Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

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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7-member JIT formed to probe abduction, murder of SP Tahir Dawar

The Islamabad chief commissioner on Friday formed a seven-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the abduction and ,murder of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar,.

SP Dawar, head of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in Islamabad on October 26 and his body was recovered in Afghan­istan’s Nangarhar province on Monday.

Editorial: ,Family of SP Dawar and the police force he represented deserve a full explanation on his murder,

According to a notification issued by the chief commissioner’s office, the convener of the JIT will be SP Police Investigation, Islamabad. Other members of the team will be:

  • Sub-divisional police officer Shalimar Circle, Islamabad
  • Deputy superintendent of police Crime Investigation Department, Islamabad
  • A representative of the Inter-Services Intelligence
  • A representative of the Military Intelligence
  • A representative of the Intelligence Bureau
  • Investigating officer of the case

The JIT formed on Islamabad police’s recommendation will complete its investigation within the time period stipulated in the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997, the notification said.

The directorates general of IB, ISI and MI have been asked to nominate their representatives for the probe body.

A first information report (FIR) of SP Dawar’s abduction was registered at Ramna police station on October 28 under Section 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person) of the Pakistan Penal Code. The capital police today added Section 302 (premeditated murder) of PPC and Section 7 of ATA to the FIR.

Nothing was known about Dawar’s whereabouts until November 13, when pictures of a body, said to be his, were shared on social media. The body in the photo had a letter written in Pashto placed on the chest. A day later, the Foreign Office confirmed that the body, found by locals in Nangarhar, was indeed of SP Dawar.

Following a two-day delay and hours-long negotiations on Thurs­day, the Afghan side had reluctantly handed over the body of the officer to his family, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The body was taken to the city police headquarters in Malik Saad Shaheed police lines, where his funeral prayers were offered. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Governor Shah Farman, Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Afridi, and police and military officials attended the funeral prayers. The body was later sent to his Hayatabad residence on the outskirts of Peshawar.

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TLP hasn’t provided poll expenses’ details, ECP tells SC

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) — the party behind protest demonstrations that paralysed the twin cities — had not yet submitted details of the expenses it made during the July elections.

“The subject political party (TLP) participated in the general elections, 2018 but has not submitted the details of the Campaign Finance till date,” the ECP stated in a reply furnished before the SC, which will commence on Friday the hearing of a case relating to the 20-day Faizabad sit-in in November last year.

The TLP had participated in the 2018 general elections and bagged three seats in the Sindh Assembly.

At the last hearing on Oct 11, a two-judge SC bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam had ordered the ECP to furnish the application under which the TLP was registered as a political party and asked the accountant general to assist the court in determining whether the ECP or the federal government was empowered under the Elections Act 2017 to take remedial measures for regulating political parties on their conduct.

Contempt of court action sought against Khadim Rizvi, Afzal Qadri

In its reply, the ECP explained that it had issued notices to all political parties which had failed to submit the details of their campaign finances. It said that if they failed to follow the directives, their election symbols would be withheld, adding that all political parties participating in the elections were required to submit to the ECP the list of contributors who have donated or contributed an amount equal to or more than Rs100,000 for thier election campaigns within 60 days from the close of a financial year in terms of Section 211 of the Elections Act.

The consolidated statements of political parties’ accounts were audited by a chartered accountant highlighting annual income and expenses, sources of funds and assets and liabilities, the reply stated.

The ECP had also framed a code of conduct for political parties, contesting candidates and polling agents in terms of Section 233 of the Elections Act, it said.

The ECP explained that after the enactment of the Elections Act, all election-related laws had been repealed, including the Political Parties Order 2002 and Political Parties Rules 2002. Section 202 (4) of the Elections Act requires all political parties to submit a list of 2,000 members along with photocopies of their CNICs and proof of deposit of Rs200,000 in favour of the commission in the State Bank or the National Bank of Pakistan as enlistment fee.

The TLP, the reply said, had submitted the relevant documents on Jan 8, 2018.

The reply contended that the ECP had objected to the registration of the party with the name Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and recognised the party with the name of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, which was later accepted by the party.

Petition against TLP

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court lawyer on Thursday filed a petition in the apex court, seeking a directive for the federal government to commence the process of dissolution of the TLP as political party pursuant to Section 212 of the Elections Act for operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan. He alleged that the party had indulged in terrorism.

Barrister Masroor Shah also requested the apex court to initiate contempt of the court proceedings against TLP leaders — Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Peer Afzal Qadri — for scandalising the SC and tending to bring this august court and its judges into hatred, ridicule and contempt.

The petition asked the court to order the federal government that instead of succumbing to political exigencies and taking mere cosmetic measures, discharge its constitutional duty to protect fundamental rights of citizens and establish the rule of law in the country by taking strict meaningful legal action against Khadim Rizvi and Afzal Qadri for allegedly committing offences of sedition, incitement to mutiny, criminal intimidation, rioting and terrorism.

The petition recalled that during three days of violent protests, the TTP leadership vociferously spat venom against judges of the Supreme Court and the chief of the army staff. They did not even shy away from inciting bodyguards and personal servants of judges and the army chief to take the law into their own hands, the petition said, adding that the TLP leadership had called upon members of the armed forces to stage mutiny against their commanders.

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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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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Police officers were tasked to ‘break PPP people’ by Sindh caretaker govt, claims CM Shah

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday lashed out at what he called arbitrary transfers of police officers by the Sindh caretaker government before the 2018 elections, saying the random postings had left the policemen clueless.

“[They] put the names of all officers in a box, started revolving it and then pulled out name chits to mindlessly decide where each police officer would be posted,” Shah said while briefing the Sindh Assembly about the law and order situation.

He alleged that the police officers had been assigned the task of “breaking the PPP people”, and because they were allegedly too busy trying to change PPP leaders’ alliances, the law and order situation had worsened and street crime in Karachi had risen.

“I am a witness [to this] myself… they were asked to ‘break the PPP people’, [and] forget about the law and order.”

After returning into power, the chief minister said, the PPP government has been trying to control the street crimes situation.

Shah informed the house that 61 incidents of terrorism had taken place in Sindh in 2013. The number came down to two such incidents in 2017, while this year no terrorist incident has taken place in Sindh so far.

Incidents of targeted killings and street crimes have also dropped, he said, adding in the same breath: “But we are not satisfied… we have to do more work.”

He said the province of Sindh, specifically Karachi, have seen several devastating terrorist incidents in recent years, including the Safoora Goth carnage, the Sehwan bomb blast, the Shikapur blast and the killings of qawwal Amjad Sabri, JUI-F leader Khalid Mehmood Soomro and journalist Wali Babar.

“There is not a single incident which we have not traced or solved,” Shah claimed, before questioning the investigations into terrorist attacks in other provinces.

“Did [we] ever find out what happened at the Army Public School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? Have the men who escaped in a jailbreak in KP been found till date?” he asked.

Responding to a point raised by another lawmaker, he said it was members of the civil society which had moved courts against the Sindh government’s efforts to replace then provincial chief of police A.D. Khowaja, and not Khowaja himself.

“We tried a lot [to replace him] but what can I say… [unlike Sindh,] nothing happens when the Punjab police IG is changed within three weeks,” Shah said, before adding tongue-in-cheek: “Be grateful the civil society there [Punjab] is not that active.”

“The Islamabad IG [was] also transferred in an incident involving cows,” he said, in a reference to a ,federal minister’s alleged role, in the transfer of former Islamabad police chief Jan Mohammad. However, he observed that a joint investigation team had been formed to probe that alleged abuse of power.

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Trump picks retired general for ambassador to Saudi Arabia

A retired four-star general is President Donald Trump’s pick to be US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling a key diplomatic vacancy at a time when US-Saudi relations are being tested by the slaying of a journalist critical of the Saudi royal family.

Trump announced Tuesday that he is nominating John Abizaid, the longest-serving commander of the US Central Command, to lead the US Embassy in Riyadh. It’s a post that has been empty since former ambassador Joseph Westphal left in January 2017.

If confirmed by the Senate, Abizaid would become ambassador as the Trump administration is weighing the US response to the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials claim Khashoggi was killed by a 15-member assassination squad sent from Riyadh on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has revoked the visas of the Saudis implicated in the killing. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said additional measures will be taken.

Abizaid, who retired in 2007, served in wars in Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Following the war in Iraq, Abizaid assumed control of Centcom, which overseas military operations in 20 nations stretching from northeast Africa to the Middle East to Central and South Asia.

Abizaid, of Nevada, currently works as a private consultant and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Previously, he was the distinguished chair of the Combating Terrorism Centre at the US Military Academy at West Point. He also served in various senior positions on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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SC larger bench to hear appeal against Nawaz’s release

• NAB’s plea against IHC order of suspending Sharifs’ sentences accepted for hearing

• Bench to determine 16 legal points formulated with assistance of both sides

• CJP hints at inclusion of Justice Khosa in larger bench

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday accepted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) appeal against the Islamabad High Court order of ,suspending the jail terms, awarded to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in the Avenfield apartments reference and ordered constituting a larger bench for its regular hearing.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, also indicated it would consider setting aside the Sept 19 decision of suspending the jail terms while allowing the Sharifs at the same time to remain out of prison on bail.

The apex court granted leave to appeal to consider if constitutional jurisdiction to grant bail be invoked on the same principles or grounds as in a case where there is a statutory ouster of court jurisdiction to grant bail pending appeal.

When the matter will be taken up again on Dec 12, the SC larger bench will consider if the scope of the constitutional jurisdiction for grant of bail during investigation/trial or release on bail by way of suspension of sentence was much wider than the scope of grant of bail under the general law, or otherwise.

Besides, the court will ascertain parameters for tentative assessment of evidence and how it can be differentiated from deeper appreciation of evidence, particularly in cases involving grant of bail by suspending the sentence and release on bail during pendency of the appeal.

The questions are part of 16 legal points formulated by the court office with the assistance of NAB’s special prosecutor Akram Qureshi and defence counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed. The SC had asked them to come up with legal questions on the basis of which the court would issue an order explaining why leave to appeal to NAB’s petition had been granted by it.

Other points included the question whether guidelines provided by the superior courts regarding ouster of Section 426 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) were required to be followed for the suspension of sentence in NAB cases, and if so what were the principles regulating suspension of the sentence under Section 426 of the CrPC.

The court would also ascertain if the principles regulating bail under Sections 497 and 498 of the CrPC would be applicable while considering the suspension of sentence. Besides, if the convict was entitled to suspension of sentence but the judgement/order suspending the sentence was not happily worded, what would be its effect then?

The larger bench would determine in case a concession of suspension of sentence was once extended by the court of appeal, whether principles of cancellation of bail would also apply for withdrawal of suspension.

The questions formulated for the apex court’s consideration also included if the IHC had interpreted correctly the provisions of Section 9(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 and whether the ground of hardship case be considered while suspending the sentence in a NAB case.

The bench would further decide whether the merits of a case be discussed and conclusive findings be given as done by the high court and if this was permissible in its constitutional jurisdiction while dealing with cases of suspension of sentence.

Whether in a constitutional petition, a miscellaneous application filed under Section 561-A of the CrPC for adjudication, where CrPC is not applicable, one of the questions read.

The larger bench may also suggest if the high court could take up the constitutional petition when the main appeals had already been fixed for hearing and whether a detailed order comprising 41 pages was permissible while dealing with the suspension of the sentence.

The larger bench would further decide whether or not the IHC bench ignored the guidelines laid down by the apex court and whether the IHC had properly interpreted the provisions of Sections 9(a)(v) and 14(c) of NAO read with Articles 117, 122 to 129 of the Qanun-i-Shahadat Order, 1984 with regards to burden of proof and presumption.

Earlier during the hearing, the chief justice observed that the larger bench if formed may also have Justice Asif Saeed Khosa as its member while some legal wizard from the criminal side should also be made part of the bench.

The court, however, postponed the matter till Dec 12 on the request of Advocate Haris as he informed the chief justice that he was busy before an accountability court defending the Sharifs in two other references namely Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment.

On a lighter note, the CJP remarked that he was not feeling well and his doctors told him that Advocate Haris appearance before him gave him palpitations. At this, the entire court chuckled. The chief justice then pointing at journalist Matiullah Jan asked him after how much time he had laughed in his court.

The chief justice announced he was going to postpone further proceedings, because he was leaving for the United Kingdom.

At the outset of the hearing, the chief justice observed that undoubtedly this was a case of grant of leave to appeal and wondered if the court should go for a larger bench or not.

In his reply to NAB’s petition, Advocate Haris argued that he had cited judgements in which the apex court had upheld the suspension of sentence awarded by the Anti-Terrorism Case (ATC), which was also a special court like the accountability court. The high court had the jurisdiction to suspend even death sentence, the counsel added.

Advocate Haris said the jurisdiction of the high court under Article 199 of the Constitution to intervene in matters concerning special courts had been accepted since 2001 after the Asfandyar Wali Khan case, with the only exception of the unreported 1992 Qaim Ali Shah case in which rules and definition of hardship cases had been explained.

The chief justice observed that the defence counsel had referred to the Asfandyar Wali Khan case judgement that had been handed down by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa. “Do you have any objection if Justice Khosa is also made part of the [larger] bench,” the CJP observed, while adding the propensity for doubting or mistrusting state institutions like the judiciary must end.

“The institution will only deliver what is best in the interest of justice,” Justice Nisar said.

The chief justice also emphasized the matter at hand was more of suspension of the sentence and did not revolve around the question of bail. “We have to set the principle right by determining if the high court can go into deeper appreciation on the merits of the case while granting bail or suspending the sentences,” he observed.

Justice Nisar said if there were conflicting judgements in the field on the same subject, then there was a need of settling the same.

In his reply to NAB’s appeal, Advocate Haris representing the Sharifs stated that continuing incarceration of a convict pursuant to a judgement which prima facie suffered from glaring legal defects would constitute a case of hardship. The rejoinder added that the convict in this situation would, prima facie, be unjustly bereft of their right to life, liberty, dignity and freedom of movement as guaranteed by Articles 9, 14 and 15 of the Constitution.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018

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Journalist Nasrullah Chaudhry handed over to CTD for 2-day physical remand

An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Monday granted a two-day physical remand of journalist Nasrullah Khan Chaudhry to the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in a case pertaining to alleged recovery of anti-state and hate literature.

ATC Judge Naimatullah Phulpoto directed the investigating officer (IO) to produce the detained journalist on November 13 and also submit a charge sheet on the next hearing.

Chaudhry, a journalist associated with Urdu-language daily Nai Baat, was detained by law enforcement personnel following a raid on his residence on Friday night.

On Monday, the CTD officials disclosed his arrest in a case registered under Sections 11W(i) and 11F(i) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which pertains to printing, publishing, or disseminating any material to incite hatred, and offer support and hold meetings for a proscribed organisation.

Editorial: ,Intrusion into Karachi Press Club by armed men seems like another attempt to stifle the media,

The journalist community is continuing its protest against Chaudhry’s detention, which the journalists’ representative groups describe as an attempt to justify the ,raid by the LEAs personnel, on the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday night.

On Monday, IO Syed Ali Haider of the CTD produced the detained journalist before the administrative judge and requested for his 14-day physical remand for interrogation.

The officer informed the court that the detained suspect was allegedly an accomplice and facilitator of a notorious Al Qaeda operative named Khalid Mukashi, alleging him of giving Rs0.25 million to Khalid.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued later in the day, the CTD accused Chaudhry of providing financial help to Khalid, by giving him Rs0.25 million.

The CTD official further said that security personnel had also recovered a bag containing four copies of Nawa-i-Afghan Jihad, published in 2011, a magazine which promoted violence against the country and incited religious hatred.

In view of the initial investigation, the IO pleaded for a 14-day physical remand of the detained journalist, who is already in CTD’s custody, for further investigation.

However, Advocates Mohammad Farooq and Syed Haider Imam Rizvi, the defence counsel for Chaudhry, vehemently opposed the IO’s plea for physical remand of the journalist.

They argued that Chaudhry was innocent and was picked up after participating in a protest outside the Sindh Governor House against the raid on the KPC.

“The news about Chaudhry’s arrest in a false case has been widely reported in the international media, bringing a bad name for the country as well as Pakistani journalists,” the counsel deplored, and urged the court to dismiss the IO’s request for physical remand.

Turning down the plea for a 14-day remand, the ATCs administrative judge granted a two-day remand and directed the IO to submit the charge sheet against the suspect on Nov 13.

Meanwhile, the CTD has said that the raid carried out at the KPC last week was indeed conducted to arrest Chaudhry, who was present there at that time, but managed to flee from the scene.

The law enforcers apologised from the journalist community for raiding the press club, saying the operations were being carried out to protect the citizens of Karachi from any untoward incident, specifically in wake of the defence expo which is scheduled to be held later this month.

It is pertinent to mention that adviser to Sindh chief minister on information Murtaza Wahab had on Friday claimed that the intrusion of law enforcers in plainclothes into KPC on Thursday night was ,due to some “misunderstanding”,.

In a statement, the adviser said that initial inquiry into the incident revealed that the law enforcers went there due to “some problem in their GSM locator”.

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FIA identifies 200 KKF donors in money laundering case against MQM

KARACHI: The Federal Investi­gation Agency (FIA) has identified at least 200 of the 726 ‘donors’ who gave money to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Khid­mat-i-Khalq Foundation (KKF).

The federal institution described the practice as money laundering by the party’s top leadership, including its founder Altaf Hussain, it emerged.

FIA sources told Dawn that the KKF was established in 1988 and the MQM mostly generated/distributed funds through it. These funds were ‘misused’ and an estimated Rs5-6 billion was sent to the MQM leaders, including Altaf Hussain, in London.

The FIA took cognisance of the matter and got an FIR registered against Altaf Hussain and some other party leaders in 2017.

Subsequently, the case was transferred from the FIA Karachi to the FIA Islamabad, where a special team of the agency’s counter-terrorism wing was dealing with it.

Ostensibly, the FIA had expedited its efforts and arrest of some nominated suspects was expected soon, said the sources.

The FIA has prepared a list of 726 persons who allegedly gave donations to the KKF. Donations ranged between a few thousands and millions of rupees, revealed the FIA sources.

A senior official familiar with the case told Dawn that most of the people tended to give donations to the KKF under ‘duress’.

Interestingly, the FIA list of alleged donors included at least 29 doctors. There were at least three professors on the list, including the late Prof Dr Hassan Zafar Arif, who was found dead under mysterious circumstances in the Ibrahim Hyderi area of Karachi recently.

It may be recalled that an anti-terrorism court of Karachi had on Friday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for five MQM leaders — former federal minister Babar Ghauri, former senator Ahmed Ali, deputy mayor of Karachi Arshad Vohra, Khawaja Sohail Mansoor and Khawaja Rehan — in the money laundering case.

Meanwhile, the Muttahida Quami Movement-London has questioned the competency of the FIA for investigating the money laundering case.

It said that although Prof Arif was murdered, a notice had been issued in his name which was a condemnable act.

Separately, an MQM-P leader, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that the KKF was still active in welfare activities. He said the KKF was running 12 Maiyet service buses, besides two hospitals — one in Karachi and the other in Hyderabad.

The KKF was being run by former senator Ahmed Ali who has been declared an absconder by an anti-terrorism court recently.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2018

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Journalists vow to ‘resist attempts to harass’ media after KPC incident

KARACHI: Journalists marched from Karachi Press Club to Governor House on Friday and staged a protest against trespassing of KPC by armed men of a security agency in plain clothes and vowed to “resist attempts to harass free media”.

Led by KPC president Ahmed Malik and secretary Maqsood Yousufi, the journalists carried placards and chanted slogans to deplore Thursday night’s incident in which ,armed men in plain clothes entered Karachi Press Club, and harassed journalists.

According to a statement issued by the club’s office-bearers, the armed men entered KPC at 10:30pm, harassed journalists, searched different rooms, kitchen, the building’s upper floor and the sports hall. They forcibly made videos and took pictures with mobile cameras.

The incident drew indignation from the journalist fraternity. A large number of them attended a meeting at the club on Thursday and later marched to Governor House to lodge their protest.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail met the club’s office-bearers and assured them of his support for a free media.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists expressed concern over the incident and in a statement termed it an attempt to harass the media.

“Let the PFUJ make it clear to such elements that journalists cannot, and will not, be cowed down by such tactics aimed at controlling the media,” the statement quoted PFUJ President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Ayub Jan Sarhandi as saying. “If such elements or institutions think that journalists will back out from their struggle for a free media and the right to expression, they are sadly mistaken.”

The Sindh government has confirmed that the armed men who had intruded into the club were associated with a law enforcement agency, but it said the move was a result of “some misunderstanding”.

“An initial inquiry into the episode has revealed that the law enforcers went there [Karachi Press Club] due to some technical problems with their GSM locator. It all happened due to some misunderstanding,” Murtaza Wahab, adviser to the Sindh chief minister on information, said in a statement on Friday.

Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh, the Karachi police chief, told Dawn that he had ordered an inquiry into the incident and assigned South SSP Pir Muhammed Shah for the job. The SSP has already visited the KPC and met its office-bearers, he added.

“The senior police officer informed the office-bearers of the KPC about the actual situation and the journalists were satisfied with the version given to them by police,” said the city police chief.

According to sources, police personnel belonging to the Counter-Terrorism Department were trying to trace and arrest a “high value target” with the help of a GSM locator as the suspect’s mobile phone was hooked to it. Later the law enforcers found the suspect at a home near the KPC, the sources told Dawn.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2018

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SC stays Peshawar High Court’s acquittal of 68 terrorists convicted by military courts

The Supreme Court on Friday issued a stay order against the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) acquittal of 68 terrorists who had been convicted by military courts.

A two-member bench of the SC headed by Justice Azmat Saeed also ordered the jail superintendent to halt the release of the accused.

The accused had received varying sentences, including death, in a number of cases. The PHC had recently overturned the military court sentences on the basis of a lack of evidence. The Defence Ministry had subsequently filed appeals against the PHC’s decision.

Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti on Friday said that the PHC had not taken an accurate review of the facts.

He said that the accused were involved in crimes such as terrorism and asked that the military court sentences be restored.

The top court on Friday issued notices to all the parties involved and adjourned the case indefinitely.

On ,November 2,, the SC also approved the hearing of appeals filed by the federal government against the PHC’s decision to set aside punishments awarded to 74 convicts by military courts in various cases of terrorism.

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Thousands killed in drone strikes, terror attacks since 2004

ISLAMABAD: A total of 409 drone attacks have been conducted in Pakistan since January 2004, in which 2,714 people have been killed and 728 injured.

The majority of the strikes were carried out during the government of Pakistan Peoples Party between 2008 and 2012. Sources within the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) recently shared details, claiming that the period saw 336 aerial attacks, in which 2,282 people lost their lives and 658 received injuries. The officials added that 2010 alone saw 117 attacks that cost 775 people their lives and injured another 193. Between 2013 and 2018 — during the government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — a total of 65 drone attacks occurred. A total of 301 people died and 70 were injured. In 2018, two drone attacks have been conducted so far. One person was killed and one was injured.

It is, however, worth remembering that the top leadership of the Taliban in Pakistan has been killed in drone attacks.

The attacks over the years have targeted the areas of Bajaur, Bannu, Hangu, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, North Waziristan, Nushki, Orakzai, and South Waziristan. The officials of Nacta added that 289 attacks were conducted in North Waziristan alone, in which 1,651 individuals were killed and 421 were injured. South Waziristan saw 91 attacks that killed 707 individuals and injured 215. There were 13 strikes in the Kurram Agency that killed 110 and injured 32, five in the Khyber Agency that killed 57 and injured 29, four in the Bajaur Agency that killed 129, two in Hangu that killed seven and injured two, one in the Mohmand Agency that killed 18 and injured 18 and one in Nushki that killed two.

Nacta sources say 336 aerial attacks took place during PPP’s government while 65 occurred when PML-N was in power

Terror attacks

At least 19,177 civilians and officials have been killed so far and 47,869 have been injured in the18,850 terror related attacks in Pakistan since 2001, the officials stated. The attacks, they said, mostly targeted Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and were carried out through different methods that included bomb explosions, hand grenade attacks, mine explosions, missiles, rockets, and suicide attacks. Terrorists also targeted minorities geared to instigate sectarian violence and employed sophisticated methods, including the usage of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) — vehicle explosive devices as well as radio controlled improvised devices.

During the current year — 2018 — 405 terrorist attacks have taken place in the country, in which 133 officials and 233 civilians have been killed and 348 personnel and 567 civilians have been injured.

In Punjab, 14 incidents of bomb blasts, suicide attacks and engagements with terrorists led to the deaths of six LEA officials and as many civilians during the year. Four officials and 52 civilians have so far been injured.

Sindh has seen 11 incidents of terror related attacks, which included strikes on LEAs, through bomb explosions, hand grenade attacks and general aggressive engagement with terrorists. The province has also had to contend with suicide attacks and IED explosions. Two LEA officials and as many civilians lost their lives and eight officials as well as six civilians have been injured.

There were 51 incidents targeting LEAs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the year. 21 personnel and 11 civilians have been killed and 55 officials and 57 civilians have been injured in these attacks.

In Baluchistan, 172 incidents were recorded — mostly targeting LEAs. Ranging from bomb explosions, to suicide attacks, and involving sectarian violence. The officials stated that 58 personnel and 193 civilians have lost their lives in the current year. 166 officials and 396 have been injured as well.

In Fata, during the current year, there have been a total 150 incidents involving LEAs in the tribal districts. According to the officials, 42 personnel and 21 civilians have been killed, with another 110 and 52 injured.

Gilgit-Baltistan has also seen an unfortunate six incidents during the year, with officials reporting that four personnel lost their lives. Four LEA officials and as many civilians were injured. Only one incident of a mine explosion was recorded in Azad Kashmir during the year. One official was injured.

Fortunately, Islamabad, the capital of the country has remained safe the entire year.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018

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Alice Wells discusses progress in bilateral ties during meeting with Foreign Office officials

Senior US diplomat Alice Wells on Tuesday held delegation-level discussions with senior officials of the Foreign Office to review progress on bilateral relations.

Wells, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, headed the visiting delegation while the Pakistani side was led by Additional Secretary FO (Americas) Aftab Khokher. Senior officials from the interior and defence ministries also attended the talks.

US diplomat Alice Wells holds delegation-level talks with FO officials. — Photo: FO

US diplomat Alice Wells holds delegation-level talks with FO officials. — Photo: FO

“The meeting took stock of the understanding reached between Foreign Minister [Shah Mehmood] Qureshi and Secretary [Mike] Pompeo to rebuild the relationship based on mutual trust and respect,” FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said in a statement.

Pakistan during the meeting stressed the need to increase commercial and economic cooperation and people-to-people contacts in order to diversity bilateral US-Pakistan relations, the handout said.

The evolving regional situation and peace and stability in Afghanistan were also discussed during the meeting.

“The US delegation appreciated the need to strengthen the bilateral relationship with Pakistan which [is] an important country of the region,” the statement revealed.

The two sides agreed to continue efforts to promote the shared objectives of peace and stability in the region and to diversify their bilateral relationship.

Meeting with finance minister

The US envoy also called on Finance Minister Asad Umar.

During the meeting, Wells and Umar discussed the present state of Pakistan-US ties — with an emphasis on economic cooperation — and the overall security situation in the region, a Ministry of Finance press release said.

“Matters related to international cooperation to curb terror financing also came under discussion,” the statement said.

The finance minister was quoted as saying during the meeting that Pakistan had made great strides in the war against terrorism in recent years and “it will continue to take all possible steps to root out terror financing and money laundering”.

Umar shared the government’s vision to reform the country’s economy with the diplomat, who informed the minister about the US efforts for regional security.

The finance minister said “such visits contribute to enhancing understanding of each other’s point of view on issues of bilateral significance”.

Ambassador Wells had arrived in Pakistan earlier today on a one-day visit.

The Government of Pakistan official Twitter account had announced that Wells would discuss “Pakistan-US ties, regional situation and Afghan peace process”.

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The purpose of the meetings between Wells and Pakistani officials would be to follow up on Foreign Minister Qureshi’s meeting with Pompeo ,earlier this month, “with a view to further strengthen bilateral relations”, the spokesperson had said yesterday.

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Her visit comes ahead of a ,meeting of regional countries, on Afghan peace, involving Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbe­kistan and Turkmenistan, which is being hosted by Moscow on Friday. A delegation of Taliban will also join the talks.


With additional reporting by Sanaullah Khan in Islamabad.

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PM briefs civil-military officials on China visit in first NSC meeting

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired his first National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Tuesday afternoon where he briefed top civil-military officials about his recent trip to China, DawnNewsTV reported.

According to a statement released by the PM Office, the meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and senior officials.

During the meeting, a review of the security situation in the country was also conducted and it was concluded that the progress and prosperity of Pakistan lie in peace, stability, and rule of law”.

COAS calls on PM, President Alvi

Prior to the NSC meeting, COAS Bajwa called on PM Khan at PM Office.

PM Khan and Gen Bajwa discussed various issues, including recent security developments and the prime minister’s four-day trip to China.

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,COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Prime Minister Imran Khan at office today. The discussion included various issues including recent security developments and PM's China trip. #PMIK,

A post shared by , Imran Khan, (@imrankhan.pti) on Nov 6, 2018 at 4:06am PST

COAS Bajwa also called on President Dr Arif Alvi at the Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad today to discuss matters related to the national security, according to president’s secretariat.

During the meeting, President Alvi commended the unmatched sacrifices rendered by the armed forces of Pakistan in fight against terrorism and extremism.

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Saudi Arabia’s human rights record under fire at UN

GENEVA: Saudi Arabia insisted at the UN on Monday that its investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be “fair”, amid a barrage of criticism from countries over the brutal murder.

The half-day public debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva comes just over a month after the royal insider-turned-critic was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The so-called Universal Periodic Review — which all 193 UN countries must undergo approximately every four years — came as a Turkish official charged on Monday that Saudi Arabia had sent experts to Turkey to cover up the journalist’s murder before allowing Turkish police in to search the consulate.

During Monday’s review, Western countries especially voiced outrage at the killing, with many calling for a “credible” and “transparent” investigation, and some, like Iceland and Costa Rica, going further and demanding an international probe.

British Ambassador Julien Braithwaite told the council his country was “gravely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Saudi Arabia”, pointing to women’s rights, mass arrests of rights defenders and extensive use of the death penalty.

The Saudi delegation meanwhile barely mentioned the case, choosing instead to highlight the “progress made towards the protection and promotion of human rights”, including reforms that among other things have allowed women to drive in the ultra-conservative country.

But the delegation chief and head of the Saudi Human Rights Commis­sion, Bandar Al Aiban, did touch on the case briefly, stressing at the end of the review that “our country is committed to carry out a fair investigation”. “All persons involved in that crime will be prosecuted,” he said, stressing that “the investigation is continuing in line with our domestic laws”.

The review also focused heavily on the use of the death penalty in the country, especially for alleged crimes committed when the perpetrator was under the age of 18. The kingdom has one of the world’s highest rates of execution, with suspects convicted of terrorism, homicide, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking facing the death penalty.

Many countries urged Saudi Arabia to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty or to abolish it altogether, and to explicitly ban its use for juvenile offenders.

Women’s rights were also high on the agenda. While many countries hailed some progress in this area, including the fact that the country now permits women to drive, they warned that much more reform was needed. The country especially faced criticism over its male guardianship system which allows men to exercise arbitrary authority to make decisions on behalf of their female relatives.

Experts sent to cover up Khashoggi murder

Saudi Arabia sent two experts to Istanbul with the specific aim of covering up evidence after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul, a Turkish official said on Monday.

“We believe that the two individuals came to Turkey for the sole purpose of covering up evidence of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder before the Turkish police were allowed to search the premises,” a senior Turkish official said, asking not to be named.

The official confirmed a report in the Sabah newspaper saying that chemicals expert Ahmad Abdulaziz Al Janobi and toxicology expert Khaled Yahya Al Zahrani were among a team sent from Saudi Arabia purportedly to investigate the murder last month.

The report said they visited the consulate every day from their arrival on Oct 11 until Oct 17. Saudi Arabia only allowed Turkish police to finally search the consulate on Oct 15.

The sons of Khashoggi, Salah and Abdullah, told CNN they wanted Saudi Arabia to return the body so that he could be buried in Madina with the rest of his family.

Yemen clashes rage

Battles raged on Monday near a Yemeni port crucial for humanitarian aid, but Saudi Arabia and its allies said they were committed to de-escalating hostilities with rebels as calls for a ceasefire mount.

The United Nations has appealed for urgent peace talks and warned that an assault on the Red Sea port city of Hodeida would threaten millions of lives.

Rebels and government sources both reported intense fighting in the area on Monday, despite calls by the UN and the United States — which pro­vides military support to the Saudi-led camp — for an end to the war.

A source in the Saudi-led coalition told AFP the clashes were not “offensive operations”, adding that the alliance was “committed to keeping the Hodeida port open”.

The coalition source said the government alliance was “committed to de-escalating hostilities in Yemen and strongly supportive of the UN envoy’s political process”.

“If the Houthis fail to show up for peace talks again, this might lead [us] to restart the offensive operation in Hodeida,” the source said.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2018

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Senate panel recommends allowing INGOs to operate

ISLAMABAD: The Senate functional committee on human rights on Monday recommended allowing international non-government organisations (INGOs) to work as, in the light of a Supreme Court verdict, the interior ministry was not authorised to ban or stop them from working.

“The 2016 apex court verdict clearly says that only the government, which is the federal cabinet, can take decisions, but in this case without seeking approval from the cabinet it was decided that the controlling authority of INGOs would be the interior ministry rather than the Economic Affairs Division. The interior ministry cannot be controlling authority unless the federal government decides about it,” said Senate committee’s chairman Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party.

“Moreover it was unfair that the INGOs were not informed about the reason for which they were stopped from working. That decision not only triggered criticism but also allowed foreign envoys to write a letter to the prime minister asking him why INGOs were not informed about their unlawful activities,” he said.

Shireen Mazari says by writing to the prime minister foreign envoys overstepped their limits

On Oct 29, the Senate committee took notice of banning of INGOs and directed the interior secretary to brief it on Nov 5. The notice was taken after criticism on social media and circulation of a joint letter of foreign envoys which requested the prime minister to look into the matter.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said that by writing the letter to the PM foreign envoys overstepped in Pakistan’s mandate.

“They cannot force Pakistan to change the rules. A number of Muslim INGOs are not allowed to work in Europe. In Pakistan, INGOs are given the right of appeal, but Pakistanis, who try to get work permit in the West, are not granted this right. Moreover, some German INGOs were not doing social work and had political agenda as they were attached with German political parties. Some INGOs were doing mapping in Pakistan and they entered in security domain,” she said.

“However, I agree that INGOs should have been told the reason why they were stopped from functioning because if that was done the issue would not have blown up,” Dr Mazari said.

Earlier, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Mohammad Siddique informed the committee that it was a four-year-old issue and needed to be linked with the war on terror and incidents of terrorism in the country.

“Policy for INGOs was revised in 2015 and earlier this sector was unregulated. Some INGOs were working beyond their mandate so we limited them to socio-economic development. Applications of all INGOs were examined by a body which has representation of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior, the Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence, etc. Applications of 74 INGOs were approved and 27 were rejected,” he said.

“Nine INGOs decided to leave the country, but 18 filed appeals. All of them were given an opportunity of personal hearing and after that some applications were rejected. They have been directed to wind up their operations within two months and leave the country. They can again apply after six months but they would be limited to issues such as clean drinking water, education, health, etc. In the past, they were holding debates on homosexuality, etc,” Mr Siddique said.

“It has been decided that the German INGOs would be handled by the ministry of foreign affairs. We are not against any country as INGOs, which have been stopped from working, belong to different countries including Japan and the US,” he said.

Representative of an INGO Khurram Hashmi said that during a number of meetings he was never told about any illegal practice.

“We provided all the documents demanded by the body, but 18 INGOs were directed to stop operations on the same date. Now we are being told to apply again after six months. INGOs would not return if they were directed to leave the country. A large number of people are losing jobs,” he said.

Another representative of an INGO Saba Gul Khattak asked how organisations could change their programme if they were not told about their flaws.

The committee directed the interior ministry to share the reasons with INGOs for which they were directed to stop operations.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2018

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