Posts Tagged ‘sindh’

HRCP pessimistic about free, fair election

I. A. Rehman speaks at the press conference.

I. A. Rehman speaks at the press conference.

ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has predicted that the coming general elections will be the dirtiest, most micromanaged and most intensively participated polls in the country’s history.

Speaking at a news conference held a few hours after his meeting with the chief election commissioner (CEC) on Monday, HRCP spokesperson I.A. Rehman said that the commission had received complaints which were contrary to the spirit of elections.

Take a look: ,July 25 elections will be fairest in country’s history: PTI,

“We have serious doubts that elections will be free and fair. Before elections, efforts have been started to pressurise candidates to return tickets. Moreover, we have serious reservations about the use of military troops inside polling stations. So the issue was taken up with the CEC and he assured that officials will not go inside election booths,” he said.

Mr Rehman said that recently the Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ political agent had called a meeting of tribal elites on the general elections and told them what was in the interest of the country.

Spokesperson predicts July 25 polls will be the dirtiest, most micromanaged and most intensively participated in country’s history

“In 2013 some political parties were targeted and ‘favoured ones’ were not targeted by terrorists — the same is the situation again. Registration of cases under the Anti-Terrorism Act against political workers is condemnable,” he said.

Mr Rehman said that during the meeting the CEC listened to his questions and replied to some of them.

“He was told that what happened with Dawn newspaper, and what happened with The News till they developed an ‘understanding’ with the Inter-Services Public Relations. It was also informed that newspapers were reluctant to publish advertisements of some persons. The CEC said he was ready to take action but evidence should be given to him. When it was told that heads of proscribed organisations were working, the CEC said please let me know if any banned organisation is working,” he said.

Mr Rehman suggested that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) look into the issue and take action in this regard. Answering questions, he said an environment had been created in which people were scared of sharing their affiliation with political parties. He said it was nothing but a symptom of downfall.

HRCP council member Advocate Hina Jilani said that a number of incidents of violence had taken place over the past few days. She said the ECP should use military to ensure peace during election campaigns.

“Forces which should have been eradicated still exist and they are striking. There is a section of political class which is more targeted. We are convinced that elections are conducted in an environment which will affect the results. Political engineering and media management are being done,” she alleged.

Ms Jilani said hate speeches were being delivered. One political party’s advertisement is trying to portray that a personality has connection with a neighbouring country.

“As a whole political engineering is being done, people are forced to quit political parties and we have credible accounts. The ECP is empowered to deal with such issues. Inclusion of military should be only for the security but it has been given more powers which have created doubts,” she added.

Marvi Sirmed, another HRCP council member, said that it was unfortunate that banned organisations were being allowed to take part in the elections and no one was ready to take the responsibility.

According to a statement shared during the press conference, the HRCP has serious reservations over the extraordinary powers accorded to security forces — ostensibly to ensure the integrity of the polls. That some 350,000 security personnel are to be deployed outside as well as inside polling stations, and that military functionaries have been assigned magistrate’s powers on the premises, has blurred the line between civilian and non-civilian responsibility for the electoral process.

The HRCP is deeply concerned that the political class is being selectively squeezed. This is apparent from reports that members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are being pressurised to switch political loyalties, that candidates are being asked to return their tickets, and that electoral opposition to two mainstream parties — the PML-N in Punjab and the Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh — is being ‘manufactured’ in strategic areas.

The HRCP is strongly concerned over the recent curbs on the print and broadcast media — specifically, the numerous instances in which journalists perceived as favouring the PML-N or PPP or deemed critical of the security establishment have been subject to censorship, intimidation, harassment and abduction.

The undeclared curbs on distribution in the case of Dawn and The News in cantonments, and earlier attempts to block the transmission of Geo TV are tantamount to denying people access to reports and analysis of electoral issues. Such pressures on the media serve to manipulate public opinion, forestall critical debate and leave powerful institutions unaccountable to the public.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2018

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‘No confidence in ATC judge’: Naqeebullah’s father wants case moved to another court

The father of Naqeebullah Mehsud — a Waziristan native killed in a ,staged encounter, in Karachi earlier this year — on Monday moved an application requesting that the case concerning his son’s murder be transferred to another court as he has lost confidence in the ability of Special Judge Anti-Terrorism Court-II Khalida Yaseen to conduct a fair trial.

Naqeeb’s father Mohammad Khan and his lawyers boycotted today’s court proceedings and instead submitted an application complaining that the ATC judge had unduly favoured the prime accused — the powerfurl former SSP Malir, Rao Anwar.

The application stated that the judge repeatedly failed to take action against the undue favours granted to Anwar, who was the only accused in the case brought to court with full protocol and without handcuffs and a prisoner’s uniform.

The application also states that the judge failed to act against the investigating officer in the case when he failed to submit his reports in the case on time.

The complainant’s lawyer alleged that some of the witnesses in the case had also ,been threatened, into retracting their statements, but the judge did not take any action over it.

“We are also very disappointed as it seems that there appears to be collusion between the prosecution and defence because despite our transfer application and despite opposition of his fellow prosecutors, one of the prosecutors proceeded with the bail application,” the lawyer later said in a statement issued to the media.

Meanwhile, Anwar advised the complainant to focus on the case and maintained that no evidence is available against him and the other accused.

Anwar had earlier been found by two separate joint investigation teams (JITs) to have been involved in the staged ‘encounter’ that led to the murder of Naqeeb and three others. One JIT had been formed by the inspector general (IG) of Sindh, and the other by the Supreme Court.

Nonetheless, Anwar’s ,bail application was accepted, last week and the court, in its written order, ruled that he ,had not been present,t at the scene of the crime.

The judge had written in the order that there was no doubt as per the enquiry report Naqeeb had been killed in a fake encounter. It had also conceded that Naqeebullah, alias Naseebullah, was a ‘liberal man’ and did not have any ‘extremist tendency’.

Naqeeb’s father had also earlier objected to ,Anwar’s detention at his home, in Malir, which which was declared a sub-jail reportedly due to security issues.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - July 16, 2018 at 3:25 pm

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Zardari slams terrorism cases against PML-N members

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari has condemned initiation of terrorism ,cases against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers, in Punjab, saying every citizen has the democratic right to hold rallies and public meetings.

“Political activists are the strength of democracy and democratic process,” Mr Zardari said in a statement issued by his party’s Central Media Office on Sunday.

The former president also expressed concerns over curbs on freedom of expression, saying his party would not tolerate such steps. He boasted that there was no political prisoner during the five years of the PPP government, from 2008 to 2013.

The top PPP leader issued the statement a day after it was reported that PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shahbaz, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and 50 other leaders of the party had been booked under terrorism and other charges for “inciting” the crowd to violate law in Lahore on Friday at the time of arrival of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz from London.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyam Aurangzeb, former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq and senior leader Javed Hashmi are among those booked.

PPP spokesman says only one party being allowed to run campaign smoothly

The FIR lodged with the Lohari police station accuses Shahbaz and former MNA Hamza of pelting the law enforcement agencies officials with stones allegedly with an intention to kill them. The main allegations against the PML-N leaders include damaging public buildings and properties, hurling threats and injuring the law enforcement agencies officials. They have also been accused of interfering in the official work, violating Section 144 of the PPC and the code of conduct issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the candidates, besides holding illegal assemblies and rallies.

According to Lahore police, a total of 12 FIRs have been lodged against the suspects, including the former prime minister and former Punjab chief minister.

Mr Zardari said it was the responsibility of the ECP to provide a conducive environment to all the political parties participating in the elections.

Without naming Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, who passed some objectionable remarks against the PML-N workers and leaders, Mr Zardari said that “bullet and bad-mouthing are the enemies of democracy”.

“One should not resort to foul language in politics. The people who are always bad-mouthing others cannot serve the nation,” he said.

The former president said that despite security concerns, PPP chairman and his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari could not be kept away from the people.

Condemning firing on rally of a PPP candidate in Dadu, he asked the Sindh government to immediately arrest the culprits.

In a separate statement, PPP spokesman Senator Moula Bakhsh Chandio criticised the caretaker government and the ECP for not taking adequate measures to provide security to election candidates in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in the country.

He said it was surprising that instead of providing security the caretaker government was asking the parties under threat to stop their election campaigns. “Those who are being attacked by the terrorists are being asked to stop campaigning,” the senator said, adding: “When terrorists issue us threats, the government asks us to stay indoors.”

“The caretaker governments must tell the nation, who is to decide about the elections? People of Pakistan or the terrorists?” he asked.

Without naming the PTI, Mr Chandio alleged that only one party was being allowed to run its election campaign smoothly. The other politicians were being warned against possibility of terrorist attacks.

“How it is possible that a political leader has the permission to hold public meetings wherever he wants and others are stopped? There is some nexus. It is the duty of the ECP and the caretaker government to find out this nexus,” said the senator in an apparent reference to the claim of the PPP and the PML-N that the PTI was being supported by the establishment.

Mr Chandio said if the ECP remained silent over the situation then questions would be raised about election results. He, however, said the PPP would continue its election campaign despite all the negative tactics.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018

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Fafen to monitor polls in all 272 NA constituencies

ISLAMABAD: The Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) — a coalition of over 50 leading civil society organisations — will deploy 19,000 observers across 272 National Assembly constituencies to monitor voting and counting processes at 85 per cent of the total polling stations to be set up by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the July 25 elections.

According to a press release issued on Sunday, Fafen will deploy 9,884 observers in Punjab, 4,225 in Sindh, 3,549 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including tribal districts), 1,117 in Balochistan and 225 in Islamabad Capital Territory.

Fafen’s accredited, non-partisan and trained observers will observe the election day environment outside polling stations, incidents of electoral and political violence, if any, pre-polling preparations at polling stations, voting, vote counting and ECP forms-filling processes and barriers to women voting.

Fafen observers will be trained to gather required data and documents from assigned polling stations to enable the network to conduct parallel vote tabulations (PVTs) in up to 272 National Assembly constituencies. The PVTs will provide a comparison of a statistically-valid sample of polling stations’ vote-tallies gathered by the observers against official copies of the election forms.

Fafen will also observe vote consolidation process at the offices of returning officers through 272 consistency coordinators. Based on its observation, it will release its preliminary report on July 27.

Fafen has already been observing the pre-election phase through 272 constituency coordinators and 130 district coordinators to provide an assessment of political environment and implementation of election-related laws, rules and regulations since January. The purpose of this observation is to contribute to the evolution of an election process that is free, fair, transparent, accountable and in accordance with the requirements laid out in the Elections Act 2017.

Based on its observation, Fafen has produced periodic updates, information briefs and reports in an effort to provide objective, unbiased and evidence-based information about the quality of electoral and political processes to the ECP, political parties, media, civil society organisations and the citizens.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018

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Teenager dies, 15 hurt as swing ride comes apart at Karachi’s Askari Amusement Park

An evening meant for fun and relaxation turned into a nightmare on Sunday as a swing ride at the newly-opened Askari Amusement Park in Karachi’s PIB Colony fell apart, crushing at least 16 underneath it, police said.

Karachi Deputy Inspector General (DIG) East Zone Amir Farooqi told Dawn that bolts of the ride had come apart causing it to fall down.

The injured persons were shifted to different hospitals where a 16-year-old girl was pronounced dead.

One person earlier reported to be buried under the debris, was later evacuated and taken to the hospital for treatment.

Additional police surgeon of Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi told Dawn that the teenage girl, Kashaf Samad, had already expired when brought in. The victim was a resident of Sharafabad.

Ride falls in Askari Park ,#Karachi, this evening. At least 12 people were taken to hospital. Unconfirmed reports say one person lost his life in the incident. ,pic.twitter.com/Jf9KQrDpKj,

— azhar khan (@azharkhn4) ,July 15, 2018,

Courtesy Azhar Khan

Dr Abbasi added that a 23-year-old male, Ibrahim Yasin was also brought for treatment at the hospital.

“We received seven persons brought for treatment at Liaquat National Hospital,” said the hospital’s spokesperson, Anjum Rizvi. All have been shifted to the emergency ward.

“At this moment, nothing can be said about condition of the injured persons,” added Rizvi.

“Seven injured males, aged between 12 to 15 years were brought for treatment at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC),” said police surgeon, Dr Aijaz Khokhar.

Taking immediate notice of the incident, Inspector General (IG) Sindh Amjad Javed Saleemi ordered the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) East to provide emergency rescue services to all those affected at the park.

He also issued directives for the police to ensure cooperation of park officials so that details of the incident can be properly uncovered.

Caretaker chief minister Fazlur Rehman has ordered that all the injured be provided treatment at the finest hospitals in the city which will be paid for by the Sindh government.

Additionally, Sindh chief secretary Retd Major Azam Suleman Khan also took notice of the incident, directing the city commissioner to visit the park and the hospitals were the wounded had been taken.

The chief secretary has ordered the closure of the park — along with all other amusement parks in the province — for three days so a technical inspection can be carried out.

He also established an inquiry team led by Deputy Commissioner East, which has been directed to submit its report within 24 hours regarding the incident.

Gulshan Superintendent Police (SP) Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto identified some of the injured persons as Saima, Hifza, Saira Shah, Babar, Suleman, Areeba and Mujeeb.

Located inside Old Sabzi Mandi, the park was inaugurated during Eidul Fitr amid much fanfare. It attracted huge crowds during the Eid holidays last month and on weekends.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - July 15, 2018 at 7:25 pm

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MQM-P unveils election manifesto, proposes creation of new provinces

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Saturday announced the party’s manifesto for the upcoming general elections.

The manifesto titled “Empowered Pakistan” focuses on the devolution of power from central level to local bodies and proposes the creation of new provinces.

The complete version can be read ,here,.

Key points:

  • Devolution of power

  • Empowerment of local bodies

  • Creation of new administrative units

  • Transforming traditional democracy into participatory democracy

  • Establishing unity of command

  • Curbing money laundering and adopting realistic economic goals

  • Easy access to basic facilities

New administrative units within provinces

MQM-P proposes the creation of new provinces or “administration units” within Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan “for delivery of effective services to the people and more importantly for a balance[d] growth of all regions simultaneously”.

The newly released manifesto also repeats the party’s core demand for the empowerment of local body governments.

While announcing the key points of the manifesto, Siddiqui said Pakistan was in dire need of good governance and claimed that decentralisation of power will improve the country’s system.

“The demand [for devolution of power] is in accordance with the Constitution,” Siddiqui said and referred to ,Article 140 of the Constitution,, that concerns the local government. According to Article 140, all “political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority” must be devolved to elected representatives of local governments.

MQM-P proposes “full empowerment” of representatives of local bodies and to abolish the “unnatural six districts of Karachi” thus restoring the city to its “fully autonomous metropolitan corporation” status.

Change in traditional democracy

The party expresses its belief that the country’s “traditional democracy” should be transformed into “participatory democracy”, in order to end discriminatory allocation of distribution funds, recruitment of candidates without merit, postings and transfers of “blue-eyed boys [of those in power] against key jobs” etc.

To ensure that power is more evenly distributed, the party proposes a change in electoral laws to make them more inclusive, elimination of quota system, increase in forums for youth and women at tehsil level to ensure their participation etc.

The MQM-P’s manifesto also proposes provision and easy access to basic facilities like health and education for the masses.

Economic challenges and proposals

The manifesto also addresses the economic challenges being faced by the country, including Pakistan’s placement on Financial Action Task Force’s ‘grey list’.

It proposes measures to ensure an improvement in the economy in coming years, including increased checks and balances on “agents who are helping the unscrupulous big businesses to indulge in money laundering”. It urges future authorities to stop setting “artificial targets ” for growth and instead adopt a “pragmatic approach” to “ease the situation”.

The party also calls for a reduction in federal government’s spending, “drastic cuts” in the import of non-essential or luxury goods. Strengthening public sector enterprises like PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills etc. is also included in the party’s recommendations.

Peace and policing

In order to avoid confusion and strengthen the policing system, MQM-P manifesto proposes that the state establishes a “unity of command”, under which the police and Sindh Rangers will be answerable to the provincial government.

The manifesto also calls for prison reforms and an upgrade in police infrastructure.

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Zardari, Faryal Talpur’s names placed on ECL ‘as per court orders’, clarifies interior minister

Caretaker Interior Minister Azam Khan on Friday clarified that the names of former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur have been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) following the court’s orders, DawnNewsTV reported.

“The Supreme Court had issued orders for the immediate placement on the ECL of all those implicated in the case, including Zardari and his sister,” maintained Khan.

The court order was issued in the wake of an ongoing Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) investigation pursuing a fake bank accounts case. “All those named [in court's order] have been placed on the ECL,” the interior minister added.

Earlier, the ,Supreme Court had ordered the interior ministry, to immediately place the names of a number of individuals identified as accused by the FIA on the ECL so that they might not leave the country until the investigation was concluded or till further orders.

Read next: ,Zardari rejects money laundering allegations, condemns the ‘torture’ of Lawai,

However, on Thursday the chief justice wondered how an impression was created in the media that the apex court had ordered placing the names of Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur on the ECL when ,nothing of the sort had been stated,.

“We did not even summon Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur in person before the court,” the chief justice explained.

The interior minister, however, insists that the interior ministry has possession of the court’s written order which had listed the name of Asif Ali Zardari along with others found complicit.

“Given the situation that has developed we are reviewing our options,” he said.

The chief justice said on Thursday that a new joint investigation team (JIT) could be set up to probe the case, which concerns a 2015 FIA investigation into fake accounts and fictitious transactions worth up to Rs35 billion conducted through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL.

Seven individuals are believed to be involved in the suspicious transactions, and the fake accounts have allegedly been used to channel funds received through heavy bribes and kickbacks.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - July 13, 2018 at 5:25 pm

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As election violence rises, ECP seeks answers from Nacta

With terrorist incidents ,experiencing an upsurge, ahead of the July 25 countrywide polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday summoned officials of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) to deliver a briefing over the security threats faced by election candidates.

The commission directed Nacta’s national coordinator to appear before it on Saturday and provide a detailed briefing to the chief election commissioner (CEC) over security threats being faced by politicians and candidates, an ECP spokesman said.

Issuing the order, CEC Sardar Muhammad Raza strongly condemned an ,attack, near the convoy of former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Akram Khan Durrani in Bannu earlier in the day. He sought a report into the incident from the caretaker chief minister, inspector general of police and chief secretary of KP.

Hours after the Nacta briefing was called, a suicide bomber ,targeted a political gathering organised by Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, in Balochistan’s Mastung district.

As per latest reports, at least 85 people, including Raisani, were killed in the attack. More than 150 were injured. The militant Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Editorial: ,Violence on the campaign trail,

According to the ECP spokesman, the CEC has directed all federal and provincial governments to take steps to create a peaceful and favourable atmosphere for the elections and provide security to all candidates without any discrimination.

Referring to the Bannu incident, the CEC was quoted as saying: “The KP government should explain why adequate security steps were not taken despite repeated instructions from the ECP to ensure candidates’ security.”

The blast targeting Durrani was the third major attack in KP during electioneering, just days ahead of the general election 2018. On Monday, Awami National Party (ANP) candidate from Peshawar’s PK-78 Haroon Bilour, and 19 others, were ,killed in a suicide blast,.

The attack was claimed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which had also claimed responsibility for 2012 attack that killed Haroon’s father, Bashir Bilour.

Last night (Thusday), at least two people were ,injured in a blast, near the election office of Balochistan Awami Party in Khuzdar

Earlier this month, an attack on a PTI candidate’s office in North Waziristan’s Razmak tehsil had injured 10.

Meanwhile, the commission has declared more than 17,000 polling stations in the country as extremely sensitive.

According to the ECP, a total of 5,487 polling stations have been declared in Punjab and Islamabad, 5,878 polling stations in Sindh, 3,874 in KP and 1,768 in Balochistan.

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SC puts on hold FIA probe against Zardari, Faryal till polls

FORMER chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange Hussain Lawai being produced before apex court on Thursday.—Online

FORMER chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange Hussain Lawai being produced before apex court on Thursday.—Online

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday restrained the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from pursuing its investigation against PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in the fake bank accounts case till the coming general elections are over.

“We do not want excuses that the July 25 elections are rigged,” observed Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar while hearing a suo motu case regarding the slow-paced investigation on part of the FIA in pending inquiries relating to fake accounts and suspicious transactions worth Rs35 billion. These accounts were allegedly used for transactions of heavy amounts obtained through receiving bribes and kickbacks.

The apex court also explained that its July 9 order had not asked for placing the names of the two leaders on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, a member of the bench, cautioned FIA Director General Bashir Memon to ensure that no complaint of harassment was made during the investigation, suggesting that the agency should not summon anyone who was not related to the investigation.

Explains that no order has been issued to put names of two leaders on ECL

The complaints of corruption should always be probed, the court said but clarified that the present hearing was not aimed at damaging the credibility or harming the integrity of any individual named as accused in the case.

“We will hear the case of those who have been put on the ECL and decide the case after hearing them while remaining within the confines of the law,” the chief justice said.

The case revolves around a 2015 inquiry into the suspicious transactions when 29 ‘benami’ accounts were identified of which 16 were opened in the Summit bank, eight in the Sindh Bank and five in the United Bank Limited. Seven individuals were involved in suspiciously transacting Rs35bn through these accounts.

Removed chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange Hussain Lawai, said to be a close aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari, and co-accused Taha Raza, corporate unit head of the Summit Bank, have been ,arrested by the FIA, in the case.

Earlier, the ,Supreme Court had ordered the interior ministry, to immediately place the names of a number of individuals identified as accused by the FIA on the ECL so that they might not leave the country until the investigation was concluded or till further orders.

The individuals are: Anwer Majeed, Abdul Ghani Majeed, Aslam Masood, Arif Khan, Noreen Sultan, Kiran Aman, Summit Bank Chairman Naseer Abdullah Lootah, Muhammad Iqbal Khan Noori, Muhammad Ashraf, Muhammad Iqbal Araen, Muhammad Umair, Adnan Jawed, Qasim Ali and Azam Wazir Khan.

On Thursday the chief justice wondered how an impression was created in the media that the apex court had ordered placing the names of Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur on the ECL when ,nothing of the sort had been stated,.

“We did not even summon Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur in person before the court,” the chief justice explained.

Pointing to senior PPP leader Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the chief justice observed that he should have removed vagueness if he had any about the orders before briefing his party after attending a meeting on the subject. If he felt any ambiguity, he should have moved an application to seek clarity on the order.

Farooq H. Naek, another PPP leader and lawyer, regretted that the FIA had hurled allegations that Mr Zardari had received Rs15 million in his accounts when he was not a director of the Zardari Group Pvt Ltd.

Moreover, the FIA had appointed Najaf Mirza head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) it had constituted to investigate the matter, he said, recalling that Mr Mirza as the then superintendent of Karachi jail had been accused of inflicting a wound on the tongue of Mr Zardari during an investigation in 2005. His name had been mentioned in the FIR registered on behalf of Mr Zardari.

The court, however, observed that no official could be removed unless he had been heard by the court, adding that Mr Naek should file an application to raise the apprehensions he had expressed.

The court, however, asked the FIA not to summon Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur or any one contesting elections until the polls were over, emphasising again that the elections would be held in a fair and impartial manner.

The court regretted the role of the State Bank of Pakistan which it said had taken three days to open the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams Fund and even avoided to take up the call of the apex court’s registrar.

Senior counsel Raza Kazim told the court that he was representing 76-year-old Anwar Majeed who was a heart patient. The court said that the case was in preliminary stage and Mr Majeed would be summoned whenever needed.

On a query, the FIA DG told the court that the banks had started cooperating with the agency but the court said that the FIA would need the assistance of experts, offering to appoint a JIT of experts with clean background.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018

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PPP, PML-N come closer on issue of ‘interference’ in polls

ISLAMABAD: The two major political parties and arch-rivals of the past — Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) — seem to be coming closer on some issues ahead of the general elections as they lashed out at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the caretaker government on Thursday for their alleged failure to provide a level playing field to the parties.

Also read: ,Elections already stand rigged, alleges PPP’s ex-senator,

Speaking on “matters of public importance” in the Senate, a majority of the members questioned the “larger role” given to the army in the conduct of elections and asked Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to summon the chief election commissioner and the ECP secretary before the Committee of the Whole House to seek an explanation over the commission’s “failure” to play its constitutional role in ensuring the elections in a transparent manner.

Earlier, the former ruling PML-N had been making a hue and cry over the role of the institutions, particularly the judiciary, ECP and National Accountability Bureau (NAB), but now the PPP has also joined its voice with the former on the floor of the Senate, only days after the Federal Investigation Agency summoned former president Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in a “fake bank accounts” case.

The PPP senators were enraged over the decision of the caretaker government to place the names of Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur on the Exit Control List (ECL). They said caretaker Interior Minister Muhammad Azam Khan had stated on the floor of the house that the names of the PPP leaders had been placed on the ECL on the orders of the Supreme Court whereas the apex court had clarified that it had not issued any such directive. Former interior minister Rehman Malik demanded an apology from those who had “defamed” the party leadership.

Senators lambaste ECP, caretaker govt for not playing constitutional role

The senators also expressed concern over the deteriorating law and order situation and criticised the caretaker government for “not providing security to the election candidates”.

The senators also accused NAB of becoming a tool in the hands of the “establishment”.

PPP stalwart and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani said the July 25 elections had already become “controversial due to meddling” by an institution and “failure” of the ECP to play its constitutional role. He said the PPP had even named the army’s colonels and majors interfering in the poll process. He alleged that the candidates were being pressurised to either change their parties or withdraw from the race.

“Where is the defence minister? He should come and explain this interference,” he said, adding that ECP officials should be called before the house to explain as to what role it had assigned to the army and what powers it had given to the troops.

“NAB can only see two parties. The third one is invisible to it. Are the lotas (turncoats) who had switched allegiance and joined a different party above blame now? Why are they not being held accountable?” he asked.

Leader of the Opposition Sherry Rehman alleged that the PPP was being stopped from running its election campaign. She regretted that the party was facing a complete media blackout. The media was facing the worst kind of censorship and they had earlier seen such tactics only during the military rule of Gen Ziaul Haq, she added.

Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party termed the July 25 elections “a fight between the political parties and the establishment”.

“The ECP and all other institutions have become dysfunctional. Practically, there is a martial law in the country. Media is facing worst censorship. All the institutions are being forced to seek direction from the GHQ,” he said, adding that the country was being treated like an “occupied state”.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Shibli Faraz rejected the allegations that his party was being supported by the establishment and said that an impression was being created that the ECP was not providing a level playing field. He said the two parties [PML-N and PPP] had once again joined hands as they knew that their era was about to be over.

Mr Faraz claimed that the PTI would form the government after the July 25 elections and said that if the state institutions were not functioning properly then these two parties were responsible for it as they had been in power for the last 10 years.

PML-N’s Mussadiq Malik expressed concern over the reports of a large number of arrests of the party workers in various parts of the country. He alleged that a new alliance had been formed in Sindh.

“There are ‘jeeps’ in the elections which are hitting democracy”, he said in an apparent reference to the reports that a number of independents contesting the election on the symbol of “jeep” are backed by the establishment.

Prof Sajid Mir of the Jamiat Ahle Hadith, who had been elected senator on a PML-N ticket, asked the parties to unite against interference of one “institution”.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018

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Army to have no role in poll results transmission: ECP

ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad says security cameras will be installed at 18,000  polling stations across the country.

ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad says security cameras will be installed at 18,000 polling stations across the country.

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said on Thursday that the army would not have a role in the transmission of election results the responsibility for which would remain with presiding officers, and stressed that the commission had complete control of the electoral exercise.

“The army will only provide security in accordance with the Constitution and will have nothing to do with the conduct of elections,” ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad told a press conference on Thursday.

He rejected the claims that the army had been given extraordinary powers in connection with the elections.

Also read: ,The ECP has given magisterial powers to army officers on election duty, but what does that really mean?,

The army would have the same powers it had in previous elections, he said, and added that the army had been deployed at polling stations in a number of by-polls held in previous years on the demand of major political parties.

Secretary says 108 candidature cases are still pending with courts

Asserting that the control of elections remained with the ECP, he said the polling staff had been appointed and trained by the ECP, scrutiny of nomination papers was conducted by returning officers drawn from the judiciary, ballot papers were printed by the ECP, a polling scheme was prepared by the returning officers and so on.

Nevertheless, the ECP appears to be in a fix as it has over 100 cases involving nomination of candidates for National and Provincial Assemblies still pending in courts of law.

In what puts a big question mark on the fate of the polls which are less than two weeks away, the cases of 108 candidates out of a total 849 contenders for National and Provincial Assemblies are pending in the courts, with 81 in Sindh alone, followed by 22 in Punjab and five in Balochistan.

Mr Fateh said the printing of ballot papers for many of such constituencies had been put on hold. He, however, expressed the confidence that the cases would be decided soon to enable the ECP to get the ballot papers printed and transported down to the polling stations on time.

He said under the plan, the printing of ballot papers is to be completed by July 20, and transported to polling stations by July 24. He said most of the election material including ballot boxes, partition screens, tamper evident bags and stationery bags had already been transported to polling stations.

Condemning the recent suicide attack on a corner meeting of the Awami National Party in Peshawar, he said it proved that the law and order situation in the country was not normal and that the ‘monster’ continued to rear its head. He described the decision to deploy the army at all 85,000 polling stations as timely and right. “It would have been too late had we started efforts for it today,” he remarked.

Mr Fateh said security cameras will be installed at 18,000 polling stations around the country. He said under the standard operating procedure, those cameras would not be installed at places where the secrecy of vote could be compromised.

About the accusations made by some lawmakers that candidates belonging to their parties were ,being harassed and intimated, and a level playing field had been denied to them, he asked the political parties to formally reveal the names of those intimidating them.

Answering a question, he said the National Counter terrorism authority (Nacta) had ,shared the specifics of the threats to political leaders and candidates, with the ECP, and said the ECP would continue to liaise with Nacta. He said there was a threat of candidates being targeted and asked the provincial governments to remain vigilant.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018

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PPP ‘planning’ attacks against GDA leaders, Sindh govt’s alert causes stir

A threat alert reportedly issued by the Sindh home department warning that the PPP might be planning attacks on Dr Zulfikar Mirza and his family and other Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) candidates has caused unrest among PPP’s leadership in Badin district, it emerged on Thursday.

The letter titled ‘Threat Alert GE-2018′ and dated July 4 — a copy of which is available with Dawn — has been doing rounds on social and mainstream media since Wednesday.

A copy of the threat alert issued by Sindh home department.

A copy of the threat alert issued by Sindh home department.

Addressed to the commissioner and deputy inspector general of pol­ice (DIGP) Hyderabad, the letter signed by Section Officer Iqrar Ahmed states that a threat has been reported regarding the GDA leadership to the home department by “reliable sources”.

“It is intimated that [the] PPP leadership has planned to create law and order situation before GE [general elections] and during election day,” the alert states.

It warns that an attack may take place on PPP dissident Dr Mirza and his family members, and other GDA candidates during their election campaign and public gatherings. It also speaks of the likelihood of targeted killings of GDA-affiliated local leaders, influentials and voters.

The letter claims that the PPP leadership has tasked its Badin chapter coordinator and ex-MNA Gul Mohammad Jakhrani with bringing criminals in Badin before and after the polls to create a law and order situation in the district.

“A notorious criminal” Ameer Bux Umrani has been given the task to carry out the violence, it claims.

The elections in Badin are being considered “volatile” because of the political rivalry between Dr Mirza and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, the alert states. In this regard, the home department recommends that Dr Mirza and his family “may be provided police protection to curb the possibility of endangering [their lives]“.

“Since this information merits extreme vigilance, high alert and stringent security measures, therefore, you in your capacity as Convener, [Divisional Intelligence Committee] may take all possible efforts as per the TORs of the committee to ward off any untoward incident,” the section officer states, addressing the Hyderabad commissioner.

SSP Badin Sarfaraz Nawaz Shaikh while taking to Dawn confirmed the issuance of the directive to provide foolproof security to Dr Mirza, his wife Dr Fehmida Mirza, sons Barrister Hasnain and Hassam Mirza and two other GDA candidates including Riaz Khan Nizamani and Dr Abdullah Talpur.

Shaikh said that he had received a copy of the letter and was busy chalking out the security plan with the help of other security agencies in light of the directive.

Meanwhile, Badin Deputy Commissioner Asif Jan Siddiqui told Dawn that he would soon reveal a security plan to protect candidates. He, however, avoided commenting on the letter issued by the home department.

“Some documents during the election days happen to be secret and confidential, I am not in a position to comment on such issues,” he said.

‘Ridiculous directive’

When contacted, Gul Mohammad Jakhrani, who has been named in the threat alert, remarked that the home department had issued a “childish and ridiculous directive” ahead of the elections. He termed it as an attempt to rig the elections by bringing the local PPP leadership under pressure.

He said the letter contained serious allegations against him and senior PPP leader Ameer Bux Umrani, adding that he was already in Badin to canvass for PPP candidates as per directions of the party’s top brass.

Jakhrani said he and other local as well as top leaders were mulling over the emerging situation and would move the courts against the misleading directive issued by the caretaker setup. He said no PPP leader was informed on the day it was issued, and it was beyond his imagination as to why the letter was made viral on social media and distributed among local journalists.

Credible sources revealed that the Sindh government has decided to give security to GDA candidates after receiving intelligence reports from law-enforcement agencies, which have been given the task to maintain law and order situation in the district.

Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur, the PPP candidate from NA-229 and Ismail Rahu, who is contesting the elections from PS-74 against Dr Mirza, termed the directive as a “grave conspiracy” against their party in the district.

They said it was strange that the Mirzas had been directed to be given security when they [the Mirzas] were themselves using “foul and filthy language” against them.

GDA’s candidate from PS-72 (Tando Bago) and Dr Mirza’s elder son, Hasnain, while talking to Dawn said they had come to know that the provincial government had ordered their security through media, but that they were yet to be officially informed what kind of security would be provided to them.

He said Dr Fehmida and other GDA candidates had written a number of letters to Election Commission of Pakistan officials, the chief justices of both the Supreme Court and Sindh High Court and caretaker Sindh government to provide them security of paramilitary forces since most of the police officials were “politicised”.

Barrister Hasnain said it was their constitutional right to seek security from state agencies and the Sindh government since they were receiving serious threats after they announced to contest elections against the PPP in Badin. “Zardari and his cronies can go to any extent in the current situation, when their candidates are receiving a poor response from the voters of the district,” he alleged.

Meanwhile, GDA general secretary Ayaz Latif Palijo urged the Sindh government to provide security to Dr Mirza and his family and the alliance’s candidates in Badin in wake of the security alert.

He alleged that PPP leaders were hurling life threats and using “ugly tactics” against their opponents in various parts of the province.

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CJP denies giving order to place Zardari, Talpur’s names on ECL in fake accounts case

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday denied that he had ordered former president Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur’s names be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) in connection to a probe regarding suspicious transactions through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in mainstream banks.

On Monday, Attorney General Khalid Javed told DawnNewsTV that the apex court had issued directives to the Interior Ministry to place Zardari and Talpur’s names on the no-fly list.

Although certain media reports quoted Interior Ministry officials as denying the development on Monday, caretaker Interior Minister Azam Khan confirmed on Wednesday ? contrary to the CJP’s statement today ? that the SC had directed the ministry to place Zardari and Talpur’s names on the ECL on Monday, and that the ministry had complied with the orders.

CJP Nisar in today’s hearing also asked the Federal Investigation Agency to refrain from questioning both PPP leaders until after the July 25 polls.

“Tomorrow no one should be able to make excuses that the elections have been rigged,” the CJP said.

Before the elections, all suspects apart from Zardari and Talpur should be included in the investigation, the CJP said.

Justice Nisar, who is heading the two-judge bench hearing the case, also remarked: “It is necessary to clarify which suspects’ names have been placed on the ECL. Are Faryal Talpur and Asif Zardari suspects?”

“If they are not suspects, then why did the media report that their names have been placed on the ECL?” he asked.

“We have still not placed their names on the ECL,” he said, adding: “This impression must be eliminated.”

The CJP said that whosoever’s names had been placed on the ECL would remain there until August 6. If someone turns out to be innocent, their names will then be removed, he added.

“We took this notice on the basis of media reports,” the CJP said. “The corruption scandal should be investigated to reassure poor citizens.”

Zardari’s lawyer, Farooq H. Naek, told the court that his client is being accused of holding Rs15 million in his accounts. He told the court that the PPP co-chairman had no ties to the Zardari Group. “He is not even the group’s director,” Naek added.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that those who haven’t played a role in the case should not be harassed.

The CJP asserted there must be a fair probe into the matter, to which Naek responded that the probe is being conducted by FIA’s Najaf Mirza, whom Zardari had earlier filed a case against.

The chief justice said that a new joint investigation team (JIT) could be set up to probe the case, which concerns a 2015 FIA investigation into fake accounts and fictitious transactions worth up to Rs35 billion conducted through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL.

Seven individuals are believed to be involved in the suspicious transactions, and the fake accounts have allegedly been used to channel funds received through heavy bribes and kickbacks.

“There is already a JIT probing the matter,” Naek told the court, requesting that Najaf Mirza be withdrawn from the FIA probe into the case.

The court, however, rejected the request saying that it could not replace Mirza until a complete picture of the situation emerged.

He added that the court did not wish to impact the impression of politicians, and said that the hearing of this case should be adjourned until after the elections.

‘Fake accounts were not opened’

Summit Bank Vice President Hussain Lawai, who is currently in FIA custody, was presented in court today.

Lawai’s lawyer told the court that the bank’s investment activities had been negatively affected by the ‘media campaign’.

Both judges deliberated over how the media can be stopped from covering the matter.

The lawyer expressed fear that the entire bank may collapse as a result of the court case against it.

“The people’s only issue will be that their money is safe,” the CJP responded, asking Lawai: “What do you have to say about where the Rs35bn came from?”

“The cases regarding the accounts did not reach me,” he told the court.

The bank must provide assurance that fake accounts are not opened, Justice Ahsan said. “Fake accounts have been opened,” he asserted.

The lawyer, however, denied that fake accounts were opened.

But the FIA director general stepped in to tell the court that the administration had opened the fake accounts themselves.

The date of the next hearing has been set as August 6.

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Asif Zardari, Faryal Talpur’s names placed on ECL: Interior Ministry

The Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the names of former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur had been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the Supreme Court’s (SC) orders.

The ,directives were issued to the Interior Ministry by the apex court, in connection with an ongoing suo motu case concerning an investigation into fake accounts and fictitious transactions worth billions conducted through several mainstream banks. The fake accounts were allegedly used for channelling funds received through heavy bribes and kickbacks.

Seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to be involved in using certain bank accounts for suspicious transactions totalling Rs35 billion.

The SC had ordered the Interior Ministry to place the names of all suspected beneficiaries ? including Zardari and Talpur ? and accused persons identified in the case on the ECL, “so that they may not leave the country until the investigation in the matter is concluded or till further orders passed by this court”.

Caretaker Interior Ministry Azam Khan confirmed today that the SC had directed the ministry to place Zardari and Talpur’s names on the ECL on Monday, and that the ministry had complied with the orders.

However, earlier this week, certain sections of the media quoted ministry officials as denying these reports.

Read more: ,FIA probe finds Zardari Group’s link in money laundering case,

A day after the SC’s order for placement of the names of all those connected to the case on the ECL, the FIA constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), headed by FIA Sindh chief Munir Ahmed Shaikh, to investigate the matter. The FIA had directed the duo to appear before the team on Wednesday to record their statements and explain their position on the accounts and transactions.

However, two junior lawyers appeared before FIA authorities ,on behalf of Zardari and Talpur, seeking more time to provide information about the transactions, and said that since they were busy campaigning for the upcoming polls, they would only be available to respond to queries after July 25.

Explore: ,The timing of the case against Zardari fuels conspiracy theories of election manipulation,

Since 2015, the FIA has been probing suspicious transactions made through 29 ‘benami’ accounts — 16 of which were held in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank and five in UBL.

Zardari’s close friend and former Pakistan Stock Exchange Chairman Hussain Lawai, along with Summit Bank’s corporate unit head Taha Raza, have been ,taken into FIA custody, in connection with the case.

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Asif Zardari, Faryal Talpur skip FIA hearing in fake accounts case

PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur on Wednesday skipped ,a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) hearing, pertaining to a probe into 29 ‘benami’ accounts ,allegedly used to channel illicit funds.,

A day after the Supreme Court ordered the names of all those connected to the accounts to be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL), the FIA constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), headed by FIA Sindh chief Munir Ahmed Shaikh, to investigate the matter. The FIA had directed the duo to appear before the team today to record their statements and explain their position on the accounts and transactions.

Two junior lawyers appeared before the FIA authorities on behalf of Zardari and Talpur and submitted a written response seeking more time to provide information about the suspected transactions. it also said that neither of the siblings has a record of transactions made in 2014.

Read more: ,FIA probe finds Zardari Group’s link in money laundering case,

The lawyers argued that both siblings are contesting the upcoming polls and are busy electioneering. The two will be able to reply to your questions after July 25, the lawyers said.

The lawyers pointed out that the duo had been summoned in 2018 for a case related to happenings in 2014. They added that forcing the two to engage in the case would be a violation of Articles 14 and 17 of the Constitution, as it would affect their election campaigns with the polls just two weeks away.

Since 2015, the FIA has been probing suspicious transactions made through 29 ‘benami’ accounts — 16 of which were held in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank and five in UBL.

Seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to be involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions which totalled Rs35 billion. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.

Explore: ,The timing of the case against Zardari fuels conspiracy theories of election manipulation,

Zardari’s close friend and Pakistan Stock Exchange Chairman Hussain Lawai, along with Summit Bank’s corporate unit head Taha Raza, have been taken into FIA custody in connection with the case.

29 ‘benami’ accounts

The FIA chief earlier said that the inquiry into the suspicious transactions was initiated in 2015 on a source report and, as a result, 29 ‘benami’ accounts were identified.

Of these, 16 were in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank and five in UBL. Seven individuals were involved in suspicious transactions of Rs35bn, he added.

The investigation had revealed that Kiran Aman, the then operations manager of Summit Bank, had admitted and verified forged signatures of an account holder as genuine with mala fide intention.

Noreen Sultan, the then relations manager of the bank, had also admitted the forged signature of an account holder on an annexure for change of signature from the one found on the account holder’s CNIC.

Adeel Shah Rashidi, the then branch manager of the bank, had also admitted to deliberately signing documents to approve the account, even though the bank’s record showed that the account had, in fact, belonged to the allegedly Zardari-linked Omni Group.

Rashidi had later disclosed that the documents had been sent to the corporate department of the bank for approval and Taha Raza, the corporate unit head of the Summit Bank, had sent back the documents with remarks “referred by Hussain Lawai” with a directive to open the account.

Hence, it was established that the bankers had fraudulently opened fake/forged accounts fulfilling the codal formalities, the FIA DG had told the apex court during a hearing of the case.

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SECP orders removal of Hussain Lawai as PSX chairman

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) on Tuesday asked the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) to immediately remove Hussain Lawai from his post as PSX chairman, DawnNewsTV reported.

Lawai was detained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last week over charges of money laundering. Subsequently, a judicial magistrate in Karachi ,had remanded him in FIA custody, till July 11.

The agency has accused him of facilitating the opening of 29 ‘fake’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited.

The commission has asked PSX for Lawai’s removal from the post of chairman and, as per disciplinary rules, the appointment of a new chairman.

The SECP’s orders have been issued in light of the FIR filed by FIA on July 6 under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947.

According to the FIR registered against Lawai and others, billions of rupees were deposited into the said fake accounts and subsequently transferred to different accounts, including that of PPP Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur’s company — Zardari Group — which is shown to have received Rs15 million.

The FIR stated that the bankers accused in the case “opened fake/forged accounts by fraudulently fulfilling the codal formalities i.e. obtaining signatures”.

Meanwhile, during a meeting of PSX directors on Monday, it was decided that the board should keep any action on Lawai’s case in abeyance as no instructions were received from SECP and the FIA action against Lawai had nothing to do with PSX, but was some unresolved issue with another bank.

The relevant laws did not prevent a person from holding the office of the chairman of PSX until he was convicted or he voluntarily resigned. Since nothing of the sort had happened, the board had decided to wait and watch, it was earlier reported.

‘I am innocent’

In a brief chat with media personnel earlier, Lawai had maintained his innocence and said he would ask for relief from the court on account of his medical condition. “I have nothing to do with this case. Nothing has been recovered from me,” he said.

“This case is about money laundering: those who did this [launder money] are abroad, and I have been accused.”

“I am a heart patient. I will ask the court to give me medical relief,” he added.

When asked if he had been arrested due to his rumoured friendship with Zardari, Lawai said: “I do not know if I have been arrested because of Asif Ali Zardari or something else. Only time will tell why I am being targeted.”

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FIA summons Zardari, Faryal in fake accounts case

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday summoned PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in connection with a probe into 29 ‘benami’ ,accounts allegedly used to channel illicit funds,, an FIA official told DawnNewsTV.

The development came a day after the Supreme Court directed the Interior Ministry to place the ,names of all those connected to the accounts on its Exit Control List, (ECL) to prevent them from leaving the country before the case is concluded.

The FIA has constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), headed by FIA Sindh chief Munir Ahmed Shaikh, to investigate the matter.

The duo has been directed to appear before the authorities on Wednesday to record their statements and explain their position on the accounts and transactions.

Recent developments in the case have sent shockwaves through the PPP, with Zardari scrambling to pull together a team of legal experts to extricate him from the situation. According to sources privy to the development, star lawyers Farooq H. Naek, Aitzaz Ahsan, Nayar Bukhari and Latif Khosa will brief Zardari on his legal options.

Zardari’s close friend and Pakistan Stock Exchange Chairman Hussain Lawai, along with Summit Bank’s corporate unit head Taha Raza, have been taken into FIA custody in connection with the case.

PPP’s reaction

In response to the development, PPP today issued a statement linking the “character assassination” of Asif Zardari to the ongoing election campaign.

“Always a character assassination campaign is launched against Asif Zardari during elections,” PPP leader Saeed Ghani claimed.

“The exploiter gang is frustrated at Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s popularity,” he said, adding that the already closed cases [against Zardari] are being re-opened after they realised the popularity of Bilawal. “Why don’t they recall the reference of the judicial murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto?” he asked. “Masters became active after the failure of their pawns,” he added.

Suo motu notice

The apex court had last week taken suo motu notice of a 2015 probe into suspicious transactions made through 29 ‘benami’ accounts — 16 held in Summit Bank, eight in Sindh Bank and five in UBL.

Seven individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, were said to be involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions which summed up to Rs35 billion. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.

Among the suspected beneficiaries, the apex court has summoned: Nasser Abdulla Lootah, Ansari Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd (Anwar Majeed, Ali Kamal Majeed), Omni Polymer Packages Pvt Ltd, Pak Ethnol Pvt Ltd, Chamber Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd, M/s Agro Farms Thatta Pvt Ltd; Zardari Group Pvt Ltd (Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur), Parthenon Pvt Ltd (Iqbal Khan Noori), A-One International (account identified in Suspicious Transac­tion Report), Lucky Interna­tional (STR), Logistic Trading (STR), Royal International (STR) and Umair Associates (STR).

Those who reportedly deposited the money into the accounts were: Bahria Town Karachi (Zain Malik), Sujawal Agro Farms Pvt Ltd, Tando Allahyar Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd, Omni Pvt Ltd, Agro Farms Thatta Pvt Ltd, Alfa Zulu Co Pvt Ltd, Haji Mureed Akbar (banker on behalf of contractor), Sher Mohammad Mugheri & Co (contractor), M/s Sardar Mohammad Ashraf D. Baloch Pvt Ltd (contractor), A-One Interna­tional (STR), Lucky Inter­national (STR), Logistic Trading (I.I. Chundrigar) (STR), Iqbal Metals (STR), Royal International (STR) and Umair Associates (STR).

On Monday, the top court had directed all suspects, including Zardari and Talpur, to appear before the court.


Additional reporting by Nadir Gurmani.

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