Posts Tagged ‘protests’

Will hold protest if govt doesn’t form commission to probe ‘rigging’ by tomorrow, warns Bilawal

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday warned that his party will hold protests against the PTI government if it fails to form a commission to investigate the rigging allegations regarding the July 25 general elections.

Talking to reporters outside the Parliament House, Bilawal said, “If the government failed to form a probe commission by September 18, PPP would prepare a strategy for the protest.”

“We will wait until tomorrow,” he asserted.

Explore: ,Here’s a list of constituencies where PTI, PML-N, PPP are alleging rigging,

He also hinted at consulting the PML-N and other opposition parties in case an investigation commission is not formed by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The PPP chairman also expressed “disappointment” over President Arif Alvi’s address to a joint parliamentary session earlier today.

Moreover, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif also reiterated his party’s demand of forming a parliamentary commission to probe rigging allegations regarding the general elections, ,Geo News reported,.

He complained that opposition leaders were silenced during the presidential speech. Asif said that opposition leaders were told that they would be able to present their stance following President Alvi’s speech but they were not allowed to speak after the address ended.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 17, 2018 at 10:25 pm

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5 militants killed in fighting with Indian troops in held Kashmir

Government forces killed five rebels during a gunbattle in India-held Kashmir on Saturday, triggering violent anti-India protests in the disputed Himalayan region.

Indian troops laid a siege around a southern village in Qazigund area overnight on a tip that militants were hiding there, police said.

A fierce gunbattle erupted early on Saturday, and hours later, five local Kashmiri rebels were killed.

The slain rebels belonged to the region’s largest rebel group ,Hizbul Mujahideen,, police said.

The fighting sparked anti-India protests and clashes as hundreds of residents tried to march to the site of the battle in solidarity with the militants. Government forces fired warning shots, shotgun pellets and tear gas at the stone-throwing protesters, injuring at least six people.

Most Kashmiris support the rebel cause that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

In recent years, mainly young Kashmiris have displayed open solidarity with rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations.

Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 15, 2018 at 10:25 am

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Kulsoom Nawaz laid to rest at Jati Umra in Lahore

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz was laid to rest at Jati Umra, the Sharif family residence in Lahore, near the graves of her father-in-law Mian Sharif and brother-in-law Abbas Sharif, on Friday.

Her funeral prayers, led by Maulana Tariq Jameel, were offered at a ground at Sharif Medical City around 5:30pm, after which her body was transported to Jati Umra.

Begum Kulsoom, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in August last year, had passed away in London on September 11.

Maulana Tariq Jameel leads Begum Kulsoom’s funeral prayers.

Thousands of PML-N supporters, well-wishers and politicians gathered to pay their respects to the three-time first lady and offer funeral prayers, which were held in the grounds of Sharif Medical City, adjacent to the Sharif family’s Jati Umra residence.

Security at the ground was high, and barbed wire was used to separate the high-profile attendees from ordinary citizens. Despite these measures, television footage showed politicians being jostled by the crowd as they were led to their places.

A protective human chain was formed around Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Maulana Tariq Jameel once they arrived so that the funeral prayers could be offered.

Nawaz Sharif talks with Maulana Tariq Jameel as he arrives to attend the funeral. —AP

Nawaz Sharif talks with Maulana Tariq Jameel as he arrives to attend the funeral. —AP

Former president Mamnoon Hussain, former law minister Rana Sanaullah, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Javed Hashmi, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Punjab Housing Minister Mehmoodur Rasheed, former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi, MQM leaders Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Farooq Sattar, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, and Saudi officials were among the attendees.

Congregational prayers (Rasm-i-Qul) for Begum Kulsoom will be offered on Sunday between Asr and Maghreb, a spokesperson had said earlier.

Body repatriated

Begum Kulsoom’s casket reached the provincial capital this morning on PIA flight PK-758 from London. Her body was received by members of the Sharif family, including Hamza Shahbaz, and was later transported to Jati Umra via ambulance.

Explore: ,At Sharif home, an outpouring of sympathy,

Hundreds attend Kulsoom Nawaz’s funeral in London

Funeral prayers had previously been offered for Begum Kulsoom at London’s Regent Park mosque on Thursday, where hundreds of people had showed up to pay their respects. The funeral had been arranged since Kulsoom’s sons, Hasan and Hussain, decided against travelling to Pakistan.

Other members of the Sharif family, including Asma, Nawaz and Kulsoom’s daughter, Shahbaz Sharif, and Zikriya Sharif, were in attendance at the funeral in London, alongside others such as former finance minister Ishaq Dar and former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar.

Shahbaz Sharif arrives at London's Regent Park mosque for Begum Kulsoom's funeral prayers. — DawnNewsTV

Shahbaz Sharif arrives at London’s Regent Park mosque for Begum Kulsoom’s funeral prayers. — DawnNewsTV

Sources said the family had received a death certificate issued by the private hospital where Begum Kulsoom Nawaz breathed her last on Tuesday, and the “out-of-England” letter from the coroner’s court, paving the way for the departure of her body to Lahore this evening.

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Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Safdar, who were all sentenced to jail by an accountability court weeks before the July 25 polls in the Avenfield property reference, were granted parole by the Punjab government on an application moved by Shahbaz in order to attend Begum Kulsoom’s funeral.

The Punjab Home Department later announced an extension in the short 12-hour parole for an additional five days, from Sept 12 (4pm) to September 17 (4pm). The time does not include the time it takes to travel.

Nawaz oversees funeral arrangements in Lahore

Nawaz offers prayers at Sharif Medical City where he paid a visit on Thursday to oversee arrangements for his late wife's funeral. ? DawnNewsTV

Nawaz offers prayers at Sharif Medical City where he paid a visit on Thursday to oversee arrangements for his late wife’s funeral. ? DawnNewsTV

Also on Thursday, Nawaz Sharif paid a visit to Sharif Medical City to oversee arrangements for his deceased wife’s last rites.

The former prime minister directed that all arrangements for the funeral be complete so that everyone is able to comfortably offer the funeral prayers. “There should not be any kind of issue in Sharif Medical City,” he had said.

He was accompanied on the visit by his son-in-law retired captain Muhammad Safdar, grandson Junaid Safdar, and nephew Salman Shahbaz. During the course of this visit, Nawaz met some PML-N leaders at Sharif Medical City.

Condolences offered for Begum Kulsoom

To condole her demise, PML-N and other political party workers have been visiting the Sharif family residence at Avenfield House in London and Jati Umra in Lahore since Wednesday.

Former Balochistan chief minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri and Rasikh Elahi, son of Punjab Assembly speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, were prominent among the visitors in London.

PML-N leaders, supporters and well-wishers arrive at Jati Umra to offer their condolences to the Sharifs. ? Online/File

PML-N leaders, supporters and well-wishers arrive at Jati Umra to offer their condolences to the Sharifs. ? Online/File

In Lahore, political leaders and workers including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khurram Dastagir, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Malik Pervaiz, Saad Rafique, Ameer Muqam, Ali Pervaiz, Uzma Bokhari and Rana Mohammad Iqbal visited Jati Umra to offer their condolences.

Regarding reports that Nawaz Sharif did not see the visitors on Wednesday because he was unwell, Marriyum Aurangzeb said: “That was not the case. Mian sahib was shattered and tired but he met relatives. On Thursday, he will meet the political leaders and workers between 4pm and 6pm. Similarly, Maryam Bibi also met relatives.”

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman pays a condolence visit to Nawaz Sharif.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman pays a condolence visit to Nawaz Sharif.

Hamza Shahbaz met those arriving at Jati Umra to condole the death of the former first lady.

Former president Mamnoon Hussain also called on Nawaz on Thursday and offered his condolences to the PML-N quaid.

Former president Mamnoon Hussain also called on Nawaz and offered condolences on the demise of Begum Kulsoom.

Begum Kulsoom, a woman of substance

Begum Kulsoom served as first lady of Pakistan in her husband’s three non-consecutive terms as prime minister from 1990-1993, 1997-1999 and 2013-2017.

Born in 1950 in Lahore to a Kashmiri family, Begum Kulsoom attended Islamia College and graduated from the Forman Christian College in Lahore. She received a Master’s degree in Urdu from Punjab University in 1970.

She married Nawaz Sharif in 1971, and served as the president of the PML-N from 1999 to 2002, after her husband’s government was dismissed by former president Pervez Musharraf, and nearly all the Sharif family’s men were jailed.

Both mother and daughter were also placed under house arrest following Nawaz’s dismissal by Musharraf.

Begum Kulsoom led defiant, lonely protests against the Musharraf regime to get her husband freed from prison.

On July 9, 2000, she slipped through a police cordon that had been placed around her Model Town home the previous night to bar her from leading a protest rally against Gen Pervez Musharraf. Her ‘escape’ led to a car chase that ended when the police finally intercepted the car on Canal Road.

But the former first lady refused to leave the car. She locked it and made it known that she was going nowhere. Eventually, it was an overhead crane summoned to salvage the situation that bodily lifted the car and took it to a police compound nearby. The standoff lasted around 10 hours.

This moment when she sat suspended in midair was the high point in Begum Kulsoom’s short but eventful political career that started soon after Gen Musharraf, with the help of other generals close to him, ousted Nawaz Sharif.

That eventful day in 2000, she created an image of resistance, bringing the PML-N out of the shadow of the establishment.

“There are two chapters of resistance in the history of the PML-N. The second one is this period since Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court in July 2017. But the original one was written under the stewardship of Begum Kulsoom. Until she started challenging the military dictator, this aspect of the party was hidden from public view,” argued a political commentator who wishes to remain anonymous.

“I wonder if it would have been possible to write the second chapter of resistance if she hadn’t written the first,” said the commentator.

But once she had done her job, Begum Kulsoom slowly withdrew from public view. She was nowhere to be seen during Nawaz Sharif’s third term in office even though her assessment of political matters and people was considered flawless in the Sharif household. “She was a typical eastern woman who would do anything to protect her family,” says journalist Suhail Warraich.

She never, however, refused to play a role whenever she was called upon. Over the last 30 years, she had stood by her husband and advised him on various government affairs. Party leaders have also said that she occasionally wrote many of Nawaz’s speeches.

In a 2012 interview with Newsweek, Maryam had said her mother “dauntlessly challenged the usurper when a lot of men backed out… She’s contributed famously to my father’s life and to democracy in Pakistan.”

She is credited with convincing her husband to allow Maryam to enter politics.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 14, 2018 at 2:26 pm

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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.

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

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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.”

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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”.

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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.

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

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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”.

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

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

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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”.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 12, 2018 at 12:25 pm

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Begum Kulsoom Nawaz passes away in London after battle with cancer

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz is survived by her husband, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and their four children. ? DawnNewsTV

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz is survived by her husband, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and their four children. ? DawnNewsTV

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, passed away in London on Tuesday after a months-long battle with cancer.

She is survived by her husband and four children, Hassan, Hussain, Maryam and Asma.

PML-N Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb told the Associated Press that arrangements were being made to bring her body back to Pakistan for burial.

Party leader Khawaja Imran Nazeer, speaking to the media in London, said Begum Kulsoom may be laid to rest in the family home at Raiwind, but clarified that all decisions will be finalised only after consultation between family members. He said in case the family decides to bury her in Pakistan, the repatriation process may take two or three days.

Begum Kulsoom, 68, had been placed on life support earlier today as her health began deteriorating, sources at London’s Harley Street Clinic had told ,GeoNews,.

Begum Kulsoom’s health began deteriorating last night as she had developed a lung problem again, Geo had reported.

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The three-time former first lady was ,diagnosed with early-stage lymphoma, in August last year and had been in London since, where she underwent multiple surgeries and at least five chemotherapy sessions.

She had suffered a cardiac arrest and was ,placed on a ventilator, in June this year. Her family reported a ,slight improvement in her condition, on July 12, a day before Nawaz and Maryam were set to return to Pakistan after an accountability court ,sentenced them to jail, in the Avenfield corruption reference.

The former PM and his daughter are both currently ,serving their sentences, in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail.

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz was ,elected to Lahore’s NA-120 constituency, in a by-poll after her husband was disqualified from the seat by the Supreme Court last year, but left for the United Kingdom before she could begin campaigning for the by-poll.

In her absence, Maryam ,ran her campaign instead,. Due to her illness, Begum Kulsoom was unable to return and formally take oath for the seat.

Begum Kulsoom served as first lady of Pakistan in her husband’s three non-consecutive terms as prime minister from 1990-1993, 1997-1999 and 2013-2017.

Born in 1950 in Lahore to a Kashmiri family, Begum Kulsoom attended Islamia College and graduated from the Forman Christian College in Lahore. She received a Master’s degree in Urdu from Punjab University in 1970.

She married Nawaz Sharif in 1971, and served as the president of the PML-N from 1999 to 2002, after her husband’s government was dismissed by former president Pervez Musharraf, and nearly all the Sharif family’s men were jailed.

Both mother and daughter were also placed under house arrest following Nawaz’s dismissal by Musharraf.

Begum Kulsoom led defiant, lonely protests against the Musharraf regime to get her husband freed from prison.

Over the last 30 years, she had stood by her husband and ,advised him on various government affairs,. Party leaders have also said that she occasionally wrote many of Nawaz’s speeches.

In a 2012 interview with ,Newsweek,, Maryam had said her mother “dauntlessly challenged the usurper when a lot of men backed out… She’s contributed famously to my father’s life and to democracy in Pakistan.”

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 11, 2018 at 4:25 pm

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Govt plans to call joint session of parliament on Thursday

ISLAMABAD: The government plans to convene a joint session of parliament on Thursday for the mandatory address of the president and is seeking cooperation from the opposition parties for conducting the proceedings smoothly.

Besides, the government also has a plan to convene the first regular session of the new National Assembly from Friday in which Fina­nce Minister Asad Umar will present a new finance bill (budget) for the remaining 10 months of the fiscal.

However, the opposition parties have asked the government to constitute a parliamentary commission to probe the charges of rigging in the July 25 general elections before convening the joint sitting, if it wants smooth sailing in the house.

On Monday, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser held a meeting with the parliamentary leaders of the parties, told them about the government’s agenda and sought their cooperation in this regard.

Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed that the opposition had put the condition of formation of a parliamentary commission for ensuring smooth proceedings. He said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf would make a decision on the opposition’s demand in a few days after discussing it within the party.

Mr Qureshi said the government wanted to run parliament while maintaining its sanctity and would make every effort to ensure it. However, he added, if the opposition had made up its mind to disrupt the proceedings during the presidential address, it was up to them.

He said that it was the right of the opposition to register its protest on the floor of the parliament, but after registering the protest, they should return to the work for which the people had sent them.

The PTI leader was of the view that by disrupting the parliamentary proceedings through sloganeering or making a fuss, the opposition would itself be making parliament “redundant”.

Mr Qureshi said that at the time of the election of prime minister last month, he had personally requested Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif to end the lengthy protest to allow Prime Minister Imran Khan to make a speech, but the opposition members did not pay any heed.

Speaking at a news conference in Lahore last week, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif had asked Prime Minister Khan to keep his word and constitute a powerful parliamentary commission to probe allegations of rigging in the elections and recommend steps to block rigging attempts in future.

He said that Mr Khan had himself made an unconditional promise with him on the day of prime minister’s election in the National Assembly on Aug 17, but no commission had been notified yet even after the passage of three weeks.

Shahbaz Sharif said that the proposed parliamentary commission should have representation of all political parties in the National Assembly to ensure that a forensic audit of votes was conducted. He said that facts should be presented before the nation through the National Assembly.

The PML-N chief threatened that the opposition alliance would not let the house function if the commission to probe rigging allegations was not constituted.

According to an official handout issued by the National Assembly Secretariat, Speaker Asad Qaiser told the parliamentary leaders that maintaining the sanctity of the parliament and strengthening democracy was collective responsibility of all parties. The people of Pakistan had great expectations from the parliament, he added.

Mr Qaiser said that he would constitute standing and functional committees of the house as early as possible and would follow the past traditions in the process of formation of the committees.

He apprised the participants of the meeting about the government’s proposal to convene a joint sitting f parliament on Sept 13 for the presidential address. On Sept 14, the government wants to convene the regular session of the NA, says the handout.

Prominent among those who attended the meeting were: Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Asad Umar, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, former speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Rana Tanveer of the PML-N, Maulana Asad Mehmood of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Syed Naveed Qamar and Ghulam Mustafa Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

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.”

It will be the maiden address of President Dr Arif Alvi to the parliament after his election as 13th president of the country on Sept 4. He is expected to face a noisy opposition protest, if the government fails to meet the opposition’s demand of constituting a parliamentary commission.

In the past too, the opposition members had lodged a strong noisy protests during presidential addresses.

The first sitting of the National Assembly after the elections was held on August 13, which will be considered the first day of the parliamentary year of the new assembly every year.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - at 6:25 am

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‘Pakhtun ID cards not blocked due to nationality or prejudice,’ clarifies Nadra chief

A day after Pakhtuns held protests in Lahore demanding issuance of computerised national identity cards (CNICs), National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Usman Mobin said on Sunday that the ID cards of Afghan citizens had not been blocked because of their nationality or any prejudice.

The protesters, originally Afghans who have now been living in Lahore for years, held a demonstration outside Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence on Saturday, saying that the PML-N government had cancelled their ID cards due to which they were facing various problems, including those regarding enrolment of their children in schools.

They demanded that the prime minister intervene in the matter. PM Khan had directed the Nadra chairman to meet the protesters and resolve their issues.

Mobin today claimed that there were three main reasons behind the blocking of ID cards. He said that Afghan nationals were falsely declared as family members of those settled in Pakistan in exchange for money, so that they could be issued ID cards. However, when property disputes arose it would surface that they are, in fact, not related, so such ID cards would then be blocked.

A second reason he provided was that some refugee families who accepted money in exchange for ‘voluntary’ repatriation to Afghanistan would then return to Pakistan and get ID cards made again.

Thirdly, he claimed, was that some citizens retained Afghan passports while holding Pakistani ID cards, which is why they would then get blocked.

Mobin added that this issue had been ongoing for about 40 years now and “would not be resolved in a day”. The Interior Ministry was forwarded some recommendations on the matter.

Nadra officials said earlier that they would only issue CNICs after completing all legal formalities.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 3, 2018 at 8:25 am

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‘Pakhtun ID cards not blocked due to nationality or prejudice,’ clarifies Nadra chief

A day after Pakhtuns held protests in Lahore demanding issuance of computerised national identity cards (CNICs), National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Usman Mobin said on Sunday that the ID cards of Afghan citizens had not been blocked because of their nationality or any prejudice.

The protesters, originally Afghans who have now been living in Lahore for years, held a demonstration outside Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence on Saturday, saying that the PML-N government had cancelled their ID cards due to which they were facing various problems, including those regarding enrolment of their children in schools.

They demanded that the prime minister intervene in the matter. PM Khan had directed the Nadra chairman to meet the protesters and resolve their issues.

Mobin today claimed that there were three main reasons behind the blocking of ID cards. He said that Afghan nationals were falsely declared as family members of those settled in Pakistan in exchange for money, so that they could be issued ID cards. However, when property disputes arose it would surface that they are, in fact, not related, so such ID cards would then be blocked.

A second reason he provided was that some refugee families who accepted money in exchange for ‘voluntary’ repatriation to Afghanistan would then return to Pakistan and get ID cards made again.

Thirdly, he claimed, was that some citizens retained Afghan passports while holding Pakistani ID cards, which is why they would then get blocked.

Mobin added that this issue had been ongoing for about 40 years now and “would not be resolved in a day”. The Interior Ministry was forwarded some recommendations on the matter.

Nadra officials said earlier that they would only issue CNICs after completing all legal formalities.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 2, 2018 at 12:26 pm

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TLP calls off protest march against blasphemous caricatures contest

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) called off its “decisive march” on Thursday night following a successful round of talks with the government. An announcement in this regard was made by TLP leader Pir Afzal Qadri.

The religiopolitical party was holding a “decisive march” from Lahore to Islamabad against Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders’ announcement to hold a competition of blasphemous caricatures. However, the ,contest was cancelled by Wilders late Thursday night,.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also held a media talk accompanied by TLP leaders and requested them to call off their protest and disperse peacefully following the cancellation of the contest.

The TLP had earlier announced that it will “stay on the streets until either the publication of blasphemous cartoons in the Netherlands ends or the government immediately cuts diplomatic ties with the Dutch”.

Comprising hundreds of supporters of the religiopolitical party, the rally started its journey on Wednesday and had neared Islamabad by Thursday night.

The TLP rally, led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, had passed through Gujar Khan — a city in Rawalpindi district — where TLP Chief Khadim Rizvi addressed the participants.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi is seen at the start of the march. — Courtesy: Khadim Rizvi Twitter

Khadim Hussain Rizvi is seen at the start of the march. — Courtesy: Khadim Rizvi Twitter

Earlier, the rally had made a stop at Sohawa to offer Maghrib prayers before resuming their journey.

Commuters are experiencing heavy traffic jams on routes leading to Islamabad because of the march.

Road accident claims two lives

Two people were killed and four injured when a trailer accompanying the long march participants experienced a brake failure which resulted in two containers crashing into one another, according to police.

The injured were shifted to THQ Sohawa hospital where the condition of one injured was said to be critical.

Security, administrative arrangements in twin cities

The capital administration brought in containers to secure the red zone before the protesters reach there.

According to a notification issued by the Islamabad Capital Territory’s (ICT) police chief, force will not be used against the participants of the march, as per directives issued by the interior ministry and Islamabad chief commissioner.

The ICT police had requested 2,000 Frontier Corps (FC) personnel but so far only 700 have arrived to assist them.

Islamabad police officials discuss strategy to deal with TLP rally. — Courtesy: Shakeel Qarar

Islamabad police officials discuss strategy to deal with TLP rally. — Courtesy: Shakeel Qarar

The capital police also requested 1,000 Rangers officials for their aid in case of a security crisis.

According to DawnNewsTV sources, the capital police, following a meeting of its officials, also issued the directives to not let the rally enter the red zone.

Hospitals in Rawalpindi were put on high alert by the district administration.

US Embassy says

The US Embassy issued an alert for its employees, giving them August 30 (today) and August 31 (tomorrow) off “in anticipation” of the TLP protest.

“In anticipation of protests in Islamabad, locally employed US government personnel have been authorised to take liberal leave August 30 and August 31,” the embassy’s alert said.

The embassy has also advised its employees to keep a low profile, avoid the areas of demonstration and Exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests and monitor the media for updates.

TLP withdraws countrywide protest call

The TLP had earlier given the call of a countrywide protest at 4pm. However, it later retracted the call, with its spokesperson Pir Ijaz Ashrafi explaining: “The protest call was given because our way to Jhelum was blocked but since it was cleared, the call has been cancelled.”

He, however, warned that “the option of countrywide protests can still be used if obstacles are created anywhere on their route”.

Ashrafi had clarified that the party has not said no to negotiations with the government. “The negotiations have been underway since yesterday but they have not yet been successful,” he said.

He had advised the federal government to “talk to TLP as the spokesperson of the Muslims”.

“[Right now] the government is talking to us as if it is the spokesperson of the Netherlands,” he added.

TLP launches ‘march’ on Islamabad

TLP activists had kicked off the march on Wednesday afternoon after initially gathering at Lahore’s Data Darbar. Reciting na`at and chanting religious slogans, the group crossed Kala Shah Kaku on the G.T. Road by midnight.

Upon its arrival in Kamoke — some 25km from Gujranwala — the Khadim Hussain Rizvi-led rally was given a welcome by its supporters.

Read: ,Police await govt directives to deal with TLP protest,

The TLP workers spent the night in Gujrat and are expected to reach Islamabad capital Thursday night or Friday morning, ,Dawn reported,.

TLP spokesman Pir Zubair Ahmad ,told Dawn, that over 100 buses, “countless” cars and pickup vans joined the march. “The protesters, who are now in thousands, would grow in numbers on the way to destination as many workers and smaller rallies were waiting on the Grand Trunk Road to join the main march throughout the 200-kilometre long journey.”

Not revealing the whole plan, Ahmad said, “Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi is leading the march. The entire central executive body is also in the march and so are all leading names of the TLP. They will jointly announce the next plan once we hit the federal capital.”

PM forms committee to resolve matter

Following the rally’s departure for Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan formed a four-member committee to resolve the matter.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq, the Punjab Law Minister Raja and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry comprise the committee, which is scheduled to meet the TLP leaders tomorrow.

“The committee will brief the TLP leaders on measures against blasphemous caricatures,” said Qadri.

TLP supporters march towards Islamabad from Lahore on Wednesday. — AP

TLP supporters march towards Islamabad from Lahore on Wednesday. — AP

“The emotions of all Muslims against blasphemous caricatures are the same,” Chaudhry, the information minister added. “A joint front is imperative against blasphemy.”

He added: “We are trying to devise a joint strategy so that this issue can be dealt with effectively. We desire a peaceful resolution of this matter by the way of negotiations.”

The religiopolitical party, meanwhile, has announced that its workers would “stay on the streets until either the publication of blasphemous cartoons in the Netherlands is stopped or the govt immediately ends diplomatic ties with the Dutch”.

The blasphemous cartoon contest, scheduled for November, is being organised in the Netherlands by Wilders — a right-wing anti-Islam lawmaker who has been widely criticised for his activities.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has distanced his government from the controversial contest, clarifying that: “Wilders is not a member of the [Dutch] government. The competition is not a government initiative.”

FM Qureshi discusses issue of ‘blasphemous caricatures’ with Dutch counterpart

In a tweet on Wednesday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said that FM Qureshi spoke with his Dutch counterpart to discuss the issue of “blasphemous caricatures”.

“The FM expressed concern on the announcement of [the] abominable and sacrilegious competition by Geert Wilders,” read the tweet, adding that the Dutch FM made it clear that his government was neither associated nor supporting the event

,,

First round of negotiations with TLP

The demand for the envoy’s expulsion was made during the first round of talks between TLP’s top leadership and the government in Lahore.

Qadri and Basharat had represented the government in the meeting, while Muhammad Afzal Qadri, Allama Waheed Noor and Dr Amini from the TLP were also present.

Earlier, the religiopolitical party had urged the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to not only “discontinue diplomatic and commercial relations with the Netherlands” but also “demand from other Islamic countries to do the same”.

The TLP had also demanded that since the said competition’s judge is an American national, “therefore, strict measures should also be taken against the US”.

TLP’s Faizabad stint

The religiopolitical party had attained notoriety after it effectively ,disrupted daily life in Islamabad for 20 days, in November 2017.

Protesters had occupied the Faizabad Interchange which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road, both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities.

The agitators had believed that during the passage of Elections Act 2017, the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath was deliberately modified as part of a larger conspiracy. The amendment to the oath had been deemed a ‘clerical error’ by the government and was subsequently rectified through an Act of Parliament.

Nonetheless, TLP had demanded the resignation of key government figures for their role in the ‘conspiracy’.

The PML-N government at the time had initiated several rounds of negotiations with the protesters, but failed each time. Under pressure, it had finally launched an operation to disperse the protesters, leaving at least six people killed and scores others injured.

After the botched operation, the government had decided to call in the army for help. However, the army had refused to take action, and the government had turned to negotiations with the protesters and then capitulated by conceding to a number of their demands in return for an end to the protest.

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TLP’s Islamabad-bound rally against blasphemous caricatures nears Gujar Khan

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) march from Lahore to Islamabad — which started on Wednesday as a form of protest against Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders’ announcement to hold a competition of blasphemous caricatures — is a few kilometres away from Gujar Khan in Rawalpindi district.

The party is demanding that the government expel the Netherlands’ ambassador to Pakistan from the country in protest against the competition.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi is seen at the start of the march. — Courtesy: Khadim Hussain Rizvi Twitter

Khadim Hussain Rizvi is seen at the start of the march. — Courtesy: Khadim Hussain Rizvi Twitter

Comprising hundreds of supporters of the religiopolitical party, the rally left Sohawa on Thursday on its way to the capital via G.T. Road. With the city of Gujar Khan approaching, the rally made a pit stop to offer Maghrib prayers.

Commuters are experiencing heavy traffic jams on routes leading to Islamabad because of the march.

Security, administrative arrangements in twin cities

The capital administration has started bringing in containers to secure the red zone before the protesters reach there.

The Islamabad Capital Territory Police had requested 2,000 Frontier Corps (FC) personnel but so far only 700 have arrived to assist them.

Islamabad police officials discuss strategy to deal with TLP rally. — Courtesy: Shakeel Qarar

Islamabad police officials discuss strategy to deal with TLP rally. — Courtesy: Shakeel Qarar

The capital police has also requested 1,000 Rangers officials for their aid in case of a security crisis.

According to DawnNewsTV sources, the capital police, following a meeting of its officials, also issued the directives to not let the rally enter the red zone.

Meanwhile, hospitals in Rawalpindi have been put on high alert by the district administration.

TLP withdraws countrywide protest call

The TLP had earlier given the call of a countrywide protest at 4pm. However, it later retracted the call, with its spokesperson Pir Ijaz Ashrafi explaining: “The protest call was given because our way to Jhelum was blocked but since it was cleared, the call has been cancelled.”

He, however, warned that “the option of countrywide protests can still be used if obstacles are created anywhere on their route.”

The religiopolitical party had attained notoriety after it effectively ,disrupted daily life in Islamabad for 20 days, in November 2017. The PML-N government at the time had initiated several rounds of negotiations with the protesters, but failed each time. Under pressure, it had finally launched an operation to disperse the protesters, leaving at least six people killed and scores others injured.

March begins

TLP activists had kicked off the march on Wednesday afternoon after initially gathering at Lahore’s Data Darbar. Reciting na`at and chanting religious slogans, the group crossed Kala Shah Kaku on the G.T. Road by midnight.

Upon its arrival in Kamoke — some 25km from Gujranwala — the Khadim Hussain Rizvi-led rally was given a welcome by its supporters.

Read: ,Police await govt directives to deal with TLP protest,

The TLP workers spent the night in Gujrat and are expected to reach Islamabad capital Thursday night or Friday morning, ,Dawn reported,.

TLP spokesman Pir Zubair Ahmad ,told Dawn, that over 100 buses, “countless” cars and pickup vans joined the march. “The protesters, who are now in thousands, would grow in numbers on the way to destination as many workers and smaller rallies were waiting on the Grand Trunk Road to join the main march throughout the 200-kilometre long journey.”

Not revealing the whole plan, Ahmad said, “Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi is leading the march. The entire central executive body is also in the march and so are all leading names of the TLP. They will jointly announce the next plan once we hit the federal capital.”

PM forms committee to resolve matter

Following the rally’s departure for Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan formed a four-member committee to resolve the matter.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq, the Punjab Law Minister Raja and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry comprise the committee, which is scheduled to meet the TLP leaders tomorrow.

“The committee will brief the TLP leaders on measures against blasphemous caricatures,” said Qadri.

TLP supporters march towards Islamabad from Lahore on Wednesday. — AP

TLP supporters march towards Islamabad from Lahore on Wednesday. — AP

“The emotions of all Muslims against blasphemous caricatures are the same,” Chaudhry, the information minister added. “A joint front is imperative against blasphemy.”

He added: “We are trying to devise a joint strategy so that this issue can be dealt with effectively. We desire a peaceful resolution of this matter by the way of negotiations.”

The religiopolitical party, meanwhile, has announced that its workers would “stay on the streets until either the publication of blasphemous cartoons in the Netherlands is stopped or the govt immediately ends diplomatic ties with the Dutch”.

The blasphemous cartoon contest, scheduled for November, is being organised in the Netherlands by Wilders — a right-wing anti-Islam lawmaker who has been widely criticised for his activities.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has distanced his government from the controversial contest, clarifying that: “Wilders is not a member of the [Dutch] government. The competition is not a government initiative.”

FM Qureshi discusses issue of ‘blasphemous caricatures’ with Dutch counterpart

In a tweet on Wednesday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said that FM Qureshi spoke with his Dutch counterpart to discuss the issue of “blasphemous caricatures”.

“The FM expressed concern on the announcement of [the] abominable and sacrilegious competition by Geert Wilders,” read the tweet, adding that the Dutch FM made it clear that his government was neither associated nor supporting the event

,,

First round of negotiations with TLP

The demand for the envoy’s expulsion was made during the first round of talks between TLP’s top leadership and the government in Lahore.

Qadri and Basharat had represented the government in the meeting, while Muhammad Afzal Qadri, Allama Waheed Noor and Dr Amini from the TLP were also present.

Earlier, the religiopolitical party had urged the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to not only “discontinue diplomatic and commercial relations with the Netherlands” but also “demand from other Islamic countries to do the same”.

The TLP had also demanded that since the said competition’s judge is an American national, “therefore, strict measures should also be taken against the US”.

TLP’s Faizabad stint

The religiopolitical party had attained notoriety after it effectively ,disrupted daily life in Islamabad for 20 days, in November 2017.

Protesters had occupied the Faizabad Interchange which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road, both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities.

The agitators had believed that during the passage of Elections Act 2017, the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath was deliberately modified as part of a larger conspiracy. The amendment to the oath had been deemed a ‘clerical error’ by the government and was subsequently rectified through an Act of Parliament.

Nonetheless, TLP had demanded the resignation of key government figures for their role in the ‘conspiracy’.

The PML-N government at the time had initiated several rounds of negotiations with the protesters, but failed each time. Under pressure, it had finally launched an operation to disperse the protesters, leaving at least six people killed and scores others injured.

After the botched operation, the government had decided to call in the army for help. However, the army had refused to take action, and the government had turned to negotiations with the protesters and then capitulated by conceding to a number of their demands in return for an end to the protest.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 30, 2018 at 2:25 pm

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Germany reels as far-right ‘mobs’ go on rampage

Germany was reeling on Tuesday as xenophobia reared its head with far-right protests degenerating into attacks against foreign-looking people, adding fuel to an already explosive debate over migrants.

After Sunday’s fatal stabbing of a German man, 35, allegedly by a Syrian and an Iraqi, thousands of protesters descended on the streets of Chemnitz for two straight days, some bearing insignia of the far-right AfD and neo-Nazi NPD parties.

Six people were injured on Monday as pyrotechnics and other objects were hurled by the far-right camp as well as anti-fascist counter-protesters in the east German city.

Police also reported assaults by extremists against at least three foreigners on Sunday, while investigations were opened in 10 cases of the protesters performing the Hitler salute.

“Of course history is not repeating itself, but that a far-right mob is on a rampage in the middle of Germany and the authorities are overwhelmed, is reminiscent of the situation during the Weimar Republic,” noted Spiegel Online.

The Weimar years were marked by the formation of paramilitary groups, such as the Sturmabteilung or SA, which eventually helped the Nazis to power.

Josef Schuster, who chairs the Central Council of Jews in Germany, also voiced his alarm, saying it is “now the responsibility of citizens to counter the far-right mob”.

“It must never be accepted in Germany again for people to be attacked because of their appearances or their backgrounds.”

Anetta Kahane of the anti-racism Amadeu Antonio Foundation told rolling news channel NTV that people have the right to demonstrate.

But he added: “What happened in Chemnitz went beyond that — it was incitement to hatred and the propagation of pogrom sentiment.”

Noting that chatter among far-right sympathisers online is “extremely brutal, as calls are made blatantly for murder and killings”, Kahane said authorities need to crack down.

‘Nothing more dangerous’

Saxony state, where Chemnitz is located and which is the birthplace of the Islamophobic PEGIDA street movement, has repeatedly come under intense scrutiny as it is a hotbed for hate crimes.

Misgivings run deep in the state against the arrival since 2015 of more than a million asylum seekers, many from war-torn Syria and Iraq.

Railing against the newcomers, the far-right AfD party has made significant gains in the state and is poised to become the second biggest party in Saxony’s regional elections next year.

With a new demonstration expected from 1300 GMT outside the Saxony state parliament in Dresden, criticism grew louder against the authorities’ failure to keep the far-right in check.

“The state can never allow our streets to be overrun by far-right mobs,” said Bild daily, adding that at the same time, Berlin needs to promptly deport criminal foreigners.

“For too long, nothing has been done. That’s why confidence in the state is buckling. That’s why racists like in Chemnitz think they can do what they want. Nothing can be more dangerous for our country.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted that “where such hunting down of foreigners is possible, the rule of law has abdicated,” while Die Welt daily warned that “the rule of law and police now stand before a test”.

“There cannot be a zone of violence, there is no such thing as partial security,” said Welt.

Amid the alarm, criticism grew against Interior Minister Horst Seehofer for not making a public statement on the violence.

“Could be that some of his voters in Bavaria are secretly pleased that people are running through Chemnitz shouting ‘foreigners out’. But that can’t mean that the interior minister and leader of the CSU party ducks under cowardly,” said Spiegel.

“It is time for Seehofer to take a stand.”

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 28, 2018 at 10:25 pm

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Canada concerned over reported Saudi death sentences for activists

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern Thursday over reports that human rights activists in Saudi Arabia face the death penalty.

The two countries are locked in a ,diplomatic dispute, triggered by Canadian criticism of the kingdom’s human rights record, but Trudeau said Canada continues to “engage diplomatically” with Saudi Arabia.

Human rights groups say Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five human rights activists, including, for the first time, a woman.

The five stand accused of inciting mass protests in mainly Shiite areas of the Sunni-ruled kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province. Human rights groups say that the execution threat is a calculated bid to stifle dissent.

“I think it’s important to have positive relationships with countries around the world,” Trudeau told a press conference in British Columbia.

“At the same time, we have expressed our concern with the sentence handed down by Saudi Arabia, our concern for defending human rights and our shared values all around the world,” he added.

“Canada will continue to stand up strongly for human rights,” said Trudeau.

The Saudi government has not confirmed that the activists face the death penalty.

Two weeks ago Canada sparked fury in Riyadh by calling for the immediate release of detained activists, including award-winning women’s rights campaigner Samar Badawi.

Saudi Arabia froze all new trade and investments, moved to pull out thousands of Saudi students from Canadian universities and pledged to stop all medical treatment programmes in Canada. State airline Saudia also suspended flights to Toronto.

In the end the Saudis gave its students an extension until September 22, according to several universities.

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Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for female rights activist: campaigners

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has sought the death penalty against five human rights activists, including a prominent female rights defender, campaigners said on Wednesday.

Among those accused of inciting protests by the Shia Muslim minority in the oil-rich Eastern Province is Israa al-Ghomgham, the first female activist to possibly face the death penalty for her rights-related work.

“Israa al-Ghomgham and four other individuals are now facing the most appalling possible punishment simply for their involvement in anti-government protests,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns.

“We are urging the Saudi Arabian authorities to drop these plans immediately.”

Saudi government officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ghomgham, a prominent Shia activist who documented mass demonstrations in the Eastern Province starting in 2011, was arrested at her home along with her husband in December 2015, according to Human Rights Watch.

“Sentencing Israa al-Ghomgham to death would send a horrifying message that other activists could be targeted in the same way for their peaceful protest and human rights activism,” Hadid said.

“The charges against Ghomgham… are absurd and clearly politically motivated to silence dissent.”

Amnesty says at least 12 other leading human rights activists, including eight women, have been arrested in the kingdom since May — just before the kingdom ended its ban on women drivers.

Many of them long opposed the decades-long ban and resisted the system of male “guardians” — fathers, husbands or other relatives, whose permission is required to travel or get married.

The ultra-conservative kingdom has one of the world’s highest rates of execution, with suspects convicted of terrorism, homicide, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking facing the death penalty.

Rights experts have repeatedly raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom, an absolute monarchy governed under a strict form of Islamic law. The government says the death penalty is a deterrent for further crime.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 23, 2018 at 12:25 pm

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Imran clean bowls Shahbaz to become PM

Imran Khan smiles moments after being announced as the prime minister-elect. ? DawnNewsTV

Imran Khan smiles moments after being announced as the prime minister-elect. ? DawnNewsTV

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was elected Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister on Friday, marking the pinnacle of his 22-year-long political career.

Khan clinched victory with 176 seats while his opponent, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, secured 96 votes in the polling that took place in the National Assembly today.

As the newly elected speaker of the assembly, Asad Qaiser, announced the results, the House erupted with chants of “na manzoor” [unacceptable] and “Wazir-i-azam Nawaz Sharif” [PM Nawaz Sharif]. The protests by PML-N leaders continued nearly all the way through the session despite the speaker’s attempts at restoring order in the House.

PML-N lawmakers protest after announcement of results. ? DawnNewsTV

PML-N lawmakers protest after announcement of results. ? DawnNewsTV

Khan, in the meantime, sat smiling in his seat, accepting congratulations from his party members.

The speaker had suspended the proceedings of the National Assembly for 15 minutes after the crucial announcement due to the persistent sloganeering of PML-N legislators. Announcing the suspension of proceedings, Assembly Speaker Qaiser asked parliamentary leaders to come to his chamber.

When the session resumed, the speaker asked the PM-elect to address the House as protests — by PML-N — and cheering — by PTI — continued.

‘Only Jinnah struggled more than I did’

Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan, in his first speech following his victory, promised “the change that this nation is starving for”.

“We have to have strict accountability in this country; the people who looted this country, I promise that I will work against them,” he asserted.

PM-elect Imran Khan addresses the parliament amid chaos by opponents, cheers by supporters. ? DawnNewsTV

PM-elect Imran Khan addresses the parliament amid chaos by opponents, cheers by supporters. ? DawnNewsTV

“I did not climb on any dictator’s shoulders; I reached this place after struggling for 22 years. Only one leader struggled more than me, and that was my hero, Jinnah. Twice every month I will answer to the people during the question-answer session in the assembly.”

“The money that was laundered, I will bring it back — the money that should have gone towards health, education, and water, went into people’s pockets,” said a charged Khan, moving on to address allegations of election rigging.

“I want to ask the people who are yelling here why they didn’t investigate the four constituencies that I asked for.

“Why didn’t they investigate then? Why didn’t they hold people accountable? Why didn’t the [PML-N] government take action?”

“When I was asking for investigation, these people accused me of being a planted by the establishment,” Khan continued.

“We [government] will cooperate with you [PML-N] even if you want to take your complaints to the Supreme Court. You can make as much noise as you want or even hold a dharna — we will provide you the container and food for it.”

Khan’s oath-taking ceremony will take place tomorrow.

The former cricketer was tipped as the ‘PM-in-waiting’ soon after the July 25 polls in which PTI won more seats than other political parties.

‘We will hold you accountable’

A visibly disconcerted Shahbaz Sharif then took the microphone, focusing primarily on the allegations of rigging in the July 25 polls.

Shahbaz Sharif addresses the House after Imran Khan. ? DawnNewsTV

Shahbaz Sharif addresses the House after Imran Khan. ? DawnNewsTV

“Throughout the world, newspapers and outlets are raising accusations of rigging in the general elections,” he said.

“This is the worst election in history in terms of rigging; the authorities must act against those responsible.”

“What kind of election was this?” he questioned amidst loud chants echoing across the hall.

“The Result Transmission System (RTS) [on the night of July 25] was forcefully shut down. What kind of elections were these that the results were delayed for 48 hours?”

Alleging that 1.6 million votes were rejected, he questioned the discovery of ballot papers from gutters and streets across the country.

The former Punjab chief minister urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to “submit a report before this House” adding that “the clauses that need amendment in the Election Act 2017 must be amended so no one can rob the vote of its sanctity”.

He threatened that opposition parties would “take to the streets” if a commission was not formed and justice not served.

Reminding the PM-elect of a promise he had made in his first address to the nation after the July 25 polls, Sharif said: “Khan sahab, you had said that if rigging in 2013 elections would be proven, Nawaz Sharif’s government should resign. We will not let you run from this. We will hold you accountable for stealing votes.”

Clarifying the party’s stance and objectives, he said: “We came here for the sake of democracy and to protect the democratic system. There have been movements in the past and we have always stood by this House.”

“No matter what we do, we will not curse this parliament, we will not attack this parliament,” he added.

Sharif refused to conclude his speech “in protest” after being silenced by the speaker so that Bilawal Bhutto could also address the House.

‘Khan will have to go through us if he continues fanning flames of hate’

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, in his first address to the National Assembly, delivered a measured and mature speech in English.

Although he said it was his “honour to become a part of this house”, the 29-year-old criticised the “two biggest parties for creating a ruckus” in the parliament.

He remembered those who lost their lives in terror attacks in Peshawar and Quetta in the run-up to the July 25 polls.

Bilawal said that his party had its reservations over both the pre- and post-polling procedures but still “decided to be a part of this house to support this fragile democracy.”

“If it weren’t for us Mr Speaker, you wouldn’t have your seat and the PM would not have his,” he added.

“We would have been facing a constitutional crisis and we must assess what it cost for Khan sahab to get here. We mainstreamed extremism, we compromised on our basic rights, we pitted one Pakistani against another,” he continued.

“Our prime minister-elect has promised a 100-day roadmap. I want to see how he creates 10 million jobs, ends poverty.”

“I would like to ask Khan sahab ? who said that he would rather commit suicide than go to the IMF and beg for alms ? what his plan will be to deal with the economic crisis.”

“It is hurtful that Pakistan, which has sacrificed so much in the fight against violent extremism, is seen as a part of the problem and not as part of the solution,” he went on.

“I am sure the new government will take the [necessary] steps. However Khan sahab got here, Mr Speaker, he is now the prime minister of this worthy nation.”

“I want to remind him that he is not one party’s prime minister. He is the prime minister of all Pakistanis ? even those he called living corpses, the ones he called donkeys, the ones he referred to as sheep and goats.”

“As prime minister, I hope Imran Khan will drop the hateful rhetoric. If he continues to fan the flames of hatred, he will have to go through us and he will find us opposing him at every step of the way,” he vowed.

“If the prime minister-elect makes constitutional supremacy and human development his priorities, we will stand by his side,” he added.

“I congratulate the prime minister-select,” he concluded, with his use of the word “select” possibly referring to allegations of poll engineering.

Following Bilawal’s speech PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi also addressed the newly formed parliament.

He accused the PML-N of breaking the agreement that the opposition and the ruling parties had made to allow Khan to deliver his full speech.

“Every party stood by its word except the PML-N,” Qureshi said. “Of course why would they? The session was being broadcast live so there was a photo opportunity.

“Imran Khan wanted to say that ‘I will present myself in front of the nation’. He wanted to invite everyone to sit together but sadly you did not have the courage to listen to him.”

Qureshi then struck a conciliatory tone and asked the opposition to “play the role of a constructive opposition.

“Let’s change our behaviour towards each other. We will try to incorporate your criticism in our policies. We must also have the courage to listen to criticism.”

“We are aware of the challenges that the country is facing. We will solve them together.”

Lawmakers arrive, session begins after delay

The session kicked off around 4:30pm ? an hour later than expected ? with all lawmakers seated under the chairmanship of the assembly speaker. The delay was attributed to overcrowding in the press gallery, according to media reports.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari converses with other lawmakers ahead of the vote. ? DawnNewsTV

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari converses with other lawmakers ahead of the vote. ? DawnNewsTV

Khan arrived at parliament well ahead of the scheduled polling time. By 3:30pm, Sharif had also arrived at the venue, but did not make an appearance in the assembly until after 4:14pm.

Sharif, flanked by other PML-N MNAs, walked into the House with a black band around his upper arm in protest against alleged rigging in the election.

Shahbaz Sharif and Imran Khan shake hands before the start of voting. ? DawnNewsTV

Shahbaz Sharif and Imran Khan shake hands before the start of voting. ? DawnNewsTV

Despite the PPP’s boycott of today’s vote, chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was also in attendance.

Shahbaz shook hands with both Imran and Bilawal on his way to the benches.

PML-N protests

As the session opened, PML-N’s Murtaza Javed Abbasi took strong issue with the manner in which “the sanctity of the House was violated”.

“The voting for PM has not even started yet and the sanctity of House is already being violated, we register protest,” he said, adding: “The government that was installed by khalai makhlooq has not even taken power yet.”

NA Speaker Asad Qaiser attempted to restore order in the House as PML-N leaders voiced their objections to what they alleged was “engineering” in the July 25 polls.

As disturbance rippled through the House, Qaiser warned lawmakers that he would expel anyone who disrupted the session.

Chanting and sloganeering continued as the speaker read out the procedure for election of the prime minister and then the names of the two nominees. He directed those voting for Khan to the lobby on his right, and those voting for Sharif to the lobby on his left.

According to DawnNewsTV, PML-N leader and former assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq had made a last-minute attempt to convince PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari ? whose party earlier announced it would abstain from voting ? to support Shahbaz Sharif as voting was underway.

After the newly elected MNAs finished casting their votes for the two contenders, a count took place and Khan was announced as the victor.

The two contenders

After the PTI emerged as the biggest parliamentary party in the wake of the July 25 polls, all 120 of the party’s parliamentary committee members rubber-stamped Khan’s candidacy for the post of the prime minister.

Read: ,Imran Khan: Creating the biggest political storm of the year,

The PTI had, on its own, bagged 116 NA seats in the election before recruiting nine additional independents, which took its tally to 125.

The party was subsequently allotted 33 reserved seats by the Election Commission of Pakistan last week, which sent its tally to 158.

However, that tally was trimmed as Khan, a winner on five NA seats, kept only his Mianwali seat and vacated the other four. Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Tahir Sadiq also had to leave one of the two NA seats they had bagged each, cutting PTI’s lead by six.

PTI Spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry had earlier claimed that his party, with the help of its allies, had garnered the support of 180 plus NA members — at least eight more than required for a simple majority and enough to get Khan elected PM in the first poll.

However, PML-Q, a key PTI ally, has also seen its quartet of NA seats reduced by half as their party leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi — a candidate for the Speaker of Punjab Assembly — also vacated both his seats in the lower House of the parliament.

The PTI’s perceived struggle in establishing its dominance had offered a glimmer of hope to Shahbaz Sharif — the opposition’s joint candidate for the PM’s gig.

Related: ,Alliance unravels as PPP refuses to vote for Shahbaz,

The decision to nominate him was made as part of an agreement between the three main opposition parties — the PML-N, PPP and the MMA-P — during an All Parties Conference.

However, less than 24 hours before the election, PPP decided to “abstain” from today’s vote due to refusal of the PML-N to replace its candidate, making the contest a one-sided affair.

Sources told Dawn that using backdoor channels, the PML-N had contacted the PPP leadership many times throughout the day on Thursday, asking it to review its decision in the larger interest of the opposition’s unity — but the PPP refused to reverse its decision.

The eleventh-hour rift and retraction further dented whatever chance the joint opposition had against Khan.

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PTI’s Asad Qaiser, Qasim Suri elected NA speaker and deputy speaker amid opposition ruckus

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Asad Qaiser and Qasim Suri were sworn in as National Assembly (NA) speaker and deputy speaker respectively on Wednesday, beating out the joint candidates fielded by a fragile opposition alliance in a secret ballot.

Qaiser, a former speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, received 176 votes to PPP stalwart and joint opposition’s candidate Khursheed Shah’s 146. Eight votes were rejected in the tally.

The election for the post of deputy speaker was also won by a PTI candidate: Suri. He garnered 183 votes and edged out Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s (MMA) Maulana Asad Mehmood, who received 144 votes.

After the announcement of Qaiser’s victory, the new NA speaker made a round of the opposition benches and shook hands with PPP, PML-N and MMA leaders seated in the front rows of the assembly.

Outgoing speaker Ayaz Sadiq subsequently administered the speaker’s oath to Qaiser amidst loud chants of vote ko izzat do by PML-N lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the oath to the new deputy speaker was administered by the new speaker and his fellow PTI leader, Qaiser.

Profile: ,Asad Qaiser’s journey from volleyball player to NA speaker nominee,

After taking oath, Suri thanked his voters and vowed to work for the betterment of Balochistan, from where he hails. “I thank every member of the parliament who voted for me,” he said. “I also thank Asad Mehmood.

“The PTI will pay special care to Balochistan. I have entered the parliament with this hope. Under Imran Khan’s leadership we will turn Quetta into little Paris.”

‘Would like us to work for Pakistan’s betterment’

Sadiq later delivered a speech thanking his party (PML-N) and the former opposition for their support throughout his tenure, particularly during the 2014 protests and the circumstances that culminated in the resignation of PTI lawmakers.

He congratulated Qaiser on winning the contest for the speaker’s seat, and Shah for putting up a decent fight.

“Many times I heard people call me a ‘fake speaker’ and tell me that ‘we won’t agree’, but I didn’t frown once,” he said by way of advice to the incumbent.

“Each second of each minute that I gave to the opposition (as speaker) is recorded. My government complained that I lean too much towards the opposition,” he said.

He also asked for all lawmakers to respect each other despite their differences.

“I would like all of us to work for Pakistan’s betterment,” he added.

He also lauded the passage of the Elections Act 2017, which was worked on by all political parties, but also mentioned shortcomings in Section 95(v) pertaining to the recounting of results at the time of consolidation of votes.

He also regretted that the Election Commission of Pakistan did not execute its responsibilities as required, despite being given greater powers than before.

“The house will decide whether we need to hold it [the ECP] accountable or not.”

“Everyone should be held accountable,” he added. “Let us work for the betterment of Pakistan and the Parliament. We receive a lot of insults, no on appreciates our work. We have to make sure our work is appreciated,” he said.

“All of us wish to work for Pakistan, but it is also our right to play a role as the opposition,” he later stated.

‘Will play role of opposition’

PPP’s Khursheed Shah struck a conciliatory tone, making a speech that focused on the promise that his party would never become a hurdle to the passage of legislation meant for the country’s progress.

“Under Bilawal’s leadership, we will fully play the role of a good opposition. It is our constitutional and legal right,” he added.

“Once more, we pray that this Assembly completes its five-year term in a democratic manner.”

‘Opposition’s democratic rights will be protected’

PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a similarly diplomatic speech praised PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for his “positive role” and “democratic behaviour”.

He also thanked Khursheed Shah for his “democratic views” and appreciated Shah’s “political maturity”.

Qureshi observed that the lawmakers would have to exhibit such democratic behaviour to maintain the sanctity of the house in the years ahead.

He also thanked the leadership of PTI’s allied parties — the Balochistan National Party (BNP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), PML-Q, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), and the independents who supported it in the speaker’s election.

He assured the opposition that the government would safeguard their democratic rights, and assured them that their criticism would be taken positively.

The PTI leader noted that the country has been facing enormous challenges and that the government would need guidance from opposition lawmakers to cope with them.

“All your positive points will be paid heed to; we have the courage to listen and we will try to act accordingly,” he concluded.

Khalid Maqbool lauds democratic transition

MQM-P leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui lauded the democratic transition of government and said it should be the first step towards change for a better democratic process in the future.

“The people of Pakistan have entrusted their dreams to us; it is our responsibility to ensure they become a reality,” he said.

He also hoped that one day the common man would sit in Parliament: with farmers represented by farmers, and labourers represented by labourers.

Overview of new National Assembly

The NA has a total of 342 seats, including 272 general seats, 60 reserved for women and 10 for minorities.

As polls in Rawalpindi (NA-60) had been postponed following the disqualification of PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi and elections in Faisalabad (NA-103) had been put off after the death of a candidate, the elections were held in 270 NA constituencies on July 25.

The results of only 339 NA constituencies, including the reserved seats, have so far been announced while the notification of PPP candidate Fida Dero’s victory from NA-215 (Sanghar), which had been withheld by the Election Commission of Pakistan, had not been issued till Monday evening despite the apex court order.

As many as 326 members had taken oath on Monday as Mehboob Sultan and Amir Sultan, the two brothers and PTI MNAs from Jhang, had not turned up at the inaugural session due to the demise of their mother.

First-time MNA Bilawal at the NA session. — DawnNewsTV

First-time MNA Bilawal at the NA session. — DawnNewsTV

The PTI now has 152 members in the NA after Imran Khan, Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Tahir Sadiq vacated the additional seats.

PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who had won two NA seats, has also opted for the Punjab Assembly seat.

PML-N’s Hamza Shahbaz has also retained his Punjab Assembly seat and did not take the oath as MNA on Monday.

The parties that had already announced their support to the PTI or were expected to vote for its nominees were the MQM with seven seats; PML-Q and BAP with three seats each; BNP (four seats); GDA (three); and Awami Muslim League and Jamhoori Watan Party (with one seat each). Besides them, nine independents had joined the PTI.

Four independents, who had decided to maintain their independent status, were also expected to vote for the PTI.

The PML-N with 82 seats is the largest party in the opposition group, followed by PPP (53 seats); MMA (15 seats) and ANP (one seat).

Given the numbers, Qaiser was expected to receive around 180 votes in the election, against the estimated 150 votes for opposition candidate Khursheed Shah.


Polling process

  • In the first round, the speaker will be chosen in an NA session chaired by the outgoing speaker.

  • The polling will begin once the NA is in session and all votes will be handed out by the NA secretary.

  • No one will be allowed to take a photograph of their vote.

  • Each nominee will choose two polling agents for themselves.

  • Once all the votes have been cast, the speaker will announce that the polling process has concluded.

  • Votes will then be counted in the presence of both candidates and their polling agents.

  • Once the results are compiled, the speaker will proceed to announce the results.

  • The outgoing speaker will then administer oath to the newly elected speaker.

  • The same process will be repeated to bring in the new deputy speaker.

  • The new speaker will supervise the election of the deputy speaker.


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IHC wants early ruling on pleas against Avenfield verdict

ISLAMABAD: While expressing its intention of not dragging the matter pertaining to the suspension of Avenfield properties reference verdict, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed the defence and prosecution sides to conclude their arguments on the petitions by Friday.

For the hearing of two other references pertaining to Al-Azizia Steel and Flagship Investment, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was brought to an accountability court in an armoured personnel carrier, which was criticised by his younger brother and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif who termed the treatment with the thrice-elected prime minister ‘unfair’ and asked party workers to reach the court at the next hearing.

At the high court, a division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb asked the defence and prosecution if any of them had the slightest doubt over the independence and integrity of the court or had apprehension about fair trial. In such a case, the judges said they were ready to recuse themselves from hearing the matter. When both sides expressed confidence in the bench, the court formally began the proceedings on the petitions filed by the Sharifs seeking suspension of the judgement in the Avenfield properties reference.

Ousted prime minister Nawaz brought to accountability court in armoured personnel carrier

In its July 6 verdict, the accountability court had awarded 10 years imprisonment to Nawaz Sharif, seven years imprisonment to his daughter Maryam Nawaz and one year imprisonment to his son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield properties reference.

Additional deputy prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi raised five objections on the petitions filed by the Sharif family seeking suspension of the judgement in the Avenfield properties reference. According to him, the appeals against the conviction were already fixed and the convict may seek release at least six months after detention, besides the petitioners did not cite relevant authorities as respondents in the petitions.

The court overruled the objections and permitted the counsel for the ex-prime minister to advance his arguments on the petitions.

The defence counsel argued that NAB did not ascertain the price of Avenfield apartments or the known sources of income of the Sharifs at the time of their purchase.

According to him, the properties belong to the son of the ex-PM. He said even if it was assumed that the Avenfield apartments were owned by his client for the sake of argument, the case against Mr Sharif could be proved only when the prosecution established the discrepancies between the known sources of his client’s income and the price of the said property.

He recalled that the joint investigation team head Wajid Zia admitted during the cross-examination that no direct evidence of Mr Sharif’s ownership of London properties was available. During the hearing, Mr Abbasi conceded that there was insufficient evidence with NAB to prove the charge of acquiring London apartments through corrupt practice.

The IHC then asked the prosecution if Maryam being dependent or benamidar of her father could be convicted under Section 9(a)(5) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) that was related to assets beyond means.

The court said him that since NAB did not file an appeal against the July 6 decision, it gave a clean chit to the Sharif family that they were not involved in corrupt practice or dishonesty and they were convicted only because they had failed to justify the Avenfield apartments.

While reading out the accountability court’s verdict, the IHC also asked about Maryam’s conviction on a charge of abetting her father for accumulating the assets beyond means when the only evidence against her was a forged trust deed.

The court raised similar questions regarding the conviction of her husband who was accused of signing the trust deed that according to NAB was meant to conceal the ownership of London properties.

The NAB prosecutor said it would be appropriate if the court would listen to the arguments of defence counsel Khawaja Haris and Amjad Pervaiz and that the prosecution would conclude its arguments later. Subsequently, the bench asked Mr Pervaiz to conclude his arguments by Aug 15 and directed the NAB prosecution to rebut them by the following day.

Nawaz produced in court

Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif was brought to the accountability court in an armoured personnel carrier for the hearing of the Al-Azizia and Flagship references against him on Monday.

Amid tight security, the authorities did not allow media persons to enter the federal judicial complex where both the references were heard simultaneously.

The star prosecution witness in the case and the JIT head, Wajid Zia, was cross-examined in the Al-Azizia reference.

The defence counsel, Khawaja Haris, did not appear before the accountability court as he had to pursue the petition seeking suspension of judgement against the Sharifs in Avenfield properties reference. Another defence counsel, Zaafir Khan, submitted an application in the court to get Mr Zia’s statement recorded in the Flagship reference. Opposing the plea, the prosecution insisted that his cross-examination be completed in the Al-Azizia reference first before recording his statement in the second reference.

The judge rejected the defence plea and deferred the hearing of the two references to Wednesday.

He also directed the authorities to ensure the presence of Nawaz Sharif, Wajid Zia and Mehboob Alam, the investigation officer in the Al-Azizia reference, at the next hearing.

Outside the federal judicial complex, journalists staged a sit-in and chanted slogans against the order of Islamabad’s deputy commissioner Hamza Shafqat to stop the media from witnessing the proceedings. During the protests, a police official fired into the air that his colleagues later called a ‘mistake’.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2018

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‘No war, no negotiations with the US,’ says Iran’s Khamenei

Iran’s supreme leader said on Monday there would be neither war nor negotiations with the United States, and that the ,country’s problems, were the result of government mismanagement more than renewed sanctions.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments add to the pressure on President Hassan Rouhani following a collapse in the currency and widespread protests over high prices and corruption.

They also appeared to rule out any hope of fresh talks with Washington, which US President Donald Trump had proposed after walking out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions.

“Beside sanctions, they are talking about war and negotiations… let me say a few words to the people: THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S.,” Khamenei said via his official Twitter account in English.

There was also a show of military resolve as Defence Minister Amir Hatami unveiled a next generation short-range ballistic missile and vowed to further boost the country’s missile capabilities.

State broadcaster IRIB said the new Fateh Mobin missile had “successfully passed its tests” and could strike targets on land and sea.

‘Problems are internal’

Despite renewed sanctions, many Iranians — including many at the highest levels of the establishment — see US hostility as only a contributing factor to long-standing problems inside the country.

“Today’s livelihood problems do not emerge from outside, they are internal,” Khamenei said in another tweet.

“Not that sanctions don’t have an impact, but the main factor is how we handle them,” he added.

Khamenei mirrored recent criticism of Rouhani’s economic management from senior members of the clergy and the Revolutionary Guards — particularly over the collapse of the rial, which has lost around half its value since April.

A fortnight ago, Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari told Rouhani to take “revolutionary actions to control prices and prevent the enormous increase in the price of foreign currency and gold,” in an open letter published by the conservative Tasnim news agency.

But Khamenei criticised conservatives who called for Rouhani’s resignation, saying they were inadvertently “playing into the hands of the enemy”.

“The government must stay in office and powerfully carry out its duties to resolve the problems,” he said.

Crackdown

Part of the strategy has been an effort to show action against Iran’s deeply entrenched corruption, which Khamenei once described as “a seven-headed dragon”.

The judiciary said Sunday it had arrested 67 people under a sweeping corruption crackdown and prevented 100 government employees from leaving the country.

Khamenei approved a written request from the head of the judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, to set up special revolutionary courts to try people quickly for economic crimes.

Some lawmakers have criticised the move, with high-profile MP Ali Motahari saying on Monday that parliament must not be “by-passed” when writing new rules.

With the nuclear deal crumbling, Rouhani finds himself with little to show for his five years in power and increasingly under fire from all sides.

Although the other parties to the agreement — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — have vowed to resist US sanctions, many foreign companies have already abandoned projects in Iran for fear of US penalties.

A significant cut in oil sales is also expected when the US reimposes a second phase of sanctions in November — with some analysts estimating a drop of 700,000 barrels per day from its current level of 2.3 million.

State news agency IRNA reported on Monday that Iran is offering oil and gas at a discount to Asian customers in a bid to retain sales.

Khamenei’s tweets followed a speech in Tehran, in which he described Trump’s offer of talks as “a dangerous game” and his administration as a “bullying, fraudulent regime”.

“Even if we ever — impossible as it is — negotiated with the US, it would never ever be with the current US administration,” he added.

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