corruption until I came to power. Every day something new comes up.”


Among the measures taken by the government in its first 100 days, the PM said, were:

  • Strengthened the FIA to curb money laundering

  • Signed agreements with 26 countries [to share information and recover assets]

  • Created a task force to improve the situation of government hospitals

  • Recovered Rs350 billion worth of land as part of the anti-encroachment drive

  • Lodged FIRs against bigwigs involved in power theft

  • Allotted land to build shelters for poor people in Rawalpindi and Lahore


The prime minister dedicated a sizable portion of his speech outlining his future plans, saying: “Four million children will be provided nourishment in order to reduce stunted growth, whereas the Benazir Income Support Programme will be expanded.”

PM Khan vowed to equip farmers with modern technology.

“Small farmers are left behind because they do not have the technology, knowledge and money,” he said. “We have to provide them the latest machinery and subsidies so they can purchase [latest] machinery.”

The premier said that Pakistan’s fisheries exports are “non-existent despite water resources”, adding that “a private party has done a pilot project through which shrimp farming can be done”.

He also floated the idea of “caged fishing, especially in Balochistan” which he said has “so much potential; we can export as well”.

Regarding the water crisis, PM Khan offered a “low-cost and quick” solution.

“Bhasha Dam will take time as it’s a huge project,” he said. “We found out that if we retain water in canals etc, it will conserve more water.”

PM Khan labelled the “nationalisation of industries in the 1970s” a “wrong decision”, stressing the importance of the creation of wealth in growing economies.

“Investments cannot come until investors make money,” he explained. “People must be given a chance to make money.”

The prime minister talked up Pakistan’s geographical location and population demographics, which he said make the country an attractive market for foreign investors.

He urged the expansion of the tax net, explaining that low tax collection leads to inflation. “How is it that only 72,000 people show their income above Rs200,000?” he wondered.

PM Khan said that Pakistan’s tourism industry has great potential, adding that a task force has been formed to promote the country’s religious and ecological tourism.

The prime minister gave an overview of the planned legal forms, for which he credited Law Minister Farogh Naseem.

As part of the reforms, he said, “civil courts will have to decide cases within a year and a half”.

“Legal aid authority will provide legal help to people who cannot afford to hire one,” he vowed.

PM Khan said he “is aware that our salaried class is under pressure” due to inflation but assured that “I am doing whatever i can to [take you out of this problem].”

Earlier, Senator Faisal Javed had formally opened the event with a brief intro before making way for recitation of the Holy Quran.

Minutes later, the senator reclaimed the rostrum before a video highlight of the prime minister and the federal government’s first 100 days in power was played for the audience.

PM took a U-turn on my advice: Umar

Finance Minister Asad Umar delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

Finance Minister Asad Umar delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

Finance Minister Asad Umar used a cricketing analogy to describe his job, saying “I was sent in to bat when the ball was swinging and seaming both.

“I get asked whether I am scared but I have not been unsure even for a single minute” that the party manifesto will be implemented.

The finance minister said that the PTI government “inherited a deficit of S2 billion” which he said has already been “reduced by S1bn”.

Umar explained the government’s decision to also seek alternate channels instead of solely relying on the International Monetary Fund to plug the financing gap.

“Economists are asking me why I did not just close my eyes and sign IMF contract,” he said. “We will not hide behind the IMF. If we [sign a deal], we will do so on our terms, and we will not lie to the people even if the truth is bitter.”

The minister revealed that it was upon his advice that the PM reneged on his promise to not travel abroad in the first 100 days.

“I take credit for telling the PM that ‘you will have take a U-turn on your promise to not travel for 100 days because this was in favour of the country.’” he recalled. “So he agreed and toured different countries.”

Umar defended his taxation and pricing policies, explaining that the tariffs were hiked only of those commodities that are used by the affluent section of the society.

“I am not saying that all problems have been solved and Pakistanis are not facing any problems but in the past 100 days we have set the direction.”

Foreign Minister Qureshi talks of ‘improvement in international relations’

Foreign Minister Qureshi delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

Foreign Minister Qureshi delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

Speaking on Pakistan’s international relations, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan’s case at global level was not heard before — something he said his ministry was trying to address.

“Our neighbour wanted to weaken Pakistan,” he said. “We could not present Pakistan’s case before the world because we did not have a lawyer.

“We decided that we would make our foreign office more interactive and started cultural diplomacy. We decided to take guidance and advice from former diplomats. We will also create a specialised foreign office, [and appoint] trained personnel.

“You will be happy to know that in 100 days we have had 16 multilateral engagements.”

The foreign minister said that the first thing on the PTI government’s foreign agenda was to have better relations with Afghanistan.

Qureshi also discussed Pakistan’s bilateral relations with India, saying: “Tensions with India are not hidden from anyone but our approach is people-centric and we need peace for people to prosper. We need peace in order to speed up the development of our country.

He reminded the audience that “Imran khan said he will take two steps for every 1 step India takes” but regretted that “they refused to engage even after the letter written to Narendra Modi”.

PTI did in 100 days what others did not in 10 years: PM’s adviser

Mohammad Shahzad Arbab, the PM’s Adviser on Establishment, was the first speaker of the event.

“I remember when we talked about the 100-day agenda, our friends had warned us that we were setting a trap and creating difficulties for ourselves,” he said. “I admit that they were right but we wanted to rise above political point scoring.”

The adviser to the PM reminded the audience that the PM’s 100-day agenda was about setting the direction of the government.

Arbab claimed that the PTI government “held regular cabinet meetings, adopted austerity and held itself accountable”.

“We have posted our performance on our website so people can give their feedback,” he said, adding: “Thirty-four promises were related to reforms [of which] we have completed 18 successfully. Work on the rest is underway.

“When we say these plans are ‘complete’ we mean that they are ready for launch.”

The adviser to the PM recounted the measures taken by the federal government in several sectors, including repatriation of laundered wealth, local government reforms and economic steps to boost the local industries.

Arbab shed light on the government’s flagship housing scheme, which he said “would create homes for the poor and also create jobs”.

The adviser claimed that “the business circle has welcomed our decision to separate tax collection from the FBR”.

He touched upon the progress made on a variety of PTI promises, including “social reforms, water policy, primary education as well as the 10 billion tree tsunami plan”.

Arbab discussed the government’s measures on the education front, including the planned conversion of the PM House into a university.

The adviser also talked about the promises which he said remain incomplete thus far, including the formation of a new province for the south Punjab region.

He, however, said that the party remains committed to the cause and will soon “form a separate secretariat” for south Punjab.

Arbab gave an update on the KP-Fata merger, saying that the development plans for tribal areas are close to being finalised.

The adviser termed Balochistan as “Pakistan’s backbone” and assured that measures are being taken to end the province’s “feeling of alienation”.

Arbab claimed that “in 100 days we have achieved what they [past governments] did not in past 10 years”.

“In the past, parties would forget their agenda after coming into power. In my 36 years of service, I have not seen the dedication with which this government has worked towards its agenda.”

PM Khan is going to make some important announcements during the ceremony, according to Radio Pakistan, and take the nation into confidence over the government’s achievements.

While opposition parties are ,terming the 100-day performance of the government, as “unimpressive, ridiculous and full of lies and U-turns”, the ruling party leaders are boasting the period with “remarkable achievements”, claiming that the country has been put on the right track.

Some three months before the July 25 general elections, PTI chairman Imran Khan had ,unveiled his party’s ambitious “agenda”, outlining the party’s commitments for starting work within the first 100 days of forming government after the polls.

Read: ,Jury out on PTI’s performance amid claims, counterclaims,

The salient features of the agenda were expeditious merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, bifurcation of Punjab and reconciliation with estranged Baloch leaders.

The 100-day agenda also contained a plan for introducing a development package for Karachi and a programme for alleviation of poverty, besides a number of steps for improvement of economy.

Presenting the salient points of the economic policy of the PTI government, Asad Umar, now finance minister, had promised that the government would create 10 million jobs, revive manufacturing, rapidly grow small and medium enterprises sector, facilitate private sector to build five million houses, reform tax administration and transform state-owned-enterprises.

Explore: ,Imran unveils ambitious agenda for first 100 days of govt,

Later, speaking at the first formal press conference after the elections and before assuming the charge as finance minister, Umar had said that offering any relief or subsidy to the people during first 100 days was like giving lollipops. He said the first 100 days would also not see a decision that would change the destiny of the nation, but a clear direction on what “we promised and where we are headed for stock-taking”.

The opposition parties allege that the government has totally failed to deliver at almost all the fronts, particularly economy and law and order situation. According to the opposition, the government has not done its homework properly.

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Via DAWN.com

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