Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Pakistan won’t abandon peace efforts, says Qureshi

WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday that ,despite India’s reluctance,, Pakistan would not close doors on its efforts to promote peace in the region.

Addressing a news conference at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Mr Qureshi also dispelled the impression that Pakistan was being forced to choose between China and the United States. “China has no issue with Pakistan’s efforts to maintain friendly relations with the United States as well,” he said.

The foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s ,offer to open the Kartarpur corridor, for allowing Sikh pilgrims to attend Baba Guru Nanak’s anniversary this year.

“India is reluctant, we will not close our doors,” said Mr Qureshi while defining his government’s policy towards the neighbouring country. “Hiding away from issues will not make them disappear. It will not improve the situation in Kashmir.”

The minister noted that India used incidents that happened in July to cancel peace talks that it agreed to in September.

Mr Qureshi confirmed that he was meeting US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Washington on Oct 2 and said the decision to hold these follow-up talks was taken during Mr Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad earlier this month.

US or China?

Asked if Pakistan was finding it difficult to balance its relations with both the United States and China, as the two major powers were vying for influence in the region, Mr Qureshi said: “Both relationships are very important for Pakistan. China is a very important and reliable, friend. We are working on a very, very important project, the CPEC,” he said. “And America is also very important for Pakistan, so we will engage with both. The Chinese understand Pakistan’s position and they have no issue with it.”

Pakistan-India ties

The foreign minister said he was unable to understand India’s refusal to participate in peace talks with Pakistan. “Engagement, no-engagement. Coming, not coming. We desired talks as we believe the sensible way is to meet and talk. They agreed, and then disagreed.”

The minister pointed out that India’s response to Pakistan’s peace offer was harsh and non-diplomatic. “We did not use a non-diplomatic language in our rejoinder. Our response was matured and measured. They adopted a new approach, and moved back.”

Mr Qureshi said that Sushma Swaraj’s “language and tone was unbecoming of a foreign minister”.

Asked if tensions between India and Pakistan could lead to a war between the two countries, the minister said: “Who is talking of war? Not us. We want peace, stability, employment and improving lives. You identify where is the reluctance.”

Mr Qureshi said that Pakistan’s desire for peace should not be mistaken for a sign of weakness. “We want peace. It does not mean, we cannot defend ourselves against aggression. We can but we do not have an aggressive mindset,” he said.

Saudi-UAE investments

Responding to a question about reports that Saudi Arabia had agreed to invest more than $10 billion in Pakistan, Mr Qureshi said no amounts were discussed in his visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

He said that since the country did not have a foreign minister for four years, Pakistan’s relations with those two important allies suffered but the new government had now launched an effort to re-engage with them.

Mr Qureshi said that since his return from those countries, he has exchanged letters with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and their officials would soon visit Pakistan to talk about opportunities. “What you see in the news is not correct,” he added.

US-Pakistan relations

The foreign minister said he had also seen media reports about the restoration of US security assistance to Pakistan but he would not comment on them until he heard it directly from US officials.

He said the US severed security assistance to Pakistan in the past too and the consequences of such disconnects were not good.

“Direct contacts lead to face-recognition and personal understanding, which help improve relations,” said the minister while referring to the US decision to discontinue training facilities for Pakistani defence officials.

Mr Qureshi said the misunderstanding created after the US press statement on Secretary Pompeo’s conversation with Prime Minister Imran Khan had been removed. Now, both sides were working on how to re-inject warmth in this old, traditional relationship. He said that during Mr Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad both sides had “very candid, frank and honest conversations” and both civil and military officials participated in those talks. “The US statement about those meetings was also positive, defying the prediction that it would be negative and sticks will come out.”

He disagreed with the suggestion that reference to Pakistan-based terrorist groups in a recent US-India joint statement was negative for Pakistan.

“If you believe that India will not mention terrorism, you are wrong. But this is no reason to worry,” he said.

Mr Qureshi said if India continued to increase pressure on the eastern borders, it would hurt Pakistan’s ability to focus on the western border and those interested in peace and stability in the region must note this.

US-India relationship

The foreign minister said Pakistan understood the US desire to forge a strategic relationship with India but old friends should not be ignored in the enthusiasm to make new friends.

“The US has always benefited from its relations with Pakistan — during the Cold War, the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the war against terrorism,” he said.

Asked why was the US ignoring Pakistan now, Mr Qureshi said that individuals and countries “always look for excuses to justify their failures but everyone owns up a victory. We need to understand this and move this relationship forward. Where we have convergence, we should.”

Postal stamp

The foreign minister also rejected India’s concerns about a postal stamp that showed a Kashmiri freedom fighter. “Hundreds of thousands of people are fighting in Kashmir, not all of them are terrorists,” he said.

US-Taliban talks

“We will use whatever influence we have. Our thoughts are positive. We have a clear conscience,” said Mr Qureshi when asked if Pakistan would use its influence on the Taliban to make them join the peace talks.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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PML-N, PPP hold govt responsible for diplomatic debacle with India

ISLAMABAD: The country’s two major opposition parties have held the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government responsible for ,the latest diplomatic debacle, following New Delhi’s refusal to hold a meeting between the two foreign ministers in New York and questioned the “haste being shown by Prime Minister Imran Khan in making efforts to mend fences with India”.

The leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) allege that the government has not done its homework and assessed the situation before approaching India for a meeting, terming the talks offer through a letter written by Prime Minister Imran Khan to his Indian counterpart a “misstep”.

PML-N President and Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif has called on the international community to take notice of the jingoistic statement of the Indian army chief, while stating that “Pakistan is more than capable of defending and responding to any aggression by New Delhi”.

Shahbaz calls on world community to take notice of Indian army chief’s jingoistic remarks

In a tweet, Mr Sharif wrote, “The bellicose & irresponsible statement by the Indian army chief exposes the Indian designs to the world that should immediately take note of New Delhi’s threatening posture. Pakistan extending an olive branch to India should never be misconstrued as weakness.”

“Pakistan’s unwavering patriotic soldiers stand steadfast to defend with might and fury against unprovoked aggression from any threat. While the nation stands united with their intrepid military and against the cowardly threats,” he added.

Talking to Dawn here on Saturday, former foreign minister and PML-N MNA from Sialkot Khawaja Mohammad Asif said it seemed the government was “not prepared” from day one, adding that “too much keenness being shown by the prime minister” showed “weakness on our part”.

“Giving them (India) too much reflects haste on our part to mend fences with India,” he said, adding that he was not against normalisation of relations between the two neighbouring nuclear states, but “dignity must be maintained”.

Mr Asif regretted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had written the letter in which he “talked about terrorism” without realising that the US and India had recently issued a joint statement after the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to New Delhi and Islamabad which was “dead against” Pakistan.

“They (US and India) raised all kinds of allegations against Pakistan and you are talking about terrorism (in the letter). This is a sign of weakness (on our part),” Mr Asif said, while criticising Mr Khan for stating in the letter that “Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism”.

Moreover, he said, Mr Khan had offered “olive branch” to India at a time, when it was committing serious human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.

The senior PML-N leader also criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that “he is playing to the gallery” as part of election campaign in his country. He said the PML-N government had always found India’s attitude “unrealistic and obstructive”.

Similarly, PPP Vice-President and the country’s former ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman said the government should have done its homework before approaching India for a meeting, especially after the initial response.

“Right now, however the Indian Govt and Army chief response is both immature and irresponsible. What are they threatening Pakistan about?” she questioned. “They have crossed all diplomatic norms and protocols to emerge as a belligerent nuclear power that is only looking to externalise its own extremisms,” writes Ms Rehman on her official social media page on Twitter.

“So (the) Modi government suddenly found Pakistan government evil over a stamp issued on 24th July, and a Kashmir killing ruse. Weak diversion from domestic crisis over #Hollande Bombshell and #RafaelDeal; anxiety over earlier UN report and session where Delhi may have to defend Kashmir atrocities,” she writes.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018

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We are ready for war, but choose to walk path of peace: Pakistan Army

Moments after ,Times of India reported inflammatory statements by Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, on Saturday, the Pakistan Army spokesperson responded by saying: “We [Pakistan Army] are ready for war but choose to walk the path of peace in the interest of the people of Pakistan, the neighbours and the region”.

These remarks were made by Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor while talking to Dunya TV.

According to TOI, the Indian army chief said India “needs to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that the terrorists and Pakistan Army have been carrying out”. “Yes, it’s time to give it back to them in the same coin, not resorting to similar kind of barbarism. But I think the other side must also feel the same pain,” the Indian army chief was quoted as saying.

Gen Rawat’s comments came shortly after Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter earlier on Saturday to respond to ,India’s cancellation of the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), ,calling New Delhi’s reaction “arrogant and negative”,. “All my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture,” added PM Khan.

Responding to Gen Rawat’s statements, Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan has a long-standing record of fighting terrorism, adding “we know the price [that is paid] for peace”.

Read: ,India cancels New York meeting with Pakistan, says PM Khan’s ‘true face revealed’,

“We have struggled to achieve peace in the last two decades. We can never do anything to disgrace any soldier,” he asserted, strongly denying the claims made by India that hold the Pakistan Army responsible for the killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier.

“They have in the past as well laid the blame on us for mutilating the body of a fallen soldier. We are a professional army. We never engage in such acts.

“As far as the issuance of postal tickets is concerned, the UN released a human rights violation report following which the then interim government issued those tickets highlighting the plight of Kashmiris.

“To turn this into an excuse that the peace process has been tainted or that Pakistan has somehow changed its stance, is inappropriate,” the ISPR chief said.

Related: ,Islamabad ‘deeply disappointed’ over New Delhi’s cancellation of meeting between FMs,

“There is a freedom struggle going on in the Indian occupied Kashmir, and Burhan Wani onwards, it is completely a political movement,” Ghafoor said, adding that the struggle for independence has become a part of the DNA of Kashmiris and this is now the third generation which is willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

“They [India] should come forward for a dialogue. Whenever attempts for dialogue have failed, it is because India has run away from the table.

“The government of Pakistan’s offer still stands for India to come forward and hold talks with us,” the ISPR chief said.

‘Indian govt trying to divert public’s attention’

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry also promptly issued a response, backing the DG ISPR’s statement. “Pakistan and India are nuclear powers; a war is out of question,” he said.

The information minister termed the Indian army chief’s statement an attempt to divert the attention of Indian public from the ,mega corruption scandal, and the subsequent calls for resignation faced by PM Modi-led BJP government.

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Chaudhry said that the Indian army chief’s statement was inappropriate and that the general must refrain from using statements as a political tool.

“The Indian army chief needs to understand that he is not a BJP leader,” Chaudhry remarked, adding that “the world stands witness to who wants war and who wants peace”.

“As a peace-loving nation, Pakistan desires peace [with India],” he stressed, highlighting the fact that peace will be in the benefit of billions across both nations.

He said that Pakistan had reached out in hopes for peace and will continue its efforts to that end.

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Islamabad ‘deeply disappointed’ over New Delhi’s cancellation of meeting between FMs

The Pakistan government on Friday said it is “deeply disappointed” after New Delhi announced to cancel the meeting of foreign ministers of India and Pakistan — which was to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York — and blamed India for “once again wasting an opportunity to change the dynamics of the bilateral relationship”.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said that the ,reasons cited by the Indian side, for the decision to cancel the foreign ministers’ meeting, within 24 hours of its public confirmation, are entirely unconvincing.

“The so-called ‘disturbing developments’ alluded to in the Indian statement predated the Indian agreement to hold the bilateral meeting in New York,” Islamabad said.

Know more: ,India cancels New York meeting with Pakistan, says PM Khan’s ‘true face revealed’,

Clarifying its position on the matter, the Foreign Office said that the alleged killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier took place two days prior to the Indian announcement of its agreement to hold the bilateral meeting.

“When the allegations of Pakistan’s involvement first appeared, the Pakistan Rangers clearly conveyed to BSF through official channels that Pakistan had nothing to do with it. Pakistan Rangers also extended help in efforts to locate the soldier’s body.

“These facts were known to the Indian authorities and a part of the Indian media also reported that Pakistan had refuted its involvement. Yet, this motivated and malicious propaganda continued.

“Pakistan takes this opportunity to categorically reject these allegations once again. Our authorities would be prepared to conduct a joint investigation to establish the truth,” read the Foreign Office statement.

The other reason cited by the Indian ministry referred to the issuance of 20 special postage stamps by Pakistan Post on July 24, highlighting the gross violation of human rights by Indian forces in held Kashmir.

Islamabad clarified that the postage stamps mentioned in the Indian statement were issued before the July 25 elections, following which Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office.

“The stamps highlight the gross and systematic human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir, which were extensively documented also in a comprehensive report issued by the ,United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as late as June 2018.

“By falsely raising the canard of ‘terrorism’, India can neither hide its unspeakable crimes against the Kashmiri people nor can it delegitimise their indigenous struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination,” the Foreign Office maintained.

Most unfortunate is the reference in the Indian MEA statement to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The Foreign Office also expressed disappointment over the “reference in the Indian MEA statement to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan”, and termed it “unfortunate”.

“We choose not to further comment beyond saying that these comments are against all norms of civilised discourse and diplomatic communication,” read the statement.

Putting the record straight, the Foreign Office mentioned that PM Imran Khan had, in his first public comments after his electoral success, outlined a forward-looking vision of Pakistan-India relations.

“He had clearly stated that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two. In the same spirit, PM Khan in his reply letter endorsed PM Modi’s call for ‘constructive engagement’ and proposed the meeting of the two foreign ministers in New York to discuss a way forward on bilateral and Saarc-related matters,” it clarified.

Terming it an “ill-considered cancellation of the meeting”, the Foreign Office accused India of “once again wasting a serious opportunity to change the dynamics of the bilateral relationship and put the region on the path of peace and development”.

“Pakistan has always desired peaceful and good-neighbourly relations with India, on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. In our view, dialogue and diplomacy are the only constructive way forward for the two countries to address mutual concerns, rebuild trust, resolve longstanding disputes, and establish durable peace in South Asia.

“For its part, Pakistan will persist with its quest for peace and development. But, as we have consistently emphasised, our approach will continue to be guided by the aforementioned principles and the dictates of national dignity,” read the Foreign Office statement.

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Islamabad expresses ‘disappointment’ after New Delhi backtracks from talks

The Pakistan government on Friday expressed “disappointment” after New Delhi announced to cancel the meeting of foreign ministers of India and Pakistan, to be held on the sidelines of UNGA in New York, and blamed India for “once again wasting an opportunity to change the dynamics of the bilateral relationship”.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said that the ,reasons cited by the Indian side, for the decision to cancel the foreign ministers’ meeting, within 24 hours of its public confirmation, are entirely unconvincing.

“The so-called ‘disturbing developments’ alluded to in the Indian statement predated the Indian agreement to hold the bilateral meeting in New York,” Islamabad said.

Know more: ,India cancels New York meeting with Pakistan, says PM Khan’s ‘true face revealed’,

Clarifying its position on the matter, the Foreign Office said that the alleged killing of BSF soldier took place two days prior to the Indian announcement of its agreement to hold the bilateral meeting.

“When the allegations of Pakistan’s involvement first appeared, the Pakistan Rangers clearly conveyed to BSF through official channels that Pakistan had nothing to do with it. Pakistan Rangers also extended help in efforts to locate the soldier’s body.

“These facts were known to the Indian authorities and a part of the Indian media also reported that Pakistan had refuted its involvement. Yet, this motivated and malicious propaganda continued.

“Pakistan takes this opportunity to categorically reject these allegations once again. Our authorities would be prepared to conduct a joint investigation to establish the truth,” read the Foreign Office statement.

The other reason cited by the Indian ministry referred to the issuance of 20 special postage stamps by Pakistan Post on July 24, highlighting the gross violation of human rights by Indian forces in held Kashmir.

Islamabad clarified that the postage stamps mentioned in the Indian statement were issued before the July 25 elections, following which Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office.

“The stamps highlight the gross and systematic human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir, which were extensively documented also in a comprehensive report issued by the ,United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as late as June 2018.

“By falsely raising the canard of ‘terrorism’, India can neither hide its unspeakable crimes against the Kashmiri people nor can it delegitimise their indigenous struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination,” the Foreign Office maintained.

Most unfortunate is the reference in the Indian MEA statement to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The Foreign Office also expressed disappointment over the “reference in the Indian MEA statement to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan”, and termed it “unfortunate”.

“We choose not to further comment beyond saying that these comments are against all norms of civilised discourse and diplomatic communication,” read the statement.

Putting the record straight, the Foreign Office mentioned that PM Imran Khan had, in his first public comments after his electoral success, outlined a forward-looking vision of Pakistan-India relations.

“He had clearly stated that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two. In the same spirit, PM Khan in his reply letter endorsed PM Modi’s call for ‘constructive engagement’ and proposed the meeting of the two foreign ministers in New York to discuss a way forward on bilateral and Saarc-related matters,” it clarified.

Terming it an “ill-considered cancellation of the meeting”, the Foreign Office accused India of “once again wasting a serious opportunity to change the dynamics of the bilateral relationship and put the region on the path of peace and development”.

“Pakistan has always desired peaceful and good-neighbourly relations with India, on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. In our view, dialogue and diplomacy are the only constructive way forward for the two countries to address mutual concerns, rebuild trust, resolve longstanding disputes, and establish durable peace in South Asia.

“For its part, Pakistan will persist with its quest for peace and development. But, as we have consistently emphasised, our approach will continue to be guided by the aforementioned principles and the dictates of national dignity,” read the Foreign Office statement.

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Sharifs will be offered neither deal nor concession: minister

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday rejected the notion that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members were ,released from jail, under a “deal” and that Saudi Arabia had played any role in it.

“Nawaz Sharif is not so important for Saudi Arabia that they will talk about him,” said Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry while speaking at a news conference a day after Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar were released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail after suspension of their sentences by the Islamabad High Court in the Avenfield properties case.

Editorial: ,Much room for NAB process against Sharifs to improve,

The IHC verdict coincided with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, giving rise to speculation in some circles that the Sharif family members’ release was a result of the Saudis’ request.

It may be recalled that Saudi Arabia was a guarantor in a deal between the Sharif family and then military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2000 under which the Sharifs were released from jail and allowed to leave the country.

PML-N terms Fawad Chaudhry’s remarks ‘irresponsible’ and asks him to focus on governance

“Those who say that Saudi Arabia would have talked [about Nawaz Sharif during Prime Minister Khan’s visit] actually don’t know what kind of relationship the Saudis have with Nawaz Sharif,” the information minister said without elaborating.

“There will be no deal and no dheel (concession) with them (the Sharifs),” he declared, adding that soon “they will be back to the place where they had been a few days back”. “Nawaz Sharif will be in and out of jail. This thing will continue,” he said, adding that the Sharifs had only been granted bail and the case was still pending against them.

“Those who were questioning the government for putting the names of the Sharifs on the Exit Control List (ECL) would have got the answer now. Had we not done so, they could have flown to London soon after their release, and where would we have looked for these princes then?” he said, justifying the decision of the federal cabinet to place the names of the Sharifs on the ECL during its first meeting.

“We will not allow Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz to leave Pakistan and at the same time we will not allow (former finance minister) Ishaq Dar, and Hassan and Hussain (the two sons of Mr Sharif) to stay out of Pakistan,” he said.

Mr Chaudhry said that for them it was not important that how much time the Sharifs would spend in jail, as for the government bringing back the looted money of the people of this country was more important.

Lashing out at the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, he said it was heartening to see the PML-N people praising the courts. “So if the verdict is in their favour, all is well with the judiciary, and if it is against them, then the system is corrupt?” the minister said, asking the PML-N to decide once and for all as to what was their stance to end their confusion.

“In my opinion, the judiciary is free and independent,” he added.

Mr Chaudhry said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was also an independent institution and the government had no control over it. He said the government was looking for the loopholes due to which the Sharifs had been granted bail and soon they would rectify them and send them back to jail.

PML-N’s reaction

The PML-N termed the information minister’s remarks “irresponsible” and asked him to focus on “governance” instead of wasting time on petty matters.

Talking to Dawn, PML-N information secretary Mushahidullah Khan said that no party leader had given any statement about courts after the IHC verdict as they believed that Mr Sharif had only got “relief” and not justice.

Commenting on Mr Chaudhry’s statement regarding deal, he said the PML-N had not struck any deal when it could have done so in the past then why it would be doing it now. “Had we struck a deal, Nawaz Sharif would have been prime minister even today,” he said.

Mr Khan also ridiculed the minister’s justification for putting the names of the Sharifs on the ECL, terming the government’s act “vindictive”. He recalled that Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were in London when the NAB court had announced the verdict and they returned home despite knowing that they would straightaway land in jail.

On the other hand, he said, the PML-N government did not put the name of Imran Khan and even President Arif Alvi on the ECL despite the fact that they were facing terrorism charges.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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Imran calls for talks to end Saudi-Yemen dispute

PRIME Minister Imran Khan speaks to Al Arabiya’s general manager Turki al-Dakhil during the interview.—Courtesy AL ARABIYA

PRIME Minister Imran Khan speaks to Al Arabiya’s general manager Turki al-Dakhil during the interview.—Courtesy AL ARABIYA

KARACHI: Speaking about the Saudi-Yemen dispute, Prime Minister Imran Khan has told Saudi media that all conflicts could be resolved through dialogue.

“I feel that every conflict has a political solution. I am not a believer in a military solution,” the prime minister said in an ,interview to a Saudi newspaper, published on Wednesday, during his first foreign visit after assuming office.

He said his country was confident of Riyadh’s support as Saudi Arabia had always backed Pakistan.

“Anyone who comes to power in Pakistan will visit Saudi Arabia first as the two countries share a strong people-to-people relationship,” Mr Khan said in his first interview to foreign media after becoming prime minister.

Rejecting military solution, PM says every conflict has political solution

“Saudi Arabia has in the past helped Pakistan when [the country] has been in need,” he added.

Sharing his views on Saudi-Yemen relations, the premier said Pakistan wanted to play a “reconciliatory role” in the Muslim world. “We feel that it’s very important that there should not be any conflict in the Muslim world,” he said, adding that this would be Pakistan’s main effort.

“I would like to ensure peace in the Middle East because it is very distressing for Muslims to see conflict among Muslim nations. There are already several conflicts plaguing the Muslim world, starting from Libya to Somalia, to Syria, Afghanistan… Pakistan has [also] suffered a lot,” Mr Khan said.

“Conflict in the Muslim world is weakening all of us … Pakistan would like to play a role in putting out these fires,” he affirmed, adding that if required for Yemen, Islamabad would play a positive role there also to end the conflict.

PM Khan praised Saudi King Salman and showed his willingness to duplicate the kingdom’s anti-corruption measures in Pakistan.

“White collar crime is very difficult to fight … it’s a very long process to retrieve the money but we have now set up a task force to retrieve our money that has been taken out of Pakistan,” said the prime minister.

Asked if he would be able to solve old and multiple crises facing Pakistan during his five-year tenure, PM Khan said that he had a three-pronged strategy to realise this dream — to fight poverty and corruption, to invest in human resources and to build strong institutions.

Responding to a question about frequent Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, the premier said: “This is a stated position of all our governments that we will not allow anyone to attack Saudi Arabia. We will stand by Saudi Arabia.”

Speaking about his geopolitical policy, Mr Khan said he wanted peace and stability in the region. “To get stability we need peace with all our neighbors. We already have very good relationship with China; we need good relationship with Afghanistan and India. We have made overtures to both,” he said, reaffirming that he wanted to develop relations with both Afghanistan and India based on mutual trust.

Pakistan is the founder member of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition which is based in Riyadh. Asked how did the prime minister see the role of Pakistan in this context, Mr Khan said no country in the world but Pakistan could give expert advice on countering terrorism.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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SC to hear next week petition seeking Imran’s disqualification

ISLAMABAD: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will take up next week a petition seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to the cause-list issued by the apex court, the petition has been fixed before the bench comprising CJP Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan for Monday (Sept 24).

The petition was filed by Barrister Danyal Chaudhry in May last year soon after the apex court had constituted a six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe allegations of corruption against then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and has been pending before court since then.

The petitioner was seeking a special oath to the JIT members for protecting them from getting influenced by the speeches of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan.

Plea was filed in May last year soon after the apex court constituted JIT to probe corruption allegations against Nawaz Sharif

The petition filed through Advocate Quasain Faisal Mufti had requested the apex court to restrain Imran Khan from activities which could influence the minds of the JIT members because his speeches and press releases could prejudice the investigation team. It also feared that if Mr Khan was not stopped from making political statements, it might allegedly result in derailment of democracy — a process running successfully and smoothly for a decade.

The petition had also requested the Supreme Court to order the Pakistan Electronic Media Regula­tory Authority (Pemra) not to allow broadcast by the electronic media of any material which jeopardised the sovereignty, integrity and solidarity of Pakistan and well-being and prosperity of the people of Pakistan.

The petitioner was of the opinion that people could not afford any turmoil or turbulence at this juncture when the country and its people were trying to bridge the trust and peace deficit, which over the years developed due to unbridled waves of terrorism that had lessened after remarkable efforts by the country’s armed forces, but not yet completely overcome.

International forces had been given the task of sabotaging the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor against which certain indigenous political forces due to their innocence acted as a catalyst to sabotage the historic and giant project — an emblem of long-lasting Pakistan-China friendship, the petition emphasised.

It recalled that due to the PTI’s 2014 sit-in in Islamabad, the Chinese president had deferred his visit to Pakistan, resulting in jeopardising different projects pertaining to the CPEC because of political uncertainty that negatively impacted the country’s financial markets. The foreign exchange reserves had also declined considerably as a result, it argued.

The petition alleged that Imran Khan was making speeches to undermine the Panama Papers case judgement and further influence the expected outcome of the JIT investigation. In some of his statements, it said, Mr Khan was making allegations against different institutions including but not limited to those who were bestowed upon with the responsibility to investigate the allegations as ordered by the Supreme Court.

The petition alleged that the conduct of Mr Khan amounted to destabilising the government and hampered the functioning of the federal government by weakening its writ and thus destabilising the confidence of the government in making decisions in respect of national and international affairs.

Besides other things, the petition had sought disqualification of Imran Khan for not disclosing his alleged loved child Teriyan White in his nomination papers for the general elections.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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Faisal Raza Abidi booked for ‘defaming SC, judges’

ISLAMABAD: Former senator Faisal Raza Abidi was booked by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the capital police for “defaming the Supreme Court and judges”.

The FIA and police will conduct separate investigations, police officials said, and that the former senator and others were booked under several charges, including the Anti-Terrorism Act.

According to the case registered with the FIA, a programme titled Subah Subah Naya Pakistan was aired by web channel Naya Pakistan on July 2, which was hosted by anchorperson Shanza Sheikh Rahman.

The guest speaker on the show was Faisal Raza Abidi.

It says that during the course of his appearance on the show, the accused, with criminal intent and ulterior motives and without any lawful justification used sarcastic, derogatory, disrespectful and defamatory language against the chief justice etc. which it says is tantamount to creating a sense of fear, panic and insecurity among the government, general public and society.

It says Faisal Raza Abidi is prima facie guilty of offences punishable under sections 10(a), 11 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016 read with sections 109 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

An FIA official said the case will be registered by the FIA’s cybercrime wing, which was registered under the prevention of the Electronic Crimes Act and the PPC.

Another case was registered at the Secretariat police station under PPC’s sections 228, 500, 505(ii) and 34 along with the ATA in response to a complaint lodged by SC Public Relations Officer Shahid Hussain Kambyo.

The FIR says the video went viral on social media and that the accused can be clearly seen in the video. The identity of the woman will be ascertained during the investigation.

It says the former senator was highly abusive, contemptuous, used threatening language and levelled allegations against government institutions which have been created via the Constitution and has also levelled accusations against individuals holding the highest constitutional posts.

The FIR says that via his speech, Mr Abidi created panic, scared the public and intimidated constitutional functionaries in order to refrain them from discharging their constitutional obligations.

It says the language and words used by Mr Abidi comes under the ATA 1997, which are punishable under the ATA and other provisions of the PPC, it says.

A police officer toldDawnthe anchorperson has been identified and action will also be taken against her.

Efforts for arresting the accused will be started after Ashura and a team will be sent to Karachi for making an arrest, he said.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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PM Khan responds to Modi ‘in positive spirit’ to resume talks, resolve all issues

Prime Minister Imran Khan has written a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling for the resumption of the peace dialogue between the two countries, ,Times of India reported on Thursday,.

“PM has responded to PM Modi, in a positive spirit, reciprocating his sentiments,” shared Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal on Twitter, without specifying whether the communication was via a letter. “Let’s talk and resolve all issues. We await formal response from India.”

,According to Times of India,, PM Khan specifically sought a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York later this month.

During yesterday’s weekly briefing, Dr Faisal had said ? while responding to a question about the chances of a bilateral meeting between the FMs on the sidelines of the UNGA ? that no decision had yet been taken on it. “We are engaged in the matter,” he said.

The letter from the premier is a response to Modi’s communique earlier this month to PM Khan, seeking “meaningful and constructive” engagement between the two neighbours.

The TOI news report quoted diplomatic sources as saying that PM Khan in his letter called for the resumption of the comprehensive dialogue process between the two countries. Khan wrote that India and Pakistan should resolve all outstanding issues, including terrorism and Kashmir, through dialogue.

Steps for better ties

Last month, the then prime minister-elect Imran Khan ,in his victory speech, had expressed his desire to “improve relations with India, if their leadership also wants it”.

“If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but we at least need a start,” he had said.

Subsequently, Indian premier Modi had telephoned him to convey that Delhi was “,ready to enter, a new a new era of relations with Pakistan”.

Modi had said both countries should adopt a joint strategy for progress in bilateral ties. The PTI chairman had expressed same views during his first ,meeting with the Indian envoy, after the July 25 election and had pushed for the “resumption of talks between Pakistan and India”.

Last month, following a visit by Navjot Singh Sidhu to Pakistan for the prime minister’s oath-taking ceremony, PM Khan took to Twitter to once again invite India to dialogue and pursue peace, terming it the “best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent”.

“To move forward, ,Pakistan and India must dialogue, and resolve their conflicts, including Kashmir,” the premier was quoted as saying.

“The best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue and start trading.”

‘Dialogue only way forward’

Newly appointed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had also made clear in his first press conference after assuming office that he would pursue dialogue with the neighbouring rival as a way forward.

“Us coming to the table and talking peace is our only option. We need to stop the adventurism and come together. We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage,” Qureshi had said. “We cannot turn our cheek. Yes we have outstanding issues. Kashmir is a reality; it is an issue that both our nations acknowledge.”

“We need a continued and uninterrupted dialogue. This is our only way forward,” he had stressed.

“We may have a different approach and line of thinking, but I want to see a change in how we behave,” he had added. “India and Pakistan have to move forward keeping realities before them.”

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Pakistan, Saudi Arabia pledge to defeat terrorism

PRIME Minister Imran Khan shakes hands with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.—APP

PRIME Minister Imran Khan shakes hands with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Reaffirming their intention to stand by each other at all times, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have pledged to continue their decades-old partnership to defeat the scourge of extremism and terrorism.

The two countries ,reiterated the pledge, during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meetings with Saudi leadership in Jeddah on Wednesday.

The PM called on Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and extended an invitation to the Saudi leadership to visit Pakistan at an early date. “The offer was graciously accepted, in principle, by the Saudi leadership,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

Saudi King, Crown Prince accept PM Imran’s invitation to visit Pakistan

Acknowledging each other’s efforts and sacrifices, the two sides agreed on the need to promote peace and security to ensure progress, development and prosperity.

As the PM briefed the Saudi leadership about Pakistan’s successes and sacrifices in its fight against terrorism and highlighted the role of “actors trying to destabilise Pakistan”, the latter apprised the former of the steps taken by the Kingdom to curb extremism and terrorism and shared views “on the forces spreading extremist ideologies in the region”.

Mr Khan strongly condemned the efforts to promote religious extremism, sectarianism and terrorism.

Both the countries expressed complete solidarity with each other in their “efforts at preserving their sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

The two sides agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation as well as their collaboration at the regional and multilateral forums to promote peace and security.

Guard of honour

It was the prime minister’s first foreign visit after assuming office. He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood.

He was received by King Salman at his palace in Jeddah, where Mr Khan was presented with a guard of honour and a state banquet was hosted for him and his entourage.

In the meeting, the two leaders discussed bilateral relationship, the regional and global political situation and the issues confronting Muslim Ummah, according to a statement issued from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

They expressed their desire to further enhance and diversify bilateral cooperation and to continue close coordination on issues of mutual interest.

Crown Prince hosts dinner for Imran

During the visit, the PM also held a meeting with the Saudi crown prince, who hosted a dinner in his honour.

The two leaders accompanied by their ministers and senior officials, held detailed discussions on ways to strengthen bilateral relationship and on the regional political and security situation.

They exchanged ideas on enhancing cooperation in political, defence, economic, commercial and cultural sectors, developing joint ventures in line with their respective developmental needs, strengthening collaboration in human resource sector and addressing the issues faced by Pakistani expatriates in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi leadership congratulated Pakistan on its successful democratic transition, in a peaceful and fair manner and felicitated Mr Khan on his election as the PM.

Appreciating the PM’s idea of transforming his country into a welfare state based on Islamic socio-economic principles, the Saudi leadership assured Pakistan of its maximum assistance.

Pakistan thanked Saudi Arabia for its steadfast and continued support.

ABU DHABI: Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE’s Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan here on Wednesday after completing his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia.—APP

ABU DHABI: Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE’s Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan here on Wednesday after completing his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia.—APP

Plight of Kashmiris discussed

The PM informed the Saudi leadership about the plight of the Muslims of India-held Kashmir, suffering grievous human rights violations.

Mentioning the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the human rights violations in held Jammu and Kashmir, he stressed the need for Islamic solidarity and unity in raising the issue forcefully at the UN Human Rights Council.

The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to the just struggle of the Palestinian people to restore their rights and achieve the independence of the state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

They also stressed that the international community must respect the just struggle of the people living under foreign occupation and the legitimate right to self-determination, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

With a view to developing tangible and meaningful bilateral cooperation in key areas, the two countries agreed to intensify consultations and coordination in order to strengthen their strategic partnership.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia reaffirmed their historical and brotherly ties, rooted in bonds of common religion, shared culture and values and quest for regional and global peace and security.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the convergence of views on a host of regional and global issues, as well as the issues faced by Muslim Ummah.

They reaffirmed their intention to stand by each other at all times.

Pakistan praised the Saudi leadership on a smooth and successful organisation of Haj this year and acknowledged the eminent position of respect and reverence among the Muslim Ummah enjoyed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

It also commended the visionary leadership of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

Overseas Pakistanis

Meanwhile, the prime minister also addressed the Pakistani community in Jeddah in which he assured them the government would constitute the ministry of overseas Pakistanis so that it could become helpful for the expats as well as the investors.

The PM and his delegation later arrived in Abu Dhabi from Saudi Arabia.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018

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Islamabad part of solution in Afghanistan: US

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has to be a part of a solution in Afghanistan, says a Pentagon report, summarising the US military chief’s recent visits to friendly nations, including Pakistan.

The report, released this week, says that the main purpose of Gen Joseph Dunford’s visit to these nations was to “maintaining and building alliances”.

Gen Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, also reached out to “prospective partners to encourage cooperation and interoperability.”

Pentagon report quotes America’s top military official as saying Pakistan can help bring Taliban to
peace talks

The report says that the chairman visited Islamabad early this month because “Pakistan is key to the ‘South Asia Strategy’ that President Donald Trump espoused in August 2017. Pakistan has to be a part of a solution in Afghanistan.”

The report notes that Gen Dunford joined US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The report also includes a quote from Gen Dunford about the US team’s meeting with Gen Bajwa. “When we talked to Gen Bajwa on a military-to-military level, we listened to the prime minister very carefully [and] we listened to the secretary very carefully,” the US general said. “The objectives were very consistent between the secretary and prime minister. Gen Bajwa and I agreed that we will leverage the military-to-military relationship for the secretary and prime minister and, more importantly, for President Trump’s South Asia Strategy.”

The report, however, also highlights the need to implement the decisions taken at the US-Pakistan meetings. “Actions speak louder than words and the Pakistani leaders agreed to ‘reset’ their relationship with the United States,” it adds, backing it up with another quote from Gen Dunford.

“What we want to see: the Taliban at the peace table dealing with Afghans,” Gen Dunford said. “And we believe the Pakistanis play a unique role in bringing the Taliban to the peace process.”

Talking to journalists here earlier this week, Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi also said that Islamabad’s relations with Pakistan were gradually improving and it was no longer an aid-based relationship.

“Our relationship with the US has turned the corner and is, now moving in the right direction,” he said. “It is not on the lowest ebb.”

He said that seeking US aid was not Pakistan’s primary consideration.

“We want good relations with or without security assistance. We can work without US assistance.”

The Pentagon report points out that from Islamabad, Gen Dunford flew to New Delhi to join US Defence Secretary James N. Mattis, and Secretary Pompeo for the 2+2 Talks with Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.

In India, the US team discussed regional and global concerns, such as Afghanistan, North Korea and terrorism, with Indian leaders.

It also refers to a statement by Ms Sitharaman, saying that the military-to-military cooperation had been a “key driver” of the US-India relationship.

The report includes Secretary Pompeo’s quote, saying: “We have a responsibility to advance those shared values: rule of law; national sovereignty; good governance; the protection of fundamental freedoms, rights and liberties; free, fair and reciprocal trade relationships and peaceful resolutions of territorial and maritime disputes.”

From New Delhi, Secretary Mattis and Gen Dunford went to Kabul on an unannounced trip and met US, coalition and Afghan officials. The visit was a chance to hear directly from those most directly affected by strategies in the region.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018

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Buzdar could quit if he’s unable to run Punjab affairs: CJP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday appointed Khaliq Dad Lak, national coordinator for the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), to probe why and on whose instruction a senior police officer was transferred in the dead of night without following legal procedure against the backdrop of the Pakpattan incident.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, also rejected an earlier inquiry report submitted by former police chief of Punjab Kaleem Imam who had been directed two weeks ago to investigate how Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Gujranwala chapter president Ahsan Iqbal Jamil Gujjar — in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar — interfered in the administrative matter of police concerning Pakpattan District Police Officer Rizwan Gondal.

The highlight of Monday’s proceedings was the appearance of CM Buzdar before the apex court, which was visibly perturbed over the fact that Mr Gujjar was called to the CM Secretariat without recording his entry at gates, alleged attempts to undermine police force at the meeting and the DPO’s transfer after midnight.

The CJP observed that the inquiry to be conducted by Nacta would expose all links. During the proceedings, he also mentioned Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, which envisages lifetime disqualification of a public office holder on abuse of authority, in the case at hand.

SC rejects inquiry report by former provincial police chief and asks Nacta head to probe DPO’s transfer

The apex court had taken up suo motu notice of the Pakpattan DPO’s transfer for allegedly having an altercation with Khawar Fareed Maneka, former husband of first lady Bushra Imran.

Before postponing further proceedings for two weeks, the CJP suggested to CM Buzdar that he would earn respect in case he quit, realising that it was difficult for him to run the affairs of the country’s largest province in a proper manner.

The chief minister, however, argued that his intention behind the meeting was not bad as he had known Mr Gujjar even before the July 25 general elections. He said the PTI leader was called to the CM Secretariat to settle the controversy between the Maneka family and the police.

CM Buzdar said he had never tried to belittle the RPO and DPO, who he had called to the CM Secretariat in the absence of the Punjab IG as the latter was in Islamabad at that time.

In fact, he added, he showed respect to them and offered tea to the two police officers as he wanted that the officers settle the matter by themselves. After assuming office, the chief minister said he preferred to meet people himself. He said Mr Gujjar was asked to attend the meeting, because he had close links with the Maneka family.

Earlier in his statement given to the Punjab IG, CM Buzdar stated he had called the two officers as elders according to his traditions to address the fears of the Maneka family. It was not an official meeting as both police officers were treated with respect, he added.

The CJP said that the SC wanted to see the police completely independent and free from any political pressures, but it did not auger well if some influential person exerted pressure for the police officer’s transfer in the presence of the chief minister.

The CM should himself have solved the matter, he added.

The CJP recalled how someone said the DPO should be transferred since he did not want to see his face in the morning. He also expressed his surprise over Mr Gujjar’s becoming the guardian of the children of the Maneka family. Referring to the PTI leader, the court also regretted that persons like him destroyed the entire system. Mr Gujjar, however, tendered unqualified apology and threw himself at the mercy of the court.

The chief justice also cautioned the CM that he would have to face the music in case it was established that an attempt had been made to cover up something or someone.

He said he was at a loss to understand why the transfer orders had been issued shortly after midnight and why the DPO was transferred without initiating a proper procedure only to fulfil the wish of a friend of a powerful man.

“This is a question of the rule of law,” the chief justice observed, asking again why should police officers visit someone’s ‘dera’. “Is this the way to run such a big province?” he asked.

During the proceedings, Additional Advocate General for Punjab Shan Gul apprised the court that the DPO had himself decided to go to the ‘dera’. The law official of the Punjab government said efforts would be made to prevent anything like this happening again in future. A legal adviser was deputed at the CM Office for legal consultation, he added.

The CJP observed that the court had provided a chance to the Punjab IG to come up with a faithful report disclosing who had given the transfer orders. But IG Imam wasted the opportunity and brought humiliation to his own department by holding one of his officers at fault, he noted. IG Imam explained that he had issued transfer orders at around 10pm but it was executed around 1am. He also sought forgiveness of the court by extending apology.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2018

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Pakistan, UK launch ‘initiative’ for repatriation of ‘looted wealth’

Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem and British Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Monday jointly announced a justice and accountability ‘initiative’ between the UK and Pakistan aimed at repatriating “the looted wealth of the country”.

The initiative — which the duo insisted will not target individuals but is a broader arrangement between the two governments to collaborate for the elimination of a variety of crimes — was launched during the British home secretary’s official visit to Islamabad.

The ‘initiative’, earlier reported to be an ‘agreement’ but described by the government as only a ‘declaration’, is aimed at tackling corruption and “making it a priority for both governments,” Radio Pakistan reported.

“The aim of this declaration is to bring back the looted wealth of the country,” Shahzad Akbar, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability, said, adding: “The agreement on exchange of convicted personnel will also be renewed.”

Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem and British Home Secretary Sajid Javid address a joint presser. — DawnNewsTV

Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem and British Home Secretary Sajid Javid address a joint presser. — DawnNewsTV

Javid expressed the British government’s desire for mutual cooperation with Pakistan in defence, regional security and efforts against terrorism and extremism — the latter two of which, he said, are a common threat for the global community.

“The United Kingdom will continue to help Islamabad,” Javid assured while acknowledging that Pakistan has made “a lot of sacrifices” in the global war against terrorism.

He described Pakistan as a “trustworthy friend of the UK” and said that eliminating corruption is a priority for both the countries.

Foreign minister wants expansion in Pak-UK ties

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who also met Javid at the Foreign Office, had stressed the need for expansion in cooperation between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

The two had discussed various aspects of regional and bilateral cooperation, particularly regional security, counter-terrorism, organised crime, migration, human trafficking, money laundering and asset recovery.

Qureshi also emphasised the need to translate existing ties into a tangible and multi-faceted strategic partnership.

He also formally acknowledged the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) contributions towards the development of various socio-economic sectors in Pakistan.

The British home secretary, in return, conveyed his government’s desire to support and work closely with the new government in all areas of mutual interest.

The two countries closely cooperate under the institutional framework of the [Enhanced Strategic Dialogue].

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In maiden parliamentary address, President Alvi urges lawmakers to support the govt

President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday made his inaugural address in a joint sitting of the parliament, where he talked about wide-ranging problems plaguing Pakistan and urged the lawmakers to support the govt in taking the country forward.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had claimed that the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party had assured the government that its members will not disrupt the proceedings.

However, the session started with a protest from opposition lawmakers, which was overruled by Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser, following which opposition lawmakers — mostly from the PML-N — walked out as the president began his speech.

“Today’s address marks the beginning of the new parliamentary year,” President Alvi said. “I am grateful to be elected to Pakistan’s highest Constitutional office, and pray that I will be able to fulfill the responsibilities that have been given to me.

President Alvi addresses the parliament for the first time — DawnNewsTV

The new president commented on the continuation of parliamentary democracy in the country, saying: “Pakistan’s parliamentary system has been a victim of instability due to various reasons. However, that the fact that past three governments have been able to complete their terms is encouraging.”

President Alvi stressed the need to root out corruption and strengthen the nation’s various institutions.

“The elections proved that the nation is tired of dishonesty and is looking from relief,” he said. “This government wants to make a new Pakistan, and we need to remember that we are one nation.

“On one hand, to rid the nation of corruption, we need saaf shaffaf institutions, on the other hand, we need to strengthen the institutions that are responsible for accountability, so that they could function and do their job without any fear.

“Governments are only successful when they cater to the needs of their people. The current government has set out to make a Naya Pakistan, it is this same slogan that led us to winning the elections.”

The president urged his audience to support the government in its austerity drive, and also help it cut down its dependencies on foreign loans.

“I wish that we all take part in the austerity initiatives taken by the government in an effort to create Naya Pakistan,” he said. “These measures include ending the practices of protocol for members of the government. If we take on the practice of austerity we could get back on track and head towards the right direction.

“We need to remember the fact that we are a nation in debt. And then we take on more debt to pay off the interest on our old debts, instead of building development projects. According to the law, the loan to GDP ratio should not be more that 60 per cent. However, for the past several years, we have been breaking our own law.

“We need to follow the example of the state of Madinah to take the country forward. In his final address, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had said that no person had any advantage over another on the basis of caste, creed or religion. Islamic nations are based on these principles and Dr Allama Iqbal and Quiad-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah also dreamed of a Pakistan where the welfare of the people is at the fore and the state works for the betterment of its people.

“Pakistan is going through a very difficult phase, but our nation is high-spirited, and it is also heartening to see the way the overseas Pakistanis are looking forward to rebuilding this nation.”

President Alvi, in his maiden address, also talked about the growing water crisis in the country. “There is a lack of water in Pakistan,” he said. “Our urban centres are facing severe environmental pollution. In these circumstances we need to build dams and plant trees to tackle the issue.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was also in attendance during the joint session — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan was also in attendance during the joint session — DawnNewsTV

“We need to give a preference to drip irrigation over traditional irrigation processes. As a nation we also need to bring a change in our lifestyles and take on more water conservation practices.”

President Alvi called for countrywide improvements in the educational and healthcare sectors, while also urging the empowerment of women, without which he said “no country can progress”.

He assured the parliament that Pakistan’s relations with other countries during the PTI rule will be further strengthened. “China, the US, Iran and Turkey’s FMs [have had meetings with us],” he said. “God willing, our relations with all of them will improve.”

The president said that instead of indulging in “blame game” on the Kashmir issue, he would like for the govt to “continue its efforts at every level”.

President Alvi also paid tribute to the efforts of Pakistan Army in the war against terrorism, and referred it as “the most successful army”, adding that “the world should learn from us”.

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Via DAWN.com

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DPO Pakpattan transfer case: SC rejects IG Punjab’s report, orders Nacta inquiry into incident

The Supreme Court on Monday, while hearing a suo motu case pertaining to the transfer of the District Police Officer (DPO) Pakpattan, rejected a report submitted by former Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Syed Kaleem Imam.

It also ordered the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) chief, Maher Khaliq Dad Lak, to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report within 15 days.

“We want the complete truth on this,” Chief Justice (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar said, adding that if he found that the report submitted by the IG had “favoured” someone, the matter would turn serious.

“If I find out that he has submitted a fabricated report he will never be able to serve in the police again,” the CJP said.

IGP Imam had submitted a ,report with regards to the Pakpattan DPO transfer case on Sept 12,, in which he had said that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was only acting as a mediator and had not attempted to influence the police in the transfer of DPO Rizwan Gondal.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who is heading a three-judge bench, criticised IGP Imam roundly today, accusing him of writing positive things in his report “in order to save one person”. The chief justice did not specify who that one person was.

“We reject your report,” the top judge said, adding: “IGP sahab, you have proven your own officer to be a liar in your report.”

“What kind of report is this? You have not investigated at all. You have sided with someone,” the CJP said. “You did nothing to uphold the respect of the police in your report.”

“You are not worthy of serving anywhere in this country,” the CJP said. “We will summon the secretary establishment in this regard and he will tell us.”

Imam, who was recently transferred to the post of Sindh police chief, replied: “My lord, I leave myself to the mercy of the court.”

“We were hoping to get justice from you and you are asking us for forgiveness,” the CJP responded.

The CJP asked the IGP if he had made the report himself, to which Imam responded in the affirmative. He explained that a committee had been set up to investigate the matter. He said that there were four individuals in the committee that night, including the Pakpattan DPO, the Sahiwal RPO Shariq Kamal, Ahsan Jameel Gujjar, and CM Punjab Usman Buzdar.

The CJP asked the IG Sindh what conversation had taken place between these individuals. “We are not concerned about other things,” he said.

The court subsequently summoned Buzdar to court.

The additional advocate general of Punjab told the court that the CM Punjab had been contacted and he would be present under all circumstances. He added that the time of the CM’s arrival would be confirmed and the court would be informed.

In an ,earlier hearing of the suo-moto case,, the CJP had said that the court wants the police to be “free and empowered” and it did not “sit well” that the CM of Punjab or someone “sitting with him” ? a reference to Ahsan Jameel Gujjar, an influential person close to the Maneka family ? was responsible for the officer’s transfer.

Gujjar and Buzdar had reportedly summoned DPO Gondal to the CM’s office for an explanation of the events in Pakpattan shortly before the officer was transferred from his posting.

In today’s hearing, the CJP asked where Gujjar was, as the court had also summoned him for today’s hearing.

Addressing the IGP, the top judge said, “You keep talking about Gujjar’s guardian certificate. Have you seen the certificate?”

Justice Nisar told IGP Imam that he was the kind of police officer who could not even ensure Gujjar’s presence in court.

“We are the ones who have to clear him,” the CJP remarked.

The top judge said that everyone was upset with the treatment of Maneka’s daughter. “But did you get upset with the treatment of police officials? What kind of an IG are you, that you cannot protect the police?” he asked.

There was a short break in the hearing until later this afternoon, when Buzdar and Gujjar appeared in court.

The CJP asked CM Buzdar if he had called an “unrelated” individual to the Chief Minister’s house, whose guardian Gujjar was, since he was referring to himself the guardian.

The CM Punjab responded that he had asked his staff to fix the problem.

The top judge asked him how he knew Gujjar and why he had called him at 10pm that night, to which Buzdar responded: “Since I have become chief minister, I meet people myself,” adding: “I presented the police officers tea with my own hands.”

CM Buzdar said that he told the police officers to take a look at the issue themselves. He also said that Gujjar had a personal relationship with the Maneka family.

The CJP said that IGP Imam had only “had only disgraced police officers”.

The top judged asked why it was said that night that “in the morning don’t show me this police officer’s face”, to which the chief minister responded saying he had not given any such orders.

“Chief Minister sahab, all your communications will come forward,” remarked Justice Nisar.

CM Buzdar said that the government was trying to depoliticise the police.

The CJP said that the issue should be investigated, adding that the court had rejected the IG’s report. He said that the IG tried to favour someone in his investigation.

“This is a question of the rule of law,” remarked the top judge.

Why should police officers operate on someone else’s dera? he asked. “Is this how a large province should be run?”

CJP Nisar enquired how Gujjar could be the Maneka children’s guardian since their father was still alive.

Nisar added that the court would give a strict “observation” against IG Kaleem.

The CJP also alleged that Gujjar had told the DPO to go to the dera.

The advocate general of Punjab said that the DPO had himself assumed that he was required to go to the dera, and that the court should set aside this matter now.

“We will make sure nothing like this happens again,” he said, adding that a lawyer had also been deployed to the CM’s Office to deal with such instances.

The RPO of Sahiwal deposed that the CM had told him to listen to Gujjar as he was his friend. He said that the DPO had informed him about the incident with the Maneka family and had said that they had gotten the impression that they were to go to the dera and ask for forgiveness.

The RPO said that the DPO told him that officers do not go to deras to seek forgiveness.

“Ahsan Jameel said that the deputy commissioner is responsible for what happens in his area,” the RPO said. “He told me to solve the problem.”

“I still can’t digest the fact that the transfer took place at 1 in the night,” the CJP remarked.

The DIG Headquarters, present for the hearing, said that the order actually came at 10pm, but he was out. There was another call at 12am, he said.

“It was my son’s birthday. I came back to the office at 1am to issue the order,” he said.

The CJP inquired why the transfer was done with such haste, asking: “was the sun not going to rise the next day?”

He also remarked that no record was made of the transfer, but it was just pushed through.

“This is not someone’s kingdom: this is a democracy.” the top judge remarked.

Nacta coordinator Khalid Daad Lak was subsequently ordered to launch an inquiry and present a report within 15 days.

Pakpattan incident

Late on August 23 or early August 24, Khawar Maneka was flagged to stop at a security picket in Pakpattan by police, but he allegedly refused and raced ahead. The police had subsequently chased him down and forced him to stop, after which harsh words were exchanged between the two parties.

Subsequently, Maneka demanded that DPO Rizwan Gondal should visit his dera to personally apologise to him, he added. When Gondal’s transfer orders started making rounds on Monday, it was widely speculated in news and social media that that the police officer was transferred because of the incident. The officer was allegedly transferred for refusing to apologise in person to Khawar Maneka over the altercation between him and the police.

The report submitted by IG Kaleem Imam in court last week stated that the chief minister had indeed summoned the police officials concerned without informing the IGP, but proceeded to act “only as an elder” to mediate between the parties in conflict.

The CM was very hospitable towards the police officers and during the meeting, which he “hosted”, the report states, the policemen were not harassed or pressurised in any way.

Imam, in his report, further observed that the Punjab CM neither issued any written orders or gave any directives pertaining to the DPO’s transfer. Instead, the report said, Buzdar had told the RPO to settle the issue himself, which “makes it clear that there was no interference in policing matters”.

However, the report noted that DPO Gondal had felt that he was being “interrogated by a stranger” in the presence of the RPO and the CM during the meeting. The report recommended that, in the future, Punjab CM go through the provincial IGP to summon any police officials instead of doing so directly.

The report stated that while the DPO was displeased with being called to the CM’s officer he hadn’t complained about being harassed or pressurised during the meeting.

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