Posts Tagged ‘PTI’

Pakistan, Iran vow to improve military ties

RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa talks to Iranian Chief of General Staff Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri, who called on him along with a delegation at GHQ on Monday.—INP

RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa talks to Iranian Chief of General Staff Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri, who called on him along with a delegation at GHQ on Monday.—INP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran on Monday pledged to further deepen their military cooperation.

This was the upshot of Iranian Chief of General Staff Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri’s visit to Pakistan.

The top Iranian commander’s three-day trip is being attached great importance because bilateral military exchanges between Pakistan and Iran have been very rare due to their mutual mistrust that kept them divided till recently.

Gen Bagheri visited caretaker Foreign Minister Abdullah Hussain Haroon at the foreign ministry and then went to the General Headquarters (GHQ) for a meeting with army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa.

The public affairs division of Pakistan military said Gen Bajwa underscored the need for intensification of military-to-military cooperation and noted that such cooperation would have a “positive impact on peace and security in the region”.

In related development, Afghan president assures Islamabad of enhanced border security on election day

Reciprocating Gen Bajwa’s offer, the visiting Iranian commander “pled­ged to keep working for better relations between the two brotherly countries”, said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Gen Bajwa is believed to be the architect of improvement in Pakistan-Iran ties particularly the military relations. Last year he had made an unprecedented visit to Iran setting the stage for improved cooperation. Later, Chief of the General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar visited the country in June.

As the improvement in military relations was predicated on the basis of border security cooperation, discussion on border management was also on top of agenda during Gen Bagheri’s meeting with Gen Bajwa. Another key issue on the agenda of their meeting was regional security.

The journey towards improvement in military ties had not been free of irritants and problems but both the countries worked together to overcome those challenges and prevented nascent cooperation from falling apart, a diplomatic source said.

Recently the Iranian spymaster was in Islamabad to attend a rare meeting of the spy chiefs of the regional countries that involved Pakistan, Russia and China. The meeting reportedly focused on the threat posed by the growing footprint of the militant Islamic State group in Afghanistan.

Mr Haroon during his meeting with the Iranian commander expressed Pak­istan’s desire for strengthening cooperation with Iran for the benefit of both countries and ensuring peace and stability in the region. He also appreciated the Iranian leadership’s strong and consistent support on the issue of Kashmir.

Ghani condoles deaths in terror attacks

Meanwhile, Afghan Pre­sident Ashraf Ghani assured Pakistan of heightened security along the Pak-Afghan border during the July 25 general elections.

President Ghani exten­ded the assurance during a telephonic conversation with Gen Bajwa on Monday.

He also called caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk to condole the deaths in recent attacks on election rallies in Peshawar, Bannu, and Mastung.

President Ghani “assured COAS of enhanced border security measures on Afghan side as assistance to Pak security forces during election period,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted.

Gen Bajwa thanked Mr Ghani for his concern, according to the ISPR.

Pakistan has long alleged that terrorists having sanctuaries in Afghanistan have been carrying out terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

Although Mastung attack was claimed by the militant Islamic State, Daesh, and its local affiliate Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, other attacks are believed to have been carried out by Afghanistan-based TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. It is feared that the two terrorist groups were planning further attacks.

Earlier during the 2014 presidential elections in Afghanistan, Pakistan Army had also undertaken special border security arrangements for smooth conduct of polling process. On the elections day, Pakistan had increased patrols along the border areas, besides stepping up aerial surveillance.

In his conversation with caretaker PM Mulk, President Ghani “expressed deep sorrow and sympathy on the tragic loss of precious lives”, the PM Office said in a statement.

The two countries agreed to work together to defeat the common enemies for peace and security in the region, the statement added.

While talking to Mr Ghani, Mr Mulk reaffirmed caretaker government’s commitment to hold the general elections on time. He said the attacks by the enemies were aimed at derailing the democratic process in Pakistan. “Such actions would not deter government’s resolve,” he vowed.

Published in Dawn, July 17th , 2018

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HRCP pessimistic about free, fair election

I. A. Rehman speaks at the press conference.

I. A. Rehman speaks at the press conference.

ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has predicted that the coming general elections will be the dirtiest, most micromanaged and most intensively participated polls in the country’s history.

Speaking at a news conference held a few hours after his meeting with the chief election commissioner (CEC) on Monday, HRCP spokesperson I.A. Rehman said that the commission had received complaints which were contrary to the spirit of elections.

Take a look: ,July 25 elections will be fairest in country’s history: PTI,

“We have serious doubts that elections will be free and fair. Before elections, efforts have been started to pressurise candidates to return tickets. Moreover, we have serious reservations about the use of military troops inside polling stations. So the issue was taken up with the CEC and he assured that officials will not go inside election booths,” he said.

Mr Rehman said that recently the Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ political agent had called a meeting of tribal elites on the general elections and told them what was in the interest of the country.

Spokesperson predicts July 25 polls will be the dirtiest, most micromanaged and most intensively participated in country’s history

“In 2013 some political parties were targeted and ‘favoured ones’ were not targeted by terrorists — the same is the situation again. Registration of cases under the Anti-Terrorism Act against political workers is condemnable,” he said.

Mr Rehman said that during the meeting the CEC listened to his questions and replied to some of them.

“He was told that what happened with Dawn newspaper, and what happened with The News till they developed an ‘understanding’ with the Inter-Services Public Relations. It was also informed that newspapers were reluctant to publish advertisements of some persons. The CEC said he was ready to take action but evidence should be given to him. When it was told that heads of proscribed organisations were working, the CEC said please let me know if any banned organisation is working,” he said.

Mr Rehman suggested that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) look into the issue and take action in this regard. Answering questions, he said an environment had been created in which people were scared of sharing their affiliation with political parties. He said it was nothing but a symptom of downfall.

HRCP council member Advocate Hina Jilani said that a number of incidents of violence had taken place over the past few days. She said the ECP should use military to ensure peace during election campaigns.

“Forces which should have been eradicated still exist and they are striking. There is a section of political class which is more targeted. We are convinced that elections are conducted in an environment which will affect the results. Political engineering and media management are being done,” she alleged.

Ms Jilani said hate speeches were being delivered. One political party’s advertisement is trying to portray that a personality has connection with a neighbouring country.

“As a whole political engineering is being done, people are forced to quit political parties and we have credible accounts. The ECP is empowered to deal with such issues. Inclusion of military should be only for the security but it has been given more powers which have created doubts,” she added.

Marvi Sirmed, another HRCP council member, said that it was unfortunate that banned organisations were being allowed to take part in the elections and no one was ready to take the responsibility.

According to a statement shared during the press conference, the HRCP has serious reservations over the extraordinary powers accorded to security forces — ostensibly to ensure the integrity of the polls. That some 350,000 security personnel are to be deployed outside as well as inside polling stations, and that military functionaries have been assigned magistrate’s powers on the premises, has blurred the line between civilian and non-civilian responsibility for the electoral process.

The HRCP is deeply concerned that the political class is being selectively squeezed. This is apparent from reports that members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are being pressurised to switch political loyalties, that candidates are being asked to return their tickets, and that electoral opposition to two mainstream parties — the PML-N in Punjab and the Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh — is being ‘manufactured’ in strategic areas.

The HRCP is strongly concerned over the recent curbs on the print and broadcast media — specifically, the numerous instances in which journalists perceived as favouring the PML-N or PPP or deemed critical of the security establishment have been subject to censorship, intimidation, harassment and abduction.

The undeclared curbs on distribution in the case of Dawn and The News in cantonments, and earlier attempts to block the transmission of Geo TV are tantamount to denying people access to reports and analysis of electoral issues. Such pressures on the media serve to manipulate public opinion, forestall critical debate and leave powerful institutions unaccountable to the public.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2018

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PTI candidate who used COAS, CJP’s photos on campaign posters allowed to contest polls by LHC

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday gave permission to contest the July 25 elections to a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidate who had ,used the pictures of the chief justice of Pakistan and the army chief, in his campaign advertisements and posters.

The Elec­tion Commission of Pakis­tan (ECP) had earlier this month ,disqualified Nasir Cheema,, a candidate from Gujranwala’s PP-53 constituency, after he was found to have violated the electoral code of conduct by using photos of two heads of institutions on his election posters.

The lawyer for Cheema, who had challenged the ECP decision in the high court, informed a two-judge bench today that his client had been ruled ineligible to contest the polls over alleged violation of the ECP code of conduct.

However, he asked why the ECP had disqualified Cheema on the basis of election posters that were put up on April 18, 2018, while the code of conduct had been issued on June 14, and the election schedule was published on May 31.

The counsel also complained that the person who had filed the complaint against Cheema never personally appeared before the ECP. “The complainant also doesn’t belong to the PTI candidate’s constituency but is a resident of Karachi,” he pointed out.

The lawyer also asked why the commission had not revealed the specific law under which the candidate was disqualified.

The LHC should therefore allow Cheema to contest the elections, he maintained.

After hearing the arguments by the lawyer and ECP legal adviser Imran Arif Ranjha, the LHC bench, comprising Justices Aminuddin Khan and Sajid Mehmood Sethi, ruled that Cheema was eligible to contest the elections.

The ECP had earlier in July ,quizzed, Cheema over the controversial posters and asked him to submit a reply explaining as to why he should not be disallowed from contesting the polls.

“Are they related to you? What is the army chief’s and CJP’s link to the elections? On what basis did you put up their pictures?” an infuriated Chief Election Commis­sioner (CEC) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan had asked the PTI candidate.

Before Cheema was disqualified, the CEC had emphasised that it was not a question of when the posters had been put on display, but why these images had been put up at all.

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ECP informs voters, parties, officers of what not to do on election day

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday delineated the ‘crimes’ that will fall under the jurisdiction of district returning officers (DROs) on July 25, DawnNewsTV reported.

According to the notification, anyone found involved in the following acts will be treated as having violated the ECP’s code of conduct and to be prosecuted against under the law:

  1. Evicting a voter from the polling station.
  2. Any direct or indirect attempt to influence a voter in connection with his or her decision to cast or to not cast a vote, either through giving a gift, making an offer or promise will be considered bribery.
  3. Using force or violence to coerce someone into casting or not casting a vote.
  4. Intimidation, inflicting harm or threatening someone with the anger or approval of a religious personality.
  5. Abducting a voter, intimidating, duping or influencing him or her through illegal means.
  6. Spoiling ballot paper or the official stamp.
  7. Taking ballot papers from a polling station or inserting fake ballot papers in the ballot box.
  8. Providing a ballot paper to someone without permission, lifting ballot papers or boxes, breaking the seal on a ballot box, disturbing polling staffers, affecting the polling process with the help of a government official, any attempt to cast a fake vote, or cast multiple votes.
  9. Showing or possessing firearms during polling process, torturing officials, creating disruptions near a polling station to disturb voters, attempts to affect the working of a presiding officer or other staffers, and convincing a voter to vote for a particular candidate within 400 metres of a polling station.
  10. Pasting a notice, electoral sign or flag within 100 metre radius of a polling station, or within the special area allotted to election agents.
  11. Attempting to know for whom a voter has cast his or her vote.
  12. Attempting to take a picture of your vote/ballot paper.

A DRO/sessions judge can sentence offenders to up to three years in jail, or Rs100,000 in fines, or both.

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ANP opposes deployment of army inside polling stations

PESHAWAR: Awami National Party has expressed reservations over the decision of Election Commission of Pakistan to deploy security personnel inside the polling stations, fearing it will strengthen doubts about poll rigging for bringing a certain party into the power.

Also read: ,The ECP has given magisterial powers to army officers on election duty, but what does that really mean?,

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, ANP former senator Ilyas Ahmed Bilour said that other political parties had objected to deployment of army personnel inside the polling stations and hurdles in their election campaign. He said that ECP should ensure free, fair and impartial elections.

On the occasion, PPP senior worker Mohammad Iqbal Khan along with his relatives quit his party and announced to join ANP. ANP district president Malik Mustafa, candidate for PK-76 Haji Hidayatullah and candidate for PK-77 Haji Umer Khan Mohmand were also present on the occasion.

Expressing his shock over the killing of his nephew Haroon Bilour and other workers in a suicide bombing in Peshawar, the ANP leader said that it was irreparable loss. He said that the tragedy disturbed the election campaign but his party was in the field to take part in the elections.

Seeks protection for workers; Ghulam Bilour backtracks from remarks about perpetrators of Peshawar blast

Regarding investigation into the suicide blast case, Mr Bilour said that nobody had approached his family members in connection with the probe. He said that his party believed in democracy and would bring reforms in government departments. He said that during the past five years, PTI had done nothing for public welfare in the province rather ruined infrastructure in Peshawar.

Speaking on the occasion, other ANP leaders alleged that only one political party was running election campaign freely while others were facing problems in the drive. They urged government to provide protection to political workers and candidates so that they could continue the campaign wholeheartedly.

Iqbal Khan said that the PPP leadership had forgotten the mission of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto to provide basic facilities to the people.

“I have served PPP for 45 years and endured a lot of troubles for its promotion but the party leaders are not ready to encourage sincere workers so I quit it,” he added.

Meanwhile, ANP senior vice president Ghulam Ahmad Bilour has said that Chief justice of Supreme Court Justice Saqib Nisar should not have ordered to withdraw security from politicians.

“I have respect for the chief justice. But he should not interfere in administrative affairs,” he told journalists at his residence here on Monday. He said that chief justice should not issue order to the executive to withdraw security from politicians.

The ANP leader backtracked from his statement in which he had stated that “our own people, who have benefited” from his nephew’s murder, not Taliban, were involved in the suicide attack occurred in Peshawar last week.

“I never said that Taliban did not kill Haroon. I stated that those people, who got most advantage from the killing of Haroon, were involved. I don’t understand as to why we are being targeted,” said Mr Bilour.

He said that they had collected some information and security agencies would also have collected evidence about the perpetrators, who had planned the suicide attack in Yakatoot.

Haroon Bilour, who was ANP candidate for PK-78, was killed along with 21 others when suicide bomber attacked the corner meeting of ANP in Yakatoot last week. Around 30 people were wounded in the blast. Proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mr Bilour said that his slain nephew needed security. He said that terrorists could easily target politicians. “The chief justice should not withdraw security from politicians,” he said. He expressed dissatisfaction over security arrangements for the elections.

He said that terrorists could not scare ANP workers through such acts and the party would resume its election campaign on Tuesday. He added that he had no objection if Haroon’s widow was interested in contesting the elections. He said that he would support his nephew’s widow in the by-election on PK-78.

Meanwhile, former interior minister Senator Rehman Malik visited Bilour House on Monday to condole the death of Haroon Bilour.

Talking to media after condolence, he said that Daesh, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and TTP were involved in terrorism. He said that presence of Daesh in the country was a reality as it had joined hands with TTP and LJ to carry out activities.

Mr Malik said that political parties should chalk out joint strategy to thwart the threat. He said that caretaker government should convene all-party conference before elections and seek opinion of political parties on that vital issue.

Published in Dawn, July 17th , 2018

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Bilawal concerned over allowing banned parties to contest polls

QUETTA: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari inquires about the health of a man injured in Mastung blast at the Combined Military Hospital on Monday.—PPI

QUETTA: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari inquires about the health of a man injured in Mastung blast at the Combined Military Hospital on Monday.—PPI

QUETTA: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday expressed concern over allowing candidates of banned organisations to contest the coming elections and said certain forces were again trying to form an Islami Jamhoori Ittehad-like alliance in the country.

He was addressing a press conference at a hotel after visiting Sarawan House to condole the death of Siraj Raisani in Friday’s Mastung suicide attack.

“Unfortunately, by allowing candidates of banned organisations to take part in the election, extremists have been given space,” the PPP leader said, adding that the move would harm the entire political process and would undermine parliament, democracy and the country’s position in the world.

He recalled that after the massacre of students and teachers in the terrorist attack at Army Public School, all political parties had agreed on a 20-point National Action Plan but that plan was not implemented by the PML-N government which caused difficulties in curbing acts of terrorism across the country.

“From day one, the PPP has been demanding the implementation of the National Action Plan in letter and spirit,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said. “Thousands of civilians and security personnel have lost their lives in acts of terrorism and these precious lives could have been saved had the National Action Plan been implemented.”

Referring to the possibility of delay in the polls, he said if elections could be held in Afghanistan and Iraq where the situation was worse then why they cannot be held in Pakistan.

“Despite the recent spate of violence and terrorist attacks, elections must be held on time,” he said.

He said PPP would launch public welfare programmes after coming to power and dispelled the impression that the party had lost its support in Punjab.

He said that PPP had not been given free hand to run its poll campaign in Punjab in 2013 elections and this time too the government was creating hurdles in its way.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2018

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APML chief withdraws in favour of Imran, Umar

ISLAMABAD: Dr Muhammad Amjad, chairman of All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) — the party founded by former military dictator-turned politician retired Gen Pervez Musharraf — decided on Monday to withdraw his papers from two National Assembly constituencies in the federal capital in favour of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidates.

Dr Amjad, who had last month replaced Mr Musharraf as APML head after the latter had to resign due to some legal issues, withdrew his papers from NA-53 in favour of PTI chairman Imran and from NA-54 in favour of Asad Umar.

“I am withdrawing from Islamabad’s both seats only; APML candidates in other parts of the country are contesting the elections. I myself am also contesting from Chitral,” the APML chairman told Dawn.

PTI will hold last election meeting in Lahore on 23rd

He said the APML would support the PTI in Islamabad. “In Islamabad, chances of my victory are less as heavyweights like Imran Khan and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi are also in the race, so I decided to withdraw from Islamabad to fully focus on NA-1 Chitral.”

Dr Amjad claimed that his party had a significant vote bank in Chitral as Mr Musharraf had launched a number of mega projects there, such as the Lowari tunnel and mobile and TV services.

It may be mentioned that during the Musharraf regime, Dr Amjad being president of the PML-Q’s Islamabad chapter got approved a Rs8.2 billion package for various development schemes in Islamabad.

Mr Musharraf, who is currently living in the United Arab Emirates, has been disqualified for life by the Peshawar High Court and as per the election laws he cannot head a political party.

On June 14, the Supreme Court had to withdraw its interim order of allowing him to file nomination papers for the general elections after he failed to appear before it despite an opportunity afforded to him by the court.

In NA-53, Imran Khan is facing PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PPP’s Sibtul Haider Bokhari and MMA’s Mian Aslam. In NA-54, PTI leader Asad Umar is contesting the election against PML-N’s Anjum Aqeel Khan, PPP’s Imran Ashraf and MMA’s Mian Aslam.

Talking to Dawn, a PTI leader said Dr Amjad had taken the decision after holding a meeting with Imran Khan in his Banigala residence.

“It’s a positive development as Dr Amjad, in his personal capacity, has a good number of votes in Islamabad, as during the Musharraf regime, he played a major role in getting approval of the PM package,” the PTI leader said.

Last election meeting

The PTI on Monday decided to hold the last public meeting of its election campaign in Lahore on July 23 before holding a similar meeting in Islamabad on July 21 at Parade Ground.

Earlier, the PTI had decided to hold the public meeting in Islamabad on July 23.

“Actually, we want to end election campaign in Lahore on a high note as Lahore plays an important role in Punjab’s politics,” the PTI leader said, adding that Imran Khan would address both the public meetings.

Published in Dawn, July 17th , 2018

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Delaying elections would lead to turmoil: Sheikh Rashid

RAWALPINDI: Delaying the elections would lead to turmoil in the country, Awami Muslim League (AML) President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said at a press conference on Monday.

He also said he feared low voter turnout and urged people to come out and vote on July 25to prevent a hung parliament and help Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan form a government.

Sheikh Rashid said people should vote for the pen and ink and the bat to bring change in the country, which is facing many challenges. The economy has collapsed, he said, adding that they hope to bring investment to the country and improve its economic condition as well as end unemployment.

“80pc of PML-N’s voters will vote for Imran Khan and I in two of Rawalpindi’s constituencies, and most PML-N union council chairmen have contacted and assured me of their support,” he said.

He said he was running a one-sided campaign against his opponent, who has not been campaigning in the city and had failed to hold any public meetings.

“We prepared a special motorcycle worth Rs15,000 for the election campaign in the city areas, and the campaign will be run on motorcycle,” he said.

“Imran Khan will arrive in Rawalpindi on July 22and address the people at Liaquat Bagh. He will make a speech at11:30pm after coming from a public meeting in Karachi,” he added.

The last public meeting of the election will also be held at Liaquat Bagh on July 23, he said, adding that workers and supporters would prove that Rawalpindi was with him and with Imran Khan.

Security for Sheikh Rashid, Hanif Abbasi

Security staff deployed with two of Rawalpindi’s main election candidates, Sheikh Rashid and Hanif Abbasi, have been directed to be more vigilant in light of security concerns reported by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and the police’s Special Branch.

A comprehensive security advisory has been issued to all candidates, and meetings have been held with them to sensitise them of security concerns.

According to sources, directives regarding heightened security around the two politicians were given to the police during a recent meeting of the divisional intelligence committee.

Security for important politicians and election candidates, political gatherings and corner meetings and the law and order situation topped the agenda of the meeting, which was attended by the regional police officer (RPO), Rawalpindi city police officer (CPO) and the Attock, Jhelum and Chakwal district police officers (DPO) and chaired by the Rawalpindi commissioner.

Participants were asked to implement the standard operating procedure for security for important personalities and people under threat in public gatherings as outlined by the home department.

All deputy commissioners, DPOs and CPOs were direct to meet with election candidates and sensitise them on the threat perception and security protocol.

It was also decided that a senior police officer would contact Sheikh Rashid and PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi to share security concerns with them.

Security staff deployed with the two politicians have been directed to increase vigilance, particularly during movement in public.

Politicians contesting the general election have been asked to seek approval from the district management and Special Branch before deciding on a venue or stage for public meetings. The base ground of the stage will also be checked by a Special Branch team, and the stage will be erected in the presence of police and Special Branch officials.

Stages should not be more than 10ft high, and must be strong enough to bear the weight of the speakers and other individuals. The reception line should not contain more than five people, the names of whom should be communicated to the police and Special Branch for security clearance.

The names of individuals to be seated on stage should also be communicated to an intelligence agency for security clearance, and unauthorised people should not be allowed to sit on stage.

Published in Dawn, July 17th , 2018

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Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar file appeals against Avenfield verdict

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar challenged their convictions by an accountability court in the Avenfield corruption reference in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday.

The court on July 6 had sentenced Nawaz to 10 years in prison for owning assets beyond known income, along with a fine of £8 million. Maryam was given seven years of jail time and slapped with a fine of £2 million, as the court found her guilty of being “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father”. Capt Safdar was handed one year in jail for failure to cooperate with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and for aiding and abetting Nawaz and Maryam.

Also read: ,What are the ways the Sharifs could appeal the Avenfield verdict?,

Seven separate appeals were filed by the three convicts’ lawyers ? three on behalf of Nawaz, and two each on behalf of Maryam and Safdar ? pertaining to the corruption references against them.

Advocate Khawaja Haris filed the appeals on behalf of Nawaz; one urging the IHC to set aside the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield reference, another to suspend the said verdict until the IHC adjudicated on the main appeals, and a third requesting the court to ,transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship corruption references, against Nawaz from the court of accountability judge Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court in Islamabad.

Amjad Pervaiz filed two appeals each on behalf of Maryam and Safdar. One of the petitions urged the IHC to set aside the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield corruption reference, while the second requested the suspension of the NAB court’s verdict until the IHC adjudicates on the appeals.

The appeals stated that accountability judge Mohammad Bashir had passed the Avenfield verdict on the basis of presumptions and assumptions, without fulfilling the “requirements of justice”.

They argued that until the IHC adjudicates on the appeals against the accountability court’s decision, the convicts should be released on bail.

They claimed that the chart of the Sharif family’s assets and liabilities as their “known sources of income”, which was produced in the accountability court, was not submitted by the head of the Panama Papers case joint investigation team ? who was NAB’s star witness ? and did not bear the signatures of any officials either.

Khawaja Haris, in an appeal filed on behalf of Nawaz, pointed out that NAB had declared the Avenfield flats were worth more than the former premier’s known income, but had failed to take into account the value of the flats at the time of their purchase.

One of the appeals added that the prosecution had provided no evidence establishing Nawaz as the owner of the London flats.

The appeals also referred to the contentious use of Calibri font in the trust deed, saying that forensic expert Robert Radley had admitted that the font had been in existence at the time the trust deed was prepared.

Referring to the use of Calibri font in the trust deeds submitted by Maryam to the joint investigation team (JIT) during the Panama Papers case investigation, one of the appeals argued that the creator of the font, Robert Radley, had admitted that the font had existed at the time when the deeds were prepared.

Khawaja Haris urged the court to transfer the two remaining corruption references against Nawaz — Flagship Enterprises and Al Azizia — to another accountability judge since the arguments in both cases were similar to the ones in the Avenfield reference. Nawaz’s counsel argued that since the evidence in both the cases was similar, the verdict may be the same if heard by the same judge.

He had earlier requested judge Mohammad Bashir to recuse himself from the case for the same reasons and the latter had agreed to refer the matter to the IHC. If Haris’ arguments are deemed valid, the case will be transferred to another judge, as the IHC holds the authority to transfer cases to another court.

The petitioners observed that the court had announced the verdict in absentia, even though the Sharifs had appealed to the court to delay the judgement for seven days.

At the time of the verdict, both Nawaz and Maryam were in London where Kulsoom Nawaz, who is battling cancer, is reportedly on life support. Safdar was in Pakistan but was not present in court.

PPP, PML-N agreed to ‘bury the past’, reminds Rasheed

Talking to the media about the Avenfield verdict today, PML-N leader Pervaiz Rasheed repeated his party’s stance that the court had not been able to prove any corruption charges against the Sharif family.

He also referred to the Charter of Democracy, that was signed in 2005 between slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto and then PML-N president Nawaz, saying that it was agreed that both parties will “bury the past and not bring it up again”.

“PML-N stands by its word,” he added.

Rashid’s statement comes at a time when PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari is under fire for his ,alleged involvement in suspicious financial transactions, worth Rs35bn through 29 ‘benami’ accounts. However, the probe against him has been postponed until after the general elections.

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Rupee falls 5.7pc against dollar in inter bank trade

The Pakistani rupee lost 5.7 per cent of its value against the US dollar in inter bank trading on Monday, with the greenback being traded at Rs128.50 in the market towards day’s close.

Meanwhile, the selling rate in the open market climbed up to Rs130 while the greenback remained short in supply.

On Saturday, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa had denied any move for devaluation. On the same day, caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar had stated that the preparations to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were underway.

While talking to Dawn today, Malik Bostan, one of the largest currency traders in the country, stated: “Devaluation has never helped external deficits. With each devaluation, the deficits grow faster still.”

He added that the law and order situation in the country needs to improve and warned “Pakistan is sinking into quicksand.”

“Borrowing is the only way out and IMF and China are the only two options,” he stated.

Expressing his fears for the future of the country’s weakening economy, he said that he hoped China or IMF would help provide stability “otherwise, the risks are very serious”.

The rupee’s value against the dollar has been depreciating since the government, in talks with the IMF, ,decided to devalue the currency,.

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Trump-Putin summit opens in Helsinki without talk of election meddling

With a wink and a slouch, respectively, President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin opened their summit on Monday as the American president declared that “the world wants to see us get along”.

Trump laid out a list of topics for discussion that notably did not include Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“We have not been getting along well for the last number of years,” Trump said as he and Putin sat down at the Presidential Palace in Finland’s capital. “But I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship [...] I really think the world wants to see us get along.”

Putin, for his part, said he and Trump have maintained regular contact by phone and meeting at international events but “the time has come to have a thorough discussion on various international problems and sensitive issues”. He added: “There are quite a few of them for us to pay attention to.”

Putin struck a casual pose during Trump’s remarks, slouching in his chair with his legs wide and eyes low. He nodded along to some of Trump’s remarks before they were translated, showcasing his fluency in English. Trump leaned forward in his chair, his hands tented in front of him and frequently glancing over at the Russian president.

At one point, he shot Putin a wink. After Trump concluded his remarks, American reporters shouted several questions about whether he would bring up ,election meddling, during his discussions with Putin.

Trump did not respond; Putin appeared to smirk.

With that, the two leaders gave a quick handshake and their private meeting in the opulent Gothic Hall was under way. Just the two of them, each with a translator.

The summit began just hours after Trump blamed the United States — and not Russian election meddling or its annexation of Crimea — for a low-point in US-Russia relations. The drama was playing out against a backdrop of fraying Western alliances, a new peak in the Russia investigation and fears that Moscow’s aggression may go unchallenged.

Read: ,Trump on tour spells trouble for Western democracies,

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning, blaming “many years of US foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

The summit, which was being closely monitored by rattled world capitals, was condemned in advance by members of Congress from both parties after the US indictment last week of ,12 Russian military intelligence officers, accused of hacking Democrats in the 2016 election to help Trump’s presidential campaign. Undeterred, the American president was set to go face to face with Putin, the authoritarian leader for whom he has expressed admiration.

Demonstrators marched in Helsinki, as Trump prepared to meet Putin. ?AP

Demonstrators marched in Helsinki, as Trump prepared to meet Putin. ?AP

The summit started late because Putin arrived in Helsinki about a half hour behind schedule in another display of the Russian’s leader famous lack of punctuality. Trump seemed to return the favor by waiting until Putin had arrived at the palace before leaving his hotel. Putin has been late for past meetings with the pope and British queen, among many others.

Trump and his aides have repeatedly tried to lower expectations about what the summit will achieve. He told CBS News that he didn’t “expect anything” from Putin, while his national security adviser said the US wasn’t looking for any “concrete deliverables”. Trump told reporters during a breakfast on Monday with Finland’s president that he thought the summit would go “fine”.

Trump said he and Putin would discuss a range of issues, from trade to the military, along with missiles and China. Not mentioned: Election meddling or Syria.

Related: ,Sex, money, spying: The Robert Mueller probe into Russian meddling has it all,

Trump said last week that he would raise the election-meddling issue with Putin, but said he didn’t expect Putin to budge on his denials.

“I don’t think you’ll have any ’Gee, I did it. I did it. You got me,’” said Trump, invoking a television detective. “There won’t be a Perry Mason here, I don’t think. But you never know what happens, right? But I will absolutely firmly ask the question.”

They’ll continue their discussions with an expanded group of aides and over lunch in the Hall of Mirrors, once the emperor’s throne room. The leaders will conclude by taking questions at a joint news conference.

Observers have raised concerns about the fact that the leaders will be alone during their first meeting, but for a pair of interpreters, meaning there will be no corroborating witnesses to accurately represent what was said during the conversation.

The meeting comes as questions swirl about whether Trump will sharply and publicly rebuke his Russian counterpart for the election meddling that prompted a special counsel probe that Trump has repeatedly labeled a “witch hunt.”

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Emirati prince flees to Qatar seeking asylum, criticises Abu Dhabi

An Emirati prince is seeking asylum in Qatar after fleeing the UAE saying he feared for his life because of a dispute with the rulers of oil-rich Abu Dhabi, ,The New York Times reported, on Sunday.

Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad al-Sharqi, 31, is the second son of the emir of Fujairah, one of the seven monarchies making up the United Arab Emirates. He arrived in Doha on May 16, the report said.

Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad Al Sharqi, right, in Fujairah in March. — Photo courtesy AFP via NYT

Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad Al Sharqi, right, in Fujairah in March. — Photo courtesy AFP via NYT

Abu Dhabi is the capital and richest emirate of the UAE.

Speaking to the The New York Times, Sheikh Rashid accused Emirati rulers of blackmail and money laundering but did not offer evidence to back up his claims.

He also spoke of tensions within Emirati elites over the UAE’s commitment of troops in the war in Yemen.

Sheikh Rashid said there had been more UAE war deaths than the 100 that have been reported publicly and said “there have been more deaths from Fujairah than anywhere else”.

An Emirati official contacted by AFP declined to comment, but UAE minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash made a veiled reference on Twitter to “conspiracy against this or that ruling family by those who lack courage and instead resort to leaks and interviews”.

Along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates ,cut all ties with Qatar in June 2017,, accusing Doha of supporting Islamist groups and being too close to Gulf archrival Iran.

Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas, denies the accusations.

The New York Times report said that Sheikh Rashid appeared to be the first time in the UAE’s nearly 47-year history that a member of one of its seven royal families had publicly criticised its rulers.

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Zardari slams terrorism cases against PML-N members

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari has condemned initiation of terrorism ,cases against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers, in Punjab, saying every citizen has the democratic right to hold rallies and public meetings.

“Political activists are the strength of democracy and democratic process,” Mr Zardari said in a statement issued by his party’s Central Media Office on Sunday.

The former president also expressed concerns over curbs on freedom of expression, saying his party would not tolerate such steps. He boasted that there was no political prisoner during the five years of the PPP government, from 2008 to 2013.

The top PPP leader issued the statement a day after it was reported that PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shahbaz, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and 50 other leaders of the party had been booked under terrorism and other charges for “inciting” the crowd to violate law in Lahore on Friday at the time of arrival of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz from London.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyam Aurangzeb, former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq and senior leader Javed Hashmi are among those booked.

PPP spokesman says only one party being allowed to run campaign smoothly

The FIR lodged with the Lohari police station accuses Shahbaz and former MNA Hamza of pelting the law enforcement agencies officials with stones allegedly with an intention to kill them. The main allegations against the PML-N leaders include damaging public buildings and properties, hurling threats and injuring the law enforcement agencies officials. They have also been accused of interfering in the official work, violating Section 144 of the PPC and the code of conduct issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the candidates, besides holding illegal assemblies and rallies.

According to Lahore police, a total of 12 FIRs have been lodged against the suspects, including the former prime minister and former Punjab chief minister.

Mr Zardari said it was the responsibility of the ECP to provide a conducive environment to all the political parties participating in the elections.

Without naming Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, who passed some objectionable remarks against the PML-N workers and leaders, Mr Zardari said that “bullet and bad-mouthing are the enemies of democracy”.

“One should not resort to foul language in politics. The people who are always bad-mouthing others cannot serve the nation,” he said.

The former president said that despite security concerns, PPP chairman and his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari could not be kept away from the people.

Condemning firing on rally of a PPP candidate in Dadu, he asked the Sindh government to immediately arrest the culprits.

In a separate statement, PPP spokesman Senator Moula Bakhsh Chandio criticised the caretaker government and the ECP for not taking adequate measures to provide security to election candidates in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in the country.

He said it was surprising that instead of providing security the caretaker government was asking the parties under threat to stop their election campaigns. “Those who are being attacked by the terrorists are being asked to stop campaigning,” the senator said, adding: “When terrorists issue us threats, the government asks us to stay indoors.”

“The caretaker governments must tell the nation, who is to decide about the elections? People of Pakistan or the terrorists?” he asked.

Without naming the PTI, Mr Chandio alleged that only one party was being allowed to run its election campaign smoothly. The other politicians were being warned against possibility of terrorist attacks.

“How it is possible that a political leader has the permission to hold public meetings wherever he wants and others are stopped? There is some nexus. It is the duty of the ECP and the caretaker government to find out this nexus,” said the senator in an apparent reference to the claim of the PPP and the PML-N that the PTI was being supported by the establishment.

Mr Chandio said if the ECP remained silent over the situation then questions would be raised about election results. He, however, said the PPP would continue its election campaign despite all the negative tactics.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018

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CJP tells govt to generate funds for dams through water pricing

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has asked the government to generate funds for construction of future dams through water pricing and contended that 25 per cent funds required for a major reservoir could be ,acquired from people,.

“Water pricing mechanism should be improved to get revenue for construction of dams,” the chief justice conveyed, according to minutes of a recent meeting, to the ministries of planning, water resources, energy, law and justice, climate change and the cabinet division, besides professional and technical agencies and provincial governments.

Presiding over the meeting of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) attended by senior representatives of the ministries, Indus River System Authority, National Engi­neering Services Pakistan, Water and Power Develop­ment Authority (Wapda) and Indus Water Commis­sion and private experts, the chief justice said the issue of water scarcity had reached an alarming level that was fatal to the lives and livelihood of the citizens of Pakistan.

He said resolution of the issue was “responsibility of the executives and failure to discharge this responsibility has resulted in taking up of this issue by the superior judiciary as breach of fundamental right i.e. right to life”.

The Planning Commission told the meeting that the national water policy approved by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had identified 30-40 areas for urgent works that would take four to five years to achieve all goals. It recommended a six-month action plan and noted that Pakistan had limited water resources of its own as all water was coming from neighbouring countries.

“It is the need of the time to devise a strong mechanism to defend our water resources to get our fair share out of trans-boundary water,” the commission quoted the water policy as saying and added that Pakistan was losing each and every case at the forums of World Bank and international arbitrations due to wastage of water and hence construction of dams was being prioritised.

It was argued that wastage of available water was the main cause of its scarcity which had to be addressed by improved water administration, pricing and punishments. “It is equally important to fix the price and tax water and take necessary legal action against the violators and defaulters,” the commission said.

Chief Justice Nisar asserted that the judiciary would find a solution to the water shortage in the country. He said it was very crucial because he had been told by experts during the course of hearing of a related case that Pakistan could not survive in this situation of water scarcity and that all research reports showed Pakistan was going to face severe shortage of water or even out of water by 2024.

Therefore, the CJP told the participants, new dams had to be constructed without further overburdening the nation with the curse of debts and the “apex court will also extend financial support but subject to submission of action plan”. He contended that “1/4th expenses on construction of a dam can be acquired from the people of Pakistan”.

He said every construction settlement and housing societies should have water sewerage systems and asked for an action plan to address the issue of waste water management.

Former Wapda chairman and provincial minister Shamsul Mulk reported that 60-70 million acre feet (MAF) of water was going to the sea due to non-availability of dams and the country would have no water in future if this continued. He called for building small, medium and large dams to save water and asserted that Kalabagh dam was crucial to the country and its importance could not be overlooked.

Mr Mulk contended that if Kalabagh dam was not constructed, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would not be able to get its share of water in future and reiterated that this dam “is the only cheapest power generation source in the country and due to its non-construction, Pakistan is losing Rs196 billion every year”.

He explained that one MAF of water contributed $2bn to the United States economy while in Pakistan it contributed $600 million. “Therefore, if 60 MAF water is wasted, this results in $36bn losses annually and if the average is taken for 70 years then it equals $2.520 trillion,” the former Wapda chief said.

The LJCP meeting’s minutes revealed that the chief justice, Shamsul Mulk and all other stakeholders “unanimously resolved that Kalabagh dam, without any doubt, is indispensable to meet water and electricity needs of the country”.

Former director of Kalabagh dam Engineer Mumtaz Ahmed criticised the performance of the Indus Water Commissioner for Pakistan for “underperforming” and being “a mud of corruption” and requested the CJP to constitute a judicial commission for a probe into the matter. He alleged that black sheep and traitors were working in the system as Pakistan had lost the case against construction of Kishanganga dam and could be defeated again.

Syed Mehr Ali Shah, the Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters, said the country had suffered $19bn losses over the past six years due to floods and $38bn losses since 1950. He said that 1.3 million tube wells had drastically reduced the groundwater level while 40pc of extracted water was hazardous to health. He suggested that tube well be brought under the legal framework and taxation and pricing system.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018

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Nation mourns deaths in poll campaign blasts

QUETTA: As the nation observed a day of mourning over recent terrorist attacks on election candidates in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa just a few days before the general elections, the caretaker prime minister, Senate chairman and political party heads arrived in the city on Sunday to condole the Mastung killings.

The death toll in the Mastung suicide bombing reached 149 on Sunday when officials found that some bodies had not been brought to any hospital. They were buried by their families soon after the blast, the officials said, adding that the death toll might increase further during a survey being conducted in nearby villages. “The death toll of Mastung carnage is now 149,” Mastung deputy commissioner Qaim Lashari confirmed to Dawn.

Take a look: ,Leaders of all major parties under threat, Nacta tells ECP,

The national flag remained at half-mast on government buildings across the country to mourn the death of all those who lost their lives in terrorist attacks at Peshawar on July 10 and in Mastung and Bannu on July 13.

Mastung toll surges to 149; Shahbaz, Imran, Sanjrani visit Raisani family

Shortly after their arrival at Quetta on Sunday, caretaker PM Nasirul Mulk and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani visited the Raisani family to condole the death of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) candidate Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was targeted in the Mastung blast on Friday, and then visited the injured victims at the hospital.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan also condoled the death of Mr Raisani during their separate visits to Quetta. Expressing serious concern over the security situation in the country, both the party heads termed the Mastung incident a “national tragedy”. Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari cancelled a public meeting in Malakand on Sunday as a mark of solidarity with the victims of the attacks. While he met the Bilour family to condole the death of Awami National Party candidate in Peshawar blast, he is likely to visit Balochistan soon to condole the death of the BAP candidate.

The country has been in the grip of renewed attacks by terrorists who have targeted three election candidates in blasts, killing more than 170 people and injuring over 200 others.

The first major incident took place on July 10 when ANP candidate from Peshawar (PK-78) Haroon Bilour and 19 others were killed in an attack targeting the party’s election meeting. The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which had also claimed responsibility for the killing of Mr Haroon’s father Bashir Bilour in 2012, said it had carried out the attack. Two days later, two more terrorist attacks took place targeting election candidates in Bannu and Mastung.

Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal candidate from Bannu (NA-35) Akram Khan Durrani survived the attack that killed four other people. Hours later, a powerful bomb blast targeted a meeting of Balochistan Awami Party candidate from Mastung (PB-35) Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, killing him with 127 others on the spot.

Meanwhile, PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif and PTI chairman Imran Khan during their separate visits to Sarawan House in Quetta condoled with the family members of BAP candidate Siraj Raisani, who was the youngest brother of former Balochistan chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani and former MNA Lashkari Raisani.

Talking to the media after the meeting, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif termed the Mastung carnage a “national tragedy”. He said: “Every Pakistani is sad on the huge human loss.

“We are with the Raisani family and others who had lost their near and dear ones,” he added.

He supported Lashkari Raisani’s demand for formation of a truth commission to investigate the terrorist attack that the militant organisation Islamic State reportedly claimed to have carried out.

“Pakistan can’t make progress unless the terrorism is defeated,” Mr Sharif said.

He said it was responsibility of the caretaker government and the Election Commission to ensure holding of impartial elections.

Mr Sharif accused the Punjab government of supporting “one of our opponent political party” and said such actions would create doubts about impartially of the polls. He said “rigged elections” wouldn’t be in the country’s interest.

“Unfortunately, when the entire country is under severe grief, the PTI chief is still distracting people of Pakistan with his false speeches,” he said, adding that it was time to get united against terrorism instead of segregating the nation.

Earlier, PTI chairman Imran Khan told a news conference that abandoning election campaign would encourage terrorists as they would succeed in their nefarious designs to sabotage the upcoming elections.

Mr Khan paid rich tribute to late Siraj Raisani and termed him “a true and a brave Pakistani.” He said the purpose of his visit was to express solidarity with the people of Balochistan, Raisani family and with all those who lost their loved ones in the Mastung tragedy.

He said some quarters were asking the PTI and other political parties to stop their election campaign. “Our election campaign is continuing and will not be stopped across the country. Abandoning election campaign means to surrender before the terrorists and their encouragement,” he said.

Replying to a question, Mr Khan said the PTI had a comprehensive plan to deal with terrorism. “To get rid of terrorism, all the four provinces must be united and should be on one page,” he said. He deplored that the National Action Plan prepared with consensus of political parties had not been fully implemented in the country.

Meanwhile, an official handout issued from the PM Office said that the caretaker prime minister retired Justice Nasirul Mulk presided over a meeting to review the situation in the wake of Mastung blast. Senior civil and military officials, including Southern Command commander Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, also attended the meeting.

The provincial chief secretary informed the meeting about the details of the Mastung incident and the arrangements being made for the upcoming general elections.

The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to take all possible steps to ensure security of election candidates and the public. “The prime minister underlined the need to take the political leadership on board regarding the security arrangements and to secure their cooperation “in order to avoid any untoward incident”, the official handout added.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018

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Teenager dies, 15 hurt as swing ride comes apart at Karachi’s Askari Amusement Park

An evening meant for fun and relaxation turned into a nightmare on Sunday as a swing ride at the newly-opened Askari Amusement Park in Karachi’s PIB Colony fell apart, crushing at least 16 underneath it, police said.

Karachi Deputy Inspector General (DIG) East Zone Amir Farooqi told Dawn that bolts of the ride had come apart causing it to fall down.

The injured persons were shifted to different hospitals where a 16-year-old girl was pronounced dead.

One person earlier reported to be buried under the debris, was later evacuated and taken to the hospital for treatment.

Additional police surgeon of Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi told Dawn that the teenage girl, Kashaf Samad, had already expired when brought in. The victim was a resident of Sharafabad.

Ride falls in Askari Park ,#Karachi, this evening. At least 12 people were taken to hospital. Unconfirmed reports say one person lost his life in the incident. ,pic.twitter.com/Jf9KQrDpKj,

— azhar khan (@azharkhn4) ,July 15, 2018,

Courtesy Azhar Khan

Dr Abbasi added that a 23-year-old male, Ibrahim Yasin was also brought for treatment at the hospital.

“We received seven persons brought for treatment at Liaquat National Hospital,” said the hospital’s spokesperson, Anjum Rizvi. All have been shifted to the emergency ward.

“At this moment, nothing can be said about condition of the injured persons,” added Rizvi.

“Seven injured males, aged between 12 to 15 years were brought for treatment at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC),” said police surgeon, Dr Aijaz Khokhar.

Taking immediate notice of the incident, Inspector General (IG) Sindh Amjad Javed Saleemi ordered the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) East to provide emergency rescue services to all those affected at the park.

He also issued directives for the police to ensure cooperation of park officials so that details of the incident can be properly uncovered.

Caretaker chief minister Fazlur Rehman has ordered that all the injured be provided treatment at the finest hospitals in the city which will be paid for by the Sindh government.

Additionally, Sindh chief secretary Retd Major Azam Suleman Khan also took notice of the incident, directing the city commissioner to visit the park and the hospitals were the wounded had been taken.

The chief secretary has ordered the closure of the park — along with all other amusement parks in the province — for three days so a technical inspection can be carried out.

He also established an inquiry team led by Deputy Commissioner East, which has been directed to submit its report within 24 hours regarding the incident.

Gulshan Superintendent Police (SP) Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto identified some of the injured persons as Saima, Hifza, Saira Shah, Babar, Suleman, Areeba and Mujeeb.

Located inside Old Sabzi Mandi, the park was inaugurated during Eidul Fitr amid much fanfare. It attracted huge crowds during the Eid holidays last month and on weekends.

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France snatch World Cup glory from Croatia to win second title

France become new world champions after an epic final that has featured a series of firsts including an own goal and a penalty awarded after a video review.

⭐️⭐️,#FRA,

France have won the 2018 FIFA ,#WorldCup, in Moscow! ,#FRACRO, // ,#WorldCupFinal, ,pic.twitter.com/fZhmJmxjVh,

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) ,July 15, 2018,

Courtesy @FIFAWorldCup

Les Bleus, as they are colloquially known, will lift their first World Cup trophy since 1998.

France coach Didier Deschamps was thrown into the air in a celebration by his players after becoming just the third person to win the World Cup as a player and as a coach.

ALLEZ! ,#WorldCup, ,pic.twitter.com/XZVFIxJMSU,

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) ,July 15, 2018,

Courtesy @FIFAWorldCup

Deschamps was captain of the France squad that won the World Cup on home soil in 1998.

Earlier, Paul Pogba gave France a 3-1 lead over Croatia in the World Cup final with a goal in the 59th minute.

POGBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! ,@FrenchTeam, extend their lead through ,@paulpogba,! ,#FRACRO, 3-1,#WorldCupFinal, ,pic.twitter.com/NfuSoCRHBL,

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) ,July 15, 2018,

Courtesy @FIFAWorldCup

The first half ended with thunder rolling over Moscow after France regained the lead from an Antoine Griezmann penalty in the 38th minute following the first use of video review in a World Cup final.

VAR: Penalty Review
Penalty confirmed by VAR.
Reason: There was a foul.,#FRA, regain the lead through ,@AntoGriezmann,! ,#FRACRO, 2-1,#WorldCupFinal, ,pic.twitter.com/Tn219NAtIf,

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) ,July 15, 2018,

Courtesy @FIFAWorldCup

Four people dressed in suits invaded the pitch during the second half.

The four, who seemed to be wearing peaked caps, approached players and one appeared to share a high five with a France player.

Stewards dragged the people off the field after a total disruption of almost a minute while France was leading 2-1.

France had taken the lead in the 18th through Mario Mandzukic’s own-goal the first in a World Cup final and a record 12th in the tournament off a Griezmann free kick, before Croatia’s Ivan Perisic equalized with a fierce left-foot strike 10 minutes later.

,#FRA, GOAL! ,@FrenchTeam, take the lead in the ,#WorldCupFinal, in Moscow! ,#FRACRO, 1-0 ,pic.twitter.com/wj7yktQwMD,

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) ,July 15, 2018,

Courtesy @FIFAWorldCup

,#CRO, GOAL! ,@HNS_CFF, are back level! Ivan Perisic!,#FRACRO, // ,#WorldCupFinal, ,pic.twitter.com/SNq59WHoS4,

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) ,July 15, 2018,

Courtesy @FIFAWorldCup

Perisic was also the player who conceded the penalty with a handball at a corner.

French fans packed the Paris fan zone, which holds 90,000, near the Eiffel Tower to watch the World Cup final between France and Croatia.

Orio Hamra from the Paris region said, “Yes, I have faith … They’re hungry and 20 years on, it would be beautiful if they won the Cup.”

It was an occasion for all ages to dress up for France, some wrapped in French flags, others painting their faces or donning elaborate headgear in the blue, white and red national colors.

Security forces were on the ready throughout France, which celebrated Bastille Day on Saturday, with 110,000 police on duty.

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