Posts Tagged ‘Rain’

Saad spills the beans on PML-N strategy to ‘go soft’ on PTI

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Khawaja Saad Rafique has spilled the beans on his party’s strategy to “go soft” on the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and “mysterious silence” of former prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz.

The former railways minister also believes that his ‘difficult days’ may be over if he becomes a “good boy” and keeps mum on the wishes of the powers that be.

“We fear that if political temperature is raised, democracy may be derailed and that is why we are not going for agitation,” Mr Rafique said at a press conference here on Friday.

“We want to save Pakistan from repeat of another [Bangladesh-like] incident. At present there is a civil martial law in Pakistan in the name of democracy. We see a terrible political future of Prime Minister Imran Khan the way things are going. It is very much likely that Mr Khan will not be able to complete his term,” he said, adding that the country could not be run through “puppet rulers”.

Says Maryam is silent but silence has its own voice

“Such a selective premier like Imran Khan is brought in the wake of rigged polls. Imran Khan and those supporting him want that vocal leaders are sent to jail. Going to jail is the fate of only politicians and a few civil servants. We are told to stitch our lips and become ‘good boys’ and if don’t we are tagged ‘bad boys’. Let me tell you I will play on front foot,” he declared and urged that those involved in “this dangerous game” should stop playing it as it would be detrimental to the solidarity of the country.

In reply a question about prolonged silence of Maryam Nawaz, the PML-N leader said: “Yes, she is silent but silence has its own voice.”

Ms Nawaz has stopped tweeting and issuing statements since she got bail in the Avenfield reference along with her husband and father in September.

Mr Rafique, who is being named as ‘beneficial owner’ of the Paragon Housing Scheme, took on the National Accountability Bureau for forcing his ‘old friend’ Qaisar Amin Butt to become an approver against him.

“Mr Butt, who started his political career as a councillor along with me, was forced by NAB to turn an approver against me. A magistrate before whom Mr Butt did not give statement against me was changed. Then in the presence of NAB officials a statement of its (NAB’s) choice was extracted from Mr Butt (against me) in violation of the Lahore High Court’s order,” he said and alleged that four other witnesses in this case were tortured [to extract statements against him].

Pointing to his younger brother Khawaja Salman Rafique, who was sitting next to him during the press conference, the PML-N leader said: “He is an innocent man and he is also facing the music [in the NAB case] because of me.”

He said that evidence against him and his brother was being collected in the Paragon housing case for the last one and a half years. “In the PML-N case, NAB first makes arrests and then starts collecting evidence.”

Mr Rafique alleged that Shahzad Akbar, special assistant to the prime minister on accountability, was a link between NAB and Imran Khan. “Shahzad Akbar holds meetings in NAB as he is the link between the bureau and the premier.”

He also said that two new trains were operated on Mianwali and Karachi routes on 100 per cent loss on the wishes the prime minister and the president. “Because of these trains, substantial increase was made in the fares.”

The PML-N leader taunted PM Khan for his failure on the diplomatic front with India. “Today Imran Khan is begging India to hold talks but the latter is refusing it. The damage done to CPEC by PTI is more than what India could do,” he said.

Reacting to the former railways minister’s remarks, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan criticised the former for his “dubious role” in the PML-N. “Saad Rafique along with Qaiser Amin Butt launched Paragon Housing Scheme in 2000 when Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif were attending court hearings [in different cases during the Gen Musharraf regime]. Could both Khawaja brothers have made business without striking a deal with a dictator [Musharraf]?” he told reporters outside the Punjab Assembly. Mr Chohan said Mr Rafique was upset after Mr Butt became an approver against him.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

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Only PM can rein in ‘disastrous’ population growth, says CJP at symposium

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday termed unbridled population growth as the “most disastrous issue” for Pakistan, and regretted that the “menace” was not given any attention in the past 60 years.

He made the remarks while addressing a symposium in the capital on the alarming population growth in Pakistan.

“Our water reserves and resources are depleting, but our mouths [to feed] are increasing,” he said while addressing the event that was attended by several high-profile personalities, including judges and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar addresses the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar addresses the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

CJP Nisar called on the prime minister to probe why no dam had been built in Pakistan in the past 40 years and why the country was facing such an “alarming” situation.

“Today we have no water management in Pakistan. Water is life, without water we cannot conceive a life,” he said.

The top judge said that the apex court had created a task force which presented its recommendations after holding a few sessions but added that “that was the extent of their power”.

“The judiciary does not have any mechanism to act on these recommendations,” he said. “The only person who can get any implementation done is the prime minister,” he said.

He said the Supreme Court has played its part in amplifying and understanding human rights and now it was the Executive’s job to take them forward.

Justice Nisar said the burden on the judicial system did not go back to just the past five to seven years but it was centuries old.

“The tools have to be given to us by the parliament,” he said, regretting that so much time had passed but laws had not been updated.

“Perhaps the time has come to stop boycotting the parliament and sit in the parliament and [start doing] our actual duty,” he said.

CJP Nisar said models used by other countries to restrain their population growth were before the country and that they just needed to be implemented and awareness needed to be created.

“I am hopeful that with good intentions, we will reach our dream in a few years,” the top judge said.

Problems exist due to ‘short-term thinking’: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan began his address by thanking the top judge for inviting him to the event. “I am glad I am not being presented in courtroom number one,” he joked.

Speaking at the day-long symposium, Khan expressed “the nation’s resolve to address the population growth in the country”, reported ,Radio Pakistan,.

Addressing CJP Nisar, the premier said that the steps that the top judge had taken should have been taken by democratic governments instead.

PM Imran Khan speaks at the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

PM Imran Khan speaks at the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

“The democratic governments unfortunately only used to think about five years,” he said, adding that nothing could be accomplished in that time span for major issues.

“We are in these problems because of a short-term thinking,” Prime Minister Khan regretted.

The premier recalled the family planning campaigns shown on television in the 1960s, saying those were very “effective”.

He said that people were under the impression that (formerly) East Pakistan had been a burden on the country’s population, but today Bangladesh had gotten ahead of Pakistan because of their long-term thinking.

“As the population continues to grow, our food security will be affected,” he cautioned.

Prime Minister Khan thanked the CJP for raising the matter of population growth which he called a very “serious issue”.

He said the government has formed task forces to address population growth, adding that he was glad that all provincial chief ministers were on board for the initiative.

Khan noted that the delivery system of contraceptives in the country was an issue but what was actually needed was an ambition to resolve the problem.

“There is a big role for the ulema,” he said, citing examples of Iran and Bangladesh where population control campaigns were done from mosques. The premier said Pakistan too needed to involve its mosques in the campaign.

‘Singularity of narrative’

The event is being attended by provincial chief ministers, judges of the Supreme Court, ministers and other officials including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.

Former senator Javed Jabbar, while addressing the symposium, acknowledged former president Ayub Khan’s contribution, noting that while he may not have been a democratically elected leader, credit should be given to him for highlighting family planning.

“Why have we forgotten the narrative [in the last fifty years]?” he asked. “There needs to be a singularity of narrative.”

Renowned religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jamil observed that the problem in Pakistan was “illiteracy” and stressed the importance of education to bring population growth under control.

He noted that while the symposium was being held in Islamabad, the problem is more prevalent in rural areas.

Vice-president of the Population Council, John Bongaarts, the first speaker of the event, highlighted the levels of contraceptives used in Pakistan as compared to other countries in the region such as Bangladesh and India.

Furthermore, he presented the benefits of family planning programmes, adding that this was an extremely important event for Pakistan.

Co-chair of the World Health Organisation High-Level Independent Commission on Non-communicable diseases, Dr Sania Nishtar, while addressing the symposium, said “today is a landmark day” and remarked that the “stellar show of strength” of various stakeholders was “critical” to the cause.

A documentary on population dynamics was presented at the event.

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‘Poll rigging’ panel to discuss opposition’s terms of reference today

ISLAMABAD: The third meeting of the special parliamentary committee formed to probe alleged rigging in the July 25 general elections will be held on Monday (today) to discuss the proposed terms of reference (ToR) submitted by the opposition parties for the functioning of the committee.

The meeting was earlier scheduled to be held on Nov 28, but it was postponed as all ministers were attending the groundbreaking ceremony of the opening of Kartarpur Crossing for the Sikh community on that day.

Though the opposition parties have submitted their ToR, the government members of the committee are still questioning legal status of the parliamentary committee in the light of Article 225 of the Constitution.

During the last meeting of the sub-committee constituted by the main committee under the convenership of Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood, the opposition parties had submitted a 10-point ToR raising crucial questions over the conduct of the polls.

The ToR was prepared by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and endorsed by all other opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Briefing reporters after the last meeting of the sub-committee, its convener had said some treasury members had questioned legal and constitutional status of the main committee in the light of Article 225 of the Constitution, prompting him to write a letter to the head of the main committee, Pervez Khattak, seeking his legal opinion on the issue, but he had not received any response so far.

Mr Mehmood, however, said they had decided to continue their work without waiting for the response as the government did not want to give an impression that it was running away from investigations into poll rigging allegations.

However, he said, Article 225 of the Constitution needed a clear interpretation and that a serious question had been raised whether the parliament or any other institution could hold investigations in the presence of this article.

Article 225 of the Constitution titled “election dispute” states, “No election to a House or a provincial assembly shall be called in question except by an election petition presented to such tribunal and in such manner as may be determined by Act of Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament).”

On the other hand, the opposition members criticised the government for questioning legal status of the committee, alleging that the ruling party was now running away from its commitment given on the floor of the house by Prime Minister Imran Khan himself.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, Shafqat Mehmood said that he had still not received any response from Pervez Khattak on his letter.

Responding to a question, he said the ruling party members had also prepared a draft of ToR, but it would be given final shape in a meeting to be held before the committee’s proceedings. In the committee’s meeting, the members would also make deliberations on the opposition-submitted ToR.

Through the ToR, the opposition wants the committee to find answers to key questions like “who made the decision to post army officials inside and outside the polling stations, under what law and to what effect?; Why were polling agents removed from polling stations arbitrarily even though they had authorisation forms from the candidates? and why did the Result Transmission System (RTS) or the Result Management System (RMS) fail?”

According to the opposition, the committee should also probe whether “the Election Act 2017 and the rules made accordingly were implemented in letter and spirit by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other state authorities” and “was the election commission allowed to work independently and had complete autonomy to carry out the elections in accordance with the constitution and law?”

The committee, the opposition suggests, should also evaluate if “all political parties were provided a level playing field in terms of freedom to its candidates?”

Similarly, the opposition parties want to know “how many results were declared after midnight and why were the reasons in writing not given in each case as per law?”

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2018

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Pakistan Bar Council calls for framing rules to regulate SC’s suo motu powers

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has reiterated its demand for framing of rules by the Supreme Court for regulating the exercise of powers under Article 184(3) of the Constitution by the top court.

A meeting presided over by Attorney General (AG) Anwar Mansoor as chairman of the council also constituted a special committee comprising the AG, PBC vice chairman Kamran Murtaza and the chairman of the executive committee to call on Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar at the earliest and request him for consideration of the demand, Mr Murtaza told Dawn.

The council in a resolution suggested that in case the matter was fixed on the judicial side, the Supreme Court should consider constituting the full court consisting of all its17 judges.

Committee set up to meet chief justice for consideration of demand

It also passed a resolution asking Law Minister Farogh Naseem to resign as a member of the council since being the minister he cannot practise as a lawyer under PBC rules.

When this resolution was being adopted, senior counsel Raheel Kamran She­ikh abstained, whereas Tahir Nasser­ullah Warraich — another member of the PBC — left before voting. Maqsood Butter and Shafiq Bhandara opposed the motion whereas nobody from the opposition participated in the meeting.

The resolution regarding framing of rules for Article 184(3) was adopted on a letter written by Raheel Kamran Sheikh to the members of the council arguing that the article was as much a source of power as dispensation of justice in relation to the enforcement of fundamental rights, which usually have more than one interpretation on the scope and limits of the rights sought to be enforced in any matter.

The manner in which it has been used in the last one decade provides ample evidence that it is a vital source of empowerment of the court vis-à-vis other organs of the state, the letter said.

Exercise of Article 184(3) had always been in debate and in September Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had expressed his intention of determining the jurisdiction exercised under Article 184(3) to regulate the powers of the court. Then the court had taken up a case relating to the scope of the article that empowers the top court to initiate suo motu proceedings on matters it considers against the law.

The frequent use of suo motu powers by retired Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had raised many eyebrows among the legal fraternity who repeatedly highlighted the need to determine limits or constraints for the exercise of suo motu jurisdiction, so that the judiciary’s credibility was not eroded. The lawyers were of the view that the excessive use of Article 184(3) under the public interest litigation could seal the fate of the aggrieved party, especially when an altogether different issue cropped up in collateral proceedings and a totally different aspect was brought to the notice of the court.

The letter stated that it was historically established that such a power had been exercised and used to substantially undermine the doctrine of dichotomy of powers and for intrusion in the affairs of other organs of the state, particularly the executive, for the judicialisation of politics and used as an alternative to the writ of quo warranto exercise.

The letter contended that historically speaking, hearings in most cases under Article 184(3) have been conducted by the bench headed and constituted by the chief justice meaning thereby that the views of the top judge virtually dominate the interpretation vis-à-vis the nature, scope and limits of the fundamental right.

It highlighted that there was no right of appeal provided against any order, judgement or decision under Article 184(3).

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2018

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PM Imran Khan orders demolition of walls of Punjab Governor House

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday ordered the demolition of the walls of Punjab Governor House, in a follow-up to his promise in his ,first address to the nation, of turning the Prime Minister House and governor houses into public spaces.

Education minister Shafqat Mehmood had ,announced, in September that the Governor House in Lahore will be opened to the public. The promise was fulfilled when the building was ,opened by the PTI government, later that same month.

Punjab Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan confirmed the prime minister’s instructions to tear down the walls at a press conference held after a meeting of the Punjab cabinet.

He remarked that the Governor House walls “were there to put fear in the hearts of people”.

Chohan said such institutions had always remained inaccessible with people considering it unthinkable to just walk in.

“Governor House is not a historical building. It is an office,” he stressed.

Chohan revealed that Prime Minister Khan had instructed Chief Minister Usman Buzdar that the walls be brought down. He said the steps to this end will be taken within the next 48-72 hours.

The education minister had earlier said that the schools and vocational training institutes located inside the compound of the Punjab Governor House, which is spread over 700 kanals, will be separated and the gubernatorial office itself would be converted into a museum and an art gallery. The property’s grounds will be opened to the public as a park, which will include a small zoo.

Provincial departments’ performance

Briefing the media about the cabinet meeting, the information minister said a detailed briefing was given by cabinet members to the prime minister regarding the performance of their departments and their future targets.

He said Khan urged the provincial cabinet to expedite efforts for the economic and social uplift of the common man. Additionally, Chief Minister Buzdar was given instructions to monitor the performance of the provincial departments.

The minister said that the “effects” of the previous committees’ actions and their “accomplishments” were there for everyone to see and vowed that no person shall be given undue favours any more.

He said the expenditure of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat had been reduced from Rs55 billion to Rs7-8 billion, whereas the Prime Minister’s Secretariat witnessed savings of Rs18 billion.

Chohan said the ministers had also been asked to provide a 2-page summary of what they had achieved and what they have targetted to achieve.

He said the prime minister had spoken to the Price Control Committee regarding inflation and the rise in prices of commodities and how prices can be better controlled.

Prime Minister Khan also expressed reservations regarding transfers and postings across the province, Chohan said.

He said an event will be hosted between December 8 and 10 regarding the provincial government’s performance which will unveil the achievements of each department.

Every minister will share his or her ministry’s performance with the people through press conferences between December 10 and 20, Chohan added.

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Former US president George H.W. Bush dead at 94

George H.W. Bush — the upper-crust war hero-turned-oilman and diplomat who steered America through the end of the Cold War as president and led a political dynasty that saw his son win the White House — died on Friday. He was 94.

George W. Bush called his father a “man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” in a statement announcing his death.

“The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41′s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”

Bush’s passing comes just months after the death in April of his wife and revered first lady Barbara Bush — his “most beloved woman in the world” — to whom he was married for 73 years.

The 41st American president was a foreign policy realist who navigated the turbulent but largely peaceful fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and assembled an unprecedented coalition to defeat Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein two years later.

But the decorated war pilot and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief suffered the ignominy of being a one-term president, denied a second term over a weak economy when he lost the 1992 election to upstart Democrat Bill Clinton.

His favoring of stability and international consensus stands in sharp contrast to the provocative bluster of fellow Republican and current White House occupant Donald Trump, a man whom Bush did not vote for in 2016.

Bush presided over economic malaise at home, and infuriated his fellow Republicans during a budget battle with rival Democrats by famously breaking his vow: “Read my Lips: No new taxes”.

But he was the respected patriarch of a blue-blood political dynasty — son George spent eight years in the White House, and son Jeb served as governor of Florida.

At the time of his death, Bush was the American president to have lived the longest.

Jimmy Carter was born a few months later, so he could quickly reset the record.

“America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude,” former president Barack Obama said in a statement.

War, oil, politics

George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts into a wealthy New England political dynasty — the son of Prescott Bush, a successful banker and US senator for Connecticut.

Bush had a pampered upbringing and attended the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, but delayed his acceptance to Yale in order to enlist in the US Navy on his 18th birthday and head off to war.

He flew 58 combat missions during World War II. Shot down over the Pacific by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, he parachuted out and was rescued by a submarine after huddling in a life raft for four hours while enemy forces circled.

Bush married Barbara Pierce in January 1945, shortly before the war ended, and the couple went on to have six children, including one, Robin, who died as a child.

Instead of joining his father in banking upon graduation from Yale University, Bush headed to bleak west Texas to break into the rough-and-tumble oil business.

He surprised many with his success, and by 1958 had settled in Houston as president of an offshore drilling company.

In the 1960s, Bush, now independently wealthy, turned to politics.

He was a local Republican Party chairman, and in 1966 won a seat in the US House of Representatives. He served there until 1970, when he lost a bid for the Senate.

Over the next decade, he held several high-level posts that took him and Barbara around the world: head of the Republican National Committee, US ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China and director of the CIA, where he was praised for restoring morale after revelations of widespread illegal activity.

He served as vice president to Ronald Reagan after losing to him in the 1980 Republican primary, an eight-year period of hands-on training for the top post he would go on to win by a solid margin in 1988, as the Cold War was coming to an end.

‘This will not stand’

In a major test of the post-Cold War order, Saddam’s million-man army invaded Kuwait in 1990 and looked set to roll into Saudi Arabia, which would have given the Iraqi strongman more than 40 percent of the world’s oil reserves.

Bush famously vowed: “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.”

He assembled a coalition of 32 nations to drive Iraqi forces out in a matter of weeks with a lightning air and ground assault.

Some 425,000 US troops backed by 118,000 allied soldiers took part in Operation Desert Storm, decimating Saddam’s military machine without ousting him from power — a task that would be accomplished 12 years later by Bush’s son.

Buoyed by his victory in the Gulf, Bush and his hard-nosed and widely respected secretary of state James Baker cobbled together the 1991 Madrid Conference to launch the Arab-Israeli peace process.

The conference was mainly symbolic, but it set the stage for the Oslo Accords two years later.

In late 1989, Bush sent US troops to Panama to oust strongman Manuel Noriega. He also set the groundwork for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Domestically, however, the economy stalled and Bush broke his pledge not to raise taxes in order to reach a budget deal with Democrats — a cardinal sin in the eyes of Republicans.

In 1992, Bush lost his re-election bid to Clinton — whose aide coined the now famous slogan “It’s the economy, stupid” — as eccentric third-party candidate Ross Perot syphoned off conservative votes.

The elder Bush’s cautious realpolitik would later be contrasted to his son’s far more costly ambition to transform the Middle East, but “Bush 41″ refused to weigh in on the debate, insisting he was proud of the presidency of “Bush 43″.

Active post-presidency

After retiring from public life, Bush fulfilled a wartime pledge to one day jump out of a plane for fun and famously went skydiving on his 75th, 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays.

He joined Clinton to raise funds for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In 2011, Obama awarded Bush the highest US civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom.

He worked with Carter, Clinton, Obama and son George to raise money for hurricane victims in Texas in 2017.

In 2001, Bush became just the second US president after John Adams to see his son become president.

Son Jeb made his own presidential run in 2016, but fell short in the Republican primaries against Trump.

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ECC approves $83m grant for BISP beneficiaries

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Friday decided to gift 40,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan and allowed about $83 million international grant to Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) to pull thousands of poor people out of poverty.

The meeting presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umar approved a proposal of Ministry of National Food Security and Research for provision of 40,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan as a gift.

The ECC also approved a proposal for provision of $82.6m funds as grant to PPAF for disbursement to 320,000 beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme to help them graduate out of poverty.

A gift of 40,000 tonnes of wheat also approved for Afghanistan

The meeting was informed that the government had provided unconditional cash transfer (UCT) to BISP beneficiaries since its inception in 2008-09 and had so far disbursed a total of Rs618 billion to around 5.7m beneficiaries.

A proposal was floated during the tenure of the previous government to gradually graduate these beneficiaries out of poverty which announced various budgetary initiatives, including ‘BISP Beneficiary Graduation Programme’ in the 2017-18 federal budget.

Under the programme, selected beneficiaries of BISP would be provided with entrepreneurial training, along with one-time cash grant of Rs50,000 to start their own business and become productive members of the society and discontinue receiving Rs5,000 UCT grant.

In this regard, PPAF devised the “National Poverty Graduation Programme” (NPGP).

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) had agreed to provide a loan amounting to $82.6m to the Government of Pakistan (GoP) for NPGP on highly concessional rates, free of interest with 0.75pc per annum service charges and a maturity period of 40 years, including 10 years as grace period.

The Economic Affairs Division has already signed Project Financing Agreement with IFAD on November 14, 2017.

As per agreement, the government shall make available the loan proceeds as grant to the poverty fund.

Moreover, the government through the PPAF shall provide $5m as counterpart financing for the programme from the already deployed ‘Prime Minister’s Interest Free Loan Scheme’.

Successful implementation of the programme is expected not only improve the livelihoods, and income generation capacity of the 320,000 poor households, but to also reduce the liability of the government from paying the UCT of Rs6bn per year to these BISP beneficiaries.

As per the terms of agreement with IFAD, the government is required to relend the ‘loan’ proceeds received from IFAD to the PPAF as a ‘grant’, in relaxation of the re-lending policy of the government that normally charged 12-14pc interest rate.

The ECC, therefore, approved relaxation in the relending policy for provision of $82.6m as grant to PPAF for BISP beneficiaries under the NPGP.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2018

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Mystery persists over size of land possessed by Bahria Town

ISLAMABAD: Three different claims emerged during proceedings in the Supreme Court on Thursday about the size of land in the possession of Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi, with the developer’s counsel claiming it had over 18,000 acres.

As the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) told a three-judge bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed that the land in possession of the company was 12,156 acres, the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) put the figure at 16,778 acres (as of Oct 13). On July 20, 2012, Bahria Town, Karachi, possessed 12,156 acres.

Take a look: ,Bahria Town Karachi: Greed unlimited,

However, the senior counsel representing Bahria Town, Barrister Ali Zafar, surprised most people in the court by claiming that the land possessed by the builder was 18,336 acres, of which 7,068 acres had been acquired from the Malir Development Authority (MDA) under a special arrangement.

He also explained that some of the land had been acquired by the developer privately from private owners in Jamshoro district that borders Malir district.

SC asks Sindh advocate general to determine whether the builder has committed contempt of court

To substantiate his claim, the counsel submitted to the court a detailed layout plan of the housing scheme launched by Bahria Town, Karachi.

During previous hearings the court had asked that the exact size of the land in physical possession of the company be determined, with proper description as well as prices of the built-up properties and plots.

In its May 4 judgement, the apex court had held that the grant of land to MDA by the Sindh government, its exchange with the land of the private developer — M/s Bahria Town — and anything done under the provisions of Colonisation of Government Land Act 1912 (COGLA) by the Sindh government was illegal, void ab initio and of no legal existence.

The land was granted for launching an “incremental” housing scheme. But instead of launching the scheme, MDA exchanged it with Bahria Town, the judgement held. MDA was created under the Malir Development Authority Act 1993 for the purpose of developing certain areas of Karachi division.

“The greatest mystery in Pakistan is to know what the actual size of the land in Bahria Town’s possession is,” regretted Justice Saeed, the head of the bench monitoring implementation of the May 4 judgement.

The court ordered Suparco to compare and reconcile the layout plan of Bahria Town with their images and point out discrepancies if any.

The commission would also take into consideration the private land acquired by the developer, Justice Saeed said, adding a clarification was required, more particularly about the exact boundaries of Bahria Town.

Earlier, the court rejected a report submitted by a Suparco director, Dr Sanaullah Shah, when he tried to explain that the boundaries of the housing scheme were difficult to ascertain while the development work was still continuing.

“This is not what we expected from the government department,” Justice Saeed said, adding that the bench could engage a foreign company to do the job.

At the conclusion of the proceedings, Justice Saeed advised the Bahria Town’s counsel to cooperate with NAB in their investigation; otherwise “they would have to face the consequences”.

During the proceedings, NAB had told the court that despite repeated notices, Malik Riaz and his family members had not joined the investigation.

Similar notices have been sent to different banks maintaining accounts of Bahria Town but their replies are still awaited.

NAB assured the court that it was aggressively pursuing the case but said its investigation suggested that Bahria Town was in defiance of the court’s earlier restraining order about selling built-up units or plots.

NAB said it had also issued notices to utility companies like water and sewage departments and gas companies to furnish memorandums of understanding for the supply of various provisions to Bahria Town. The water and sewage department had replied that it had not signed any agreement with the developer for supply of water to the residents.

When a resident of Bahria Town tried to interrupt the court’s proceedings, Justice Saeed pointed to Barrister Zafar and said such interruptions reflected badly on the builder.

The court could consider holding in-camera proceedings in the case, he said.

The bench also asked Advocate General of Sindh, Salman Talibuddin, to go through the reports filed by Bahria Town and determine whether the builder was guilty of committing contempt of court. In case he was convinced that contempt of court had indeed been committed, the Sindh government might move an application for appropriate proceedings against Bahria Town.

Population growth

A separate bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar postponed further proceedings about population growth till Dec 13 when it was told that a one-day national conference on the issue is scheduled to be held on Dec 5.

Under the auspices of the Supreme Court, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan would hold the conference at which Prime Minister Imran Khan would be the chief guest.

The conference would be held in the Supreme Court building and would be presided over by the chief justice.

Additional Attorney General Nayyar Abbas Rizvi told the court that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) in its meeting of Nov 19 had approved the recommendations of a task force and had appointed different task forces in the provinces in this regard.

At the last hearing on Oct 30, the chief justice had ordered the government to call a meeting of CCI for formulating a policy about the “population bomb”.

Earlier, a task force headed by Dr Fida Muhammad Khan of the Federal Shariat Court had expressed concerns that Pakistan’s population would double in the next 30 years.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2018

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‘1,470 displaced traders in Karachi being given alternative shops’

KARACHI: City Mayor Wasim Akhtar said on Thursday that as many as 1,470 shopkeepers out of 3,575 tenants of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) displaced during the ongoing anti-encroachment campaign were being provided with alternative places for business in various KMC markets.

He said that the affected shopkeepers would be given alternative places in Saddar Parking Plaza, KMC Market M.T. Khan Road, Lines Area in front of Parking Plaza, Shahabuddin Market Saddar, Ranchhore Line Market, Frere Market, Khadda Market and Supermarket Liaquatabad.

The mayor said that remaining 2,105 affected shopkeepers would be accommodated in the second phase of rehabilitation.

“A summary to this effect has been moved to the chief minister and we hope that this will be approved soon,” he added.

He said that a detailed discussion with Sindh Minister for Local Government Saeed Ghani was also held in this regard.

The mayor was addressing a press conference at his office on the issue of rehabilitation of shopkeepers displaced during the anti-encroachment drive launched on the orders of the Supreme Court. He said that the KMC did not want traders and shopkeepers to be in distress.

“They will not be left alone and helpless,” he said and added that the KMC had resolved to continue working for their rehabilitation till all the traders got alternative places for their respective businesses.

The mayor said it was a great mistake on the part of organisations to allocate shops on footpaths and in parks and drains in the past. “This city [cannot] afford more such encroachments,” he added.

Responding to a question, Mr Akhtar said that the KMC was not alone in the anti-encroachment drive, rather all other stakeholders, including provincial government, district administrations, district municipal committees, SSGC, KDA, DMCs, K-Electric, Rangers and police were also taking part in it on the directives of the Supreme Court.

He also warned that strict action would be taken against the officers who were found involved in establishment of encroachments.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2018

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PM Khan puts greater focus on ‘future plans’ in 100-day review speech

Prime Minister Imran Khan put a greater focus on his government’s plans ahead rather than analyse the tasks already accomplished, at a special event held at the Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad on Thursday to review his first 100 days in power.

Khan, who was the last of an assortment of speakers at the event attended by government functionaries, began by thanking First Lady Bushra Bibi for putting up with his tough schedule, adding that “I have taken just a single day off in the first 100 days”.

He said the policies adopted by his government in the first century of days in power were inspired by the state of Madina.

Read: ,First 100 Days Of PTI In Government – Performance Report,

“In Madina, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) adopted policies that were based on compassion; all policies were made for the poor,” he said. “The tax system of Zakat was established where money was collected from the rich and redistributed to the downtrodden.”

PM Khan delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

PM Khan delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

A major contributing factor to the “downtrodden’s” plight, the prime minister said, is corruption, and explained why he took a hardened stance against the practice.

“The difference between developed and underdeveloped countries is corruption,” he said. “We have so many assets but we are still behind, and our institutions are in shambles — all because of corruption.

“I did not know the extent of theft and corruption until I came to power. Every day something new comes up.”


Among the measures taken by the government in its first 100 days, the PM said, were:

  • Strengthened the FIA to curb money laundering

  • Signed agreements with 26 countries [to share information and recover assets]

  • Created a task force to improve the situation of government hospitals

  • Recovered Rs350 billion worth of land as part of the anti-encroachment drive

  • Lodged FIRs against bigwigs involved in power theft

  • Allotted land to build shelters for poor people in Rawalpindi and Lahore


The prime minister dedicated a sizable portion of his speech outlining his future plans, saying: “Four million children will be provided nourishment in order to reduce stunted growth, whereas the Benazir Income Support Programme will be expanded.”

PM Khan vowed to equip farmers with modern technology.

“Small farmers are left behind because they do not have the technology, knowledge and money,” he said. “We have to provide them the latest machinery and subsidies so they can purchase [latest] machinery.”

The premier said that Pakistan’s fisheries exports are “non-existent despite water resources”, adding that “a private party has done a pilot project through which shrimp farming can be done”.

He also floated the idea of “caged fishing, especially in Balochistan” which he said has “so much potential; we can export as well”.

Regarding the water crisis, PM Khan offered a “low-cost and quick” solution.

“Bhasha Dam will take time as it’s a huge project,” he said. “We found out that if we retain water in canals etc, it will conserve more water.”

PM Khan labelled the “nationalisation of industries in the 1970s” a “wrong decision”, stressing the importance of the creation of wealth in growing economies.

“Investments cannot come until investors make money,” he explained. “People must be given a chance to make money.”

The prime minister talked up Pakistan’s geographical location and population demographics, which he said make the country an attractive market for foreign investors.

He urged the expansion of the tax net, explaining that low tax collection leads to inflation. “How is it that only 72,000 people show their income above Rs200,000?” he wondered.

PM Khan said that Pakistan’s tourism industry has great potential, adding that a task force has been formed to promote the country’s religious and ecological tourism.

The prime minister gave an overview of the planned legal forms, for which he credited Law Minister Farogh Naseem.

As part of the reforms, he said, “civil courts will have to decide cases within a year and a half”.

“Legal aid authority will provide legal help to people who cannot afford to hire one,” he vowed.

PM Khan said he “is aware that our salaried class is under pressure” due to inflation but assured that “I am doing whatever i can to [take you out of this problem].”

Earlier, Senator Faisal Javed had formally opened the event with a brief intro before making way for recitation of the Holy Quran.

Minutes later, the senator reclaimed the rostrum before a video highlight of the prime minister and the federal government’s first 100 days in power was played for the audience.

PM took a U-turn on my advice: Umar

Finance Minister Asad Umar delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

Finance Minister Asad Umar delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

Finance Minister Asad Umar used a cricketing analogy to describe his job, saying “I was sent in to bat when the ball was swinging and seaming both.

“I get asked whether I am scared but I have not been unsure even for a single minute” that the party manifesto will be implemented.

The finance minister said that the PTI government “inherited a deficit of S2 billion” which he said has already been “reduced by S1bn”.

Umar explained the government’s decision to also seek alternate channels instead of solely relying on the International Monetary Fund to plug the financing gap.

“Economists are asking me why I did not just close my eyes and sign IMF contract,” he said. “We will not hide behind the IMF. If we [sign a deal], we will do so on our terms, and we will not lie to the people even if the truth is bitter.”

The minister revealed that it was upon his advice that the PM reneged on his promise to not travel abroad in the first 100 days.

“I take credit for telling the PM that ‘you will have take a U-turn on your promise to not travel for 100 days because this was in favour of the country.’” he recalled. “So he agreed and toured different countries.”

Umar defended his taxation and pricing policies, explaining that the tariffs were hiked only of those commodities that are used by the affluent section of the society.

“I am not saying that all problems have been solved and Pakistanis are not facing any problems but in the past 100 days we have set the direction.”

Foreign Minister Qureshi talks of ‘improvement in international relations’

Foreign Minister Qureshi delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

Foreign Minister Qureshi delivers his speech. — DawnNewsTV

Speaking on Pakistan’s international relations, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan’s case at global level was not heard before — something he said his ministry was trying to address.

“Our neighbour wanted to weaken Pakistan,” he said. “We could not present Pakistan’s case before the world because we did not have a lawyer.

“We decided that we would make our foreign office more interactive and started cultural diplomacy. We decided to take guidance and advice from former diplomats. We will also create a specialised foreign office, [and appoint] trained personnel.

“You will be happy to know that in 100 days we have had 16 multilateral engagements.”

The foreign minister said that the first thing on the PTI government’s foreign agenda was to have better relations with Afghanistan.

Qureshi also discussed Pakistan’s bilateral relations with India, saying: “Tensions with India are not hidden from anyone but our approach is people-centric and we need peace for people to prosper. We need peace in order to speed up the development of our country.

He reminded the audience that “Imran khan said he will take two steps for every 1 step India takes” but regretted that “they refused to engage even after the letter written to Narendra Modi”.

PTI did in 100 days what others did not in 10 years: PM’s adviser

Mohammad Shahzad Arbab, the PM’s Adviser on Establishment, was the first speaker of the event.

“I remember when we talked about the 100-day agenda, our friends had warned us that we were setting a trap and creating difficulties for ourselves,” he said. “I admit that they were right but we wanted to rise above political point scoring.”

The adviser to the PM reminded the audience that the PM’s 100-day agenda was about setting the direction of the government.

Arbab claimed that the PTI government “held regular cabinet meetings, adopted austerity and held itself accountable”.

“We have posted our performance on our website so people can give their feedback,” he said, adding: “Thirty-four promises were related to reforms [of which] we have completed 18 successfully. Work on the rest is underway.

“When we say these plans are ‘complete’ we mean that they are ready for launch.”

The adviser to the PM recounted the measures taken by the federal government in several sectors, including repatriation of laundered wealth, local government reforms and economic steps to boost the local industries.

Arbab shed light on the government’s flagship housing scheme, which he said “would create homes for the poor and also create jobs”.

The adviser claimed that “the business circle has welcomed our decision to separate tax collection from the FBR”.

He touched upon the progress made on a variety of PTI promises, including “social reforms, water policy, primary education as well as the 10 billion tree tsunami plan”.

Arbab discussed the government’s measures on the education front, including the planned conversion of the PM House into a university.

The adviser also talked about the promises which he said remain incomplete thus far, including the formation of a new province for the south Punjab region.

He, however, said that the party remains committed to the cause and will soon “form a separate secretariat” for south Punjab.

Arbab gave an update on the KP-Fata merger, saying that the development plans for tribal areas are close to being finalised.

The adviser termed Balochistan as “Pakistan’s backbone” and assured that measures are being taken to end the province’s “feeling of alienation”.

Arbab claimed that “in 100 days we have achieved what they [past governments] did not in past 10 years”.

“In the past, parties would forget their agenda after coming into power. In my 36 years of service, I have not seen the dedication with which this government has worked towards its agenda.”

PM Khan is going to make some important announcements during the ceremony, according to Radio Pakistan, and take the nation into confidence over the government’s achievements.

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

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

Read: ,Jury out on PTI’s performance amid claims, counterclaims,

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

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

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

Explore: ,Imran unveils ambitious agenda for first 100 days of govt,

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

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

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Indigenous multi-role drone unveiled in IDEAS

KARACHI: Day two of the 10th International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2018 here on Wed­nesday was witness to the unveiling of a new indigenous multi-role drone built by Global Industrial and Defence Solution (GIDS). The drone was introduced by Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat, one of the chief guests of the exhibition being organised under the aegis of the Defence Export Promotion Organi­sation at the Karachi Expo Centre.

Named Shahpar, the drone is capable of flying at an altitude of 17,000 feet for up to seven hours. GIDS describes Shahpar as a medium-range tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with autonomous take-off and landing. It is said to be able to carry various types of payloads integrated for reconnaissance and day and night surveillance. Shahpar’s other features include accurate lateral, longitudinal trajectory control, mission planning, management and control, geo-referencing and geo-pointing for terrestrial targets. The drone’s cameras can focus up to a radius of 250 kilometres and can operate in any weather.

Visitors

The first two days of the exhibition have been earmarked for delegations, trade visitors and networking activities. The visitors with proper accreditation parked their cars in the designated parking areas to take a shuttle from there to reach the Expo Centre.

A couple had brought with them their six-month-old baby Fahad Ghaziani. When someone asked them if they had accreditation for the baby, they shook their heads and said they didn’t think that anyone would stop them from taking inside an infant. Later, the mother was seen roaming about the stalls all alone.

First two days of exhibition earmarked for delegations, trade visitors and networking activities

Most Pakistan stalls were located aro­und the entrance. There were arm­ed vehicles and tanks that people wanted to climb on mostly for the sake of pictures. Right in the centre was JF-17 Thunder, the pride and joy of the Aircraft Manufacturing Factory at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra.

The aircraft has been developed to meet tactical and strategic needs of the Pakistan Air Force. It is designed to accommodate future upgrades and additional requirements. Equipped with advanced electronics, it is capable of carrying multitude air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons having compatibility with western weapon systems. It was surrounded by its ammunition, which the visitors skipped and hopped through to climb up to its cockpit, for pictures.

“Is that the plane’s steering wheel?” a woman’s voice could be heard from inside the cockpit of Super Mushshak aircraft also on display near JF-17. Maqsood Ahmed, the man in uniform representing the aircraft’s manufacturers, Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, smiled in reply before explaining that it was not a steering wheel but the plane’s control stick. Another woman wanted to know why Super Mushshak didn’t have its ammunition laying around like JF-17 and was politely informed by another representative in uniform, with the name tag ‘Nawaz’ on his chest, that it was because it was primarily a trainer aircraft and not for combat really. Then someone else had an issue with its small size.

“Well, we just let them come sit with us inside the cockpit. Most just want someone to photograph them there while others take selfies as we make small talk with them about the weather or how they are today. They all seem very happy,” said Mr Ahmed in the cockpit.

Passing the Kashmir Hall set up as a marquee for seminars and conferences, one could get to the main building. Hall-1 mostly had Turkish and Russian stalls. Hall-2 also Hall-3 had Turkish and Chinese stalls, while Hall-4 and Hall-5 had many international stalls representing Italy, Poland, etc, as well as Pakistani stalls.

Conferences

The first conference of the day was organised by the Pakistan Army early in the day. It was titled “In pursuit of peace, Pak Armed Forces contributions in bringing peace and stability in the country and region” in which National Defence University President Lt Gen Majid Ehsan, Ambassador Najmuddin Sheikh, Azad Jammu & Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan, Ambassador Riaz Khokhar, Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani and Ambassador Abdul Basit highlighted the importance of the Pakistan armed forces’ role in stability of peace in the country and particularly in the region. The conference was attended by a large number of local and foreign delegates.

The National Centre for Maritime Policy Research Karachi chapter of the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) under the auspices of Pakistan Navy also organised a maritime conference titled “Maritime security dynamics and requirement of innovative solutions for Indian Ocean Region”.

The conference was also attended by Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi and other high-level civil and military officials, eminent maritime stakeholders and world renowned defence industry entrepreneurs.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2018

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Interior ministry to unveil a new version of National Action Plan

ISLAMABAD: The Minis­try of Inte­rior plans to unveil a new version of the National Action Plan (NAP) and restructure the National Counter Terrorism Authori­ty (Nacta) to effectively tackle internal threats to security, Dawn has learnt.

According to a document outlining the ministry’s performance during 100 days of the PTI government and its future plans, the NAP-2 is aimed at bridging the gaps in the first version rolled out in January 2015 — days after a deadly attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar sent shockwaves across the nation.

The NAP comprised policy initiatives aimed at wiping out terrorist outfits across the country, integrating security efforts of the federal and provincial governments by engaging all the stakeholders, dismantling terrorist networks and ensuring deterrence by utilising available capabilities and resources of security organisations to overcome internal threats to state security.

The upcoming version of the NAP is a brainchild of Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi.

According to the document, the interior ministry plans to create a cyber security organisation to effectively counter the growing threat of cybercrimes.

It envisages restructuring Nacta to make it more functional, building capacity of civil armed forces, upgrading the safe city project and taking steps to curb currency smuggling from airports and borders.

The ministry is also set to introduce an online passport application facility for overseas Pakistanis and launch e-passports and evening executive passport offices in major cities.

The document revealed that the passport application software had been changed and would prioritise applications of senior citizens (65 years or more) from Tuesday (Nov 27).

It said that prisoner ex­change treaties with the United Kingdom, Saudi Ara­bia and China were also on the cards. The document mentioned banning 18 international non-governmental organisations — under the initiative of online registration system introduced by the previous government.

About action against illegal money transfers, it said an amount of Rs73 million had been recovered and 55 accused arrested. It said that 37 cases had been registered out of which 26 were under investigation and eight under trial.

It said that out of the 12 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) received, three cases were under trial and 26 cases under the Anti-money Laundering Act 2010 had been registered — all of which were under investigation — and 34 arrests were made.

The 100-day agenda delivery expectation from the ministry included assessment of need for a national security organisation, assess­ment of NAP implementation and supply of clean drinking water to the Islamabad Capital Territory.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2018

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Interior ministry to unveil a new version of NAP

ISLAMABAD: The Minis­try of Inte­rior plans to unveil a new version of the National Action Plan (NAP) and restructure the National Counter Terrorism Authori­ty (Nacta) to effectively tackle internal threats to security, Dawn has learnt.

According to a document outlining the ministry’s performance during 100 days of the PTI government and its future plans, the NAP-2 is aimed at bridging the gaps in the first version rolled out in January 2015 — days after a deadly attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar sent shockwaves across the nation.

The NAP comprised policy initiatives aimed at wiping out terrorist outfits across the country, integrating security efforts of the federal and provincial governments by engaging all the stakeholders, dismantling terrorist networks and ensuring deterrence by utilising available capabilities and resources of security organisations to overcome internal threats to state security.

The upcoming version of the NAP is a brainchild of Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi.

According to the document, the interior ministry plans to create a cyber security organisation to effectively counter the growing threat of cybercrimes.

It envisages restructuring Nacta to make it more functional, building capacity of civil armed forces, upgrading the safe city project and taking steps to curb currency smuggling from airports and borders.

The ministry is also set to introduce an online passport application facility for overseas Pakistanis and launch e-passports and evening executive passport offices in major cities.

The document revealed that the passport application software had been changed and would prioritise applications of senior citizens (65 years or more) from Tuesday (Nov 27).

It said that prisoner ex­change treaties with the United Kingdom, Saudi Ara­bia and China were also on the cards. The document mentioned banning 18 international non-governmental organisations — under the initiative of online registration system introduced by the previous government.

About action against illegal money transfers, it said an amount of Rs73 million had been recovered and 55 accused arrested. It said that 37 cases had been registered out of which 26 were under investigation and eight under trial.

It said that out of the 12 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) received, three cases were under trial and 26 cases under the Anti-money Laundering Act 2010 had been registered — all of which were under investigation — and 34 arrests were made.

The 100-day agenda delivery expectation from the ministry included assessment of need for a national security organisation, assess­ment of NAP implementation and supply of clean drinking water to the Islamabad Capital Territory.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2018

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Martial law in Ukraine: Putin warns against ‘reckless’ moves

MOSCOW: Russian Presi­dent Vladimir Putin on Tuesday warned Ukraine against any “reckless acts” after Kiev declared martial law in response to Moscow’s seizure of three of its navy vessels.

The Ukrainian parliament late on Monday voted in favour of President Petro Poroshenko’s request for the introduction of martial law in border areas for 30 days.

The move came after Russian forces fired on, boarded and captured three of Kiev’s ships on Sunday off the coast of Crimea, sparking the most dangerous crisis between the ex-Soviet neighbours in years.

The incident was the first major confrontation at sea in the long-running conflict pitting Ukraine against Moscow and Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east.

It has raised fears of a wider escalation — in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014 — and prompted international calls for restraint.

Martial law gives Ukrai­nian authorities the power to mobilise citizens with military experience, regulate the media and restrict public rallies in affected areas.

Sailors to appear in court

Moscow has so far resisted calls to release the three ships or the 24 sailors it has detained.

Some of the sailors will face trial in Simferopol — the main city in Russian-annexed Crimea — on Tuesday, the peninsula’s human rights ombudsman Lyudmila Lubina told AFP.

The rest are expected to face trial on Wednesday, she said, while three others were still in hospital after being wounded in the weekend clash.

Western governments back Ukraine

Western governments have rallied behind Kiev in the dispute, accusing Russia of illegally blocking access to the Sea of Azov and of taking military action without justification.

Britain, Canada, France, Germany and others expressed support for Kiev on Monday, with EU President Donald Tusk calling for Russia to return the Ukrainian sailors and ships and “refrain from further provocations”.

The foreign minister of Austria, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said on Tuesday that the EU will next month consider further sanctions against Moscow over the flare-up.

The United Nations Security Council met in an emergency session on the crisis on Monday, where US envoy Nikki Haley called the seizure of the ships an “outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory”.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2018

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Government aims for a uniform education system under new policy framework

Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training on Tuesday launched National Education Policy Framework 2018 under the first 100-day plan of the government.

The education ministry in its framework has identified four key areas it shall be focusing on: improving the quality of education, enrolment of out of school children, introducing a uniform education system, and skill development of the youth.

The framework was formally launched today by Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood in a ceremony held in Islamabad.

The minister vowed to resolve the above-mentioned challenges over the course of the next five years and revealed that a National Task Force had been established to identify key areas for development of education.

“We consulted with donors, NGOs, and experts in the formulation of the framework,” he said adding that an Inter-Provincial Ministers Conference was also arranged during which the education policy was discussed with representatives of the different provinces.

The minister said that the government was all set to bring back into the fold more than 20 million out of school boys and girls.

Currently, he said, there are three kinds of educational systems existing in the country: madressah system, public school system and English-medium or private school system. Under the new education policy, a uniform education system will be introduced with a uniform syllabus “to bring unity among the nation”.

Explore: ,Uniform education?,

He also laid emphasis on the government’s efforts in bringing improvements to the quality of education, adding that a market-oriented education would be provided to students so that they can find jobs easily. In the same vein, the minister underlined the need for skills development saying that it was the only way for the socioeconomic development of the country.

He said that the country faces a shortfall of middle schools due to which students are unable to continue their studies after having completed primary education. To counter this, middle-school classes will be held following primary school class timings so that the need for middle schools can be met, he explained.

To tackle the growing need for teachers, the government also plans on launching a Smart Schools System under which online lectures will be delivered in schools facing a lack of teaching staff, said Minister Mahmood.

Smart classrooms will be established in every school of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), he said adding that the use of technology was the need of the hour.

An Educational Volunteer Programme would also be initiated to fulfill the demand for teachers, he said and added that under this programme the educated youth will be given the opportunity to extend their services voluntarily to teach children.

The education minister said that the government will also increase the number of non-formal schools to achieve the task of maximum enrolment.

He said a dialogue had been initiated to create consensus among the different educational systems.

Later, the minister also launched an out of school children campaign in the federal capital. By signing the admission documents, he enroled six students of the federal capital into schools established near their residences.

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Three US soldiers killed by IED blast in Afghanistan: Nato

Three US soldiers were killed and three wounded by a bomb in Afghanistan on Tuesday, Nato said, with the attack claimed by the Taliban as the US tries to ratchet up efforts to engage the militants in peace talks.

Nato’s Resolute Support mission would not immediately release any details about the identity of the soldiers, whose deaths took the number of American service personnel to die in the war-torn country this year to 12.

A Nato statement said they had been killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near Ghazni city in central Afghanistan.

An American contractor was also wounded, it said, adding that the four injured in the blast were receiving medical care.

The casualties come just days after another US soldier was killed in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province on Saturday.

An initial review showed the soldier was “likely accidentally shot by our Afghan partner force”, a Nato statement said on Tuesday, adding that the “tragic” incident occurred as they engaged in a battle with Al Qaeda militants.

“There are no indications he was shot intentionally,” the statement added, naming the soldier as Sgt Jasso without giving a first name.

General Scott Miller, the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, said Jasso was killed “defending our nation, fighting Al Qaeda alongside our Afghan partners”.

Jasso’s death follows a spate of so-called “insider attacks” that have rattled foreign troops tasked with training and assisting Afghanistan’s military.

More than 2,200 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban regime from power.

Washington is trying to find a way out of the conflict more than 17 years since it began.

Editorial: ,US-Taliban talks,

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is spearheading efforts to strike a peace deal with the Taliban before Afghanistan’s presidential election, scheduled for April next year though officials have said it could be postponed until July.

A Taliban delegation met with Khalilzad in Doha in October and November to discuss ending the Afghan conflict. Khalilzad has said he is ,“cautiously optimistic”, for an end to the conflict.

The number of American casualties has fallen dramatically since the end of 2014 when Afghan forces took over from US-led Nato combat troops to secure the country.

Since the start of 2015, 58 Americans have been killed, President Ashraf Ghani said earlier this month.
In the same time period, nearly 30,000 Afghan police and soldiers have died, Ghani said — a figure much higher than any previously acknowledged, as the Taliban step up their attacks on local forces.

The shocking mortality rate, which some experts warn is unsustainable, has sent already shaky morale to new lows.

Foreign Minister strongly condemns IED attack

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has strongly condemned the IED attack on the RSM servicemen in Ghazni, Afghanistan, said a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Pakistan condemns terrorism,” the statement asserted adding that “Pakistan stands in solidarity with the US government and its people in this hour of grief.”

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President Alvi opens defence expo IDEAS 2018 with message of peace

President Arif Alvi on Tuesday while addressing the opening ceremony of the 10th International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2018 in Karachi stressed that Pakistan’s weapons are for peaceful intent.

The president recalled that at one time Pakistan was home to 3.5 million refugees who had been displaced after the Afghan war.

“We owed it to our brothers that they should be here and they’re still here, but the world has forgotten about the contribution of Pakistan.”

He said that Pakistan does not like wars since they bring nothing but “hunger, lack of nutrition and misery”.

“We want peace, we have been striving for peace in a belligerent neighborhood but we must stay strong,” Alvi said, adding “our weapons are for peaceful intent”.

“We are there to defend our country and that is what IDEAS is all about,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s weapons will be “for defence, never for offence”.

The president asserted that when there is conflict Pakistan has ensured that it will be able to defend itself.

“When the paradigm is not in our favour, we also have a deterrent to ensure the fact that nobody looks to Pakistan with a bad eye at all.”

Alvi said that Pakistan, with its population of 200 million people, is a country of will and resolve “which is struggling hard, trying to secure its economy and to forge itself into Naya Pakistan, which the country deserves”.

The president explained that the security paradigm, which is changing and going beyond just equipment and defence, should be understood in the context of Pakistan

“As far as Pakistan is concerned, we should ensure the fact — and we have — that there should be food security and economic security.”

He said that security could not be guaranteed unless a country is economically on “solid ground” and “not looking to others for help”, adding that is the responsibility of the government to ensure that Pakistan is a “stable economic state”.

The president claimed that more than the equipment Pakistan had been producing, it was producing “social security” for its people.

He said that access to education and healthcare, and poverty alleviation were guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan, and that the government would ensure that they are provided to the people at a grassroots level.

“When the people are strengthened, and you have defence as efficient as Pakistan’s armed forces, then there is true security which the nation aspires to [in order to] maintain peace and keep on developing and improving the wellbeing of its people,” he said.

Alvi said that in today’s environment it is important to ensure cyber security, so that Pakistan’s cyber and information systems, as well as strategic institutions, were also secured.

Alvi said that despite instability in the region, Pakistan had continued to work hard and had produced defence equipment, some of which was on display at the expo.

This equipment includes the JF-17 fighter jet, the Mushshak aircraft and recently a Naval tanker which was inaugurated by the president himself.

The president said that Pakistan’s defence production was very high and he was proud of the “small quantum of private research” being conducted, adding that he felt it should be increased since it would give the country a “quantum jump from where we are to the future ? where we want to be”.

Alvi said that the “business friendly policies” of the government would go a long way in welcoming people, other countries’ governments, and companies to look at and to participate in its production of defence equipment.

He invited people from other countries to come and look at the defence equipment produced by Pakistan, which he described as a “beautiful country … which is changing by the day, and will keep on doing so for the next few years”.

The president highlighted that Pakistan’s strategic location with respect to regional trade was enhanced due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

He added that Pakistan was in the neighbourhood of oil-producing countries in the Gulf and also “in the neighbourhood of states which have created conflict as far as Pakistan is concerned”.

“Issues have to be resolved, war is no option.”

President Alvi urged India to come to “the peace table and discuss issues rather than staying away with different excuses”.

Alvi insisted that Pakistan is a peaceful country and added that it would “look forward to resolution of all our disputes in a peaceful manner, but at the same, nations should keep in mind that you cannot suppress people at all.”

The exhibition

522 exhibitors from 50 countries are taking part in the exhibition and will be able to showcase their high-quality arms from today to November 30. Besides trade visitors, more than 262 high-level delegations from 51 countries are also visiting the exhibition.

Countries such as China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, USA and host Pakistan are all establishing their exclusive country pavilions at the Expo Centre. For the purpose, the organisers have also added three extra exhibition halls in the form of marquees.

The first two days have been earmarked for delegations, trade visitors and for networking activities. The other highlights include an international seminar on emerging global and regional environment and the role of grey hybrid warfare therein from Pakistan’s perspective. Renowned national and international subject matter experts will also present their scholarly papers on the topic.

General public

The Karachi Show has been planned specially for the people of the city at Nishan-i-Pakistan, Seaview, on Nov 29.

In addition, Nov 30, the fourth day of the exhibition will be exclusively reserved for the general public.

“The Karachi Show as well as the IDEAS exhibition will be open to those who have taken the trouble to register online. They should also carry their CNICs with them,” Brigadier Waheed Mumtaz had told the media last week

“This is an international event and security of the participants, visitors and guests along with the public, too, cannot be taken lightly,” he had added.

Traffic plan

The traffic plan for the city includes the deployment of 2,300 police personnel and alternative routes to facilitate travelling of the people of Karachi during rush hours.

DIG Traffic East Javed Ali Mahar told the media that Sir Shah Sulaiman Road from the National Stadium Karachi flyover to Hasan Square will be closed for public. Residents of this area though will be allowed to pass through after showing their CNICs.

A map shared by the police shows yellow barriers with brown stripes indicating the areas closed for the general public while the blue barriers with purple stripes show the area from where the heavy traffic will be filtered and diverted to alternative routes.

The open roads have been indicated with green and blue arrows, the stars show where diversions have been created and the blank rectangular boxes show the parking areas from where one can take a shuttle to the Expo Centre.

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