Posts Tagged ‘protests’

Fight against India joins two Kashmir teens in life and death

On a hot day in August, members of a Kashmiri youth soccer team watched their 16-year-old captain, Saqib Bilal Sheikh, and goalkeeper Mudassir Rashid Parray, two years his junior, walk off the field toward a man on a motorcycle. The two teenagers were not seen again until months later, when they were returned to their hometown in body bags.

Dying with his teammate in an 18-hour firefight in December, Mudassir became the youngest fighter slain fighting Indian troops in a three-decade uprising in Kashmir. The Kashmiri struggle is drawing greater numbers of teenage boys and young men as New Delhi has increased its suppression of protest against Indian rule in the Himalayan region.

Maimoona Rashid holds the only photograph she has of her brother Mudassir Rashid Parray in Hajin village, north of Srinagar. ? AP

Maimoona Rashid holds the only photograph she has of her brother Mudassir Rashid Parray in Hajin village, north of Srinagar. ? AP

Anti-India unrest has been on the rise since a charismatic Kashmiri leader was killed in a 2016 gunbattle with Indian troops in southern Kashmir. Police say since then, hundreds of young Kashmiris have joined groups of fighters, leading to a surge in attacks on Indian troops and pro-India Kashmiri politicians in the region, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety.

Indian authorities have responded by stepping up operations against Kashmiri fighters and cracking down on civilian protests, often responding to stone-pelting with live bullets.

“Young people feel frustrated and pushed to the wall,” said Khurram Parvez, a programme coordinator for the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.

Saqib and Mudassir came from different economic backgrounds, united by their passion for soccer and their hometown, Hajin, which since the 1990s has seen brutal fighting between anti-India fighters and pro-India groups armed and funded by the Indian military.

Mehbooba shows a picture of her son Saqib Bilal Sheikh on a mobile phone as father Bilal Ahmed Shiekh, looks on while talking to the Associated Press in Hajin village, north of Srinagar.

Mehbooba shows a picture of her son Saqib Bilal Sheikh on a mobile phone as father Bilal Ahmed Shiekh, looks on while talking to the Associated Press in Hajin village, north of Srinagar.

The two boys watched as the peaceful summertime street marches that began in Kashmir in 2008 turned into battlegrounds.

Their parents had generally distanced themselves from the civilian uprising against India. But both families described their sons as martyrs, speaking to a common resentment of India in Kashmir as a violent occupying force.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, Ghulam Mohiuddin wipes his tears as he talks to the Associated Press about his grandson Saqib Bilal Sheikh in Hajin village.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, Ghulam Mohiuddin wipes his tears as he talks to the Associated Press about his grandson Saqib Bilal Sheikh in Hajin village.

Saqib, who was famous among his friends for appearing as an extra in the Bollywood film “Haider,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” set in Kashmir, grew up in a wealthy farming family, excelled at school and aspired to become an engineer.

From their two-story home in Hajin, Saqib’s elder brother, Aqib Bilal, played a video on his phone of his brother using an iron to straighten his thick, black hair. He flipped through one of his brother’s notebooks: mathematics exercises, physics notes and poetry.

In this Dec 26, 2018, photo, books belonging to Kashmiri boy Saqib Bilal Sheikh are stacked inside his room in Hajin village, north of Srinagar. — AP

In this Dec 26, 2018, photo, books belonging to Kashmiri boy Saqib Bilal Sheikh are stacked inside his room in Hajin village, north of Srinagar. — AP

One couplet, written in Urdu, read, “Everyone should participate in the freedom struggle; everyone’s dream is freedom but no one wants to fight and die for it!”

Unlike Saqib, Mudassir was skinny, soft-spoken and shy, and struggled with his studies.

He sometimes took menial jobs to help his sickly parents, younger sister and mentally disabled elder brother, his parents said from their modest home, some 500 metres away from the Bilals.

“At such a tender age, he was already our family’s backbone,” Mudassir’s father, Abdul Rashid Parray, said as he shuffled kangri, a traditional earthenware firepot filled with embers used in Kashmir to keep warm in the harsh winter months.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, Fareeda Rasheed, mother of Kashmiri boy Mudassir Rashid Parray grieves inside her house in Hajin village. — AP

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, Fareeda Rasheed, mother of Kashmiri boy Mudassir Rashid Parray grieves inside her house in Hajin village. — AP

“Police snatched my son from us,” Mudassir’s mother, Fareeda Begum, shouted in tears, surrounded by consoling women.

“He was fated to die on that day,” Parray said in response. “Thank God he died as a martyr.”

Mudassir’s cousin Ahmed, who gave only his middle name, fearing reprisal from the authorities, said police had detained and tortured Mudassir for over two weeks in 2017, listing him as an “over-ground worker,” a term Indian forces use to describe people who actively support the uprising.

Police denied detaining Mudassir, saying they only brought him into the station to counsel him as part of what police call a de-radicalisation campaign.

“We called Mudassir to dissuade him from participating in protests and stone-pelting,” said the area’s police chief, Sheikh Zulfkar Azad. “We counseled his father as well. But Mudassir had already been too radicalised.”

Conflict observers say last year’s death toll was the highest since 2009, including at least 260 Kashmiri fighters, 160 civilians and 150 Indian forces.

The United Nations has called for an independent international investigation into reports of rape, torture and extrajudicial killings in Kashmir. In a June report, the UN particularly criticised Indian troops for firing shotgun pellets at protesters, blinding and injuring hundreds of people, including children.

India’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the report as “fallacious.”

Indian-occupied Kashmir has seen several uprisings, including the ongoing armed movement launched in 1989 to demand independence or a merger with Pakistan. Since then, about 70,000 people mainly civilians and Kashmiri fighters as well as Indian soldiers and police have been killed.

The conflict has intensified since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 amid rising attacks by Hindu hard-liners against minorities, further deepening frustration with New Delhi’s occupation of Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharitya Janata Party-led government has toughened its stance against both Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists with policies that experts say are intended to project the BJP as strong and uncompromising.

“This all becomes perversely useful for the BJP in the run-up to elections” due this year, said Paul Staniland, a political science professor focused on South Asia at the University of Chicago.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, a Kashmiri man along with his daughter drives past a graffiti on the house of Mudassir Rashid Parray, referring to him as a martyr, in Hajin village, north of Srinagar.

In this Dec 26, 2018 photo, a Kashmiri man along with his daughter drives past a graffiti on the house of Mudassir Rashid Parray, referring to him as a martyr, in Hajin village, north of Srinagar.

Amid mounting public defiance against India’s occupation of Kashmir including publicly mourning dead fighters as martyrs, flouting curfews, producing resistance art and engaging in social media activism some former federal ministers and Hindu nationalists have questioned Modi’s Kashmir policy.

India is holding Kashmir “only by dint of the fact that we have our armed forces there,” India’s former finance and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha said during a recent panel discussion in New Delhi.

“Unfortunately, Kashmiri body bags and anti-Pakistan rhetoric sells well in India for gaining votes,” said Parvez, the human rights activist. “That’s exactly what Modi’s party is doing.”

Modi’s policies have also led to strengthening the resolve of those fighting for an end to India’s rule in Kashmir.

“How can any Kashmiri ever back India?” said Ali Mohammed, one of the Parrays’ neighbours.

In this Dec 26, 2018, photo, Bazila Bilal shows the trophies and medals of her brother Saqib Bilal Sheikh inside her home in Hajin village. — AP

In this Dec 26, 2018, photo, Bazila Bilal shows the trophies and medals of her brother Saqib Bilal Sheikh inside her home in Hajin village. — AP

“Supporting India is like supporting soldiers killing and blinding children and destroying our homes. Supporting India is just inhumane.”

On the evening of Dec 8, Indian troops surrounded a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Srinagar, and cornered Mudassir, Saqib and a Kashmiri commander, leading to a fierce gunfight. As the battle raged, residents tried to march to the site, hurling stones at the troops.

Troops destroyed at least seven homes in the fighting, blasting them with explosives and shells. By the end of the night-long clash, the boys and the Kashmiri commander were dead.

One bitterly cold December day, Saqib’s maternal Uncle Asim Aijaz visited a cemetery in Hajin reserved for martyrs, where over three dozen Kashmiri fighters and civilians killed in the armed conflict in the area are buried, to pray and light incense at the two boys’ common grave.

“This occupation must die, not our young kids,” he said.

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Sindh govt seeks review of SC orders on encroachments

KARACHI: The Sindh government has moved the Supreme Court with a plea to review its orders regarding removal of encroachments from amenity spaces and a request to stop the ongoing demolition exercise by the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) till a workable solution is prepared to address the issue of rehabilitation of affected people.

The Sindh government through the provincial advocate general filed an application in Islamabad on Friday, requesting the apex court to review its orders passed on Oct 26 and Nov 27. The court might take up the matter at its Karachi registry next week, AG Salman Talubuddin told Dawn.

Take a look: ,The ‘clean-up’ of Empress Market doesn’t have to be this way,

The application said that the court on Oct 26 directed top officers of the Cantonment Board Karachi (CBK) and the KDA along with the commissioner of Karachi and the inspector general of Sindh police to conduct a joint exercise to remove encroachments, particularly those on footpaths outside Empress Market and its surrounding areas, adding that pursuant to the Oct 26-27 order, this exercise was to serve as a model for the purpose of curbing general menace of encroachments in Karachi.

By the subsequent order dated Nov 27, it was said, the apex court directed the deputy commissioners of Karachi’s East and South districts, the magistrate concerned as well as the cantonment board and the Rangers to assist the city mayor in his efforts to clear encroachments from inside and outside the Empress Market and its surrounding areas, including Saddar and public footpaths.

This order further directed that encroachments in and around public parks must also be removed while the apex court also made it clear that no law and order situation be created while removing encroachments, stated the application.

It was further submitted that the demolition and removal of encroachments that began after the issuance of the SC orders had not been confined to Empress Market and its surrounding areas; rather it this was being conducted in a very expensive manner across the city; and much outside the confines of the court orders.

“This state of affairs has created a sense of dismay amongst the residents of Karachi who, as a result of the demolition, are being deprived of their sources of livelihood and, in some areas, of their dwelling spaces,” the application said, adding that while there had been a number of violent protests, the most significant protest took place in Mehran Town (under the KDA’s control) last week which resulted in destruction of public property by the protesters, arson and injuries to at least three officials of the KDA.

In addition to the very grave social and humanitarian issues that arose on daily basis as a result of the indiscriminate demolition, the likelihood of more incidents like that in Mehran Town was increasing, the Sindh government argued. Additionally, the properties of a significant number of persons, who claimed to be in possession of valid title documents, had also been demolished, which had caused unrest among the people, it added.

The Sindh government maintained that while it was committed to resolving the issue of encroachment, the SC’s indulgence was sought for carrying out the same in a systematic and sustainable manner so that any untoward law and order situation might be avoided.

Keeping in view the pressing issues arising as a result of the indiscriminate demolition, the Sindh government said that it had decided to reactivate the Lines Area Rehabilitation Project to rehabilitate the effected shopkeepers of Empress Market and its surrounding areas, adding that it was also exploring further avenues for rehabilitation of the affected persons.

However, it said, the speed at which these proposals could be made effective could not keep the pace with the speed at which demolition was taking place on daily basis.

Therefore, it pleaded the apex court to review/revisit its Oct 26 and Nov 27 orders and direct the forthwith cessation of the ongoing demolition exercise until such time, as the Sindh government and all other entities concerned prepare a workable solution to address the above-mentioned issues and place the same before the SC for its consideration.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

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Accountability court sends Shahbaz on judicial remand

An accountability court in Lahore on Thursday sent PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif to Kot Lakhpat jail on judicial remand in connection with the Ashiana Housing Scheme case.

Shahbaz will be produced before the court again on Dec 13.

Shahbaz, who was ,arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), on October 15, has had his remand extended multiple times — the last of which ,took place on Nov 28,.

That eight-day extension expired today, following which he was produced before the court, with the corruption watchdog seeking another extension of his physical remand.

Explore: ,A timeline of developments in the Ashiana housing ‘scam’,

The request for physical remand was, however, turned down by the court.

In today’s hearing, Shahbaz’s lawyer Amjad Pervez told the court that details of his client’s finances from 2011 to 2017 were clearly stated in the records of his tax return. He added that “tax laws did not require citizens to mention details of gifts”.

Furthermore, Shahbaz had withdrawn money from his personal account, which is not a crime under Pakistan’s law, Pervez said. He argued that there was no evidence of Shahbaz spending more than his income.

“It would have been a crime if [Shahbaz's expenses] had exceeded his tax returns,” Pervez said, urging the court to refuse NAB’s demand for extension of a physical remand.

Pervez said that Shahbaz was being accused of corruption because he is a politician and a former Punjab chief minister.

NAB prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua apprised the court of the investigation’s progress and requested a further 15-day extension in Shahbaz’s physical remand. According to NAB, Shahbaz had abused his powers during his time as the chief minister of Punjab.

Accountability judge Syed Najmul Hasan heard the case.

Protests and clashes outside court

As Shahbaz was produced before the court, a commotion took place outside the courtroom after police denied lawyers entry on the purported orders of Superintendent of Police Iqrar Haider. Contingents of female officers were also posted outside the courtroom as women tried to force their way in. The disturbance did not die down despite Shahbaz and Hamza Shahbaz’s appeals for calm during the hearing.

Meanwhile, several PML-N workers were arrested from outside the court building following clashes with security officials. Reacting to the arrests, PML-N Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed that the party’s “peaceful workers had been arrested” and demanded their immediate release.

She said that baton charge on “our peaceful protest is proof of the government’s incompetency”.

Punjab Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan accused PML-N leader Hamza for “masterminding” the clashes outside the court, adding that “the PML-N is on its way towards the policy of collision”.

Allegations against Shahbaz

According to a NAB notice sent to the former Punjab chief minister on January 16, 2018, Shahbaz is accused of ordering the cancellation of award of contract of Ashiana-i-Iqbal to successful bidder Chaudhry Latif and Sons, and engineering the award of the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, a proxy group of Paragon City Private Limited, which resulted in the loss of approximately Rs193 million.

He is also accused of directing the Punjab Land Development Company to assign the Ashiana-i-Iqbal project to the Lahore Development Authority, resulting in the award of contract to Lahore Casa Developers, causing a loss of Rs715m and the ultimate failure of the project.

NAB has also accused Shahbaz of directing the PLDC to award the consultancy services of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal project to Engineering Consultancy Services Punjab for Rs 192m while the actual cost was supposed to be Rs35m as quoted by Nespak.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - December 6, 2018 at 11:25 am

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Punjab govt to form new JIT for fresh Model Town probe

A five-member Supreme Court bench on Wednesday wrapped up a petition requesting a new joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the 2014 Model Town incident and ordered the Punjab government to reconstitute a probe team to investigate the case.

The larger bench ? constituted specially to debate a legal point today ? comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, and Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Faisal Arab and Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, decided to hold a hearing to determine whether a new JIT could be formed to probe the Model Town case which is still pending judgement.

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri was among those who presented their arguments on the matter in court today.

“My lawyers are present for legal questions,” he told the bench. “I will only present facts before the court.”

“No case is political for the court,” the chief justice remarked, ordering the lawyer behind the PAT chief to sit down.

Justice Khosa said that all statements would have to be recorded again.

“The trial has now come back to zero,” Qadri said. He added that after the new government was elected and the larger bench constituted, the victims were more hopeful about the chances of an independent probe.

The trial of the accused persons is ongoing in the anti-terrorism court, he said, adding that there is a trial on both the cases together.

“What FIR was the JIT formed on the basis of?” Justice Khosa asked, to which Qadri responded that the police first formed the JIT on their own FIR.

“Later it was formed on our FIR,” Qadri said. “The judicial commission gave its findings on the matter too.”

The commission report, which was made public a few months ago, brought a lot of facts to light, the PAT chief said, telling the chief justice that of the 157 witnesses in the case, 23 had recorded their statements already.

“It is important to take an overview of the situation before the incident as well, to know why it happened,” Qadri pointed out.

“To date our case has not been investigated,” he claimed. The PAT chief was of the opinion that the requirements of an independent investigation were not met.

He recalled that the FIR was only registered after the party protested for two months, and that no statements from victims, PAT, the Punjab IGP or any relevant secretary were recorded.

“Can it even be called an investigation?” he questioned, to which the chief justice said: “Your point is that the probe was not transparent.”

“If all people are presented before the JIT then the investigation can be better,” Qadri said.

The PAT chief said the Model Town affectees had wanted a JIT other than the one formed earlier by the previous Punjab government.

“Did you raise your objections over the members of the JIT?” the chief justice asked, to which Qadri responded that he had written to the police chief numerous times expressing his objections over the JIT.

“The court needs to assess whether the JIT was independent or not,” Justice Nisar said, at which Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer chimed in, reminding the court that it included members of agencies.

“You should have approached this court earlier. Instead, you paralysed everything ? along with the court ? through your protests. The protesters hung their old clothes on court premises. Is this respect for the court? The path of the judges was also stopped,” the top judge said.

“The people you used to go to are not bigger than the court,” Justice Nisar told Qadri. “The court’s doors have always been open. You went to those who had no ties to the case. You did not approach the appropriate legal authorities.”

Former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah’s statement to an earlier JIT was also shared in court. Qadri told the court that the removal of barriers was used as a pretext for halting PAT’s political campaign.

“We did not receive any notice regarding the removal of barriers,” the PAT chief said, adding that they were erected on court orders and removed the same way.

“Your point has been noted,” Justice Azmat Saeed told Qadri.

After the court heard his arguments, it asked the Punjab Advocate General Ahmed Awais what the provincial government’s stance on the formation of a new JIT was.

Awais responded that the Punjab government had no objections to the reconstitution of a JIT.

“If there are no objections, then get to work,” the chief justice directed.

“The court needs to determine whether such a JIT can be made or not,” Justice Khosa said.

“The law says that if the government deems it appropriate then it can form a JIT. We will have to see whether the court can also make a JIT,” Justice Khosa added. “The government has already formed a JIT in the case ? whether people are satisfied with it is another matter altogether. The trial court can summon people if it believes that is more appropriate.”

The court subsequently ordered the Punjab government to form a new JIT to conduct a fresh investigation, and directed that the statements of the remaining witnesses must be recorded.

“The Punjab government has adopted the clear stance that it has agreed to form a new JIT,” the court said, adding that it the probe team would be formed under Section 19 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The aim of the petitioner has, through this move, been fulfilled, the court noted, wrapping up the petition.

Qadri, while speaking to the media after the hearing, thanked the bench for the decision, saying all five judges had heard his arguments “with great interest”.

“We are convinced that a JIT must be made,” he said, adding that the provincial government had no reservations over the formation of a new JIT to conduct a fresh probe.

Model Town incident

On June 17, 2014, 14 people were killed and 100 others injured after police launched an assault on PAT supporters gathered outside the residence of Qadri in Model Town, Lahore.

A subsequent judicial inquiry report on the incident pointed fingers at then Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah and the Punjab police for what had transpired that day.

From a reading of the conclusions of ,Justice Baqar Najafi’s report,, it is understandable why the provincial government fought tooth and nail to prevent its release.

It is also understandable why its publication was preceded by a lengthy press conference by Rana Sanaullah in which he sought to highlight the report’s flaws, including what he called its reliance on “secondary evidence” and it, therefore, having no legal status whatsoever.

He kept referring to it as “defective”, and the Punjab government made sure the Justice Najafi report was accompanied online by a one-man committee’s report on a review of its flaws.

Delineating the chronology of events, Justice Najafi reported that then Punjab minister for parliamentary affairs Rana Sanaullah seemed to have already decided on June 16, 2014, that the PAT Chairman Qadri would not be allowed any opportunity to hold a long march from Rawalpindi to Lahore, as the latter had planned to do on June 23, 2014.

This single-minded determination of the minister to thwart Qadri’s political objectives ended up influencing the police’s heavy-handed strategy in dealing with the situation, which resulted in the needless loss of lives the very next day, Justice Najafi argued in the report.

Though Justice Najafi himself did not affix responsibility for the tragedy, he invited readers to review the facts and circumstances and “easily fix the responsibility of the unfortunate Minhajul Quran incident” themselves.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - December 5, 2018 at 2:25 pm

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TLP chief, aides to be tried for sedition, terrorism

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to try the detained leadership of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in special anti-terrorism courts on charges of sedition and terrorism for delivering anti-state speeches and inciting violence during their three-day protests against Christian woman Aasia Bibi’s acquittal in a blasphemy case.

Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said cases had already been registered in various police stations of Punjab against four TLP leaders, including its chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, and they would soon be produced in court after their formal arrests. He said the government had also decided that the TLP activists, who had damaged public and private properties on motorways, highways and in different parts of the country, would be tried on terrorism charges.

At present 2,899 TLP men were under protective custody in Punjab, 139 in Sindh and 126 in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the minister said. According to him, TLP office-bearers Khadim Rizvi and Pir Afzal Qadri have been booked under treason and terror charges at police stations in Lahore and Gujrat, respectively, while Inayatul Haq Shah and Hafiz Farooqul Hassan have been booked under similar charges in Rawalpindi.

Minister says over 3,000 under protective custody for past one week

Mr Chaudhry said the TLP activists during their protests damaged state and private properties, including vehicles, causing a Rs50 million loss. He regretted that the TLP workers during their protests targeted women and children and used abusive language against state institutions. He said even religious scholars and Ulema in a recent conference had denounced such protests in the name of Namoos-i-Risalat.

He said the state could not be run by allowing some individuals or groups to damage public property or hurling threats at parliamentarians, judges and army generals.

Mr Chaudhry said the TLP people would be tried under Section 124 of the Pakistan Penal Code and they could face “life imprisonment”. He said the people who were present at the scene of violence but did not participate in any crime would be released after seeking ‘heavy assurances’ that in future they should not be found near the people involved in such activities.

Referring to the recent crackdown against the TLP, he said all institutions and intelligence agencies had participated in the operation. He declared that the state would not remain silent on a protest that violated the rights of people and was beyond the ambit of the Constitution and law.

Mr Chaudhry thanked the opposition parties and the media for their support to the state during the crackdown. He said the government had also consulted the opposition parties over its decision to try the TLP leaders on sedition and terrorism charges. He said they had bitterness with the opposition on a number of issues, but they were together if an issue was related to the state.

He evaded repeated questions about the present status of the agreement that the government had signed with the TLP leaders last month in order to persuade them to end their protest. “It was written in the agreement that no one would challenge the Constitution and take law into their own hands. But they [TLP activists] did not implement it. It takes two to tango,” he replied.

Asked if the government could impose a ban on the TLP, the minister said the matter was before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Supreme Court, therefore, he could not make any comment. However, he added the government would certainly implement court decisions in letter and spirit.

The TLP activists have been under detention since Nov 23 when their leadership gave a fresh call for observing a ‘martyrs day’ on Nov 25 with the direction to gather at Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh for their onward march to Faizabad — the same venue where the group had staged a sit-in that had virtually paralysed Islamabad for three weeks last year.

The information minister had hinted at taking action against those involved in inciting violence and making seditious speeches during his recent visit to Karachi. He made it clear that the state would not ignore and forgive the acts of damaging the properties and delivering speeches against the government, the judiciary and the army. “The impression that this government is weak will be removed as we take further action,” he said in an apparent reference to the ongoing criticism of the government for entering into a deal with the TLP for ending the last month protests.

“The acts of damaging people’s properties and insulting the country’s political, military and judicial leaderships are unpardonable,” the minister had said, adding: “This is not a religious matter, it is related to rebellion. Should the state ignore mutiny? The credibility of a state that ignores rebellion becomes questionable. Therefore, we cannot turn a blind eye to it.”

The state would not forget and forgive the kind of speeches made against judges of the apex court, the army and the government, he asserted, clarifying that they had resolved the issue temporarily ‘under a strategy’ in order to defuse tension and open the blocked roads in towns and cities.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2018

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TLP leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi booked under treason, terrorism charges: information minister

Information minister Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday announced that Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been booked under treason and terrorism charges at Lahore’s Civil Lines police station.

The minister was briefing the media regarding ,last week’s countrywide crackdown against TLP leaders and workers, at a press conference in Islamabad.

Information minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

Information minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

Legal action has also been initiated against other top leaders of the religiopolitical party, Chaudhry announced. Pir Afzal Qadri has been booked under treason and terrorism charges in Gujrat, Inayatul Haq Shah has been booked under treason and anti-terrorism laws in Rawalpindi, and Hafiz Farooqul Hassan has been booked under similar charges as well.

Additionally, Chaudhry said all the suspects who were directly involved in the destruction of state property — which caused a loss of Rs50 million — and misbehaving with citizens during the TLP-led protests are being booked under terrorism charges at various police stations.

On November 23, Rizvi was ,taken into ‘protective custody’, by police from Lahore as law enforcement agencies launched a massive crackdown against workers of TLP and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA).

Chaudhry revealed that a total of 2,899 people were taken into protective custody from across Punjab while 139 persons from Sindh and 126 from Islamabad were also taken into custody. If convicted by courts, the suspects could be sentenced to life in prison under sedition and terrorism charges, he said.

However, he added that a “large number of people” among the more than 3,000 taken into custody were not directly involved in the violence and therefore, they will be released after taking their assurances not to participate in such activities in the future.

The minister reiterated that the government would allow protests that protect the rights of people but that “the state will not remain silent on a protest that violates the rights of people and is beyond the ambit of the Constitution and law.”

The TLP through its protests — starting with its 20-day sit-in at Faizabad interchange in November last year — caused harm to people’s lives and properties despite government efforts to convince the party to protest peacefully, the minister said.

A joint operation was thus launched against the party in which all institutions and intelligence agencies participated, Chaudhry said. He thanked the opposition parties and the country’s media “who went out of their way” to support the state during the crackdown.

Last week’s crackdown against TLP had come ahead of Rizvi’s call to party members to observe martyrs’ day on November 25. He had asked workers and supporters to gather at Faizabad in the federal capital — the same venue where the party had staged a weeks-long sit-in last year that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

Rizvi and his fellow party leaders are accused of staging violent protests, passing incendiary remarks against the judiciary and the prime minister as well as provoking the military to stage a mutiny — all in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case.

‘No prohibition on movement of MNAs’

Answering a question regarding the arrest of MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, the information minister said the two lawmakers belonging to the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) were stopped from flying to Dubai because a first information report (FIR) had been registered against them in Swabi.

“There is an FIR against the [two] MNAs in which they have not obtained bail,” he said, adding that there is no prohibition on the two leaders’ movement.

Chaudhry said the PTM leaders should obtain bail in the case against them in Swabi.

While ,talking to reporters, at Bacha Khan International Airport on Friday, Dawar had said they were told that their names were on the Exit Control List because of a public meeting held in Swabi some time ago.

The MNA had claimed that they had already obtained bail in that case and challenged it in a court of law.

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‘Were you in your senses’: SC censures GB minister for misbehaving with Islamabad airport officials

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday censured the Gilgit-Baltistan Tourism Minister Fida Hussain for his misbehaviour with an Islamabad airport official earlier this month, and ordered him to submit a written apology for his conduct.

The chief justice had taken notice of Hussain’s alleged misbehaviour on Nov 16 after a video showing a man shoving an official at Islamabad International Airport and burning his own luggage in protest against a delay in his flight went viral on social media.

Justice Nisar, who is heading the three-judge Supreme Court bench hearing the case, summoned Islamabad police chief Amir Zulfiqar Khan so that a case could be registered against Hussain.

However, the court later wrapped up the matter after accepting the apology submitted by the minister.

“The reason for forgiving [you] is our immense love for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan,” CJP Nisar told Hussain, warning him to be cautious in the future.

In his written apology, the minister said he was ashamed over his actions and would accept whatever punishment the court handed to him.

However, the SC bench told him that he did not need to apologise to the court because he hadn’t violated any orders, but that he should amend his apology to directly address the airport official who had been “mocked”.

The top judge earlier took the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad to task, asking him why he hadn’t appeared in court since he was transferred to the post on Nov 2. “Leave your pride and arrogance at home when you arrive here,” he said. “This is a court.”

CJP Nisar informed IGP Khan that misconduct had taken place at the airport and asked him what action had been taken.

IGP Khan told the chief justice that the incident did not fall within the jurisdiction of the capital police, but the Punjab police, to which Justice Nisar asked, “Where is the attorney general Punjab?”

The CJP said that the court would hear the issue as a suo motu case and directed the attorney general Punjab to look into the matter.

‘Do you have no shame?’

Prior to the IGP’s arrival in court, the CJP took Hussain to task and ordered the video of the incident be played in the courtroom.

“Did you push [the airport official]?” the judge questioned the minister. “Are you educated?”

The minister admitted that he had pushed the airport official.

“Were you in your senses at the time?” CJP Nisar asked, wondering how Hussain had dared to interfere with official affairs.

The minister admitted that he had pushed the official but it was not due to ill intentions. “I did push him, but there is a story behind it,” Hussain said.

“Is this how one behaves when a flight is delayed?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the minister.

The CJP asked him: “Are you a thug [badmaash]? Do you have no shame over pushing [the airport official]?” He remarked that a poor man had been mocked.

Hussain responded that he was ashamed of his actions and asked the court to forgive him, to which the chief justice said the minister would not be granted forgiveness, and that a case would be registered against him immediately.

Protests against delay at Islamabad Airport

A Gilgit-bound Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-607 scheduled for 7am on Nov 16 was first delayed due to technical reasons and cancelled later that day due to bad weather.

Videos of an angry passenger protesting against the delay went viral on social media that day.

The passenger, reported by the videographer to be Hussain, set fire to his possessions in protest over the delay, including “an expensive jacket”.

When a fire extinguisher was brought to put the flames out, the passenger kicked it away in anger, as seen in the video.

Furthermore, when an airport security official approached him to address the matter, the passenger was seen holding his arms up and repeating: “Go bring handcuffs.”

In another video, the same man, reportedly the tourism minister, was seen arguing with a white-uniformed official.

“The weather is bad you say. The weather is bad for one flight and not the other?” he exclaimed incredulously before proceeding to ask the white-uniformed man his designation.

“I am the arrival in charge,” responded the man, introducing himself.

At this the vexed passenger’s annoyance turned to hostility, and he asked him to bring the manager of operations. He shoved the arrival in charge hard, which caused him to skid across the airport floor and stumble.

Later that day, the PIA spokesperson said CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik talked to GB Law Minister Aurangzeb Khan, who was also going to travel on the flight, and told him that the flight had been cancelled due to bad weather.

He said the passengers were moved to hotels for the night and assured that a special flight would be operated for them on Nov 17.

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Jury out on PTI’s performance amid claims, counterclaims

ISLAMABAD: A furious opposition in parliament, bailout package from Saudi Arabia, TLP protests, U-turns, re-emergence of terrorism, peace overtures to India and its much-hyped austerity drive amid economic upheaval were some of the main features of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government ,during its first 100 days, — a period which is completing today.

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

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

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

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

Opposition sees only ‘lies, U-turns’ while PTI boasts unprecedented achievements

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

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

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

Parliament in a limbo

The delay in the formation of committees of the National Assembly has almost made the parliament non-functional. NA Speaker Asad Qaiser, who has been struggling to run the house smoothly, is on a tight rope because of the ongoing tussle between the PTI and the opposition parties over the issue of the chairmanship of all powerful Public Accounts Committee. He has stopped the process of the formation of parliamentary committees due to the opposition’s threat to boycott all panels if the ruling party does not offer PAC chairmanship to Opposition Leader and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif as per “parliamentary traditions.”

Due to having no legislative work to do, almost all previous sittings of the lower house of the parliament witnessed debates and speeches on petty matters with members continuing their corruption tirade against each other, causing uproars and even scuffles that resulted into a ban on the entry of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry to the upper house of the parliament by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani due to former’s refusal to tender an apology for making “personal attacks” on opposition leaders on the floor of the parliament.

While mentioning the U-turns taken by the government, the opposition parties — mainly the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — remind the PTI that after the first cabinet meeting, the information minister had declared that the prime minister would not undertake any foreign visit in the first three months and would only travel in commercial flights, but he had already undertaken the visits of Saudi Arabia, China, the UAE and Malaysia and that too, on special aircraft.

According to the opposition, the prime minister has also taken U-turn on his promise of not seeking loans from abroad by extending begging bowls before Saudi Arabia, China and the UAE.

Defending his actions, the prime minister, during a recent talk with media reporters, said that taking U-turns was a sign of leadership. This statement provided another opportunity to his critics to point their guns towards him, forcing a number of PTI stalwarts and loyalists to come in the field to defend their leader by making different interpretations of Imran Khan’s statement.

The government also had to face the challenge of handling the protest by the religio-political groups, including the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s verdict in Aasia Bibi case. The government’s decision to strike a deal with the protesters who had even used abusive and seditious language against the state institutions drew ire of the opposition as well as the social circles.

Opposition strikes

The PML-N and the PPP, in separate statements on Sunday, termed “the 100 days of the PTI government a tale of 100 U-turns and 100 lies” and criticises it for hike in prices of oil, gas and electricity.

Instead of talking about government policies, the main focus of the main opposition parties, however, remained Aleema Khan, the sister of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had recently regularised her foreign property after paying fine.

“The main achievement of the PTI government in its 100 days is to give an NRO to Aleema Khan,” said both PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb and PPP Information Secretary Dr Nafeesa Shah in their separate statements.

“When will Imran Khan tweet about Aleema Khan’s illegal assets? When will the money looted by Aleema Khan be brought back to the country by the PM who used to shout claims of bringing every penny of looted public money and evaded tax back to Pakistan?,” asked the PML-N spokesperson.

“From the miracle of the PM’s visit to Saudi Arabia on a camel to the millions of jobs and houses built on Google, (and) the illegal occupation of the PM on government land in Banigala, those who vowed committing suicide instead of borrowing went begging from country to country, exposing the government’s revolutionary economic turnaround policy,” said Ms Aurangzeb, adding that “the government has nothing to show for these 100 days other than their incompetence and inability.”

“Every word said in these 100 days was a lie, every promise a farce and every claim a hopeless failure, during which merit was murdered and bureaucracy politicised and pressured for favours,” she alleged.

Similarly, the PPP’s Dr Shah said first 100 days of the PTI government had set an example of “bad governance.”

Govt defended

On the other hand, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said theirs was the only government which had set targets for first 100 days. He said no scandal had surfaced during the first 100 days, making it the “first clean government” of the country.

Responding to the opposition’s allegations regarding the prime minister’s sister, Mr Chaudhry said Aleema Khan had nothing to do with the government or the PTI and if the opposition believed that she had committed some offence, they could take legal course against her.

The minister accused the opposition of making the parliament “non-functional” by turning the PAC chairman issue into a controversy. He, however, said the government had already formed a parliamentary committee on alleged polls rigging, besides initiating steps for reviewing the accountability act.

He admitted that the prime minister could not give much time to the parliament because he had to undertake foreign visits due to the economic mess inherited by the government.

Mr Chaudhry said the prime minister would take the nation into confidence over the government’s achievements, in a function to be held at the Convention Centre in Islamabad on Nov 29.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2018

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TLP head Khadim Rizvi taken into ‘protective custody’, scores of workers arrested in crackdown

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi was taken into “protective custody” by police from Lahore as law enforcement agencies launched a massive crackdown against workers of TLP and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA) on Friday night.

“Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into protective custody by police and shifted to a guest house,” said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry late Friday night, confirming reports of the incendiary leader’s arrest ,via Twitter,. High/red alert had been generated to heighten the security in the provincial capital.

The crackdown came ahead of Rizvi’s call to party members to observe martyrs’ day on November 25 (Sunday). He had asked workers and supporters to gather at Faizabad in the federal capital — the same venue where the party had ,staged a weeks-long sit-in, last year that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

Law enforcement personnel on Friday night ,also took in custody TLYRA head Dr Asif Ashraf Jalali,.

Furthermore, according to security sources, TLP patron Pir Afzal Qadri was also arrested the same night from Gujrat.

Soon after the news of the arrest of the clerics spread, hundreds of activists of the two parties took to the streets and blocked many roads for traffic.

A constable was seriously injured at Multan Road where the violent activists clashed with police.

Following the unrest and severe clashes, Rangers reached Lahore, taking control of city’s major roads. Prior to the agitation, a police officer said, hundreds of trained police commandos and personnel of the anti-riot force were dispatched to the Multan Road after the information that violent activists of the TLP had held a senior police officer — Iqbal Town SP Syed Ali — hostage along with his guards.

Mass arrests

The district authorities in Rawalpindi issued detainment orders for TLP divisional leader Inayatul Haq. According to the notification, Haq will be detained in a jail for 15 days.

According to a correspondent in Sialkot, police arrested Sufi Mohammad Rafiq, district emir of the TLP, and four main activists of the party, identified as Saleem Shahid, Mehbub Hassan, Nasir Dogar and Syed Kaleemul Hassan Shah.

On Saturday, security officials said that since last night, at least 30 of the party’s workers have been arrested from various parts of the capital.

Around 100 police personnel have been deployed at Faizabad interchange.

According to police sources, 143 TLP workers have so far been arrested from Rawalpindi, 18 from Attock, 55 from Jhelum and five from Chakwal, taking the total arrests from the four cities to 221.

More than a hundred arrests were also made in Karachi, according to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) East Azfar Mahesar, who visited Numaish Chowrangi to brief police officials.

According to a senior police official, “a total of 154 TLP workers were apprehended from different areas of the city”.

Among them, 53 were arrested from district East, 34 from Korangi, 31 from Malir, 17 from Central and 19 from district West. At least 27 other workers were detained by Pakistan Rangers Sindh who were later on handed over to the police for further legal action.

‘Nothing to do with Aasia Bibi protest’

“The action was prompted by TLP’s refusal to withdraw its call for protest on November 25. It’s to safeguard public life, property and order,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry shared on Twitter on Friday night.

The arrest “has to do nothing with Asia Bibi case”, Chaudhry said, adding the TLP had insisted on coming to Rawalpindi “refusing [the government's] proposal for alternative arrangements”.

“The TLP has become a continuous threat to the life and properties of the citizens and is doing politics under the guise of religion … the situation is fully under control, people should remain peaceful and fully cooperate with authorities,” he said in a ,tweet in Urdu,.

The minister said the government “did it[s] best” to convince the party against convening for the protest, “but they refused every offer and started to provoke violence”.

“State is responsible to defend finality and respect of Holy Prophet PBUH. Law shall take its course and it cannot be left to individuals,” Chaudhry concluded.

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Reports of arrest

Prior to Chaudhry’s tweets, a family member of Rizvi had confirmed to DawnNewsTV that the TLP chief had been taken into custody. “He was arrested from his hujra in Lahore,” a family member of Rizvi ,told Samaa TV,.

Rizvi’s son, Saad, while ,talking to 7 News, said along with his father, all district leaders of TLP had been arrested.

The Punjab information and law ministers, however, had said they did not know about any such action being taken against Rizvi.

Examine: ,Is TLP here to stay?,

TLP leader Pir Afzal Qadri in a video message had corroborated that police “was raiding [their] mosques in order to arrest leaders”.

Aasia Bibi protests

The reports of the arrests come weeks after the TLP led ,three-day protests across the country, against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman whose blasphemy conviction was ,overturned by the Supreme Court, at the end of last month.

The demonstrators during the protests had termed the chief justice “liable to be killed” and had called for a rebellion against the army chief “because he is a non-Muslim”.

This had led to Prime Minister Imran Khan ,issuing a stern warning to the agitators, and telling them: “Do not clash with the state”.

“Do not take us [to a situation] where we are compelled to take [strict] action,” the prime minister had said in a televised speech.

Two days later, however, the TLP had agreed to end the nationwide protest sit-ins after ,reaching an agreement with the federal and Punjab governments, under which the latter agreed to initiate the legal process to put Aasia Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and refrain from objecting to review of the court judgement.

The TLP, in turn, had only offered an apology “if it hurt the sentiments of or inconvenienced anyone without reason”.

One year to Faizabad

In November 2017, TLP workers demanding the resignation of then law minister Zahid Hamid had staged a weeks-long sit-in at the Faizabad interchange that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

On November 21 of the same month, the apex court had taken notice of the sit-in and directed the defence and interior secretaries to submit a detailed report on the matter.

Days later, the then PML-N government had launched against the protesters an operation which, when failed, had forced the authorities to cave and Hamid to resign.

The Supreme Court on Thursday had ,reserved its verdict, on the suo motu case over the Faizabad sit-in. The reserved verdict pertains to a variety of issues stemming from TLP’s infamous sit-in, including its party registration as well as its violent protest.

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TLP Chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi taken into ‘protective custody’, information minister announces

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into “protective custody” by police from Lahore, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced late on Friday night.

“Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into protective custody by police and shifted to a guest house,” the minister said in a ,tweet,.

“The action was prompted by TLP’s refusal to withdraw its call for protest on November 25. It’s to safeguard public life, property and order.”

The arrest “has to do nothing with Asia Bibi case”, Chaudhry said. He said the TLP had insisted on coming to Rawalpindi “refusing [the government's] proposal for alternative arrangements”.

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“The TLP has become a continuous threat to the life and properties of the citizens and is doing politics under the guise of religion… the situation is fully under control, people should remain peaceful and fully cooperate with authorities,” he said in a ,tweet in Urdu,.

The minister said the government “did it[s] best” to convince the party against convening for the protest, “but they refused every offer and started to provoke violence”.

“State is responsible to defend finality and respect of Holy Prophet PBUH. Law shall take its course and it cannot be left to individuals,” Chaudhry concluded.

,,

A family member of Rizvi earlier confirmed to DawnNewsTV that the TLP chief had been taken into custody late on Friday. “He was arrested from his hujra in Lahore,” a family member of Rizvi ,told Samaa TV,.

Rizvi’s son, Saad, while ,talking to 7 News, said along with his father, all district leaders of TLP have been arrested.

The crackdown comes ahead of Rizvi’s call to party members to observe martyrs’ day on November 25. He had asked workers and supporters to gather at Faizabad in the federal capital.

When contacted earlier, the Punjab information and law ministers had said they did not know about any such action being taken against Rizvi.

Examine: ,Is TLP here to stay?,

According to police sources, a large-scale operation was started against TLP leaders in several major cities. TLP leader Pir Afzal Qadri in a video message corroborated that police was raiding their mosques in order to arrest leaders.

At least 30 of the party’s workers have been arrested from various parts of the capital, the sources told DawnNewsTV.

Around a 100 police personnel have been deployed at Faizabad interchange, where the TLP had last year staged a 20-day long sit-in.

According to police sources, 33 TLP workers have been arrested from Rawalpindi, nine from Attock, nine from Jhelum and eight from Chakwal. Reports say raids are still being carried out to arrest more activists.

The district authorities in Rawalpindi have issued detainment orders for TLP divisional leader Inayatul Haq. According to the notification, Haq will be detained in a jail for 15 days.

The reports of the arrests come weeks after the TLP led ,three-day protests across the country, against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman whose blasphemy conviction was ,overturned by the Supreme Court, at the end of last month.

The demonstrators during the protests had termed the chief justice “liable to be killed” and had called for a rebellion against the army chief “because he is a non-Muslim”.

This had led to Prime Minister Imran Khan ,issuing a stern warning to the agitators, and telling them: “Do not clash with the state”.

“Do not take us [to a situation] where we are compelled to take [strict] action,” the prime minister had said in a televised speech.

Two days later, however, the TLP had agreed to end the nationwide protest sit-ins after ,reaching an agreement with the federal and Punjab governments, under which the latter agreed to initiate the legal process to put Aasia Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and refrain from objecting to review of the court judgement.

The TLP, in turn, had only offered an apology “if it hurt the sentiments of or inconvenienced anyone without reason”.

In November 2017, TLP workers demanding the resignation of then law minister Zahid Hamid had staged a weeks-long sit-in at the Faizabad interchange that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

On November 21 of the same month, the apex court had taken notice of the sit-in and directed the defence and interior secretaries to submit a detailed report on the matter.

Days later, the then PML-N government had launched against the protesters an operation which, when failed, had forced the authorities to cave and Hamid to resign.

The Supreme Court yesterday ,reserved its verdict, on the suo motu case over the Faizabad sit-in. The reserved verdict pertains to a variety of issues stemming from TLP’s infamous sit-in, including its party registration as well as its violent protest.

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War against terrorism, militancy not over yet: Bajwa

MULTAN / RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that war against terrorism and militancy is not over yet.

The army chief’s remarks came during a visit to Multan Garrison on Friday where he witnessed training demonstration on combat readiness by an armour formation of the strike corps.

Take a look: ,‘Engineered protests’ won’t be allowed, says army chief ,

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Gen Bajwa underlined that an army deterred war through professional competence and readiness.

Army chief confirms death sentences to 11 hardcore terrorists

During his visit, the army chief interacted with officers of Multan Garrison and shared his thoughts on the security situation of the country, challenges and the response, the ISPR added.

“After kinetic operations, we are now into the phase of stability operations. War against terrorism and militancy is not over yet,” the ISPR quoted the army chief as saying. “Besides kinetic efforts we have to take on measures to address the root causes while staying cognisant of inimical forces and foreign hostile agendas,” he added.

Gen Bajwa said that within the folds of national action plan, the country should support national focus on socioeconomic development so that the people of Pakistan reaped dividends of improving security.

He said some elements were wittingly or unwittingly trying to pull the country back into confrontation. “The State shall not let them do it whether on the name of religion, ethnicity or any other pretext,” he said, adding that peace, stability and progress of the country was contingent upon rule of law by all.

Meanwhile, the army chief confirmed death sentences awarded to 11 hardcore terrorists, who were involved in heinous offences related to terrorism.

According to the ISPR, the terrorists were involved in attacking armed forces, law enforcement agencies, killing of an innocent civilian and destruction of an educational institution.

The convicted terrorists, it said, were involved in the killings of a total of 26 people — one civilian and 25 armed forces/security personnel — and injuring 22 others. Arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession.

According to the ISPR, these convicts were members of proscribed organisations. They were tried by special military courts and were awarded death sentences. The courts also handed down imprisonment to 22 convicts.

Details of conviction provided by the ISPR are as follows:

Anwar Salam was involved in an attack on the armed forces which resulted in the death of Major Ziaul Haq, Subedar Ali Asghar, Havildar Muhammad Afzal, Havildar Muhammad Bashir and Lance Naik Muhammad Anwaiz.

He was also found involved in the kidnapping of Lt Col (retired) Khaqan Afzal for ransom. The convict confessed to his crimes before a judicial magistrate and the trial court, which sentenced him to death.

Irfanul Haq was involved in abetting terrorist commander Mufti Meraj Uddin in the kidnapping of Capt Najam Riaz Raja and Capt Jonaid Khan along with two soldiers. The officers/soldiers were later slaughtered by the terrorists.

He was also found in possession of explosives. The convict was awarded death sentence after he confessed to his offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

Sahibzada was found involved in attacks on armed forces/law enforcement agencies personnel, which resulted in the death of Naib Subedar Muhammad Hanif along with four soldiers, a civilian and injuries to eight others. He was also involved in destruction of Government Primary School, Langar (Swat). In addition, he was found in possession of firearms/explosives as well.

The convict confessed to his offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court. He was awarded the death sentence.

Nadir Khan, Izat Khan and Imtiaz Ahmed were involved in attacks on armed forces personnel, resulting in the death of a junior commissioned officer along with two soldiers and injuries to two others.

They were also found in possession of firearms and explosives. These convicts were sentenced to death after they confessed before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

Ameer Zeb and Badshah Iraq were involved in attacks on armed forces/law enforcement agencies personnel, which resulted in the death of three soldiers and injuries to nine others.

Arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession. The convict confessed to their offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court. They were awarded the death sentence.

Izhar Ahmed was involved in attacks on law enforcement agencies, which resulted in the death of Constable Ayub Khan and Constable Islam Gul. He was also found in possession of explosives.

He was sentenced to death after he confessed before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

Akbar Ali was involved in attacks on armed forces personnel, which resulted in the death of Sepoy Asif Mehmood and injuries to an officer and two soldiers. He was also found in possession of explosives.

The convict confessed to his crimes before a judicial magistrate and the trial court. He was awarded death sentence.

Mohammad Imran was found involved in attacks on law enforcement agencies, which resulted in the death of a soldier. He was also found in possession of firearms.

He was sentenced to death after confessing to the offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2018

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SC reserves verdict on TLP’s Faizabad sit-in after censuring stakeholders in final hearing

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on the suo motu case over Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) ,Faizabad sit-in, after dishing out severe criticism to the attorney general, media regulator and other stakeholders in the case’s final hearing.

The reserved verdict pertains to a variety of issues stemming from TLP’s infamous sit-in from last year, including its party registration, its violent protest as well as the role of government institutions and regulators in the buildup, on the day and in the aftermath of the protest.

As the case’s hearing resumed today, Justice Qazi Faez Isa was livid to know that Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan was not in court and instead attending a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee.

“What business does the attorney general have with economics?” Justice Isa asked. “Is this a joke? Is the attorney general a servant of the prime minister?

“If the prime minister had called him, he could have declined. Did the prime minister ask to adjourn the hearing? Is the prime minister above the Supreme Court?”

“For the attorney general, Pakistan is not important enough.”

After the attorney general made it to the court, he told the court “the TLP could be deprived of its election symbol”.

“Without the symbol they will not be able to contest elections,” he said.

Justice Isa told the attorney general that the TLP is registered in the name of a Dubai-based person, possibly wondering if the case could fall under the dual nationality rule.

“Nicop (National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis) is for Pakistanis living abroad,” the attorney general explained. “A person holding a Nicop is not a dual national.”

“Should a Nicop holder not have been questioned about dual nationalities?” the judge asked, to which the attorney general replied: “In my opinion, he should have been questioned.”

The attorney general further said that while “peaceful protests is everyone’s right, action can be taken where threats are issued and provocations are made”.

Attorney general, Pemra cop SC criticism again

Earlier, the judge had pondered issuing a contempt-of-court notice to the attorney general for not appearing before the court. “We will give an observation against him. Let’s see what the role of a attorney general is in the Constitution.”

“If you are not serious at pursuing this case then let us know,” Justice Isa told the deputy attorney general. “You people should be ashamed of yourselves. Had I been the attorney general, I would have resigned.”

“Every person is the servant of the state,” Justice Isa reminded those in attendance. “The attorney general and the ISI, too.”

The attorney general had been criticised by the SC bench in the ,case’s last hearing, as well over his absence.

“This is not a joke,” Justice Isa had remarked, wondering what other case could be more important than the one which relates to “Pakistan being shut down”.

“The attorney general is answerable because he is paid from the public’s taxes.

In the same hearing, the court had rejected each one of the reports submitted by the Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Pemra).

The ISI and Pemra submitted new reports in the court today.

In the last hearing, the SC bench had grilled Pemra Chairman Muhammad Saleem Baig regarding a blackout of TV news channels that had taken place during the sit-in last year.

Pemra counsel Hafiz Ahsan denied in court today that the regulator had issued instructions to cable operators to shut down Geo. “The cable operators were simply told to follow the law,” he said.

“[Then] what disciplinary measures were taken against the cable operators?” Justice Isa enquired, to which the Pemra counsel said that fines up to Rs1 million could be imposed.

“I am writing that nothing was done,” a dissatisfied Justice Isa responded.

“We are now living in a controlled media state. ‘Shut this channel, shut that channel’ … have we now become a nation of liars? Channels were shut from morning till evening, yet the Pemra did not know. No one felt any remorse.”

‘Pemra’s report is deceitful’

The judge labelled Pemra’s report as deceitful, sarcastically calling it “yet another honour” for the regulator.

“The channels that praise you can go on, but the rest you shut down; is this freedom of speech? Justice Isa asked the Pemra chair. “You want to make the channels bow down so they say what you want them to say. Is this Pakistan? Did we gain independence for this?”

Justice Isa also remarked that the Pemra chairman did not have the courage to enforce the law.

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Pakistan condemns ‘brutal assassination’ of Hafizullah Mir in Indian occupied Kashmir

The Foreign Office on Wednesday strongly condemned the ,brutal assassination of Hafizullah Mir,, a top political leader of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat — a group that challenges India’s sovereignty over Kashmir — at his home in the southern Achabal area.

FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal, via Twitter, condemned the “continuing Indian atrocities in the occupied territory, including the killing of three Kashmiris and injuries to eight others, including three girls, yesterday”.

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?He appreciated the statement of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), conveying firm support to Kashmiri people.

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Police on Tuesday said gunmen opened fire on Hafizullah Mir at his home in the southern Achabal area. Mir died on the spot while his wife was wounded in the attack, said police and residents.

Political leaders and armed groups called it an assassination and blamed Indian authorities for it, while police called the killing the handiwork of militants. Mir was released from jail last month after two years’ imprisonment.

Tehreek-i-Hurriyat had said recently that Mir was receiving death threats over the telephone.

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

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Regime forces seize last IS pocket in southern Syria

BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces on Saturday took back control of the militant Islamic State (IS) group’s last holdout in southern Syria after months of fighting, a war monitor said.

In another IS pocket in eastern Syria, meanwhile, air strikes by the US-led coalition killed 43 people, mostly civilians, the monitor said.

Regime forces retook Tulul al-Safa, between the provinces of Damascus and Sweida, “after IS fighters withdrew from it and headed east into the Badia desert”, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Regime forces have been fighting the militants in the area since a deadly July attack on the Druze minority in Sweida province.

In recent weeks, air strikes on the Tulul al-Safa pocket had increased and hundreds of regime fighters were sent as reinforcements, the Syrian Observatory said.

Air strikes by US-led coalition kill over 40 in another IS pocket

The jihadists’ withdrawal was likely “under a deal with the regime forces” after weeks of encirclement and air raids, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

State news agency SANA reported the Syrian forces had made “a great advance in Tulul al-Safa” and said they were combing the area for any remaining militants.

In the July 25 attack, IS killed more than 250 people, most of them civilians, in a wave of suicide bombings, shootings, and stabbings across Sweida province.

The jihadists also kidnapped around 30 people — mostly women and children — during the deadliest assault on Syria’s Druze community in the seven-year civil war.

Twenty-three of the hostages have since returned home, while the remainder appear to have died or been executed by the militants.

Air strikes

Seventeen children were among 36 IS family members killed in the village of Abu Husn in Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border, the Observatory said.

Another seven bodies had not yet been identified as either civilians or IS fighters, it said.

The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the militants from the pocket around Abu Husn.

“It’s the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the IS pocket” in September, the Observatory chief said.

The coalition has repeatedly said it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties.

“The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions,” spokesman Sean Ryan said this week.

IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled. But the jihadist group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor.

The SDF in September announced an assault to oust the militants from the eastern pocket, which includes the town of Hajin and the village of Al-Shaafa.

The alliance made slow advances until last month when tough militant resistance pushed the SDF out of the whole of the IS pocket.

Following the setback, hundreds of Kurdish fighters were deployed to the area’s outskirts as reinforcements. But the SDF then put the offensive on hold to protest Turkish shelling of Kurdish militia positions in northern Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish militia leading the SDF to be “terrorists”, while its Nato ally the United States has depended on them to fight IS in Syria.

On Sunday, the SDF said it was resuming its offensive against IS after “intensive contacts” with the coalition and “strong diplomatic activity” to defuse the crisis.

Since 2014, the coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher.

Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018

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TLP hasn’t provided poll expenses’ details, ECP tells SC

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) — the party behind protest demonstrations that paralysed the twin cities — had not yet submitted details of the expenses it made during the July elections.

“The subject political party (TLP) participated in the general elections, 2018 but has not submitted the details of the Campaign Finance till date,” the ECP stated in a reply furnished before the SC, which will commence on Friday the hearing of a case relating to the 20-day Faizabad sit-in in November last year.

The TLP had participated in the 2018 general elections and bagged three seats in the Sindh Assembly.

At the last hearing on Oct 11, a two-judge SC bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam had ordered the ECP to furnish the application under which the TLP was registered as a political party and asked the accountant general to assist the court in determining whether the ECP or the federal government was empowered under the Elections Act 2017 to take remedial measures for regulating political parties on their conduct.

Contempt of court action sought against Khadim Rizvi, Afzal Qadri

In its reply, the ECP explained that it had issued notices to all political parties which had failed to submit the details of their campaign finances. It said that if they failed to follow the directives, their election symbols would be withheld, adding that all political parties participating in the elections were required to submit to the ECP the list of contributors who have donated or contributed an amount equal to or more than Rs100,000 for thier election campaigns within 60 days from the close of a financial year in terms of Section 211 of the Elections Act.

The consolidated statements of political parties’ accounts were audited by a chartered accountant highlighting annual income and expenses, sources of funds and assets and liabilities, the reply stated.

The ECP had also framed a code of conduct for political parties, contesting candidates and polling agents in terms of Section 233 of the Elections Act, it said.

The ECP explained that after the enactment of the Elections Act, all election-related laws had been repealed, including the Political Parties Order 2002 and Political Parties Rules 2002. Section 202 (4) of the Elections Act requires all political parties to submit a list of 2,000 members along with photocopies of their CNICs and proof of deposit of Rs200,000 in favour of the commission in the State Bank or the National Bank of Pakistan as enlistment fee.

The TLP, the reply said, had submitted the relevant documents on Jan 8, 2018.

The reply contended that the ECP had objected to the registration of the party with the name Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and recognised the party with the name of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, which was later accepted by the party.

Petition against TLP

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court lawyer on Thursday filed a petition in the apex court, seeking a directive for the federal government to commence the process of dissolution of the TLP as political party pursuant to Section 212 of the Elections Act for operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan. He alleged that the party had indulged in terrorism.

Barrister Masroor Shah also requested the apex court to initiate contempt of the court proceedings against TLP leaders — Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Peer Afzal Qadri — for scandalising the SC and tending to bring this august court and its judges into hatred, ridicule and contempt.

The petition asked the court to order the federal government that instead of succumbing to political exigencies and taking mere cosmetic measures, discharge its constitutional duty to protect fundamental rights of citizens and establish the rule of law in the country by taking strict meaningful legal action against Khadim Rizvi and Afzal Qadri for allegedly committing offences of sedition, incitement to mutiny, criminal intimidation, rioting and terrorism.

The petition recalled that during three days of violent protests, the TTP leadership vociferously spat venom against judges of the Supreme Court and the chief of the army staff. They did not even shy away from inciting bodyguards and personal servants of judges and the army chief to take the law into their own hands, the petition said, adding that the TLP leadership had called upon members of the armed forces to stage mutiny against their commanders.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018

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Plea for treason case against TLP, JUI-F dismissed

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday dismissed a writ petition for being non-maintainable that sought directions for the federal government to initiate high treason proceedings against heads of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Fazlur Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) for delivering speeches against the judiciary and the armed forces.

Dismissing the petition, Justice Atir Mahmood observed that the Supreme Court had already taken suo motu notice of the issue while the government also took cognisance of the damage caused during the recent protests.

The judge further observed that it was prerogative of the federal government to initiate high treason proceedings. And the petitioner should have approached the appropriate forum instead of increasing workload on the court by filing such unnecessary petitions.

A citizen, Shabbirullah Khan, filed the petition pleading that both political leaders had been continuously spewing venom against the judiciary and armed forces, which was tantamount to committing the offence of high treason.

He said the TLP central leadership including Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Pir Afzal Qadri, Waheed Anwar as well as Fazlur Rehman of JUI-F violated article 6 of the Constitution in the name of protest.

He contended that under High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973 only the federal government was empowered to initiate treason proceedings. Therefore, he asked the court to direct the federal government to initiate proceedings against the TLP and JUI-F leaders under the charges of high treason.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018

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Govt’s botched handling of Aasia Bibi protests is ‘divine justice’: PML-N senator

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government on Monday once again came under fire in the Senate from opposition lawmakers over its ,handling of protests by religious parties, against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, with PML-N’s Mushahidullah Khan claiming that the ruling party was merely reaping what it had sowed while it was in opposition.

He alleged that the last time such protests had taken place, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari had participated in the sit-ins. Governments leaders had also exploited the issue to gain votes, he alleged.

It is “divine justice” that the “fire” the ruling party had started has now become impossible for it to extinguish, Mushahidullah said, adding that agreements are now being signed with the people who issued statements against state institutions.

“You hindered a country that was speeding towards progress… but today you are unable to even answer whether Aasia [Bibi] is present in the country or not,” the PML-N leader said while addressing the treasury benches.

“The khatm-e-nabuwwat [protesters] that are your foes today were your friends yesterday… is this not ‘divine justice’?”

After an exchange of hot words with several government members over his criticism of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who was not present in the house, Mushahidullah resumed his broadside against Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party.

“They say the three-day [TLP] sit-in resulted in a loss of Rs50 billion per day… why don’t they multiply Rs50bn with 126 days?” he said, in a taunting reference to the 126-day sit-in staged by the PTI in 2014.

“Why didn’t you think then that this was causing loss of the country and people?”

PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar in his remarks regretted the situation that arisen from the countrywide protests staged by religiopolitical groups.

“A registered political party crossed the red line,” he said, referring to the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)

“Are we going to continue tolerating a political party which talks about creating anarchy in the country?” he asked, observing that the Constitution calls for the suspension of a party’s membership if it talks against the country’s sovereignty.

He wondered why the government had opted to “escape” from the national consensus that emerged over the protests and proceeded to enter into a deal with the agitators.

“The interior minister laid all the blame for this on the opposition, which was standing next to you,” he said, addressing the treasury benches.

“The government’s inefficiency spread despair among the people,” he said.

Economic assistance from Saudi, China

Mushahidullah also took a jibe at the government for what he called “begging” from other countries, saying it was unprecedented for the government to term the economic assistance it has received an “achievement”.

Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the senator said it was the first time that a leader had gone to China and said “everyone in my country is corrupt” and later sought financial aid.

State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar while briefing the house said $3 billion will be deposited in the State Bank as part of the economic package agreed to by Saudi Arabia.

He said matters of financial assistance are currently being discussed with China, and the Senate “will be informed when they are finalised”.

“The balance-of-payments crisis has been stopped now due to government efforts,” the minister claimed, adding that exports and foreign exchange reserves are rising as the imports fall.

Responding to Mushahidullah’s query about the action taken against Pakistanis who were named in the Panama Papers leaks, Azhar said the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has started taking steps in this regard.

“We have obtained data of 96,000 foreign accounts [held by Pakistanis] from 27 countries,” he said, adding that the FBR has recovered Rs7 billion through the investigation into the Panama Papers leaks.

Bill for parliament ratification of govt’s foreign agreements

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani on Monday presented a bill in the Senate that could make it binding upon the government to place agreements and contracts with other countries, donors and international monetary organisations before the parliament for ratification.

The bill titled ,“Ratification of Foreign Agreements by Parliament Bill, 2018”, had been moved by Rabbani, the former Senate chairman, in August.

Through the bill, the PPP leader has called upon the government to place a foreign agreement, contract or protocol to be signed with any country before both the houses of the parliament to seek approval of its draft within 15 days of its finalisation.

Speaking in the upper house today, Rabbani said it is a practice in some countries that all agreements are ratified by the parliament.

He explained that the bill would force the government to present in the legislature agreements on which it has negotiated with foreign parties, but before the agreement has been signed.

The parliament will then send its recommendations on the agreement to the relevant ministry, which will inform the parliament about the approval of the suggestions within a specified time.

Commenting on the proposal, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said although he principally had no objections against the bill, there is no uniform practice around the world regarding ratification of agreements and treaties by the parliament.

“Many countries do not get agreements ratified by the lawmakers,” he informed the Senate. A situation of uncertainty can be created by frequent amendments to international treaties, on which talks can last for several years, he added.

“A method of review should be devised that doesn’t become a hindrance in the [signing of agreements],” he stressed.

Opposition Leader in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq supported the bill, saying matters like foreign agreements should not stay confined to the executive and that the parliament should have a say in them.

After hearing all opinions on the proposal, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani sent the bill to the relevant committee.

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