Posts Tagged ‘Nawaz Sharif’

Profile: Pakistan’s next Chief Justice — Asif Saeed Khosa

Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, who will be sworn in as the 26th chief justice of Pakistan on Friday (January 18), was born on December 21, 1954 in Dera Ghazi Khan. He is married with two daughters and four grandchildren.

Justice Khosa’s brothers are former bureaucrat Nasir Mahmood Khosa and former inspector general of police (IGP) of Balochistan Tariq Masood Khosa.

The judge, who is now 64 years old, received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Punjab and his LLM degree from Queens College at Cambridge in 1978.

He enrolled as an advocate at the Lahore High Court in 1979, and then at the Supreme Court in 1985. As an advocate, he conducted over 600 cases. On February 18, 2010, Justice Khosa was elevated to the position of a Supreme Court judge.

  • Justice Khosa, over a period of more than 19-and-a-half years, has ,decided, about 55,000 cases.
  • A special bench headed by Justice Khosa has ,decided, over 10,000 cases of a criminal nature since 2014, according to an ,article, published by The Express Tribune last year. “The total number of pending cases in the top court has reached near 40,000 and a few hundreds of criminal cases are left, which is being considered as a landmark achievement of the apex court,” the article read.

‘Poetic justice’

Justice Khosa is known for adding lyrical flair in his observations and judgments — most recently in the landmark Panama papers ,verdict, that de-seated Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister in 2017.

His dissenting note in the split 2:3 verdict — Khosa was among the two who held Nawaz should be disqualified — on April 20, 2017 began with a ,reference, to the popular 1969 novel ‘The Godfather’ by Mario Puzo in which he pointed out an epigraph by Honore de Balzac selected by the author: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime”, saying that “It is ironical and a sheer coincidence that the present case revolves around that very sentence attributed to Balzac.”

The literary reference became a major talking ,point, as opposition parties, in particular the PTI, latched onto it to drive home the allegations of corruption while PML-N spoke out against the choice of analogy.

Nawaz was subsequently disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution in July the same year.

Read Khosa’s article, written when he was a barrister, critical of the ambiguity inherent in Articles 62 and 63 ,here,.

In 2012, when a SC bench — headed by headed by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk — slapped former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with a contempt ,charge,, Justice Khosa authored an additional ,note, along with the detailed judgement which included an original rendition of Khalil Gibran’s poem ‘Pity the nation’.

Justice Khosa was also part of two high-profile blasphemy-related cases; he headed the bench which ,upheld, the conviction of Mumtaz Qadri in 2015 for the murder of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer and last year in October, he was part of the bench that ,acquitted, Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy charges.

Justice Khosa’s razor-sharp critique of the prosecution case is
combined with remarkable judicial prose
— lawyer Faisal Siddiqi

A column written by lawyer Faisal Siddiqi published in Dawn on the ,verdict, in the Aasia Bibi case noted:

“Justice Khosa’s razor-sharp critique of the prosecution case is combined with remarkable judicial prose, when he appears to regret the imprisonment of Aasia Bibi by holding that ‘Blasphemy is a serious offence but the insult of the appellant’s [Aasia Bibi’s] religion and religious sensibilities by the complainant party and then mixing truth with falsehood … was also not short of being blasphemous … in the circumstances of the present case she appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King Lear, ‘more sinned against than sinning’.”

Next in line

Justice Khosa has authored multiple books during his career, including ‘Heeding the Constitution’, ‘Constitutional Apologues’, and ‘Judging with Passion and Breaking New Ground’.

He also edited and compiled ‘The Constitution of Pakistan, 1973’ with all amendments up to date.

The next in line to take reins of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Khosa has previously served as the acting chief justice from June 5-11 in 2017, June 29 to July 5 in 2017, May 14-30 in 2018, and Dec 17-23 in 2018.

Justice Khosa will remain the country’s top judge for 11 months and is scheduled to retire on Dec 21, 2019.

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Nawaz illegally allotted Pakpattan shrine land as Punjab CM in 1986, JIT concludes

A joint investigation team (JIT) on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that ousted premier Nawaz Sharif had ,illegally allotted, 14,398 acres of Waqf property attached to the shrine of Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-Din Masud Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan to Dewan Ghulam Qutab during his tenure as Punjab chief minister in 1986.

Sharif has been accused of illegally allotting the shrine’s land during his tenure as chief minister in violation of a high court order after ordering the withdrawal of a notification dated Dec 17, 1969.

The SC-mandated JIT ,formed to probe the allegations against Sharif, submitted a report on its findings during today’s hearing.

Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Director General Hussain Asghar, who was heading the JIT, told the court that Sharif had, in addition to the Pakpattan shrine land, allotted land in Hujra Shah Muqeem along with that of the shrine of Hafiz Jamalullah Multani.

,Know more about the ToRs finalised for Pakpattan land probe,

Asghar told the court that an investigation report prepared in 2015 had held the then chief minister responsible. However, the chief minister’s name was excluded in a second report that was submitted in 2016. The JIT, concluding that then chief minister did not have the authority to transfer the land, recommended that that land be retrieved and criminal proceedings be initiated against Sharif, then secretary to chief minister Syed Javed Iqbal Bukhari, the legal heirs of Deewan Ghulam Qutub Din, assistant administrator of Auqaf Pakpattan during 1969 and 1986 as well as the patwaris of the area “where these irregularities and illegalities were committed”.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar who was heading the three-member bench hearing the case today said that “times have changed and a third report will not be prepared”.

“Why was this land allotted illegally?” the chief justice inquired, warning that “no one will be able to escape if an investigation is launched”.

Sharif’s counsel Barrister Munawar Iqbal said that the former premier had rejected the allegations earlier.

“You’re playing the role of [the person] more loyal to the king than the king himself,” Justice Nisar remarked. “We may order the Anti-Corruption Establishment to file a complaint.”

The chief justice ordered the Punjab government and Nawaz Sharif to submit a response to the JIT report within two weeks. The hearing was adjourned until next week.

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NAB chairman should appear before parliament, demands Zardari

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Monday said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman should appear before the parliament in person, instead of lawmakers going to him to discuss the bureau’s procedure for moving against opposition members accused of corruption.

Speaking during a National Assembly session, the former president said the time has come for the parliament to call the NAB chairman and “proclaim a law” that before any parliamentarian is summoned by NAB, their case should come to the house committee on law so it can decide whether there is actually a case against the said lawmaker or their family.

Editorial: ,Meaningful accountability,

Zardari said he was hearing of plans among various parties to call on the NAB chairman, purportedly to discuss the bureau’s anti-corruption drive that has ensnared several opposition members.

“Why will you go to the NAB chairman?” he asked the MNAs present, before declaring: “The NAB chairman should appear in person before the parliament.”

Zardari said the matter was not personal to him because he had encountered “many NABs” during his career and “will continue to face them”.

“The real issue is, what will happen when you are summoned [by the accountability watchdog]?” he said with a meaningful smile, addressing the treasury benches.

Zardari said his party was “totally happy” that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had today been ,given relief by the Supreme Court, in the Avenfield corruption reference. He added that the PPP also “does not want to see” Nawaz’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, in the jail.

Speaking about his own troubles, he said it would be “uncalled for” and “above the law” if a new joint investigation team is formed comprising representatives of the ISI and other institutions, in the fake accounts case.

The PPP co-chairman said it was in the government’s interest to “tighten” the NAB as doing so will reduce the prevailing “insecurity” among the bureaucracy and the country will start functioning to some extent.

Criticising the PTI government’s performance of the first few months, he told the treasury members: “We will not bring down your [government], you will fall yourselves.”

He said he wants to work to strengthen the parliament and democracy, and pointing towards government benches said, “I also want to train these news friends that have come to the parliament.”

‘No foreign force can prevent economic slide’

Zardari said the international financial support being given to Pakistan by friendly countries is welcome, but no “foreign force” can prevent the economic slide the country appeared to be heading towards because of PTI government’s policies.

“Considering the financial situation at present [and] the way decisions are being taken arbitrarily… the country cannot be managed in this manner,” the former president said.

He said no foreign power, be it China or any other country, could save Pakistan once it starts its journey towards becoming a “failed state” on the sliding scale “because everyone will think of their own country”.

Zardari said during the PPP government’s tenure, he had generated interest for investment in Pakistan through his 15 visits to China. It later materalised in the form of the agreement leading to the handover of the Gwadar port to China, he added.

Shahbaz questions Mohmand dam contract award

Earlier, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif expressed concern over the government’s move to ,award the contract for the Rs309 billion Mohmand dam, to a Descon-led consortium on a single bid basis.

He said the manner in which the contract had been awarded had “put question marks” on the entire procedure. The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Pepra) rules allow the award of contracts on a single-bid basis, but with certain conditionalities, he added.

“What was the urgency in awarding the contract?” the PML-N president questioned. “Why was rebidding not done?”

He said the bidding process for the project was initiated during the PML-N government, but it was the incumbent government that had awarded the contract. “The responsibility of awarding the contract for the project lies with the PTI government,” he added.

He said there was a “direct conflict of interest” in awarding the dam contract to the company allegedly owned by Abdul Razak Dawood, who is an adviser to the prime minister.

Shahbaz claimed that the PML-N government had eliminated loadshedding from the country by launching a number of projects on a war-footing basis

“If the country is facing loadshedding again then it is due to the negligence and incapability of the present PTI government.”

He said the current government was generating electricity through furnace oil which is the most expensive fuel and LNG-based power plants were presently not functioning to full capacity.

Opposition hatching conspiracy against dams: Vawda

As Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda stood up to respond to Shahbaz’s criticism, the opposition refused to listen to him and staged a walkout.

Meanwhile, Speaker Asad Qaiser ordered a headcount after PPP lawmaker Shagufta Jumani pointed out the quorum. The opposition bid to disrupt proceedings by pointing out the quorum failed, however, with the speaker declaring the house in order after the headcount.

Vawda in his remarks criticised the opposition for staging a walkout after delivering speeches and presenting “wrong facts before the house”.

Defending the government’s award of the Mohmand dam contract to the Descon-led consortium, he said the project had been in files for 54 years and the PTI government had pulled it from there.

“The opposition is hatching a conspiracy against dams as they want to do politics on this issue,” he alleged.

Vawda said the Mohmand dam will be completed under Imran Khan’s government.

He said it was wrong to say that the contract had been awarded on a single-bid basis as five companies had submitted bids for the project after issuance of advertisements.

“The opposition leader has wrongly interpreted the Pepra rules,” he claimed.

The minister said the government will not offer any NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance-like deal) to the opposition leaders.

“Their politics have been buried [...] they will either go to jail or in exile.”

The NA was session was adjourned until 11am on Tuesday.

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SC upholds IHC verdict, dismisses NAB’s appeal against suspension of Sharifs’ sentences in Avenfield case

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld an ,Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict, that had ordered the suspension of prison sentences awarded to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in the Avenfield corruption reference.

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, dismissed National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) ,plea against the high court’s decision,.

The apex court, in its ruling, said that NAB has failed to provide the “ground for cancellation of bail” and that the IHC had not exceeded its authority in granting bail to the convicts of the Avenfield reference.

Read: ,Avenfield House or ‘tax haven’ house?,

The Supreme Court’s decision brings a rare relief for the Sharif family, both of whose leaders — ,Nawaz Sharif, and Shahbaz Sharif — are ,currently incarcerated,.

Maryam thanked “Allah Almighty for today’s decision” but said that her “true relief and happiness would be when my father comes back home.”

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At the outset of the hearing today, the chief justice told NAB prosecutor Akram Qureshi to “convince [the bench] why the high court’s ruling should be suspended”.

The chief justice told the NAB counsel to delineate the grounds on which the apex court can suspend the granting of bail. “Also tell us if the high court had the authority to suspend the sentence,” he added.

Qureshi explained that his argument stood on the basis of earlier cases heard by the top court, claiming that bail can only be granted in the case of “hardship”, which was not the reason behind IHC’s verdict.

The NAB prosecutor pointed out that the IHC had questioned the merit of the trial in its judgement — something he said a high court cannot do in a bail plea.

Take a look: ,IHC surprised at ‘lapse’ by NAB in Avenfield case,

“Nawaz Sharif was granted bail on the same grounds that had led to his conviction,” observed Justice Gulzar Ahmed, who was also part of the bench. “You did not challenge those grounds.”

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who is set to succeed Justice Nisar as the top judge, said that NAB’s argument was not “solid” and rejected the claim that the high court had exceeded its authority.

He further said that the high court had mentioned that its “observation was not final”.

The chief justice, however, told the NAB prosecutor that “an interim order is never final and [it] never affects the final verdict either.”

In July 2018, an accountability court had handed Sharif 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and 1 year for not cooperating with NAB.

His daughter Maryam was given seven years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau. Meanwhile, Nawaz’s son-in-law retired Captain Safdar has been given one year jail time — for not cooperating with NAB, and aiding and abeting Nawaz and Maryam.

In Sept 2018, the IHC had accepted the convicts’ petitions and suspended the trio’s respective prison sentences — a decision that the corruption watchdog had subsequently challenged in the apex court.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 14, 2019 at 3:25 pm

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Govt puts major CPEC power project on hold

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to shelve a major power project pushed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz regime under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and will axe hundreds of other schemes under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) later this month.

Background discussions with government officials suggest that Islamabad has officially conveyed to Beijing that it is no more interested in the 1,320MW Rahim Yar Khan power project in view of sufficient generation capacity already lined up for the next few years. It has requested the Chinese friends to formally delete the project from the CPEC list.

During the 8th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting held last month, a Pakistani delegation led by Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar “proposed to remove the Rahim Yar Khan imported fuel power plant (1,320MW) from the CPEC list, in order to provide structure optimisation space for the subsequent power market of Pakistan”, said an official, quoting minutes of the Dec 20 JCC meeting.

Hundreds of schemes under PSDP also face the axe

The Chinese side suggested that a joint study on optimisation of energy mix be carried out at the earliest.

The project was originally pushed as imported coal-based plant by Quaid-i-Azam Thermal Company of the Punjab government led by Shahbaz Sharif who used to attend meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Energy led by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. A leading business tycoon had proposed the project and was expected to be one of the key sponsors.

The project was removed from the CPEC priority list when then bureaucracy highlighted that surplus generation capacity had already been contracted and more contracts would lead the country to ‘capacity trap’. The government had already notified a ban on capacity addition on imported fuels as early as June 2016 and the Rahim Yar Khan and Muzaffargarh coal-based plants were removed from the CPEC priority list. Among other reasons, this led to unceremonious removal of the then power secretary and head of the National Transmission Company — the system operator.

The Punjab government had pushed for revival of the plant which was included again in the priority list in subsequent CPEC negotiations, according to a federal secretary. It was not needed at all and would have been a burden on the already deteriorating financial condition of the power sector, he said, adding that Diamer-Bhasha dam was also included in the CPEC list when the coal-based projects were removed, but the dam project could also not move forward under the CPEC for unrelated reasons.

The official said the PTI government had already made up its mind to remove almost 400 “politically motivated” projects from the development portfolio as part of a comprehensive mid-year review of the PSDP later this month. Giving an example, the official said the last government had included hundreds of gas schemes in the PSDP and allocated funds even though there was no additional gas available for new connections. Many of these schemes could not take off.

“We are reviewing all such schemes in detail; we do not want to waste public funds where lien has been created or sufficient progress achieved, but we definitely don’t like to throw good money after bad,” a cabinet member told Dawn, claiming that more than 20 seats went to the PML-N in the last elections due to constituency politics of gas connections.

He said the mid-term review of the PSDP would be held in the last week of January and about Rs2 trillion worth of development projects would be revised. He said that most of the unapproved projects at the level of the Central Development Working Party or the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council and unfunded schemes would be excluded from the PSDP.

The cabinet member said that at least 400 projects included in the PSDP did not receive funding over the past four years and yet they were part of the programme. But he hastened to add that the Rs675 billion federal development budget approved by parliament in September this year would not be reduced further even though adjustments would be made where necessary to divert funds from problematic projects to more deserving ones for effective funding utilisation.

He said the PSDP used to get average Rs55bn additional funds over the past five years for development projects but most of them had not been given funds because the overall development portfolio expanded significantly. He said that all secretaries would be asked to provide unnecessary schemes under the respective ministries and divisions during the mid-year review so as to complete maximum projects in the minimum time period.

The federal government’s overall development portfolio stood at about Rs6tr and with the current pace, allocation of funds would take 9-10 years to complete even if no fresh development project was taken up, an official said. The PSDP size would remain unchanged at Rs675, but throw-forward would be significantly reduced through revision in the number of projects and their rationalised costs, he added.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

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Minister terms all previous budgets fake

LAHORE: Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday said that all previous budgets were fake and now real budgets were being presented.

“The upcoming January 23 mini-budget will lay a foundation of Pakistan’s strong economy,” he said and added that the PTI government would come up to the expectations of people.

The information minister’s remarks come a day after Finance Minister Asad Umar on Saturday dispelled the impression that the ,upcoming mini-budget, would be loaded with new taxes. While addressing members of the business community in Karachi, Mr Umar had said that the mini-budget would focus on ease of doing business and measures to facilitate trade and industrialisation.

Says governance will improve in two to three years

The information minister urged people to have trust in the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, adding that governance would improve in two to three years.

“Have patience for two to three years and this government’s governance will be of par excellence,” he told the media at ThinkFest at Alhamra Arts Council.

Mr Chaudhry said PM Khan did not believe in giving relief (NRO) to any corrupt.

“One has already landed in jail, while the other will follow suit,” he said while referring to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, respectively.

He reiterated that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari were pressurising (the government) in and out of parliament but they would not get any NRO.

The information minister said that Mr Sharif’s and Mr Zardari’s parties had collapsed.

“They have dug their political graves with their style of politics. We didn’t contribute anything [to their troubles],” Mr Chaudhry said.

The minister expressed wonder over the way the trial of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif was being conducted, saying they were enjoying all freedom when compared with incarceration of Wali Khan, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and other high-profile people who remained in prison. “Nawaz Sharif flew to London during his trial and his lawyers cross-examined witnesses for 22 days.”

He said that Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif was in jail only on papers as he was living in his house and holding meetings and sometimes even called the NAB and prosecutors to appear before him. “I haven’t seen such a trial in my life,” he said and added, “still they are heading towards their political death”.

Responding to a question about former US Ambassador Cameron Munter that Pakistan had misused funds given by the US to counter terrorism as well as promote education, Mr Chaudhry brushed aside Mr Munter’s statement, saying he had retired long ago and did not know anything happening now.

He pointed out that the US had already discontinued the Coalition Support Fund. However, he added, Pakistan-US relations were now improving. He said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had visited Pakistan and later Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met him in Washington leading to improvement in Pak-US ties.

“I guess Munter has not visited Washington for quite some time,” he said.

Referring to the PPP leaders’ names on the ECL, he said the direction was given by the JIT and the government had just implemented it.

Regarding his re-scheduled visit to Sindh and PPP minister Saeed Ghani’s assertion that he could stop him entering Sindh, Mr Chaudhry said Sindh was part of Pakistan and no one could stop him from going there. He said he was going to Sindh in connection with the affairs of his ministry and would obviously meet his colleagues there.

Mr Chaudhry said the information ministry would come up with a calendar of mega events in the country in a couple of weeks to allow space to thinkers and writers to speak up their minds.

Emphasising the need for promotion of tourism, he said Pakistan had decided to allow visa-free entry to people from 66 countries.

“People from across the globe will be invited to participate in various literary, cultural, social and religious festivals,” the minister said and added that the government was working on mechanisms to keep the events safe.

He said authors would be encouraged and film industry would be revived.

“PM Imran Khan’s vision is not just political but also social, and he wants to generate activity that will bring people closer unlike past rulers, who only worked to fill their coffers,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

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Pakistan should strengthen ties with neighbours instead of US: Hina Rabbani Khar

LAHORE: Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan always chose to be a client state instead of becoming strategic partner of one country or the other. With a begging bowl in both hands, Pakistan cannot command respect in the comity of nations.

Speaking in a session on the US-Pakistan relationship at ThinkFest here on Saturday, she said Pakistan always imagined itself as a complete strategic partner, which was far-fetched. Pakistan’s most important relations should be with its neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, India, Iran and China instead of the US. “The US does not deserve that much importance as is given in Pakistan because our economy is not dependent on US aid, as is widely believed.”

Referring to the incumbent rulers’ claims of copying China, she said Beijing had brought its people out of poverty, while the Islamabad rulers were doing the opposite.

United States Institute of Peace Associate Vice President Moeed Yusuf said the US-Pakistan relations were non-existent during the past 18 months. Regretting that Pakistan was looking elsewhere instead of involving itself in the region to resolve local and regional issues, he said there could be no conversation on the US-Pak ties till the Afghanistan issue was resolved. For Pakistan, he said, the idea was to consider how to work with the US and China simultaneously.

Speaking on the future of democracy in Pakistan, author Aqil Shah from Oklahoma University said democracy gave the freedom to speak up and enabled accommodating ethnic divisions peacefully. He, however, said the democracy in vogue in Pakistan was a hybrid regime where elected representatives were answerable to both the people and army generals.

He alleged that the 2018 general elections were manoeuvered to ensure that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his party did not come back to power and that the rule was given to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), calling the ruling party “Pakistan Tehreek-i-Establishment”.

He further said that the corruption narrative was a universal phenomenon and not exclusive to Pakistan.

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood claimed that democracy in Pakistan was getting stronger and robust. While the PTI government took over just a few months ago, people had high expectations from them to resolve serious issues, including the economic crisis.

He said education had faced a serious neglect in the past and was separated into different streams to create a divide among people. He said there was a small pool of audience attending the ThinkFest, but even this much crowd could not be attracted if the event took place in Dera Ghazi Khan or Sibbi.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019

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PML-N calls for JIT to probe closure of cheap power plants

ISLAMABAD: The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has expressed serious concerns over the ongoing energy crisis in the country and called for constitution of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the “closure of world’s cheapest power plants” in the country.

Speaking at a news conference at the National Press Club on Saturday, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former minister of state for finance Miftah Ismail and the party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb lashed out at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for its “directionless and failed” economic policies, which had drastically brought down the country’s growth rate in just five months.

“This government has failed in just five months. The country is in a state of recession. The growth rate has come down to four per cent and inflation is constantly increasing,” said Mr Abbasi.

The former prime minister claimed that when the PTI government came to power, there was no shortage of electricity and gas in the country. He alleged that the government was generating some 4,200 megawatts of electricity through furnace oil, which was considered to be the most expensive way of producing electricity.

“The world’s cheapest power plants are closed and electricity is being produced through most expensive fuel, causing a daily loss of Rs1 billion to the national exchequer,” he said, demanding that an inquiry should be ordered to probe why cheaper power plants had been closed.

“Since a new culture of forming JITs has been developed in the country, I demand that a JIT be formed to find out those responsible for the present energy crisis in the country,” Mr Abbasi said.

The former premier said when the PML-N had assumed power in 2013 the country was facing worst kind of electricity and gas loadshedding. However, he said, it was the PML-N government which brought the country out of the energy crisis under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif. He, however, regretted that due to “incapability” of the present rulers, this was the second consecutive month that the people had been suffering from electricity and gas shortages.

The PML-N leader castigated the government for removing heads of two gas utilities, stating that they could not be held responsible for the gas shortage. Without elaborating, he also accused the government of “diverting” the ships carrying LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).

Responding to the allegations regarding corruption in the LNG deal with Qatar, he said he took all the responsibility for bringing LNG to the country and was ready to defend it at any forum.

Speaking on the occasion, former finance minister Miftah Ismail alleged that the government had already borrowed Rs1,400 billion from the State Bank of Pakistan whereas the PML-N government had borrowed Rs288bn from the SBP during its entire five-year term.

Mr Ismail, who had presented the last budget of the PML-N government, explained that borrowing from the SBP meant printing of more currency and increase in inflation. He said the PTI had promised to provide 10 million jobs in five years for which a growth rate of nine to 10 per cent was required. He said the PML-N government had brought down the inflation to a single digit from the 14 per cent it had inherited in 2013. The inflation, he regretted, was again showing an upward trend.

Responding to a question, Mr Abbasi said that due to the “visionless economic policies” of the rulers, the government now intended to present a second mini-budget within six months. He said the government had been forced to present another mini-budget as it had failed to meet the revenue target and stop increase in its own expenses due to rising inflation.

He said the government was planning to put more burden on the masses to pay off Rs400bn interest on loans.

Responding to another question, Mr Abbasi said that so far the government had not contacted the opposition on the issue of the military courts. He, however, said that the government would have to explain before parliament why there was a need for giving another extension to the military courts. The former premier also accused the government of using the exit control list (ECL) as a tool to victimise its opponents.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019

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Doctor allowed to examine Nawaz

LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s doctor examined him after workers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) held a demonstration outside the Kot Lakhpat jail on Saturday against the Punjab government for not taking care of their leader.

A good number of PML-N workers, led by former ministers Ahsan Iqbal and Pervaiz Malik, chanted slogans against the government and the jail administration for not allowing Mr Sharif’s cardiologist to see him after he complained of pain in his left arm.

On Friday, Maryam Nawaz had claimed that the jail authorities were not allowing her father’s cardiologist to examine him.

However, after PML-N workers’ protest, the jail administration allowed cardiologist Dr Adnan to examine Mr Sharif and he suggested some tests for the PML-N leader.

Talking to reporters, Ahsan Iqbal said: “Non-provision of health facilities to Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif is a violation of basic human rights. This is being done in revenge.” The acting secretary general of PML-N warned that if Mr Sharif’s health deteriorated because of lack of medical care, a case would be lodged against the prime minister, chief minister, home secretary and the jail superintendent.

He urged the chief justice of Pakistan to launch a probe into the offshore holdings of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khanum.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019

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Maryam says Nawaz’s cardiologists not being granted access to him in jail; govt denies claim

Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz on Friday claimed that her father was suffering from a pain in his arm, “which is most likely to be angina”, and complained that Sharif’s cardiologists “have been trying to get access to him all day but [the] permission [has] not [been] granted”.

The ousted prime minister is serving a seven-year sentence for corruption in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.

“He [Nawaz] needs to be examined by the doctors who are privy to his complicated medical history,” Maryam wrote on Twitter.

Sharif had undergone an open-heart surgery about three years ago in London.

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Maryam, who had ,visited her father in the jail on Thursday,, also retweeted a ,post by a PML-N worker,, who claimed that although Sharif had been complaining about the pain in his arm since the morning, his personal doctor had not been allowed to examine him.

“Dr Adnan [Sharif's personal doctor] has urged [the] Medical officer that Mian sb is [a] heart patient and pain in arm is [a] very dangerous symptom, but he has been asked to visit on Monday,” he tweeted.

Punjab govt refutes claim

Dr Shahbaz Gill, the spokesperson for the Punjab chief minister, in a video refuted claims that Sharif was being denied a meeting with his personal doctor, saying Maryam’s allegations were “completely false”.

Contradicting Maryam’s tweet, he claimed that Dr Adnan had contacted the jail administration to request a meeting with Sharif at 5:38 in the evening.

However, Gill stated, a jail doctor had already conducted Sharif’s medical check-up earlier in the day; the doctor found the PML-N chief to be healthy and his blood pressure, sugar level and ECG to be normal. Dr Adnan was therefore directed to visit the jail tomorrow to meet Sharif and he acknowledged the same, the spokesperson added.

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Jail security officials had earlier told DawnNewsTV that the prison’s medical officer, Dr Afsar Khan, conducted Sharif’s medical check-up at around 4:30pm today. They quoted the doctor as saying that the former prime minister’s condition was fine and there was no active complaint by him. His blood pressure, pulse and blood sugar levels were all normal.

Ahsan Iqbal’s warning

Meanwhile, senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal in a ,tweet, alleged that the government was “deliberately” depriving Nawaz and his brother Shahbaz of medical facilities.

“If something happens to the health of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, [we] will have a case registered against Prime Minister [Imran Khan], the chief minister, interior secretary and the jail superintendent,” the former federal minister cautioned.

Sharif had requested a meeting with his physician after complaining of flu and fever earlier this week. He had also ,complained, about “poor” facilities in the jail. “However, I am in good health,” he was quo­ted as having said by a PML-N leader who met him on Thursday.

The PML-N quaid was taken to Adiala jail after he was ,sentenced to seven years in prison, in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case on December 24 by an accountability court in Islamabad. He was later shifted to Kot Lakhpat jail on his own request.

The former premier was fined Rs1.5 billion and $25 million. The court also barred him from holding a public office for 10 years after completion of the sentence.

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Cabinet decides to continue travel ban on PPP leaders

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to continue the travel ban on Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwarts, including Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Faryal Talpur and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

The decision was made at a federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan at his office on Thursday.

The cabinet in its meeting on Dec 27, 2018 had decided to ,place names of 172 suspects, of the fake bank accounts and money laundering case, including top PPP leaders and Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz, on the Exit Control List (ECL). However, the Supreme Court, which is monitoring the case, had expressed surprise on Dec 31 over placing of the names of Mr Bhutto-Zardari and Mr Shah on the ECL and ,ordered the government to review the decision,.

Party urges Supreme Court to take notice of ‘dictatorial move’

The cabinet in its last meeting had referred the matter to a special committee of the interior ministry to review it. On Thursday, the committee presented its report to the cabinet recommending removal of 20 names from the ECL, including those of the PPP leaders.

However, Prime Minister Khan and his team rejected the recommendations and decided that the names of the top leaders of the PPP would remain on the ECL.

“The federal cabinet has decided not to remove names of Mr Bhutto-Zardari and Mr Shah from the ECL,” said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry at a press conference held to brief the media on the decisions made by the cabinet.

He said names of the PPP leaders would remain on the ECL until a detailed written order of the Supreme Court was received. “After going through the order, we will decide whether the names of the PPP leaders should be removed from the list or the government should file a review petition against the apex court’s decision,” he added.

The minister said another committee — comprising Law Minister Farogh Naseem, the PM’s Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi and Interior Secretary Azam Suleman Khan — had been constituted to review the travel ban on the 172 suspects. The committee will present its report to the cabinet in its next meeting.

The names of the 172 suspects were placed on the ECL on the recommendations of a Joint Investigation Team formed by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the PPP has reacted to the cabinet’s latest decision and termed it a “dictatorial decision”.

“The cabinet decision has not only exposed the ‘ugly’ face of Imran Khan but the fact that dictatorship is prevailing in the country which does not even accept the decisions of the Supreme Court,” said PPP leader Dr Nafisa Shah in a statement.

She claimed that the JIT report was prepared by the PM’s Assistant Shahzad Akbar who misused his authority and the PM’s office. “It seems that Imran Khan is scared of Bilawal Bhutto’s politics and employing negative tactics,” she added.

The PPP leader called on the apex court to take stern notice of the government’s “rigidness” and alleged that the “puppet” government was “using accountability and the ECL as tools for arm-twisting of political opponents”.

Giving details of other decisions taken by the cabinet, the information minister said the cabinet expressed satisfaction over the government’s economic policies which, according to him, had started bearing fruit.

He said the prime minister ordered the law ministry to compile a negative category list in 48 hours as per directive of the apex court of the government jobs which could not be given to Pakistani nationals having dual nationality.

Gas shortage

The cabinet also discussed prevailing gas shortage in the country as a result of which the people are facing problems in the chilly weather.

Mr Chaudhry said one of the biggest gas supply distribution systems in the world, which was in Pakistan, had started giving losses to the government because only 28 per cent of the people were receiving gas through it while others were turning on their stoves through other sources, including liquefied natural gas. “Majority of the people are deprived of gas but the mammoth system is giving us losses.”

He said the prime minister directed the petroleum ministry to formulate a comprehensive policy on the use of gas.

The minister said former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had left a burden of Rs157 billion circular debt to be paid by the gas sector, adding that there was no debt on the sector when Mr Abbasi had assumed charge as petroleum minister during the term of the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government.

Talking about Rs1.5 million one-month electricity bill of Prime Minister House, the minister said Imran Khan was astonished why the PM House had received such a heavy bill despite the fact that he had cut down its expenditures and use by not living in it.

“During former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s tenure 85,000 electricity units were consumed by the PM House and now half of it is consumed. Even then the present consumption is quite higher than the PM’s expectations,” he added.

Mr Chaudhry said the prime minister ordered an audit of the staff responsible for managing the PM House.

According to him, the cabinet decided to appoint senior officials as heads of different government departments on temporary basis.

Aviation Secretary retired Squadron Leader Shahrukh Nusrat has been made acting managing director of the Civil Aviation Authority and retired air marshal Arshad Malik acting chief executive officer of the Pakistan International Airlines. Muhammad Saleh Farooqui has been given additional charge of managing director of the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company.

Anjum Asad has been appointed member of the National Tariff Commission and Ayesha Aziz managing director of the Pak-Brunei Investment Company.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2019

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President accepts Azam Swati’s resignation from ministry

President Arif Alvi has accepted the resignation of Azam Swati, the former Federal Minister for Science and Technology, it emerged on Thursday.

Swati, a member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, had ,resigned from the ministry last month to “uphold moral authority”, in the face of a probe over allegations that he played a role in the ‘unlawful’ transfer of former Islamabad police chief Jan Mohammad.

A notification issued by the Cabinet Division dated Jan 9 said that the president had, upon the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan, accepted the PTI leader’s resignation with effect from Dec 6.

The former IGP’s transfer took place after Swati’s son registered a case against a family of slum dwellers for allegedly trespassing on his family’s land. Five people, including two women, ,were arrested for trespassing on the land, and beating up Swati’s guards. They were released after a day’s detention as police said a settlement had been reached between the minister and the detained family.

On November 19, a court-formed ,joint investigation team had held Swati and his employees responsible, for the altercation that took place at his farmhouse and allegedly transpired into the police chief’s transfer.

The Supreme Court in the ,last hearing of the case, had referred a matter relating to the alleged amassing of wealth beyond known sources of income by Swati to the Federal Board of Revenue as well as the Islamabad police for a comprehensive probe.

The court has been ,mulling proceeding against Swati under Article 62(1)(f), ? the same section that led to the disqualification last year of Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen.

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SC to hear NAB’s appeal against suspension of Nawaz, Maryam sentences on Jan 14

The Supreme Court will hear the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) appeal against the ,suspension of sentences, handed to Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz — in the Avenfield reference — next week on January 14.

The appeal will be heard by a five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.

The accountability court in July last year had announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by NAB, handing the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and 1 year for not cooperating with the bureau.

His daughter was given 7 years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and 1 year for non-cooperation with the bureau.

The father and daughter upon their return to Lahore on July 13 were arrested by NAB authorities and shifted to Adiala jail.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) in September, however, granted them bail after suspending their sentences.

The corruption watchdog had subsequently filed an appeal — ,which was accepted by the SC, — in which it contended that the IHC had failed to appreciate that, through its order, it had seriously prejudiced the case of the prosecution by holding that the trial court judgement suffered from obvious and glaring defects and infirmities and that the convictions and sentences handed down to the accused might not be sustained ultimately.

Nawaz’s appeal against Al-Azizia

Earlier today, a two-member IHC allowed the former prime minister’s request for the early hearing of his appeal against his conviction in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference. The court directed that it be fixed for hearing within ten days.

Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani also set a petition ,seeking the suspension of Sharif’s ­sentence, for hearing.

Barrister Munawwar Duggal had on Tuesday filed an application seeking the immediate hearing of the appeal against the ,verdict announced by an accountability court, in the reference on December 24 last year.

In the application, the defence counsel pointed out that the winter vacation had ended and, therefore, the appeal against the conviction might be fixed before the available bench.

Another IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Farooq had on Jan 7 taken up Sharif’s petition seeking the suspension of his sentence. The bench, however, pointed out that since the appeal against the conviction in the Al-Azizia-Hill Metal Establishment had neither been fixed nor taken up, the petition for suspension of the sentence could not be entertained at this stage.

The IHC on Tuesday, however, released an order deciding to take up the petition.

Accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik had on Dec 24 convicted Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills Company (ASCL) and Hill Metal Establishment (HME) reference and ,awarded him seven years imprisonment, and fined him Rs1.5 billion and $25 million.

Sharif ,filed a 61-page appeal against the verdict, through Haris who pointed out certain ‘extraneous’ factors which accountability judges never consider while imparting judgements in routine cases.

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Shahbaz named PAC chief under opposition pressure: Fawad Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Terming Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and his party “blackmailers”, the government revealed on Friday that the decision to ,make him chairman, of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had been made “under pressure”.

On the other hand, the opposition continued its protest in the National Assembly over non-issuance of a ,production order for detained MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique, and boycotted the proceedings of the lower house by staging a walkout.

Take a look: ,Now that PAC impasse has been resolved, parliament must turn to its legislative responsibilities,

During the assembly session, Prime Minister Imran Khan was criticised for appointing his aides and close friends as his advisers and assistants and the opposition sought details of expenditure being incurred on their salaries, perks and privileges.

Prime Minister Khan claimed many times in recent past that he “would neither come under any pressure nor compromise on his principles” while making decisions on national issues.

Boycott of National Assembly continues in protest against non-issuance of Saad Rafique’s production order

However, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, talking to reporters in Jhelum, explained why the government took another U-turn and agreed to appoint Mr Sharif as PAC chief, saying the decision was taken because of the opposition’s pressure.

“In fact Shahbaz Sharif and his party — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — are ‘blackmailers’ and we made him PAC chief because they are not letting the proceedings of the National Assembly run,” he said.

The minister said the opposition was bent upon creating hurdles in the way of proceedings of the National Assembly and, therefore, parliament was not fulfilling its basic responsibility — legislation.

He said the opposition leaders facing NAB (National Accountability Bureau) cases were using the floor of the house to give clarifications about their “misdeeds”. “They are not discussing in parliament how problems of the people can be solved and what agreements the government had recently made with Saudi Arabia, China, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, but cursing NAB for investigating them,” he added.

Fawad Chaudhry said the government had thought that the opposition would calm down and stop its agitation in parliament after the decision to make Mr Sharif PAC chairman. “However, the opposition continued with its confrontational way in the house on Friday on the pretext of non- issuance of production orders of Saad Rafique,” he said.

As Mr Rafique was arrested by NAB after cancellation of his bail by the Lahore High Court, Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaisar was looking into legal aspects whether under such circumstances the production orders of the MNA could be issued or not, the minister said.

Responding to a question about the Panama Papers cases involving former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, he said the Flagship Investment references was in its final stages and predicted that Mr Sharif would be in jail soon.

Earlier, speaking on the floor of the house, Shahbaz Sharif called upon of the speaker to issue a production order of Mr Rafique. “We have been demanding for the last three days the production orders of the honourable member of this house but to no avail,” he said.

Raja Pervez Ashraf of the Pakistan Peoples Party also demanded that Mr Rafique be allowed to attend proceedings of the assembly and hailed the government’s decision to appoint Mr Sharif PAC chairman. “According to the old tradition of the house, the production order of a detained members is always issued,” he added.

The chief of his own faction of the Balochistan National Party, Akhtar Mengal, also urged the speaker to issue a production order of the PML-N leader and said he was not talking about the production of any Baloch leader but a leader from Punjab. “I know there is no law in the country under which ‘missing or detained Baloch MNAs’ can be produced in the house, but today I am asking for production orders of Saad Rafique,” he added.

Mr Mengal said the National Assembly was being run as a Mughal Darbar, before staging a walk-out in protest. He was followed by the entire opposition and the speaker adjourned the session till Monday evening.

PM’s advisers/assistants

Earlier, during the question hour session, PML-N MNA Murtaza Javed Abbasi raised a question over the appointment of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aides and close friends as his advisers and assistants and sought details of expenditure being incurred on their salaries, perks and privileges.

“There was no need to have advisers and special assistants in the presence of ministers concerned. For example there was no need to appoint the PM’s media advisers as the information minister is already there and the Press Information Department is also available to cover activities of the premier, he added.

Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, another PML-N MNA, accused the government of appointing some legal advisers in different government departments who did not meet the criteria nor had the experience required for the offices.

Aliya Kamran of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party also questioned the salaries and other benefits, if given, to the members of various task forces formed by the prime minister on different issues.

MNA Shahnaz Baloch demanded that representation of Balochistan be ensured in all task forces.

Replying to queries, Minister of State on Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan said the appointment of the PM’s advisers and special assistants was not a new phenomenon as previous prime ministers also had advisers and assistants in their cabinets. “PM’s Adviser Zulfi Bukhari (Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari) on overseas Pakistanis has spent a long time abroad and, therefore, he can understand the problems of overseas Pakistanis in a better way,” he added.

On inexperienced legal advisers, the state minister said he would definitely ask the relevant ministries and departments to take action on the matter.

PIA ROUTES: Responding to a question of MNA Aslam Bhootani on lack of air travel facility between Quetta and Gwadar, the state minister said the government had decided to revamp the crippled Pakistan International Airlines Corporation to transform it into a revenue generating organisation from a loss- incurring entity.

He said important routes of national flag carrier had been abolished like PIA flights to Washington, New York, Boston and Chicago in the US, Glasgow and Bradford in the UK, Moscow, Cairo, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Singapore, Bangkok, Amsterdam etc.

Waseem Ashraff Butt also contributed to this report from Gujrat

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2018

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Go to your offices daily or get ready to be replaced, PM Khan warns KP ministers

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had won the people’s mandate in the 2018 general elections without dishing out billions of rupees in development funds and solely on the basis of its performance.

Speaking at a ceremony held in connection with the completion of the ,Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s 100 days in office,, the prime minister thanked the people of KP for re-electing his party this year and said that the PTI had not employed any “traditional, political tactics” to win the polls.

PM Imran Khan inaugurated a  shelter home in Peshawar on Friday. — PID

PM Imran Khan inaugurated a shelter home in Peshawar on Friday. — PID

“In 2013 [elections], we got a coalition government and in 2018, the people of Pakhtunkhwa who never give another chance [to political parties] gave the PTI a fantastic mandate,” he said in his address at Peshawar’s Nishtar Hall.

In a reference to the PML-N, he claimed that the previous government of Punjab had spent billions in development funds in order to influence the 2018 elections.

He termed KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan as an “honest” man. He said the people had “made a lot of fun” when the PTI elected Usman Buzdar, who hails from a backward region, as the Punjab chief minister.

“The people of Punjab were in the wrong habit for the past 30 years of seeing a chief minister who acts a king,” he said, referring to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and president Shahbaz Sharif. In comparison, he said, Usman Buzdar was a “simple man” who did not use a heavy protocol or spend lavishly.

“[Buzdar] is an honest and a courageous [man] who stood up in the face of big mafias,” Khan said.

He said it was for the first time in Pakistan’s history that a government (of PTI) was making efforts to create a uniform education system in the country which he said would be crucial in bridging the rich-poor divide.

PM Khan is briefed on a shelter home in Peshawar. — PID

PM Khan is briefed on a shelter home in Peshawar. — PID

He reminded the ministers and officials seated in the audience that all of them needed to go to their offices daily and remain there till the evening, adding that he will know whether or not they are going to their offices.

“And then none of you should say ‘my ministry was taken away from me’ [if you are replaced for not going to work],” the prime minister cautioned.

In a lighter vein, Khan said previous governments always used to be afraid that if a minister is removed, he or she will form a forward bloc and “the government will be toppled”. “We don’t even face that issue now,” he added, amidst laughter from the audience.

“Keep in mind, I am receiving messages from a lot of MPAs who all want to become ministers, so if you don’t work [be ready to be replaced],” he said tongue in cheek while addressing the ministers.

The premier reminded the provincial lawmakers that the sole target of their 100-day plan should be to create policies for the uplift of the poor segment of the society. He urged the officials to remind the bureaucrats working under them that they needed to ensure ‘ease of doing business’ to generate investment in the country.

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‘Pakistan has arranged US-Taliban talks’

Prime Minister Khan reiterated that the same United States “that had been asking us to ‘do more’” is now asking Pakistan to facilitate its talks with the Afghan Taliban.

“When I used to say this matter cannot be resolved without dialogue, [they] would term me ‘Taliban Khan’,” he said, revealing that Pakistan had arranged talks between the US and the Taliban that are scheduled for December 17.

If peace is achieved in Afghanistan, he said, Peshawar would become a hub for tourism and commerce. He also announced that the Balahisar Fort in the city would be turned into a centre for tourism in order to generate revenue.

Khan said the government was collecting funds for the Mohmand dam, which when constructed will “solve Peshawar’s water problem forever”.

Before the ceremony, the premier inaugurated a shelter home in Peshawar during his one-day visit to the provincial capital.

PM Khan observes a shelter home in Peshawar. —PID

PM Khan observes a shelter home in Peshawar. —PID

The prime minister was also briefed on four more shelter homes that have been built by the KP government as part of its 100-day plan. The homes will have the capacity to accommodate 200 people each.

Last month, the premier had laid the foundation stone of a ,shelter house for the homeless in Lahore,.

An ,official statement, had said the prime minister would also attend a special meeting of the KP cabinet today. He will be briefed on the province’s 100-day performance.

It said that the provincial government had identified 25 initiatives to pursue during the next five years under the premier’s directions.

In health sector, the KP government has planned to recruit additional 4,000 lady health workers (LHWs) to ensure coverage of all rural areas in addition to rolling out a rural ambulance service to transport mothers and children to health facilities. The government will also ensure that 80 per cent of expectant mothers give birth in health facilities.

In agricultural sector, the government plans to introduce a functional IT-based market intelligence system to increase farmers profit by 15-20 per cent along with reclaiming 5,500 hectares of cultivatable wastelands.

It said that KP would become the first province to launch police station-based budget this year along with fourfold increase in the number of female police officers.

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Usman Buzdar’s maiden presser: Bahria Town, Ittefaq Foundry in illegal state land occupation

LAHORE: The Bahria Town Lahore is in illegal occupation of almost 100 kanals state land and owes the Punjab government Rs5.24 billion, says Chief minister Usman Buzdar.

In his maiden presser since becoming the chief executive of the province, Mr Buzdar said on Thursday the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) had recovered state land in Sillanwali tehsil of Sargodha district worth Rs2.5 billion from former federal minister Anwar Aziz Ch, father of PML-N leader Danial Aziz.

“The Punjab government has also launched fresh investigation into the illegal allotment of land in Harbanspura area in Lahore, which was to be cancelled way back in 1973. Former finance minister Ishaq Dar is one of the accused in the illegal allotment of land worth Rs5 billion.”

Flanked by his spokesman, law and information ministers, the chief minister said eliminating corruption and retrieving state land from illegal occupation would remain the focus of the PTI government. He said the ACE had, during the last three months, recovered land worth Rs32 billion as well as cash of Rs2 billion.

Referring to an inquiry into the affairs of the Ittefaq Foundry (owned by the Sharifs), he said the mill had been in illegal occupation of 240 kanals state land, including 71 kanals of the federal government.

The chief minister said the Bahria Town had occupied 37 kanal, 15 marla land worth Rs2.35 billion belonging to the Punjab Cooperative Board for Liquidation, where a hotel and a mall had been constructed, and 60 kanal auqaf land worth Rs1.77 billion. Similarly, he said, the Bahria Orchards scheme of Bahria Town owed the government Rs1.12 billion.

The chief minister said the Supreme Court had cancelled the allotment of Harbanspura land in 1973 but the FIRs were lodged against illegal occupants in 2011. A subsequent inquiry was shelved in three months. He said a fresh inquiry had been ordered to retrieve the illegally occupied land worth Rs5 billion.

Stating that the government had cancelled PML-N senators and leaders’ illegal allotment of rooms in the Punjab House, Islamabad, the chief minister said the legislators were liable to pay Rs63.7 million.

Giving the breakup, he said Senator Asif Kirmani was supposed to pay Rs6.496 million, senator Pervaiz Rasheed Rs9.6 million, senator Mushahidullah Rs2 million, former MNA Anusha Rehman Rs2.3 million, Zubair Gull Rs2.4 million and former advocate general Mustafa Ramday Rs3.9 million. He also said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had spent over Rs10 million to entertain his personal guests. Mr Buzdar said former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif had declared four residences as his camp offices — Jati Umera, 196-H and 180-H in Model Town and 41-S DHA Lahore. He claimed that the former CM had deployed over 2000 policemen for his security duty. “I have declared no camp office. Only 60 policemen are on my security duty and the CM secretariat is saving Rs3 million per month under the head of petrol consumption,” he said.

The chief minister said the Punjab government had set its direction and fixed targets, which would be explained in the 100-day event shortly. He said the Punjab government would begin evaluating performance of the cabinet members within the next few days.

Mr Buzdar avoided some questions’ direct answers and cleverly took refuge in media assertions that he was a puppet CM and his powers were being used by someone else. Responding to questions about transfer and postings of Punjab IGP and other officials, the chief minister said: “How can you level allegations like misuse of powers by me when you portray me as a toothless chief minister”.

Giving details of the retrieved land, Mr Buzdar said 456,000 kanals land was recovered in the D.G Khan district, followed by 136,000 kanals in Faisalabad, 56,000 kanals each in Lahore and Sargodha, 35,000 kanals in Sahiwal, 24,000 kanals in Multan, 22,000 kanals in Gujranwala, 14,563 kanals in Bahawalpur and 7,345 kanals in Rawalpindi.

The chief minister said the government had prepared a data bank of the retrieved land for its better use. “The government will consult and decide about the distribution of land to the departments concerned.”

Answering a question about ACE’s performance and removal of its director-general, the chief minister said the DG was not removed but promoted to BS-22. He said that he would again be posted as the ACE DG after regularization of the posting.

CHINA VISIT: Usman Buzdar is scheduled to visit China next week for talks on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He will leave for China on Dec 17 (Monday) evening and return after three days. Due to his visit, a scheduled event to unveil the Punjab government’s 100 days plan has been postponed and will be rescheduled upon his return.

PML-N REACTION: Responding to Punjab CM’s presser, PML-N spokesperson Marriayum Aurangzeb said former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif was haunting the PTI government with his untiring service for the people during the past 10 years.

Chiding the chief minister for his performance during the first 100 days of his government, Ms Aurangzeb said Mr Buzdar should work like Mr Sharif before criticizing the latter. She also asked the chief minister when he would address a press conference about the establishment of south Punjab province.

The PML-N spokesperson said the `puppet’ chief minister would never be able to come up to the expectations of the people of Punjab. She suggested Mr Buzdar to consult his senior minister Aleem Khan (who also faces allegations of land grab) for the retrieval of land from illegal occupation.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2018

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Apex court forms JIT in Pakpattan land case after Nawaz Sharif relents

The Supreme Court on Thursday formed a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe allegations of the ,illegal allotment of Waqf property, attached to a Pakpattan shrine against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The PML-N supremo is facing a charge that as the chief minister of Punjab in 1986 he had ordered withdrawal of a notification of Dec 17, 1969 and allegedly allotted huge lands of Auqaf around Pakpattan to Dewan Ghulam Qutab in violation of a high court order.

Sharif, in the last hearing, had ,expressed his reservations, over being probed by a JIT but his counsel today told Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar that his client “has agreed for the formation of a JIT”.

“The court can assign the investigation to whoever it deems appropriate,” the counsel said.

At this, the chief justice remarked that Nawaz Sharif “is taking the risk of JIT”. He then constituted the body and appointed Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak, the chairman of National Counterterrorism Authority, as the JIT head.

Read: ,Nawaz Sharif: A man for the next season,

The apex court summoned Dad in the next hearing and asked for the probe’s terms of reference (ToR) to be finalised within a week.

SC takes up review petition on 2015 ruling

The SC ,took up a review petition, against the land dispute which had been decided by the apex court back in 2015.

Justice Nisar, during his visit to the Baba Farid shrine earlier this year, had promised justice in the case when dozens of the affected people raised slogans to get his attention towards their plight.

The demo at Darbar Chowk in Pakpattan was organised by the Citizen’s Rights and Welfare Organization which claims working for 20,000 households in public interest and seeks ownership rights of the land they purchased from the Dewans, the caretakers of the shrine, during the last 70 years.

The Dewans claim that they had been declared caretakers of 14,500 kanal land of the the Baba Farid shrine but the Auqaf department says the shrine caretakers had no right to sell the land as it was not their jurisdiction to sell ownership rights of the land associated with the shrine since centuries.

The Dewans filed a review petition with the Supreme Court against the Auqaf Department for defense of their right to sell the land.

Background of the case

After Partition, Dewan Ghulam Qutab and his family used to be the ‘owners’ of the shrine’s land as per the revenue record from 1947 to 1958.

The family sold the land to different people until Jan 1, 1970, when the Punjab government notified the Auqaf Department as the rightful owner of the land and Dewans the custodian of the shrine. When Dewans moved the court, the Lahore High Court decided against them.

In 1986, the government withdrew its 1970 notification and the Dewans reciprocated by withdrawing their appeal from the Lahore High Court against the decision.

With this, the Dewans resumed their land selling business and the revenue department issued ownership rights (fard) to all buyers.

In the meantime, a 1981 case regarding 17 marlas land filed in a civil court reached the Supreme Court by 2015.

The apex court chief justice took suo moto of the land deals of the shrine and summoned officials of the revenue and auqaf departments and the Dewans.

After some hearings, the Supreme Court declared notification of Aug 28, 1986, illegal and nullified all land deals done since then. The decision reportedly affected 100,000 residents of different localities.

The Dewans filed a review petition with the Supreme Court against its 2015 decision which remained pending since than.

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