Posts Tagged ‘PTI’

At least 6 policemen martyred in suicide attack targeting police van in Quetta

  • ,Quetta’s security challenges,

At least six policemen were martyred and seven others were injured when a suicide bomber targeted a police van on Airport Road in Quetta on Tuesday evening, Quetta DIG Razzaq Cheema told DawnNewsTV.

Moreover, two suicide bombers also attacked a Frontier Corps (FC) checkpost in Quetta’s Mian Ghundi area, however, the FC personnel killed the attackers following an exchange of fire, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

“The first suicide bomber blew himself up outside a FC checkpost in the outskirts of Quetta city after he was spotted by the guards,” Balochistan Home Secretary Ghulam Ali Baloch told AFP.

“Just in the next moments, another bomber who was covering the first attacker exchanged fire with the security forces and later blew himself up.” Some eight paramilitary officials were wounded in this attack, he added.

Around half an hour later a third bomber drove his motorcycle into a police truck on a road leading to the airport, killing at least six policemen, Baloch added.

Moazam Jah Ansari, Quetta’s police chief, confirmed the attacks and said the bombing of the police truck was so powerful that the vehicle overturned.

It was not clear whether the third bomber was wearing an explosive vest or if the bike was filled with explosives.

“Seven policemen were injured in this attack,” he said, adding that the three blasts may have been coordinated.

Policeman walks past the vehicle targeted by suicide bomber. —AP

Policeman walks past the vehicle targeted by suicide bomber. —AP

Police and FC personnel rushed to the blast site and cordoned off the area. No militant group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks.

In January this year, at least ,seven people were killed, on Quetta’s Zarghoon Road when a suicide bomber rammed into a parked police truck, injuring 16 people, police said.

Quetta’s security challenges

Balochistan has faced a number of security challenges in recent months, with security personnel in the province often being targeted in roadside explosions and suicide attacks.

Five people were killed and 27 others had suffered injuries in a ,suicide attack on a convoy of a paramilitary force, in the Sariab Road area of Quetta in November last year.

In October, seven policemen belonging to the Rapid Response Group (RRG) of Balochistan Police and a passer-by were ,killed in a suicide blast,, also in Sariab area.

Fifteen people, including eight soldiers, were martyred when a suicide bomber ,targeted a military truck, near the Pishin bus stop in Quetta in August.

Earlier in June, 14 people ? including seven policemen ? ,lost their lives in a suicide blast, that shook Shuhada Chowk in Quetta’s Gulistan Road area.

Balochistan has been experiencing incidents of violence and targeted killings for over a decade. More than 1,400 incidents targeting the minority Shia and Hazara community have taken place in the province during the past 15 years.

This is a developing story. More details to follow.

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PM Abbasi, chief ministers unanimously approve first-ever National Water Policy

  • ,Salient features of National Water Policy,

The Council of Common Interest (CCI) in its 37th meeting held at the PM Office on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in chair, unanimously approved the first-ever National Water Policy (NWP) of Pakistan.

The chief ministers of the four provinces and senior officials attended the meeting in which Sartaj Aziz, the deputy chairman of Planning Commission of Pakistan, briefed the CCI on the draft of the policy.

Aziz said the policy has been prepared after consultation with all major stakeholders and a national level seminar was also held to reach a consensus. Proposals presented in the 36th CCI meeting have also been incorporated in the policy, he added.

Salient features of National Water Policy

  • Water use and allocation on priority
  • Integrated planning for development and use of water resources
  • Environmental integrity of the Basin
  • Impact of climate change
  • Trans-boundary water sharing
  • Irrigated and rain-fed agriculture
  • Drinking water and sanitation
  • Hydropower and industry uses
  • Ground water resources
  • Water rights and obligations
  • Sustainable water infrastructure
  • Water related hazards
  • Quality management
  • Awareness and research
  • Conservation measures
  • Legal framework and capacity building of water sector institutions

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with chief ministers of the four provinces signs "Pakistan Water Charter". —APP

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with chief ministers of the four provinces signs "Pakistan Water Charter". —APP

During the meeting, the CCI was briefed about the implementation of NWP will be undertaken through a national level body namely National Water Council (NWC) to be chaired by the prime minister and comprising federal ministers for water resources; finance; power; planning development and reforms and all provincial chief ministers as members.

In the meeting, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government presented a brief on implementation of Kazi Committee Methodology (KCM) for calculation of Net Hydel Profits (NHP).

After deliberation, the CCI directed the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, Planning Commission of Pakistan and Ministry of Water Resources to reconcile the claims in consultation with the provinces and resubmit the issue for decision in the next CCI meeting.

Later, the prime minister along with the four chief ministers signed the Pakistan Water Charter pledging commitment to the National Water Policy.

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Stalemate as fresh round of negotiations with US ends

    FOREIGN Secretary Tehmina Janjua receives Ambassador Alice Wells for a call at the Foreign Office on Monday.

    FOREIGN Secretary Tehmina Janjua receives Ambassador Alice Wells for a call at the Foreign Office on Monday.

    ISLAMABAD: Another round of Pakistan-United States talks aimed at getting Islamabad to fulfil Washing­ton’s expectations, envisioned in its South Asia and Afghanistan policy, ended here on Monday without any breakthrough or breakdown, but new issues have been added to the already heavy and complicated agenda.

    A senior official of the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Alice Wells visited Islamabad on Monday on a daylong trip for continuing her talks with Pakistani officials on the US list of expectations. Ambassador Wells met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Foreign Office. This was her second trip in less than a month. She last visited Pakistan from March 28 to April 3.

    Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal only tweeted a picture of Ambassador Wells at the FO with the caption: “FS receives Amb Wells for a call at MOFA today.” No press release was issued on the meeting afterwards.

    More issues have been added to an already heavy agenda; Alice Wells holds talks with Tehmina Janjua

    The US embassy’s statement on the meeting was also unusually very brief. Ambassador Wells “visited Islamabad today for meetings with Foreign Secretary Janjua and other senior officials. In her meetings, she discussed the status of the United States’ South Asia strategy and efforts to make progress on regional security and stability,” the statement read and contained a link to President Trump’s Fort Myers speech in which he unveiled the US Strategy on South Asia and Afghanistan.

    The strategy, to quote Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, reflects the intention of the Trump administration “to hold Pakistan accountable for its failure to deny sanctuary to militant proxies” and “encourage(s) restraint in Pakistan’s military nuclear and missile programs, and seek(s) continued, closer alignment of Pakistan’s nonproliferation policies with our own”. The US has been calling on Pakistan to take decisive action against all militant and terrorist groups allegedly based on its territory.

    Pakistan, on the other hand, strongly denies the allegation and insists that no organised sanctuary exists on its soil. Moreover, it calls for ending terrorist sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border from where militants attack it. Islamabad has also been demanding an early repatriation of Afghan refugees.

    A diplomatic source said the agenda points of both sides at the meeting at FO were same as before with the addition of two new issues — the restrictions on Pakistani diplomats that would take effect from May 1 and traffic accident involving US defence attaché Col Joseph Hall, who had earlier this month ran a red light killing a motorcyclist. Pakistan has demanded waiver of diplomatic immunity enjoyed by Col Hall so that he could be prosecuted.

    “There was no forward movement. But at the same time we must acknowledge that both sides continue to remain engaged in search of the elusive common ground,” the source said.

    Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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    Chinese ambassador invites Pakistanis to take advantage of CPEC and Chinese expertise

    • ,’Close friends’,

    Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing on Tuesday invited Pakistani citizens to take advantage of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as Chinese expertise.

    He was addressing the ,CPEC Summit,, being hosted by the Dawn Media Group in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Development, which kicked off at Karachi’s Bagh-i-Jinnah on Monday.

    Various speakers — including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Punjab and Sindh chief ministers, and several prominent researchers and analysts — had addressed the conference on the first day of the event.

    Talking about the Chinese model of economy, Jing, while quoting Chinese President Xi Jinping, said that China has the largest foreign reserves. “In the past 40 years, China has developed; it has combined a socialist system with a market economy that suits the country.”

    He extended his cooperation to Pakistan, saying, “China wants the entire region to develop. We want Pakistan, our iron brother, to develop.”

    Read: ,Caution and optimism at CPEC conference,

    “Our purpose is a better life for Pakistani people [particularly] through the scientific implementation of CPEC,” he said, adding that currently, his government was focusing on the infrastructure structure [under the project].

    “I am sure with our combined efforts, CPEC will be successful and our state to state relations will be further strengthened and become an example for the [global] community,” he remarked.

    ‘Close friends’

    Senator Mushahid Hussain also spoke at the event, touching upon bilateral relations between the two countries. “When we look at China-Pakistan relations, both countries are seen as best friends. Pakistan is the only country that supports the core interests of China, and vice versa.”

    Pakistan has supported China in all its border conflicts, he added, saying: “Economic power is shifting from the West to the East. China is growing from a regional to a global power. It has become a major player in international politics and global affairs, like climate change.”

    A day earlier, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that CPEC has now become a reality. “Two power projects under the initiative have been completed and the third one is about to be finished.”

    “We look upon CPEC as a partnership between two governments,” he had said, adding, “It is a new form of cooperation.”

    The summit is one of the biggest events to be held in the country on CPEC aimed at educating the public about the objectives of CPEC and its umbrella project, the Belt and Road Initiative.

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    Van plows into Toronto crowd in ‘deliberate’ act, leaving 10 dead

    • ,’Really fast’,
    • ,’Deliberate’ but no terror link,

    At least 10 people have died after a man plowed a white rental van into a crowd of pedestrians in Canada’s biggest city Toronto on Monday, in what police dubbed a “deliberate” attack.

    The incident took place in broad daylight around 16 kilometres from a conference centre hosting a meeting of G7 ministers, but officials said they had no evidence of a link to the event.

    “The actions definitely looked deliberate,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told journalists.

    Police officers stand near one of the bodies on the street after a truck drove up on the curb and hit several pedestrians in Toronto. — AFP

    Police officers stand near one of the bodies on the street after a truck drove up on the curb and hit several pedestrians in Toronto. — AFP

    Ralph Goodale, the minister of public security, added that “on the basis of all available information at the present time, there would appear to be no national security connection to this particular incident”.

    “Horrible day in Toronto,” he had posted earlier on Twitter. “Senseless violence takes heavy toll.”

    Police arrested a suspect — who police identified later as 25-year-old Alek Minassian from a northern Toronto suburb — at the scene of the attack, whose initial death toll of nine jumped to 10 after one person succumbed to injuries.

    Fifteen people remained in hospitals throughout the city, Saunders said, adding that local, provincial and federal investigators were probing the case.

    At the scene, at least three bodies could be seen under orange sheets and a long stretch of road was sealed off with police incident tape.

    The suspect and a police officer faced off, their guns drawn. The suspect eventually surrendered his weapon and was taken into custody.

    Vehicle attacks have been carried out to deadly effect by extremists in a number of capitals and major cities, including London, Paris, New York and Nice.

    Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the G7 meeting would continue as planned into Tuesday, with officials discussing ways to secure democratic societies from foreign interference.

    “The work of the ministers obviously goes on. This is a very sad day for the people of Toronto and the people of Canada,” she said.

    ‘Really fast’

    Officers were called to the scene — on Yonge Street at the corner with Finch Avenue — around 1:30pm (1730 GMT), police said.

    A white rental van with a dented front bumper was stopped on the sidewalk of a major intersection, surrounded by police vehicles.

    “He was going really fast,” witness Alex Shaker told CTV television.

    “All I could see was just people one by one getting knocked out, knocked out, one by one,” Shaker said.

    “There are so many people lying down on the streets.”

    Another witness, Jamie Eopni, told local Toronto television station CP24: “It was crashing into everything. It destroyed a bench. If anybody was on that street, they would have been hit on the sidewalk.”

    ‘Deliberate’ but no terror link

    Though the act seemed “deliberate,” officials did not identify a terror link. Canada has only rarely been the scene of terror attacks.

    In October, a man stabbed a police officer in the western city of Edmonton before slamming his van into a group of pedestrians, hurting four people.

    And in Quebec in October 2014, a Canadian man ran over two soldiers in a parking lot with his car, killing one of them. The driver was shot dead by police when he attacked them with a knife.

    In March 2016, a Canadian who claimed to have radical Islamist sympathies attacked two soldiers at a military recruitment centre in Toronto.

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    Pakistan, China pledge to work for regional stability through SCO

      FOREIGN Minister Khawaja Asif shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on Monday.—APP

      FOREIGN Minister Khawaja Asif shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on Monday.—APP

      BEJING: Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif has said that Pakistan and China have resolved to enhance bilateral cooperation with the pledge to play a key role for regional stability through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

      Talking to media, along with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after their meeting on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) moot held here at Diaoyutai State Guest House on Monday, he said Mr Wang termed Pakistan and China close friends, all-weather strategic and cooperative partners during their meeting.

      He said Mr Wang also appreciated Pakistan’s active participation in the SCO and expressed Beijing’s strong support to Islamabad’s efforts in enhancing regional peace and cooperation besides its tireless efforts in countering terrorism in the country.

      Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, along with foreign ministers of other SCO member countries, also met Chinese President Xi Jinping here at the Great Hall.

      Asif meets Chinese president, foreign minister

      Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Yevgeniy Sysoyev also attended the meeting.

      Welcoming the foreign ministers, President Xi said the SCO set a new pilot model for mutual respect, as well as a just, fair, win-win relationship, since its founding 17 years ago.

      Mr Asif in his meeting with Mr Wang highly appreciated the vibrant role of the SCO in the region and said it was significantly vital forum for regional cooperation.

      He said Pakistan was looking forward to productive and fruitful meeting of the heads of states of the SCO at Qingdao in June this year. President Mamnoon Hussain would participate in the summit.

      The foreign minister expressed his appreciation for the Chinese initiative of Pakistan-China-Afghanistan Foreign Ministers Trilateral Mechanism for enhancing cooperation with Afghanistan.

      He also apprised Mr Wang of grave situation prevailing in India-held Kashmir.

      Mr Asif congratulated Mr Wang on his re-election as foreign minister and his elevation as state councillor. He also congratulated him on re-election of Xi Jinping as president of People’s Republic of China and as core leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

      He informed him about Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s visit to China earlier this month and his participation in successful and productive Boao Forum for Asia conference.

      Mr Wang said that China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic and cooperative partners and friendship between the two countries had received support from the peoples’ hearts, with solid public opinion foundation.

      “No matter how the international and regional situation changes, the mutual trust between China and Pakistan remains unbreakable. No matter how domestic situations of the two countries change, the friendship between China and Pakistan is as stable as always. No matter how geopolitical structure adjusts, the cooperation between China and Pakistan enjoys continuous development,” he added.

      He said that China-Pakistan relations showcased strong soundness, stability and persistence, which were not only conducive to both countries, but also increasingly becoming an anchor of regional peace and stability.

      Mr Wang said China firmly supports Pakistan in defending its sovereignty and national dignity, its constant development and growth, and in fighting terrorism and safeguarding national security.

      Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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      SC hints at enhancing contempt law punishment

      • ,CJP seeks report on police security,
      CJP Saqib Nisar says laws should be made to provide security to those who genuinely need it.

      CJP Saqib Nisar says laws should be made to provide security to those who genuinely need it.

      ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court is seized with a number of contempt of court cases, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday hinted at interpreting Article 204 of the Constitution in a way to enhance the sentence until the convict purges his contempt before the court.

      “We are considering interpreting Article 204 of the Constitution independent of the provisions of the contempt of court ordinance (COCO) 2003 in a manner that punishment of six months may continue until the accused purges himself before the court,” the chief justice observed.

      The observation came during the hearing of a set of appeals by seven former senior members of the Islamabad capital administration and police personnel convicted of roughing up former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on March 13, 2007.

      The apex court initiates contempt of court proceedings under Article 204 of the Constitution read with COCO, 2003. While Article 204 empowers the court to initiate a contempt charge against individuals for scandalising the courts, Section 5 of COCO provides a punishment of six months or a fine extending up to Rs100,000.

      CJP says apex court never stopped authorities from providing ‘permissible security’ to ex-PM Nawaz Sharif

      Under the 2003 contempt law, an appeal is heard by a five-member or larger bench.

      The appeals were moved against the Nov 1, 2007 order of the Supreme Court that had sentenced Islamabad’s senior administration officials and police personnel for manhandling Justice Chaudhry by preventing him from marching towards the apex court to answer the allegation of misuse of office before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). However, soon after the announcement, the sentence was suspended for 15 days on the request of the convicts for filing appeals against the convictions.

      Former Islamabad chief commissioner Khalid Pervaiz and deputy commissioner Chaudhry Mohammad Ali were sentenced to imprisonment till rising of the court, while former inspector general of police Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed and senior superintendent of police retired captain Zafar Iqbal were sentenced to 15 days in jail. Deputy superintendent of police Jamil Hashmi, police inspector Rukhsar Mehdi and assistant sub-inspector Mohammad Siraj were sentenced to one month imprisonment.

      Later, a 10-member bench barred the respective departments from taking any adverse action against the appellants till pendency of their appeals.

      On Monday, the chief justice suggested senior counsel Sheikh Ehsanud Din to ask the former chief justice whether he was willing to pardon the contemnors.

      Subsequently, the counsel contacted the former chief justice and later told the court that Justice Chaudhry had communicated to him that he had nothing to do with the issue but it concerned with the prestige of the institution.

      At this, the CJP observed that the Supreme Court would then proceed in accordance with law and referred the matter to a five-judge bench, as the appeals in contempt cases are always heard by larger benches.

      CJP seeks report on police security

      While resuming hearing of suo motu notice of availability of police security to non-entitled individuals, the Supreme Court observed that certain laws or rules be developed to provide police security only to those individuals who were at high risk and genuinely needed such security.

      The court, however, observed that a policy so made should not be subjective but objective.

      As a result of the notice, more than ,12,600 police personnel deputed on security duties were withdrawn, by the federal and the provincial governments from the individuals who were not entitled to keep them. In the exercise, police guards provided to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali and many others were withdrawn.

      On Monday, the chief justice said Mr Wali complained about the withdrawal of police security, observing that the same should be provided to him if it was necessary. He explained that the apex court never stopped the authorities from providing “permissible security” to ex-PM Nawaz Sharif. Security should be provided to individuals whether a politician, a lawyer or a media person if they were facing life threats, he added.

      The CJP recalled that a senior lawyer pleading a high-profile case had approached the court seeking protection and in turn the court entitled him for the provision of police security.

      Appearing before the apex court, Islamabad IGP Dr Sultan Azam Temuri said the police department had constituted a threat assessment committee comprising officials including those from intelligence agencies. The committee was tasked with examining requests for police security and deciding the cases, he added.

      CJP Nisar observed that the “real purpose” of taking the suo motu notice was to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is not wasted in providing police security to non-entitled individuals. The court then asked the top officials of police to submit a comprehensive report on the issue within a week.

      Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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      JI reviewing its role in KP govt, says Sirajul Haq

        LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: As the relationship between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) appears to have turned sour on the issue of Senate elections, JI chief Senator Sirajul Haq on Monday declared that his party was “reviewing its role” in the PTI-led provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

        Talking to Dawn in Lahore, the JI chief claimed that they had held back so far because budget preparations were under way and a member of their party held the portfolio of finance ministry in the KP government.

        “The Jamaat has decided that it should neither weaken the KP government nor become the reason for its downfall when budget preparations are under way,” Mr Haq said, ignoring the fact that PTI chairman Imran Khan had already announced that KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak will not present the provincial budget this year.

        “On top of that, only a few weeks of its (KP government) life are left anyway,” Mr Haq said in an apparent reference to the ,challenge put before him by the PTI, — to quit the government if they believed that the PTI had played a negative role in the Senate elections.

        The two parties have had strained relationship since the Senate elections in which the JI did not support the PTI-backed candidate for Senate chairperson seat, Sadiq Sanjrani.

        The differences between the two parties became apparent when, while talking to the media at Mansoora last week, Mr Haq disclosed that KP CM Khattak had told him that the ,PTI had received directions from somewhere to support Mr Sanjrani, for the office of Senate chairman. The PTI had reacted strongly to this “disclosure”.

        Mr Haq had revealed that Mr Khattak had called him some days before the Senate chairman’s election and sought JI’s votes for their nominee. The JI chief claimed that when he asked about the name of the nominee, Mr Khattak feigned ignorance and said that he was also not aware of the name yet because the decision was coming from the top and the only thing he knew was that the nominee was from Balochistan.

        The JI chief hastened to add that he did not understand what Mr Khattak had meant by “from the top”.

        When asked why he had waited so long time to reveal this, Mr Haq said he had only responded to a query put before him by a media person.

        Amid a back-and-forth between leaders of both parties, Mr Khattak explained that he meant that he had received instructions from Banigala — the residence of party chairman Imran Khan.

        “No one can issue orders to me. I receive orders only from Allah and in party matters, from Imran Khan,” the chief minister explained, while responding to a question during a press conference in Islamabad on Monday. He added that he had told the JI chief that the PTI had decided to support a candidate from Balochistan for the post of Senate chairperson, while for the post of deputy chairperson they would support a candidate from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). He, however, criticised Fata senators for not showing unity and forcing the PTI to vote for the Pakistan Peoples Party’s candidate.

        The JI has already announced its decision to join the recently-revived Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and, according to sources, the party is expected to take some important decisions with respect to its relations with the PTI and its role in the KP government in consultation with other component parties of the MMA during a meeting of the alliance scheduled for April 27.

        Reacting angrily to the JI chief’s disclosure, PTI’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhry challenged the JI to quit the KP coalition government.

        “I am surprised as to why the JI has not yet quit the PTI-led KP government,” Mr Chaudhry had said in a statement issued by the party’s media office in Islamabad on Sunday.

        The PTI leader had regretted that on one hand, the JI had filed a petition in the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and, on the other hand, had become an ally of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, alleging that the Jamaat’s politics was based on “hypocrisy”.

        “The JI has so much love for the government that it is not ready to come out of the PTI-led coalition in KP,” the PTI leader said, terming the Mr Haq’s allegations against his party “baseless”.

        Once again on Monday, Mr Chaudhry attacked the Jamaat, saying there “there is a need to check on whose agenda Sirajul Haq is working,” and added: “At present, both Nawaz Sharif and Sirajul Haq seem to have the same tone and tenor.”

        Separately, Mr Chaudhry dared the ruling PML-N to take action against its party members who had voted for PTI’s Chaudhry Sarwar in the Senate elections.

        Mr Chaudhry said the PTI had taken a courageous step by taking action against its 20 MPAs who were found to be involved in horse-trading in the Senate elections. He said the PML-N had been alleging that Chaudhry Sarwar had been elected through bribers and after purchasing votes. He said if the PML-N’s allegations were true, it should immediately take action against its legislators who were a part of the alleged horse-trading.

        Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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        ‘CPEC is a reality’: Two-day summit kicks off in Karachi

        • ,’CPEC is not a debt trap’,
        • ,’CPEC is a reality’,
        • ,’CPEC not only about economic growth’,
        • ,’CPEC is not about roads and motorways; it’s about connectivity.’,
        • ,’China and Pakistan have enjoyed great relations for past 5 generations’,
        • ,‘KP’s hospitality being extended to economic friendships through CPEC’,
        • ,‘One can’t imagine CPEC without Gwadar’,
        • ,Objectives of CPEC,

        The ,two-day CPEC Summit,, being hosted by the Dawn Media Group in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Development, kicked off at Karachi’s Bagh-i-Jinnah on Monday.

        Various speakers, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing, addressed the conference on the first day of the event.

        While addressing the summit, PM Abbasi remarked that while the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was unheard of merely three years ago, the world acknowledges it as a reality today.

        The prime minister and all of the other speakers discussed the importance of CPEC with the attendees of the summit.

        Representatives of all four provinces discussed the importance of the joint initiative with reference to the development that it has brought to their particular region.

        ‘CPEC is not a debt trap’

        Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal in his address talked about the progress and development made in the country during the tenure of the PML-N’s government.

        Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal addressing the CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

        Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal addressing the CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

        “This event proves that Karachi is changing,” he said, adding that when the PML-N came to power in 2013, the city was known for target killings and extortion.

        “This is an age of development and growth, with the speed of an electron,” he remarked.

        Talking about the Belt and Road initiative, he termed it a huge opportunity. “Pakistan will become a hub of development with the help of this project.

        “We made regional connectivity a key component of our Vision2025 project,” he said, terming CPEC the biggest flagship project of the One Belt One Road initiative.

        PM Abbasi, Sindh CM Shah, Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing at the first day of CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

        PM Abbasi, Sindh CM Shah, Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing at the first day of CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

        “China extended its hand towards Pakistan when no one wanted to invest even 10 dollars.”

        Addressing the reservations about CPEC, Iqbal said: “There are lobbies that are not happy with CPEC — it is not a debt trap.”

        “Some say China will become the East India Company; they haven’t read history. China seeks partnership. There is nothing to fear for Pakistani businesses [...] this is propaganda.”

        “Long live China-Pak friendship,” Iqbal concluded.

        ‘CPEC is a reality’

        PM Abbasi addressing the CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

        PM Abbasi addressing the CPEC Summit. — DawnNewsTV

        “We look upon CPEC as a partnership between two governments,” said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi — the event’s chief guest — at the inauguration of the summit in the morning. “It is a new form of cooperation.”

        “Three years ago CPEC was unheard of — today it is known globally. The BRI initiative of Chinese President Xi is a project for generations,” he said, “Recently, we discussed security and connectivity with Afghanistan, which also recognises CPEC as an opportunity.”

        “CPEC has now become a reality — two power projects under the initiative have been completed and the third one is about to be finished.”

        ‘CPEC not only about economic growth’

        For the past 40 years, China has made every effort to develop and grow its economy, said Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing in his address.

        “We’ve combined socialism and market economy to benefit people.”

        Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing speaking at the CPEC Summit. ? DawnNewsTV

        Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing speaking at the CPEC Summit. ? DawnNewsTV

        “China wants to see its relationship with Pakistan serve as an example for its relations with other states,” said Jing while speaking on the CPEC.

        “We look at CPEC as a significant project. I’m proud that after five years of implementation, it [CPEC] has contributed to Pakistan’s development.”

        “CPEC is not just about economic growth; we want to develop a community.”

        ‘CPEC is not about roads and motorways; it’s about connectivity.’

        Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif addressed the summit in the session ‘View from Punjab’.

        “CPEC has helped strengthen the federation of Pakistan; today, Pakistan is a happening place and CPEC has proven that it is a country where people’s money is safe,” he said.

        Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif — DawnNewsTV

        Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif — DawnNewsTV

        “CPEC has been a turning point in Pakistan’s history,” he said, adding: “Those who doubt intentions of the Chinese are enemies of Pakistan.”

        He negated the impression that CPEC was limited to one area or province, saying, “Together with Sindh, Balochistan, KP, FATA and AJK, we will build a better tomorrow.”

        “China is one of Pakistan’s most reliable friends. Once the Chinese were convinced that people of Pakistan rightly deserved their support, then came President Xi’s vision of ,Belt and Road Initiative, (BRI) which came to be known as CPEC,” said Shahbaz.

        Praising China’s support further, the Punjab CM said there has been no conditions or mantra of “do more” — a reference to the ,often repeated demand from the United States, — from the neighbouring country.

        “CPEC is not about roads and motorways; it’s about connectivity.”

        ‘China and Pakistan have enjoyed great relations for past 5 generations’

        Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah addressed the summit in the session ‘View from Sindh’.

        “The past five generations of the Chinese leadership and previous Pakistan governments have all had a great working relationship with each other,” the CM said.

        Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah — DawnNewsTV

        Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah — DawnNewsTV

        He added: “When China stood isolated on the world stage, it was Pakistan under the leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that staunchly supported its neighbour. Today, China Pakistan Economic Corridor has seen light of day because of President Xi Jinping and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s vision.”

        Speaking about the development taking place in Sindh under the CPEC plan, CM Shah said: “CPEC has resulted in the optimal utilisation of two commercial ports and the opening of Keti Bunder. The development of our commercial ports is in line with the CPEC plan, and Sindh pledges its full cooperation and facilitation in this regard.”

        “Sindh had started working towards renewable energy projects long before the formal launch of CPEC and it remains the the only province which has a land grant policy for renewable energy parks,” the CM said, adding that the long-term vision of the Sindh government has produced “turning results.”

        He elaborated that Sindh currently contributes 930 megawatts of wind energy to the national grid, “a large chunk of which comes from three early-harvest CPEC projects.”

        He also told the audience that an additional 300MW generated through wind power projects would be added to the grid once the projects are completed in October 2018.

        ‘KP’s hospitality being extended to economic friendships through CPEC’

        Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Secretary Hassan Ansari, who was representing the KP government at the summit, said that the province is responsible for the production of 15pc of Pakistan’s natural gas output.

        “In hydropower, KP has the potential of producing 30,000MW of energy. There are a number of fruits that grow in the province around the CPEC route,” Ansari briefed the attendees of the summit.

        Ansari also said that two hydropower projects in Chitral are part of the CPEC framework.

        ‘One can’t imagine CPEC without Gwadar’

        Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, who claimed to be representing the people of Balochistan and not the provincial government, said, “CPEC could not be conceived without Gwadar.”

        Bizenjo said that Balochistan constitutes 43pc of Pakistan, and is home to Reko Diq, the second largest copper reserve in the world, and many other minerals.

        “The people of Balochistan are hopeful that CPEC will grow and when it does, they will get to grow with it,” he explained.

        Objectives of CPEC

        A symposium, “The dynamics of economy and finance”, preceded the inauguration ceremony.

        The discussion featured, among others, former State Bank governor Ishrat Husain and former finance ministers Shaukat Tarin and Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

        It’s one of the biggest events to be held in the country on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor aimed at educating the public about the objectives of CPEC and its umbrella project, the Belt and Road Initiative.

        The highlight of the second day will be a session titl¬ed “The view from China”. Yao Jing is slated to be the main speaker.

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        Pakistan doesn’t have democracy but ‘worst kind of dictatorship’ under CJP Nisar: Nawaz

        • ,Sirjaul Haq’s remarks about Senate elections ‘meaningful’,

        Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Monday that recent actions by the top judiciary indicate that a regime worse than a martial law has been imposed across Pakistan.

        Speaking to reporters inside the accountability court in Islamabad, Sharif claimed: “What is prevalent in the country is not democracy, but the worst kind of dictatorship under [Chief Justice Mian] Saqib Nisar.”

        “What is happening in the country is not less than a ‘judicial martial law’,” said the former prime minister, who returned from London late on Sunday after seeing his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz, who has been undergoing cancer treatment there.

        Editorial: ,The denial of exemption to Nawaz and Maryam from accountability hearings is wrong and shameful,

        Criticising recent judgements by the courts as “illogical”, Sharif said the alleged silencing of 220 million people of Pakistan would not be acceptable to him.

        “These many restrictions were not even imposed during the martial laws that we are seeing today,” he remarked.

        The former premier claimed serious efforts are being made convict him in the corruption references being heard by the accountability court, which he said were an attempt “to make the five judges successful” — a reference to the five-member SC bench which had disqualified him last year in the Panama Papers case.

        Directing his criticism at the CJP once again, Sharif said Justice Nisar visits hospitals regularly and talks about vegetable prices, but “he should also visit the home of an oppressed person whose case hasn’t been decided for 20 years”.

        “It is not your job to summon the chief minister and make the government stand in the line,” he said, addressing the CJP.

        The Supreme Court, under its ,2018 agenda,, is focusing on human rights issues, particularly those relating to the people’s right to quality education and healthcare. However, this course of action is also being seen as an ,overstepping of boundaries, by the apex court, similar to the ,Iftikhar Chaudhry era,.

        However, the chief justice has stood by the court’s actions, reiterating that such criticism will not deter him from exercising what he considers is his “constitutional right”.

        Sirjaul Haq’s remarks about Senate elections ‘meaningful’

        Referring to the ,remarks by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Senator Sirjaul Haq, about Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) voting for Sadiq Sanjrani during the Senate elections following an “order from the top”, Sharif said the revelation was meaningful.

        PTI Chairman Imran Khan has reprimanded his party’s MPAs who allegedly engaged in horsetrading, but he should open himself to criticism as well for voting on somebody’s instructions, Sharif said.

        “Will Imran Khan also answer the nation about how Chaudhry Sarwar managed to get votes [in Punjab]?” he questioned.

        “Will Imran Khan assure the nation that he did not vote for the arrow?” he asked, referring to PPP’s symbol.

        The hearing of the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference could not be held today due to an apparent confusion about recording the testimony of Wajid Zia, the head of the SC-sanctioned joint investigation team. The hearing of the case was adjourned until Tuesday, and Sharif and his daughter Maryam were allowed to leave by the court.

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        PTI challenges Jamaat to quit KP coalition govt

          Sirajul Haq kicked up a storm by accusing PTI of voting for Senate chairman on ‘order from the top’.

          Sirajul Haq kicked up a storm by accusing PTI of voting for Senate chairman on ‘order from the top’.

          ISLAMABAD: Angry over remarks of Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq ,questioning the credibility, of last month’s election of the Senate chairman, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has indirectly suggested to the JI to better part ways with the coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa if it sees any negative role of the PTI in the Senate polls.

          “I am surprised as to why the JI has not yet quit the PTI-led KP government,” said PTI information secretary Fawad Chaudhry in a statement issued here on Sunday in response to the JI chief’s recent claim that the PTI had voted for Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani following an “order from the top”.

          On the other hand, the JI says the two parties have been working together in the KP government for five years and the party cannot end this long-time association abruptly in reaction to an “emotional reaction” of the PTI information secretary.

          Mr Chaudhry regretted that on one hand, the JI had filed the petition in the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court against Nawaz Sharif and, on the other hand, it became an ally of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman. He alleged that the JI’s politics was based on “hypocrisy”.

          War of words between allies intensifies over Senate polls

          “The JI has so much love for the government that it is not ready to come out of the PTI-led coalition in KP,” the PTI leader said, terming the allegations of Mr Haq against his party “baseless”.

          When contacted, JI secretary general Liaquat Baloch endorsed the viewpoint of his party chief, stating that whatever Mr Haq had said about the Senate elections was based on “facts”.

          Mr Baloch said the PTI’s reaction to Mr Haq’s remarks was incomprehensible for him as Imran Khan had himself issued show-cause notices to 20 party MPAs for selling their votes in the Senate elections, thus proving that whatever Mr Haq had said was true.

          Mr Baloch was of the view that Fawad Chaudhry had issued the statement without prior approval of the party leadership. He expressed the hope that the PTI leadership would take notice of the statement and would not endorse it.

          Talking to the media at Mansoora last week, Senator Sirajul Haq had disclosed that KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had called him some days before the Senate chairman’s election and sought JI votes for their nominee.

          The JI chief claimed that when he asked about the name of the nominee, CM Khattak feigned ignorance, saying he was also not aware of the name yet because the decision was coming from the top and the only thing he knew was that the nominee was from Balochistan. The JI chief then hastened to add that he did not understand what Mr Khattak meant by “from the top” — whether it was from heaven or somebody else.

          The PTI’s reaction to the JI chief’s comments came a day after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif challenged PTI chief Imran Khan to identify those who had “ordered him to vote” for the candidates of the two Senate offices and explain his motives.

          Talking to reporters in London on Saturday, Mr Sharif, while referring to the JI chief’s statement, had stated that the PTI chief by voting for the Pakistan Peoples Party candidate in the Senate polls proved that he and other political parties had always been “looking for the umpire’s finger” and “orders from the top”.

          The PML-N supreme leader said the way the Balochistan Assembly was “rigged and his party taken over” and then in the manner the Senate elections were held, the Senate chairman and deputy chairman stood discredited, especially after PTI’s confession of horse-trading.

          Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2018

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          23 NAB officers fired for misconduct, negligence

            ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has removed 23 officers from service on charges of misconduct and negligence, while 32 others have been awarded penalties.

            According to a NAB spokesman, ,the disciplinary action, has been initiated against a total of 85 officers on the orders of NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal.

            “The NAB chairman is of the view that self-accountability is very necessary towards adoption of ‘Accountability for All’. NAB is absolutely committed to eradication of corruption from the country across the board,” the spokesman said.

            Justice Iqbal says self-accountability is necessary for adoption of ‘accountability for all’

            NAB suspended with immediate effect Mohammad Ramzan Khan, deputy director, NAB Lahore, on charges of inefficiency and negligence in performance of official duties.

            An inquiry has been ordered for completion of codal formalities, including an opportunity given to Ramzan Khan to defend charges against him as per law.

            Kashif Mumtaz Gondal, deputy director, Sukkur, has been suspended for three months on the charges of misconduct, and a formal inquiry has been started against him.

            It has been learnt that a number of complaints were lodged against Mr Gondal not only with NAB but also with police and a case was being heard against him in the court of Justice of Peace in Mandi Bahauddin.

            Mr Gondal is said to be one of the most ‘powerful’ officers of NAB having links with top politicians and bureaucrats and was allegedly involved in getting ‘undue’ favours by misusing his office.

            According to a number of complaints against him available with Dawn, Mr Gondal was also involved in depriving people of their land by occupying it illegally and that no action was taken against him due to his influence in the police and the revenue department in Mandi Bahauddin.

            He is also accused of using police for threatening people who raised their voice against him.

            Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2018

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            Imran assails PPP, PML-N over charter of democracy

              KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has said that his party will not make any alliance with the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the upcoming elections.

              Talking to media in London on Sunday, he accused the PPP and PML-N of striking a deal in the name of Charter of Democracy and 18th Amendment for installing the caretaker government which held the elections in 2013.

              He said the only task of the caretaker government was to hold a free and fair election, but every political party had levelled allegations of rigging in the 2013 elections.

              About ‘horse-trading’ in the recent Senate elections, he said the PTI had taken action against its people who sold their votes. “Will other parties take action against their own people [who sold their vote],” he asked.

              He said that if no action was taken by other parties then he would himself reveal the names of their people.

              He said Chaudhry Sarwar got elected as senator from Punjab on a PTI ticket as he got votes from members of other opposition parties as well as those PML-N lawmakers who had joined his party.

              Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2018

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              Bahadurabad rendezvous: Shahbaz meets MQM-P leaders in Karachi

                Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, during a second visit to Karachi in as many weeks, met with senior leaders of the MQM-P’s Bahadurabad faction on Sunday and vowed to make the metropolis “the New York of South Asia” if his party was elected to power in the upcoming polls.

                Addressing a joint press conference with MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui after a meeting with the party’s leadership ? including Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, Nasreen Jalil and Faisal Subzwari ? Shahbaz claimed he had not come to Karachi with a political agenda. “I came here as a Pakistani,” he said.

                “What happened with this city in the past is a tale of cruelty, but there is no use crying about it now. Yes, there must be accountability for it,” he said, asking where development funds released for Karachi over the years had disappeared.

                He claimed that when Nawaz Sharif was given the mandate, he decided that if peace did not return to Karachi, there would be no peace in Pakistan. “He tasked the Rangers to bring peace to Karachi and gave them freedom of action. They did a good job and today peace has returned.”

                “But peace and justice are joined together and peace cannot be sustainable if socioeconomic needs remain ignored,” he added.

                Claiming he did not visit Karachi with the intention of “political point-scoring”, Shahbaz said he had requested the MQM-P to maintain peace, and to propagate a message of peace and brotherhood, friendship and keep progressing. “We are with them in this,” he said.

                “Peace and justice are the needs of the hour,” he said.

                The Punjab chief minister also touched upon the ongoing tussle between electricity provider K-Electric and the Sui Southern Gas Company, which has led to an increase in loadshedding for residents of the city.

                “There is no doubt that the KE is mostly to blame,” he claimed. “Whatever liability is there, it is their responsibility. Ramazan is coming and KE has to resolve their self-made issues,” he said. “Without delay, the entire city must get around-the-clock electricity in Ramazan.”

                “If we speak the truth, then issues can be resolved. But if we twist them and talk around the issues, nothing will happen. That’s how 70 years have been wasted and no work has been done.”

                “We have a good idea of our political strength in Karachi. All parties will try [to outperform each other in the upcoming election]. If we get the opportunity, we will turn the cities pain into happiness,” he promised.

                “We will work together to provide water to each household, we will provide public transport ? we will build a Blue Line, a Green Line, a Yellow Line, a network of streets and flyovers will be built, we will provide jobs to the youth of Karachi, and if we get an opportunity, we will big one of South Asia’s biggest technical universities here.”

                “But these things will happen when we work together. No one can do it alone. If we do not band together… Our names will not be taken in history. The day is not far, given the potential of this city, that it will become South Asia’s New York, and the world will see it,” he claimed.

                MQM-P’s Siddiqui, who also addressed the press conference, said party leaders had explained the city’s issues to Shahbaz.

                “What Sindh’s provincial governments have done for the last 10-12 years with citizens is before everyone today,” he said.

                He touched upon the MQM’s concerns regarding the census results and their impact on the delimitation of constituencies in the run-up to the General Election, claiming there is a quickening conspiracy afoot to limit the representation of Sindh’s citizens in the government.

                He asked for greater powers to be given to the local government so it can function independently economically, administratively and politically.

                “The packages you announced are being disbursed, but their disbursal is slower than the rate of growth of the city’s issues,” he told Shahbaz. “This process should be sped up so Sindh’s citizens don’t get the impression that they are second or third class citizens.”

                Following the press conference with Siddiqui, Shahbaz also addressed gatherings in Lyari and Baldia Town, where he made similar promises to citizens: provision of clean drinking water, cheap and quality public transport, “not just one metro, but many metros”, including an Orange, Blue and Green Line, a network of roads and flyovers, job opportunities for the youth, technical training for the youth, interest free loans for small businesses.

                Shahbaz in Lyari also lambasted the PPP and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. “When I come to Karachi, the PPP gets angry. When I go to Peshawar, the PTI gets angry [...] When I show them the mirror, they get upset,” he said.

                “The PTI and PPP are two sides of the same coin [...] don’t fall into their trap,” he added.

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                PTM Lahore rally: Manzoor Pashteen announces to take grievances to Karachi on May 12

                • ,Manzoor Pashteen addresses charged crowd,
                • ,Bilawal, Maryam back PTM’s right to protest,

                The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) rally at Lahore’s Mochi Gate kicked off on Sunday as planned, despite Punjab government’s refusal to issue a permit for the event.

                During the gathering it was announced that PTM will now hold a rally in Karachi on May 12 to condemn the violence that the city witnessed in 2007.

                Among those who took the rostrum were Tahera Jalib — daughter of revolutionary poet Habib Jalib — who read out Dastoor, a famous poem of her father; and Amina Masood Janjua of the Defence of Human Rights Pakistan, whose husband has been missing since 2005.

                PTM rally was attended by people from all walks of life. —Aima Khosa

                PTM rally was attended by people from all walks of life. —Aima Khosa

                Advocate Fazal Khan, father of a student martyred in the 2014 Army Public School attack, also spoke at the event, repeating his demand of formation a judicial commission to investigate the attack.

                Awami Workers Party President Fanoos Gujjar, while addressing the crowd, said: “Yesterday when PTM leaders were arrested, we were asked: ‘There is peace in Lahore and you are anti-state traitors. What will the traitors do here? Pakhtuns here are studying and conducting trade, why are you taking their peace away?’”

                He went on to claim that Pakhtuns in Punjab face atrocities at the hands of the Punjab police which extorts money from labourers, and that many people are still being picked up in broad daylight from Lahore.

                PTM’s central leader Ali Wazir said, “The movement has come to Lahore so that if something [untoward] happens in the future, nobody can say ‘You never reached out to us’.”

                A view of PTM rally in Lahore. —Mohsin Dawar

                A view of PTM rally in Lahore. —Mohsin Dawar

                Manzoor Pashteen addresses charged crowd

                Manzoor Pashteen then took to the stage, saying it was the PTM’s “heartfelt wish” to present the situation hidden from the media and the eyes of the public to the people of Lahore.

                He explained why the PTM had included the arrest of Rao Anwar and recovery of missing persons in their demands.

                He said the whole country had seen the result of PTM’s first demand: the arrest of former SSP Malir Rao Anwar. “Now even the court is saying Anwar is a terrorist and Waziristan native Naqeebullah Mehsud, who was shot dead in a police encounter, has been declared innocent.”

                He then narrated stories of innocent people who were killed in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) without naming who was responsible for their deaths.

                “When they can sell 4,000 people, they can do a lot more,” Pashteen said, referring to a recent claim by Justice Javed Iqbal, the head of the missing persons commission, who had accused former president Pervez Musharraf of handing over 4,000 Pakistanis to United States.

                “We demand that we should be told the amount for which they [missing persons] were sold. We will collect that money and give it to you so you can bring them back. Do not release them, just give them to the courts if they have committed a crime.”

                He also demanded that first information reports against students in Lahore, who are PTM supporters, should be withdrawn. “We are very peaceful but do not forget that we are young, and young people do not have a lot of patience.”

                “Now that we have risen up against oppression, we do not fear for our heads,” the PTM leader asserted.

                Pashteen announced that the next stop for the movement would be Swat following which a gathering would be held in Karachi on May 12 — to mark the day when over 40 people were killed in the metropolis in 2007.

                He also took on the media, which he said was covering the PTM in a biased manner. “We respect you, but you are being hypocritical.”

                The district administration had earlier rejected an application by the Lahore Left Front for the PTM rally citing security concerns.

                Ali Wazir, one of the main PTM leaders, had earlier appealed to Lahore’s residents to join the gathering to learn about the ordeal residents experienced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He said the gathering was aimed at uniting the exploited and oppressed masses of KP and Punjab in general, and highlighting woes of ordinary Pashtun labourers in Lahore in particular.

                Punjab police officials — both male and female — provided security at the venue to ensure that no one entered the ground with weapons or sharp objects.

                A number of PTM leaders were ,briefly detained, on Saturday while workers found the venue of the rally flooded with water when they arrived to kickstart preparations today. Both the instances, the PTM claims, were attempts to coerce them into not holding the rally.

                Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Haider Ashraf on Sunday denied arresting any PTM leaders, saying they had only been called to the police headquarters to negotiate on security for the event as the district administration has refused them permission to hold the rally. They were later released after 3-4 hours.

                A day earlier on Saturday, DIG Ashraf had said the PTM leaders had been engaged to get affidavits that they would not take part in any anti-state activity.

                The refusal of Punjab government to grant permission to the PTM for its rally, combined with the detention of its workers, was criticised by Maryam Nawaz, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, all of whom backed the movement’s right to protest.

                The Lahore rally had been announced earlier this month when the movement held its first power show in Peshawar, demanding all missing persons be produced in courts and provision of basic rights to the people of Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

                Bilawal, Maryam back PTM’s right to protest

                PML-N’s leaders Maryam Nawaz and Senator Pervaiz Rasheed both said that the rally should have been allowed while Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned the “high-handedness and disregard for the constitutional rights of the people” shown by the Shahbaz Sharif-led provincial government.

                In a tweet early Sunday, Maryam said that the arrested activists should be released and the PTM should be allowed to hold its rally. “This country is as much their’s as it is our’s,” she said.


                “Attempts to suppress voices rising against oppression and excesses can never have never been successful, nor will they ever be,” she added.

                In his statement, Senator Rasheed said that the ban on the rally was a painful act and that the Punjab government should not only listen to the pain and misery of the protesters but also play their part in alleviating them. “This is not the time to repeat bitterness of the past, but to learn from them and strengthen national unity.”

                Bilawal, in a tweet, said that every Pakistani citizen has a right to protest and “PTM are no different”, concluding with #VoterKoIzzatDo, in a reference to PML-N’s slogan demanding respect for vote.


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                ‘Nobody will vote’: attack on Afghan election centre in Kabul leaves 57 dead

                • ,Voter security,

                An Islamic State suicide bomber killed at least 57 people including women and children and wounded 119 outside a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday in the latest attack on election preparations.

                The assaults underscore growing concerns about security in the lead-up to legislative elections scheduled for October 20, which are seen as a test-run for next year’s presidential poll.

                There were anguished and angry scenes at Isteqlal Hospital where many of the victims were taken, with relatives criticising the Afghan government for failing to protect their loved ones.

                “Our patience is running out. This government should take responsibility for the lives of all these innocent people lost every day,” a man called Hussain, whose cousin was wounded in the blast, told AFP.

                “Nobody will go to vote anymore.” The health ministry gave the latest toll for the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State group via its propaganda arm Amaq.

                The interior ministry had earlier said 48 people were killed and 112 wounded. Its spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the new toll.

                Blood-stained National ID papers and voters' photos are seen on the ground after the suicide attack. — AP

                Blood-stained National ID papers and voters' photos are seen on the ground after the suicide attack. — AP

                “They are civilians, including women and children,” interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said earlier.
                The centre in a heavily Shiite-populated neighbourhood in the west of the city was also being used by people to register for national identification certificates, which they need in order to sign up to vote.

                “I found myself covered in blood, with dead people — women and children — around me,” said Ali Rasuli, who had been standing in a queue outside the centre when he saw a “fireball” in front of him. He was taken to hospital with leg and abdominal wounds.

                Sheets of paper and passport-sized photos lay scattered amid shattered glass and pools of blood on the street near badly damaged cars — grim evidence of the force of the blast.

                “This senseless violence shows the cowardice and inhumanity of the enemies of democracy and peace in Afghanistan,” US ambassador John Bass wrote on Twitter. Nato and the United Nations also condemned the bombing.

                The last major attack in Kabul was on March 21 when an IS suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd celebrating the Persian New Year holiday and killed at least 33 people.

                Voter security

                Ariana TV showed angry crowds shouting “Death to the government!” and “Death to the Taliban!” A wounded man in a hospital bed wept as he told the network: “I don’t know where my daughters are. God damn the attackers!” A witness to the attack named Akbar told Tolo TV: “Now we know the government cannot provide us security: we have to get armed and protect ourselves.”

                Elsewhere, a roadside explosion in the northern province of Baghlan on Sunday killed six people, including three women and two children.

                President Ashraf Ghani condemned both attacks as “heinous”.

                Afghanistan began registering voters on April 14 for the long-delayed legislative elections.

                Officials have acknowledged that security is a major concern because the Taliban and other militant groups control or contest large swathes of the country.

                Afghan police and troops have been tasked with protecting polling centres, even as they struggle to get the upper hand against insurgents on the battlefield.

                Militants on Friday launched rockets at a voter registration centre in the northwestern province of Badghis, killing a police officer and wounding another person.

                Officials blamed the Taliban for the attack.

                On Tuesday gunmen attacked a voter registration centre in the central province of Ghor, kidnapping three election workers and two policemen.

                Taliban militants released the five on Thursday.

                Over the next two months, authorities hope to register up to 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centres for the parliamentary and district council elections.

                Officials have been pushing people to register amid fears a low turnout will undermine the credibility of the polls.

                Since the Persian New Year attack a tense calm had permeated the Afghan capital as people brace for the Taliban’s launch of its customary spring offensive.

                The Taliban are under pressure to take up Ghani’s peace offer made in February but so far the group has given only a muted response.

                Some Western and Afghan officials expect 2018 to be a particularly bloody year.

                General John Nicholson, the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, told Tolo TV last month that he expected the Taliban to carry out more suicide attacks this fighting season.

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                SC asks NAB to probe alleged corruption in Punjab Institute of Cardiology

                • ,Expenses of withdrawn police personnel Rs38bn a year in Punjab,
                • ,CJP orders medical machinery to be brought to Pakistan within ten days,

                The chief justice (CJP) while hearing a suo motu case against the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) said on Sunday that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would investigate alleged corruption in the organisation.

                An assistant pharmacist who claimed she was wrongfully removed from her position at the PIC brought the matter to the attention of the court earlier. A two judge bench led by CJP Mian Saqib Nisar today held the first hearing of a suo motu case regarding the matter at the Lahore registry.

                The CJP lambasted Punjab government and PIC officials over the appointment of PIC board member Afzal Bhatti ? who also holds a post as the commissioner of the Overseas Pakistanis Commission Punjab ? asking how a dual national was designated commissioner and a board member of the PIC.

                CJP Nisar also asked Bhatti how much his salary was, to which the latter replied that it was Rs550,000 a month. The CJP observed that the provincial chief secretary only earned Rs180,000 a month. “What makes you so special?” he wondered.

                Adviser to the Chief Minister Khawaja Hasan, Punjab Health Minister Khawaja Salman Rafique and PIC head Nadeem Hayat Malik also appeared in court today.

                “How did all this happen in your presence?” the CJP asked Hasan. “I am sorely tempted to summon the chief minister and show him these proceedings.”

                The CJP also asked Khawaja Salman Rafique to keep noting “whatever is happening in the Health Ministry”.

                “This will be the charge-sheet against you,” he said.

                The CJP observed that people often exercise influence in order to be recruited into government jobs. “We cannot ignore this.”

                The Punjab advocate general was also reprimanded for interfering in the matter.

                “This judge is not so weak. Everything will come to light once the matter is sent to NAB,” Justice Nisar said. “Those responsible will not be let off easily,” he added. “We will get to the bottom of this.”

                The court summoned Director General NAB Lahore Saleem Shahzad to inquire into the matter and ordered Bhatti’s name to be placed on the ECL.

                The court adjourned the hearing until April 28 and summoned all relevant officials before the court in the next hearing.

                Expenses of withdrawn police personnel Rs38bn a year in Punjab

                While hearing the suo motu case regarding security being given to non-entitled persons, the chief justice remarked that the monthly expenses of ,4,610 police personnel recalled in Punjab, came to over Rs119 million.

                He noted that the amount goes up to Rs38 billion a year and that things would be different today had the same money been spent on health and education.

                CJP orders medical machinery to be brought to Pakistan within ten days

                Hearing another suo motu case regarding the non-treatment of children born with familial hypercholesterolemia, the CJP ordered machinery for the treatment to be brought to Pakistan within ten days.

                “The machine costs Rs8m. If the Punjab government does not have the funds, you can can take them from me by today evening,” he told officials.

                Justice Nisar also reprimanded the father of children suffering from the rare disease when he urged the court make for an alternate arrangement until the machines required for his children’s treatment are not available in Pakistan.

                “You want to use your children to go abroad; the court will not let this happen,” he remarked.

                The CJP also told the father of the sick children that action would be taken against him if he showed negligence in their treatment.

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