Posts Tagged ‘Rawalpindi’

SC orders Anwar Majeed, Hussain Lawai to be transferred out of Karachi

The Supreme Court on Saturday ordered that Summit Bank Vice-Chairman Hussain Lawai and Omni Group officials Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed — three of several being probed over alleged laundering of billions of rupees through fake bank accounts — be transferred out of Karachi.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar directed that Lawai and Abdul Ghani be moved to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi and Anwar Majeed to Pims hospital in Islamabad.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the case requested the court to transfer the suspects out of the port city so they could interview them — a move that was opposed by Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed’s counsel.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, while heading a two-member SC bench today, asked Anwar’s counsel: “Why do you say this again and again that Anwar Majeed and others should not be transferred from Karachi to anywhere?”

The top judge dismissed the counsel’s objection, noting: “These are very influential people. They cannot be investigated while still in Sindh.”

The chief justice also directed the JIT to complete and furnish its report in 10 days.

Anwar’s counsel told the court that Omni Group has to pay Rs1.2 billion to Silkbank; Rs1.8bn to Summit Bank; Rs4.98bn to the National Bank of Pakistan and Rs4.6bn to Sindh Bank.

The counsel said that the payments will be made in the form of “cash and properties”.

Justice Nisar warned the counsel that “legal action will be taken if the payments were not made by decided-upon dates”.

,During a hearing in September,, the CJP had warned against any external pressure being applied in the case. “Convey my message to the Sindh chief minister as well,” he had said. “Any pressure in this case will not be tolerated.”

Fake bank accounts case

In July, the FIA had arrested Lawai and banker Taha Raza, and booked them for allegedly facilitating the opening of the 29 ‘fake’ accounts through which suspicious transactions were made to different companies, including M/s Zardari Group.

In August, Anwar — former president Asif Zardari’s close aide — was also ,taken into custody,.

In October, a ,progress report, compiled by the aforesaid JIT had revealed that transactions of Rs54 billion were made through 107 fake bank accounts.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 17, 2018 at 5:25 pm

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SC censures intelligence agency for failing to provide financial details of Faizabad sit-in leaders

The Supreme Court on Friday criticised the country’s premier intelligence agency for failing to provide the financial details of leaders of the ,Faizabad sit-in,, rejecting a report submitted by the agency in this regard.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam had resumed hearing a suo motu case regarding the 20-day sit-in held at the Faizabad interchange in Islamabad/Rawalpindi by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) in November 2017. Justice Qazi Faez Isa was the other member of the bench.

“Does the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] function under the law?” Justice Isa asked during the hearing, observing that the agency had said in a report it was not its job to obtain certain details of the Faizabad sit-in leaders’ finances.

Examine: ,Another surrender,

He said the protest sit-in had caused losses of billions and that the court wanted to know whether the persons “who can bring thousands of people” to the sit-in pay taxes.

“Can the ISI not even find out about the bank account of a person?” the judge wondered. He said the agency had said in response to the court’s query that it could not furnish income tax details of the protest leaders and that it could be provided by the Federal Board of Revenue.

Justice Isa said if these things did not fall in the purview of the agency “then when [in the future] ISI interferes in other matters, we will ask: ‘is this ISI’s job?’.”

The bench then wondered if it should summon the director general of the ISI or the defence secretary for an explanation.

Brigadier Falak Naz, the director of Ministry of Defence’s law branch, said the agency could be asked to obtain the requisite details if the court so orders. “ISI looks after the national security [of the country],” he added.

“Is the sit-in not a matter of national security?” Justice Isa retorted, observing that the ISI was subservient to the country’s law and Constitution.

The bench subsequently rejected the third report on the sit-in submitted by the ISI, and two other reports by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Pemra).

The intelligence agency, ECP and Pemra were directed to submit new reports as the hearing was adjourned until next Thursday.

The court also directed the attorney general and information secretary to appear at the next hearing.

In November 2017, TLP workers demanding the resignation of then law minister Zahid Hamid had staged a weeks-long sit-in at the Faizabad interchange that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

On November 21 of the same month, the apex court had taken notice of the sit-in and directed the defence and interior secretaries to submit a detailed report on the matter.

Days later, the then PML-N government had launched against the protesters an operation which, when failed, had forced the authorities to cave and Hamid to resign.

‘Does anyone besides Pemra issue directions to media?’

The SC bench earlier grilled the Pemra chairman regarding a blackout of TV news channels that had taken place during the sit-in last year.

“Complaints had been received of [TV] channels being taken off-air during the Faizabad sit-in… what action did Pemra take against the cable operators [who took the channels off-air]?” Justice Isa asked Pemra chairman Muhammad Saleem Baig.

“Cable operators were fined Rs50,000,” Baig replied.

But Justice Isa said the fine was not mentioned anywhere in the report submitted by Pemra. “Is there any proof that you imposed the fine?” he asked the chairman.

The explanations given by the chairman failed to convince the judge, who told Baig: “You are misusing your office.”

The deputy attorney general, too, observed that were contradictions in the statements of the Pemra chairman, leading Justice Isa to remark, “You people do not care about Pakistan [because] you did not create it.”

Justice Isa said measures such as raising walls of schools and suspending mobile signals during sit-ins were “not a solution” to security issues. “Is this the level of our security?” he wondered.

The bench also asked the Pemra chairman whether anyone besides the authority also issues directions to the country’s electronic media.

“Is there a clandestine force that issues directions to the media?” Justice Isa said, to which the Pemra chairman replied in the negative.

“You are the chairman and you don’t even know that secret instructions are being received,” the judge told Baig. He said only a person of a high rank could have a channel taken off-air and “you can’t take action against [such a person]“.

Justice Isa then recalled that a sit-in had also been staged in Islamabad’s Red Zone. The sit-in, staged by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek in 2014, had demanded that a judicial commission be formed to probe rigging in the 2013 elections.

“The judgement that the commission gave is before everyone,” he said. The commission had ,concluded in its report, that the 2013 polls were in large part “organised and conducted fairly and in accordance with the law”.

“Have the people who staged the sit-in apologised after the judicial commission’s report [was released]?” Justice Isa asked.

‘Will Pakistan be run through law or street power?’

At the outset of the hearing, the SC bench expressed severe displeasure at the absence of the attorney general at the court.

“The attorney general was instructed to appear in [SC's] Lahore registry by the chief justice,” Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mehmood revealed, asking the court to adjourn the hearing.

“The instructions are not issued by the chief justice but the court,” Justice Isa responded. “We are also a court [here] and this hearing date was set on the attorney general’s wish.”

“This is not a joke,” the judge remarked, wondering what other case could be more important than the one which relates to “Pakistan being shut down”.

“The attorney general is answerable because he is paid from the public’s taxes,” he added.

Justice Isa said the government should inform the court if it does not want the case to continue. “Tell [us] whether Pakistan should be run through the law or street power,” he added.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 16, 2018 at 7:25 pm

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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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Police send letter to JUI-S leader’s ‘missing’ secretary

RAWALPINDI: The police investigating the murder of Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) leader Maulana Samiul Haq have written a letter to his missing secretary, Syed Ahmed Shah, and sent it to his house, asking him to record his statement about what happened the day Samiul Haq was killed.

Mr Ahmed is considered the most important witness in the murder case.

The police have also recovered a knife thought to be the murder weapon from the crime scene, almost two weeks later, and sent it to a laboratory.

The police have collected samples for people who were supposed to be with the late JUI-S leader and sent them to the laboratory for DNA matching.

According to sources, investigators suspect that the murderer was alone.

The police found a bloodstained kurta from the crime scene which turned out not to be the former senator’s. The police are yet to establish who hung up the kurta in the bathroom.

According to a senior police investigator, Syed Ahmed Shah is not being treated as an eye witness but his written statement under section 161 of the CrPC has been vital in the murder case and needs to be recorded.

“The police investigating officer has legal authority to summon any witness and record their written statement or in some cases an account recorded on video may be used in the court of law as evidence,” he said.

He said Mr Shah should not have been allowed to go with the body by the police and that he should only have been allowed to go once his statement was recorded as he is the most important witness in the case.

Syed Ahmed Shah was staying with Maulana Samiul Haq in his Safari Villa in Bahria Town.

He said he had gone to get drinking water from a nearby filtration plant and locked the main gate from outside.

He said when he returned some time later, he found the gate open and the late JUI-S leader’s body in his room.

Sources said the police have been trying to contact Mr Shah’s family to join the murder investigation but he has been missing from his house in Akora Khattak for some days now.

When the Akora Khattak police was contacted, they said they had not received any complaint about Syed Ahmed Shah going missing.

The police have been questioning all those who had been in contact with Ahmed Shah or Maulana Samiul Haq during a specific period.

Four people were initially picked up by the police from Ratta Amral, Ghauri Town and other parts of the city for questioning.

Maulana Hamidul Haq, the son of the late senator, had said Mr Shah’s family has been trying to contact him but his phone remains switched off.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 15, 2018 at 10:25 am

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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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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 13, 2018 at 2:25 pm

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Slain JUI-S leader’s secretary ‘missing’ since the last few days

RAWALPINDI: Late Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) leader Maulana Samiul Haq’s secretary Syed Ahmed Shah has been missing from his house in Akora Khattak for the last three or four days.

His family claims he was picked up by the law enforcement agencies while the police deny they have him in their custody.

Mr Shah is said to have discovered Maulana Samiul Haq’s body. The late JUI-S leader was ,stabbed in his bedroom, in a Safari Villa in Bahria Town in Nov 2. Doctors said the former senator had died an hour before he was brought to the hospital.

Syed Ahmed Shah was also the first to inform Maulana Hamidul Haq Haqqani, the son of Maulana Samiul Haq, of his father’s death.

Syed Ahmed Shah discovered Maulana Samiul Haq’s body, informed his son of his death

Maulana Hamid told Dawn Mr Shah has been missing the last three or four days. He said his family has been trying to call him on his mobile phone and that his phone has been switched off.

He said Mr Shah may have either gone into hiding himself or may have been taken by the law enforcement or intelligence agencies in connection with the investigation into the JUI-S leader’s murder.

“He has not been in contact with us the last couple of days,” Maulana Hamid said.

Maulana Hamid said it was the police’s job to find his father’s killers as the family had been cooperating with the police. He said the police had only visited Akora Khattak once but did not contact the family again with regards to the investigation in the case.

He said Syed Ahmed Shah was in Akora Khattak before he went missing and that he had repeated his initial statement where he said he left Maulana Samiul Haq at home and found him dead in his bed when he came back 15 or 20 minutes later. He said he had locked the door from outside and had found it open when he returned.

“No one has stopped the police from investigating Ahmed Shah or anyone else they wanted. We had no enmity with anyone but people from the outside or inside could be involved in the murder,” Maulana Hamid said.

“It is the police’s job to find the killers and bring them to justice,” he said.

He added that a few days before he was killed, an Afghan delegation had come to Maulana Samiul Haq, requesting him to initiate a peace process with the Taliban but he had refused.

Maulana Hamid said his father had been facing threats to his life but never kept the police or guards nearby as he did not have any personal enmity.

The Rawalpindi police have denied they have Syed Ahmed Shah in their custody.

However, the police investigation teams have been working on different lines and have questioned several individuals who were in contact with Maulana Samiul Haq on his phone.

According to senior police officials, Ahmed Shah is a key figure in the murder investigation as his statement could lead to the murderers and uncover the motive behind it.

The police have been waiting for the forensic laboratory report and DNA results to proceed in the investigations.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018

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IHC takes up Musharraf’s petition today

ISLAMABAD: Former military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf on Monday challenged the order of the special court, seized with the high treason trial, for recording of his testimony through a commission.

Gen Musharraf, through his counsel Barrister Salman Safdar, filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court against the constitution of the commission.

An IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani will take up the petition on Tuesday (today).

The petition said that Gen Musharraf was ready to testify before the court, but due to his deteriorating health he was unable to record his statement either through the commission or in person.

Former president says he is unable to record statement because of deteriorating health

Giving a brief background of the case, the petition said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had constituted the special court on Nov 20, 2013 to try Gen Musharraf on high treason charge.

A complaint was filed against Gen Musharraf under Article 6 for subverting the Constitution on Dec 13, 2013.

In January 2014, the petitioner’s old age combined with the innumerable stresses and anxieties bearing on his mind resulted in his worsening health. On account of a family medical history leaning towards heart problems, the petitioner began suffering discomfort in his arm and chronic chest pain.

On Jan 2, 2014, when the petitioner was en route to the special court, he experienced acute chest pain. He was immediately rushed to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), Rawalpindi, for a medical check-up.

The special court constituted a medical board of senior doctors and asked it to submit a report on the petitioner’s medical condition. On March 31, the medical board confirmed that the petitioner suffered “coronary artery disease”. It further stated that the serious and unpredictable nature of the disease necessitated close and constant supervision.

Later, as the petitioner’s cardiac problems showed no signs of improvement, his medical condition became too precarious to risk ordinary medical treatment. The healthcare facilities available in Pakistan were not adequately equipped even to diagnose the disease. The petitioner was advised to seek healthcare abroad as it became necessary to seek the advice of international experts.

On March 16, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the Sindh High Court’s June 12, 2014 order of removing the petitioner’s name from the ECL. Subsequently, the petitioner went abroad for a medical check-up.

However, the court declared him a proclaimed offender and his family property in Pakistan was seized by the government. As a result, the proceedings in the treason trial remained suspended from July 2016 to March 2018.

Since the prosecution evidence had been closed and the trial was at the stage of recording statement under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), it was necessary to first procure the petitioner’s physical attendance before the special court and then, subsequently, resume the trial.

On Sept 10 this year, the special court decided that the trial proceedings would resume and the case would be taken up on a daily basis. This step was taken without granting due consideration to the circumstances in which Gen Musharraf left Pakistan and the strong medical reasons for which his stay abroad had been prolonged, the petition said.

The court also asked the defence counsel to contact Gen Musharraf and determine whether the petitioner would like to have his statement under Section 342 of the CrPC recorded through Skype/video link.

The petition said Gen Musharraf was “severely ill”.

Citing the medical report submitted to the special court, the petition said: “The report indicates a rare form of cardiac disease causing the freezing of the heart muscles, resulting in the reduced capacity of the petitioner’s heart to pump blood. The disease is in its late stages and requires consistent medical intervention.”

The petition requested the high court to set aside the order of the special court.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018

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80pc of Pakistan’s poor live in rural areas, says World Bank report

ISLAMABAD: Rural areas in Pakistan remain much poorer than urban areas and are far more disadvantaged in all respects of service delivery, and the present conditions show the decline in poverty has not reduced the urban-rural gap by much.

According to a World Bank report titled ‘State of Water Supply, Sanitation and Poverty in Pakistan’, Balochistan has by far the highest rural poverty rate, with more than 62 per cent of its rural population living below the poverty line. However, the gap between rural and urban poverty is the widest in Sindh at almost 30 percentage points. In contrast, the urban-rural gap in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was 13 and 15 percentage points, respectively.

Karachi, Lahore account for almost as many poor people as the 10 poorest districts do

The report said that the poverty head count rate in rural Pakistan was twice as much in urban areas — 36pc versus 18pc — and the gap had remained virtually unchanged since 2001-02. Combined with the slow pace of urbanisation — only about 35pc of the country’s population lived in urban areas in 2014 — this gap indicated that 80pc of Pakistan’s poor continued to live in rural areas.

Rural households, it said, faced a substantial disadvantage in virtually all aspects of service delivery. Nationally, the rural net enrolment rate was 13 percentage points lower for primary school and 11 percentage points lower for middle school than in urban areas. For girls, these gaps stood at 17 and 14 percentage points, respectively. The rural female literacy rate, at 28pc, was also less than half of that in urban areas.

According to the report, rural children are 8.5 percentage points less likely than urban children to have adequate immunisation by three years of age, and rural women are 10 percentage points less likely to receive prenatal care, 28 percentage points less likely to give birth in a facility or hospital, and 12 percentage points less likely to receive postnatal care. Rural households are also far less likely to have access to key utilities. They are 15 percentage points less likely to have an electricity connection and 63 percentage points less likely to have a natural gas connection than urban households.

The report noted that districts varied widely in poverty, with the richest district Abbottabad at a headcount rate of 5.8pc and the poorest district — Washuk in Balochistan — at 72.5pc. Much of this variation reflected differences in poverty across provinces. The vast majority of the 40 poorest districts were in Balochistan, followed by Sindh.

However, the report added, only three districts each in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa fell in this set, and they were not among the poorest in the group. Not a single district in Balochistan was among the richest 40, and only Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh fell in this set. The divide between Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab in the north and Sindh and Balochistan in the south was apparent and quite stark.

It also found that districts that include large cities like Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Sialkot, Multan, and Bahawalpur had much greater within-district inequality than other districts.

Taking population into account, a large share of Pakistan’s poor lived in well-off districts in Punjab and Sindh, particularly Karachi, Faisalabad, and Lahore, it said.

Karachi, for example, was the third-richest district in Pakistan in 2014-15, but despite its low poverty rate of 8.9pc its large population share meant that 2.5pc of the country’s poor lived there. Similarly, Lahore — the sixth-richest city — was home to 2.2pc of Pakistan’s poor. Together, these two cities accounted for almost as many poor people as the 10 poorest districts, where poverty rates are six or seven times higher.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2018

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Poverty reduction initiative within days: Imran

LAHORE: Prime Minis­ter Imran Khan has hinted at launching the first-of-its-kind mega poverty alleviation venture within seven to 10 days to bring people out of abject poverty in the country.

“The poverty alleviation package will be the most important component in the PTI government’s 100-day performance to be unveiled before the people of Pakistan within the next few days,” Mr Khan said.

He said it would be a coordinated effort of all the state organs already working on the project. “All the relevant state organs will work under one umbrella,” he said.

Acknowledging the advice and guidance of China, the prime minister said, “We have learnt from our China visit how they did the historic job of bringing 700 million people out of poverty in just three decades.”

PM opens construction of first shelter home in Lahore, says Pakistan has come out of financial crisis

Laying the foundation stone for the first shelter home Panah Gah near the railway station, the prime minister said it would be the first step towards transforming Pakistan into a welfare state. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” he quoted a Chinese proverb.

Later, the prime minister tweeted: “Today, I laid foundation for first of five shelters for the homeless in Lahore and one in Rawalpindi to be followed by shelters in other cities. We are committed to building a social net for our poor citizens so everyone has a shelter over his/her head and access to health and education.”

Mr Khan said the Panah Gah project would benefit the homeless and needy. The visitors would be offered quality food to be provided by philanthropists. “Such people were never taken care of in previous governments,” he lamented. He said the other shelters would be established at Icchra, Chauburji, Data Darbar and Shahdara.

He said the financial crisis that was looming large in the country did not allow the government to focus on projects like shelter homes in its first two-and-a-half months. “Now, the country is out of the financial crisis as it is in a position to pay off the loan and interest instalments,” he asserted.

Emphasising that the Panah Gah projects will be made centres of excellence, the prime minister said that a board of governors (BoG) would oversee the maintenance and functioning of these centres. “The BoG will finalise the policy for the shelter homes,” he added.

The prime minister said that he would recommend names for the board of governors. He said he had met several such philanthropists and people of high calibre during his two-decade experience of running the Shaukat Khanum cancer hospital.

Acknowledging that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is a humble person who is well aware of the miseries of the poor, the prime minister said Mr Buzdar picked his point well on establishing the shelters and immediately located five sites in Lahore and started work on the project within no time. He also acknowledged the diligence and passion of LDA Director General Amina Imran Khan in executing the welfare project. Mr Khan said the chief minister’s selection had invited fiery comments and reservations from within the party. He asserted that Mr Buzdar would come out as a star performer like his selected boys in cricket — Wasim Akram and Inzamamul Haq. Looking towards Buzdar sitting on the stage, Mr Khan said, “Another Wasim Akram will emerge from Punjab’.

The prime minister said he had also asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister to find locations to establish shelter homes in Peshawar. Similarly, he said, the Sindh governor had also been instructed and the chief minister would be asked to work on establishing shelter homes in Karachi and other big cities in the province.

Answering a question about the government stance on the release of Aasia Bibi, the prime minister said, “A government always stands with Supreme Court decisions to help the country to move forward”. The rule of law depends upon accepting the decisions of the Supreme Court, he added.

PM’s Punjab Initiatives

The prime minister later chaired a meeting to review the `Prime Minister’s Punjab Initiatives’ at the Chief Minister Secretariat.

Mr Khan stressed that the Punjab government should find out some innovative ways of governance.

The meeting discussed proposals to transform the governance system to bring about visible change in people’s lives. The Punjab cabinet informed the prime minister about different priorities and targets and their implementation. It also informed the premier about Punjab’s 100-day plan and its implementation. The 100 days are completing on Nov 29.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2018

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Ex-judge moves SC against removal from service

ISLAMABAD: Former judge of the Islamabad High Court Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui moved two applications before the Supreme Court on Saturday, one concerning early hearing of his appeal and the other placing of the same before a judge who had earlier not dealt with the matter.

The fresh appeal was filed before the apex court against the returning of an earlier appeal of Mr Siddiqui by the registrar of the Supreme Court on Oct 5. That appeal was also instituted by the former judge challenging the Oct 11 notification for his removal as the judge of the high court on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) under Article 209 of the Constitution.

Mr Siddiqui contended that his fresh application would be put up for hearing before Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar as a matter of routine. Since his earlier appeal arose out of a report that was given by the SJC chairman who happens to be the CJP, it would be in the interest of justice, equity, fair play and rule of law that his fresh appeal be referred to any other judge of the Supreme Court who was not the member of the council.

It is a well settled law that justice should not only be done, but also should be seen to have been done, the applicant argues.

The application emphasised that the matter in hand was of great public importance since important questions in relation to the independence of the judiciary, rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution had been raised requiring an earlier adjudication of the matter by the apex court, the application said.

Since, Mr Siddiqui contended, a number of his legal and constitutional rights were involved in the matter, early fixation of the appeal should be considered in the interest of justice.

In his previous appeal, which he moved before the court on Oct 26, Mr Siddiqui had pleaded the apex court to restore him as a permanent judge of the Islamabad High Court after setting aside the Oct 11, 2018 notification for his removal.

Mr Siddiqui was removed from the judicial office on the recommendation of the SJC for displaying a conduct unbecoming of a judge by delivering a speech on July 21, 2018 at the District Bar Association Rawalpindi, thus guilty of misconduct.

In a 30-page appeal, the former judge with a seven-year judicial experience explained the context in which he was compelled to address the bar association in which he made remarks against the involvement of certain officers of the executive organ of the state, specifically Inter-Services Intelligence, in the affairs of the judiciary and to allegedly manipulate the formation of benches of the high court.

“The remarks made by the petitioner (Mr Siddi­qui) were an honest attempt demanded by his conscience to counter the challenges posed to the independence of the judiciary,” he argued in his appeal.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2018

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Court extends interim bail of Malik Riaz, 9 others in land-related fraud case

An anti-corruption court (ACC) in Rawalpindi on Saturday extended the interim bail of Bahria Town Chairman Malik Riaz, as well as nine other suspects, in a case pertaining to land-related fraud and forgery of 1,170 kanal of land belonging to the Punjab Forest Department.

The property tycoon, who initially was not present on Saturday, later appeared before the court.

On October 23, Riaz was granted interim bail by the court after a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against him as well as other government officials in the Rawalpindi Anti Corruption Establishment police station on Oct 5.

In addition to Riaz, the FIR named forest department officials, revenue officers as well as former Punjab Chief Minister’s secretary GM Sikandar, who were accused of providing support in the land-related fraud.

On Saturday, the hearing of the case was postponed until Nov 24 on account of Judge Mushtaq Ahmed Tarrar’s leave.

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Fingerprints, other evidence collected from scene of Samiul Haq’s murder

RAWALPINDI: The police has collected the fingerprints of three separate individuals and a bloodstained kurta, among other evidence, from the scene of Maulana Samiul Haq’s murder.

Sources said the police were unable to establish who hung the kurta in the bathroom, from where it was recovered, and are waiting for a forensic laboratory report that they believe will help them solve the murder case.

Police also believe that the fingerprints will help them ascertain the number of individuals present in the room.

No one has been accused in FIR registered with Airport police

More than 25 different samples collected from the scene of the murder have been sent to the laboratory.

They said the police have also been questioning people who had been in telephonic contact with Haq during the last month, or if they had been called by Haq himself.

They have also been working on mobile phone calls made by Haq’s secretary Ahmed Shah, although Mr Shah has not been formally interrogated by the police so far.

No one has been accused in the FIR registered with Airport police regarding the murder by the complainant. This is contrary to normal practice, as several people are usually nominated in murder cases.

An investigating police officer said the complainant may nominate someone, as the investigation into murder cases is launched after the forensic laboratory’s report.

Dr Ghias Gul Khan, who was recently posted senior superintendent of police (SSP) investigation Rawalpindi and was leading the investigation in Haq’s murder, has been transferred and posted as principal of the Rawalpindi Police Training School.

Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, currently posted as the SSP operations Gujranwala, has been transferred to Rawalpindi as the SSP investigation. Saqib Sultan Al Mehmood, who was awaiting posting, has been posted as SSP operations Gujranwala.

A senior police officer said Dr Gul’s transfer had nothing to do with the murder investigation, and Mr Abdullah would assume the job.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2018

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Avoiding autopsy may benefit accused in the end: police officials

LAHORE: With mystery shrouding the identity of assassins of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Sami) chief Maulana Samiul Haq, the absence of postmortem of his body may weaken the case once the culprits are caught and tried.

Police officers associated with the investigation process say postmortem is a mandatory requirement to know the cause of death and pursue the case in the court of law.

A sessions judge of Rawalpindi allowed the police to hand over the body of Maulana Samiul Haq to his family which contended that “Sharia does not allow the postmortem of a Muslim’s body”.

Some senior police officers Dawn talked to say the autopsy is according to the law of the land to know the cause of death in unnatural death (particularly murder) cases but its absence may weaken the case to give benefit of doubt to the killer(s) in later stages.

It was the second high profile case in Rawalpindi after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto wherein the postmortem was avoided.

The issue (postmortem) surfaced in the Benazir case and led to criminal proceedings against the then City Police Officer (CPO) of Rawalpindi Saud Aziz along with another of his colleague “on the charges of destroying evidence”. Both police officers were later arrested and sent to jail after the court awarded them punishment on the same charges. “Convictions are almost impossible without postmortem report in which experts exactly tell the cause of unnatural death,” says a senior officer.

“The postmortem report is the best evidence of an unnatural death that is admissible in evidence before the court as an expert opinion,” says another senior police officer, adding every criminal case has two major parts — the presentation of evidence and production of witnesses.

“When the expert is summoned by the court as a witness, the submission of his findings is an expert opinion and when he corroborates these findings with the autopsy report, this becomes the most reliable evidence in the eye of law,” he said.

Another police officer differs and says law permits the exemption of postmortem if the aggrieved/complainant party gets its permission through the concerned magistrate in writing.

“If the family does not want to conduct postmortem, it means they are not willing to further pursue the matter. Consequently, there is no need to investigate the case.”

Another police officer was of the opinion that the postmortem was essential for proper prosecution of the case. It’s the sole responsibility of the local police to get it done.

“Yes, in the absence of postmortem, the case of prosecution weakens and defence exploits it to its advantage,” he said, adding that it must have been carried out if conviction had to be secured.

He said the culprit(s) can be punished to some extent in the absence of the postmortem report, but capital punishment was not possible.

“It may face identical legal complications as we experienced in the Benazir case since the postmortem determines the cause of death and the nature of weapon used. If accused are identified and arrested at a later stage, the absence of postmortem benefits them,” he said.

“The postmortem certainly helps in establishing the cause of death but if it is clear that what has caused the death, then there is no need to go for postmortem,” says another senior police officer.

In such a situation, the police take notes of the body and mentions the type of injuries visible with naked eye and which may have caused death, he said.

Secondly, he says when a doctor issues a death certificate, he has to tell cause of death as seen by him if no postmortem is done. But it is advised by forensic experts world-over to ensure postmortem.

“In the case of Maulana Samiul Haq, the cause of death is very clear and police must have taken pictures of wounds which can be sufficient for conviction; but at the appellant level the court can give benefit of doubt to the accused if his lawyers are good,” says another top cop.“No justification at all. It is not the choice of family. It’s a sign of weakness of the state,” says another senior officer having vast investigation experience.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018

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Army authorities interview abused child maid

RAWALPINDI: Army authorities have interviewed 11-year-old Kinza Bashir, a domestic employee who was ,allegedly physically abused, by a serving army official and her husband, a doctor, who had employed her.

According to sources close to the investigation, the child spoke of her ordeal in a confidential one-on-one session and showed them marks of abuse.

Army authorities had sought her records and asked the Child Protection Bureau for an interview with the victim as one of the suspects in the case is serving as an information and computer information technology officer at General Headquarters.

The victim, who is from Faisalabad, was brought back to Rawalpindi by the police once the case came to light and moved to the Child Protection Bureau.

“Young Kinza is not going to school like the other girls staying with the Child Protection Bureau because she has only been staying here for her case,” a senior official told Dawn. He added that she is feeling well and in safe custody. Her parents have been permitted to visit her once a week.

Since one of her employees is an army officer her case was sent by the police to military authorities.

The woman’s husband was arrested by police and remanded to three-day custody. He will be produced before the court today (Tuesday). He had previously sought interim bail, and was arrested after his interim bail was rejected.

Police said the man had denied that he or his wife tortured the child, but said in a statement that she would leave the house without informing them because of which she had been slapped once or twice.

A medical examination and X-ray report have confirmed that the victim was physically assaulted. She has two fractured ribs, but no other bone injuries to her skull, shoulder or left arm; she had complained of severe pain in her arm.

The police said the couple were nominated in an FIR registered with the Airport police on a complaint by a senior Child Protection Bureau official.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2018

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Over 1,100 held for rioting during protest against Aasia’s acquittal

LAHORE: Punjab police arrested 1,100 suspects till Sunday evening and registered 130 cases against them for their involvement in injuring policemen and people and damaging public and private properties during the protests following the ,Supreme Court verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi, of blasphemy charge.

The crackdown was launched after the interior ministry directed all the provincial governments and federal agencies to take action against the culprits involved in violence and damage to public and private property during the last week protests and sought compliance report till 5pm on Monday (today).

The interior ministry sent first letter in this regard to the provinces on Saturday and followed it up with another office memorandum on Sunday , directing all (provincial governments and federal agencies) to strictly comply with the direction.

Crackdown was launched after interior ministry called for compliance report by Monday

Stating that the Ulema had disowned the elements involved in violence, the interior ministry said video clips and photographs should be used to identify the miscreants in coordination with the PTA and Nadra.

The Punjab police spokesperson told Dawn 800 people were arrested for violating section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960 and 300 others under the FIRs registered for injuring policemen, damaging public and private properties and vehicles in different areas of the province.

She said the protesters had injured 63 police officers in different areas of the province who were shifted to nearby hospitals for treatment. Of them, 58 policemen were discharged but five others who had sustained severe injuries were still getting treatment.

She said 300 suspects were identified through different footage available to the police. She said the number of the FIRs and the arrested would increase with the passage of time as the police were taking across-the-board action against the miscreants.

Answering a question, she said most of the arrests had been made from Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi divisions. The Islamabad police registered two FIRs against 25 people.

Interior Minister Shehryar Afridi chaired a meeting in Islamabad on Sunday and took stock of the situation. The meeting asked the provinces that general public should be advised to file/ lodge complaints against such people, share videos and help government in identifying such elements.

The interior ministry also asked all the provincial governments to convey WhatsApp numbers to general public through electronic and print media so that public could send information/ videos that might be referred to relevant departments for necessary action.

Phoolnagar police in Kasur registered cases against 348 protesters of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), including 48 nominated, under various sections including section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act.

The TLP activists had allegedly attacked police force on Friday on Multan Road at Jamber Chowk and injured six personnel, including a DSP, an inspector and four constables. The protesters had also damaged six police vehicles, an ambulance of Rescue 1122 and several vehicles stuck on Multan Road due to road blockade.

According to the FIR lodged on the complaint of Phoolnagar SHO Muhammad Azam, 48 nominated including four local prayer leaders and 300 unidentified agitators had attacked police when the later tried to prevent them from delivering anti-judiciary and anti-state speeches.

Receiving information, Pattoki circle DSP Muhammad Saleem along with a heavy contingent of police reached the spot.

The protesters who wielded weapons and clubs went violent and attacked the police. The protesters used clubs against police officials and pelted them with stones.

The FIR said the protesters also kidnapped two police constables Jahangir and Iqbal. Most of the nominated accused belonged to Kot Tank Singh village. Four local prayer leaders — Qari Nazar Imam, Mufti Naveed, Zainul Hassan and Qari Abdul Shakoor — were also nominated in the FIR. Police said additional force had been deployed in Phoolnagar and raids were on to arrest the accused.

In Gujranwala, police registered cases against nine identified and 2,500 unidentified people for thrashing citizens, damaging government and private properties and looting people on roads.

The Kotwali police DSP told Dawn video clips had been sent to the interior ministry to identify the culprits.

In Sindh, Nawabshah police booked two activists of TLP for resorting to aerial firing and forcing businessmen to close shops.

An FIR was lodged at A-Section police station against Bilal Arain and Sabir Arain under sections 147, 148 and 337 H II of the Pakistan Penal Code for carrying out aerial firing and forcing traders to shut their shops. The police arrested both the accused.

Similar cases were also registered in Karachi.

Afzal Ansari from Kasur, Akram Malik from Gujranwala and our staff reporter from Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2018

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Maulana Sami died an hour before reaching hospital

RAWALPINDI: Chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Maulana Samiul Haq, who was ,assassinated in his house, in Bahria Town on Friday, had died an hour before he was taken to hospital and there was no bleeding from his body, a source close to the investigation revealed, quoting from a medical report.

“The Maulana had expired an hour before being brought to Safari Hospital, located about 300 metres from his private residence. There was no bleeding from his body and his ECG was at zero level,” the source told Dawn, quoting the doctor who first examined him.

Since the cell phone service was suspended on Friday in Rawalpindi and Islamabad due to a protest by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan across the country, no emergency call had been made either by the injured Maulana or anybody else to the management of the housing ­society or to the police.

Police investigation to get under way tomorrow

A police team headed by Super­intendent of Police (investigation) Dr Ghayas Gull has been formed to investigate the ­murder of the former senator.

Sources said a police team was sent to Akora Khattak to interview the slain leader’s secretary, but they returned back after they were assured of full cooperation by the heirs of the Maulana.

The police team will be sent again to Akora Khattak within the next 72 hours.

A source close to the investigation revealed that Maulana Sami’s secretary Syed Ahmed Shah left the slain leader alone in his bedroom on the second floor of Safari villa and locked the main gate on the outside before leaving to fetch water from a nearby water filtration plant.

Maulana Samiul Haq was alone at his home as nobody else was there when the murder took place.

Initial police investigation revealed that the murder took place during the 15-minute absence of Ahmed Shah from the house. After his return, he unlocked the main gate and entered the house. Since he didn’t get a response from the Maulana’s bedroom, he opened the door and found his leader lying in a pool of blood.

Police believe that the killer might be hiding inside the house because the gate was locked by Ahmed Shah while leaving the house. He could have escaped from the kitchen door as it was found opened when the police reached there and collected evidence. The police were unable to determine the number of killers, but they suspected that he was alone.

The police could not recover the weapon used in the murder which they suspected could be an ordinary kitchen knife. A police team had already carried out combing of surrounding green areas and gardens of neighboring houses, but couldn’t find the weapon.

The sources said the police were likely to conduct a comprehensive search of surrounding areas for the murder weapon within the next two days.

After Maulana Sami was pronounced dead by the doctors, the city police officer asked the slain leader’s sons for an autopsy, but they refused. The investigators believe that they will face problems in the investigation in the absence of a postmortem report.

A senior official of the Counter- Terrorism Department told Dawn that since the Maulana’s murder was not a terrorism case, the local police have been investigating it with the assistance of special branch.

Meanwhile, Punjab Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Basharat Raja has directed police officials of Rawalpindi to make all-out efforts to apprehend the killers of Maulana Samiul Haq.

Rawalpindi police officers briefed the minister on the progress of investigation on Saturday. They told him they had continued the investigation in accordance with the evidence, while forensic report would be obtained.

The minister expressed sympathy with the bereaved family and thousands of his followers.

He directed police officers to complete the investigation as soon as possible and arrest the culprits.

Airport police have registered a murder case on a complaint of Maulana Sami’s son Maulana Hamidul Haq. Nobody was ­nominated in the murder case by the complainant.

“My father received 10 to 12 cuts by a blunt weapon on his chest, face, heart, forehead, ear, shoulder and left cheek,” the complainant said.

The police team will formally initiate the investigation on Tuesday.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2018

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