Posts Tagged ‘PTI’

Imran asks Punjab, KP to fine-tune new LG system

LAHORE: Prime Minis­ter Imran Khan on Sunday granted yet another extension in ,the deadline for local government reforms,, this time by 48 hours, and directed the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to fine-tune the new LG system, besides issuing orders for formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into loss of Punjab’s official record in fire incidents.

During his second visit to Lahore since assuming the Prime Minister’s Office, Imran Khan also chided the Indian leadership’s arrogance and said: “If India hurls threats, it will be given a befitting reply by the Pakistani nation. However, he declared, “Pakistan wants peace, friendship and trade to develop the region.”

He asserted that Pakistan would never bow to any pressure, not even by any super power.

He expressed these views while addressing the bureaucracy after holding meetings with Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and his cabinet members to review Punjab’s progress on the government’s 100-day agenda.

Says India will be given a befitting reply if it hurls threats though Pakistan wants peace, friendship and trade

Speaking to police officers and civil servants, Mr Khan said Pakistan wanted to have cordial relations with all nations and promote trade and economic ties to overcome the financial crisis. With a vital geo-strategic positioning, he said, Pakistan could attract massive foreign investment, provided it streamlined its governance system and win investors’ confidence. “I did not go to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to beg but to invite investment for Pakistan,” he explained.

De-politicisation of bureaucracy

In a tacit reference to the Pakpattan incident that resulted in the transfer of a district police officer, Mr Khan said he had allowed the bureaucracy to report any political meddling in official working to top bosses. He took serious note of complaints by two deputy commissioners and a police officer who, he said, had violated the chain of command. “Any move of making complaints public will not be tolerated from now onwards and will invite strict disciplinary action,” he warned.

He said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government wanted to free bureaucracy from political pressure and asked the bureaucracy to seize the opportunity and deliver in the best interest of people. He urged the bureaucracy to shun political affiliations and perform their duties professionally for the well-being of people and the country.

Mr Khan said that PTI members had been instructed that any issue they would face at the hands of bureaucracy should be reported to the chief minister, who himself would eventually sort out matters with the chief secretary and police chief.

“The PTI legislators will not directly interfere in bureaucracy’s functioning,” he promised.

He said bureaucrats should think afresh and serve the masses on merit. “This new mindset actually means Naya Pakistan,” he said, adding that the prime minister and chief minister offices would establish complaint cells to address grievances of the masses.

Three points for new LG system

Following the PM’s meeting with the Punjab cabinet, a separate meeting with CM Buzdar, a senior minister and law minister on local government system, federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry told the media that Mr Khan had held a detailed discussion on new local government system and finalised three basic principles – the LG system should be simple, hold direct elections and ensure empowering elected representatives to serve the masses at the grassroots level.

As the village councils’ experiment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had rendered results, the PM wanted to resize union councils in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, he said. “Village council is a smaller unit catering to some 2,000 to 6,000 people, while each UC in Punjab covers around 30,000 people. The discussion is hovering around whether village councils be created or UC size be reconsidered,” he explained.

Besides, he said, there was a question whether the direct mayor election should be held at tehsil or district level.

Mr Chaudhry said the prime minister also assigned targets to respective ministers demanding that they should come up to the expectations to the leadership as well as the people of Punjab, who were looking towards them with a new hope. “The incumbent PTI government wanted to behave as a people-friendly government,” he said.

Audit reports of metro bus projects received

The information minister said the prime minister ordered investigation into all fire incidents that burnt important record in government offices.

He said reports of simple audit into metro bus projects in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan had been received but forensic audits would take time. “All these scandals will expose those involved in corruption and they will land in jails,” he asserted.

Answering a question, the information minister said ousted premier Nawaz Sharif’s political future was dark and now he should pray for his personal future as the Hill Metals Establishment case was near conclusion. He said the case found unaccounted for transactions worth Rs800 million to Maryam Nawaz and Rs160 million to a cook’s account. “Nawaz Sharif should bring nation’s money back to Pakistan,” he said.

‘Modi caught in scandals’

Answering a question about Pakistan’s offer and consequent Indian reply, the information minister said Pakistan wanted peace and wanted that the neighbouring atomic powers hold a dialogue on all longstanding issues. While India by cancelling the scheduled meeting of foreign ministers indicated its desire to weaken Pakistan, “this is not possible because only regions rise, not individual countries,” he said.

Mr Chaudhry said Indian premier Narendra Modi had been caught in an internal “Rafale scandal” involving $8 billion to $10 billion and wanted to shift public attention from internal to external politics to save his skin. He said Modi should contest his own case instead of shifting the blame on Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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Electricity tariff likely to go up by Rs2

ISLAMABAD: After having raised gas prices, the PTI government is working on a proposal to increase electricity tariff by an average of Rs2 per unit to partially finance the ever-rising circular debt.

A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet has been called on Tuesday to take up a two-point agenda — electricity tariff and presentation on LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals — sought by the power division and petroleum division, respectively.

While announcing ,up to 143pc increase in gas prices last week,, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had said his ministry was not satisfied with LNG matters finalised by the previous government and “seriously examining” issues relating to LNG terminals.

He said the petroleum ministry, National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency were simultaneously and thoroughly working on the subject as one of the two terminals was running on full capacity while the other was operating at below capacity since their inception. He said a report on faults and weaknesses of LNG mechanism would be submitted to the ECC for addressing them.

Report on weaknesses of LNG mechanism to be submitted to ECC tomorrow

A senior official told Dawn that the power division was seeking an approval for implementation of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (Nepra) determination suggesting a gross increase of Rs3.90 per unit in consumer tariff under relaxed benchmarks for ex-Wapda distribution companies (Discos). After taking into account the amount of subsidy earmarked in the budget, the net increase in average consumer tariff has been worked out at about Rs2 per unit with a total impact of Rs200 billion.

Under the Nepra determination for 10 Discos, the average tariff has been increased to Rs15.45 per unit from Rs11.50, following the resolution of all outstanding issues pending before courts or at various levels of settlement or late notifications on account of prior-year adjustments, capacity payments, net hydel profit and additional power purchases.

The overall impact of net hydel profit to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as part of various decisions taken by the Council of Common Interests for the fiscal year 2017-18 was worked out at Rs250bn, but about Rs70bn of that amount was already part of the tariff being paid by consumers.

The regulator has now forwarded a fresh schedule of tariff showing additional tariff requirement for each consumer category for all Discos separately and after adjusting tariff differential subsidy in the budget, the fresh tariff increase for consumers was estimated at Rs2 per unit.

Nepra had concluded on Sept 7 the process of making public hearing on quarterly adjustments for prior-year power purchase prices for the fiscal year 2017-18 when it heard the requests of six distribution companies for quarterly adjustments.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had already given a go-ahead for notification of base tariff increase for Discos on the basis of a briefing given by the power division and Nepra with an impact of about Rs2 per unit or Rs200 billion on the existing power rates.

The regulator had worked out prior-year adjustments for the fiscal year 2015-16 that were notified by the federal government on March 22. The notified determination provides mechanism for quarterly adjustments on account of power purchase price.

Discos had sought prior-year adjustments against capacity payments, operation & maintenance, use of system charges and transmission & distribution losses other than fuel component.

Officials explained that the Nepra-determined tariff for fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16 could not be notified by the power division despite a lapse of almost four years. The division and power companies had filed a request for review with higher allowances for theft and losses which was rejected by the regulator. The government challenged the decision in the court which remanded the case back to the regulator with a directive to resolve the matter.

The regulator delivered its determination in October last year as desired by the power division, but a final tariff could not be notified as the then government shied away from taking a political decision so close to the elections that it had been insisting for over three years through amendments to the Nepra ordinance.

During a recent presentation by the power division, the ECC was given a rundown on the impact of industrial support package, Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s subsidised units, Balochistan agricultural tubewells and Fata receivables, as well as the impact of the existing time lag on tariff determination mechanism of Nepra.

The ECC had decided that there was no reason to keep sitting on the tariff determination and more so when it was providing relief in cash flows to the power sector marred by circular debt.

In the process, all Discos suffered financial losses — including the electric supply companies of Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad that were in profit until two years ago and placed in the privatisation list through capital market listings, but later withdrawn because of negative balance sheets.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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PML-N, PPP mull over joining hands in by-polls

ISLAMABAD: After going separate ways during the recent election for the key offices of prime minister and president and causing serious damage to the opposition’s unity, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are now considering joining hands in the coming by-elections.

A PML-N delegation, headed by Opposition Leader in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, met PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bokhari at his residence here on Sunday and conveyed him a message of the PML-N leadership that the two parties must work together from the platform of joint opposition inside and outside the parliament.

The PML-N delegation comprised Senator Chaudhry Tanveer, former minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and former MNA Anjum Aqeel.

Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Mr Bokhari said the two sides had discussed the possibilities of fielding joint candidates in next month’s by-elections to be held in 11 constituencies of the National Assembly and 26 of the provincial assemblies. These seats have fallen vacant due to different reasons, including resignations by those elected on more than one seat and death of some contesting candidates.

Zafar-led delegation conveys party high-command’s message to Peoples Party

Mr Bokhari said they had discussed various options and proposals, but refused to provide details, saying he could not do so before discussing them with his party’s leadership. He said the PML-N leaders had also sought time so that they could also consult their leadership.

In reply to a question, the PPP leader said cooperation between the two parties would not be limited to two or three seats, and they would have to agree on a formula for all the constituencies.

Asked if the PML-N delegation had conveyed any message of their supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, Mr Bokhari said, “The message was simple that we should work as joint opposition inside and outside the parliament to give a tough time to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.”

He expressed the hope that there would be more meetings between the two parties in a few days and said that not only the PML-N, but other opposition parties would also be taken on board, if they (the PPP and PML-N) reached consensus.

Similarly, when contacted, PML-N’s Raja Zafarul Haq said the two sides had agreed to increase coordination and cooperation with a view to playing an effective role of opposition. He said they had discussed the option of jointly contesting the upcoming by-elections, but no final decision had been made so far.

Sources said the main purpose of the visit of the PML-N’s delegation was to seek cooperation on the two National Assembly seats — NA-53 Islamabad and NA-60 Rawalpindi. However, they said, Mr Bokhari made no commitment with the PML-N team and stressed the need for a broader cooperation and adjustments on all the seats being contested in the by-polls.

The sources said that PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif was reaching Islamabad on Monday (today) after which contacts between the country’s two major parties and arch rivals of the past were expected to increase. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is also expected to be present in the capital as the National Assembly is also in session.

It was the first direct and formal contact between the two parties after the Sept 4 presidential elections in which the PPP had fielded Chuadhry Aitzaz Ahsan whereas the PML-N and other opposition parties had nominated Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as their joint candidate against the PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi.

Despite hectic efforts and mediation of other parties, the PML-N had refused to vote for Mr Ahsan due to his controversial remarks about the illness of Nawaz Sharif and his wife Kulsoom Nawaz whereas the PPP had also refused to withdraw from the race.

The failure of the opposition parties to field a joint candidate virtually provided a walkover to Dr Arif Alvi who managed to win the election without facing any difficulty.

And after facing humiliation in the presidential poll, the two parties started passing the buck holding each other responsible for it.

Making a direct attack, PML-N information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan had alleged that Mr Zardari had damaged democracy. He alleged that the PPP had ditched the combined opposition twice — first by refusing to vote for Shahbaz Sharif in the election for the prime minister and then by unilaterally nominating Aitzaz Ahsan as the presidential candidate.

Another PML-N leader Engineer Amir Muqam was of the opinion that Prime Minister Imran Khan and president-elect Dr Alvi should be “thankful” to Mr Zardari for the party’s victory in the presidential election.

Similarly, when a reporter sought Mr Zardari’s comments on the PML-N allegations, he had said with his usual smile on his face: “They are saying that Zardari has broken the opposition alliance. Why shouldn’t we say that Mian Sahab (Shahbaz Sharif) has never been in the opposition?”

The grand opposition alliance formed by 11 parties soon after the July 25 elections had fallen apart within weeks following the PPP’s refusal to vote for PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif against PTI chief Imran Khan in the election of prime minister despite agreeing on a formula during a meeting of the multiparty conference.

The PPP backed out of its commitment and asked the PML-N to replace Mr Sharif with some other candidate, explaining that the party could not vote for him as he had made some controversial remarks against Mr Zardari during the election campaign.

The cracks within the opposition ranks deepened when the PPP unilaterally nominated Mr Ahsan as the presidential candidate, drawing the ire of other opposition parties.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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Pak v Ind: India seal victory over Pakistan in another lop-sided contest

Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan both scored centuries, and produced a batting master class to hand another lop-sided defeat to Pakistan in their Asia Cup 2018 Super Four match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Pakistan innings

After captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bat first, Fakhar Zaman and Imamul Haq opened the innings for Pakistan, whereas Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah shared the new ball for India.

Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Following a cautious start, Pakistan were dealt the first blow on the final ball of the 8th over when Haq was trapped leg-before-wicket by Yuzvendra Chahal.

Zaman, who was joined by Babar Azam at the crease, smacked the day’s first maximum in the 13th over bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.

Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India's Kuldeep Yadav. — AP

Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India’s Kuldeep Yadav. — AP

The hard-hitting southpaw smashed another four to Yadav in the 15th over but like his fellow opener, fell leg-before-wicket when trying to sweep one. Replays showed that Zaman may have earned a reprieve had he opted for a review but he decided against it despite consulting his partner.

Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan's Babar Azam, front. — AP

Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan’s Babar Azam, front. — AP

In the next over, Pakistan lost another big wicket, this time Azam being the casualty due to Sarfraz Ahmed’s call. Azam responded to a call for a single by the skipper, who then cancelled the call, leaving him in the lurch on the non-striker’s end.

The resultant run-out left Pakistan three-down and needing a major innings from their skipper, who was joined by Shoaib Malik — the last game’s match-winner.

Run weren’t flowing in the first place but the trifecta of wickets dried them up even more. A couple more tight overs followed to leave Pakistan 71-3 after 20 overs.

The duo rotated the strike for the next five overs, taking their side to 92-3 at the halfway mark of their innings.

Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

While Sarfraz was content at picking up singles, Malik was growing in confidence; he launched Chahal over the long-on boundary in the 28th over, at the end of which the score was 108-3.

Both Sarfraz and Malik hit 4s in the 31st over as they searched for an extra gear in order to ensure that the match remains competitive in the second innings of the game.

Malik brought up his second straight half-century of the Asia Cup 2018 with a single in the 35th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 141-3.

But Sarfraz couldn’t replicate him, holing out in cover off the bowling of Yadav in the 39th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 165-4.

Asif came alive in the 42nd over bowled by Kumar, hitting two massive 6s to go with two 4s. At the end of that over, which leaked 22 runs, Pakistan were 193-4.

Asif Ali plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India. — AFP

Asif Ali plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India. — AFP

Malik’s prized wicket fell in the 44th over when he nicked one to Dhoni when trying to glance one to the fine leg.

In the 45th over, Asif fell prey to his hit-and-miss style, getting bowled out by Chahal as the Pakistani hopes of posting a 250-run target dwindled.

The Indian pacers bowled an extremely tight line and length in the final five overs, rarely giving them the opportunity to free their arms.

In the end, Pakistan finished with 237-7 in their allotted 50 overs.

Bumrah was the pick of the Indian bowlers, picking two wickets for just 29 runs in his 10, and in general being almost unhittable for Pakistani batters.

India innings

The usual pairing of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opened the innings for India, whereas Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi shared the new ball for Pakistan.

Dhawan struck the innings’ first boundary in the 3rd over and repeated the trick in the 4th as both Indian batsmen looked nonplussed facing the southpaw pair.

Amir’s lack of movement forced Sarfraz to replace him with Hasan Ali, who also conceded a boundary in his opening over, with his punisher being Sharma.

Sharma was given a lifeline in the sixth over when Imam inexplicably dropped an easy catch of his. The India openers made Pakistan pay for that reprieve as they easily dealt with whatever was hurled at them for the next four overs.

Sharma plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Sharma plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

At the end of 10 overs, India were 53-0 — well and truly in the driving seat. And they kept it that way, taking their score to 72-0 at the end of 15 overs as Pakistan’s search for a breakthrough continued.

Dhawan brought up his half-century in the 18th over with a boundary towards the square leg. Sharma followed suit four overs later.

From that point on, the Indian openers started toying with the Pakistani bowlers, finding boundaries almost at will to boost their score to 179-0 at the end of 30 overs.

Like the 50, Dhawan completed his century before Sharma as well, reaching the mark in the 33rd over. The contest, by this point, had long been over.

Pakistan finally found a breakthrough but it was no more than a consolation. Confusion between Sharma and Dhawan saw the latter run out.

Sharma completed his century in the 36th over as India inched closer to another lop-sided victory over Pakistan.

They reached their target at a canter with 63 balls to spare and nine wickets in hand. Dhawan was named the man of the match for his swashbuckling 114 off 100 balls. Sharma finished unbeaten at 111 off 119 balls.

Captains’ comments

Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said of the pitch at Dubai International Stadium: “It looks good to bat on and hopefully we can score enough today.”

“Mohammad Amir is playing today. He’s a main player. Shadab Khan is back as well. Haris Sohail and Usman Khan are out. We want to score 250-plus,” Sarfraz said.

Pakistan had dropped struggling fast bowler Amir against Afghanistan, but he was recalled today after the team’s unconvincing bowling display. Left-arm medium-pacer and newcomer Shaheen Afridi, who took two wickets against Afghanistan, is also in the team today.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said he would be happy if his side continued to bowl the way it had during its last two games. “We restricted the teams to decent totals.”

“We have to come out here, bowl well and chase whatever target they give us. Quite happy with the wristspinners. They are still learning, they went wicketless in the last two games, but they know exactly what they are doing.”

“They’ve done it in the past many times. There will be games where they are not successful. That doesn’t mean they are bad bowlers or are not bowling to plan. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition. They understand the pitch here is quite slow and they understand they need to vary the pace,” Sharma said.

Line-ups

Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain and wicket keeper), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (captain), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wicket keeper), Dinesh Karthik, Kedhar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.

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‘We will strengthen you and you will strengthen the nation,’ PM Khan tells civil servants

Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to completely overhaul the governance systems of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the centre during a televised speech to civil servants on Sunday, which followed a high-level meeting in Lahore.

“There is a dire need to fix the way the police works and to depoliticise bureaucracy. Merit needs to be brought in and laws need to be practiced in letter and spirit,” he stressed.

“Never again, during any other government’s tenure, will you be given the freedom to do your job professionally,” he said.

In the address, he urged civil servants to value the freedom the PTI government will be providing them and not let it go to waste. He assured them that their work will not be interferred with and they will face “no pressure to engage in any wrongdoing whatsoever”.

Referring to the police, he said: “When the institution of police is politicised, it ceases to remain professional. When police starts taking sides, people are no longer willing to place their trust in it.”

Read more: ,Imran promises wide-ranging reforms: ‘All policies for the people’,

He said Pakistan, in the 1960s, had been an exemplary nation where meritocracy thrived “but it was brought down due to politicisation and lateral entities”.

The task now, he explained, was to reverse this direction the nation had been steered towards. He called on civil servants to help him in this initiative.

A warning

PM Khan cautioned, however, that the authority being given to civil servants came with added responsibility.

He said he was “very hurt that a police officer and two bureaucrats publicised what should have been a matter that goes up their chain of command.”

He was referring to the much publicised Pakpattan ‘incident’ which had resulted in the ,transfer of the district police officer, for alleged ‘misconduct’.

“Which government allows such a thing to take place? The IG should have been approached or the chief secretary,” the PM remarked, visibly irked as he further stressed the need for depoliticising the bureaucracy.

Issuing a final warning, the PM made clear that such ‘politicisation’ of the state’s inner workings will never again be tolerated.

“If such a thing occurs again, [which seems to be] based on some [political] agenda, I assure you the people involved will not be left off the hook and will be dealt with very strictly,” he said.

“This is simply an abuse of powers granted by the government [for you] to do good,” he said.

Explore: ,For a democratic Pakistan, more power needs to be given to local governments,

He said that ‘Naya Pakistan’ entails a new mindset and a new way of thinking, and expressed confidence that the nation would surpass the heights he believes it had reached in the ’60s.

“We will strengthen you and you will strengthen the nation,” he said, issuing a call of action to inspire civil servants to serve the people they are tasked with servicing.

“You have to keep your doors open and really listen to the people … so that people walk away satisfied simply because someone listened to them,” he explained.

He said that nationwide complaint cells would also be introduced, including one in the PM House where he will be regularly monitoring performance so that the government can respond in a timely manner to the people’s needs and bring an improvement in their lives.

“I request all police officials to take ownership and personally monitor their police stations so that the common man is not slighted against and justice is served” he said.

Good governance equals investment

The PM said that Pakistan’s problems all largely boil down to poor governance. He said that if governance is improved, Pakistan can secure major investment from abroad.

“I have just come back from a tour of UAE. We did not go there begging but to ask for funds. Their condition always is that our governance be improved and red tape reduced.”

He said that that Pakistan’s foremost priority should lie with improving governance, not only to fix internal deficiencies but to also create a more welcoming environment for investment which Pakistan sorely needs.

“Pakistan has great geo-strategic importance in the region. The biggest market right now, China, lies right to our north. India, if our relations with them improve, then they are the world’s second-biggest market.”

“I do hope that this ,arrogance that the Indian leadership has, [displayed] goes away. They have this misconception … when we reach out for friendship it is because we know that if our relations improve, the sub-continent has a real chance of defeating poverty.

“Our gesture should never be misconstrued as weakness. We are a nation that will never take pressure from anyone, be it a global power, lying down,” the premier said.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 23, 2018 at 6:25 pm

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Pak v Ind: After Dhawan, Sharma brings up his 100 as India inch closer to lop-sided victory

India are 229-1 after 37 overs against Pakistan in pursuit of the 238-run target to chase in their Asia Cup 2018 Super Four match being played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

The usual pairing of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opened the innings for India, whereas Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi shared the new ball for Pakistan.

Dhawan struck the innings’ first boundary in the 3rd over and repeated the trick in the 4th as both Indian batsmen looked nonplussed facing the southpaw pair.

Amir’s lack of movement forced Sarfraz to replace him with Hasan Ali, who also conceded a boundary in his opening over, with his punisher being Sharma.

Sharma was given a lifeline in the sixth over when Imam inexplicably dropped an easy catch of his. The India openers made Pakistan pay for that reprieve as they easily dealt with whatever was hurled at them for the next four overs.

Sharma plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Sharma plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

At the end of 10 overs, India were 53-0 — well and truly in the driving seat. And they kept it that way, taking their score to 72-0 at the end of 15 overs as Pakistan’s search for a breakthrough continued.

Dhawan brought up his half-century in the 18th over with a boundary towards the square leg. Sharma followed suit four overs later.

From that point on, the Indian openers started toying with the Pakistani bowlers, finding boundaries almost at will to boost their score to 179-0 at the end of 30 overs.

Like the 50, Dhawan completed his century before Sharma as well, reaching the mark in the 33rd over. The contest, by this point, had long been over.

Pakistan finally found a breakthrough but it was no more than a consolation. Confusion between Sharma and Dhawan saw the latter run out.

Sharma completed his century in the 36th over as India inched closer to another lop-sided victory over Pakistan.

Pakistan innings

After captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bat first, Fakhar Zaman and Imamul Haq opened the innings for Pakistan, whereas Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah shared the new ball for India.

Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Following a cautious start, Pakistan were dealt the first blow on the final ball of the 8th over when Haq was trapped leg-before-wicket by Yuzvendra Chahal.

Zaman, who was joined by Babar Azam at the crease, smacked the day’s first maximum in the 13th over bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.

Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India's Kuldeep Yadav. — AP

Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India’s Kuldeep Yadav. — AP

The hard-hitting southpaw hit another four to Yadav in the 15th over but like his fellow opener, fell leg-before-wicket when trying to sweep one. Replays showed that Zaman may have earned a reprieve had he opted for a review but he decided against it despite consulting his partner.

Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan's Babar Azam, front. — AP

Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan’s Babar Azam, front. — AP

In the next over, Pakistan lost another big wicket, this time Azam being the casualty due to Sarfraz Ahmed’s call. Azam responded to a call for a single by the skipper, who then cancelled the call, leaving him in the lurch on the non-striker’s end.

The resultant run-out left Pakistan three-down and needing a major innings from their skipper, who was joined by Shoaib Malik — the last game’s match-winner.

Run weren’t flowing in the first place but the trifecta of wickets dried them up even more. A couple more tight overs followed to leave Pakistan 71-3 after 20 overs.

The duo rotated the strike for the next five overs, taking their side to 92-3 at the halfway mark of their innings.

Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

While Sarfraz was content at picking up singles, Malik was growing in confidence; he launched Chahal over the long-on boundary in the 28th over, at the end of which the score was 108-3.

Both Sarfraz and Malik hit 4s in the 31st over as they searched for an extra gear in order to ensure that the match remains competitive in the second innings of the game.

Malik brought up his second straight half-century of the Asia Cup 2018 with a single in the 35th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 141-3.

But Sarfraz couldn’t replicate him, holing out in cover off the bowling of Yadav in the 39th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 165-4.

Asif came alive in the 42nd over bowled by Kumar, hitting two massive 6s to go with two 4s. At the end of that over, which leaked 22 runs, Pakistan were 193-4.

Asif Ali plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India. — AFP

Asif Ali plays a shot during the Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India. — AFP

Malik’s prized wicket fell in the 44th over when he nicked one to Dhoni when trying to glance one to the fine leg.

In the 45th over, Asif fell prey to his hit-and-miss style, getting bowled out by Chahal as the Pakistani hopes of posting a 250-run target dwindled.

The Indian pacers bowled an extremely tight line and length in the final five overs, rarely giving them the opportunity to free their arms.

In the end, Pakistan finished with 237-7 in their allotted 50 overs.

Bumrah was the pick of the Indian bowlers, picking two wickets for just 29 runs in his 10, and in general being almost unhittable for Pakistani batters.

Captains’ comments

Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said of the pitch at Dubai International Stadium: “It looks good to bat on and hopefully we can score enough today.”

“Mohammad Amir is playing today. He’s a main player. Shadab Khan is back as well. Haris Sohail and Usman Khan are out. We want to score 250-plus,” Sarfraz said.

Pakistan had dropped struggling fast bowler Amir against Afghanistan, but he was recalled today after the team’s unconvincing bowling display. Left-arm medium-pacer and newcomer Shaheen Afridi, who took two wickets against Afghanistan, is also in the team today.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said he would be happy if his side continued to bowl the way it had during its last two games. “We restricted the teams to decent totals.”

“We have to come out here, bowl well and chase whatever target they give us. Quite happy with the wristspinners. They are still learning, they went wicketless in the last two games, but they know exactly what they are doing.”

“They’ve done it in the past many times. There will be games where they are not successful. That doesn’t mean they are bad bowlers or are not bowling to plan. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition. They understand the pitch here is quite slow and they understand they need to vary the pace,” Sharma said.

Line-ups

Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain and wicket keeper), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (captain), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wicket keeper), Dinesh Karthik, Kedhar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.

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Pakistan still willing to open Kartarpur crossing despite India’s ‘unfortunate’ decision: Chaudhry

Despite Indian government’s refusal to engage in dialogue, Pakistani authorities are willing to open the Kartarpur border crossing so that Sikh pilgrims can visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib without a visa, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in an ,interview to Hindustan Times, on Saturday.

Talking to the Indian publication, Chaudhry said that while ,India’s decision to cancel the meeting, — which was to be held between both countries’ foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly — was “unfortunate”, citizens should not be made to suffer.

Explore: ,What the Indian media is saying about Modi govt’s cancellation of UNGA meeting with Pakistan,

“This is an issue of the ordinary people, Sikhs and other Indian pilgrims, and an issue of faith,” he said in a phone interview. “They shouldn’t suffer and we want to formalise the informal proposal the Pakistan army chief made to [Punjab State Minister Navjot Singh] Sidhu.”

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Last month, Sidhu had visited Pakistan to attend Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony. He had also ,met Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa,, who told him that “when [Sikh community] celebrates the 550th birthday of Baba Nanak [...] we’ll open the Kartarpur-Sahib Corridor.”

In his interview to Hindustan Times, Chaudhry reiterated the government’s stance to look for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue — which he said was the basic issue between Pakistan and India — and said that New Delhi had “wasted a wonderful opportunity [for peace] by rejecting the prime minister’s offer”.

On Friday, the Indian government had cancelled the meeting following domestic pressure just a day after it agreed to it. Pakistan, in response, ,voiced its “deep disappointment”, not only over the reasons cited for the cancellation of the meeting — the alleged killing of India’s Border Security Force’s soldier and Pakistan’s decision to release stamps honouring Kashmir freedom fighter Burhan Wani — but also over “reference in the Indian MEA statement to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan”.

Also read: ,’Pakistan has nothing to lose’ — analysts weigh in on Modi govt’s U-turn on UNGA meeting,

During his interview, Chaudhry said that while Pakistan had “several options” including war, the government considers it “foolish” to adopt a confrontational approach. Pointing out that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, Chaudhry asked: “Can’t we look for a solution to our problems through dialogue?”

Chaudhry said that India’s sudden change of heart is a result of the country’s domestic problems. He pointed out that elections in India were a few months away and “anti-Pakistan rhetoric sells” in the country.

He also rubbished India’s accusations of Pakistan’s interference in held Kashmir.

“It is wrong to hold Pakistan responsible for the ongoing struggle in held Kashmir,” he said, but reiterated that: “Pakistan supports Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom.”

He further said that Pakistani authorities had “solid evidence” of Indian interference in Balochistan.

Kulbhushan Jadhav — an Indian spy who is under the custody of Pakistan’s armed forces — is sufficient proof of India’s interference in Balochistan, Chaudhry said.

He said that Pakistan was ready to hold talks on every issue, but the efforts cannot remain one-sided.

“We cannot change our neighbours,” the information minister said. “India has to decide [its future strategy].”

“Pakistan extended an offer of peace”

Talking to the media at home, Chaudhry said that the Pakistani government had “talked about peace” and wanted to hold talks with India as both countries have had “bitter experiences” in the past.

“Pakistan and India have been fighting for the past 70 years. Both [countries] are nuclear powers. If a war breaks out, then the country that is left standing can keep talking,” he said.

Referring to an ongoing ,corruption scandal surrounding Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,, Chaudhry repeated his claim that New Delhi’s decision to cancel the meeting was influenced by domestic pressure.

“Just like Nawaz Sharif was caught up in the Panama Papers, Modi is now caught up in the Rafale planes scandal,” the information minister said.

He insisted that the development of the region was vital for the progress of India and Pakistan.

“In India, there is a mindset that in order for the country to progress, they must weaken Pakistan. But if you study history, this is not the case. The region must be strengthened for the countries to develop. Our army chief has also stressed this point earlier,” he said.

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COAS attends funeral prayers of 7 soldiers martyred in North Waziristan

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and others offered funeral prayers at General Headquarters on Sunday for seven soldiers martyred in an attack in North Waziristan a day earlier, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a press release.

The soldiers were ambushed and came under attack from a compound while an intelligence-based operation in the Ghailani area of North Waziristan was under way. In return fire, the surviving soldiers in the group killed nine attackers.

A group of militants who were reported to have infiltrated from across the border was involved in the attack and apparently hiding in the compound.

The soldiers who embraced martyrdom were identified as Captain Junaid, Havaldar Ameer, Havaldar Asif, Havaldar Naseer, Havaldar Abdul Razzaq, Sepoy Samiullah, and Sepoy Anwar.

Their bodies are being sent to their respective native towns for burial with full military honours.

Below are photographs and details of the martyred soldiers released by ISPR:

Capt Junaid of Murree tehsil was unmarried.

Capt Junaid of Murree tehsil was unmarried.

Havaldar Ameer of Gilgit district is survived by a wife, two sons and a daughter.

Havaldar Ameer of Gilgit district is survived by a wife, two sons and a daughter.

Havaldar Asif of Khanewal district is survived by his wife, parents, seven sisters and a brother.

Havaldar Asif of Khanewal district is survived by his wife, parents, seven sisters and a brother.

Havaldar Naseer of Diamer district's Chilas area is survived by his wife and mother.

Havaldar Naseer of Diamer district’s Chilas area is survived by his wife and mother.

Havaldar Abdul Razzaq of Astore district is survived by a wife, a son and five daughters.

Havaldar Abdul Razzaq of Astore district is survived by a wife, a son and five daughters.

Sepoy Anwar Jan of Gilgit Baltistan's Ghizer district was unmarried.

Sepoy Anwar Jan of Gilgit Baltistan’s Ghizer district was unmarried.

Sepoy Samiullah of GB's Hunza district was unmarried.

Sepoy Samiullah of GB’s Hunza district was unmarried.

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Modi asked to resign for corruption in French jet deal

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced calls for his resignation over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after former French president Francois Hollande was quoted as saying New Delhi had influenced the choice of a local partner.

Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.

In recent months, the opposition has questioned the government on the choice of billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as Dassault’s local partner instead of a state-run manufacturer with decades of experience.

Opposition’s calls come after former French president Hollande says Indian govt influenced choice of local partner

On Friday, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying New Delhi had put pressure on Dassault to choose Reliance.

“We had no choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fuelling a political storm in India.

Under Indian defence procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 per cent of the contract in India to help it build up its manufacturing base and wean off imports.

For that, the French firm picked Reliance and not Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the state-run giant that has been producing planes for decades, most of them Russian under licence.

“The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to Franois Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to …Anil Ambani,” Rahul Gandhi, the president of the main opposition Congress party, said in a tweet. “The PM has betrayed India.”

Modi had no “moral right” to remain in power after the revelations from Hollande, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said.

Smaller parties also joined the attack on Modi who is already under pressure to shore up his political base ahead of a series of state elections this year followed by a national election in 2019.

The defence ministry said in a tweet that neither the French nor Indian government had had a say in the matter. “The report referring to fmr French president Mr Hollande’s statement that GoI (government of India) insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified. It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French govt had any say in the commercial decision.”

Reliance did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Dassault denied the report, saying it had picked Reliance as a partner for industrial reasons.

“This is Dassault Aviation’s choice, as (Dassault) CEO Eric Trappier explained in an interview published in MINT newspaper on April 17,” the company, which also makes Falcon business planes, said in a statement.

“Dassault Aviation and Reliance have built a plant in Nagpur for manufacturing parts for Falcon and Rafale aircraft. The Nagpur site was chosen because of the availability of land with direct access to an airport runway, an essential condition (for) aeronautic activities.” The French foreign ministry published a statement saying French authorities were not involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners involved in the Rafale deal.

“The French government is in no way involved in the choice of the Indian industrial partners which have been, are or will be, chosen by French companies,” the statement said.

“In accordance with the Indian procedure, French companies have full freedom to choose the Indian industrial partners they consider to be most pertinent and then to propose to the Indian government for approval the offset projects they want to carry out in India with local partners to respect their obligations,” it added.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018

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Devolution only way to empower masses, PM Khan says

Prime Minister Imran Khan, on his visit to Lahore on Sunday, declared that strengthening local bodies is the primary agenda of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf led government.

To discuss the establishment of local bodies, the premier chaired a meeting attended by Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman and senior party leadership.

Addressing the meeting, PM Khan said that devolution of power is the only way to empower the masses. He added that the local body system would pave the way for future leadership and break the status quo.

Senior minister Aleem Khan, who is also heading a special task force, is expected to come up with a viable LG system to be introduced in the province.

Later, while briefing the media, Chaudhry said that in the next 48 hours, the participants of the meeting will decide the number of members to be included in village and union councils. The participants will also decide if direct elections should be held on the tehsil level or district level.

The prime minister also held a separate meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and his cabinet, in which he assigned various targets to provincial ministers, said Chaudhry.

“The vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan is that of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, and wherever the party has secured a majority, the premier will ensure that the vision is acted upon,” the information minister said.

Agenda for the day

PM Khan was to chair a cabinet meeting on Sunday to review the Punjab government’s performance on the PTI’s 100-day agenda. CM Buzdar had already reviewed the 100-day plan and progress of 15 government departments a day ago.

Following the cabinet meeting, the prime minister held separate meetings with commissioners and deputy commissioners at the chief minister’s secretariat and took up some administrative matters, including political interference in officials’ working.

All bureaucrats and police officers had been called to Lahore for the meeting.

A separate meeting was scheduled with Chief Minister’s Adviser Nasir Durrani, Inspector General Police Punjab Mohammad Tahir, the Intelligence Bureau chief as well as the Federal Investigation Agency director, media reports suggested.

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Qureshi, Pompeo meet on Oct 2 for ties reset

WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan will resume their effort to reset a once close relationship on Oct 2, when Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in the US capital.

Mr Qureshi has reached Washington on a 10-day official visit to the US that includes talks with the Trump administration and the new Pakistani government’s first interaction with the United Nations.

The visit caught international attention earlier this week when India accepted a Pakistani proposal for a meeting between their foreign ministers in New York and even the US State Department welcomed the move, calling it “terrific news”.

India, however, ended the short-lived excitement by abruptly calling off the meeting, although the State Department still urges “the Indians and Pakistanis … to sit down and have a conversation together” that could lead to “a good, strong bilateral relationship in the future”.

For Pakistan, however, Qureshi-Pompeo meeting was always more important, as they seek to rebuild their relationship with a power that for decades was a close ally.

It was during Mr Pompeo’s first visit to Islamabad earlier this month that the two sides agreed to “reset” their ties on more pragmatic grounds, instead of seeking the revival of a blanket relationship that disappointed both.

Both sides, however, have their own interpretations of the so-called pragmatic expectations.

The United States sees this as end to all cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, cessation of “terrorist” attacks into India and preventing extremist groups from collecting funds inside Pakistan.

Unless Pakistan does that, there will be no resumption of the security assistance that was suspended in January this year. A news item in a US newspaper, The Washington Times, however, claimed that the Trump administration is divided over whether to resume the aid now.

Although played up in the Pakistani media, the news item also hinted that Washington expects the new Pakistani government to take steps that could lead to the resumption of aid. This, in plain language, means no security aid until cross-border attacks stop.

Pakistan too has its own expectations and top on this agenda are:

Revival of the once close relationship, US support for Pakistan’s efforts for a bailout package from the IMF, and also to help prevent the international financial watchdog, FATF, from putting Islamabad on its black list. Pakistan is already on the grey list.

The United States believes that Pakistan can still influence Taliban insurgents — particularly the Haqqani Network — to persuade them to join the Afghan peace process.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018

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PML-N, PPP hold govt responsible for diplomatic debacle with India

ISLAMABAD: The country’s two major opposition parties have held the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government responsible for ,the latest diplomatic debacle, following New Delhi’s refusal to hold a meeting between the two foreign ministers in New York and questioned the “haste being shown by Prime Minister Imran Khan in making efforts to mend fences with India”.

The leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) allege that the government has not done its homework and assessed the situation before approaching India for a meeting, terming the talks offer through a letter written by Prime Minister Imran Khan to his Indian counterpart a “misstep”.

PML-N President and Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif has called on the international community to take notice of the jingoistic statement of the Indian army chief, while stating that “Pakistan is more than capable of defending and responding to any aggression by New Delhi”.

Shahbaz calls on world community to take notice of Indian army chief’s jingoistic remarks

In a tweet, Mr Sharif wrote, “The bellicose & irresponsible statement by the Indian army chief exposes the Indian designs to the world that should immediately take note of New Delhi’s threatening posture. Pakistan extending an olive branch to India should never be misconstrued as weakness.”

“Pakistan’s unwavering patriotic soldiers stand steadfast to defend with might and fury against unprovoked aggression from any threat. While the nation stands united with their intrepid military and against the cowardly threats,” he added.

Talking to Dawn here on Saturday, former foreign minister and PML-N MNA from Sialkot Khawaja Mohammad Asif said it seemed the government was “not prepared” from day one, adding that “too much keenness being shown by the prime minister” showed “weakness on our part”.

“Giving them (India) too much reflects haste on our part to mend fences with India,” he said, adding that he was not against normalisation of relations between the two neighbouring nuclear states, but “dignity must be maintained”.

Mr Asif regretted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had written the letter in which he “talked about terrorism” without realising that the US and India had recently issued a joint statement after the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to New Delhi and Islamabad which was “dead against” Pakistan.

“They (US and India) raised all kinds of allegations against Pakistan and you are talking about terrorism (in the letter). This is a sign of weakness (on our part),” Mr Asif said, while criticising Mr Khan for stating in the letter that “Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism”.

Moreover, he said, Mr Khan had offered “olive branch” to India at a time, when it was committing serious human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.

The senior PML-N leader also criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that “he is playing to the gallery” as part of election campaign in his country. He said the PML-N government had always found India’s attitude “unrealistic and obstructive”.

Similarly, PPP Vice-President and the country’s former ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman said the government should have done its homework before approaching India for a meeting, especially after the initial response.

“Right now, however the Indian Govt and Army chief response is both immature and irresponsible. What are they threatening Pakistan about?” she questioned. “They have crossed all diplomatic norms and protocols to emerge as a belligerent nuclear power that is only looking to externalise its own extremisms,” writes Ms Rehman on her official social media page on Twitter.

“So (the) Modi government suddenly found Pakistan government evil over a stamp issued on 24th July, and a Kashmir killing ruse. Weak diversion from domestic crisis over #Hollande Bombshell and #RafaelDeal; anxiety over earlier UN report and session where Delhi may have to defend Kashmir atrocities,” she writes.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018

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We are ready for war, but choose to walk path of peace: Pakistan Army

Moments after ,Times of India reported inflammatory statements by Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, on Saturday, the Pakistan Army spokesperson responded by saying: “We [Pakistan Army] are ready for war but choose to walk the path of peace in the interest of the people of Pakistan, the neighbours and the region”.

These remarks were made by Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor while talking to Dunya TV.

According to TOI, the Indian army chief said India “needs to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that the terrorists and Pakistan Army have been carrying out”. “Yes, it’s time to give it back to them in the same coin, not resorting to similar kind of barbarism. But I think the other side must also feel the same pain,” the Indian army chief was quoted as saying.

Gen Rawat’s comments came shortly after Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter earlier on Saturday to respond to ,India’s cancellation of the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), ,calling New Delhi’s reaction “arrogant and negative”,. “All my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture,” added PM Khan.

Responding to Gen Rawat’s statements, Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan has a long-standing record of fighting terrorism, adding “we know the price [that is paid] for peace”.

Read: ,India cancels New York meeting with Pakistan, says PM Khan’s ‘true face revealed’,

“We have struggled to achieve peace in the last two decades. We can never do anything to disgrace any soldier,” he asserted, strongly denying the claims made by India that hold the Pakistan Army responsible for the killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier.

“They have in the past as well laid the blame on us for mutilating the body of a fallen soldier. We are a professional army. We never engage in such acts.

“As far as the issuance of postal tickets is concerned, the UN released a human rights violation report following which the then interim government issued those tickets highlighting the plight of Kashmiris.

“To turn this into an excuse that the peace process has been tainted or that Pakistan has somehow changed its stance, is inappropriate,” the ISPR chief said.

Related: ,Islamabad ‘deeply disappointed’ over New Delhi’s cancellation of meeting between FMs,

“There is a freedom struggle going on in the Indian occupied Kashmir, and Burhan Wani onwards, it is completely a political movement,” Ghafoor said, adding that the struggle for independence has become a part of the DNA of Kashmiris and this is now the third generation which is willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

“They [India] should come forward for a dialogue. Whenever attempts for dialogue have failed, it is because India has run away from the table.

“The government of Pakistan’s offer still stands for India to come forward and hold talks with us,” the ISPR chief said.

‘Indian govt trying to divert public’s attention’

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry also promptly issued a response, backing the DG ISPR’s statement. “Pakistan and India are nuclear powers; a war is out of question,” he said.

The information minister termed the Indian army chief’s statement an attempt to divert the attention of Indian public from the ,mega corruption scandal, and the subsequent calls for resignation faced by PM Modi-led BJP government.

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Chaudhry said that the Indian army chief’s statement was inappropriate and that the general must refrain from using statements as a political tool.

“The Indian army chief needs to understand that he is not a BJP leader,” Chaudhry remarked, adding that “the world stands witness to who wants war and who wants peace”.

“As a peace-loving nation, Pakistan desires peace [with India],” he stressed, highlighting the fact that peace will be in the benefit of billions across both nations.

He said that Pakistan had reached out in hopes for peace and will continue its efforts to that end.

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‘Disappointed at the arrogant and negative response by India,’ says PM Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday took to Twitter to respond to ,India’s cancellation of the meeting, between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), calling New Delhi’s response “arrogant and negative”.

“Disappointed at the arrogant and negative response by India to my call for resumption of the peace dialogue,” said PM Khan. “However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture.”

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The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government on Friday had ,called off the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers, — just a day after ,confirming the development,.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had announced the cancellation in a strongly worded statement, saying: “It is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new Prime Minister Imran Khan has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office,” he said. “Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless.”

However, the reasons cited by India for cancelling the talks have raised questions as they are not recent developments. The MEA spokesperson referred to the “killing of Indian security forces” allegedly by “Pakistani entities” and Islamabad’s decision to release stamps allegedly “glorifying terrorists” as the reasons behind the cancellation of talks.

The Foreign Office, in a statement on Friday night, pointed out that the alleged killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier took place two days prior to the ,Indian announcement of its agreement to hold the bilateral meeting,.

“When the allegations of Pakistan’s involvement first appeared, the Pakistan Rangers clearly conveyed to BSF through official channels that Pakistan had nothing to do with it. Pakistan Rangers also extended help in efforts to locate the soldier’s body,” said the FO statement issued on Friday night. “These facts were known to the Indian authorities and a part of the Indian media also reported that Pakistan had refuted its involvement. Yet, this motivated and malicious propaganda continued.”

Islamabad also raised the point that the postage stamps mentioned in the Indian statement were issued before the July 25 elections, following which Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office.

FO had also taken exception to the language and tone of the Indian statement, saying: “Most unfortunate is the reference in the Indian MEA statement to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. We choose not to further comment beyond saying that these comments are against all norms of civilised discourse and diplomatic communication.”

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Gunmen attack Iran military parade, killing at least 24

A Revolutionary Guard member carries a wounded boy after a shooting during a military parade marking the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran on Saturday. — AP

A Revolutionary Guard member carries a wounded boy after a shooting during a military parade marking the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran on Saturday. — AP

Gunmen attacked an annual Iranian military parade Saturday in the country’s oil-rich southwest, killing at least 24 people and wounding 53 others, local media reported.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault in Ahvaz, which saw gunfire spray into a crowd of marching Guardsmen, bystanders and government officials watching from a nearby riser. However, Iran faced a bloody assault last year from the Islamic State group and Arab separatists in the region have attacked oil pipelines there in the past.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately blamed the attack on regional countries and their “US masters,” further raising regional tensions as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers is in jeopardy after President Donald Trump withdrew America from the accord.

“Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives,” he wrote on Twitter.

State television aired footage of the aftermath of the assault on Ahvaz’s Quds, or Jerusalem, Boulevard, which like many other places around the country saw an annual parade marking the start of Iran’s long 1980s war with Iraq. The images included paramedics trying to help one person in military fatigues as other armed security personnel shouted at each other. The semi-official ISNA news agency published photographs of the attack’s aftermath, with bloodied troops in dress uniforms helping each other walk away.

A local news agency in Khuzestan province, of which Ahvaz is the capital, aired grainy mobile phone footage showing parade goers fleeing as soldiers lay flat on the ground. Gunfire rang out in the background.

“Security forces have restored security in the area but the parade has totally been disrupted,” a reporter on the scene for Iranian state television said by phone in a live broadcast. “People have been killed but we have no figures yet.”

Zarif on Twitter said that the gunmen were “terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime”. He did not immediately elaborate. However, Arab separatist groups in the region have launched attacks on oil pipelines there in the past and Iran. The separatists also accuse Iran’s Shiite theocracy of discriminating against its Sunni Arab citizens. Iran has blamed its Mideast archrival, the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for funding their activity.

Reports of how the attack unfolded remained unclear immediately afterward. The state TV reporter said the gunfire came from a park behind a riser. The semi-official Fars news agency, which is close to the Guard, said two gunmen on a motorcycle wearing khaki uniforms carried out the attack.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, top center, reviews army troops marching during the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran on Saturday. ? AP

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, top center, reviews army troops marching during the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran on Saturday. ? AP

The state-run IRNA news agency said the attack killed 24 people and wounded 53, citing “knowledgeable sources” without elaborating. It said gunmen were dressed in Guard uniforms and targeted a riser where military and police commanders were sitting.

Khuzestan Gov. Gholamreza Shariati told IRNA that two gunmen were killed and two others were arrested.

Who carried out the assault also remained in question. State television immediately described the assailants as “takfiri gunmen”, a term previously used to describe the Islamic State group. Iran has been deeply involved in the fight against IS in Iraq and has aided embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s long war.

Among those involved are members of the Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Guard also has vast holdings in Iran’s economy.

Meanwhile, Guard spokesman Gen. Ramazan Sharif told ISNA that an Arab separatist group carried out the attack, without elaborating. However, those groups in the past previously have only attacked unguarded oil pipelines at night.

Saturday’s attack comes after a coordinated ,June 7, 2017 Islamic State group assault, on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran. At least 18 people were killed and more than 50 wounded.

Khomeini led the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Western-backed shah to become Iran’s first supreme leader until his death in 1989. The assault shocked Tehran, which largely has avoided militant attacks in the decades after the tumult surrounding the Islamic Revolution.

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Accountability court issues arrest warrants for MQM’s Babar Ghauri in KPT corruption case

An accountability court on Saturday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Muttahida Qaumi Move­ment-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Babar Ghauri in a reference pertaining to Rs2.8 billion corruption in the Karachi Port Trust (KPT).

NAB has alleged in the reference — filed on the Sindh High Court’s orders — that eight men, including Ghouri, in connivance with each other had illegally regularised 940 employees of KPT, causing Rs2.8bn loss to the national exchequer.

The court on Saturday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Ghauri and deferred hearing the reference until October 17.

NAB had first taken this case to the SHC which had directed that a ,reference on the matter be filed in the accountability court by August 8,.

Earlier, the SHC had ,directed NAB to arrest Ghauri as part of the investigation,.

“What had the NAB done to arrest Ghauri and others? If some accused persons are still absconding, they should be arrested,” a member of the SHC bench had remarked at the time.

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Pakistan beat Afghanistan in nail-biting Asia Cup encounter

Afghanistan set Pakistan a 258-run target to chase in their Asia Cup 2018 Super Four match in Abu Dhabi. The match was decided in the very last over, as Pakistan chased the target with only three balls to spare.

Pakistan started the innings steadily and took minimal risks, more so due to the loss of Fakhar Zaman early in the innings. Zaman was adjudged leg before wicket without troubling the scorers.

At the end of the first 15 overs, Pakistan had managed to put only 57 runs on the board for the loss of one wicket.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq partnered with Babar Azam to build a decent second-wicket partnership of 154 runs. Imam scored 80 before being run out, while Babar looked steady for his 66.

But it was Shoaib Malik who starred for Pakistan, scoring a blistering of 51 runs off 43 balls to see his team through.

Afghanistan innings

After Asghar Afghan, the Afghanistan captain, won the toss and decided to bat first, Mohammad Shahzad and Ihsanullah opened their innings, whereas Usman Shinwari and Shaheen Afridi shared the new ball for Pakistan.

Shahzad opened the Afghan innings with Ihsanullah — PCB

Shahzad opened the Afghan innings with Ihsanullah — PCB

With the southpaw pacers bowling a tight line and length, Afghan pacers found runs hard to come by in the first five overs, and managed just 20 runs. The lack of runs did force them to play some rash strokes but fortunately for them their mistakes didn’t convert into dismissals.

Pakistan’s old demons in the field reared their head in the 8th over when Ishanullah was dropped on back-to-back Afridi deliveries, first by Fakhar Zaman and then Shinwari.

The breakthrough finally came in the 9th over when Ihsanullah was caught and bowled by Mohammad Nawaz. While the bowler deserved credit, it would be unfair to not mention the pressure captain Sarfraz Ahmed had created for the batsman from behind the wicket with his nonstop vocals in the buildup.

Afghan batsman Mohammad Shahzad leaves the pitch after being dismissed by Pakistan's Mohammad Nawaz  — AFP

Afghan batsman Mohammad Shahzad leaves the pitch after being dismissed by Pakistan’s Mohammad Nawaz — AFP

On the first ball of the 11th, Nawaz had Shahzad caught behind, which, which when combined with his wicket on the last ball of the previous over, put him on a hat-trick; it didn’t happen though.

Runs were already hard to come by, and the twin blow did not help the Afghan cause. By the end of 15 overs, they were lagging at 57-2, with Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rahmat Shah in the middle.

The pair continued their cautious batting for the next five overs, taking the score to 74-0 at the end of the 20th.

Nawaz (R) celebrates after he dismissed Afghan batsman  Mohammad Shahzad — AFP)

Nawaz (R) celebrates after he dismissed Afghan batsman Mohammad Shahzad — AFP)

With boundaries a rarity, Shahidi and Shah did the wise thing by relying on singles and doubles, taking to score to 93-2 after 25 overs.

Their 63-run stand finally came to and end in the 26th over when Nawaz repeated his caught-and-bowled trick again, this time sending back Shah (36 off 51 balls) to pick up his third wicket.

Afghan captain walked in to join Shahidi but their steady, unspectacular approach did not change. At the end of the 30th over, they were 116-3.

Hashmatullah Shaidi plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Afghanistan — AFP

Hashmatullah Shaidi plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and Afghanistan — AFP

In the 36th over, the cautious approach was finally dispensed with for a more adventurous one, with Asghar hitting a four and a six to an otherwise excellent Nawaz.

Both Shahidi and Asghar brought up their half-centuries in the 40th over, at the end of which there score was 170-3.

After Sohail dropped the game’s third match off Afridi’s bowling, the debutant took the matters in his own hands, bowling out the Afghan captain Asghar (67) in the 42nd over.

The next over saw another catch dropped — the game’s fourth until that point — with the guilty party being Afridi himself.

Afridi got his second of the night in the 44th over, with the dangerous Mohammad Nabi departing when Hasan Ali opted to not follow the game fad of dropping easy catches.

With just five overs left in the innings, Afghanistan were 206-5 and eyeing a total closer to 250.

Hasan bowled out Najibullah Zadran in the 47th over and did the same to Shahidi in the penultimate over, only to see his ball adjudged a no-ball. The resultant free-hit was dispatched for four as Afghanistan reached 242 with just one over left.

Shahidi, after being given a lifeline by Hasan’s overstretching foot, found an extra gear and smacked several more boundaries.

Despite that late flurry, the left-hander could not get his century, finishing just three runs short. Afghanistan, meanwhile, finished their innings at 257-6.

Team news

Earlier, Sarfraz made three changes to his playing eleven, with Muhammad Amir and Faheem Ashraf dropped and Shadab Khan rested due to an injury.

Read: ,Pakistan v Afghanistan: Do Men in Green have anything to worry about?,

Debutant Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Nawaz and Haris Sohail replaced the outgoing trio.

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Line-ups

Pakistan: 1 Imam-ul-Haq, 1 Fakhar Zaman, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt, wk), 6 Asif Ali, 7 Haris Sohail, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Usman Khan, 11 Shaheen Afridi

Afghanistan: 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Ihsanullah Janat, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 5 Asghar Afghan (capt), 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Gulbadin Naib, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Aftab Alam, 11 Mujeeb Ur Rahman

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