Posts Tagged ‘school’

Pakistan’s effort to end terrorist financing remains uneven: US

WASHINGTON: As the new government in Islamabad starts work on addressing the concerns related to money laundering and terror financing, a US State Department report released on Thursday said that Pakistan criminalised terrorist financing through the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), but its implementation remained uneven.

Pakistan is a member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering — a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In June, the Paris-based FATF placed Pakistan on its grey list of countries that could be marked out for economic sanctions if they failed to prevent terrorists from collecting funds within their domain.

The official US report — released with the State Department’s country reports on terrorism — also highlights FATF’s concerns about Pakistan.

“The FATF continued to note concern that Pakistan’s outstanding gaps in the implementation of the UN Security Council ISIL (Daesh) and Al Qaida sanctions regime have not been resolved, and that UN-listed entities — including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its affiliates — were not effectively prohibited from raising funds in Pakistan, nor being denied financial services,” the report points out.

Washington claims progress on efforts to implement UN sanctions related to designated entities is slow

Last month, Finance Minister Asad Umar told the Senate that FATF had given Pakistan 15 months to comply with these requirements. The minister said FATF had identified 27 deficiencies in the Pakistani financial system, including “currency smuggling, hawala and terror financing of proscribed organisations”.

The minister had told the house that the government would be addressing all the objections raised not only to satisfy the international community but also because it was in Pakistan’s own interest to get rid of terror financing and terrorism.

The US State Department in its report acknowledged that Pakistan’s laws technically comply with international anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism standards, but added that Pakistani authorities “failed to uniformly implement UN sanctions related to designated entities and individuals such as LeT and its affiliates, which continued to make use of economic resources and raise funds”.

The report also refers to a Nov 2017 decision of the Lahore High Court which refused to extend the detention of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed as it judged the government had not provided sufficient evidence against him nor had it charged Hafiz Saeed with a crime.

The US report also examines the National Action Plan that the PML-N government gave to FATF in June this year, noting that the plan contains efforts to prevent and counter terrorist financing, including by enhancing interagency coordination.

The law designates the use of unlicensed hundi and hawala systems as predicate offences to terrorism and also requires banks to report suspicious transactions to Pakistan’s financial intelligence unit, the State Bank’s Financial Monitoring Unit.

The US State Department, however, notes that throughout 2017 “these unlicensed money transfer systems persisted throughout the country and were open to abuse by terrorist financiers operating in the cross-border area”.

Reviewing Pakistan’s efforts to fight terrorism, the report notes that Pakistan continued to experience significant terrorist threats in 2017, although the number of attacks and casualties decreased from previous years.

The report also identifies several major terrorist groups focused on conducting attacks in Pakistan, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar, and the sectarian group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami.

The report also mentions groups located in Pakistan, but focused on conducting attacks outside the country, included the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

The reports notes that in 2017, the terrorists used a range of tactics — stationary and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings, targeted assassinations, and rocket-propelled grenades — to attack individuals, schools, markets, government institutions and places of worship.

The report also notes that the Pakistani government and military continued high-profile efforts to disrupt terrorist attacks and eliminate anti-state militants. “Progress, however, remained slow on the government’s efforts to implement UN sanctions related to designated entities and enforce anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) controls.”

The State Department also said that the Pakistani government pledged support to political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban but “did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network from operating in Pakistan-based safe havens and threatening US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan”.

The government, the report added, also failed to “significantly limit” LeT and JeM from openly raising money, recruiting and training in Pakistan — although the Elections Commission of Pakistan refused to allow a LeT-affiliated group to register as a political party.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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Sahiwal headmistress critically injures minor for ‘using her toilet’

SAHIWAL: A public school headmistress tortured a Class II student for allegedly using her toilet in an emergency.

The incident happened at the Government Girls Middle School in village 2/10-L near Harappa city on Thursday noon.

Iram Shahzadi was so critically injured that she received 10 stitches to her private organs. Dr Zahid confirmed to Dawn over phone that the child’s private organs were wounded. She was admitted to the DHQ Hospital in a critical condition.

The girl’s family claimed when they submitted an application for registration of a case, Harappa police not only allegedly refused to register it, but also discouraged the girl’s father from moving against headmistress Farkhanda Batool.

The parents claimed that the police also refused to issue them a medical docket.

Sources said that on Friday Shahzadi’s parents succeeded in getting a medical docket from Harappa area magistrate Tajammul.

Shahzadi’s mother Sakeena Bibi told Dawn that the medical superintendent of DHQ teaching hospital conducted a medical examination of her daughter that confirmed critical injuries to her private parts. The parents demanded a departmental inquiry from the education chief executive officer and registration of a criminal case against the headmistress.

Iram Shahzadi, 6, is a resident of village 2/10-L. On Thursday morning at school, she wanted to use a toilet and in the urgency she used the headmistress’s toilet as the other washrooms were non-functional. When she came out, the headmistress saw her and started slapping Shahzadi.

Witnesses said the headmistress pushed and shoved the girl, who hit a cement wall and steps and started bleeding from her private parts. On seeing the blood, the headmistress took the girl to her room and locked the school’s main gate.

A witness said that later headmistress Batool took Shahzadi to her cousin’s house in the village and attempted to stop the bleeding. When the girl’s parents found out about the incident after two hours, they took their daughter to a private hospital where doctors examined her and gave her 10 stitches.

Sakeena told Dawn that the headmistress’s family, instead of apologising to them, were pressurising them against reporting the incident to the authorities.

“The headmistress’s relatives threatened us to be silent when we decided to move an application to Harappa police station,” her husband, Riaz, added.

Headmistress Batool did not respond despite repeated attempts.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2018

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PM Khan woos bureaucracy, promises to protect it from political pressure

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday addressed civil servants in Islamabad, asking them to support the government through a “down cycle” over the next two years and to support its “out-of-the-box” policy reforms.

The prime minister, in his address, highlighted various challenges that the nation was facing.

“We don’t have money to run our country; the majority of the population is young and looking for jobs; and the loans we took, instead of creating wealth so that we could repay them, have created projects that are running losses.”

He also discussed statistics on out-of-school children, malnourished children, high mortality of women in labour, and infant deaths due to waterborne diseases.

“I’m surprise that there hasn’t been outrage over this before.”

“We need to get out of this debt trap and we need to change ourselves and our nation,” he told the civil servants.

“If you look at history, nations make it through challenges when the people and the government become one. The army is also more effective when the nation is behind it,” he said.

He added that the government must assume responsibility for the people and the people themselves must own the government as their own.

“Nothing is impossible; but for that, people need to change,” he said.

“Maybe God has created this crisis because he wants us to change. We will change when we start thinking, before spending a single rupee, of the children who are out of school,” the prime minister said.

“Look at Singapore: they have exports of $303 billion but we have exports of $20bn. They have a knowledge economy [...] We have so many universities here that feature in the top 500 in the world.”

“We as leaders need to understand and ask ourselves; this money that I am spending on myself, can I spend it on the people of Pakistan? I ask this of all our leadership and our executive committee here. And I hope that you, the executive arm of this country, whatever policies we make [will help us implement them]. Unless you implement them, we cannot be successful.”

“Accountability is our cornerstone and without it we cannot progress. Corruption is our biggest issue. It isn’t just the looted money that is a problem, but the destruction of institutions in the process that is a great issue.”

“If Imran Khan wants to loot money, he will have to ruin the National Accountability Bureau and post his men in [senior positions] everywhere. Otherwise I’ll get caught. If there is transparency in the west, it isn’t because they are more honest: it is because their institutions are strong and they are afraid of getting caught.”

“Accountability is important for the country. I received some complaints about the bureaucracy and I spoke to the chairman NAB. I said: ‘If you do investigate any bureaucrat, do not humiliate him, do it subtly’,” PM Khan said.

“If the bureaucrat ‘takes chances’ and doesn’t do the work, however many policies we make ? we’re taking risks and thinking out-of-the-box here [...] we won’t be successful.”

“People ‘take chances’, they make mistakes. I’ve made a lot of mistakes myself. It isn’t a bad thing. But you must differentiate between that and stealing money.”

“I give you my assurance that if you have committed any mistakes, I will stand with you and ensure that there is no undue pressure on you.”

“Whatever your political affiliation, whether you like Imran Khan and PTI or not, this doesn’t concern me. I am only concerned with your performance. If you perform for my country, we will stand with you and help you.”

PM Khan also complained about the “degeneration” of the civil services over time due to political interference.

“I want our bureaucracy to be at the same level as it was [in the 60s],” he said. Giving the example of his party’s reform of Khyber Pakthunkhwa’s police force, he said it was done because it was “isolated from political pressure. We didn’t allow any interference. It was very difficult because our political class is used to this. We bore the pressure, there was a lot of pressure from our MPs. They would tell us ‘We can’t win the election this way’,” he said.

“We trained them, did selection on the basis of merit. And they are now a model police force that we hope to replicate in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.”

“We want our bureaucracy to be the same way ? promoting people on the basis of merit, isolated from political pressure [...] When your performance is built on merit, you rise to the top on your own.”

“I assure you that we will protect our bureaucracy from political pressure,” he vowed.

He also added that “quick postings and transfers are the most disruptive for governments”.

PM Khan also addressed issues with the salary structure of civil servants.

“In 1935, I was reading that a commissioner with his salary could buy 70 tolas of gold. My father, who was a government engineer in the 1970s, could buy a car with one month’s salary.”

“Because bureaucrats had good remuneration, there was no temptation. The living wage is not enough for you to survive on your salaries,” he said.

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“I ask you to bear this difficult time, it won’t last long. Countries have cycles. No country goes straight to the top. You must look at it as a down cycle. But there is great potential in Pakistan. If we fix the governance structure, there is so much potential in this country.”

“Overseas Pakistanis ? you can’t imagine how much money they have ? that money doesn’t come here because of a lack of faith in governance. We will have so much money for the salaried class that you will be able to give your children quality private education.”

“I was reading about the Singapore model — they would give their civil servants the best salaries so that they wouldn’t have any temptation to make money in other ways. I recognise that this is a difficult time, inflation is high, and your salaries don’t match your qualifications. But if you decide to make it through the next two years — you can write it down, that if we fix our governance in these two years — there will be so much money [to go around] in this country.”

“Debt will go down, employment will increase, and Pakistan will be attractive in the world as an investment and tourist destination.”

“We will work with full force. I will isolate you from political pressure and will not allow you to be humiliated during the process of accountability. I only want that you support this ambitious reforms programme fully. It is not for me, it is for our children.”

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Prime Minister House to be converted into high-quality postgraduate institute: minister

Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood announced on Thursday that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government will turn the Prime Minister House into a postgraduate university of a high quality.

Addressing a press conference regarding the new government’s plans for state-owned properties, the minister announced that additional construction will also be carried out on the land behind the residence meant for the premier after a formal plan is devised in this regard.

The PM House is spread over 1,096 kanals and Rs 470 million are spent on its upkeep annually, said Mehmood, who was heading a committee formed to decide how government-owned buildings could be utilised in public interest.

“[The] PM House will become a high-quality university or institution that will be unique with its education in Pakistan,” he said.

In his ,first address to the nation, after being elected, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that he would be staying in a “three-bedroom house that served as the military secretary’s residence”, instead of the Prime Minister House.

“I wish that the PM House will be turned into a university. It is in a great location to be one,” Khan had said at the time.

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Murree

The minister announced that the Government House in Murree, which the Punjab government had spent Rs600m on recently, will be transformed into a “heritage boutique hotel”.

“You can see gold plating on the commodes in the bathrooms of the [building],” Mehmood said, adding that around Rs35m are spent on the property’s maintenance every year.

The Punjab House in Murree, the annual expenses of which are Rs25m, would be turned into a tourist resort. The transformation will be done by the private sector, however, the Punjab government will carry out the formalities, Mehmood announced.

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Rawalpindi

A Punjab House, with a Governor’s Annexe attached to it, is located in Rawalpindi’s central district. Spread over 70 kanals, the property is used a rest house and Rs40m is spent on its upkeep annually, the minister revealed.

The rest house will either be converted into a higher education institute for IT/incubation centre, or the National College of Arts in Pindi will be shifted to this building, Mehmood announced.

Lahore

The Governor House in Lahore is spread over 700 kanals, the minister revealed. The schools and vocational training institutes located on its compound will be separated and the Governor House 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.

According to the minister, former Punjab chief minister was using 90 Shahrah-i-Quaid-i-Azam in Lahore as one of his offices. This building, the annual maintenance cost of which is Rs80m, will be transformed into a craft museum and a hall within it will be changed into a convention centre which will be rented out for events, he announced.

The Chanda House in Lahore will be turned into Governor Office as an alternative to the expansive Governor’s House.

A state guest house situated on Mall Road, the upkeep of which costs Rs5m annually, will be converted into a five-star hotel, the minister revealed.

Karachi

The government plans to transform the Governor House in Karachi into a museum and bring its parkland into public use. These plans will be executed in consultation with the Sindh government.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, meanwhile, will shift into a state guest house in the city.

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Freedom of press on the decline in Pakistan: Committee to Protect Journalists

The climate for press freedom in Pakistan has been deteriorating, even as overall violence against and murders of journalists decline, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Wednesday.

In a ,special report, compiled after recording testimonies in various cities of the country, the CJP said journalists, including freelancers, had “painted a picture of a media under siege”.

“The military has quietly, but effectively, set restrictions on reporting: from barring access to regions … to encouraging self-censorship through direct and indirect methods of intimidation, including calling editors to complain about coverage and even allegedly instigating violence against reporters,” alleged the CJP, an independent organisation working to promote press freedom worldwide.

According to journalists and press freedom advocates quoted by the CJP, the decline in violence against members of the press followed the military’s swift response to the terrorist attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School in December 2014.

But “while a drop in the murders of journalists is good news, the threat of attack remains,” the CJP report said.

Journalists and editors across the country have resorted to self-censorship due to a “widespread sense of intimidation”. According to them, issues on which caution is frequently exercised while reporting include religion, land disputes, militants, and the economy — subjects that can provoke government officials, militant groups, religious extremists, or the military, the CJP said.

The report observed that legislation such as the Pakistan Protection Ordinance, a counterterrorism law that allows people to be detained without being charged for 90 days, can be used to punish critical reporting.

“I think the numbers [of killed journalists] are going down because the resistance from the media that used to come, let’s say five years or six years ago, had drastically gone down as well,” the report quoted Asad Baig, founder and executive director of Media Matters for Democracy, as saying.

“And that is perhaps because of the very organised control mediums in place. People are very clear about what to say, and what not to say, what are those clearly drawn red lines that they cannot cross.”

The CJP report cited the attack on journalist Ahmed Noorani, blocks in the transmission of Geo News and ,curbs on the circulation of Dawn newspaper, as examples of declining press freedom within the past one year.

The report also spoke of a news story about a meeting of the top civil-military officials published in Dawn in 2016, that later became known as ‘Dawn Leaks’.

“Journalists find themselves in the middle of this [civilian government vs military] battle, struggling to report while staying out of trouble,” it said.

“The military said, ‘You have undermined our position by leaking the contents of that meeting,’” Dawn editor Zaffar Abbas was quoted as saying in the CJP report.

“The Dawn leaks story persists because the military-civilian conflict has not gone away,” said Abbas.

“The military and other powerful institutions have established lines of control to stifle the press,” the CJP report said, adding that the self-censorship has resulted in Pakistani media consumers not getting “a full or accurate picture of critical issues facing the country”.

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Suicide bomber kills 32 in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-filled vest among a group of people protesting a local police commander in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 25 and wounding about 130, a provincial official said.

“Around four hundred people gathered for the protest and the bomber detonated his vest full of explosive among the crowd,” said Captain Qais Saifi, an official at Nangarhar province police headquarters.

Gen Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai, police chief of Nangarhar province, said people from Achin district had come to the Momandara district to block the main highway between the capital Jalalabad and the Torkham border with Pakistan.

Stanikzai said locals had gathered to complain about a local police commander and the suicide bomber targeted them. It was unclear whether the attacker knew the nature of the protest.

Also in Nangarhar, at least one person was killed and four others wounded in a series of additional bomb blasts near different schools, said Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Khogyani said the first bomb detonated near a school in the provincial capital Jalalabad. That blast was later followed by two others in Behsud district, also near two schools.

A 14-year-old student was killed and four others wounded in the first attack, he said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, but both Taliban insurgents and the Islamic State group are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar province.

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UN envoy terms stay of Afghans in Pakistan ‘a protracted refugee crisis’

NOWSHERA: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi has described the decades-long stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan as “a protracted refugee crisis” and urged the world community not to forget the displaced people.

“We call them protracted refugees and I always say that protracted refugees should not be forgotten,” he said while talking to media personnel after visiting the Voluntary Repatriation Centre (VRC) for Afghan refugees at Azakhel, Nowshera, on Saturday.

UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock and film star Mahira Khan, who has been designated the UNHCR advocate for refugees and youth of the host communities, accompanied Mr Grandi.

Calls film star Mahira Khan powerful advocate for highlighting refugees’ issues

The high commissioner said the stay of Afghans in Pakistan for nearly four decades was one of the longest refugee situations in the world. He said these Afghans would complete 40 years of their refuge next year.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (R) interacts with an Afghan refugee family at the Azakhel Voluntary Repatriation Centre as UNHCR advocate and actress Mahira Khan (L) looks on. ? AFP

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (R) interacts with an Afghan refugee family at the Azakhel Voluntary Repatriation Centre as UNHCR advocate and actress Mahira Khan (L) looks on. ? AFP

He rejected the perception that Afghan refugees in Pakistan would never go back to their country. More than four million had returned to Afghanistan over the past 20 years and many were ready to go back home, he said.

“We saw this morning that refugees were going back, but not many, because they (Afghans) are concerned about their security,” he said.

Millions of Afghans took refuge in Pakistan when the former Soviet Union invaded their country in 1979. According to the UNHCR, over four million refugees had returned to their country since 2002.

Pakistan is still hosting around three million Afghan nationals, including 1.4 registered refugees. Voluntary repatriation had slowed down during the last two years because of surge in violence, lack of basic amenities and unemployment in Afghanistan.

Officials said that only 10,000 refugees had returned to Afghanistan since March 1, 2018 which indicated the slow pace of return. Only 45 refugee families left the VRC for their home country on Saturday as the sprawling VRC, Azakhel, was offering a deserted look.

Only a few Afghan boys and girls who were invited to the meeting with the UNHCR and his entourage were seen taking selfies with Mr Grandi and Mahira Khan. The two met refugee children, women and youth who apprised them of their problems.

“Unfortunately the situation has deteriorated. We have to help Afghans to get out of this bad period of insecurity, poverty and bring back services especially education,” the high commissioner said.

Mr Grandi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan during their meeting in Islamabad on Friday was very clear about the problems of refugees and assured him that Pakistan would never force (Afghans) to go back to Afghanistan.

He called for more resources and most importantly political attention to help Afghans restore peace to their country. “We should not be pessimistic,” he said, adding that they would help young Afghans to go back and rebuild their country.

He said that young refugees needed education and skill to rebuild their country.

He called Mahira Khan a very powerful advocate to highlight issues and thanked Pakistan for a very long hospitality to Afghan refugees.

Ms Khan while speaking on the occasion said: “I am very happy to be doing this job”. She said that more than half of the refugees were children. “If we come together we can make future of this world better,” said the film star.

Earlier, Mark Lowcock said that he visited Bara, Khyber tribal district, and talked to local people about the situation. He said 10,000 houses and hundreds of schools and other buildings had been destroyed during militancy in Khyber district.

He said he saw children sitting on the floor in schools. He said the government had launched schemes in affected areas and people were given cash through ATMs to rebuild their damaged homes.

Meanwhile, Mr Grandi commended charitable work of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, saying that providing free-of-cost treatment to underprivileged cancer patients was a noble act.

“Hospitals like this are a symbol of hope for thousands of cancer patients who have little resources,” Mr Grandi said during his visit. The UN refugee agency had provided high-tech machines worth Rs710 million to Peshawar’s Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer hospital to support free-of-cost treatment to cancer patients, including Afghan refugees.

The radiotherapy machines will be fully operational by the end of this year. The UNHCR will also provide training to technicians to operate the equipment effectively. The new cancer equipment will provide some 30,000 treatment sessions to both Pakistanis and Afghan refugees in 2019.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2018

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More embarrassment for govt as second economist resigns from EAC over Atif Mian’s exclusion

London-based economist Dr Imran Rasul has become the ,second member, of government’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to resign following the exclusion of US-based academic Dr Atif R. Mian, who was ,asked to step down from the body, due to backlash over his Ahmadiyya faith.

Dr Imran Rasul. — Photo courtesy: voxdev.org

Dr Imran Rasul. — Photo courtesy: voxdev.org

“With a heavy heart, I have resigned from the EAC this morning,” Dr Rasul, a professor of economics at University College, London, said in a tweet.

The economist said he “profoundly disagree[s]” with the circumstances in which Mian was asked to resign from the council.

Editorial: ,Atif Mian’s removal has dealt another blow to Jinnah’s vision of a tolerant & inclusive Pakistan,

“Basing decisions on religious affiliation goes against my principles, or the values I am trying to teach my children.”

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In a series of tweets, Dr Rasul spoke in favour of Mian’s appointment to the advisory council, saying “if there was one academic on the EAC that Pakistan needs, it was [Atif Mian]“. He added that the formation of the EAC and the panel’s composition offered a great opportunity to devise a better economic policy.

“Resolving the macro and fiscal mess the country is in will lay the bedrock for social protection, poverty alleviation policies and other economic reforms the country also needs,” he reminded.

Wishing the government and the EAC luck in their future undertakings, the professor said he remains willing to offer “non-partisan, evidence-based advice” that can help improve economic policymaking in Pakistan.

Truth be told, if there was one academic on the EAC that Pakistan needs, it was ,@AtifRMian,. Resolving the macro and fiscal mess the country is in will lay the bedrock for social protection, poverty alleviation policies and other economic reforms the country also needs. (3/5)

— Imran Rasul (@ImranRasul3) ,September 8, 2018,

Dr Rasul said while Pakistan is full of talent, it “needs leaders willing to draw on all this talent, and that are willing to appeal to our better sides, for the common good and not sow division.”

Atif Mian’s exclusion

Within three days of its rhetoric about the rights of minorities, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government bowed down to pressure from religious groups and asked renowned economist Atif Mian to step down from the EAC on Friday, only to lose another council member from the private sector hours later over the controversial move.

Explaining the circumstances that led to his resignation, Dr Mian said the government was facing tremendous pressure over his appointment from Muslim clerics and their followers. “For the sake of the stability of the Government of Pakistan, I have resigned from the Economic Advisory Council, as the Government was facing a lot of adverse pressure regarding my appointment from the Mullahs (Muslim clerics) and their supporters,” he tweeted.

Earlier on Tuesday, the government spokesman had strongly defended Dr Mian’s appointment to the EAC on the grounds that Pakistan belongs to majority Muslims as well as non-Muslim minorities. “What is wrong with the appointment of a professional economist as a member of the EAC?” said information minister Fawad Chaudhry while talking to the media. “He is a member of the Economic Advisory Council and not the Council of Islamic Ideology,” he remarked.

Three days later the government apparently succumbed to the pressure generated by the call attention notice submitted in both houses of parliament against the appointment of a person belonging to the Ahmadi faith and a petition filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) challenging his appointment.

Explaining reasons for the government decision to withdraw the name, the information minister tweeted: “The government wants to move forward alongside scholars and all social groups, and it is inappropriate if a single nomination creates an otherwise impression.”

Hours after the announcement, another EAC member Dr Asim Ijaz Khwaja, professor of International Finance and Development at the Harvard Kennedy School, announced his decision to resign from the advisory council. Dr Khwaja tweeted: “Have resigned from EAC. Painful, deeply sad decision. Grateful for chance to aid analytical reasoning but not when such values [are] compromised. Personally as a Muslim I can’t justify this. May Allah forgive/guide me&us all. Ever ready to help. Pakistan Paindabad”

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 8, 2018 at 8:25 am

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Love Pakistan a great deal, deeply desired to serve it: Atif Mian

Celebrated economist Atif Mian, who was asked to resign earlier on Friday from the government’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) for his adherence to the Ahmadiyya faith, tweeted a brief statement surrounding the circumstances of his resignation in the evening.

The Princeton University economist said he had resigned for the sake of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s stability, which he said had been under a lot of adverse pressure from Muslim clerics and their supporters.

He nonetheless said he was still ready to serve Pakistan, “as it is the country in which I was raised and which I love a great deal.”

“Serving my country is an inherent part of my faith and will always be my heartfelt desire,” he said.

“Moving forward, I now hope and pray that the Economic Advisory Council is able to fulfill its mandate in the very best way so that the Pakistani people and nation can prosper and flourish,” he said.

“My prayers will always be with Pakistan and I will always be ready to help it in any way that is required.”

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The globally respected economist’s statement had followed minutes after the resignation of Asim Ijaz Khwaja, professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, from the EAC.

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“Grateful for chance to aid analytical reasoning but not when such values compromised,” he tweeted.

“Personally as a Muslim I can’t justify this,” he said.

“Ever ready to help. Pakistan Paindabad,” Prof Khwaja said.

Government statement

Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary had tweeted earlier today saying that the government had decided to withdraw the nomination of Dr Mian to the EAC “because it wants to avoid division”.

“The government wants to move forward alongside scholars and all social groups, and it is inappropriate if a single nomination creates an impression to the contrary,” he tweeted.

“Khatm-i-Nabuwwat [belief in the finality of the prophethood] is a part of our faith and the recent success achieved by the government in the matter of blasphemous sketches is reflective of the same connection,” he had added in a second tweet, which seemed aimed at quelling the elements who had campaigned against Mian’s inclusion in the council due to this faith.

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Informed prime minister about what reaction to Atif Mian’s appointment would be: Qadri

A meeting of religious scholars was convened in Islamabad on Friday under the chairmanship of Federal Minister of Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri to discuss various matters, including Muharram preparations.

During the meeting, the religious affairs minister revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had called him for consultation regarding renowned economist Dr Atif Mian’s appointment to the government’s Economic Advisory Council.

“I told him what reaction there would be,” he said.

He said he had told the prime minsiter that “whoever had been declared a non-Muslim will remain a non-Muslim; however, the state has to fulfill its responsibilities to grant minorities their due rights, as is incumbent upon it.

“Atif Mian’s appointment was based on his expertise in economic affairs rather than his religious beliefs,” he said, while at the same time revealing that “upon indication [of his faith] the notice of his appointment was retracted”.

The minister said that since the matter was settled, there was no need to dissect the matter and no further investigation was necessary.

Muharram preparations

During the course of the meeting, preparations for the upcoming month of Muharram were discussed and a joint notification was issued pertaining to the same.

The notification called on clerics to desist from issuing any inflammatory statements against other sects.

“Religious differences should be settled through consultation, reflection and serious dialogue,” it said. “National platforms should not be used to ridicule other sects,” it added, before listing the religious personalities that ought not to be criticised and asking all schools of thought to remain united on national issues.

During the meeting, Allama Izhar Bukhari put forth the recommendation that all TV channels who invite ‘controversial’ ulema to air their beliefs be banned. He also proposed that “those who sing songs all year round and then lecture us in Muharram” be banned from the airwaves as well.

The various groups of scholars vowed to maintain an atmosphere of “love, tolerance and mutual understanding between them” throughout the holy month.

They also “promised to respect the viewpoint of those following a different path”.

Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat also vowed to ensure peace and stability during the month and to work with the government towards the same.

The also recommended that action be taken without discrimination against anyone disrespecting sacred figures, the national flag or the army.

Blasphemous caricatures contest

The religious affairs minister praised Prime Minister Imran Khan for his stand against the blasphemous caricatures contest in the Netherlands, which they said “no leader since Quaid-i-Azam had ever taken”.

“The way letters were issued to various foreign ministries, and the issue raised on different international platforms, is an unprecedented diplomatic measure,” he said.

On conclusion of the meeting, the federal ministry of religious affairs appealed to provincial governments to hold such meetings at the provincial and district level as well.

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Under pressure govt backtracks on Atif Mian’s appointment; removes economist from advisory council

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has asked Princeton University economist Atif R. Mian to step down from the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Economic Advisory Council (EAC), PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan announced on Friday.

The decision follows ,mounting pressure from religiopolitical parties, against the appointment of Dr Mian, who is an Ahmadi.

According to a tweet by Senator Javed, Mian has agreed to give up his position on the council. A replacement will be announced later, he added.

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Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary later confirmed the development, saying the government has decided to withdraw the nomination of Dr Mian from the EAC because it wants to avoid division.

Editorial: ,Prejudice against minorities at top political levels is unacceptable,

“The government wants to move forward alongside scholars and all social groups, and it is inappropriate if a single nomination creates an impression to the contrary,” he tweeted.

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In a second tweet, Chaudhry said the ideal state, according to Prime Minister Khan, is of Madina and that the premier and members of his cabinet hold Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in high esteem.

Khatm-i-Nabuwwat [belief in the finality of the prophethood] is a part of our faith and the recent success achieved by the government in the matter of blasphemous sketches is reflective of the same connection,” he wrote.

,,

The appointment of Dr Mian of Princeton University (Department of Member Economics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy) to the 18-member EAC set up to advise the government on economic policy was opposed by some individuals and groups, including Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), who objected to his Ahmadi faith.

The news of his removal from the body comes as a surprise since the PTI government had only three days ago ,defended the academic’s nomination,, saying in categorical terms that it will “not bow to extremists”.

“Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority,” Information Minister Chaudhary had told a press conference in Islamabad, amidst a vicious online campaign targeting Dr Mian for his Ahmadiyya faith.

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Chaudhry had taken to Twitter to recall that “Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah appointed Sir Zafar Ullah [also an Ahmadi] as Foreign minister of Pakistan; we’ll follow [the] principles of Mr Jinnah, not of extremists.”

His thoughts were echoed by Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari, who tweeted: “Exactly. Well put indeed. Time to reclaim space for the Quaid’s Pakistan!”.

The first meeting of the recently reconstituted EAC was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday, but it could not be attended by three international economists of Pakistani origin, including Dr Mian, because of technical reasons.

“They could not make it because our web-link was down,” an official ,told Dawn,.

Smear campaign

A social media smear campaign had erupted against the economist’s appointment, with many calling for his removal.

A call-to-attention notice had also been submitted in the Senate by opposition parties against Mian’s inclusion in the EAC. The notice bore the signatures of the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members.

No member of the PPP had signed the document, with the party making it clear that it would not be part of a witch-hunt based on someone’s faith.

A large number of supporters had also defended Mian’s appointment on social media, saying that one’s religion should not factor into their professional qualifications or employment.

Dr Mian has served as a professor of economics, public policy and finance at Princeton University and as director of The Julis-Rabinowitz Centre for Public Policy and Finance at Woodrow Wilson School. He is the only Pakistani to be considered among International Monetary Fund’s ‘top 25 brightest young economists’.

Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan through a constitutional amendment passed on September 7, 1974 during the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

This measure was later followed with Gen Ziaul Haq making it a punishable offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to refer to their faith as Islam.

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Govt ready to take tough decisions, amend budget

ISLAMABAD: Amid demand by majority of the private sector members of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) for tough economic decision-making within its first two months, the government on Thursday pledged to introduce major changes to the federal budget 2018-19 to make it ‘realistic’.

The first meeting of the ,recently reconstituted EAC, was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan which could not be attended by three international economists of Pakistani origin because of technical reasons. “They could not make it because our web-link was down,” an official said.

The three members were Dr Atif R. Mian of Princeton University and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy, Dr Asim ljaz Khawaja, Sumitomo-FASID professor of Member International Finance and Development at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Dr lmran Rasul, professor of Economics at University College, London.

Also read: ,The hopes and fears attached to Imran Khan’s premiership,

The meeting was told that there would be major changes to the budget 2018-19 based on ground realities and realistic revenue and expenditure projections. The question of approaching the International Monetary Fund for a bailout did not come under discussion, the sources said.

No discussion by EAC on approaching IMF; three working groups on debt, fiscal challenges and current account deficit to be formed

The meeting decided to set up three working groups on debt, fiscal challenges and current account deficit and have separate meetings with Finance Minister Asad Umar over the next week based on which another follow-up meeting would be held with the prime minister.

Most of the participants told the government to make best use of its political and social capital to take tough decisions, wherever required, without taking into account political repercussions within first two months. They believed it would get difficult day by day if the government delayed major decisions.

Some of the members also advised the government to review a major tax relief, particularly relating to income tax exemptions and discounts offered by the PML-N government because that could provide more than Rs90bn cushion. This should be given a serious thought to undo popular and pro-rich decisions of the previous government instead of increasing electricity and gas rates for all because energy costs burden the lower and middle income groups the most.

Informed sources said the finance minister responded that it would be a very difficult decision to withdraw tax relief. He said once given a facility could not be withdrawn.

Likewise, it was also proposed not to expand subsidies, particularly for the big fish like textile sector’s basic products and instead value-addition sectors should be supported because that was where the big return could be secured.

Majority of the participants advocated expanding the tax net and strengthening budgeting besides taking long-term steps to long-term development challenges like job creation, developing the education sector, enhancing productivity and improving the performance of the government sector.

The prime minister assured the participants that the EAC should come up with recommendations and the government would fully implement them irrespective of the political cost provided they were in the long-term economic interest of the people and the country.

The participants also recommended institutionalising the role of EAC for better coordination and continuous policy advice and complained it used to be a debating club in the past governments. It was in this background that the prime minister desired a follow-up meeting next week of the EAC on the basis of initial consultations of the working groups on financial, debt and current account related matters.

Imran Khan welcomed the participation of members of the council and hoped their experiences and recommendations would be fruitful for addressing immediate and long-term challenges facing the national economy besides improving reform agenda of the PTI-led government.

Those who attended the meeting from private sector included Dr Farrukh lqbal, Dean and Director of the Institute of Business Administration; Dr Ashfaque Hassan Khan of National University of Sciences and Technology; Dr ljaz Nabi of Lahore University of Management Sciences; Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri of Sustainable Development Policy Institute; Dr Asad Zaman of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics; Dr Naved Hamid of Lahore School of Economics; Syed Salim Raza, former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP); and Sakib Sherani, former principal economic adviser.

The official members who attended the meeting included Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Asad Umar, Minister for Planning Development and Reforms Division Khusro Bakhtiar, Secretary of Finance Division Arif Ahmed Khan, SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa, Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Husain and Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2018

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Pakistan will never again fight someone else’s war, PM Khan vows during Defence Day speech

A ceremony to commemorate Pakistan’s 53rd Defence Day and pay tribute to the martyrs of the 1965 war was held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

Prime Minister Imran Khan accompanied by First Lady Bushra Imran was in attendance along with Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and other civil and military leaders.

Also in attendance were school children, family members of the martyrs and people from different walks of life, including parliamentarians, media representatives, celebrities and sportsmen.

Federal ministers witnessing the ceremony.

Federal ministers witnessing the ceremony.

A smartly outfitted group of soldiers put on an enthralling march performance to the tune of traditional songs played by the marching band of the armed forces.

Following the performance, Gen Bajwa took the stage to deliver his address on the occasion, after which the chief guest, PM Imran Khan was invited to speak.

Strong rule of law needed to prosper as a nation, says PM Khan

PM Imran Khan addresses the ceremony.

Addressing the ceremony as the chief guest, PM Khan mentioned that Pakistan Army was the “only institution (in the country) that works on the basis of merit”.

“We will bring this meritocracy to all fields in the country in order to help us prosper as a nation,” the premier vowed.

The prime minister also mentioned that all fields in the country including agriculture will prosper once we develop a strong rule of law in the country.

PM Khan took advantage of the occasion to clarify that there was no such thing as civil-military tension, “there is one common goal, that is to solve the problems of this nation”.

“This nation will rise when the poor man knows that his son is getting quality education on the state’s expense and that education will open opportunities for his son to achieve success in life. That is when the common man will want to become part of this system and own it,” the prime minister said.

Finance Minister Asad Umar.

Finance Minister Asad Umar.

“For the past three weeks, I have been seeing presentations on all the problems that this country is facing, and I can tell you this that we will become a nation and rise again. We can overcome these problems once we strengthen the rule of law in this country,” PM Khan said.

Going back to the history of Islam, PM Khan said that we need to look at the way Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) brought together different tribes to form a nation.

“We need to look back and see what Prophet (PBUH) did in order to bring those people together to form a nation so strong that they ruled the world for centuries.”

‘Sacrifices of valiant soldiers will not go unacknowledged’

Gen Bajwa addresses the ceremony.

Gen Bajwa addresses the ceremony.

“All of you gathered here today gives credence to the fact that we are all united in our efforts to defend Pakistan,” said Gen Bajwa while addressing the ceremony.

“September 6, 1965, is an important day in the history of our nation. It is the day when the armed forces, with the full support of the nation, defeated an evil adversary. Every Pakistani was the nation’s soldier. We were all united to defend our country and played our respective roles. Our soldiers jumped into the fiery pits of warfare but did not let our nation be harmed,” he said, adding that the bravery shown by our nation during the 65 war serves as an important lesson and an inspiration to our youth even today.

“We have learned a lot from the wars of 65 and 71. We were able to further strengthen our defence forces in the wake of these wars. Despite difficult economic times, we were able to become an atomic power.

“Then began the period of non-traditional warfare. Over the past two decades, a wave of terrorism swept the world. The characteristics of war were forever changed. Unfortunately, Pakistan also found itself in the crosshairs of this new war.

“Our armed forces and the entire nation have learned much during their service to Pakistan. Fear and terrorism were thrust upon us. Our homes, schools, places of worship, recreational sites and national institutions were attacked.

“Efforts were made to weaken and divide us from within. But I salute all the citizens of Pakistan and the ones safeguarding our nation who fought remarkably in these difficult times and stood against such elements.

“We have all successfully fought against this extremist narrative. In this war, more than 76,000 Pakistanis were martyred or injured. To remember these sacrifices we not only celebrate Defence Day but since 2014 also celebrate Martyr’s Day.

“We have sacrificed a lot but our job is not done. The war is still ongoing. We have yet to reach the pinnacle of peace. We have to make Pakistan reach a level where no one can look at us with an evil intent,” Gen Bajwa said in his stirring speech.

Comedian Umar Sharif in attendance at the Defence Day ceremony.

Comedian Umar Sharif in attendance at the Defence Day ceremony.

The army chief went on to say that for the country’s stability and progress, democracy is of utmost importance. “Democracy cannot blossom without observing the democratic traditions in true spirit and without the strengthening of institutions,” he maintained.

“We have set on this path ten years ago,” he said adding that: “Today we are more united and more resolute. This is a message that Pakistanis are not ones to fear any crisis and will soar to new heights soon.”

Prominent politicians including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto were also present along with senior military leadership.

The chiefs of Navy and Air Force also attended the ceremony along with several diplomats and ambassadors.

In addition, sports personalities including cricketers Shahid Afridi and Zaheer Abbas along with Olympian Shahbaz Senior and squash champion Jahangir Khan were seen among those attending.

Among those to host the event were Humayun Saeed, Maya Ali and Hareem Farooq.

The ceremony began with a recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by the national anthem.

Audience member moved by the video tributes shown to the audience.

Audience member moved by the video tributes shown to the audience.

A short film showing the families of martyred soldiers remembering their sons left members of the audience in tears.

Singer Sahir Ali Bagga opened the ceremony with a patriotic song, as a video paying tribute to the armed forces played in the background.

A moving video showcasing Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s vocal prowess was also played.

Other entertainers also took the stage as the evening progressed, and a series of short films and videos were shown to the audience.

Earlier today, Defence Day was commemorated with traditional fervour and solemnity across the country, beginning with special prayers for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.

Change of guard ceremonies were held at the mausoleums of Allama Iqbal in Lahore and Quaid-i-Azam in Karachi, and a ceremony at the Pakistan Navy headquarters in Islamabad.

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Ceremony to mark Defence Day underway at GHQ

A ceremony to commemorate Pakistan’s 53rd Defence Day and pay tribute to the martyrs of the 1965 war is being held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

Prime Minister Imran Khan along with First Lady Bushra Imran are in attendance along with Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and other civil and military leaders.

Also in attendance are school children along with family members of the martyrs and people from different walks of life, including parliamentarians, media representatives, celebrities and sportsmen.

Federal ministers witnessing the ceremony.

Federal ministers witnessing the ceremony.

Comedian Umar Sharif in attendance at the Defence Day ceremony.

Comedian Umar Sharif in attendance at the Defence Day ceremony.

Prominent politicians including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto are also present along with senior military leadership.

The chiefs of Navy and Air Force are also attending the ceremony along with several diplomats and ambassadors.

In addition, sports personalities including cricketers Shahid Afridi and Zaheer Abbas along with Olympian Shahbaz Senior and squash champion Jahangir Khan can also be seen among those attending.

Hosting the event are actors Humayun Saeed and Maya Ali.

The ceremony began with a recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by the national anthem.

Finance Minister Asad Umar.

Finance Minister Asad Umar.

A short film showing the families of martyred soldiers remembering their sons left members of the audience in tears.

Singer Sahir Ali Bagga opened the ceremony with a patriotic song, as a video paying tribute to the armed forces played in the background.

Audience member moved by the video tributes shown to the audience.

Audience member moved by the video tributes shown to the audience.

A moving video showcasing Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s vocal prowess was also played.

Other entertainers also took the stage as the evening progressed, and a series of short films and videos were shown to the audience.

A smartly outfitted group of soldiers put on an enthralling march performance to the tune of traditional songs played by the marching band of the armed forces.

Following the performance, Gen Bajwa took the stage to deliver his address on the occasion.

Earlier today, Defence Day was commemorated with traditional fervour and solemnity across the country, beginning with special prayers for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.

Change of guard ceremonies were held at the mausoleums of Allama Iqbal in Lahore and Quaid-i-Azam in Karachi, and a ceremony at the Pakistan Navy headquarters in Islamabad.

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Sindh Governor House to be opened for families tomorrow

KARACHI: The Sindh Governor House will be open for families on Sept 7 (tomorrow) to give them a rare opportunity to see the office of founder of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and other historic articles related to him.

This was announced by Governor Imran Ismail on Wednesday. He said the families could enter the Governor House from Gate No. 1 after depositing their identity cards.

Besides, he said educational tours would be conducted for schoolchildren to show them the articles used by the Quaid-i-Azam.

In addition, he said, guided tours would also be operated where visitors would have the opportunity to see the historic building, office, rooms, chairs and tables and other items which had been preserved.

Imran Ismail meets MQM-P delegation; reviews KWSB performance

The governor said that the federal government had constituted a committee to make recommendations about the future of all four governor houses in as many provinces.

The committee had started its work and the future of the governor houses would be determined in the light of its recommendations, he added.

In reply to a question, he said being the governor he was using only two rooms and one car of the Governor House.

When asked as to when Prime Minister Imran Khan would visit Karachi, he said he had requested the PM to visit Karachi either on Sept 15 or 16.

Visit to CPLC

The governor paid a visit to the offices of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee.

He was welcomed by CPLC chief Zubair Habib and a briefing was given about the performance of the organisation.

He visited different cells including its call centre.

Appreciating the CPLC’s role in checking crime and assisting law enforcement agencies, the governor said such institutions were the need of the hour in Karachi to carry out effective measures to eliminate crime.

He also lauded the capabilities of the CPLC team in meeting the challenge of fighting crime.

The CPLC chief expressed gratitude to the governor for sparing time to visit its central reporting cell.

Meeting with MQM-P

Talking to a delegation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, the governor said that effective measures had been initiated to solve the long-standing problems of water shortage and sewerage system on a priority basis.

The MQM-P delegation was led by senior leader Amir Khan and comprised of Kanwar Naveed Jameel, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Faisal Subzwari and Mayor Wasim Akhtar. The governor said that he had been in touch with the prime minister who was deeply interested in the development of Karachi and had stressed the need to make all-out efforts to solve the issues being faced by the people of Karachi on a priority basis in consultation with all stakeholders in the city.

He said that in this connection he held a meeting with officials of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and directed them that the first phase of K-IV water supply project be completed at the earliest.

The delegation drew the attention of the governor towards the need for a Karachi development package and preparing new development projects to meet the future needs of the metropolis.

It also discussed completion of water supply and sewerage projects at the earliest with the cooperation of the federation.

The delegation said that the interest shown by the prime minister in the affairs of Karachi augured well because the situation of the city could be improved with his vision.

Reviews KWSB performance

Governor Ismail also chaired a meeting with KWSB officials at the Governor House.

KWSB Managing Director Khalid Mehmood Shaikh briefed him about the water supply and sewerage projects, obstacles in their implementation, ongoing clean water supply schemes and performance of the board.

The governor directed the officials concerned for early completion of the first phase of the K-IV water project.

He asked the authorities to take concrete measures to check wastage of water by increasing awareness.

He also asked them to supply treated water for industrial use.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2018

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Upholding minorities’ rights is the responsibility of an Islamic republic: Fawad Chaudhry

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday asserted that it is the responsibility of an Islamic republic to uphold the rights of its minorities.

Chaudhry’s statement comes a day ,after he defended the appointment, of leading international academic Atif Mian to the government’s Economic Advisory Council amidst a vicious online campaign that targeted the latter for his Ahmadiyya faith.

Chaudhry had said that those who had objections to Mian’s appointment “are basically extremists, and we will not bow to extremists.”

“Protecting minorities is our responsibility. It is the religious duty of each Muslim, not just the government, to protect minorities and respect those that they live with,” he had said.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government came under fire after Chaudhry’s statement, with many criticising the government for its dismissal of the backlash against Mian’s appointment.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad after a cabinet meeting today, Chaudhry responded to a question saying: “Protection of minorities is an integral part of Islam. When we speak about Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, we recognise that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last prophet. And along with that we also recognise Islamic education.”

“It was an integral part of the state of Madina that minorities would be protected there. Minorities here will be given rights. Pakistan is an Islamic republic… And why was Pakistan itself created? What was the issue when Hindustan was united? That the Muslim minority faced a lot of cruelty. On the basis of that, we separated from that country. Should we now disregard that basis [for the creation of Pakistan]?” he asked.

“Is it not said that if you take one life, it is like killing all of mankind?” he continued.

“If you think that we should drown all our minorities in the Arabian sea, or that they have no rights here, they have no religious or economic freedom, or freedom to live, then this must be your opinion only. Our interpretation of the state of Madina is that Islam means security, peace and moving forward together,” he asserted.

“It is not just the responsibility of the government to protect minorities, it is the responsibility of each Muslim,” he reiterated.

“Because of these things,” Chaudhry said, referring to the persecution of minorities, “The entire world makes fun of us.”

Pakistani prisoners on death row in Iran to get relief

Chaudhry said that approximately 3,000 Pakistani prisoners on death row in Iran will be granted relief since Tehran amended its anti-narcotics laws.

“From Pakistan’s point of view, it is a source of relief that in Iran they amended their anti-narcotics laws, so the quantity and severity in cases has been amended,” he explained.

“We are hopeful that Pakistanis on death row in Iran will be given some relief,” he added.

The Pakistani government spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in this regard when he visited Islamabad in August, Chaudhry said, adding that the Pakistani embassy was also in touch with the prosecutor general in Tehran with respect to the matter.

Recovery of money illegally taken abroad

The cabinet today took several decisions for the recovery of money taken abroad illegally or gained through corruption, ,Radio Pakistan, reported.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, who was addressing the press conference alongside Chaudhry, said a whistle-blower law would be enforced immediately through an ordinance envisaging a reward worth 20 per cent for those who would help recover such money, and that the names of informants would remain confidential.

The special assistant said another ordinance on mutual legal assistance would be issued which would help remove bottlenecks in the way of seeking information from foreign countries regarding illegal wealth.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the Foreign Ministry to dispatch a high-powered delegation to Switzerland to expedite ratification of a treaty on exchange of information on bank accounts. He said the treaty had been signed in 2013 but was not ratified, Radio Pakistan reported.

Akbar said that the government would also hire firms that would detect and help recover illegal money and in the case of recoveries, the firm would get an agreed upon share of the recovered amount.

He said PM Khan would also receive reports on the implementation of these measures on a fortnightly basis.

Chaudhry also announced the return of Rs80 billion to the Finance Ministry and parliament in the form of the prime minister’s discretionary funds. He said that the money had been saved through ending schemes such as the Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme.

The cabinet also made decisions on initiatives regarding education, health, water and sanitation. “Although they fall under the provinces, we think they are important and will be driven by the federal government,” Chaudhry said.

Among them is the decision to set up a task force on education led by Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood. It will include prominent educationists, representatives of seminaries and skill development personnel. Its first objective is to include 250 million out of school children in the education network.

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‘We will not bow to extremists’: Govt hits back after vicious campaign targets Atif Mian

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday defended a leading international academic appointed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Economic Advisory Council after a vicious online campaign, saying that Pakistan “belongs to minorities as much as it belongs to the majority”.

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The appointment of Dr Atif R. Mian of Princeton University (Department of Member Economics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy) to the 18-member EAC set up to advise the government on economic policy was opposed by some individuals and groups, including Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), who objected to his Ahmadi faith.

A social media smear campaign erupted against the economist’s appointment, with many calling for his removal.

Others, however, have shown support for Mian, saying that one’s religion should not factor into their professional qualifications or employment.

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During a press talk in Islamabad today, Chaudhry asked: “Should there be restrictions imposed on minorities in Pakistan? Should minorities in Pakistan be thrown out?”

“What kind of people say things like this?” Chaudhry wondered. “This is a man who the entire world is saying will receive a Nobel Peace Prize in the next five years. He has been appointed to the EAC, not the Council of Islamic Ideology or something else.”

“Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority,” he added.

“I don’t think anyone should have objections [to Mian's appointment], and those who do, they are basically extremists and we will not bow to extremists,” he asserted.

“Protecting minorities is our responsibility. It is the religious duty of each Muslim, not just the government, to protect minorities and respect those that they live with,” Chaudhry said.

He also took to Twitter so share a message: “Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah appointed Sir Zafar Ullah as Foreign minister of Pakistan; we’ll follow principles of Mr Jinnah, not of extremists.”

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A call-to-attention notice was submitted in the Senate today against Atif Mian’s inclusion to the EAC.

The notice bears the signatures of PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members. There are no PPP signatures on the document, although PPP leader Shehla Raza was among those who criticised Mian’s appointment in a tweet that has since been deleted.

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Via DAWN.com

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