Posts Tagged ‘school’

IS accused of beheading trio of brothers in Afghanistan

    Three brothers have been beheaded in restive eastern Afghanistan, officials said Monday, blaming the gruesome executions on Islamic State group fighters.

    The men aged 19, 24 and 27 were taken from their home and killed by IS on Sunday night in Chaparhar district in Nangarhar province, provincial governor spokesman Ataullah Khogyani told AFP.

    Nangarhar borders Pakistan and is a stronghold for IS militants.

    Two of the brothers recently graduated from medical school and the third was still at university, Khogyani said, adding the boys’ father was also killed by IS last year.

    “Their bodies were found in Chaparhar district where they lived,” said the spokesman.

    Provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal confirmed the brutal murders and said an investigation had been launched.

    “They were taken out of their house by armed men and their beheaded bodies were found by villagers near their house,” Mashreqiwal told AFP.

    IS first emerged in Afghanistan in 2014 as NATO combat troops withdrew from the country and handed over responsibility to Afghan security forces.

    Despite being far smaller than the Taliban, IS has claimed responsibility for devastating attacks in Kabul and elsewhere in the country.

    On Sunday, IS claimed a suicide attack in a large crowd outside a voter registration centre in Kabul that killed 57 people and wounded more than 100.

    Some Western and Afghan officials believe IS has received help from the Haqqani Network, a brutal wing of the Taliban.

    Following an intense air and ground campaign by Afghan and US forces in Nangarhar, IS spread beyond its stronghold to the northern province of Jowzjan where it has also come under pressure.

    Earlier this month top IS commander in northern Afghanistan Qari Hikmatullah was killed in an airstrike.

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    Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - April 23, 2018 at 3:25 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A view of PTM rally in Lahore. —Mohsin Dawar

    A view of PTM rally in Lahore. —Mohsin Dawar

    Manzoor Pashteen addresses charged crowd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Bilawal, Maryam back PTM’s right to protest

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

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


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

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

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


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    Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - April 22, 2018 at 7:25 pm

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    Shut down quack doctors in KP within a week, orders chief justice

    • ,CJP praises IG Mehsud,
    • ,CJP in Peshawar,

    Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday directed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health commission Chairman Azar Sardar to shut down all quack doctors in the province, giving him a week’s time to do so.

    The chief justice issued those directives while hearing a case against quack doctors at the Supreme Court registry in Peshawar today.

    Justice Nisar grilled chairman health commission for not doing enough against quack doctors, saying: “You draw a salary of Rs500,000 but your output is zero. It’s your duty to take action on the matter.”

    Upon being told that there are as many as 15,000 quacks in KP, the chief justice asked for a comprehensive inquiry report on the issue.

    Justice Nisar set a one-week deadline for Sardar to take province-wide action against quacks, making it clear that “no stay orders will be issued in this case”.

    “If anyone wants a stay order then they should come to the Supreme Court,” he advised.

    CJP praises IG Mehsud

    Justice Nisar was, however, full of praise for Salahuddin Mehsud, the inspector general of police for KP, for withdrawing personal security granted to unauthorised persons.

    The CJP had, a day earlier, ordered that all security protocol granted to unauthorised persons in all provinces be withdrawn.

    IG Mehsud submitted his report in court today, telling Justice Nisar that security protocol of 1,769 unauthorised people has already been withdrawn on court’s orders.

    At this, the CJP commended the IG, saying: “You have done excellent work. Thank you.”

    The chief justice also said that he is content with Chief Secretary Azam Khan’s conduct. “Chief secretary, you have also done good work,” he added.

    CJP in Peshawar

    CJP Nisar, who is on a two-day official visit to Peshawar, had summoned KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak on Thursday and told him that he had heard a lot about PTI’s good governance but the situation on the ground was different.

    The bench had expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the KP government in the social sector — including health, education and provision of potable water — regretting that not a single standard hospital or school had been set up in the provincial capital by the government over the past five years.

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    Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - April 20, 2018 at 8:26 am

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    Federal, KP govts get apex court notices over APS carnage

      PESHAWAR: A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday issued notices to the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments over an application of parents of several students, who were martyred in the 2014 Army Public School attack, seeking a judicial inquiry into the carnage.

      Amidst moving scenes as several parents burst out crying, the chief justice requested them to give him at least one week time to go through their case and understand their demands.

      The full bench, whose other two members were Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, also directed the court’s registrar to call the petitions on the APS attack pending with the Peshawar High Court.

      CJP asks students’ parents to give him one week to understand their demands

      The chief justice observed that he would either visit Peshawar or task another bench with hearing the parents’ grievances.

      The chief justice took a suo motu notice of the matter when parents of some martyred students, including mothers, approached him when the bench was hearing other cases.

      The courtroom at the Supreme Court’s Peshawar registry was packed beyond capacity as the people turned up in large numbers to apprise the chief justice of their grievances.

      The mother of martyred student Asfand Khan started crying when she narrated the ordeal of the most APS students’ parents. She said she had never slapped her son but the terrorists had fired six bullets at him.

      She said that for the last over three years they had been moving from pillar to posts seeking justice but in vain.

      Other parents including women carrying pictures of their sons appeared before the bench.

      Almost all of them complained that several weeks before that unfortunate occurrence the concerned authorities were conveyed by National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) about plans of terrorists to attack any army run educational institution including Peshawar APS. However, they said no steps were taken to avert that attack.

      They pointed out that their demand was to conduct an impartial judicial inquiry so as to fix responsibility of negligence on the officials concerned.

      They asked why the authorities were shy of conducting the inquiry.

      “You have been bestowed the responsibility of dispensation of justice by Almighty Allah and if you fail in providing us justice, you will be answerable on the Day of Judgment,” one of the mothers said. She said that her lone son was killed by terrorists in the said occurrence and she still did not know who was responsible for his murder.

      Another mother while profusely crying asked the chief justice could he bring her son back for a moment only so that she could hug him.

      Chief secretary Azam Khan said the basic demand of parents was the holding of a judicial inquiry into the whole incident.

      The chief justice observed why the government had not ordered an inquiry so far. He added that he was like father to all of them and would strive to provide them justice.

      COLLEGES FEE: The bench ordered all private medical colleges in the province not charge more than Rs800,000 fee per annum from students.

      It also ordered the freezing of the accounts of one of these colleges, Al-Razi Medical College, over complaints filed by the students that the administration had been charging exorbitant fee.

      The bench directed the Federal Investigation Agency to conduct an inquiry in that regard.

      The chief justice also visited the college and inspected the facilities provided to students.

      Meanwhile, advocate Abbas Khan Sangeen informed the bench that few months ago, the PHC had decided some petitions and had issued several directives to the private schools to streamline their affairs.

      He however said the schools had not been implementing the judgment and had been claiming that their appeals were pending before the apex court.

      The bench directed the court’s registrar to fix those appeals in Islamabad for early decision.

      It continued the hearing into the grievances of several people until evening and announced it would meet again on Friday.

      Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2018

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      ‘I’ve seen no improvement’: CJP takes KP chief minister to task over water woes, state of hospitals

      • ,Visit to medical college,
      • ,’No improvement’ at the Lady Reading Hospital,
      • ,APS victims’ parents plead for justice,
      • ,Personal security granted to unrelated persons in all provinces be withdrawn: CJP orders,
      • ,Setting controversy over judge’s reference to rest,

      Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday censured the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government over its failure to provide clean drinking water to citizens and the unsatisfactory progress made by it for the disposal of sewage and industrial waste.

      The CJP, who was hearing a suo motu case at the Supreme Court’s Peshawar registry, ordered KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to appear before the court and explain the reasons behind his government’s shortcomings.

      When the chief minister appeared before the three-member bench, the CJP informed him that he had visited Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) earlier in the day but observed no improvement in the state of affairs there.

      “Do you know what is the population of Peshawar [and] how much waste is flowing into its streams?” he asked Khattak, who remained silent in response.

      “It is your duty to satisfy the public, which you failed to do,” remarked the CJP, who is in Peshawar ,for a two-day visit, during which he will be hearing cases at the SC’s Peshawar registry.

      The CJP observed that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)-led government makes tall claims, but asked the chief minister how many new hospitals and schools were constructed during the last five years of his government, which he stressed was “not a short amount of time”.

      “The slogan of ‘honour the vote’ is being raised [by political leaders], [but] the real honour lies in serving the public,” Justice Nisar remarked.

      Chief Minister Khattak then defended his government’s performance, saying the structure of schools and hospitals was in a shambles when he started and things have since improved.

      “You would have seen [how bad the situation was] if you had visited four years ago,” he said, adding that the results of his administration’s educational and other efforts will become apparent 4-5 years later.

      But the CJP appeared unconvinced, saying he has had to face “hopelessness” from every side. He said he was well aware that things were being cleaned up in Peshawar a week in advance of his visit.

      Justice Nisar had earlier in the day grilled provincial officials over the steps taken to ensure that clean drinking water is available to citizens.

      “Which canal are you throwing Peshawar’s waste into?” he asked KP Chief Secretary Azam Khan, before asking why no dumping ground existed in the city for the purpose.

      Justice Nisar took the secretary to task when he informed the court that sewerage water is dumped into canals and rivers. “You say everything is good here … where is your ‘good governance’?” he asked.

      At the outset of the hearing of a case concerning the disposal of hospitals’ waste, the CJP had remarked that the conditions in hospitals of Karachi and Lahore has improved on the court’s orders and asked the health secretary what the situation was like in KP.

      The health secretary revealed that a total of 1,570 hospitals are operating in the province while two districts lack a district headquarters (DHQ) hospital. On the court’s orders, the secretary also submitted a report about the process adopted by the government to dispose of medical waste.

      Visit to medical college

      The CJP also heard a case about exorbitant fees charged by private medical colleges in the province.

      CJP Mian Saqib Nisar talks to medical students during his visit to Al-Razi Medical College in Peshawar. — DawnNews

      CJP Mian Saqib Nisar talks to medical students during his visit to Al-Razi Medical College in Peshawar. — DawnNews

      The administration of Al-Razi Medical College informed the court that the students were being charged Rs800,000 fee per year. However, a student present at the hearing informed the court that he was being charged Rs1.2 million and presented receipts to corroborate his claim.

      At this, the CJP ordered the college to return the extra fees charged to students on an immediate basis. He also ordered authorities to seize the college’s records and freeze its assets.

      Justice Nisar later also visited Al-Razi Medical College, where he interacted with students and examined the facilities.

      “Tell [me] honestly how much fees you have paid?” he asked a class of medical students. “You don’t need to be afraid at any time, no one can expel you [from this college],” he had assured the students.

      ‘No improvement’ at the Lady Reading Hospital

      The CJP then visited the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), the largest public sector teaching hospital in the province.

      “I saw no improvement during my visit to LRH,” the CJP remarked after the visit, and asked the chief secretary how many hospitals the provincial government had built along the lines of LRH in the last five years.

      “What steps were taken to reduce the throng of patients at LRH,” he asked.

      APS victims’ parents plead for justice

      Meanwhile, the parents of some children who had perished in the Army Public School attack in December 2014 appeared before the SC today.

      Emotional scenes were witnessed when the parents informed the court that their “generations had ended with their children’s death” but they had yet to receive justice over the tragedy.

      The CJP, who was visibly moved by the victims parents’ pleas, sought one week’s time to seek the government’s response. The court subsequently issued notices to the federal and provincial governments to file their replies in the case.

      Personal security granted to unrelated persons in all provinces be withdrawn: CJP orders

      While hearing a separate case about the deployment of security personnel in the province, the CJP ordered that all additional security protocol granted to unrelated persons in all provinces be withdrawn.

      The order was issued after KP Inspector General Salahuddin Mehsood informed the court that as many as 3,000 security personnel were currently deployed for ‘personal security’ throughout the province.

      “Those who possess everything can also arrange their own security,” the CJP remarked. He ordered the police chief to withdraw all police personnel deployed for the security of officials by midnight. The IG assured the court that the same will be done by the evening.

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

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

      Setting controversy over judge’s reference to rest

      While addressing a gathering of lawyers at the Peshawar High Court in the afternoon, the CJP sought to end ,misgivings among KP’s legal fraternity, about why no reference was held on the eve of retirement of Supreme Court judge Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, who hails from KP’s Bannu district.

      PHC Chief Justice Yahya Afridi had last month called on CJP Nisar to convey the resentment expressed by the Peshawar High Court Bar Association (PHCBA) over the non-holding of the reference.

      The absence of the reference and subsequent dinners by the SC as well as the Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court Bar Association had stirred rumours about a “conspiracy” being the reason why the reference wasn’t held.

      In an effort to put the issue to rest, Justice Nisar told the lawyer’s gathering that Justice Khan had refused to attend the reference due to personal reasons and he was handed over some gifts by the judges over tea instead.

      The CJP regretted that he was accused by the PHCBA of preventing the reference from taking place without looking into the reasons.

      “You assumed that I would be so cheap and shallow [...] so as to bid farewell to an outgoing friend like this?” he said, adding that he is open to arranging a reference for Justice Khan even now if he so desires.

      The CJP also took the opportunity to once again urge the judges of lower courts to decides cases expeditiously, saying it was their duty to provide quick justice to the public.

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      Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - April 19, 2018 at 10:25 pm

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      Pakistan failing on human rights, claims new HRCP report

        An independent watchdog criticised Pakistan’s human rights record over the past year in a new report released on Monday, saying the nation has failed to make progress.

        The damning report card issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) says people continue to disappear in Pakistan, sometimes because they criticise the establishment and other times because they advocate better relations with India.

        The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, per the report, received 868 new cases, of which 555 were settled.

        The report claims that the blasphemy law continues to be misused, especially against dissidents, with cases in which mere accusations that someone committed blasphemy lead to deadly mob violence.

        While deaths directly linked to acts of terrorism declined in 2017, the report said attacks against the country’s minorities were on the rise.

        This year’s 296-page report was dedicated to one of the commission’s founders, Asma Jahangir, whose death in February generated worldwide outpouring of grief and accolades for the 66-year-old activist who was fierce in her commitment to human rights.

        ,Read: Climate of fear: State of human rights remains dismal in Pakistan,

        “We have lost a human rights giant,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said following Jahangir’s death. “She was a tireless advocate for inalienable rights of all people and for equality — whether in her capacity as a Pakistani lawyer in the domestic justice system, as a global civil society activist, or as a Special Rapporteur… Asma will not be forgotten.”

        Monday’s report also took aim at religious bigotry and the government’s refusal to push back against religious zealots, fearing a backlash.

        “The people’s right to socio-economic activities is curtailed by intolerance and extremism and authorities are lenient for fear of political backlash,” said the report.

        It added that religious conservative organisations continued to resist laws aimed at curbing violence against women, laws giving greater rights to women and removing legal restrictions on social exchanges between sexes, which remain segregated in many parts of the Pakistani society.

        The report pointed out that in 2017 instances of violence against women was much higher than the actual cases reported, whereas 22m women in the country have still not been registered to vote for the upcoming general election.

        Still, there was legal progress in other areas, it noted, describing as a “landmark development” a new law in Punjab, which accepts marriage licences within the Sikh community at the local level, giving the unions protection under the law.

        But religious minorities in Pakistan continued to be a target of extremists, it said, citing attacks on Shias, Christians falsely accuse of blasphemy and also on Ahmedis.

        “In a year when freedom of thought, conscience and religion continued to be stifled, incitement to hatred and bigotry increased, and tolerance receded even further,” said the report.

        On Sunday in Quetta, gunmen attacked Christian worshippers as they left Sunday services, killing two. Five other worshippers were wounded, two seriously.

        Last year was a troubling year for activists, journalists and bloggers.

        Several were detained, including five bloggers who subsequently fled the country after their release. From exile, some of them said their captors were agents of an intelligence agency.

        In December, Raza Mehmood Khan, an activist who worked with schoolchildren on both sides of the border to foster better relations was picked up by several men after leaving a meeting that criticised religious extremism.

        Last year, a government-mandated commission on enforced disappearances received 868 new cases, more than in two previous years. The commission located 555 of the disappeared but the remaining 313 are still missing.

        “Journalists and bloggers continue to sustain threats, attacks and abductions and blasphemy law serves to coerce people into silence,” the report said.

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        Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - April 16, 2018 at 2:25 pm

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        PTI backs call for new province on ‘administrative grounds’

          LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has endorsed ,the demand for creation of southern Punjab, province “not for linguistic reasons but on administrative grounds to mitigate the miseries and sense of deprivation being faced by some 35 million people living in Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions”.

          This was announced by PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi at a press conference after a meeting with the leadership of the Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz (JPSM) here on Sunday. JPSM president Khusro Bakhtiar also addressed the press conference.

          The JPSM was recently formed by some disgruntled Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MNAs and MPAs from southern Punjab on the sole agenda of creation of a new province. As their resignations from the ruling party are yet to be accepted, two members of the Mahaz will submit a resolution in the Punjab Assembly on Monday (today) calling on the federal government to take measures to create a new province.

          Criticising the PML-N and the Sharif brothers for their failure to remove the sense of deprivation among the people living in southern parts of Punjab during their rule, Mr Qureshi said that movements for the creation of the southern Punjab province had been sabotaged in the past. The PML-N would continue trying to deny a separate province to the people of southern Punjab, he added.

          “Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has sown the seeds of hatred in southern Punjab and Chief Minis­ter Shahbaz Sharif will fan this hatred during his visit to Baha­walpur on Monday (today),” he said.

          Qureshi meets leaders of Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz, urges referendum on the issue

          Reacting to remarks recently made by Minister of State for Finance Rana Afzal that the demand for a separate province was the aspiration of a few legislators, who had parted ways with the PML-N, Mr Qureshi challenged Mr Afzal and the government to hold a referendum on the issue in southern Punjab.

          Replying a question, Mr Qureshi said neither the PTI nor the movers of the demand were afraid of setting up of a commission to sort out the issue. He said the PTI and the JPSB had discussed the proposed province’s economic viability and geographic compactness and found it workable. “A commission on the issue will strengthen the PTI, the Mahaz and the people of southern Punjab’s case for carving out a new province,” he said.

          He agreed to a question that no political party would oppose the move for a new province at the time of general elections and added that some would openly practice “hypocrisy” in this case.

          Mr Qureshi said it had become increasingly impossible to govern a province with a population of 110 million people and the state of public schools and hospitals, provision of potable water and sanitation could serve as a litmus test. He said the three southern Punjab divisions comprised 11 districts having a population of 35m people and 46 National Assembly seats.

          He said Shahbaz Sharif-led Punjab government had never tried to give a sense of participation to southern Punjab and instead development funds allocated to the region had been called back during the course of every financial year. “There always remains a great difference in the allocation of funds and actual spending,” he observed.

          He said PTI chief Imran Khan also wished that a new province should be created, while he was struggling for a new Pakistan.

          Mr Qureshi said the chief minister had constituted a committee headed by Governor Rafique Rajwana for the creation of a secretariat in southern Punjab but the governor’s report did not see the light of the day.

          Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz president Khusro Bakhtiar said the creation of a new province comprising south Punjab was required for internal cohesion and strengthening of the federation. He lauded the PTI’s stance on the creation of a new province.

          He said Mahaz members — MPAs Sardar Nasrullah Dareshak and Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht — would submit a resolution in the Punjab Assembly on Monday (today) calling for the creation of a new province. Since the Punjab Assembly and the National Assembly had one-and-a-half-month more to go, the political parties, including the majority party PML-N, should get people’s demand through (the parliament), he said.

          Stating that the movement for a separate province comprising southern Punjab was launched way back in 1970, he asserted that no move to divide the people of the region would be allowed to succeed. “We will support the political party which will be serious on the southern Punjab province issue and show it through its solid actions,” he said.

          Mr Qureshi said he had had detailed discussion with the Mahaz leaders and told them their real place was in the PTI.

          About the possibility of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s joining the PTI, he said Chaudhry Nisar had direct access to Imran Khan and both could reach a decision mutually.

          On the issue of caretaker prime minister, he said that he had held a meeting with Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah while the latter had met the prime minister on the issue. “The discussions are going on and no decision has been taken so far to finalise the name for caretaker prime minister,” he said.

          Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2018

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          Trump’s strikes on Syria risk retaliation, escalation in a war he wants to avoid

            LAST week, President Donald Trump promised to withdraw from Syria. This week, he opened a new front against Syrian leader Bashar Assad that risks drawing the US into a broader conflict there.

            By attacking Assad late Friday, the Trump administration sought to warn the Syrian leader against continuing to use illegal chemical warfare agents, following the gassing of civilians near Damascus last weekend.

            The administration calculated that the need to send a signal to Assad over chemical weapons outweighed the possibility of provoking a response from his allies, Russia or Iran, on the battlefield in Syria, elsewhere in the Middle East or even in cyberspace.

            The risk, analysts say, is that the US would then end up in a cycle of escalation that entangles the American military more deeply in the Syrian conflict than the administration intended.

            “Given the linkage between Russia, Iran and Assad, an attack that we would consider limited and precise might be misconstrued by one or more of those three parties and justify from their perspective a retaliatory strike,” said retired US Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War. “Then what do we do?”

            Read: ,Trump says ‘Mission Accomplished!’ after Syria strikes,

            Possible scenarios for a retaliation include attacks by Iranian-backed militias against US forces in the Middle East, stepped-up incidents against US forces and their allies within Syria or “asymmetric responses” such as cyberattacks entirely outside the theater itself.

            It remains unclear whether the strike will prevent Assad’s forces from turning to chemical weapons in the future as the leader seeks to extend his reach across the country while consolidating gains in the civil war.

            ‘Will have to do this again’

            Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Syria and fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University, said military action would deter Assad’s forces from using chemical weapons only if the US conducts follow-up strikes when new atrocities occur.

            “I don’t think, in order to make the deterrent stick, that this can be the last attack,” Ford said. The former US diplomat, who said Assad’s forces were using chemical weapons in part because they lack manpower, predicted the Syrian leader “will test us – and we will have to do this again.”

            Trump promised that the strikes wouldn’t necessarily be a one-off. “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” the president said in an address at the White House late Friday night.

            Some who support the strikes say that even if they fail to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons in the future, they will send the message that the international community is watching and intends to enforce the ban on chemical weapons that countries instituted after World War I.

            British Prime Minister Theresa May said the strikes, which the UK and France participated in, would “send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.”

            Referring to the recent nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy living in Salisbury, England, she said, “We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – within Syria, on the streets of the UK or anywhere else in our world.”

            Assad’s consolidation

            But the military intervention also comes as Washington has all but given up on seeking the removal of Assad more than seven years into Syria’s civil war. Trump wants the Pentagon to withdraw US troops after the Kurdish-led militia Washington is backing in Syria finishes off the remnants of the so-called Islamic State terror group.

            The departure of US troops, military strategists say, will likely pave the way for Assad’s consolidation of control in the country, backed by Russia, Iran and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

            The result is what Defence Secretary Jim Mattis described in congressional testimony on Thursday as “contrary impulses”. On the one hand, Trump wants the US to have nothing to do with Syria. On the other, he wants to dictate norms of behaviour on Syria’s battlefield that upset him when violated.

            Those who take a dim view of selective strikes in response to chemical weapons usage say the US has given up trying to ensure the departure of Assad, which means his forces will continue to kill whomever they wish as they consolidate control, even if they do so with conventional weapons.

            “As long as you have a strategy that leaves Assad in place and allows him to slaughter his people as he sees fit, he is going to do so,” said Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “And he is probably going to use chemical warfare agents.”

            But for Washington to stop Assad from killing his own citizens more broadly, “we’re getting closer to a regime-change scenario because he’s bombing almost every day,” said Ford, the former US ambassador. “To me, that’s drawing us in. I have zero confidence that we could control where that goes then.”

            Russian motive

            Pollack suspects that the Syrian regime and Iran won’t retaliate against the US because they are ascendant on a battlefield that Trump has promised to leave, and they won’t want to engage in any action that could prevent a US departure that would amount to a big win for them.

            Russia could have more of a motive to retaliate, Pollack said, even though before last year’s attack on Assad’s airfield, US forces warned Russia in advance.

            “Russia is the wild card out there,” Pollack said, because President Vladimir Putin’s interests are bigger than Syria. “They are about how much [the US is] allowed to act unrestrained and how much does he want to demonstrate that he can fight back.”

            The strike also raises thorny questions for Trump administration officials about why they are willing to intervene when Assad uses chemical weapons against civilians but won’t act in instances where his forces are killing far more with conventional weapons.

            Slippery slope

            Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Mattis suggested chemical weapons differed from conventional arms in their barbarism.

            “Some things are simply inexcusable, beyond the pale, and in the worst interest of not just the Chemical Weapons Convention, but of civilisation itself,” Mattis said, explaining why the Trump administration decided to strike last year.

            For some political scientists, that logic represents a slippery slope, where the US is compelled into military action on humanitarian grounds only depending on the type of killing that is occurring.

            “How horrific is it that we are particularly disturbed by one way of killing Syrian children but not the other?” asked Mara Karlin, a former top Pentagon official during the Obama administration and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

            The allure of such strikes, Pollack said, is that they are “feel-good military operations,” which make the American public think they have done something to help Syrians.

            “No we didn’t,” Pollack said. “Five hundred thousands of them have died, and we’ve done nothing.”

            —By arrangement with The Washington Post

            Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2018

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            Modi says India shamed by rape and murder of Kashmiri girl

              NEW DELHI: Eight men accused in the gang-rape and murder case of an eight-year-old Kashmiri girl who were protected by ministers and lawyers loyal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have seized the attention of millions as rage continued to course across India on Friday at the horror of what the little girl suffered.

              ,Politics over rape: Hindu extremists demand release of 8-year-old Muslim girl’s rapists in held-Kashmir,

              Mr Modi, in a message, called it a shame for any civilised society after opposition groups, including a large candlelight vigil by Congress President Rahul, demanded a statement from him.

              They asked Mr Modi to speak on the Kashmiri outrage and the alleged rape of another minor girl in Uttar Pradesh by a BJP MLA.

              The victim’s father died in police custody after he was beaten and tortured by relatives of the MLA and police. The Supreme Court slammed the state administration for its apparent connivance in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.

              The Supreme Court also ordered Hindu nationalist lawyers in Kashmir not to block the legal process. The crime was planned by a former revenue officer who wanted to drive the girl’s nomadic Muslim community of Bakerwals out of the Rassana area of Kathua, according to an investigation by NDTV.

              It said that on Jan 10, the little girl in a purple dress, was grazing her horses near her one-room home when one of the accused, a 19-year-old, called her into the forest pretending to help look for a missing horse. The horse returned without her.

              The police say the man dragged her to a small village temple and drugged her. For three days, the man and two others gang-raped her, keeping her sedated and without food. Before she was strangled and hit twice with a heavy rock for good measure, one of the men stopped the killer to rape her one last time, NDTV said.

              The girl’s body was found in the forests on January 17.

              Investigations led the police to the 19-year-old school dropout who had often seen the girl grazing horses, and to his uncle Sanji Ram, who was in charge of the temple where police found forensic evidence.

              Sanji Ram, one of the accused persons, was a former government official who allegedly planned the depraved crime and even kept a huge amount of money for bribes, NDTV said. He was arrested after the teen’s confession, forensic tests and information based on the interrogation of various suspects.

              The man who allegedly wanted to rape the girl one more time before her murder was Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria, according to the police charge sheet.

              He was named in the teen’s statement to the police. Call data records also established his presence at the place where she had been kept locked in for days.

              Another accused person was the special police officer, Surinder Kumar. Witnesses saw him at the crime scene. Call data records also proved his presence.

              The teen named his friend Parvesh Kumar as one of the men who repeatedly raped the child.

              Sanji Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra was arrested on the basis of forensic tests. Vishal, studying in Meerut, travelled to Kathua after a phone-call from the teen who said he could “satisfy his lust”, the police charge sheet says.

              Two other accused persons were policemen who were aware of the horrific crime and tried their best to cover it up for a huge bribe.

              The charge sheet said sub-inspector Anand Dutta and head constable Tilak Raj didn’t collect vital evidence and washed the girl’s dress to help the criminals.

              Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2018

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              Appeasing religious circles: Punjab promulgates ordinance allowing four loudspeakers at mosques

                LAHORE: The Punjab government on Thursday promulgated the Punjab Sound Systems (Regulation) (Amendment) Ordinance, allowing four external sound systems (loudspeakers) at the places of worship (mosques) in the province.

                The ordinance has amended the ,Punjab Sound Systems Regulation Act, 2015, that was a part of a set of five laws the Punjab government had introduced to curb extremism and terrorism as a part of the National Action Plan announced in the aftermath of the Peshawar Army Public School attack.

                This law had allowed just one loudspeaker in mosques (places of worship) and also regulated its usage, providing for punishment for a violation.

                Officials said on Thursday, the governor had signed the ordinance. It was likely to be published in the evening or by Friday.

                The number of loudspeakers had been increased while accepting the plea that the number does not matter when it comes to misusing the gadget.

                The Punjab government had agreed to amend the law early this year to appease the religious circles greatly annoyed with the PML-N for the change of words of the oath of parliamentarians introduced by amending the Elections Reforms Act.

                The purpose of the Punjab Sound Systems (Regulation) Act 2015 law was “to prevent public nuisance and the voicing of utterances of controversial nature likely to cause public disorder, to regulate, control and prohibit the use of certain sound systems in the province in the interest of environment, public order, decency, and to guard against incitement to terrorism or the commission of any offence.”

                One of its articles provided for one external sound system at a place of worship (only) for the purpose of Azan (prayer call), Arabic Khutba (sermon) delivered on Fridays or Eid prayers, announcement of death of a person, besides lost or found (a thing or a person) announcements.

                Officials said the new ordinance had allowed use of increased number of loudspeakers at the mosques. The other conditions under which they could be used would remain intact.

                An official said the government had promulgated the ordinance after accepting the plea of some religious circles that the restriction on more than one loudspeakers won’t help check incitement to mischief that could be committed by using a single device as well.

                Some quoted Ahadith (the Holy Prophet PBUH’s sayings) to demand that Azan should be called in all the four directions, which was not possible with one loudspeaker. Yet another plea was that the restriction of just one loudspeaker at worship places was limited only to Punjab, which was a discrimination.

                Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2018

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                PML-N, PPP oppose use of online voting software in elections

                  ISLAMABAD: Major political parties, particularly the PML-N and the PPP, have opposed the introduction of an online voting system which would benefit 7.9m overseas Pakistanis in the upcoming general elections.

                  Prepared by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), the software for the online voting was presented to the Supreme Court on Thursday.

                  Nadra’s presentation demonstrated how the Rs150 million online system could benefit the overseas Pakistanis.

                  However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) also expressed reluctance to decide hastily on the matter, highlighting the need to test the software by conducting mock elections to weed out security concerns.

                  Experts from renowned institutions have also expressed apprehension regarding the system’s security from attacks by hackers.

                  Nadra presents Rs150m software before SC to extend voting to overseas Pakistanis

                  Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who is heading a three-judge SC bench, observed that the court did not want to pollute the election system that may create doubts in the process, and hinted at appointing a taskforce of experts for re-verification so that the system can run smoothly and without any threats.

                  “Casting votes is a sacred right,” Justice Nisar observed, and asked the experts to assist in validating the programme. The final decision to approve the mechanism for voting by overseas Pakistanis has to be made by parliament, he said.

                  In the meantime, the ECP will seek output from IT experts to find loopholes in the new system.

                  The court had taken up a set of petitions moved by PTI Chairman Imran Khan and a group of citizens, including solicitor Mohammad Dawood Ghaznavi, Farhat Javed and others pleading that the denial of the right to participate in the democratic process for overseas Pakistanis was a refusal by the government to carry out its constitutional obligation.

                  Instead of courtroom No1, the presentation was held in the SC auditorium in the presence of political parties’ representatives, experts and television cameras.

                  Nadra Chairman Usman Yousuf Mobeen explained before the court how the authority had developed the software in collaboration with the ECP. The software would allow overseas Pakistanis to vote in their home constituencies according to the voter list from home, using internet-connected devices such as a computer, smartphone or tablet.

                  Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed from the PML-N asked the court not to experiment with the system in the upcoming elections, which would be bitterly contested.

                  He also invited the court’s attention towards concerns expressed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding electronic manipulation in the 2018 general elections.

                  On a lighter note, the chief justice observed that Senator Hussain’s opinion would have been different had it been solicited three months ago. However, he conceded that the ECP was overburdened with 1,286 litigations on the delimitation of constituencies alone.

                  PPP’s Naveed Qamar agreed with Senator Hussain, saying the online voting software should be made ready for the next elections after 2018, which should be held after biometric verification.

                  Meanwhile, PTI’s Arif Alvi cited the example of Brazil, where he said such a system had been a success.

                  MNA Usman Kakar asked the court to first extend the right of franchise to those who were not allowed to cast their votes, such as women in Fata.

                  Taha Ali from the National University of Sciences and Technology (Nust)’s School of Electrical Engineering told the court that countries such as the United States, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and France had rolled back similar software because the systems were hacked by manipulating over 60,000 online votes. He emphasised that any online system could be hacked.

                  Another expert from Pakistan Television expressed a similar opinion.

                  During the presentation, the Nadra chairman also conceded that no system was foolproof but added that precautions had been taken in the system against threats.

                  Justice Ijazul Ahsan acknowledged difficulties but said the first step had to be taken since the right to vote for Pakistani expatriates was a constitutional obligation. He said the system could be fine-tuned.

                  Published in Dawn, Aprill 13th, 2018

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                  Margalla villagers to protest man’s death in accident involving US diplomat

                    ISLAMABAD: Villagers from the Margalla Hills will protest in the capital against the killing of a young man by an American diplomat in a road accident.

                    Hours after filing a petition with the Islamabad High Court (IHC) over the accident, the victim’s father, Mohammad Idrees, told Dawn that the family of the deceased and villagers from the Margallas would protest on Friday at the same spot where the accident occurred last week.

                    They will gather at Daman-i-Koh traffic signal at noon on Friday, he said, adding: “Our only demand is justice for the deceased.”

                    Charge sheet to be submitted next week, investigating officer says

                    The protest will demand action against the suspect according to the law, Mr Idrees said, adding that the suspect should not be freed without legal action and should be convicted according to the law.

                    Mr Idrees, a retired hawaldar from the Pakistan Army who now works as a watchman at a government school in Saidpur village, said that his son, 22-year-old Atiq Baig and his cousin Raheel Ahmed, were heading to a hotel in Jinnah Super Market where Baig worked. On their way to the hotel, they were hit by a United States embassy car driven by an American diplomat who jumped the red light.

                    “The police registered a case against him the same day and told me action could not be taken against him because he was a diplomat,” Mr Idrees said. He added that police officials visited the family to offer condolences after the incident.

                    He said the family has so far not been approached by the police or investigators in connection with the case, including for investigation and statements.

                    “We were told by the police that the Kohsar police station house officer (SHO), Inspector Khalid Awan, was suspended, and investigation into the case would start after the appointment of a new SHO,” he said.

                    He said the family has approached the IHC as well, and alleged that the police had deliberately registered the case under a weak section of the Pakistan Penal Code; the case has been registered under section 320 (punishment for qatl-i-khata by rash or negligent driving) instead of section 322 (punishment for qatl-bis-sabab).

                    He claimed that the police had also favoured the suspect by not taking him to a hospital for a medical examination, and that he had been driving under the influence.

                    In response to a question about contact with US officials in the capital, including regarding condolence, Mr Idrees said neither US officials nor Pakistani officials had contacted him for any reason, including to offer their condolences.

                    However, two or three officers had contacted the family for condolence, he said.

                    When asked about blood money, the victim’s father said the family had not been approached in this regard, and if an offer is made the matter will be decided by their kin’s jirga.

                    Officials from the Police Prosecution Department said there was no law or concept of blood money in the US and would not be applicable if the trial is conducted in an American court.

                    Blood money can only be paid if the case is tried in a Pakistani court, they said. Either the complainant or the suspect has to submit a written statement or agreement in the trial court stating that they have reached an agreement and the suspect has been pardoned either against blood money or in the name of Allah.

                    But this will only be possible after the US embassy sends the case to the local courts, they added.

                    The investigating officer, Inspector Arshad Ali from the homicide unit, said the charge sheet is almost complete, except for a few verifications regarding the diplomat.

                    The charge sheet will be submitted to the Foreign Office by the Kohsar SHO when complete, which, he said, would be either this week or the next.

                    The family of the deceased had earlier filed a petition in the IHC asking for the diplomat’s name to be placed on the exit control list (ECL).

                    According to the police, the interior ministry has already initiated the process, and the local police have sent a written request for US Defence and Air Attaché Col Joseph Emanuel Hall’s name to be placed on the ECL.

                    The petition has asked the IHC to direct the interior secretary to place Mr Hall on the ECL, and for the police to be asked to provide details of Pakistani citizens killed in road accidents by foreigners.

                    Mr Hall jumped a red light at Daman-i-Koh Chowk on April 7 and allegedly hit a motorcycle carrying two passengers.

                    Both passengers were injured; Atiq Baig later died while Raheel Ahmed is being treated for multiple injuries, including fractures, at a hospital.

                    The matter was also briefly discussed in the National Assembly Wednesday morning, after MNA Naeema Kishwar asked Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif about the incident.

                    Mr Asif said the diplomat is in the country and the police are investigating the case. He said the US embassy has also assured them of its cooperation with the investigation, and assured the house the incident will be dealt with according to the law.

                    Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2018

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                    Ten years on, army hands over security to civil govt in Dir

                      TIMERGARA: Military authorities on Tuesday ,transferred their responsibilities, to civil administration after 10 years in Lower and Upper Dir districts at a function held in this regard at the Dir Scouts Fort in Balambat.

                      Malakand General Offi­cer Commanding (GOC) Maj Gen Ali Aamir Awan was the chief guest on the occasion.

                      Malakand Commissioner Syed Zaheer ul Islam, regional police officer Akh­tar Hayat Gandapur, Dir Task Force Commandant Colonel Shehzad Amir, deputy commissioners of Lower and Upper Dir, DPOs, Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa’s Finance Minister Muzafar Said, MNAs Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, Sahibzada Tariqullah, area elders and other civil and military officers attended the function.

                      Speaking on the occasion, the GOC said that all check-posts in Lower and Upper Dir were being handed over to police and security forces would remain present in border areas. He, however, said the security forces would fully cooperate with the civil administration in maintaining peace and order.

                      Appreciating the role of local elders, media men and civil administration, the GOC said that complete peace in the region had been restored. He said 10 years ago the militants had challenged the writ of the government in Swat and Dir and troops were sent to the areas to control the deteriorating situation.

                      Maj Gen Awan said the militants had been bombing schools, hospitals and markets at that time. A total of 470 soldiers, including officers, embraced martyrdom during the military operation against the anti-state elements. He said the militants were rooted out and the government writ had been restored.

                      He said that 300 schools in Malakand division were rehabilitated, while 32 new schools were built. The police and Levies forces were imparted capacity building trainings and they were made capable to cope with any untoward situation.

                      Malakand Commissioner Syed Zaheer ul Islam and Dir Task Force Commandant Colonel Shehzad Amir also addressed at the function.

                      Earlier, the troops presented guard of honour to the guest, while an army band performed music on drum beats.

                      Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2018

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                      No politics acceptable in social sectors of Balochistan: CJP

                        QUETTA: The Supreme Court regretted on Tuesday that health and education sectors in Balochistan were worse than those in Sindh and warned that if the situation did not improve the court would consider imposing a ban on trade unions in these departments.

                        “No politics is acceptable in these sectors,” said a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.

                        The bench had taken up a suo motu case about the plight of people being deprived of basic amenities like healthcare, education and clean drinking water in Balochistan at the court’s Quetta registry.

                        “We thought that the situation in Sindh was very poor, but the situation in Balochistan has no match. Everybody is trying to put responsibility on others, when we ask anyone about any matter,” the court regretted.

                        Chief Justice Nisar expressed his annoyance over the absence of two former chief ministers of Balochistan — Dr Abdul Malik Baloch and Nawab Sanaullah Zehri — from the hearing despite ,the issuance of summons,. He directed them to appear before the court on April 30 in Islamabad.

                        The court had summoned the former chief ministers to explain what they had done during their tenures to resolve numerous issues faced by people in Balochistan.

                        Orders transfer of health secretary to some other department

                        The court directed the provincial government to finalise the education policy in 15 days and also submit a compliance report in one week after admitting 100 students of Balochistan to private medical colleges.

                        Balochistan Chief Secretary Aurangzeb Haq, Additional Chief Secretary for Planning and Development Nasibullah Bazai, Education Secretary Noor-ul-Haq Baloch, Health Secretary Saleh Mohammad Nasar and Advocate General Rauf Atta appeared before the court.

                        The chief secretary assured the bench that after the provincial cabinet’s approval a draft of the education policy would be submitted to the court in Islamabad.

                        The chief justice lashed out at the health secretary for coming late and said he was not satisfied with the performance of Mr Nasar. “You should leave service if you cannot come on time.”

                        When the CJP asked the health secretary which province he was from, Mr Nasar said he belonged to Balochistan.

                        At this, Justice Nisar said: “If you are from Balochistan then you should work for the province. Have you seen the conditions of hospitals? There is no single MRI machine in Civil Hospital.”

                        The CJP directed the chief secretary to transfer the health secretary to some other department.

                        He regretted that the Balochistan government paid a doctor Rs24,000 per month, whereas the monthly salary of a driver of the apex court was Rs35,000.

                        Chief Justice Nisar directed the chief secretary to equip hospitals with modern instruments in order to provide better health facilities to people.

                        The education secretary informed the court that over the last three years, 400,000 children had been enrolled in schools in Balochistan.

                        On a court query, Mr Baloch said there were no drinking water and washroom facilities in 50 per cent primary schools in Balochistan and the situation was same in middle and high schools as well.

                        When the chief justice asked how much time would be required to provide such facilities in schools, the education secretary said washrooms would be constructed in 11,000 schools over the next three years. “We need Rs6 billion for providing these facilities in all schools across the province.”

                        The CJP said the planning and development and finance departments were part of the government and if they were not releasing funds for education then who was responsible, adding that the provincial government had failed in good governance.

                        Mujeebullah Ghirsheen, a representative of the Government Teachers Association, informed the court that schools were being occupied by landlords and the provincial government had failed to take action against them.

                        Chief Justice Nisar criticised the role of the association and reprimanded Mr Ghirsheen, asking him to educate children instead of proving himself to be a leader. Political interference in the education department would not be tolerated, he warned.

                        The chief justice ordered the transfer of Mr Ghirsheen to Khuzdar.

                        Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2018

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                        8 PML-N lawmakers break rank to demand new province for south Punjab

                          Khusro Bakhtiar, a PML-N leader from South Punjab, held a press conference on Monday flanked by like-minded lawmakers to demand a new province “for the security of the future of the children of south Punjab.”

                          During his press conference, Bakhtiar explained: “New provincial demarcations are the need of the time. We are not here to start a rift — time has made the need for new provinces very apparent.”

                          “The demarcation of new provinces will ensure that funds allocated for Rajanpur are not given to Multan,” he continued. “All we want is equality amongst the regions.”

                          “We have a single point agenda: the creation of a new province in south Punjab,” Bakhtiar said while announcing that he, along with the other like-minded lawmakers, would be initiating the ‘South Punjab Front’ movement.

                          “The size of South Punjab is almost the same as Khyber Pashtunkhawa. We have 46 MNAs in the [National] Assembly at the moment and yet they gave us just one seat in Senate.”

                          Bakhtiar said that the South Punjab Front will take its message to the people through the media, through schools and through personal contact with voters.

                          “It is natural that all of us want that each district flourishes, has better law and order, and a better education system. For these things to be achieved, we need more provinces,” he said.

                          Speaking of the movement’s future alliances, Bakhtiar said, “We are ready for dialogue with any party.”

                          “Our goal is simple: when the new assemblies take oath, the legislation for a new province should be passed within the first session. If that does not happen, we will go to the Supreme Court,” he stated to cries of assent.

                          Tahir Basheer Cheema, another PML-N defector, said: “This demand [for a new province]
                          is not a new one, it is a demand our ancestors made and a demand our children will make.”

                          “It is time we are given equal rights,” Cheema continued, adding that the demand for a new province is one that various South Punjab leaders have made throughout Pakistan’s history.

                          He added: “This need [for a different province in south Punjab] is not a linguistic problem. Our demand is simply to safeguard our rights.”

                          During the press conference, it was announced that a total of six MNAs and two MPAs would be defecting from the PML-N and resigning from their posts soon.

                          However, hours after the briefing, MNA Syed Muhammad Asghar said he would not be resigning from his seat or leaving the party, but would continue to lend his support to the movement.

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                          SC summons former Balochistan CMs to explain what they did for improvement in province

                          • ,Lacking medical facilities,
                          • ,Hospital visit,
                          • ,Meeting with Hazara community,

                          Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday directed the last two chief ministers of Balochistan — Dr Abdul Malik Baloch and Nawab Sanaullah Zehri — to appear before the apex court and explain what they did for the improvement of governance in the province during their respective tenures.

                          A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the CJP, was hearing cases at the court’s Quetta registry regarding the plight of public hospitals and medical colleges, and a doctors’ strike in the province.

                          “Three chief ministers came during one tenure [of the federal government] but what did they do for improvement of governance?” the CJP asked. “Call these chief ministers who ruled here for more than four years.”

                          The incumbent Balochistan chief minister, Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, also reached the apex court along with Health Minister Mir Majid Abro.

                          Over one million children in the province remain out of schools, Secretary Education Noorul Haq Baloch informed the court, adding that around 2.6m children should have been currently enrolled in schools.

                          “Why has the government failed to enrol out of school children?” the chief justice asked.

                          Lacking medical facilities

                          During the hearing, Justice Nisar asserted that he would want provision of water and healthcare to become the primary focus of the government. “According to Articles 184 and 199 of the Constitution, we have the right to intervene wherever basic human rights are violated.”

                          Secretary Health Saleh Nasar informed the court that a policy was being planned within the next ten days to improve the condition of government-run hospitals.

                          “Let us know what help you require from the federation,” the CJP told the officials. He also expressed his surprise upon learning that the OPDs in public hospitals of the province had been closed down.

                          The CJP ,repeated his commitment, to ensuring medical colleges don’t charge exorbitant fees. “We want the money to be returned to 20 million students,” he said, adding that all amounts above Rs856,000 in annual fees should be returned by the medical colleges.

                          “Unfortunately, our medical colleges are substandard,” he remarked.

                          Hospital visit

                          The chief justice later visited Quetta Civil Hospital where he interacted with the patients and visited the strike camp of paramedics and young doctors. He ordered the authorities to listen to the protesting medics’ demands and present a report to him following which the medics called off their strike.

                          Chief minister Balochistan and other officials also accompanied the chief justice during his visit.

                          The bench is expected to continue hearing cases at the Quetta registry until Wednesday.

                          Meeting with Hazara community

                          A delegation of the Hazara community also called on the chief justice and apprised him of their issues, according to a notification issued by the Supreme Court. Justice Nisar assured the delegation of resolving the community’s issues in accordance with the law.

                          Sectarian terrorism in Balochistan has disproportionately targeted people from the Hazara community.

                          A report released by the National Commission for Human Rights last month stated that 509 members of Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta during the last five years.

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                          FO summons US ambassador over death of biker in accident involving American diplomat

                          • ,PPP demands probe into accident,
                          • ,Briefly held,
                          • ,Police advise critics to approach the govt,
                          • ,Third such accident,

                          The Foreign Office on Sunday summoned US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale to register “a strong protest” against the killing of a Pakistani citizen by a US official in a road accident in Islamabad.

                          A day earlier, a fast-moving SUV, said to be driven by Col Joseph Emanuel Hall — the defence and air attaché at the US embassy in Islamabad — jumped the lights and hit a motorcycle carrying two men at a traffic signal. As a result, a man, Atiq Baig, died due to a head injury and his cousin Raheel Ahmed suffered injuries.

                          “The US ambassador was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a strong protest was lodged by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on the tragic death of the motorcyclist and serious injury to the co-rider in the traffic accident on Saturday that involved a US diplomat,” read the press release issued on Sunday by the FO.

                          “The envoy expressed his deep sympathy and sadness over the loss of life and assured that the embassy would fully cooperate in the investigation,” the statement added.

                          The foreign secretary conveyed that “justice will take its course in accordance with the law of the land and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961″.

                          The US Embassy, in a statement, expressed its “deep sympathy to the family of the deceased and those injured in the tragic traffic accident”.

                          Baig, 22, was buried on Sunday. A large number of friends, family and area residents participated in the funeral prayers but no government official or prominent political figure was present.

                          According to the deceased’s uncle, his nephew was a BA student working at a hotel to make money on the side.

                          PPP demands probe into accident

                          Meanwhile, PPP has urged a probe into the incident that led to Baig’s death.

                          PPP MNA Nafisa Shah demanded that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarify the nature of the diplomatic immunity the US diplomat is entitled to.

                          She said that “the diplomat’s car hitting a young man and resulting in his death is no ordinary matter.”

                          Briefly held

                          Saturday’s incident took place in the afternoon on the foothills of the Margallas near the zoo.

                          Police said that the ,driver had tried to speed away, following the accident but he was stopped at a nearby checkpoint, where police tried to question him.

                          He, however, refused to get off from the vehicle — a white Land Cruiser.

                          The area police arrived at the scene and asked the diver to surrender himself. Shortly after, several locals and foreigners arrived on different vehicles and introduced themselves as officials of the US embassy.

                          Senior policemen then took the defence attaché and his vehicle, as well as a colleague, to the Kohsar police station. They asked the other US diplomats to submit written statements about the incident and the diplomatic status of the suspect. Later, the driver was allowed to leave.

                          The police, however, impounded the vehicle and took the diplomat’s cards for verification.

                          Subsequently, a case was registered against the driver under Sections 279 (Rash driving or riding on a public way), 320 (Punishment for manslaughter by rash or negligent driving), 337-G (Punishment for hurt by rash or negligent driving) and 427 (Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

                          The case was registered on the complaint of victim Baig’s father, who is a watchman at an Islamabad school.

                          Police advise critics to approach the govt

                          Several people took to social media to protest against the favourable treatment given to the US diplomat. The police responded in a blog, stating that the accident had taken place at the Damn-i-Koh traffic signal on Margalla Road.

                          The police followed the due legal procedure and the attaché had diplomatic immunity granted by the government of Pakistan as per Vienna Convention. “If a blogger has objections on handing over of the diplomat to the embassy, he/she may approach the government of Pakistan to withdraw from Vienna Convention,” read the blog posted by the Capital City police.

                          Third such accident

                          This is the third road accident in recent years in which US diplomats have hit and killed people in Islamabad, the capital city police said, adding that they got away with it because they had diplomatic immunity.

                          In July 2010, a US embassy officer attached to the embassy’s Force Protection Department, hit and killed a young man driving a motorcycle on the 7th Avenue.

                          In February 2013, an administrative assistant at the US embassy hit two motorcyclists with his Land Cruiser near Kohsar Complex at Margalla Avenue. A man was killed and another was injured in the accident.

                          In November 2010, a member of the US Regional Affairs Office hit another embassy’s vehicle causing damage to both vehicles at Shahrah-i-Jamhuriat near Radio Pakistan.

                          With additional reporting by Nadir Guramani.

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