Posts Tagged ‘punjab’

Govt completing first 100 days without legislative work

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) may have something to defend in terms of its 10,0-day performance,, but it has completely failed to deliver when it comes to legislative work.

The inordinate delay in the formation of the committees by Speaker Asad Qaiser has almost made parliament non-functional which is evident from the fact that so far the National Assembly during its four sessions since August 13 has not passed any legislation, except the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2018, known as a mini-budget. And the government has managed to pull off this “achievement” because under the Constitution, the finance bill, which is also called a “money bill”, is not required to be sent to any committee or to the Senate for approval.

With no legislative work to do, almost all the previous sittings of the lower house of parliament witnessed debates and speeches on insignificant matters, with members continuing their corruption tirades against each other, causing uproar and even scuffles.

On Nov 6, the legislators were allowed to move four private member’s bills in the assembly and the speaker referred them to the committees which don’t even exist.

Salient features of the PTI agenda were expeditious merger of Fata with KP, bifurcation of Punjab province and reconciliation with estranged Baloch leaders

The speaker, who has been struggling to run the house smoothly, is on a tightrope because of the ongoing tussle between the PTI and the opposition parties over the issue of chairmanship of the all-powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and he has stopped the process of formation of the committees due to the opposition’s threat to boycott all the committees if the ruling party does not offer the PAC chairmanship to Opposition Leader and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif as per “parliamentary traditions”.

And after the categorical announcement by Prime Minister Imran Khan that the government would never allow Mr Sharif to become the PAC head, it seems unlikely that the speaker would be able to constitute the committee by Nov 26, when the present government will be completing its first 100 days in office.

Leaders from both the sides admit that a deadlock over the issue of PAC chairmanship still persists with no party willing to budge from its stated position.

Under the rules, the speaker is bound to constitute all the standing and functional committees of the house “within 30 days after the election of the Leader of the House (prime minister)”. Since PTI Chairman Imran Khan was elected prime minister on August 18, the speaker had time till September 17 for the formation of over three dozen house committees.

Although there is no restriction on the government in the rules to give the chairmanship of the PAC to the opposition parties, it has been a parliamentary practice and tradition for the past 10 years that the office is given to an opposition member in order to ensure transparency in financial matters.

According to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the federal cabinet in its meeting on November 15 decided that the prime minister would “unveil the 100-day achievements of the government before the nation on Nov 29”.

Some three months before the July 25 general elections, Mr Khan had unveiled his party’s ambitious ‘agenda’ outlining the party’s commitments for starting work within the first 100 days of forming its government after the elections.

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

The 100-day agenda, prepared by the Policy Unit of the PTI’s Election Management Cell headed by former chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shahzad Arbab, also contained a plan for introducing a development package for Karachi and a programme for alleviation of poverty, besides a number of steps for the improvement of the economy.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018

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New London property belonging to Sharif family to be referred to NAB: Shahzad Akbar

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Saturday said that the Assets Recovery Unit was referring the case of a new London property belonging to the Sharif family to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

While bringing attention to a property that he said “had been revealed by the media”, Akbar — in a press conference alongside Adviser to PM Iftikhar Durrani — said that investigative journalists were his closest partners in the responsibility he had been given.

He said that a media channel had broken the news of a property [Frederick Close] located in Central London which “had a current value of 2.2 or 2.3 million pounds”.

Akbar added that the rental income and ownership documents for this property from 2012 to 2016 had been available “but were put away in files”.

According to these documents, the flat in London was under the name of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the late wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The special assistant to PM said that as the premier and a member of the National Assembly (MNA), it was Nawaz Sharif’s responsibility to declare the ownership of his dependents, including his wife’s.

He said that this declaration could have been made in two ways; on a wealth statement that every citizen is required to submit while declaring his/her spouse’s assets — or as a member of the parliament in the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) forms.

Akbar added that as an MNA, there is also an annual declaration submitted in the assembly.

While holding up a document of the ECP forms and wealth statement, Akbar said that this property had not been shared anywhere and this made it a new case of assets beyond known income.

He said that further investigation of assets beyond known income should be carried out by NAB while tax related liability has been given to the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR).

While saying that the case will be pursued by both [NAB and FBR], Akbar added that they have also asked Britain for fresh ownership documents of the concerned property.

Akbar said that according to the land registry, in August 2016 this property was transferred to Hassan Nawaz’s name.

The latest date for its sale is from March 2018, Akbar added.

“We have asked Britain for all these documents and they might come in a week or two. We will put all of that in front of you, what the whole trail of this was — till when this property was under the Sharif family and when they sold it and for how much.”

“The question comes up again which has remained the question in all the cases: where did these properties come from, what was their source of income, and what is their trail of money.

“When you don’t declare something and get caught, the first question is where did it come from, you have to declare a source of income for it,” he remarked.

He also spoke about the alleged misuse of the Prime Minister’s plane, ,saying three hundred forty million rupees were illegally spent on air travels,. He said Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, used the Prime Minister’s aircraft illegally while former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif spent Rs600 million on air travel.

In July this year, an accountability court in its verdict in the ,Avenfield properties corruption reference, had handed the ousted prime minister 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and his daughter Maryam was given 7 years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father”. Sharif’s son-in-law retired Captain Safdar was given 1 year jail time.

NAB had filed the reference regarding the high-end properties in London, along with two others, on the Supreme Court’s directives in the ,landmark Panamagate verdict last year, which deseated Nawaz as the prime minister.

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Former police officer gunned down in Quetta

A former deputy inspector general of police was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Quetta on Saturday evening, police said.

Muhammad Naeem Kakar was walking after offering prayers at a mosque when unknown attackers opened fire on him in Junior Assistant Colony area, DIG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema told DawnNewsTV.

Kakar was critically injured in the firing and breathed his last at the Combined Military Hospital.

Cheema said the assailants escaped unhurt from the site.

Police and personnel of other law enforcement agencies were quick at the spot. An investigation has been ordered into the incident.

“At this point of time, I cannot say whether it was a targeted killing or not,” DIG Cheema said. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Kakar had served as DIG special branch and on other important positions in Balochistan.

The incident comes less than a month after a police constable was ,shot dead, in Nawan Killi area of the provincial capital.

Police officers are said to be high-risk targets in Balochistan.

Balochistan has been divided into two areas – A and B – based on how their security is organised. Police are responsible for maintaining law and order in Category A areas ? 10 per cent of the province ? while Category B is under the control of the Balochistan Levies. However, 90pc of violent crime occurs in Category A areas that are covered by police.

The high level of organisation in police ranks is believed to be one of the factors that incite violence against it by terrorist outfits.

Around 2001, at the onset of the deterioration in Balochistan’s security situation, Baloch separatists would target police constables in Quetta, mainly because most cops hailed from Punjab.

With the passage of time, as the ethnic composition of the police department changed, sectarian and militant outfits began carrying out attacks against cops. In recent years, most targeted attacks against policemen have been claimed by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) or the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

A number of attacks in Balochistan last year targeted senior police officials.

According to the police department, it has lost over 830 officers and constables in different incidents since 1979.

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New police office on the cards to look after south Punjab

LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to establish South Punjab Police Office (SPPO) to look into the affairs of the southern part of the province.

The initiative is being taken in light of the discussion around the possible creation of a south Punjab province.

Some police officers believe that initially the newly proposed police office would continue to work under the Punjab inspector general. Later, it could be separated from the current police department in case a new province was carved out.

According to the proposed scheme, the SPPO shall be headed by an additional inspector general (addl IG) (BPS-21 officer) and supported by a deputy inspector general (DIG) police and two assistant inspectors general (AIG). Besides, in order to improve the estate management function of the Central Police Office (CPO) a separate vacancy of a DIG shall be created.

A summary to this effect has been moved by the CPO to Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for immediate creation of five new slots — one BPS-21, two BPS-20 and two others of AIGs. A copy of the summary is available with Dawn.

The summary stated that south Punjab consisted of Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur. As per the last census, the total population of the region is over 34 million, while the district police force’s strength in the southern districts is around 29,000.

“In line with the vision of the Punjab government to facilitate the people of the region, the SPPO is needed to be established; it will be headed by an additional IG,” the summary states. He will also supervise regional police officers (RPOs) of DG Khan, Multan and Bahawalpur, look after maintenance of public order, crime, special operations, public security and delivery of public service in south Punjab.

A post of DIG (headquarters) south Punjab shall be created to work as principal staff officer to and assist the additional IG. He shall be responsible for transfers/postings of police officers and ministerial staff posted in south Punjab, discipline and service representation of the staff, coordination with the CPO (IG office), distribution of work in the region etc.

Similarly, the AIG (discipline) shall be responsible for discipline- and establishment-related issues of the staff posted in the region, monitoring of accountability policy implementation, supervision of secret branches and directive cells etc. He shall also deal with issues such as death in police custody, involvement of police officers in criminal and corruption cases, maintenance of record and declaration of assets etc.

The AIG (operations) shall be responsible for collection of information/facts on major, sensational and special reports/cases/crimes, and public order situations from districts and regions along with police action taken for the perusal of additional IG of the newly proposed region.

He shall also be responsible for the transmission of operation orders of the additional IG to the regions and districts concerned and seeking progress and follow-ups, liaison with other police units for crosschecking of information provided by the field formations, preparation of reports regarding crimes etc. The AIG shall also act as staff officer to the additional IG, according to the summary.

The summary also recommended creation of a post of DIG (infrastructure, development and estate management).

The proposed officer shall be responsible for raising physical infrastructure of the police establishments, especially the new police stations and police posts in the region, and for the efficient resource utilisation in the region.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

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With circular debt crossing Rs1.2tr, firms told to recover arrears

ISLAMABAD: As the total circular debt of the power sector is estimated to have crossed Rs1.2 trillion, the power division has set specific targets for distribution companies to recover arrears from previous bills and ensure 100pc recovery of current billing.

A meeting, presided over by Federal Power Minister Omer Ayub Khan on Friday, set targets for six distribution companies (Disco) for collection of Rs83bn of past bills and asked them to ensure 100pc recovery targets for current electricity billing.

The meeting was also attended by Nadeem Babar, chairman of the Energy Task Force appointed by the prime minister, and chief executives of the Pakistan Electric Power Company and Discos concerned.

“It was decided to freeze the figures of old receivables as on Oct 31, 2018, with targets to achieve 100pc recovery of current billings besides reducing line losses as per the goals set by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra),” said an official statement.

The decision is part of ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials for a fresh bailout package that requires creating over Rs140bn fiscal space from the power sector through recovery of old bills to minimise the circular debt or else the government would need to further increase power tariffs during the current year.

The minister directed CEOs to end theft and illegal hooking of electricity and take strict action against those involved in it with the help of the Provincial Task Force established in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Informed sources said that the total outstanding bills payable by consumers including public and private sector stood at about Rs870bn and that was the major reason for repeated increases in circular debt.

The power division also directed Discos to ensure that defaulters did not use electricity through hooking and operation must be intensified without any fear or favour.

The meeting assigned specific targets to Discos.

For example, the Lahore Electric Supply Company was given the target of recovering Rs25bn additional funds from January to June 2019 from consumers against old bills, in addition to ensuring 100pc current collection. This will be achieved through Rs8bn recovery from running defaulters, Rs11bn from disconnected defaulters, Rs3bn deferred cases and Rs3bn saving through one per cent reduction in line losses.

Likewise, the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) was given the target of extra recovery of Rs41bn above the full current billing. It was tasked to recover Rs25bn from running defaulters, Rs10bn from disconnected defaulters besides Rs6bn saving by reducing line losses by 4pc.

Pesco will also ensure removal of hooks (Kunda) within two months and SDOs, XENs and SEs concerned shall be held responsible for this. Pesco will launch an awareness campaign to educate consumers that their wrong bills will be corrected and meters will be installed instantly after payment of dues which will also lead to reduction of load management hours in their areas.

The Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) was asked to ensure extra recovery of Rs10.2bn by reducing line losses to Nepra target of 15pc and recovery of old receivables including Rs6bn from disconnected and Rs2bn from running defaulters.

The Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) will ensure extra recovery of Rs3bn and reduce line losses by 1pc.

The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) will also ensure extra Rs2billion collection by recovering old receivables besides bringing line losses at Nepra’s targets of 8.65pc.

The meeting warned that recoveries should be made against outstanding bills and there should be no overbilling or unfair means be adopted for achieving these targets.

A joint secretary of the power division and management of Pepco were directed to evolve a comprehensive monitoring mechanism to ensure that all CEOs personally supervised the drive against theft and shall meet the district administration in this regard.

The total circular debt currently stood at about Rs1.2 trillion including Rs566bn fresh flow and Rs582bn old stock parked in the power holding company. The power sector authorities believe that line loss and lower than billed recovery are causing about Rs202bn and Rs205bn, respectively, circular debt every year.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

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NAB move to get Hamza, Salman on ECL

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has written to the interior ministry requesting for placement of the names of Hamza and Salman, sons of president of the Pakistan Muslim League-N Shahbaz Sharif, on the exit control list (ECL).

“NAB has recommended to the ministry to place the names of Hamza Shahbaz and Salman Shahbaz on the ECL,” a NAB spokesman said in a statement issued on Friday.

The brothers are facing a NAB inquiry into the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.

According to NAB, the two in their capacity as directors got constructed a bridge linking to their mills out of public money in Chiniot. An amount of Rs200 million was approved by then chief minister Shahbaz Sharif for the construction of the bridge, it said, adding the bureau was also probing the brothers in an inquiry over possessing assets beyond their known sources of income.

Hamza, who is a member of the Punjab Assembly, is also facing inquiry into the Saaf Pani Company case for presiding over some meetings of the board of directors and allegedly issuing orders regarding award of contracts. NAB said Hamza was not even member of the board.

Salman has been in London and has skipped last three hearings in NAB.

A PML-N spokesman said Salman had never held a government office nor was he elected a lawmaker.

“Salman has been abroad and will return,” said party MNA Marriyum Aurangzeb.

She said Hamza had appeared before NAB several times and Salman had also appeared before it. Despite all reservations, the Sharif family was cooperating with NAB, she added.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

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Indian poet Javed Akhtar, film star Shabana Azmi arrive in Pakistan to attend Faiz festival

Punjab Minister for Information and Culture Fayyazul Hassan Chohan on Friday said the current visit of noted Indian poet Javed Akhtar along with his wife, film star Shabana Azmi, to Pakistan would open new doors of peace for Pak-India relationships.

In a meeting with the Indian celebrity couple, who are in Pakistan to attend the “4th Faiz International Festival”, Chohan said both the neighbouring countries should work together “in the areas of art to promote harmony and peace in the region”.

On this occasion, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar said that they were overwhelmed by the warm welcome which had been given to them by the people of Pakistan.

“We will never forget the love and respect which we received during the visit”, they added.

On the first day of the festival, a session was held in which Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s daughter Saleema Hashmi and Shabana Azmi, the daughter of Kaifi Azmi, recalled the friendship between Faiz and Kaifi Azmi.

They exchanged their views about both literary personalities to spread the message of peace, love, humanity and friendship among the people of the Subcontinent.

In the session, Azmi and her spouse Javed Akhtar presented poems to the audience which appreciated them, besides lauding the poetry of Faiz and Kaifi Azmi.

Famous Indian actress Shabana Azmi attending the first session of 4th Faiz International Festival 2018. —APP

Famous Indian actress Shabana Azmi attending the first session of 4th Faiz International Festival 2018. —APP

Later, a play ‘Kala Mainda Bhes,’ written by Shahid Nadeem and directed by Madeeha Gauher, was presented at Alhamra Hall No 2.

Separately, a musical show was also organised in which Tahira Syed sang poems written by Faiz.

Moneeza Hashmi, the daughter of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, lauded the government’s efforts to make the festival a success in which literary figures from across the world were participating.

She said the festival had become a symbol of love, sensitivity, and care for others, adding that a number of events had been included in the festival, especially for youth to make them aware about literary personalities and their achievements through plays and stage performances.

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Government launches road safety strategy

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Communications on Thursday launched the Pakistan National Road Safety Strategy (PNRSS) 2018-30 that aims to provide better facilities to commuters and cut the number of traffic accidents.

The strategy was unveiled by Minister of State for Communications Murad Saeed at a function.

The government hopes that by implementing the strategy, fatal accidents on major highways will rapidly decline.

“Road safety is a major public health issue in Pakistan. Every five minutes someone is killed or badly injured in a road traffic crash in Pakistan,” said Mr Saeed while addressing the ceremony. He added that the PNRSS had been devised by collaborating with UK-Aid and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

National Highway Authority clears encroachment areas

Federal Communications Secretary Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, National Highway Authority (NHA) Chairman Jawad Rafique Malik, Inspector General of National Highways and Motorways Police Allah Dino Khowaja, Assistant Chief National Transport Research Centre Shahbaz Latif Mirza, Punjab Rescue 1122 Director General Dr Rizwan Naseer, Pakistan DFID Head Economic Growth Group Ms Patricia, ADB Deputy Country Director Sunil Mitra, Pakistan Resident Mission Dr Rizwan Naseer and Director Roads Ministry of Communications Hameed Akhtar spoke at the event.

The minister said that the government was determined to put the country on the fast track to development. “Pakistan’s rapid economic growth and expanding road infrastructure create an opportunity to significantly improve safety through better roads, slower travel speeds, safer vehicles and greater awareness, as well as ensuring all commuters comply with regulations.”

Mr Saeed said Pakistan’s geographical position placed it at the heart of the regional road transport growth. However, he stressed that improvements in mobility must not be made at the expense of safety.

“The strategy sets out a national framework of road safety goals, objectives and action areas for interventions to improve performance on key risk factors and meet specific targets. Road safety is a shared societal responsibility. We must all do more to protect our communities from death and grievous injury,” he added.

Earlier, the other speakers said that the strategy was built on the foundation of the first national road safety plan for motorways and national highways 2017-18 and broadened the scope to address all road networks and all road user groups in Pakistan.

The strategy, they claimed, laid out a long-term road safety vision for Pakistan and suggested practical, evidence-based actions to improve safety on national, provincial and local roads.

NHA regains land

The National Highway Authority moved against 3,131 encroachment areas in various parts of the country; 2,157 positions have been cleared while 178 kanals of land has been restored. The total value is estimated to be worth Rs1.288 billion.

According to details, 334 locations in Dera Ismail Khan, 20 in Hyderabad, 59 in Multan, 99 in Bahawalpur, 495 in Rahim Yar Khan, 100 in Bat Khela, 42 in Wazirabad, 197 in Lahore and 811 locations in Rawalpindi and Islamabad-Murree Dual Carriageway have been recaptured.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018

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PM orders immediate inquiry into SP Dawar’s ‘shocking’ murder

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday ordered an “immediate inquiry” into the ,murder of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar.,

Taking to Twitter, PM Khan said: “Have followed the shocking tragedy of the murder of SP Tahir Khan Dawar and ordered Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to coordinate with Islamabad police in holding an inquiry immediately.”

The premier added that Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Afridi has been tasked to “oversee it with an urgency and present the report” to PM Khan.

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SP Dawar, who was chief of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in the G-10/4 area of Islamabad on October 26 and ,a body said to be his was found in a remote area of the Afghan province of Nangarhar,.

Afghan officials confirmed that the tortured body found in Nangarhar was indeed that of Dawar, said the Foreign Office (FO) on Wednesday.

According to DawnNewsTV, Dawar’s body was handed over to Pakistani authorities in Afghanistan.

Earlier in the day, Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) Spokesperson Miram Sadaqat told DawnNewsTV that the body was handed to the organisation.

“The body was given to ARCS [today] and now we will transport it to his family. Based on our humanitarian principles ,we are committed to hand over the body to his family,” he had said.

Dawar’s funeral prayers are expected to be held in Peshawar today.

Afridi briefs Senate about Dawar’s case

State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi briefed the Senate on the issue, reiterating that the prime minister had asked for an inquiry report on the murder of the police official.

“On November 13, the footage of his body was released, they [the Afghan government] were approached. The next day, on November 14, we initiated an inquiry into the matter and the Afghan government sent the message confirming the news [of SP Dawar's death],” Afridi said.

He added: “This was when our prime minister asked the the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa inspector general, the KP chief minister and the Islamabad inspector general for a complete and immediate inquiry report into the matter.”

“We only just started receiving all the details [of the case],” Afridi told the Upper House. SP Tahir was transported from Islamabad to Punjab, where he was kept for a couple of days, then he stayed in Mianwali for three to four days, and then he was taken to Bannu, he explained.

“At the border, there is no patrol on the Afghan side, which we have brought up with them [the Afghan government] multiple times,” he claimed.

According to Afridi, this is not the first such incident to occur with respect to Afghanistan as the two countries share a porous border. “Many of our jawans have been picked up this way,” he said, adding that their bodies were then recovered from the other side of the border.

Afridi also lambasted the Safe City project in Islamabad, claiming that of the 1,800 cameras installed in the capital, at least 600 are non-functional. Additionally, he said, “not one camera possesses the ability to identify a vehicle’s license plate or someone’s face”.

“No one bothered to examine how the nation’s money is being spent,” he said.

He called for an inquiry into the Safe City project contracts so that the people responsible are penalised.

Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani told Afridi since it fell within his own ministry’s purview, he could conduct the inquiry. Afridi replied that he would hold an inquiry on his part, but also wished to bring the matter up in the Senate since he didn’t want it said that a particular political party was being targeted.

“The state is responsible for the protection of the lives and property of all Pakistanis,” the minister of state said, calling for unity in the House.

He added: “It is the government’s promise to the nation that we will make examples of the culprits, whether they are in Afghanistan or Pakistan. All political parties need to be united so that people within Pakistan who are trying to destabilise the country and polarise the nation should get the message that if the state or national security are targeted, there will be consensus and unity [against them].”

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ECP orders re-election in Quetta’s PB-26 constituency

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday ordered re-polling in Quetta’s PB-26 constituency after declaring the election of Balochistan MPA Ahmed Ali Kohzad null and void.

Hazara Democratic Party’s Kohzad had received 5,117 votes in the July 25 polls against Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal runner up Wali Muhammad’s 3,242 votes.

The lawyers for both candidates were present before the ECP’s two member commission today, which was headed by Sindh member Abdul Ghaffar Soomro.

According to a report, Kohzad is an Afghan national, Soomro said, adding that the PB-26 poll could be declared null and void.

The ECP Punjab member Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi mentioned a writ petition that had been submitted to the Balochistan High Court (BHC) by Wali Muhammad against Kohzad’s election, alleging that he was an Afghan national.

Separately, Kohzad himself had also challenged the National Database and Registration Authority’s (Nadra) blocking of his computerised national identity card in the BHC. In an earlier hearing, the Quetta deputy commissioner submitted a report in court saying that the HDP leader was an Afghan national.

Wali Muhammad’s lawyer today said that the BHC had already issued notices to the parties involved in the case. He had requested that the runner-up be declared the winner.

The ECP, however, rejected his request. “How can we impose you on those who have not given you a vote?” asked the ECP Punjab member.

Qureshi added that there was no provision within the law for declaring a runner-up winner after the elected candidate was disqualified.

Subsequently, the ECP declared Kohzad’s election null and void and ordered re-polling in PB-26.

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PM orders setting up of National Curriculum Council

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday ordered establishment of a National Curriculum Council for creating consensus among stakeholders for uniform standards of education across the country.

The prime minister took the decision during a briefing on education held at the PM Office, on a suggestion of Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood.

Punjab Education Minister Murad Rass and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Adviser on Education Ziaullah Bangash also briefed the prime minister about the future roadmap and highlighted various short- medium- and long-term measures to introduce qualitative change in the education sector.

Imran Khan appreciated the efforts being made at federal and provincial levels and said the National Education Policy Framework (NEPF) was being devised to bring uniformity in existing fragmented and apartheid-like system of education.

“The objective is to create a nation and to put in place a system which is ‘fair’ and ‘produces Pakistanis’,” he said, adding that, skill development of the youths should be especially focused so that their potential could be utilised effectively.

Earlier, Shafqat Mehmood gave a detailed presentation on the NEPF identifying various challenges vis-à-vis out of school children, education apartheid, quality of education and skill development issues.

He said the NEPF was being formulated to ensure that all children have a fair and equal opportunity to receive high quality education in order to achieve their full potential.

The minister said optimum utilisation of the existing infrastructure, employing technology solutions, improvement in non-formal education systems, attracting quality teachers and incentivising the education were some of the measures in the NEPF that would significantly help in enhancing school enrolment and addressing the issues of out-of-school children.

At a separate meeting on PM Youth Programme, Imran Khan stressed the need for devising a comprehensive programme for youths’ education, employment and their participation in different sectors.

He said out of 200 million population 130m were those who were below the age of 35 years. “This big number of youths is a precious asset which can change the destiny of the country,” he added.

The prime minister directed the federal government departments to follow the youth programme implemented by the KP government during the past five years.

Meanwhile, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Malki called on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

An official press release said bilateral issues of mutual interest were discussed during the meeting.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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Police officers were tasked to ‘break PPP people’ by Sindh caretaker govt, claims CM Shah

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday lashed out at what he called arbitrary transfers of police officers by the Sindh caretaker government before the 2018 elections, saying the random postings had left the policemen clueless.

“[They] put the names of all officers in a box, started revolving it and then pulled out name chits to mindlessly decide where each police officer would be posted,” Shah said while briefing the Sindh Assembly about the law and order situation.

He alleged that the police officers had been assigned the task of “breaking the PPP people”, and because they were allegedly too busy trying to change PPP leaders’ alliances, the law and order situation had worsened and street crime in Karachi had risen.

“I am a witness [to this] myself… they were asked to ‘break the PPP people’, [and] forget about the law and order.”

After returning into power, the chief minister said, the PPP government has been trying to control the street crimes situation.

Shah informed the house that 61 incidents of terrorism had taken place in Sindh in 2013. The number came down to two such incidents in 2017, while this year no terrorist incident has taken place in Sindh so far.

Incidents of targeted killings and street crimes have also dropped, he said, adding in the same breath: “But we are not satisfied… we have to do more work.”

He said the province of Sindh, specifically Karachi, have seen several devastating terrorist incidents in recent years, including the Safoora Goth carnage, the Sehwan bomb blast, the Shikapur blast and the killings of qawwal Amjad Sabri, JUI-F leader Khalid Mehmood Soomro and journalist Wali Babar.

“There is not a single incident which we have not traced or solved,” Shah claimed, before questioning the investigations into terrorist attacks in other provinces.

“Did [we] ever find out what happened at the Army Public School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? Have the men who escaped in a jailbreak in KP been found till date?” he asked.

Responding to a point raised by another lawmaker, he said it was members of the civil society which had moved courts against the Sindh government’s efforts to replace then provincial chief of police A.D. Khowaja, and not Khowaja himself.

“We tried a lot [to replace him] but what can I say… [unlike Sindh,] nothing happens when the Punjab police IG is changed within three weeks,” Shah said, before adding tongue-in-cheek: “Be grateful the civil society there [Punjab] is not that active.”

“The Islamabad IG [was] also transferred in an incident involving cows,” he said, in a reference to a ,federal minister’s alleged role, in the transfer of former Islamabad police chief Jan Mohammad. However, he observed that a joint investigation team had been formed to probe that alleged abuse of power.

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Smog to blanket Karachi for next couple of days, says regional met official

Unusual smog-like conditions prevailed in Karachi on Wednesday morning, causing poor visibility and difficulty for drivers in various parts of the city, along with exacerbating respiratory issues in people suffering from asthma.

Regional Meteorological Centre Karachi Director Shahid Abbas, while explaining the weather in the metropolis, said that fog or smog is formed “when minimum temperature falls rapidly”.

“Right now, the land and sea temperature are almost the same, due to which the wind has stopped blowing,” he said, adding that this was why “smog has formed in Karachi”.

“It will remain for the next two or three days until winds from Quetta start blowing here. Then the smog will disperse and it will get two to three degrees colder,” he said.

Take a look: ,Punjab authorities are responding to help manage the smog, but is it enough?,

He ruled out the possibility of rain in Sindh over the next few days.

“There are rains in parts of Punjab ? Sialkot, Gujranwala ? but the [weather] system is passing overhead and there is no chance of rain in Sindh,” he explained.

However, “the air temperature will lower and dry winds will begin blowing, which will clear the atmosphere.”

Earlier, a Met official, requesting anonymity, told Dawn.com that the ratio of humidity in the air is around 32 per cent. He added that Nawabshah, Sukkur, Dadu, Hyderabad, Jackobabad, and Sakrund are also affected due to the situation.

Smog has become a common feature of the winter season in parts of the country, particularly Punjab. The condition has been attributed to the burning of crop stubble, and pollution from factories and traffic in the province. Burning of crop stubble ,across the border has also aggravated the situation, locally.

A global list of the 50 worst air pollutant emission hotspots in the world by Greenpeace which analysed the satellite data generated by European Space Agency’s new satellite ranked Lahore and its surrounding area at 30th place.

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Mother, two teenage daughters found dead in Lahore’s Chan Shah graveyard

A woman and her two daughters were found dead in Chan Shah graveyard in the Shah Bagh area of Lahore on Wednesday while a third girl, found in an injured state, was shifted to a hospital, said the City Superintendent of Police (SP) Maaz Zafar.

SP Zafar said that the two girls killed were between the ages of 13 and 15 years.

A statement from the injured girl, also a teenager, will be recorded once she is stable, the SP said.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has taken notice of the incident and sought a report from the police.

According to SP Zafar, the station house officer (SHO) and the deputy superintendent of police (DSP) were at the site of the incident and an investigation was underway.

The police official told DawnNewsTV that the woman’s husband — who had married six times — was killed 15 days ago in Sheikhupura. He added that two of his former wives had confessed to his murder.

Based on initial investigation, the police said that the mother and her daughters had been killed over a family dispute.

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SC assails Pervaiz Elahi’s role in land demarcation

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday wondered why former chief minister Pervaiz Elahi attended to a matter pertaining to demarcation of forest land in Takht Pari, Rawalpindi, only for his personal advantage that too by abusing his authority.

“Is it not a fit case for a reference on corruption?” wondered Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, one of the members of a five-judge SC bench.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, had taken up a review petition moved by Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd against the May 4 SC verdict in which the court had held that Takht Pari, located six kilometres from Rawalpindi near G.T. Road, encompassed 2,210 acres, and not 1,741 acres.

Therefore, the judgement held, the exchange of land purportedly encroached upon by Bahria Town and the Punjab forest department as well as the attestation of mutations were based on erroneous assumption about the area.

Justice Khosa wonders if it isn’t a fit case for graft reference

The five-judge bench, however, postponed further proceedings to Dec 3 with a directive for the authorities to furnish complete revenue record of the area.

“Is it not quid pro quo that by ordering a fresh demarcation of the forest land, a large chunk of 270 kanals went to the former chief minister’s family members — Chaudhry Salik Elahi, Chaudhry Munir and Aaliya Shujaat? Is it not too much of a coincidence and what conclusion one should draw from it?” Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan asked.

He wondered when the apex court through its May 4 judgement had given an exhaustive finding, “how can we review the same. What business of approving for demarcation of the forest land has to do with the chief minister who has no role in the entire hierarchy of revenue department?”

The chief justice observed that the court could issue notices to the former Punjab chief minister and the forest department that generated the summary for approval by the chief minister under the dictated and forced command. He wondered under what authority of the law, the chief minister had approved the demarcation exercise.

Justice Khosa observed that the court could not accept the argument that though 10,000 trees were chopped off in the forest, the entire jungle was converted into a luxurious city. The land was first demarcated and then development started, he said, adding that he was surprised to learn that the people involved in the matter were roaming around freely when police instantly jailed a person accused of encroaching upon only one kanal of land.

“No one should be discriminated but all should be treated equally,” Justice Khosa said, adding that maybe the chief minister was not only the head of the provincial government but also the head of the family. “The entire structure [the way things were managed] stinks,” he regretted.

“The chief minister is bound to protect the public property as well as public trust,” the chief justice observed and said the court would not allow even a single inch of land to be encroached upon.

Senior counsel Aitzaz Ahsan, representing Bahria Town, argued that the dispute arose between his client and the forest department in 2005 as both were engaged in the demarcation of the forest land in which it was established that the land in the domain of the forest department was 1,741 acres, and not 2,210 acres.

This conclusion was supported by the revenue record and Bahria Town also paid proper compensation for acquiring the land. Thus the basic assumption on the basis of which the Supreme Court judgement came that the forest land consisted of 2,210 acres was wrong, he said, adding that it was the Board of Revenue which had moved the summary for approval of the demarcation.

When Mr Ahsan was advancing his arguments, Malik Riaz, chairman of Bahria Town, approached the rostrum to seek an audience. But the chief justice admonished him by stating that to the court he was just an ordinary litigant and nothing more and such interferences were never tolerated and invited contempt of court notices.

Malik Riaz should change his counsel or he himself should advance arguments if he had no confidence in them, the chief justice observed.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018

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SC seeks complete allotment records in Bahria Town Rawalpindi encroachment case

The Supreme Court, while hearing a review petition filed by Bahria Town against the apex ,court’s earlier judgment overturning, an illegal land ‘swap’, on Tuesday sought a complete record of land allotments made to Bahria Town Rawalpindi.

The apex court had on May 4, 2018 ruled against Bahria Town’s illegal procurement of land for its housing projects across the country. One of the land acquisition deals that the court had ruled against concerned an encroachment on forest land in the Takht Pari area near Islamabad.

The issue raised was that Bahria Town had ‘encroached’ upon 1,170 kanals of forest land, while the forest department had ‘encroached’ on an area measuring 765 kanals of Bahria Town. The court, in its order, had struck down this mutual ‘encroachment’ deal, deeming it illegal and of no effect.

Under Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar’s stewardship, a five-member larger bench of the court has been hearing Bahria Town’s review petition against the verdict.

“The Takht Pari land was government land,” the chief justice told Bahria Town’s counsel (and PPP leader) Aitzaz Ahsan. “I should clarify that we will not allow even an inch of the land to be encroached. The court has stopped giving concessions.”

The court and the counsel also disagreed on the total area of Takht Pari, with Justice Ijazul Ahsan maintaining that the area spans 2,210 acres but Ahsan arguing that the total area “as per land records is 1,770 acres”.

“The court had [also] ruled [on the size of the land] on the basis of records,” Justice Faisal Arab reminded the property developer’s representative.

The chief justice also wondered what “role the former Punjab CM [Shahbaz Sharif] and others played in the allotment was”, recalling that: “The forest land was given on the chief minister’s instructions.”

Upon being told by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa that “all the records are under the name of Chaudhry Saleh, Salik and others”, the CJP ordered notices to be issued to all “Chaudhry families”, and even pondered referring the matter to the National Accountability Bureau.

The Bahria Town counsel however claimed that the “CM had not allotted any land”, to which Justice Ahsan pointed out that, “The CM’s family did receive 270 kanals of land”.

“Of the allotted land, 270 kanal was transferred to the children of the CM, which exposed the entire case,” the judge explained.

“How this land went from the chief minister to Malik Riaz, the inquiry will reveal,” the chief justice said, who also questioned what right a chief minister has to allot state land.

“In the US, the president cannot even allot a shack,” he said.

“The chief minister should have protected the government land, not allotted it,” he added.

Justice Ahsan concurred with the chief justice’s assessment and questioned: “Who is the chief minister to give the order of demarcation?”

The chief justice, who termed the case a “blatant misuse of power”, also highlighted the impact that the encroachment had had on the environment.

“10,000 trees were mowed down and an entire forest was demolished,” he said. “A mountain was also destroyed. Who will pay for this environmental loss?

“The Rs1,000 billion we asked for from Malik Riaz was not excessive.”

The Bahria Town counsel, however, contested the court’s assessment of the damages, saying: “There is no evidence that any trees were mowed.”

“The trees were torn on Bahria Town’s own property,” he later added.

The case’s hearing was later adjourned till December 3.

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Punjab govt decides to remove Dr Umar Saif as PITB chairman

The Punjab government has decided to remove Dr Umar Saif as the chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), it emerged on Monday.

Talking to Dawn.com, Dr Saif confirmed that the government has approved a summary to replace him. No notification, however, has been issued in this regard as yet.

“It is the prerogative of the government to appoint anyone they wish,” he said.

“I have worked for the government for seven years. I hope they appoint someone who can take this forward.”

Dr Saif, who is also the vice-chancellor of Lahore’s Information Technology University (ITU), in a Facebook post said it had been his privilege to serve the country “for as long as I could”.

“I served 5 successive governments and established two institutions: PITB, which became the main reform engine for the government with over 300 projects in Punjab and other provinces, and ITU, which in just 5 years, became one of the premier technology universities of Pakistan with close to 100 PhD faculty members,” he wrote.

“In the end, I served for as long as I could — beyond provincial boundaries and political divides — and gave it all I had. I am sure those who come in future will take these institutions to new heights.”

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr Saif led projects such as Plan9, PlanX and Tech Hubb Connect at the PITB. Under his watch, the board also played a key role in digitalising the police department, land record and other departments of the Punjab government.

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