Posts Tagged ‘Sibi’

Regime forces seize last IS pocket in southern Syria

BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces on Saturday took back control of the militant Islamic State (IS) group’s last holdout in southern Syria after months of fighting, a war monitor said.

In another IS pocket in eastern Syria, meanwhile, air strikes by the US-led coalition killed 43 people, mostly civilians, the monitor said.

Regime forces retook Tulul al-Safa, between the provinces of Damascus and Sweida, “after IS fighters withdrew from it and headed east into the Badia desert”, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Regime forces have been fighting the militants in the area since a deadly July attack on the Druze minority in Sweida province.

In recent weeks, air strikes on the Tulul al-Safa pocket had increased and hundreds of regime fighters were sent as reinforcements, the Syrian Observatory said.

Air strikes by US-led coalition kill over 40 in another IS pocket

The jihadists’ withdrawal was likely “under a deal with the regime forces” after weeks of encirclement and air raids, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

State news agency SANA reported the Syrian forces had made “a great advance in Tulul al-Safa” and said they were combing the area for any remaining militants.

In the July 25 attack, IS killed more than 250 people, most of them civilians, in a wave of suicide bombings, shootings, and stabbings across Sweida province.

The jihadists also kidnapped around 30 people — mostly women and children — during the deadliest assault on Syria’s Druze community in the seven-year civil war.

Twenty-three of the hostages have since returned home, while the remainder appear to have died or been executed by the militants.

Air strikes

Seventeen children were among 36 IS family members killed in the village of Abu Husn in Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border, the Observatory said.

Another seven bodies had not yet been identified as either civilians or IS fighters, it said.

The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the militants from the pocket around Abu Husn.

“It’s the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the IS pocket” in September, the Observatory chief said.

The coalition has repeatedly said it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties.

“The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions,” spokesman Sean Ryan said this week.

IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled. But the jihadist group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor.

The SDF in September announced an assault to oust the militants from the eastern pocket, which includes the town of Hajin and the village of Al-Shaafa.

The alliance made slow advances until last month when tough militant resistance pushed the SDF out of the whole of the IS pocket.

Following the setback, hundreds of Kurdish fighters were deployed to the area’s outskirts as reinforcements. But the SDF then put the offensive on hold to protest Turkish shelling of Kurdish militia positions in northern Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish militia leading the SDF to be “terrorists”, while its Nato ally the United States has depended on them to fight IS in Syria.

On Sunday, the SDF said it was resuming its offensive against IS after “intensive contacts” with the coalition and “strong diplomatic activity” to defuse the crisis.

Since 2014, the coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher.

Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Former police officer gunned down in Quetta

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

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

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

Cheema said the assailants escaped unhurt from the site.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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At least 2 dead, 8 injured in explosion near Quaidabad flyover in Karachi

Two teenagers were killed while eight others injured in an explosion in Quaidabad area of the metropolis on Friday night, according to police and hospital officials.

Following the blast, police and rescue teams rushed to the site and shifted the injured to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for treatment.

JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemi Jamali confirmed the death of two persons, saying they succumbed to injuries on their way to the hospital. She said the hospital received eight injured, of which three are in critical condition.

Both deceased were teenagers, one of them was identified as Papu Mushtaq, 16, while the identity of other deceased aged 18 years remained unknown.

The injured men were identified as Rasheed, 18, Mushtaq, 22, Haq Nawaz, 55, Siddiq 55, Araslan, 35, Allah Ditta, 25, Qamar Abbas, 28, and Shahab, 26.

Karachi police chief Ameer Sheikh said some vendors at a makeshift market were selling fruit and other items of daily use near the Quaidabad flyover when the bomb went off nearby.

The senior officer said that the exact nature of the explosion was being determined. The law enforcement officials cordoned off the area soon after the attack and collected evidence for an investigation into the incident and to ascertain the nature of the blast.

Shah Latif Town police said that some unidentified thing present under the fruit cart exploded near Aman Hospital adjacent to the deputy commissioner’s office.

DSP Malir City Ali Hassan also said that a cart belonging to a fruit vendor present near the DC office “had some unknown things present under it which exploded”.

He too could not confirm the cause of the blast but said that a Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) had been called to the site which was busy assessing another explosive device recovered from the site of the blast, said to be planted within a “tiffin box”, DawnNewsTV reported.

The surrounding area experienced a breakdown of electricity following the blast, which is yet to be restored, according to DawnNewsTV.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was quick to take notice of the incident and sought a report from the Additional IG Karachi and directed that all possible assistance be given for the treatment of the injured persons.

Governor Imran Ismail also took notice of the blast and sought a report from IG Sindh.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility from any group.

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PTI minister denies PM slammed Sanjrani’s ruling against Fawad

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan on Friday denied fellow cabinet member ,Fawad Chaudhry’s claim that the cabinet at its meeting, a day earlier had expressed annoyance over the Senate chairman’s ruling and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s quote that nobody had the right to humiliate ministers.

While the clarification was welcomed by the opposition, it raised many questions and prompted dem­ands for action against Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry for misleading the nation, misquoting the PM and spreading disinformation about the cabinet proceedings.

Mr Chaudhry in a media briefing on Thursday had announced that the cabinet had expressed annoyance over the ban placed by the Senate chairman on his participation in the ongoing session of the upper house of parliament unless he tendered an apology for chiding top opposition leaders by name. He also quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan as saying “nobody had the right to humiliate ministers like this”.

Opposition in Senate demands action against information minister for wrong account of cabinet proceedings

Asserting that democracy was the way forward, the minister for parliamentary affairs said, “We definitely are inexperienced, but are not a severed kite.” Parliament would stay and “those hurling threats at parliament” would cease to exist, he said, adding that there were no cracks in parliament but in the ranks of the foes of democracy.

The issue was raised in the house by former chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, who said forces of popular fascism wanted to destroy democratic institutions functioning under the Constitution. “Very few of us will be able to come out of the debris if parliament crumbles,” he warned.

Referring to the briefing on the cabinet proceedings, Mr Rabbani said the Senate chairman’s ruling apparently evoked a strong reaction from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government. The PPP stalwart said some remarks had also been attributed to the Prime Minister. However, he said: “I will give the benefit of the doubt to the Prime Minister.”

He noted that the chair’s rulings had not even been questioned during dictatorial regimes. He said it had indirectly been threatened that the cabinet ministers could boycott the Senate and asserted that the cabinet, together with ministers of state, was collectively responsible to parliament under Article 90 (6) of the Constitution.

He recalled that Mr Chaudhry also remarked that the Senate chairman was not directly elected like himself. He said the chairman held a constitutional office and the procedure for his election was defined in the Constitution. He said the President of Pakistan was also indirectly elected and the chief executive after his election as member of the National Assembly was indirectly elected as Prime Minister. “Casting aspersions on the custodian of the house has never happened before,” he added.

He also objected to the PTI minister’s remarks that a hue and cry was raised in the Senate whenever the government talked about corruption. “The people you talk about are in the dock. How can you raise in the house the matters which are sub judice?” he questioned, asking if corruption was confined to some specific parties only.

Calling for across-the-board accountability of all, including the judiciary and the civil and military bureaucracy, the former Senate chairman proposed a federal accountability commission having representation of all stakeholders with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) working under it.

He asserted that the witch-hunt must be brought to an end and said the proposed commission should decide about references.

Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) also endorsed the views expressed by the opposition party leader.

PPP parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman also welcomed the statement made by the minister for the parliamentary affairs but said the cabinet should take proper action against the information minister. “The Senate had already taken the required action and now we want to see an action from the executive,” she demanded.

Maula Bux Chandio said if the Prime Minister had not spoken against the Senate chairman ruling during the cabinet meeting, an action must be taken against the information minister.

IMF terms

Meanwhile, Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati assured the house that parliament would be taken into confidence over the terms and conditions agreed upon by the government with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loan.

Earlier, Ms Rehman had questioned the government for shrouding its negotiations with the IMF. “In one week of requisition and another week of normal session, I have submitted two calling attention notices and one adjournment motion on the IMF. Nothing was communicated in writing and I could be wrong but we were informally told that the instruments cannot be admitted, because the IMF team was in town and the terms were not settled yet. This has never happened in the past even when IMF teams were visiting.”

She said talks were held between the IMF and Pakistan and the whole world was talking about it, yet the opposition had no right to ask about the terms of the negotiation? The IMF was making headlines. The rupee was declining, current account deficit had widened by 34 per cent and yet taxes were being levied to collect more than Rs160 billion, she said.

“Why can’t we take on this urgent and critical matter openly in the Senate? It is the Senate’s right to ask questions and it is the government’s responsibility to answer,” the former opposition leader in Senate insisted.

The session was later prorogued sine die.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

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Beijing forum stresses joint efforts to counter propaganda against CPEC

BEIJING: Lawmakers and opinion makers from China and Pakistan on Friday called for joint efforts to highlight cooperation between the two countries and counter propaganda against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.

The multi-billion dollar flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by China would remain a distant reality unless concrete steps were taken to project its true perspective.

This was the overall impression given by Chinese and Pakistani speakers at a day-long CPEC media forum organised by the China Economic Net and Pakistan-China Institute in Beijing.

In his opening remarks, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that the CPEC had become a success story within a period of five years. He said that work was progressing well on the building of Gwadar port and Thar coal power and mining project as well as other infrastructure development projects and asked the media to focus on the development process and counter propaganda being generated by the vested interests.

In his keynote speech, Senator Pervaiz Rashid observed that Chinese investment under the CPEC was a remarkable initiative and said that the flagship project would revive the old Silk Road. He said the CPEC had entered a new phase of industrialisation and media had to play a vital role in quelling disinformation in the current circumstances.

Mushahid says project has become a success story within five years

He pointed out that both countries had ensured fair allocations of funds for different projects across the country and proposed to set up a joint forum of experts to hinder the propaganda against the CPEC.

In his remarks, Ambassador of Pakistan Masood Khalid appreciated the forum for serving as a platform for Pakistani and Chinese scholars and journalists to exchange views on media collaboration and enhancing people-to-people contact.

The ambassador said in the changing environment, the media of both countries needed to work proactively to give a positive projection by showing stories of human interest. He also termed the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China a beacon of a new era of friendship between the two countries.

All-China Journalists Association Executive Secretary Wang Dongmei called for a dialogue between the media of the two countries to enhance cooperation and counter negative campaign against the CPEC.

Economic Daily Deputy Editor-in-Chief Ding Shi observed that the CPEC had driven Pakistan’s economic growth and created employment opportunities for the locals. He pointed out that after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit the two sides had agreed to expedite the CPEC.

Speaking on the occasion, former MNA Dr Shazra Kamran said there was a need to project role of women in the building of the CPEC and pointed out that a number of women were working on the Thar coal project. She said the project was also a corridor for cultural connectivity.

Pakistan Stock Exchange former chairman Muneer Kamal said that Pakistan had made remarkable success against terrorism and Karachi was now a safe city and a centre for business activities. He said China decided to invest in Pakistan at a time when no other country was ready to come and invest. The media should project the cooperation and contribute news reports for better understanding of the CPEC and its benefits.

The CGTN deputy director of news centre, Jiang Heping, said some elements were framing the CPEC as a debt trap through fake news and that the media should remove this misconception through concerted efforts.

The Director General of Gwadar Port Authority’s planning and development department, Munir Ahmed Jan, said the port was an important component of the CPEC and it was the responsibility of all stakeholders to be responsive and help the media reflect the true perspective.

Earlier, a ‘CPEC Communication Award’ for the best investigative story of the year was awarded to Pakistani and Chinese journalists.

The media forum was attended by parliamentarians, journalists, think tanks representatives, analysts and academicians from Pakistan and China.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

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Judge orders White House to restore CNN reporter’s access

A federal judge on Friday ordered the White House to reinstate the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, whose pass was revoked after a ,heated exchange with President Donald Trump,.

Judge Timothy Kelly issued a temporary restraining order that requires the White House to restore Acosta’s access until a full hearing is held, according to the network.

CNN and other media groups, including Trumfavouritete Fox News, backed the lawsuit, which claimed that revoking Acosta’s pass violated constitutional guarantees of a free press.

Kelly, a Trump appointee to the bench, said that his ruling was based on “due process” for the journalist, and that he would hold additional proceedings on the constitutional issues at stake, including the First Amendment free press guarantee.

“I want to be very clear that I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated,” he said in the Washington courtroom, adding that he based his decision on a 1977 ruling that required the White House to offer reasons for denial of press credentials and an opportunity to respond.

Following the ruling, the White House said it would “temporarily” reinstate Acosta’s press pass.

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, “in response to the court, we will temporarily reinstate the reporter’s hard pass.” But she left open the possibility of seeking to remove Acosta’s access later and said new rules would be imposed “to ensure fair and orderly press conferences”.

CNN said in a statement: “We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days. Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press.”

Acosta said outside the courthouse: “I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week. And I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today. And let’s go back to work.”

CNN‘s lawyer argued in court on Wednesday that the White House violated Acosta’s First Amendment right to free speech in revoking his credentials.

The US Justice Department’s lawyer, James Burnham, countered that Acosta had “disrupted” last week’s news conference. Burnham insisted “there is no First Amendment right to access the White House.”

Acosta, CNN‘s chief White House correspondent, angered Trump when he persisted in questioning the president at a November 7 news conference, ignoring demands he yield the microphone.

From the podium, Trump called Acosta — a frequent target of his ire — a “rude, terrible person”.

Media organisations backing CNN included the Associated Press, Bloomberg, First Look Media Works, Gannett, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, NBC News, The New York Times, Politico, Press Freedom Defence Fund, EW Scripps Company, USA Today and The Washington Post.

“Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions,” the media groups said in a joint statement ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.

‘Broad discretion’ argument

The White House said in its legal filing that it has “broad discretion” to restrict media access to the president, disputing the argument that its actions violate the constitution.

“The president and White House possess the same broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists (and other members of the public) that they possess to select which journalists receive interviews, or which journalists they acknowledge at press conferences,” said the brief.

The filing by US Justice Department lawyers argued that “the president could choose never to hold another press briefing again and cancel all press passes, without implicating due process protections.”

CNN — part of the WarnerMedia division of AT&T — filed suit on Tuesday.

Trump’s administration initially said Acosta was banned for inappropriately touching a White House female intern as he struggled to hold on to a microphone.

The White House cited a video that analysts said had been sped up, giving the appearance that Acosta struck the intern’s arm.

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

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Government launches road safety strategy

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

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

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

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

National Highway Authority clears encroachment areas

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

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

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

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

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

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

NHA regains land

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

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

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018

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Police team sent to Peshawar in SP’s murder investigation

ISLAMABAD: A team from the Homicide Unit of the capital police was sent to Peshawar to collect evidence and fulfil legal requirements in the case of a superintendent of police (SP), Tahir Khan Dawar, from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa being abducted from Islamabad and later killed in Afghanistan.

The capital police are also considering adding terrorism and murder charges to the case for Dawar’s abduction. Police official said a militant outfit may be nominated in the FIR.

A senior police officer told Dawn that a four member team under the supervision of an inspector was sent to Peshawar to fulfil legal requirements including documentation, the examination of the body, initiating the autopsy process and obtaining medical and autopsy reports.

“It was suggested that the autopsy be conducted in a hospital in Peshawar instead of bringing the body to Islamabad,” the officer said.

The investigators also took the slain officer’s belongings, including his service card and a hand written letter, with them. In the letter, a militant outfit is said to have claimed responsibility for the murder.

Read: ,Diplomatic row over delay in handover of SP’s body by Kabul,

The officer said the statements of the officials who received the body from Afghan officials and the SP’s family members will also be recorded.

Details of legal action taken by the slain SP against militant outfits and terrorists will be examined.

An officer said there are reports that the SP had arrested a terrorist recently and that the outfit he had been affiliated with had threatened him. He said the reports are yet to be confirmed.

Separate teams were constituted to examine all possible routes from Islamabad to Afghanistan as part of the investigation as well as the location at which the SP’s phone was switched on for two minutes.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018

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Pakistan concerned over inordinate delay in handing over mortal remains of SP Dawar: Foreign Office

Following the burial of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar on Thursday night, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal ,took to Twitter, to express “Pakistan’s concern over the inordinate delay in handing over mortal remains” of the ,martyred police official,.

He added that the handing over [from the Afghan side] was linked to “insistence on non-diplomatic procedures and non-official individuals resulting in avoidable pain to the Shaheed’s family”.

“Diplomatic and humanitarian norms need to be observed, especially in such circumstances,” he said.

Editorial: ,SP’s murder,

SP Dawar, chief of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in the G-10/4 area of Islamabad on October 26. On Tuesday [Nov 13], his body was found in a remote area of the Afghan province of Nangarhar and a day later, FO said that Afghan officials had confirmed that the tortured body found was indeed that of Dawar.

Profile: ,Career officer Tahir Dawar,

Earlier in the day, according to senior government officials, members of a tribal jirga on the Afghan side refused to hand over the police officer’s body to Pakistani authorities. Eventually, the body was handed over to SP Dawar’s brothers.

State Minister Shehryar Afridi waits at Torkham border for SP Dawar's body. — DawnNewsTV

State Minister Shehryar Afridi waits at Torkham border for SP Dawar’s body. — DawnNewsTV

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi and KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousufzai, as well as MNA Mohsin Dawar, were present at Torkham to receive the body of SP Dawar.

The martyred police officer’s body was then dispatched to Peshawar via a helicopter, where his funeral prayers were offered at Police Lines at around 9pm. Peshawar Corps Commander Lt General Shaheen Mazhar Mahmood, Commandant Frontier Constabulary Moazzam Ansari, and other high-ranking law enforcement officials were also in attendance.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Shehryar Afridi, KP Police Chief Salahuddin Khan Mahsud, Shaukat Yousufzai, and provincial spokesperson Ajmal Wazir also attended the funeral.

Dawar’s family held a separate funeral in Hayatabad, after which he was laid to rest at a graveyard in Phase-1 area of the locality.

‘Brutal murder highly condemnable’

The Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, condemned “the brutal murder” of “a brave police officer”, and suspected the involvement of an entity “more than a terrorist organisation”.

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The DG ISPR also urged “Afghan security forces to cooperate in border fencing” to “deny use of Afghan territory against Pakistan”.

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Earlier in the day, the Foreign Office had offered its condolences to SP Dawar’s family, and said it had registered with the Afghan Charge d’ Affairs “our strong protest over the inordinate delay and manner of return of the body”.

“It is hoped that Afghan authorities will offer full cooperation in ascertaining the circumstances under which a Pakistani police officer was found murdered in Afghanistan,” the FO had said.

‘No compromise on SP Dawar’s murder’

In a joint presser later in the day, Afridi and Yousufzai assured that the state “will not compromise” on SP Dawar’s murder, and lamented the Afghan authorities’ behaviour over the body’s handing-over process.

“We were made to stand at the border for two, three hours,” said Yousufzai, to which Afridi added: “The behaviour that we saw at the border today was painful.”

“A game of politics was being played, trying to spread chaos in Pakistan,” added Afridi. “When an officer of the state is martyred, instead of handing his body over to the state, you place some other demands and employ delaying tactics.”

“The Afghan refugees have been given the most respect by Pakistan,” the state minister said. “We have respect for the Afghan government [but] they will have to think why such a behaviour was adopted.”

Regarding the investigation, Afridi said: “The PM has already directed KP CM, KP IGP and Islamabad IGP to conduct an immediate inquiry and furnish a report. A meeting will be held in this regard at the Prime Minister House at 3pm tomorrow.

“We will take this matter to its logical end. We will go all out. The lives of our soldiers and citizens alike are the responsibility of the state. It will be a message to all those who have made a mockery of the issue that the state will not compromise on this.”

The martyred police official’s sibling, who also sat alongside the two ministers in the presser, requested the state to “help me bring to justice whoever has done this to my brother”.

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

On Thursday morning, Prime Minister ,Imran Khan ordered, an “immediate inquiry” into SP Dawar’s “shocking” murder.

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

MNA Mohsin Dawar, who has been vocal in demanding justice for the martyred cop since his disappearance, responded to PM Khan’s tweet, saying: “We reject an internal inquiry. We know that our investigation authorities can’t question certain powers.”

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FIA asks banks to upgrade cyber security system

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has asked banks to upgrade their cyber security wings as per international standards to protect their system from further attacks by the hackers who recently stole huge sums from accounts.

In a series of meetings, which continued for two days in Karachi, it was decided that banks, including the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), would maintain a regular coordination and exchange information with the FIA.

Headed by FIA’s cybercrime wing director retired Capt Mohammad Shoaib, the investigation agency team held several meetings with IT officials of different banks, including BankIslami, before heading back to Islamabad.

Law ministry sets up body comprising intelligence officials to formulate recommendations

The meetings were conducted in the wake of recent attacks on bank accounts by the hackers, resulting in illegal transfer of money to different countries.

However, the banking sector claimed that there was no threat to the account holders’ money as the banks would reimburse their money in such case after due inquiry.

According to the FIA team, the recent wave of cyber attacks showed vulnerability of the system and, therefore, the banks were asked to upgrade their IT security as per international standards.

The banks claimed that they were fulfilling the cyber security criteria.

SBP officials informed the FIA at a meeting that broad guidelines had already been issued to all banks. The guidelines allowed banks to upgrade their IT system, the officials said. They said: “It is pertinent to mention that the ultimate responsibility for IT security rests with the board of directors and the senior management of the banks/DFIs. They must ensure that the IT systems in their respective institutions have built-in security capabilities to survive real-world threats. In case banks/DFIs do not have in-house expertise, they may like to engage outside IT consultants to prepare/assist them in IT security planning. Furthermore, the Pakistan Banks Association will also organise training programmes on the subject to enable banks to build up their in-house capacity in this area.”

Talking to Dawn, a senior official of the FIA said that banks should have a “cyber emergency response team” to act independently to counter such attacks, as other teams had to get official permission to react to any reported cyber attack.

“It is clear that there cannot be any such move without connivance of bank employee of any person affiliated with call centre,” said the FIA official, adding that banks needed to invest more in their IT sector and ATM cards had to be encrypted, while any such illegal activity by their staff should be reported to the FIA at the earliest so that the network could be busted.

Apart from the meetings held at the SBP office, the FIA team also held an exclusive meeting in BankIslami to further the probe over the complaint lodged by the bank to the FIA office in Karachi.

The bank acknowledged that a significant amount had been transferred from BankIslami by the hackers based in 45 countries. The FIA demanded the bank share data with the agency so that it could be forwarded to their partner agencies in the countries where the crime had originated.

Subcommittee formed

Meanwhile, the law ministry on Wednesday constituted a subcommittee comprising officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, FIA and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to urgently formulate recommendations to deal with all types of electronic crimes and suggest amendments to relevant laws.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee on the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, which was held at the Ministry of Law and Justice.

Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi and Parlia­mentary Secretary for Law Maleeka Bokhari also attended the meeting.

They discussed the need for establishing a forensic agency in collaboration with security agencies. Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem said there was no legal hitch to establish multiple ‘investigating agencies to look into prevention of cybercrimes’.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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Panel needed to probe ‘economic terrorism’: minister

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday called for forming a parliamentary panel to probe issues linked with “economic terrorism”.

Referring to the 5,000 fake bank accounts allegedly used to stash billions of dollars abroad, he said the proposed parliamentary committee would see to whom these accounts belonged to.

Speaking in the Senate, Mr Chaudhry said information received from 10 countries showed that these accounts had been used to launder Rs700 billion. He said the committee should also see as to how allocations made in successive budgets had been spent and why the government was forced to lend money to pay back loans.

The idea was endorsed in principle by Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani who promised to consult the leader of the house and the leader of the opposition in the Senate, besides discussing it with the National Assembly speaker.

Senate sees walkout over Fawad Chaudhry’s remarks against opposition politicians

The information minister regretted the remarks made against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leadership by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mushahidullah Khan on Monday and said the language used was deplorable and the member or his party should tender an apology for it.

The Senate chairman, however, asked the minister not to vitiate the atmosphere, pointing out that the member concerned was not present in the house.

At this, Mr Chaudhry said he too was not present in the house when the PML-N leader made objectionable remarks. He wondered why he could not speak on how the country had been run by the previous governments. Referring to a case relating to illegal construction of shops on the land of Baba Farid shrine in Pakpattan, the permission for which had been granted in 1985 when PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif was the chief minister, Mr Chaudhry said they did not even spare shrines.

The chairman once again interrupted the minister and said the matter was sub judice.

Mr Chaudhry regretted that whenever somebody talked of investigations into corruption, accountability and fake accounts, the atmosphere in the Senate was vitiated. “It is inappropriate to sweep everything under the carpet.”

Things apparently calmed down afterwards, but rumpus ruled the house over the information minister’s remarks in response to a calling-attention notice moved by Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and others raised the issue of slow pace of work on the Quetta airport and use of substandard material.

Mr Kakar regretted that while big airports had been constructed in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, the expansion work on the Quetta airport that was supposed to be completed by December last year was constantly being delayed.

Responding to the notice, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan said the PkMAP remained an ally of the previous PML-N government for five years, but they never bothered to question their allies for the delay.

This infuriated the PkMAP senators who shouted at the minister not to say anything against the previous government and instead focus on the delay.

As if what Mr Khan had said was not enough, the information minister stood up again to hold responsible top opposition leaders by name. He said Zardaris, Achakzais and Fazlur Rahmans were to blame if no uplift work could be carried out in the provinces despite provision of substantial funds. “They are the ones who looted the country.”

He also asked as to where the hefty amount of Rs42 trillion given to Balochistan over the last 10 years had been spent. “Mehmood Khan Achakzai had appointed his brother as governor of the province and had made the whole government his slave and is now giving us lectures,” he said, adding that the opposition had no right to talk like this.

“In which capacity these people are talking as these are the people who are responsible for the backwardness of the province,” he said. “There should be a committee comprising members of the Senate to probe ‘economic terrorism’ by Achakzais and Co.”

As the minister continued to hold allies of the PML-N in Balochistan responsible for the province’s backwardness, the combined opposition parties staged a walkout in protest.

Leader of the House Shibli Faraz, Senator Faisal Javed and Minister for Privatisation Mohammad Mian Soomro tried to persuade the opposition members to come back and join the proceedings, but to no avail.

When the Senate chairman reminded the information minister that it was government’s responsibility to run the house smoothly, the latter retorted that the chair should also show some concern about the ‘poor’ the way he was giving importance to the opposition members.

“Everything is alright if we don’t talk about the corruption of these protesting senators, but the moment we say something about their corruption … they start agitating. We will expose whoever is involved in plundering the national wealth no matter what,” Mr Chaudhry maintained.

In what signalled his readiness to bring his old rivalry with the information minister to an end, Mushahidullah Khan went to Mr Chaudhry and shook hands with him when he was exchanging harsh words with Usman Kakar.

Shibli Faraz proposed development of a code of conduct for the members and expressed his intention to hold a meeting with the opposition leader and parliamentary leaders — an idea that instantly won support of the chair as well.

The house will meet on Thursday (today) at 10.30 am.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Two NAB officers don’t meet criteria of appointment, SC told

ISLAMABAD: A special committee in its report submitted to the Supreme Court has acknowledged that two officers currently working in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) did not meet the required criteria for their appointment.

The report has been finalised in response to a suo motu case against illegalities, contraventions and violations in appointments in the bureau.

It said out of 17 officers under consideration Farman­ullah and Fayyaz Ahmed Qureshi should be repatriated to their parent departments.

Farmanullah was director in NAB Khyber Pakhtun­khwa and Fayyaz Qureshi was director in NAB Sukkur.

The report states that the committee is of the view that Farmanullah, a director in grade-20, cannot be retained in NAB because an experience certificate provided by him could not meet the requirement mentioned in the advertisement for the job.

“The committee recommends that if legally possible he may be repatriated to his parent department,” the report stated.

He belonged to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Physical Plan­ning and Housing Depart­ment and the Frontier High­way Authority, and the committee has noted that the experience certificate submitted by him does not indicate if it is acquired from his previous employer in the fields of investigation, inqui­ries, research and legal matters.

The committee has also recommended that Fayyaz Ahmed Qureshi, who belonged to the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), may be repatriated to his parent department.

It said that his services cannot be retained in NAB because the certificates submitted by him stipulate that his core responsibilities were to analyse, inquire and scrutinise the estimates for approval of competent authority.

The special committee, comprising the Establishment Division secretary, a member of the Federal Public Service Commission and the director general, HR NAB, was constituted on the directives of the Supreme Court.

The committee said that additional director Mubashar Ghulzar could not be retained in NAB, but also the officer could not be repatriated as he had already resigned from his previous organisation.

Other officers mentioned in the report, including Zahir Shah, retired Brig Farooq Naser Awan, Altaf Bawany, Hussain Ahmed, Atiqur Rehman, Mirza Sultan Saleem, Masood Alam, Mirza Irfan, Nauman Aslam, Raza Khan, Abdul Hafeez Khan, Mujahid Akbar Baloch, S. M. Hasnain, Abdul Hafeez Siddiqui, Zafar Iqbal Khan, Ghulam Farooq and retired Lt Col Tariq Mehmood Bhatti, will be retained by NAB.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018

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Fawad urges religious leaders, society to take ownership of ‘fight of ideologies’

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday stressed that recent protests had “nothing to do with religion, but were about politics”, and urged religious leaders and members of society to take ownership of a fight against ‘extremist ideologies’.

During a press briefing in Lahore regarding the upcoming ‘Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conferences’ being held nationwide this month, the minister described love for the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) as the foundation of Islam and claimed that “a group of people is trying to misuse the issue for political gain”.

Take a look: ,Govt deal with protesters was ‘firefighting’, not a cure to the problem: Fawad Chaudhry,

Chaudhry asserted that recent protests had “nothing to do with religion, but were about politics”. He claimed that certain groups “play politics in the name of religion”, and that “religion had nothing to do with all this activity”.

He questioned why a “particular segment of society needs to use this issue for its politics” and does so by “bringing up a new issue every week”.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader was of the opinion that recent protests following the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court were not a crisis for the government, but the symptom of a crisis being faced by society.

Describing the situation as a “fight of ideologies”, the information minister claimed that these groups are “taking advantage of religious leaders’ and society’s lack of ownership of this fight”.

“When you can’t present an argument against a different argument, and you are protesting against a Supreme Court verdict which no one has read, then there an ideological crisis takes birth,” Chaudhry said.

“The state’s failure was that it cannot safeguard those who had a counter-argument. One side had an argument and they also had weapons, while people on the other side were unarmed. Until the state can ensure a level playing field, the issue cannot be resolved,” he said.

He encouraged people belonging to religious segments of society and other citizens to come forward to counter such groups.

“The first rebellion against these people should have come from religious segments [in society], but unfortunately it is not the case because of certain facts,” he said. “Keep in mind, it is a fight of ideas, and the war of ideologies is not fought with weapons but with arguments.”

He added that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the availability of an environment where everyone can present their arguments.

“We are holding a ‘Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conference’ at a national level for the first time,” Chaudhry said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan would inaugurate the event on Nov 20.

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while speaking to the Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, had said that the government wishes to present an image of peaceful Islam before the world, ,Radio Pakistan, reported.

He said that it was the responsibility of the state to present the true teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to the next generation, the report added.

For this purpose, ‘Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conferences’ will be held across the country, while a two-day ‘Khatm-i-Nabuwwat International Conference’ will be held in Islamabad, he said, adding that the Imam-i-Kaaba, Vice Chancellor of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the Mufti of Syria, and religious scholars from Iraq and Tunisia will be in attendance and shed light on different aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

PM Khan had also said that research on the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would be promoted under the government’s supervision.

Arrangements for Eid-i-Miladun Nabi

Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, while chairing a meeting of the organising committee for conference preparations on Saturday, had said that the occasion of Eid-i-Miladun Nabi would be celebrated with due honour and respect, Radio Pakistan reported.

He said that special functions and ceremonies would be arranged during Rabiul Awwal in which the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would be highlighted.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that arrangements would be made for the coverage of processions taken out on the 12th of Rabiul Awwal, and that state-owned PTV and Radio Pakistan would air qirat, naats and other programmes on the occasion, along with special programmes to highlight the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings.

The month of Rabiul Awwal began on Saturday, Nov 10, and Eid-i-Miladun Nabi will fall on Nov 21.

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PCB terminates franchise agreement with Schon Group for Multan Sultans

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Saturday that the agreement which gave franchise rights of Multan Sultans PSL team to the Schon Group has been terminated.

A joint statement issued by the PCB and Schon Properties Broker LLC said all rights in respect of the sixth Pakistan Super League (PSL) team have reverted back to the board as a result of the agreement’s termination.

“The termination was brought about due to the former franchisee’s inability to meet its financial obligations under the agreement,” the statement revealed.

Dubai-based Schon Group had ,acquired the Multan franchise, for an eight-year contract worth $5.2 million (per annum) in a bid held last year, surpassing Karachi Kings as the most expensive franchise.

The PCB statement confirms that the fourth edition of PSL will go ahead as planned with six teams and the same number of matches.

“The board shall take complete responsibility of all player and coach contracts,” it said, adding that pending further updates, the team will be referred to as “The Sixth Team” of PSL.

The team selection for the Sixth Team at the player draft scheduled for November 20 will be done by the PCB itself, according to the statement.

A public tender process will then be started to grant repackaged rights of the team, the board has stated.

“The rights holder would have the option of choosing the sixth franchise city and name,” said PCB.

Asher Schon of the Schon Group was quoted as saying in the statement: “It has been a privilege being a PSL team owner over the past year. I am proud of the support Schon has always extended to Pakistan cricket and current affairs notwithstanding, will continue to passionately support it.”

PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani said the dissolution of the agreement was unfortunate, but that it was necessary that the contract obligations are abided by.

“While this is an unfortunate turn of events, we have to ensure strict adherence to contractual obligations for the well-being of PSL. We wish Schon Group well with their future endeavours,” Mani was quoted as saying.

“I want to reassure our partners… that the Pakistan Super League will take place as planned,” he added.

The fourth season of the PSL will commence in the UAE on February 14, 2019.

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Shahbaz Sharif’s physical remand extended for 14 days

An accountability court in Lahore on Saturday extended the physical remand of Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif until November 24.

Sharif was produced before court today for a hearing of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal scandal following the ,expiration of his transit remand,. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had requested the court to extend by 15 days the physical remand of the PML-N president, who was arrested on corruption allegations last month.

After listening to the arguments of both parties, the court had reserved its verdict.

NAB prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua said that the anti-corruption body was unable to hold an inquiry due to Sharif’s “engagements in the National Assembly and [his] other activities as leader of the opposition”. Last month, NAB had secured a transit remand of Sharif, after which he was taken to Islamabad so he could attend parliamentary sessions.

Sharif rejected NAB’s claim and countered: “I can say under oath that they have been interrogating me even when my production orders [were issued].”

Amjad Pervaiz, the accused’s counsel, objected to NAB’s demand for another remand and said that the body’s appeal was “not in accordance with the law”.

“NAB’s latest request is on fake grounds,” he said. “This court is not bound to automatically grant a 90-day remand of a suspect.”

Pervaiz added that his client had cooperated with NAB’s investigation, but the latter had been unable to bring forth any corruption charges against Sharif.

The NAB prosecutor responded that the feasibility report of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme was prepared by Ahad Cheema, the former director general of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), who is also accused in the case.

“Will you proceed further from the feasibility report?” accountability judge Syed Najmul Hasan asked Janju, possibly referring to the NAB prosecutor’s similar argument in the previous hearing.

Sharif’s counsel, in response to NAB’s argument, said that Sharif had “nothing to do with any report prepared by the LDA or anyone else”.

He further said that NAB can interrogate Sharif in the jail, where the opposition leader was being held.

“They can send him a questionnaire in jail,” Pervaiz said. “There is no need for a physical remand.”

Janjua, during the hearing, informed the court that Sharif was nominated and under arrest in the Ramzan Sugar Mills corruption case as well.

“DG NAB has become a party to the case”

Sharif’s counsel also brought up Director General of NAB Lahore Saleem Shahzad’s appearances on different news channels and said that the latter had become a “party to the case”.

Pervaiz said that Shahzad had issued statements on sub-judice matters on multiple TV channels.

“Haven’t you recorded your protest on the highest forum?” the judge asked, referring to a ,privilege motion, that was moved on the matter by the opposition in the National Assembly a day earlier.

“This court is my forum and I will present my point of view here,” Pervaiz answered.

Hamza Shahbaz was also present in court for the hearing today.

Contingents of police were posted inside and outside the accountability court before Sharif’s arrival.

Several PML-N workers gathered outside the court ahead of Sharif’s appearance and tried to enter the building which led to a clash with police, who resorted to baton charge to bring the situation under control.

Allegations against Sharif

According to a NAB notice sent to the former Punjab chief minister on January 16, 2018, Sharif is accused of ordering the cancellation of award of contract of Ashiana-i-Iqbal to successful bidder Chaudhry Latif and Sons, and engineering the award of the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, a proxy group of Paragon City Private Limited, which resulted in the loss of approximately Rs193 million.

He is also accused of directing the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to assign the Ashiana-i-Iqbal project to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), resulting in the award of contract to Lahore Casa Developers, causing a loss of Rs715m and the ultimate failure of the project.

NAB has also accused Sharif of directing the PLDC to award the consultancy services of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal project to Engineering Consultancy Services Punjab (ECSP) for Rs 192m while the actual cost was supposed to be Rs35m as quoted by Nespak.

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