Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

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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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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Shireen Mazari calls out Trump’s ignorance on US role in destabilising ME

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Friday hit back at United States (US) President Donald Trump’s tweet in which he complained that despite the ‘protection’ afforded to Middle Eastern countries by the US, they continue to raise oil prices.

President Trump in a tweet on Thursday said: “We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” he said. “We will remember.”

In 2016, major oil producers both within and outside OPEC agreed to slash production in an attempt to boost prices following the 2014 oil market crash.

The US ,withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal, with Iran earlier this year, after which it reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic that had been suspended in return for controls on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

India and China, Iran’s top buyers, have also distanced themselves from Tehran ? after Trump warned importers to stop buying oil from Iran or ,face US sanctions, ? leaving its crude output the lowest it’s been since July 2016.

A new set of US sanctions is due to hit Iran’s oil industry on November 4, while Venezuela, another OPEC founding member is also under sanctions from Washington.

Describing the oil cartel as a “monopoly”, the US president in his tweet issued a fresh call on the OPEC members to lower their crude prices, reminding them that the US is providing ,certain Middle Eastern energy giants with security,.

“The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!” Trump wrote.

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In a strongly worded response to the US president, Mazari wrote: “Surely there is someone in Washington DC who can teach him [President Donald Trump] history and how [the] US has historically destabilised the Middle East with its support for illegal Israeli expansionism and unbridled militarism!”

Read: ,Israel’s man in the White House,

She added: “Also oil comes primarily from west Asia and Gulf, not Middle East! He should also be told about OPEC member states!”

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Iraq, Algeria, Libya and Ecuador are other countries that are part of OPEC, in addition to Iran and Venezuela.

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,Oil prices steadied on Thursday, after Trump’s call on OPEC to “get prices down now!”, slowing after an upward surge that had pushed the market towards four-year highs.

Mazari responds to alleged gender discrimination in NUST smoking policy

Dr Mazari also took to Twitter on Wednesday to respond to a notification making the rounds on social media allegedly released by the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), which provided locations of designated on-campus smoking areas to be used by male students, and simultaneously restricted female students from smoking or appearing within the university’s designated smoking area.

The notice warned that female students found in these designated smoking areas would be fined and their parents informed, although there is no similar rule applicable to male students ? who, according to the notice, will be fined for smoking in areas other than the designated smoking areas.

“Girls are not allowed at these smoking areas. In case of violation, fine of Rs1,000 will be imposed, in addition to information to parents,” the notice reads.

“The purpose of dedicated smoking area is to curb tendency of cheating, smoking at hidden places and save non-smokers from passive smoking hazards,” the notification read.

“Good to discourage smoking but discriminatory approach towards girl students and gender-biased rules cannot be acceptable,” Mazari ? who has herself been a victim of sexism in the National Assembly ? tweeted, adding: “Wrong message being given to our young students — that it is okay to discriminate against women. Banning smoking for all on campus would be far healthier too.”

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Faisal Raza Abidi booked for ‘defaming SC, judges’

ISLAMABAD: Former senator Faisal Raza Abidi was booked by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the capital police for “defaming the Supreme Court and judges”.

The FIA and police will conduct separate investigations, police officials said, and that the former senator and others were booked under several charges, including the Anti-Terrorism Act.

According to the case registered with the FIA, a programme titled Subah Subah Naya Pakistan was aired by web channel Naya Pakistan on July 2, which was hosted by anchorperson Shanza Sheikh Rahman.

The guest speaker on the show was Faisal Raza Abidi.

It says that during the course of his appearance on the show, the accused, with criminal intent and ulterior motives and without any lawful justification used sarcastic, derogatory, disrespectful and defamatory language against the chief justice etc. which it says is tantamount to creating a sense of fear, panic and insecurity among the government, general public and society.

It says Faisal Raza Abidi is prima facie guilty of offences punishable under sections 10(a), 11 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016 read with sections 109 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

An FIA official said the case will be registered by the FIA’s cybercrime wing, which was registered under the prevention of the Electronic Crimes Act and the PPC.

Another case was registered at the Secretariat police station under PPC’s sections 228, 500, 505(ii) and 34 along with the ATA in response to a complaint lodged by SC Public Relations Officer Shahid Hussain Kambyo.

The FIR says the video went viral on social media and that the accused can be clearly seen in the video. The identity of the woman will be ascertained during the investigation.

It says the former senator was highly abusive, contemptuous, used threatening language and levelled allegations against government institutions which have been created via the Constitution and has also levelled accusations against individuals holding the highest constitutional posts.

The FIR says that via his speech, Mr Abidi created panic, scared the public and intimidated constitutional functionaries in order to refrain them from discharging their constitutional obligations.

It says the language and words used by Mr Abidi comes under the ATA 1997, which are punishable under the ATA and other provisions of the PPC, it says.

A police officer toldDawnthe anchorperson has been identified and action will also be taken against her.

Efforts for arresting the accused will be started after Ashura and a team will be sent to Karachi for making an arrest, he said.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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Buzdar could quit if he’s unable to run Punjab affairs: CJP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday appointed Khaliq Dad Lak, national coordinator for the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), to probe why and on whose instruction a senior police officer was transferred in the dead of night without following legal procedure against the backdrop of the Pakpattan incident.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, also rejected an earlier inquiry report submitted by former police chief of Punjab Kaleem Imam who had been directed two weeks ago to investigate how Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Gujranwala chapter president Ahsan Iqbal Jamil Gujjar — in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar — interfered in the administrative matter of police concerning Pakpattan District Police Officer Rizwan Gondal.

The highlight of Monday’s proceedings was the appearance of CM Buzdar before the apex court, which was visibly perturbed over the fact that Mr Gujjar was called to the CM Secretariat without recording his entry at gates, alleged attempts to undermine police force at the meeting and the DPO’s transfer after midnight.

The CJP observed that the inquiry to be conducted by Nacta would expose all links. During the proceedings, he also mentioned Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, which envisages lifetime disqualification of a public office holder on abuse of authority, in the case at hand.

SC rejects inquiry report by former provincial police chief and asks Nacta head to probe DPO’s transfer

The apex court had taken up suo motu notice of the Pakpattan DPO’s transfer for allegedly having an altercation with Khawar Fareed Maneka, former husband of first lady Bushra Imran.

Before postponing further proceedings for two weeks, the CJP suggested to CM Buzdar that he would earn respect in case he quit, realising that it was difficult for him to run the affairs of the country’s largest province in a proper manner.

The chief minister, however, argued that his intention behind the meeting was not bad as he had known Mr Gujjar even before the July 25 general elections. He said the PTI leader was called to the CM Secretariat to settle the controversy between the Maneka family and the police.

CM Buzdar said he had never tried to belittle the RPO and DPO, who he had called to the CM Secretariat in the absence of the Punjab IG as the latter was in Islamabad at that time.

In fact, he added, he showed respect to them and offered tea to the two police officers as he wanted that the officers settle the matter by themselves. After assuming office, the chief minister said he preferred to meet people himself. He said Mr Gujjar was asked to attend the meeting, because he had close links with the Maneka family.

Earlier in his statement given to the Punjab IG, CM Buzdar stated he had called the two officers as elders according to his traditions to address the fears of the Maneka family. It was not an official meeting as both police officers were treated with respect, he added.

The CJP said that the SC wanted to see the police completely independent and free from any political pressures, but it did not auger well if some influential person exerted pressure for the police officer’s transfer in the presence of the chief minister.

The CM should himself have solved the matter, he added.

The CJP recalled how someone said the DPO should be transferred since he did not want to see his face in the morning. He also expressed his surprise over Mr Gujjar’s becoming the guardian of the children of the Maneka family. Referring to the PTI leader, the court also regretted that persons like him destroyed the entire system. Mr Gujjar, however, tendered unqualified apology and threw himself at the mercy of the court.

The chief justice also cautioned the CM that he would have to face the music in case it was established that an attempt had been made to cover up something or someone.

He said he was at a loss to understand why the transfer orders had been issued shortly after midnight and why the DPO was transferred without initiating a proper procedure only to fulfil the wish of a friend of a powerful man.

“This is a question of the rule of law,” the chief justice observed, asking again why should police officers visit someone’s ‘dera’. “Is this the way to run such a big province?” he asked.

During the proceedings, Additional Advocate General for Punjab Shan Gul apprised the court that the DPO had himself decided to go to the ‘dera’. The law official of the Punjab government said efforts would be made to prevent anything like this happening again in future. A legal adviser was deputed at the CM Office for legal consultation, he added.

The CJP observed that the court had provided a chance to the Punjab IG to come up with a faithful report disclosing who had given the transfer orders. But IG Imam wasted the opportunity and brought humiliation to his own department by holding one of his officers at fault, he noted. IG Imam explained that he had issued transfer orders at around 10pm but it was executed around 1am. He also sought forgiveness of the court by extending apology.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2018

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DPO Pakpattan transfer case: SC rejects IG Punjab’s report, orders Nacta inquiry into incident

The Supreme Court on Monday, while hearing a suo motu case pertaining to the transfer of the District Police Officer (DPO) Pakpattan, rejected a report submitted by former Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Syed Kaleem Imam.

It also ordered the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) chief, Maher Khaliq Dad Lak, to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report within 15 days.

“We want the complete truth on this,” Chief Justice (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar said, adding that if he found that the report submitted by the IG had “favoured” someone, the matter would turn serious.

“If I find out that he has submitted a fabricated report he will never be able to serve in the police again,” the CJP said.

IGP Imam had submitted a ,report with regards to the Pakpattan DPO transfer case on Sept 12,, in which he had said that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was only acting as a mediator and had not attempted to influence the police in the transfer of DPO Rizwan Gondal.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who is heading a three-judge bench, criticised IGP Imam roundly today, accusing him of writing positive things in his report “in order to save one person”. The chief justice did not specify who that one person was.

“We reject your report,” the top judge said, adding: “IGP sahab, you have proven your own officer to be a liar in your report.”

“What kind of report is this? You have not investigated at all. You have sided with someone,” the CJP said. “You did nothing to uphold the respect of the police in your report.”

“You are not worthy of serving anywhere in this country,” the CJP said. “We will summon the secretary establishment in this regard and he will tell us.”

Imam, who was recently transferred to the post of Sindh police chief, replied: “My lord, I leave myself to the mercy of the court.”

“We were hoping to get justice from you and you are asking us for forgiveness,” the CJP responded.

The CJP asked the IGP if he had made the report himself, to which Imam responded in the affirmative. He explained that a committee had been set up to investigate the matter. He said that there were four individuals in the committee that night, including the Pakpattan DPO, the Sahiwal RPO Shariq Kamal, Ahsan Jameel Gujjar, and CM Punjab Usman Buzdar.

The CJP asked the IG Sindh what conversation had taken place between these individuals. “We are not concerned about other things,” he said.

The court subsequently summoned Buzdar to court.

The additional advocate general of Punjab told the court that the CM Punjab had been contacted and he would be present under all circumstances. He added that the time of the CM’s arrival would be confirmed and the court would be informed.

In an ,earlier hearing of the suo-moto case,, the CJP had said that the court wants the police to be “free and empowered” and it did not “sit well” that the CM of Punjab or someone “sitting with him” ? a reference to Ahsan Jameel Gujjar, an influential person close to the Maneka family ? was responsible for the officer’s transfer.

Gujjar and Buzdar had reportedly summoned DPO Gondal to the CM’s office for an explanation of the events in Pakpattan shortly before the officer was transferred from his posting.

In today’s hearing, the CJP asked where Gujjar was, as the court had also summoned him for today’s hearing.

Addressing the IGP, the top judge said, “You keep talking about Gujjar’s guardian certificate. Have you seen the certificate?”

Justice Nisar told IGP Imam that he was the kind of police officer who could not even ensure Gujjar’s presence in court.

“We are the ones who have to clear him,” the CJP remarked.

The top judge said that everyone was upset with the treatment of Maneka’s daughter. “But did you get upset with the treatment of police officials? What kind of an IG are you, that you cannot protect the police?” he asked.

There was a short break in the hearing until later this afternoon, when Buzdar and Gujjar appeared in court.

The CJP asked CM Buzdar if he had called an “unrelated” individual to the Chief Minister’s house, whose guardian Gujjar was, since he was referring to himself the guardian.

The CM Punjab responded that he had asked his staff to fix the problem.

The top judge asked him how he knew Gujjar and why he had called him at 10pm that night, to which Buzdar responded: “Since I have become chief minister, I meet people myself,” adding: “I presented the police officers tea with my own hands.”

CM Buzdar said that he told the police officers to take a look at the issue themselves. He also said that Gujjar had a personal relationship with the Maneka family.

The CJP said that IGP Imam had only “had only disgraced police officers”.

The top judged asked why it was said that night that “in the morning don’t show me this police officer’s face”, to which the chief minister responded saying he had not given any such orders.

“Chief Minister sahab, all your communications will come forward,” remarked Justice Nisar.

CM Buzdar said that the government was trying to depoliticise the police.

The CJP said that the issue should be investigated, adding that the court had rejected the IG’s report. He said that the IG tried to favour someone in his investigation.

“This is a question of the rule of law,” remarked the top judge.

Why should police officers operate on someone else’s dera? he asked. “Is this how a large province should be run?”

CJP Nisar enquired how Gujjar could be the Maneka children’s guardian since their father was still alive.

Nisar added that the court would give a strict “observation” against IG Kaleem.

The CJP also alleged that Gujjar had told the DPO to go to the dera.

The advocate general of Punjab said that the DPO had himself assumed that he was required to go to the dera, and that the court should set aside this matter now.

“We will make sure nothing like this happens again,” he said, adding that a lawyer had also been deployed to the CM’s Office to deal with such instances.

The RPO of Sahiwal deposed that the CM had told him to listen to Gujjar as he was his friend. He said that the DPO had informed him about the incident with the Maneka family and had said that they had gotten the impression that they were to go to the dera and ask for forgiveness.

The RPO said that the DPO told him that officers do not go to deras to seek forgiveness.

“Ahsan Jameel said that the deputy commissioner is responsible for what happens in his area,” the RPO said. “He told me to solve the problem.”

“I still can’t digest the fact that the transfer took place at 1 in the night,” the CJP remarked.

The DIG Headquarters, present for the hearing, said that the order actually came at 10pm, but he was out. There was another call at 12am, he said.

“It was my son’s birthday. I came back to the office at 1am to issue the order,” he said.

The CJP inquired why the transfer was done with such haste, asking: “was the sun not going to rise the next day?”

He also remarked that no record was made of the transfer, but it was just pushed through.

“This is not someone’s kingdom: this is a democracy.” the top judge remarked.

Nacta coordinator Khalid Daad Lak was subsequently ordered to launch an inquiry and present a report within 15 days.

Pakpattan incident

Late on August 23 or early August 24, Khawar Maneka was flagged to stop at a security picket in Pakpattan by police, but he allegedly refused and raced ahead. The police had subsequently chased him down and forced him to stop, after which harsh words were exchanged between the two parties.

Subsequently, Maneka demanded that DPO Rizwan Gondal should visit his dera to personally apologise to him, he added. When Gondal’s transfer orders started making rounds on Monday, it was widely speculated in news and social media that that the police officer was transferred because of the incident. The officer was allegedly transferred for refusing to apologise in person to Khawar Maneka over the altercation between him and the police.

The report submitted by IG Kaleem Imam in court last week stated that the chief minister had indeed summoned the police officials concerned without informing the IGP, but proceeded to act “only as an elder” to mediate between the parties in conflict.

The CM was very hospitable towards the police officers and during the meeting, which he “hosted”, the report states, the policemen were not harassed or pressurised in any way.

Imam, in his report, further observed that the Punjab CM neither issued any written orders or gave any directives pertaining to the DPO’s transfer. Instead, the report said, Buzdar had told the RPO to settle the issue himself, which “makes it clear that there was no interference in policing matters”.

However, the report noted that DPO Gondal had felt that he was being “interrogated by a stranger” in the presence of the RPO and the CM during the meeting. The report recommended that, in the future, Punjab CM go through the provincial IGP to summon any police officials instead of doing so directly.

The report stated that while the DPO was displeased with being called to the CM’s officer he hadn’t complained about being harassed or pressurised during the meeting.

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PPP warns of strong ‘resistance’ if Kalabagh dam project is revived

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has warned of strong “resistance” if the controversial Kalabagh dam project is revived, terming such a move an “utter disrespect” to parliament and the people of the country.

PPP Senator Sassui Palijo said in a statement here on Sunday that the provincial assemblies of three provinces had rejected Kalabagh dam and “whoever will support this rejected dam will face strong resistance”.

Take a look: ,CJP hints at charging dam opponents with treason,

The statement was issued by the party apparently in reaction to the remarks of Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar at a ceremony in Lahore on Saturday in which he had said that only Kalabagh dam “guaranteed the survival and security of Pakistan”.

The CJP stated that they had not stopped pursuing the matter of Kalabagh dam’s construction.

“If the nation agrees then we will also build Kalabagh dam after the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams,” the CJP had reportedly said at the ceremony.

However, the PPP senator said that talking about Kalabagh dam amounted “to rubbing salt on the wounds of the people of Sindh”.

Ms Palijo said the people of Sindh were faced with acute shortage of water and only 30 per cent of land could be cultivated this year. She said that because of lack of water downstream Kotri barrage, thousands of land in Thatta and Badin had been eaten by the sea water.

It may be recalled that Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had even expressed his reservations over the proposed construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam.

Talking to media in Karachi last week, the Sindh chief minister had stated that he was not against the construction of Bhasha dam but had “some reservations” over its “location and availability of water in the system” in such a quantity that the dam could be filled.

In reply to a question about the Bhasha dam, he had said it (the dam site) lay in the seismic area and the quantity of water required to fill the dam was not available in the (Indus) system.

Mr Shah had said that the Bhasha dam project was originally initiated by the PPP government, but objections were raised on its technical issues. Therefore, he insisted, “the Centre needs to take the federating units on board” over such controversial projects.

The chief minister said that his government and party’s policy on construction of dams was very clear as the Sindh government was constructing 34 small dams and work on them had almost been completed while work on 16 other (small) dams was to begin soon.

In May, the then opposition leader in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah, had even warned that the people of Sindh might have to close the province’s border and cut it from the rest of the country if it would continue to be denied its due water share. Mr Shah is also opposed to the idea of building dams through donations.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2018

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President Alvi’s maiden address to parliament today

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi will make his maiden address to a joint sitting of parliament on Monday (today) as the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) claims that the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party has assured the government that its members will not disrupt the proceedings.

The government had earlier convened the joint sitting on Sept 13 and regular sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate on Sept 14, but cancelled it a day before at the PML-N’s request and to avoid possible criticism of the move as it was coinciding with the funeral of former first lady Begum Kulsoom Nawaz.

The regular sessions of both the houses of parliament will now be held separately on Tuesday (tomorrow) in which Finance Minister Asad Umar is expected to present the mini-budget for the remaining 10 months of the current financial year.

PTI claims PML-N has assured govt of not disrupting proceedings

The PML-N had last week protested the government’s move to summon the joint sitting at a time when the party was in a state of mourning and had already announced suspension of its political activities for three days due to the demise of Kulsoom Nawaz.

Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that the party had through former NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq approached the government leaders and Speaker Asad Qaiser with the request to delay the sessions to enable the party legislators to attend them.

Talking to Dawn, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi claimed that the government had set new dates for the sessions after consulting the opposition.

Mr Qureshi, who is also vice chairman of the PTI, said he had talked to senior PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq who assured him that the opposition members would not disrupt the president’s address and that they would listen to the speech while maintaining decorum.

Opposition’s protest

Mr Qureshi, however, said the opposition might register its protest over the issue of alleged rigging in the July 25 general elections during the regular session of the National Assembly the next day. He said the opposition parties’ demand for constitution of a parliamentary commission to probe charges of rigging in the elections was being considered by the party leadership.

The senior PTI leader said they had told the opposition parties that they would come back to them on the issue after holding a consultation within the party.

“We have so far not rejected the opposition’s demand. We will look into it and apprise them,” he said, adding that the party leadership could take up the issue in its meeting to be held on Monday (today) before the start of the joint session.

Parliamentary commission

When contacted, PML-N information secretary Mushahidullah Khan confirmed that Ayaz Sadiq was in contact with the PTI leaders. He said the PML-N also wanted to see the democratic system running in the country and that was why they were giving time to the government to consider their demand for the parliamentary commission. He said they might not protest during the presidential address as a goodwill gesture, but they could not give such an assurance for the future sessions. He, however, said the party would finalise its strategy at a meeting on Monday.

The government had disclosed its plan to convene the joint sitting at a meeting of the parliamentary leaders presided over by NA Speaker Asad Qaiser on Sept 10. The meeting had been convened by the speaker in an effort to seek cooperation from the opposition parties for conducting the proceedings smoothly. However, the opposition parties had asked the government to constitute the parliamentary commission to probe the charges of rigging in the July 25 elections before convening the joint sitting, if it wanted a smooth sailing in parliament. After the meeting, Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed that the opposition had put the condition of formation of the parliamentary commission for ensuring smooth proceedings.

Speaking at a news conference in Lahore earlier this month, PML-N president and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif had asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to keep his words and constitute the commission to probe allegations of rigging and recommend steps to block rigging attempts in future. Mr Sharif had warned that the opposition alliance would not let the house function if the commission was not constituted.

The PML-N had earlier disrupted the proceedings of the National Assembly soon after the elections of the speaker, deputy speaker and the prime minister. However, the other major opposition party — Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — had not joined the PML-N’s noisy protest.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, PPP vice president Sherry Rehman said the party had convened a joint meeting of its MNAs and senators on Monday to discuss a strategy for the joint sitting. She said that like other opposition parties, the PPP also wanted the government to form the parliamentary commission to investigate the rigging allegations.

Under Article 56(3) of the Constitution, the president is required to address a joint sitting of parliament at the beginning of the parliamentary year. It states: “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the National Assembly and at the commencement of the first session of each year, the President shall address both Houses assembled together.”

Dr Arif Alvi was elected 13th president of the country on Sept 4.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2018

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UK legislators’ team rejects plea for Ishaq Dar’s deportation

LONDON: A British parliamentary team has rejected a lobby petition demanding a parliamentary debate on the issue of deportation of former Pakistani finance minister Ishaq Dar, describing its contents as “libellous”.

The petition started by an activist from the UK about a month ago has so far gathered around 82,000 signatures.

Under the UK parliamentary system, an individual or a group can highlight an issue of public importance through a lobby petition and get signatures to gather support for the cause. Once the petition gets over 100,000 signatures, the issue involved is debated in the House of Commons, the lower house of British parliament.

Describes contents of petition started by an activist from Britain about a month ago as ‘libellous’

All such petitions are monitored by a team from the UK parliament for its content and behaviour of the groups and individuals launching and supporting it. The team can reject any petition if it finds that the information contained in the petition is libellous, false or defamatory at any stage during the process. In such a situation, the team informs all those who have signed the petition, explaining them the reason of its decision.

The team sent a similar email to more than 80,000 signatories of the petition demanding a debate on the issue of Ishaq Dar.

“We rejected the petition you supported — “Deport absconder Pakistan’s Ex-Finance Minister Ishaq Dar back to Pakistan,” said an email written by the team on Friday.

“It included confidential, libellous, false or defamatory information, or a reference to a case which is active in the UK courts,” it added.

“In any case, we can’t accept your petition because we’re not sure exactly what you’d like the UK Government or Parliament to do,” it further said.

“We think you would like the UK Government to extradite Ishaq Dar to Pakistan. The UK has no formal extradition treaty with Pakistan. Section 194 of the Extradition Act 2003 does allow special extradition arrangements in exceptional circumstances. However, under current law, an extradition process is initiated at the request of the government of the country in which the individual has been convicted of a crime. It would therefore be the Pakistani Gover­nment’s responsibility to initiate such proceedings,” it added.

The team also highlighted the standards or the petition and said that all the petitions must call for a specific action from the UK government or the House of Commons and must be about something that the government or the House of Commons is responsible for. The team said it rejected petitions that didn’t meet the rules. “If we reject your petition, we’ll tell you why. If we can, we’ll suggest other ways you could raise your issue,” it added.

“We publish the text of petitions that we reject, as long as they’re not: defamatory, libellous or illegal in another way; about a case that is active in the UK courts or about something that a court has issued an injunction over,” it concluded.

According to media reports, the petitions committee said it reviewed the online petition after getting 10,000 signatures for its consideration but rejected it on technical and legal grounds.

Former finance minister Dar presently resides in the UK without a passport after his diplomatic passport was cancelled.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2018

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PML-N announces funeral arrangements for Kulsoom Nawaz

Spokesperson for the PML-N Marriyum Aurangzeb on Wednesday evening announced that Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s funeral prayers will be offered on Friday, September 14, at the Sharif Medical City in Jati Umra.

Party sources in Lahore had earlier confirmed to the media that Begum Kulsoom would be laid to rest at the Jati Umra residence of the Sharif family.

Congregational prayers (Rasm-e-Qul) for the benefit of the deceased will be offered on September 16 (Sunday) from Asr (late afternoon) to Maghrib (sunset), Aurangzeb announced.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar had been released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail on parole in the early hours of Wednesday, hours after Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s ,demise in a London hospital,.

They are currently at Jati Umra, awaiting the funeral. Three rooms inside the residence have been declared a sub-jail, DawnNewsTV reported.

Meanwhile, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif arrived in London in the early hours of Thursday to attend Begum Kulsoom’s funeral prayers at the Regent’s Park mosque. He will accompany Begum Kulsoom’s body back to Lahore.

Family sources told Dawn that Kulsoom’s sons would not accompany her body to Lahore, though her other daughter, Asma, and grandson, Zikriya Sharif, would go with the casket to Pakistan.

“A PIA flight carrying the body will arrive here on Friday morning and she is likely to be laid to rest the same day beside the grave of her father-in-law Mian Sharif at Jati Umra,” they said.

Kulsoom Nawaz.

Kulsoom Nawaz.

Diagnosed with throat cancer in August last year, Begum Kulsoom was still undergoing treatment when she suffered cardiac arrest on June 15 and was rushed to a private hospital in London where she had remained admitted since then.

According to family sources, her health deteriorated on Sunday night and she was placed on life support. She couldn’t be revived, however, and breathed her last on Tuesday.

See: ,A life-long regret for Nawaz, Maryam,

Parole

Shahbaz had filed an application on Tuesday for Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Mohammad Safdar’s release for at least five days so that they may attend Begum Kulsoom’s funeral.

They were initially released on 12-hour parole in the early hours of Wednesday (today) and escorted to Nur Khan airbase, from where they were flown to Lahore.

Nawaz Sharif upon arrival at Jati Umra. — PML-N

Nawaz Sharif upon arrival at Jati Umra. — PML-N

The Punjab government today decided to extend their parole for three days, ,GeoNews, reported, citing a spokesperson for the provincial Home Department. “The extension will be in effect from midnight and will expire on Saturday night,” the spokesperson told GeoNews.

In the event of a delay in Begum Kulsoom’s funeral, he said it would be “further extended”.

Condolences at Jati Umra

Relatives and leaders who arrived to condole Kulsoom's death are seen at Jati Umra. — DawnNewsTV

Relatives and leaders who arrived to condole Kulsoom’s death are seen at Jati Umra. — DawnNewsTV

A large number of relatives, party leaders, workers, politicians and well-wishers visited Jati Umra today to condole Kulsoom’s death with the grieving family.

Media representatives were present in large numbers outside the house. However, they were not allowed inside.

PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz while talking to media in Lahore said Kulsoom was a “courageous lady”. “Kulsoom Nawaz raised the flag of democracy during the rule of a dictator,” he added.

Scenes outside Jati Umra on Wednesday.

She was an ideal lady: Hussain Nawaz

While talking to reporters in London on Wednesday, Hussain Nawaz said his mother was an “ideal lady” in his eyes, and that she had set such high standards for human values in daily life that it became difficult for her children to meet them.

“We learned from her at every step till the moment she lived,” Hussain said in a video shared by the PML-N. He said he used to seek guidance from her whenever he faced a problem.

“I have a lost a great friend [in her death],” he said.

Funeral preparations underway

The PML-N announced suspension of political activities for three days and started funeral preparations at Jati Umra where Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif’s mother Begum Shamim Akhtar and their late brother Abbas Sharif’s family reside.

While talking to reporters outside the private hospital on Harley Street in London on Tuesday, Hussain had announced: “My mother died at 11:15am (BST).”

He said that during the last few weeks she made very good recovery. He said that her recovery not only helped the doctors to remove the ventilator but also allowed her to be shifted to a room.

“But on Sunday night, her health deteriorated suddenly and she had to be put back on the life support machine,” he said. “However, her condition didn’t improve and she left for her eternal abode today.”

Her body was later shifted to the mortuary of Regent’s Park Mosque where, according to the family sources, her funeral prayers will be offered on Thursday after Zuhr.

In reply to a question about her funeral, Hussain said that arrangements were being worked out and the details would be released to the media as soon as they were finalised. “It is not a long time since she breathed her last. We are working on the arrangements for her funeral prayers and will inform the media soon,” he reiterated.

To condole with her sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, on her death, some party workers gathered outside the hospital where various TV channels of Pakistan did live transmissions.

Later in the evening, family sources confirmed to the media that Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s funeral prayers would be offered at the Regent’s Park mosque and her body would be flown to Lahore by a PIA flight after completion of legal formalities involving death certificate from the hospital and relevant permission from the coroner allowing the family to take the body out of the UK.

Relatives meet Nawaz, Maryam

Hours after her death, Shahbaz Sharif flew from Lahore to Rawalpindi and went straight from Benazir Bhutto International Airport to Adiala jail to meet his brother Nawaz and niece Maryam for condolence. He also discussed with the former premier matters pertaining to shifting of her body and their release on parole for her burial.

Shahbaz remained with his brother for about an hour and discussed the schedule of her burial before flying back to Lahore.

Other relatives Hamza Shahbaz, Maryam’s daughter Mehrun Nisa and son-in-law Raheel Munir, Suleman Shahbaz, and Abbas Sharif’s family members also visited the jail to condole with the daughter and spouse of Begum Kulsoom. Besides, some PML-N leaders including Senator Chaudhry Tanveer and former federal minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also met the Sharifs in the jail.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed to facilitate the shifting of the body for burial and release of Nawaz and Maryam on parole.

“The prime minister has already directed the relevant authorities to facilitate their release on parole in accordance with the law,” Chaudhry said.

Meanwhile, it is yet to be decided whether Hassan and Hussain would return to attend the funeral prayers of their mother in Lahore. “No decision in this regard has been taken yet. Hassan and Hussain will themselves decide about their return to the country,” said former law minister of Punjab Rana Sanaullah.

A source in the PML-N said it was unlikely that Nawaz’s sons would return in the face of corruption cases against them. “Both of them have already been declared proclaimed offenders, therefore, they will not be advised by their father to return,” he said.

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Kulsoom Nawaz to be laid to rest on Friday; Nawaz, Maryam released on parole for funeral

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar were released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail on parole hours after his ailing wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz ,passed away in a London hospital, on Tuesday.

Kulsoom Nawaz.

Kulsoom Nawaz.

All three were released on a 12-hour parole, which is likely to be extended till the burial of Begum Kulsoom at Jati Umra on Friday afternoon, on an order of the Punjab home department. The trio was escorted by police to the Nur Khan airbase from where they were flown to Lahore, ,Dawn reported,.


• Funeral prayers in London tomorrow
• Body to be brought to Lahore on Friday for burial at Jati Umra


The application was filed by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif for their release for at least five days. Three rooms inside Jati Umra have been declared a sub-jail, DawnNewsTV reported.

Nawaz Sharif upon arrival at Jati Umra. — PML-N

Nawaz Sharif upon arrival at Jati Umra. — PML-N

Diagnosed with throat cancer in August last year, Begum Kulsoom was still undergoing treatment when she suffered cardiac arrest on June 15 and was rushed to a private hospital in London where she remained admitted since then. Accor­ding to her family sources, her health deteriorated on Sunday night and she was placed on life support but she couldn’t be revived and breathed her last on Tuesday.

See: ,A life-long regret for Nawaz, Maryam,

Shahbaz Sharif, PML-N president and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, on Wednesday morning departed for London on a Qatar Airways flight to attend her funeral prayers at the Regent’s Park mosque on Thursday before bringing her body to Lahore.

Family sources told Dawn that Kulsoom’s sons would not accompany her body to Lahore though her daughter, Asma, and grandson, Zikriya Sharif, would go with the casket to Pakistan.

Party sources in Lahore confirmed to the media that Begum Kulsoom would be laid to rest at the Jati Umra residence of the Sharif family. “A PIA flight carrying the body will arrive here on Friday morning and she is likely to be laid to rest the same day beside the grave of her father-in-law Mian Sharif at Jati Umra,” they said.

Condolences at Jati Umra

Relatives and leaders who arrived to condole Kulsoom's death are seen at Jati Umra. — DawnNewsTV

Relatives and leaders who arrived to condole Kulsoom’s death are seen at Jati Umra. — DawnNewsTV

A large number of relatives, party leaders, workers, politicians and well-wishers have been visiting Jati Umra today to condole Kulsoom’s death with the grieving family.

Media representatives are present in large numbers outside the house, however journalists are not being allowed inside.

PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz while talking to media in Lahore said Kulsoom was a “courageous lady”. “Kulsoom Nawaz raised the flag of democracy during the rule of a dictator,” he added.

Scenes outside Jati Umra on Wednesday.

She was an ideal lady for me: Hussain Nawaz

While talking to reporters in London on Wednesday, Hussain Nawaz said his mother was an “ideal lady” for him, and that she had set such high standards for human values in daily life that it became difficult for her children to meet them.

“We learned from her at every step till the moment she lived,” Hussain said in a video shared by the PML-N. He said he used to seek guidance from her whenever he faced a problem.

“I have a lost a great friend [in her death],” he said. Hussain refused to comment on whether he would travel to Pakistan to attend Kulsoom’s burial, requesting prayers for her instead.

Funeral preparations underway

The PML-N announced suspension of political activities for three days and started funeral preparations at Jati Umra where Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif’s mother Begum Shamim Akhtar and their late brother Abbas Sharif’s family reside.

While talking to reporters outside the private hospital on Harley Street in London on Tuesday, Hussain had announced: “My mother died at 11:15am (BST).” He said that during the last few weeks she made very good recovery. He said that her recovery not only helped the doctors to remove the ventilator but also allowed her to be shifted to a room. “But on Sunday night, her health deteriorated suddenly and she had to be put back on the life support machine. However, her condition didn’t improve and she left for her eternal abode today,” he said.

Her body was later shifted to the mortuary of Regent’s Park Mosque where, according to the family sources, her funeral prayers will be offered on Thursday after Zuhr.

In reply to a question about her funeral, Hussain said that arrangements were being worked out and the details would be released to the media as soon as they were finalised. “It is not a long time since she breathed her last. We are working on the arrangements for her funeral prayers and will inform the media soon,” he reiterated.

To condole with her sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, on her death, some party workers gathered outside the hospital where various TV channels of Pakistan did live transmissions.

Later in the evening, family sources confirmed to the media that Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s funeral prayers would be offered at the Regent’s Park mosque on Thursday after Zuhr and her body would be flown to Lahore by a PIA flight the same evening after completion of legal formalities involving death certificate from the hospital and relevant permission from the coroner allowing the family to take the body out of the UK.

Relatives meet Nawaz, Maryam

Hours after her death, Shahbaz Sharif flew from Lahore to Rawalpindi and went straight from Benazir Bhutto International Airport to Adiala jail to meet his brother Nawaz and niece Maryam for condolence. He also discussed with the former premier matters pertaining to shifting of her body and their release on parole for her burial.

Shahbaz remained with his brother for about an hour and discussed the schedule of her burial before flying back to Lahore.

Other relatives Hamza Shahbaz, Maryam’s daughter Mehrun Nisa and son-in-law Raheel Munir, Suleman Shahbaz, and Abbas Sharif’s family members also visited the jail to condole with the daughter and spouse of Begum Kulsoom. Besides, some PML-N leaders including Senator Chaudhry Tanveer and former federal minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also met the Sharifs in the jail.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed to facilitate the shifting of the body for burial and release of Nawaz and Maryam on parole.

“The prime minister has already directed the relevant authorities to facilitate their release on parole in accordance with the law,” Chaudhry said and hinted that they could be released for 12 hours according to the law.

Meanwhile, it is yet to be decided whether Hassan and Hussain would return to attend the funeral prayers of their mother in Lahore. “No decision in this regard has been taken yet. Hassan and Hussain will themselves decide about their return to the country,” said former law minister of Punjab Rana Sanaullah. A source in the PML-N said it was unlikely that Nawaz’s sons would return in the face of corruption cases against them. “Both of them have already been declared proclaimed offenders, therefore, they will not be advised by their father to return,” he said.

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Condolences pour in for Kulsoom Nawaz: ‘The woman who stood like a rock in the face of dictatorship’

Politicians tweeted heartfelt condolences as news of ,Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s death, spread on Tuesday.

The official PML-N Twitter account tweeted party president Shahbaz Sharif’s confirmation of the news and prayed for her forgiveness.

,,

President Arif Alvi also issued a statement, tweeted by the official account of the President of Pakistan, offering support to her family.

,,

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his grief over Begum Kulsoom’s death and promised his government’s assistance to the Sharif family in this time of grief.

He also directed the Pakistan High Commission in Britain to facilitate Begum Kulsoom’s family in London in every way possible.

“Sad to learn of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s death,” his account tweeted on Tuesday evening. “She was a courageous woman of great dignity and confronted her disease with fortitude. My condolences and prayers go to the Sharif family.”

,,

The official account of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the ruling party, also paid respect to the former prime minister’s wife, saying that the party had “massive respect for her”.

,,

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, in a video message, said Begum Kulsoom was a “brave woman who stood her ground in difficult times”, as he extended “sincere condolences” to PML-N workers and Sharif family.

,,

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto paid homage to Begum Kulsoom, calling her a “brave woman” who struggled for democracy.

,,

,,

India’s Minister of External affairs Sushma Swaraj also expressed grief over the demise of Begum Kulsoom and extended “heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family”.

,,

PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan also offered his condolences and prayed that God grants her family “enough strength” to cope with her loss.

,,

Former PML-N minister Khurram Dastagir Khan hailed Begum Kulsoom as a “dissenter against dictatorship” and a “courageous Pakistani”.

,,

Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari expressed her grief at the news and extended her condolences to the Sharif family, noting that Begum Kulsoom “deserves the nation’s respect”.

,,

PPP leader Sharmila Faruqi also tweeted prayers that Begum Kulsoom’s family finds the strength to cope with the event.

,,

MQM leader Syed Ali Raza Abidi hoped that the government would grant “early bail” to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain retired Mohammad Safdar, who are serving sentences in Adiala jail.

,,

Pak Sarzameen Party founder Mustafa Kamal said he was saddened to hear the news and extended support to Begum Kulsoom’s family.

,,

National Party leader Hasil Bizenjo prayed that the deceased rests in peace.

,,

Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also extended his condolences “to the bereaved family on [the] sad demise of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz”.

,,

Chief Justice of Pakistan also expressed “deep sorrow and grief” on Begum Kulsoom’s demise and said that he “prayed to Almighty Allah to shower His blessings upon the departed soul”.

Remembering Begum Kulsoom Nawaz

As news of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s passing spread, friends and acquaintances expressed grief and shared their memories of the three-time first lady and her role in Pakistan’s politics.

Journalist Nusrat Javed

“She played an extraordinary role [during Musharraf's martial law era]. In fact, at that time it felt there was a sole face and singular voice of dissent [Begum Kulsoom Nawaz's].

“In a personal capacity, she was a very loving woman. She used to always step forward in times of need, when for example, news of someone surfaced who was in a critical medical condition and did not have the means to seek treatment. She used to help such people quietly.

“She had a very motherly behaviour not only towards the party members but people in general.”

PML-N lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal

“She was a very loving lady and my association with her was that of a fellow party member as well as a leader. When martial law was enforced and Nawaz Sharif was jailed, she stood bravely in the face of such dire circumstances and carried forward the party’s struggle for democracy. She served as an inspiration for us all.”

Former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair

“She was an outstanding lady and in my opinion, an exemplary one, whatever one’s political views are.

“She supported her husband throughout his political career. And when Nawaz Sharif went to jail, she came out and engaged in a political struggle, even though it was unheard of for a woman in Pakistan to do so at the time.

The few times that I met her, she came across as a good Pakistani housewife; she was educated, articulate and intelligent.”

Journalist Meher Bokhari

“It’s very unfortunate for the children and Mian [Nawaz Sharif] Sahab. Maryam Nawaz would credit [her political standing to] her mother ? her father was not in favour of her entering politics. Her mother said that she [Maryam] was ready.

“She played a crucial role in convincing her husband given how well she [Maryam] had campaigned for the 2013 elections … It was Begum Kulsoom who broke the family’s long-held tradition of not allowing women to foray into politics.”

ANP leader Zahid Khan

“Whenever I met her during talks between leaders, I found her to be a very wise and prudent woman. I never once saw bitterness in her temperament. She was the sole lady to stand up in the face of Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship. Even the male members of the party were not as bold as she. It is not just a loss for the party but for the whole nation.”

Journalist Mujahid Barelvi

“I was recalling the time when I was on the flight during the [Sharifs'] visit to Azerbaijan and Madina. I had the opportunity to join them for breakfast.

With other leaders and their families, I had never known spouses to have that sort of presence. In her case though, I observed her to be a very impressive personality. She used to join in during conversations and even quipped when Nawaz asked ‘Is there no Nihari or paaye for breakfast?’ to say ‘No we have put a stop to all these things’.

It is very unfortunate the way she was consumed all of a sudden by such an illness for a whole year and which caused so much suffering for the family.”

Journalist Iftikhar Shirazi

“There is no doubt that in 1999, when the military coup took place and Nawaz Sharif’s government was dissolved, all the bigwigs of the N-League were not fighting his case (like they should have). In such dire times, Kulsoom Nawaz took matters into her own hands. She took to the streets and held protests the result of which was a secret agreement which then led to Nawaz Sharif and his family living in exile in Europe for 10 years.

“In such stressful times, no other member of the party played such a crucial role, as she did. They all either parted ways or stepped back or changed loyalties, but either way they did not stand with Nawaz Sharif.

“Even now, when he was disqualified and his NA-120 Lahore seat was left vacant and she stood for elections, it was unfortunate that she was unable to appear in the assembly and take oath as a parliamentarian; yet it can be said that she was a member of parliament for more than a year.

“She may not have forayed into politics the way her husband or the Sharifs in general had, but whenever dire circumstances arose, she was with Nawaz Sharif. She served as his advisor as well; whenever she was needed, she never refused to serve the party in any way she could and to bring the family out from all the tough times it went through.”

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Govt seeks cancellation of Ishaq Dar’s diplomatic passport

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has sought cancellation of diplomatic passports of former finance minister Ishaq Dar and his wife.

Some private TV channels reported on Sunday that a special secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had written a letter to the director general of Immigration and Passports for the purpose.

Through the Sept 6 letter, the official requested the DG Passports to cancel passports of Mr Dar and his wife Tabassum Ishaq as the former minister had been “blacklisted” following his failure to appear before the country’s courts.

In December, an accountability court had declared Mr Dar absconder in a reference after he failed to join the trial against him on charges of keeping assets beyond his known sources of income.

Last week, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had asked government departments concerned to find a way of getting Mr Dar extradited so that he could be produced in court. The court has already suspended the notification declaring Mr Dar senator-elect.

The chief justice had regretted that the court was finding it difficult to summon an absconder.

The secretaries of foreign and interior ministries as well as the prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau were ordered to inform the court on Tuesday (tomorrow) about the ways for bringing back Mr Dar, who has been living in London.

“Ishaq Dar is an absconder who is roaming about freely in London but never takes the trouble to return to Pakistan to submit himself before the court of law despite repeated directions,” regretted the chief justice, saying the former minister had to be brought to the country at any cost.

The court had also warned that it would proceed ex parte against Mr Dar if he failed to face the trial.

“In July 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested former finance minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar to surrender his diplomatic passport and that of his spouse to the ministry within 30 days (as per rules). Since he has not surrendered his passport so far and in the meanwhile he has been blacklisted, …….. therefore, it is requested that the DG Immigration and Passports may cancel diplomatic passport (No. AC7996855) of Mr Ishaq Dar and his spouse Tabassum Ishaq’s diplomatic passport (No. AC7990716),” says the letter written by the foreign ministry official to Ishrat Ali, the DG Passports in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018

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UN envoy terms stay of Afghans in Pakistan ‘a protracted refugee crisis’

NOWSHERA: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi has described the decades-long stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan as “a protracted refugee crisis” and urged the world community not to forget the displaced people.

“We call them protracted refugees and I always say that protracted refugees should not be forgotten,” he said while talking to media personnel after visiting the Voluntary Repatriation Centre (VRC) for Afghan refugees at Azakhel, Nowshera, on Saturday.

UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock and film star Mahira Khan, who has been designated the UNHCR advocate for refugees and youth of the host communities, accompanied Mr Grandi.

Calls film star Mahira Khan powerful advocate for highlighting refugees’ issues

The high commissioner said the stay of Afghans in Pakistan for nearly four decades was one of the longest refugee situations in the world. He said these Afghans would complete 40 years of their refuge next year.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (R) interacts with an Afghan refugee family at the Azakhel Voluntary Repatriation Centre as UNHCR advocate and actress Mahira Khan (L) looks on. ? AFP

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (R) interacts with an Afghan refugee family at the Azakhel Voluntary Repatriation Centre as UNHCR advocate and actress Mahira Khan (L) looks on. ? AFP

He rejected the perception that Afghan refugees in Pakistan would never go back to their country. More than four million had returned to Afghanistan over the past 20 years and many were ready to go back home, he said.

“We saw this morning that refugees were going back, but not many, because they (Afghans) are concerned about their security,” he said.

Millions of Afghans took refuge in Pakistan when the former Soviet Union invaded their country in 1979. According to the UNHCR, over four million refugees had returned to their country since 2002.

Pakistan is still hosting around three million Afghan nationals, including 1.4 registered refugees. Voluntary repatriation had slowed down during the last two years because of surge in violence, lack of basic amenities and unemployment in Afghanistan.

Officials said that only 10,000 refugees had returned to Afghanistan since March 1, 2018 which indicated the slow pace of return. Only 45 refugee families left the VRC for their home country on Saturday as the sprawling VRC, Azakhel, was offering a deserted look.

Only a few Afghan boys and girls who were invited to the meeting with the UNHCR and his entourage were seen taking selfies with Mr Grandi and Mahira Khan. The two met refugee children, women and youth who apprised them of their problems.

“Unfortunately the situation has deteriorated. We have to help Afghans to get out of this bad period of insecurity, poverty and bring back services especially education,” the high commissioner said.

Mr Grandi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan during their meeting in Islamabad on Friday was very clear about the problems of refugees and assured him that Pakistan would never force (Afghans) to go back to Afghanistan.

He called for more resources and most importantly political attention to help Afghans restore peace to their country. “We should not be pessimistic,” he said, adding that they would help young Afghans to go back and rebuild their country.

He said that young refugees needed education and skill to rebuild their country.

He called Mahira Khan a very powerful advocate to highlight issues and thanked Pakistan for a very long hospitality to Afghan refugees.

Ms Khan while speaking on the occasion said: “I am very happy to be doing this job”. She said that more than half of the refugees were children. “If we come together we can make future of this world better,” said the film star.

Earlier, Mark Lowcock said that he visited Bara, Khyber tribal district, and talked to local people about the situation. He said 10,000 houses and hundreds of schools and other buildings had been destroyed during militancy in Khyber district.

He said he saw children sitting on the floor in schools. He said the government had launched schemes in affected areas and people were given cash through ATMs to rebuild their damaged homes.

Meanwhile, Mr Grandi commended charitable work of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, saying that providing free-of-cost treatment to underprivileged cancer patients was a noble act.

“Hospitals like this are a symbol of hope for thousands of cancer patients who have little resources,” Mr Grandi said during his visit. The UN refugee agency had provided high-tech machines worth Rs710 million to Peshawar’s Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer hospital to support free-of-cost treatment to cancer patients, including Afghan refugees.

The radiotherapy machines will be fully operational by the end of this year. The UNHCR will also provide training to technicians to operate the equipment effectively. The new cancer equipment will provide some 30,000 treatment sessions to both Pakistanis and Afghan refugees in 2019.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2018

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Under pressure govt backtracks on Atif Mian’s appointment; removes economist from advisory council

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has asked Princeton University economist Atif R. Mian to step down from the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Economic Advisory Council (EAC), PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan announced on Friday.

The decision follows ,mounting pressure from religiopolitical parties, against the appointment of Dr Mian, who is an Ahmadi.

According to a tweet by Senator Javed, Mian has agreed to give up his position on the council. A replacement will be announced later, he added.

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Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary later confirmed the development, saying the government has decided to withdraw the nomination of Dr Mian from the EAC because it wants to avoid division.

Editorial: ,Prejudice against minorities at top political levels is unacceptable,

“The government wants to move forward alongside scholars and all social groups, and it is inappropriate if a single nomination creates an impression to the contrary,” he tweeted.

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In a second tweet, Chaudhry said the ideal state, according to Prime Minister Khan, is of Madina and that the premier and members of his cabinet hold Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in high esteem.

Khatm-i-Nabuwwat [belief in the finality of the prophethood] is a part of our faith and the recent success achieved by the government in the matter of blasphemous sketches is reflective of the same connection,” he wrote.

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The appointment of Dr Mian of Princeton University (Department of Member Economics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy) to the 18-member EAC set up to advise the government on economic policy was opposed by some individuals and groups, including Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), who objected to his Ahmadi faith.

The news of his removal from the body comes as a surprise since the PTI government had only three days ago ,defended the academic’s nomination,, saying in categorical terms that it will “not bow to extremists”.

“Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority,” Information Minister Chaudhary had told a press conference in Islamabad, amidst a vicious online campaign targeting Dr Mian for his Ahmadiyya faith.

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Chaudhry had taken to Twitter to recall that “Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah appointed Sir Zafar Ullah [also an Ahmadi] as Foreign minister of Pakistan; we’ll follow [the] principles of Mr Jinnah, not of extremists.”

His thoughts were echoed by Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari, who tweeted: “Exactly. Well put indeed. Time to reclaim space for the Quaid’s Pakistan!”.

The first meeting of the recently reconstituted EAC was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday, but it could not be attended by three international economists of Pakistani origin, including Dr Mian, because of technical reasons.

“They could not make it because our web-link was down,” an official ,told Dawn,.

Smear campaign

A social media smear campaign had erupted against the economist’s appointment, with many calling for his removal.

A call-to-attention notice had also been submitted in the Senate by opposition parties against Mian’s inclusion in the EAC. The notice bore the signatures of the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members.

No member of the PPP had signed the document, with the party making it clear that it would not be part of a witch-hunt based on someone’s faith.

A large number of supporters had also defended Mian’s appointment on social media, saying that one’s religion should not factor into their professional qualifications or employment.

Dr Mian has served as a professor of economics, public policy and finance at Princeton University and as director of The Julis-Rabinowitz Centre for Public Policy and Finance at Woodrow Wilson School. He is the only Pakistani to be considered among International Monetary Fund’s ‘top 25 brightest young economists’.

Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan through a constitutional amendment passed on September 7, 1974 during the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

This measure was later followed with Gen Ziaul Haq making it a punishable offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to refer to their faith as Islam.

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CJP wants Ishaq Dar brought back ‘at any cost’

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked government departments concerned to find a way of getting former finance minister Ishaq Dar extradited so that he can be produced in court. The court has already suspended the notification declaring Mr Dar a senator-elect over his failure to appear before it despite repeated summons. He is required to appear in person before the court.

The directives were issued by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar during the hearing of a case related to non-appearance of Mr Dar before the apex court.

The chief justice regretted that the court was finding it difficult to summon an absconder.

The secretaries of foreign office and interior as well as the prosecutor general (PG) of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were ordered to inform the court on Tuesday about ways on how to bring back Mr Dar from abroad.

Apex court warns former finance minister of ex parte proceedings if he continues to skip case hearings

NAB PG Syed Asghar Haider however assured the court that he would find a way after consulting the interior ministry.

“Ishaq Dar is an absconder who is roaming freely around in London but never takes the trouble to return to Pakistan to submit himself before the court of law despite repeated directions,” regretted the chief justice.

He said that the former finance minister had to be brought to the country at any cost.

The court warned that it would proceed ex parte against Mr Dar if he failed to appear before the court the consequences of which would have to be faced by him.

Additional Attorney General Nayyar Abbas Rizvi told the court that the government was taking steps to bring Mr Dar back home for which contacts had been established with Interpol for the issuance of red warrants. “But the matter is still pending with Interpol,” he said. “Usually it takes two to three months to get a person extradited.”

The court wondered if Mr Dar could still live in the United Kingdom if his passport was cancelled because then he might be deported from the UK.

The AAG said that he might still be able to live in the UK by seeking political asylum on which the court responded, “Let Dar tell UK authorities that the Pakistani judiciary is doing injustice to him.”

The court asked what measures the new government was taking to bring Mr Dar back and when he would be brought to Pakistan.

The court said that Mr Dar faced no threat in the country.

The Supreme Court is also seized with a petition of Muhammad Nawazish Ali Pirzada who has challenged the Lahore High Court order to allow Mr Dar to contest the March 12 Senate elections.

On Dec 11, 2017 the accountability court had declared Mr Dar an absconder in a corruption reference after he failed to join the trial against him.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2018

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