Posts Tagged ‘Yousuf Raza Gilani’

Disqualification under Article 62 (1)(f) is for life, SC rules in historic verdict

  • ,’Question should be left to parliament’,
  • ,Past precedents,

In a landmark verdict that will change the course of the country’s political history, the Supreme Court on Friday ruled that disqualification handed down under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution is for life.

According to DawnNewsTV, the verdict was issued unanimously by all five judges of the bench.

Article 62(1)(f), which sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous), is the same provision under which ,Nawaz Sharif was disqualified, by a five-judge SC bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on July 28, 2017, in the Panama Papers case. Likewise, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader ,Jahangir Tareen was disqualified on Dec 15, last year by a separate bench of the apex court under the same provision.

Following the verdict, both Sharif and Tareen have become ineligible to ever hold public office.

It has been stated in the decision read out Justice Umar Ata Bandial that the disqualification of any member of parliament or a public servant under Article 62 (1)(f) in the future will be permanent. Such a person cannot contest elections or become a member of parliament.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who was heading the bench, remarked before the verdict was announced that the public deserves “leaders of good character”. A detailed version of the judgment is currently awaited.

‘Question should be left to parliament’

A five-judge bench ? headed by CJP Nisar and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah ? had on ,February 14 reserved the judgment, on 17 appeals and petitions challenging the length of disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) for possessing fake degrees.

At the last hearing, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf had told the bench that it was not the function of courts to say that the disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution was for life or to give any timeline. The question should be best left for parliament to decide, he had argued.

The AG had also emphasised that the provision did not determine the length of disqualification, adding that the court would have to look into the matter on a case-to-case basis.

Read: ,Do Articles 62 and 63 require reforming?,

Past precedents

Though there was no clear determination about the length of disqualification in Article 62 (1)(f), former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had held in the 2013 Abdul Ghafoor Lehri case that under Article 63, there were certain disqualifications which were of temporary nature and a person disqualified under Article 63 could become qualified after the lapse of a certain period.

Whereas, the verdict held, the disqualification under Article 62 was of permanent nature and a person had to fulfil certain qualifications/conditions to become eligible to be elected or chosen as a member of parliament. Thus Article 62 did not provide any period after which a person, who was declared disqualified under this article, could be eligible to contest the elections, it said.

Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was disqualified on June 19, 2012 from holding a seat in parliament for committing contempt of the court on moral turpitude in terms of Article 63 of the Constitution which specifies disqualification for a period of five years.

Legal observers say the Supreme Court has handed down different verdicts on the disqualification of legislators like in the case of Iftikhar Ahmed Cheema who was de-seated in 2015 from the NA-101 constituency for concealing assets. Subsequently, he contested the by-election and regained his seat.

But in the case of Rae Hassan Nawaz, the apex court disqualified him under Article 62(1)(f). Likewise, the court allowed Jamshed Dasti to contest the election, but disqualified Rizwan Gill, Samina Khawar Hayat and Amir Yar under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.


This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves. Initial reports in the media can sometimes be inaccurate. We will strive to ensure timeliness and accuracy by relying on credible sources such as concerned, qualified authorities and our staff reporters.

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Sharif, Tareen asked to appear before SC on Tuesday

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Sunday issued notices to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s former secretary general Jahangir Tareen to appear in the court in person or through their counsel on Tuesday (tomorrow) during the hearing of appeals involving, among other constitutional questions, interpretation of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution under which they both had been disqualified.

The interpretation will help end the controversy about the period of punishment by determining whether disqualification of a number of lawmakers is for life or time-specific.

The notices have been issued by the assistant registrar (fixture) of the SC. The notice to Mr Sharif has been sent through the deputy registrar of the SC’s Lahore registry and the notice to Mr Tareen has been sent to his Islamabad residence.

A five-judge SC bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Jus­tice Sajjad Ali Shah will take up a set of 17 appeals against disqualification of some members of the parliament.

The issue of interpretation of Article 62(1)(f), which has attained significance in view of the disqualification of Mr Sharif — has been pending before the larger bench of the apex court for the past one year.

The last time the matter was taken up was during the period when Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali was chief justice. He reached superannuation on Dec 15, 2016.

In one of the hearings, Justice Jamali had wondered how anyone could be disqualified from contesting elections forever on the basis of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, adding that people could reform themselves to become qualified again under the same constitutional provisions after remaining disqualified at some point of time.

Article 62 does not specify any period after which a person, who is declared disqualified under the said article, can be eligible to contest elections of the parliament.

Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was disqualified on June 19, 2012, from holding a seat in the parliament for committing contempt of court under Article 63 of the Constitu­tion, which specifies disqualification for five years.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - January 29, 2018 at 5:25 am

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PTI still hopeful expats will vote in upcoming polls

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is the only political party in the country which hopes that the overseas Pakistanis can exercise their right to vote during the upcoming general elections, it emerged on Friday.

The other mainstream parties believe that efforts to bring those countrymen on the voter list will bear no fruit, particularly at a time when the polls are just a few months away.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have the apprehensions that pursuing this matter a few months before the elections can create complications and any step taken in haste can generate a controversy during the elections.

Leaders of these two parties say that the PTI is pushing for the matter believing that since it receives big donations from foreign countries for its charity hospitals, all the overseas Pakistanis will vote for Imran Khan.

PPP, PML-N agree to idea but believe that time left for elections not sufficient to complete task

The PTI chairman in a Twitter posting on Thursday lauded Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar for ordering Nadra (National Database and Registration Authority) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to find a way out and devise a mechanism on an urgent basis so that the overseas Pakistanis could take part in the elections due to be held in July.

While hearing the petition filed by the PTI for granting the overseas Pakistanis right to vote, the SC bench headed by CJP Nisar had on Wednesday observed that expatriate Pakistanis should be given the opportunity to cast their votes during the 2018 elections and emphasised the need for working in this direction on emergency basis. The bench had asked Nadra and the ECP to sit together and find a way to address the technical problems related to the matter.

“I congratulate the CJP for taking note of disfranchisement of the overseas Pakistanis and asking Nadra and the ECP to find ways to give them their right of vote. Overseas Pakistanis are our most valuable asset,” Mr Khan tweeted.

He said that overseas Pakistanis sent $20 billion annually in remittances and they are playing a vital role in reviving and stabilising the country’s economy. “Some of our best brains are working abroad enlightening Pakistan’s image,” he said, expressing the hope that overseas Pakistanis would play a leading role in building ‘Naya Pakistan’.

‘Almost impossible’

The PPP and PML-N leaders on the other hand say in principle they agree that the overseas Pakistanis should have the right to vote. However, they point out that keeping in view the large number of expatriates living in various countries and with the limited resources and capabilities of the ECP and Nadra, it seems almost impossible that such a proposal can be turned into reality any time soon.

When contacted, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said his party is in favour of granting the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis. Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani soon after his election had announced in the National Assembly that overseas Pakistanis would be granted this right, he recalled.

Mr Babar said the ECP also made efforts to this effect and even conducted mock exercises, but it could not come out with a workable mechanism. He said it would be incorrect to say that the PPP was not enthusiastic on the issue. He pointed out that they were not pursuing the matter because the ECP and Nadra had declared that voters’ biometric verification, use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voting by overseas Pakistanis would not be possible in the 2018 elections.

Mr Babar said that during the meetings of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, a participant had claimed that India had granted the right of vote to its expatriates, but later this claim proved wrong.

PML-N’s information secretary Mushahidullah Khan was of the view that the PTI was unnecessarily dragging the issue, perhaps in “hope of creating another controversy” ahead of the next polls. He claimed the PTI also knew that it would not be possible to devise any mechanism for providing an opportunity to the overseas Pakistanis to use their right of vote.

The PML-N leader said a large number of Pakistanis were working in Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and they belong to almost all the 272 constituencies of the National Assembly. He said that providing ballot papers of their respective constituencies to these Pakistanis would be a daunting task.

PTI information secretary Shafqat Mehmood, however, said that his party would continue making efforts in this regard considering it a fundamental right of overseas Pakistanis.

Mr Mehmood alleged that deliberate efforts were being made to drag the matter since the PPP and the PML-N knew that they would not get many votes from abroad.

The PTI leader said that the Supreme Court had first issued an order in 2013 in favour of the overseas Pakistanis’ right, but no serious efforts were made during the past five years to achieve that goal. He said that in the 21st century and in the age of technology, it should not be a difficult job and at least an app could be developed.

In reply to a question about the little left before the elections, Mr Mehmood said his party believed that it was still possible, provided there was a political will for it.

In 2015, the ECP had informed the parliamentary committee concerned that the mock exercise it carried out for voting by overseas Pakistanis in four countries had failed for a number of technical and legal reasons.

The ECP officials told the committee that they had carried out the mock exercise in seven embassies, high commissions and consulates in which only employees of the foreign missions had been asked to cast their votes for `candidates’ through postal ballots and telephone voting.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2018

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PML-N will ‘concede defeat’ before time, says Zardari

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari, who made a surprise appearance at the ,party’s power show, in the federal capital on Tuesday, caused many to wonder if he wanted an early ouster of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government when he said the rulers would “concede defeat” before the installation of a caretaker government to be set up before the general elections next year.

“They want to put blame [of their failed economic policies] on the caretaker government, but they will concede defeat before it. We will also try that they concede defeat before time,” Mr Zardari said while addressing the public meeting.

He criticised the PML-N government’s economic policies in his speech.

Unlike the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and some other opposition parties demanding early elections in the country, the PPP has always stated that it wants to see the present government complete its five-year term so that the elections can be held on time.

When contacted to seek an explanation, PPP leaders expressed their inability to paraphrase or interpret Mr Zardari’s remarks. They said since Mr Zardari had made an extempore speech, therefore, they could not elaborate as to in what sense the former president had uttered these words.

PPP holds public meeting in Islamabad, first since 2013 general elections, to mark golden jubilee

This was the first public meeting that had been organised by the PPP in the federal capital after the 2013 general elections. A large number of charged party workers from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir attended the public meeting held at the Parade Ground, where the PTI had already arranged two public meetings.

Prominent among those present on the stage were Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, former prime ministers Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, Sherry Rehman, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed and Farhatullah Babar.

Mr Zardari, who had arrived in the capital city on Sunday night, was not scheduled to speak at the public meeting. Some PPP leaders and the organisers of the event had categorically stated many times that Mr Zardari would not participate in the public meeting which the party had organised to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the party’s existence and that PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari would be the key speaker.

A number of PPP leaders, when contacted, also expressed their surprise to see Mr Zardari sitting on the stage with Mr Bhutto-Zardari and other party leaders. One of the party office-bearers claimed that the party had made the decision that Mr Zardari would also deliver the speech during an informal meeting on Monday. He admitted that only few top party office-bearers were aware of this development.

Mr Zardari in his speech called former prime minister Nawaz Sharif “godfather”, a term used for Mr Sharif by one of the judges of the Supreme Court in their July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case.

“Mian Sahib has emptied the treasury,” he said, alleging that the government was not presenting correct economic figures. He claimed that one US dollar in actual term was trading for Rs127, but the rulers were hiding it.

He also targeted PTI chief Imran Khan in his speech. Calling the cricketer-turned-politician Jaali (fake) Khan, the PPP co-chairman said that he was unable to understand politics.

He said dictators had no future and that was why former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf was hiding in a foreign country and could never return to Pakistan. He said that changes in the country would now come only through the ballot.

The former president said the PPP had twice saved the PML-N government from falling, but now it would not save it. “We will not save their democracy. We will bring our own democracy,” he said vaguely.

Mr Zardari said his party wanted to have good relations with neighbouring Afghanistan. He said Afghanistan should realise that Pakistan was itself a victim of terrorism.

He said the PPP would make no compromise on the Kashmir issue and would never allow India to continue its occupation of the territory.

While highlighting the achievements of the previous PPP government, he said that as the country’s president he had made the parliament all powerful.

Mr Zardari said he did not want to say anything about judges.

PPP chairman Bhutto-Zardari as usual read out a written speech in which he presented the historical background of the party, the achievements of the past PPP governments and the future programme for the upcoming general elections.

The young PPP chairman said his party’s government in Sindh had launched projects worth billions of rupees in all sectors, including water, infrastructure, education and health. He claimed that the Sindh government had built some 40 dams in the province besides constructing a number of river bridges and establishing hospitals in Sukkur, Larkana and Hyderabad.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan could not make any progress without democracy. He said the PPP would make Pakistan a “true social democratic country” and introduce reforms in police, judiciary, agriculture and the civil service.

In an apparent reference to recent protest sit-ins by religious parties, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said he was deeply shocked to see the writ of the state getting eroded. He said the PPP would establish the writ of the state after coming into power.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2017

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Zardari rebuffs Nawaz Sharif’s offer for handshake

LAHORE: It appears that efforts to bring the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leadership to the negotiating table will be futile for now as PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari have, once again, turned away the olive branch offered by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Shortly after his appearance before an accountability court on Wednesday, Mr Sharif had announced that he was ready to shake hands with Mr Zardari for the sake of the country, “and not personal interests”.

But Mr Zardari was quoted as having responded to the request in earnest with a scathing: “[He] remembers the Charter of Democracy only when his own person matters. Sorry, I cannot meet him.”

PPP chairperson Bhutto-Zardari also rejected the PML-N chief’s overtures and asked the go-between, sent by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, to contact the party’s parliamentary leadership instead.

PPP says won’t facilitate govt in passing delimitation bill in Senate

“We have empowered the parliamentary leadership to take decisions on matters of national importance. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not ready to meet [the PML-N’s leaders],” he said.

Meanwhile, PML-N leaders Senator Pervaiz Rashid and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah spoke to journalists, explaining the backdrop of the overtures they had been making to the PPP’s leadership for some time.

“We have sought cooperation for ensuring the passage of the new constituencies’ bill, so we can hold the 2018 elections on time…and ensure civilian supremacy,” Mr Rashid told a TV channel.

Rana Sana told reporters outside the Punjab Assembly that Mr Sharif did not need crutch support from Mr Zardari, nor were any personal interests involved. The PPP leader was only approached to discuss the matter of passing the law about new constituencies, he said, adding that if Mr Zardari placed hurdles for delaying the polls due next year, it would tarnish the PPP’s claims of upholding democracy.

PPP’s senior vice president Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo dismissed the possibility of a meeting between the two leaders, saying there was no way that the PPP’s leadership would agree to facilitate the government in passing the new constituencies’ bill in the Senate.

Speaking to Dawn over the phone, Mr Wattoo said that the PPP had supported the bill in the National Assembly because it knew that it could never defeat it in the lower house, considering their strength. “We played our cards well at the right time when the government introduced the bill in the Senate where we enjoyed a majority. Now everyone is looking at our move and the leadership will take a decision in the best interest of democracy and the country.”

He rejected the PML-N’s fears that failure to enact the law would delay the election, saying the electoral exercise could be conducted on the basis of the 1998 census.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari advised Mr Sharif to respect democracy and the army, and distanced himself from the statements made by the ousted premier in the wake of the Panama Papers case. “Mian Nawaz Sharif should think about democracy and set aside his personal matters,” he said, adding: “Mian Sahib is a threat to democracy.”

Recalling Mr Sharif’s views on then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s ouster by the Supreme Court, he advised the PML-N leader to follow his own advice offered by back then.

Speaking to journalists at the baraat ceremony of the nephew of PPP’s central information secretary Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad on Thursday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said firmly that despite the PML-N’s attempts to start a dialogue, he had no intention of speaking to Mr Sharif about anything.

Commenting on Mr Sharif’s statement that he represented an ideology, he said Mr Sharif was an opportunist who did not even know the meaning of ideology. “Working for one’s personal interest cannot be termed as working for some ideology.”

He said the PPP had a clear stance on the subject of civilian supremacy and it won’t budge an inch from its stance.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2017

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‘Hidden hands’ pushing country towards democratic instability: Ahsan Iqbal

  • ,'Democracy is reigning supreme',

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal suggested on Monday that some "hidden hands" are attempting to sabotage the democratic process in the country but that the nation would break the cycle [of political instability] "this time".

In ,a post made on his Facebook page,, Iqbal began by listing decades in Pakistan's history that were alternately marked by either democracy or military rule.

"Our history: '50s Democracy, '60s Martial Law, '70s Democracy, '80s Martial Law, '90s Democracy, '00s Martial Law, '10s Democracy, [20] '20s ???" he wrote.

The minister said that Pakistan's history has fluctuated between democracy and martial laws, adding that it has become a pattern.

"Some hidden hands and inertia of history are trying to drift the democratic process into [the] same old design," he wrote in his post.

Editorial: ,Civil-military squabbling,

Iqbal questioned whether the country would be able to "break the cycle" of political instability or follow the same route [taken earlier].

He then expressed hope that "the cycle will break this time" as the country, "except a troika of failed politicians, disgruntled media anchors, and a few retired servicemen", is committed to securing the democratic process.

"We can't compromise on our future and the tide of Rising Pakistan!!!" he concluded.

In response to a comment about the role of PML-N — Iqbal's party — in the imposition of martial law by Ziaul Haq, the dismissal of Benazir Bhutto's government and the removal of Yousuf Raza Gilani, Iqbal said that mistakes had been made by all sides in the past.

"We all made mistakes in the past, even PPP conspired against us with [the] establishment, therefore COD [Charter of Democracy] was signed. We need to move forward."

'Democracy is reigning supreme'

The minister's statement comes at a time when the top leadership of the PML-N has converged on the British capital ahead of what is billed as a key consultative meeting that will decide both the party’s and the government’s position on what steps to take next.

Know more: ,PML-N high command meets in London today,

Denying tensions between state institutions, Iqbal had claimed on Saturday that certain segments of the media and the army, and some “failed” politicians, were trying to create the perception of a standoff in order to further their own agenda.

Iqbal had alleged that some disgruntled elements wanted to pit the PML-N against the army. “They will never succeed in materialising their nefarious designs,” he had said.

“Democracy is reigning supreme in the country and the next general elections will be held on time.”

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - October 30, 2017 at 1:25 pm

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PPP on hot streak before superior courts

ISLAMABAD: The ongoing year has been one of relief for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as far as the superior courts are concerned.

The PPP leaders had faced a tough time at the hands of the judiciary during the era of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, which also coincided wither their term in the Centre, be it from old corruption cases being revived against the senior leadership or brand new scams.

Interestingly, when Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was initially deposed from his post by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, the PPP played a pivotal role in his restoration. Senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan had led the lawyers’ movement and appeared as the CJP’s counsel in the apex court.

Top court allows Dr Asim to go abroad for treatment

At the beginning of lawyers’ movement, PPP lawyers Sardar Latif Khosa, Zamurd Khan, Aitzaz Ahsan and Haroonur Rasheed were brutally beaten by the police, which intensified the movement. Likewise, several PPP workers were among the 48 people killed in violence in Karachi on May 12, 2007.

The first rift between the PPP and superior courts occurred when the apex court suspended the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) on October 12, 2007.

Later, the confrontation between the PPP and the superior courts intensified after the court’s December 16, 2009 order declaring the NRO null and void and directing the government to send a letter to the Swiss government to reopen cases against then-president Asif Ali Zardari.

I’ve been acquitted after a long legal battle, not because of a settlement: Zardari

In the meanwhile, the CJP formed a special bench for the implementation of the NRO judgment. The proceedings of this bench had profound repercussions, including sending former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani packing after finding him guilty of contempt of court.

Several other officials including two attorneys general, one law secretary and a NAB chairman also went home due to NRO case.

The apex court had also initiated contempt of court proceedings against several PPP leaders including Gilani, Babar Awan, Rehman Malik, Taj Haider and Sharjeel Memon in different cases.

Interestingly, these contempt cases against PPP leaders were not been taken up by the apex court after the retirement of Justice Chaudhry.

Winds change

Just after 2017 rolled in, good tidings came for the PPP as Sardar Latif Khosa successfully got the name of accused currency smuggler and fashion model Ayyan Ali removed from the Exit Control List (ECL), allowing her to go abroad.

The bench discarded the interior ministry’s appeal to keep model Ali’s name on the ECL and upheld the Sindh High Court’s verdict to remove her name from it. Similarly, the Islamabad High Court on March 20 acquitted the former federal minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi in the Hajj corruption case. Khosa was also the counsel in this case.

Then on March 30, the Sindh High Court granted bail to PPP MPA Shajeel Inam Memon in a NAB case. Earlier, Memon had fled abroad to escape arrest. Farooq H Naek argued on his behalf. Naek was also the counsel for Asif Zardari and got the former president acquitted in nine corruption cases.

In March, the SHC granted bail on medical grounds to PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain in two corruption references worth Rs479 billion. He had been detained for more than one year.

SC allows Dr Asim to go abroad for medical treatment

The top court on Tuesday also allowed Asim to go abroad for a month for medical treatment and ordered that his name be temporarily removed from the exit control list (ECL).

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dost Muhammad Khan took up Dr Asim’s petition requesting that his name be removed from the ECL.

After hearing the arguments, the court gave him one month’s permission to go abroad and receive medical treatment on a surety of Rs6 million. However, the bench asked the trial court to continue the trial in his absence.

Critical time: Pakistan diplomatically isolated, says Bilawal

It also set aside the SHC order wherein Dr Asim’s plea for the removal of his name from the ECL was turned down.

The bench expected that Dr Asim will fulfil his commitment to the court and return to Pakistan within a month. It said that one of the co-accused in the same case was allowed by NAB to go abroad for business purposes, adding that medical experts had also opined in favour of allowing Dr Asim to proceed abroad for treatment.

The bench remarked that NAB was ruining its own reputation and if the bureau was putting its heart into its work, the case would have concluded by now. The court also rejected NAB’s appeal against Dr Asim’s bail in two corruption cases.

The post PPP on hot streak before superior courts appeared first on The Express Tribune.

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Opposition not enthused about Sharif’s talks offer

ISLAMABAD: Attaching little importance to the repeated offer for dialogue put forward by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif for a better relationship among state institutions, opposition parties seem to be more amenable to a similar offer made by Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani.

The leaders of the three main opposition parties in parliament — the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — were unanimous about the need for such a dialogue.

However, each party insisted that it would be better able to convey its viewpoint once the mechanism and the level of the proposed dialogue was finalised.

PPP, PTI, MQM seem more amenable to Senate chairman-proposed dialogue among institutions

Since the announcement of the Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers case last month, PML-N leaders have been saying that the time has come for a “final dialogue” among stakeholders.

Talking to reporters during his stay at Islamabad’s Punjab House, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had on a number of occasions expressed his willingness to engage the country’s political leadership for a dialogue to end the imbalance in civil-military relations, because of which not a single elected prime minister had ever completed his tenure since independence.

In one of his interactions with mediapersons, Mr Sharif had stated that there seemed to be a “virus” in the country’s system that did not allow elected prime ministers to complete their terms. He had stated that everyone needed to trace the fault, so that the country could be brought on the right track. He had also expressed his party’s continued commitment to the Charter of Democracy (CoD), and even said that agreement could be improved after consultation with all political parties.

On the other hand, senators from nearly all parties had, last week, agreed to a proposal from Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani to initiate institutional dialogue between parliament, the military establishment and the judiciary so as to avert a clash of institutions. Mr Rabbani had floated the idea following extensive discussion on the current political situation after the Panama Papers verdict.

Stressing that all institutions should work within their domains under the ambit of the law, Mr Rabbani had said the invitation to the military would be extended through the prime minister, since the military came under the executive under the law of the land. For the judiciary, the invitation would be sent to the chief justice of Pakistan.

He had announced that the committee of the whole house would be convened soon to finalise a way forward. Talking to Dawn, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that his party was not giving any serious consideration to whatever Nawaz Sharif had been saying since his ouster, because he had lost all credibility.

“What credibility does Nawaz Sharif have now? He has been disowned even by the Supreme Court,” Mr Qureshi said.

However, he said that Mr Rabbani was known as a credible person by all parties, adding that the Senate chairman should take the leaders of all political parties into confidence about his proposed plan.

So far, he said, they were not aware of the mechanism for the dialogue and who would represent the judiciary and the military.

As far as Mr Sharif’s offer was concerned, he said, if the ex-prime minister was serious, then he should get off the streets and ask his nominated Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to initiate the dialogue in the National Assembly first.

Similarly, PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said the party leadership had already declared they were not ready to accept any dialogue offer from the PML-N at this point in time.

Mr Babar, who is also a senator, said that it seemed that the Senate chairman wanted to use the Committee of the Whole House for this purpose, as had been done for issues such as the Fata reforms, steps to provide speedy justice and the revival of student unions in educational institutions.

Mr Babar recalled that the committee had once even invited the chief justice of Pakistan. However, he said, the PPP would welcome any initiative aiming at strengthening the parliament and establishing civilian supremacy.

MQM parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar claimed his party had formally proposed the initiation of such a dialogue to both PPP and the PML-N in the past, but to no avail. He recalled that his party had asked former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to engage the military since he had good relations with then-army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Mr Sattar said the MQM wanted an end to the of civil-military musical chairs, adding that dialogue was the best way forward.

Late night, speaking at a rally in Lahore, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif also welcomed Mr Rabbani’s proposal and said the PML-N would be in forefront in implementation of the suggestion.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2017

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Despite past interference by the establishment, democracy is taking root: Rabbani

Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani on Friday said that Pakistan's history had been chequered with interference from non-democratic forces, but democracy finally seemed to be taking root.

Talking about the country's current political situation, Rabbani said, "The country has seen 18 prime ministers de-seated. This was the establishment's plot all along."

"It was a well thought out plan; however, they did not anticipate that democracy would slowly take root in this country. We saw that when Yousuf Raza Gilani was removed from power, a new prime minister took his place; the same happened when Nawaz was recently removed," Rabbani added.

Reiterating a point ,made last week,, Rabbani said that all pillars of the state need to come together to solve the country's problems as "enough games have been played with this nation."

"Pakistan's ideology was changed and twisted into something it was not and the idea of a welfare state was turned into the idea of a national security state," he said.

The outspoken senator also said that if the government and those in power are not taking the country in the right direction, the common man should rise up and take charge.

Talking about the Sindh government's efforts to repeal the National Accountability Ordinance in the province, Rabbani said: "Whenever there is talk about the rights of provinces, people are termed traitors as the centre wants to withhold powers. However, we forget that four of the Quaid-i-Azam's 14 points were about provincial autonomy."

Taking the point further, he said, "If we call ourselves Pakistanis first, people take offence and say why have we not called ourselves Muslim first. These fads suit the country's elite."

"Sindh is not the only province to have done away with the NAB ordinance, but our [the PPP's] decision was taken to court," he noted, observing that Khyber Pukhtunkhawa had already come up with its accountability setup.

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Ousted PM gets two SPs in deviation from procedure

LAHORE: The federal government has appointed a senior police official serving in BS-18 as security officer for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in a deviation from the standard practice.

According to the standard operating procedure mentioned in the ‘Blue Book’, only the sitting prime minister and the president are entitled to the services of a BS-18 officer of the rank of superintendent of police (SP).

However, the government has allowed Mr Sharif to avail this privilege.

A notification issued by the Establishment Division on Aug 4 said: “Muhammad Zeshan Reza, a BS-18 officer of Police Service of Pakistan, presently posted as chief security officer (CSO) to the prime minister, has been transferred and posted as security officer to the former PM with immediate effect till further orders.”

Interestingly, another SP-ranked officer is already heading a force of 1,100 highly-trained personnel from Lahore police’s security division at Mr Sharif’s Jati Umra residence in Raiwind.

According to sources, the Punjab police authorities were in a state of confusion over whether Mr Sharif, after his disqualification as prime minister, was entitled to a security cover by two senior officers.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer retired Capt Amin Wains refused to comment on the issue, terming it a federal matter. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and provincial government spokesman Malik Ahmad neither answered phone calls nor responded to text messages on the issue.

Speaking to Dawn, senior police officials termed it a “first decision of its kind”. One of them said it appeared to be a ‘violation’ of the standard operating procedures laid down in the Blue Book for the security of the president and the prime minister.

He said the Blue Book, which was a classified document, spelled out a comprehensive security plan followed during VVIP movements, especially those of the president and the prime minister.

“The posting of a SP-ranked police officer is beyond the standard practice since it is allowed only to a sitting prime minister.”

The official said Mr Reza was serving as CSO for Mr Sharif in Islamabad when he was the prime minister and now he had been asked to do the same job even after his disqualification.

He said four former prime ministers in the country had a security cover which was far less than that offered to Mr Sharif.

According to the standard practice, he said, former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had been provided two elite police vans with personnel. Chaudhry Shujaat had also hired a former army major for his security, the official said.

Another former prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, had four elite force squads, he said, adding that two other ex-premiers had similar security privileges but none of them had been provided an official of SP rank.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2017

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15th prime minister fails to complete tenure

  • ,Historical parallels,

History was repeated on Friday morning. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ,sent home after the Supreme Court disqualified him, under the Constitution’s Article 62(1)(f) for misdeclaring his assets when he was just 10 months away from completing his five-year tenure in office. He became the 15th prime minister of the country who got sacked without completing the term. He also became the first prime minister who was elected thrice but couldn’t complete even a single term.

The PML-N leader was first booted out of the office by his close ally in the presidency, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, in 1993. Although the apex court reinstated him, he agreed to quit along with the president under pressure from the military command.

His second term was terminated prematurely when Gen Pervez Musharraf and generals close to him ousted him in a bloodless coup in 1999.

This time the burden of sending him packing was borne by the country’s top court, which used the infamous Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, which, political leader Makhdoom Javed Hashmi recently said, were inserted by dictator Gen Ziaul Haq to use them as a stick against politicians.

The PPP’s Yousuf Raza Gilani was the first premier to vacate the Prime Minister House on the court’s orders. He was also the first chief executive of the country to have been disqualified in 2012 under the Article 63(f)(1) after the judges found him ‘guilty’ of having committed contempt of court because he did not write to the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against then president Asif Zardari under their order.

Mr Sharif and his children had been under the cloud since the day the leaked Panama Papers showed that the family owned offshore companies and assets they had not declared in their tax returns and wealth statements. When the court admitted a petition requesting an investigation into his links with the offshore companies and four expensive London flats, many thought that the so-called establishment or the powers that be planned to send another prime minister packing with the help of the courts. After all, the country’s history is replete with such instances.

In the early years of Pakistan, immediately after the murder of the country’s first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951, the British-trained civil bureaucracy started ‘palace intrigues’ against politicians weakened by infighting and lack of popular support and political legitimacy. As many as five prime ministers — Khawaja Nazimuddin, Mohammad Ali Bogra, Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, Hossain Shaheed Suharwardi and I.I. Chundrigar — were sent home by governor general Ghulam Muhammad, a former bureaucrat, using immense powers that his office gave him.

Later, another ex-bureaucrat, Iskandar Mirza, conspired with the military to replace the old and ailing governor general. Initially, he kept the prime minister, Feroze Khan Noon, chosen by his predecessor. But that wasn’t for very long. Soon Mirza struck again, imposing martial law and firing the prime minister with the help of the military. But he didn’t survive for long. Army chief Gen Ayub Khan had decided that the military should rule the country directly instead of playing second fiddle in the chess game going on. All this happened in a span of less than seven years.

The two times the military directly staged a coup against elected governments were in 1977 when Gen Zia ousted the nation’s first popularly elected prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and in 1999 when Gen Musharraf ejected Mr Sharif from the PM House.

In the 1980s and ’90s, the establishment used the powers given to the president by Gen Zia through the notorious eighth amendment to the Constitution immediately after the party-less elections in 1985. The Article 58(2)(b) of the Constitution that gave the president vast powers to remove a prime minister and his government and dissolve the assemblies was used by its creator to dismiss his hand-picked prime minister Mohammad Khan Junejo.

Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who had replaced Gen Zia after his death in a mysterious plane crash, used it to dismiss both Benazir Bhutto and Mr Sharif before the military forced him to also call it a day. Even a close relationship of Farooq Leghari with his leader, Ms Bhutto, who had ditched Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan to send him to the presidency, didn’t stop him from using these powers to throw out his party’s government.

The story of prime ministers under Gen Musharraf wasn’t much different. Though he had restored after the 2002 elections the presidential powers of Article 58(2)(b) to the Consti­tution — Mr Sharif had snatched away the powers to remove a prime minister and dissolve assemblies with the help of Ms Bhutto after the 1997 polls — he didn’t use it to dismiss his first prime minister, Zafarullah Khan Jamali. But he forced the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q to revolt against him and force him to resign. The general had another two prime ministers work under him — Chaudhry Shujaat Husain as a stopgap arrangement till the election of his favourite Shaukat Aziz to the National Assembly, who stayed in his office till the formation of an interim government before the 2008 elections.

Historical parallels

Some important parallels can be drawn from the political instability and removal of prime ministers in the 1950s, and in the 1980s and 1990s. Both periods were fraught with political rivalry and politicians seeking support from the civil-military establishment instead of their constituents.

On most occasions, save for the two military coups, the massive powers allocated to the offices of governor general and president were used by the civil-military establishment to remove the political governments — both elected and unelected. And all the premiers lost their jobs and had their governments dismissed on charges of corruption and bad governance.

“(Ever since Independence) Pakistan’s political class is on one side and the middle class — which fills the state apparatus, including civil and military bureaucracy and the judiciary — on the other. The middle class state functionaries hate the guts of politicians whom they consider corrupt, inefficient and not entitled to rule the country,” says Dr Mohammad Waseem, a professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

“If the middle class is challenging the legitimacy of politicians, it shouldn’t surprise us. (After all, the state functionaries) were there long before the creation of Pakistan and the political class emerged quite late, just before the partition,” he says. “Since the judges also come from the middle class, they tend to side with the establishment,” he adds, referring to Friday’s verdict against Mr Sharif.

With the presidential powers under the Article 58(2)(b) withdrawn by parliament under president Zardari after the 2008 elections and the military stuck in the war against terrorism in the region, the onus of prematurely sending the prime ministers home at the behest of the establishment appears to have fallen on the shoulders of the judiciary.

Only this new mechanism creates a little more noise than when in good old days an unelected governor general or indirectly elected president could send everyone packing with a ‘putsch of his pen’.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2017

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Isb dance party: AC ordered raid on ‘birthday party’ over ‘personal grudge’, says SCBA

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has sought action against an assistant commissioner (AC) of the Islamabad administration who had given the orders to raid a dance party being held at a hotel owned by the bar earlier this month.

In a strongly-worded statement issued on Saturday, the SCBA termed the raid by the assistant commissioner, Shoaib Ali, and police on the Grand Ambassador Hotel “a shameless act”.

The association accused the AC of malafide intentions behind the raid and has sought action against him and the police.

Police raid dance party at Islamabad hotel, arrest 50

Fifty people were arrested from the party at the Grand Ambassador Hotel in G-5 in the wee hours of July 2. Officials said the partygoers were dancing and playing music on loudspeakers, and smoking tobacco and sheesha. Police rounded up 34 men and 16 women and booked them for ‘obscene acts and songs’, and for violating the amplifier and the tobacco control laws. However, all the suspects were released a few hours later on bail by the same magistrate on whose orders they were arrested.

In its statement, the SCBA claimed that the raid was “orchestrated” on “trumped up charges” because the AC, Ali, harboured a grudge against the hotel’s management.

The bar also demanded that the FIR against those attending the party be quashed.

Cops shut down dance party in Lahore after cleric’s threat

SCBA Secretary Aftab Ahmed Bajwa told The Express Tribune that the event was not a dance party, but rather was a birthday party. He added that the SCBA would sue the AC for defamation.

On the other hand, Ali has denied the SCBA’s allegations saying the raid was conducted on the orders of the district magistrate.

It should be noted that the plot on which the hotel stands was allotted by the CDA to SCBA at a subsidised rate, after a one-time rule relaxation was granted by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. It was meant to be a hostel for lawyers. However, after the completion of construction work with the federal and Punjab government funding, the building was leased out for Rs2.7 million per month and is now the Grand Ambassador Hotel.

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Disqualification period ends: Gilani may file review plea against conviction

LAHORE: Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who on Wednesday (today) again becomes eligible for contesting election after undergoing a five-year disqualification, may file an appeal in the court to get the ‘stigma’ of conviction removed.

“Finally my disqualification period ends on Wednesday (today). Now my party leadership will decide whether I should contest next general election or not,” Mr Gilani told Dawn here on Tuesday.

Mr Gilani was disqualified for holding a seat in the parliament from the date of his conviction (April 26, 2012) by a Supreme Court bench headed by Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry over contempt of court on June 19, 2012. He was convicted till rising of the court. The PPP government had not filed an appeal against the conviction.

“I sacrificed my position but I averted clash between institutions. I feel proud for protecting the Constitution. Now I am consulting with my legal team regarding filing a review (petition) against the apex court’s verdict,” the former premier said.

When asked why he was considering challenging his conviction after completion of his disqualification period, Mr Gilani said: “My stance of not writing a letter (to the Swiss authorities against then president Asif Ali Zardari to reopen a graft case against him) had been vindicated when the apex court directed then premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to find a way out of the impasse between the executive and the judiciary (over the letter issue).”

Mr Gilani said like the PPP had filed a reference against the verdict in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s case (to cleanse the history of the judiciary) “I am also approaching the court for the same purpose”.

The PPP had accused Iftikhar Chaudhry of running a parallel government during his tenure as chief justice of Pakistan.

Mr Gilani said he as well as his party had always respected the judiciary. “As I was disqualified, my son Abdul Qadir Gilani won by-poll on a provincial seat and subsequently my other son Ali Musa Gilani won from the National Assembly constituency of Multan vacated after my disqualification. That was the people’s verdict. However, about my contesting the next election the party leadership — Asif Ali Zaradri and Bilawal Bhutto — will have final say,” he said.

Mr Gilani is concerned about the current political situation. “I feel very bad about the current political situation. As politicians are losing respect there has been political and economic turmoil in the country. Economic instability hurts the national security,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2017

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Nawaz survives to see another day as SC orders probe into corruption allegations

ISLAMABAD: The prime minister has made it through the Panamagate case, but just barely. The Supreme Court on Thursday, in a 3-2 judgement on the case, ordered the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to continue probing the allegations of financial irregularities and money laundering, while noting that at present, there is “insufficient evidence to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.”

The JIT has been given two months to complete the probe into the premier and his sons Hussain and Hasan, all of whom have also been directed to appear before the JIT. The investigators will also have to present bi-weekly reports to a special bench of the Supreme Court.

The JIT will be constituted within seven days and would include representatives from the ISI, MI, FIA , SECP, State Bank and NAB.

Praise & glory be to Allah alone. Shukrana & mubariks pic.twitter.com/yM92bIJJoc

— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) April 20, 2017

Interestingly, the SC also observed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman remained unable to play his role in the case.

Reading the 540-page verdict, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa asked how the assets were transferred from Pakistan to Jeddah in the first place. “It needs to be investigated how the money was transferred to Qatar,” the verdict read. Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar, in the minority, called for the disqualification of PM Nawaz.

The prime minister is set to address the nation at 7:00pm today.

Addressing the media after the Panamagate verdict, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said, “Every party including Imran Khan, Sirajul Haq should now respect the SC verdict.”

“We will cooperate with the JIT and keep on respecting the court. The opposition kept on questioning our party and they set a court on roads as well.” “PM Nawaz is both Saadiq and Ameen. We have not spent three decades of our lives following him in vain,” he added.

Further, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said, “The split verdict proves that people especially the PTI who opposed PM Nawaz are a minority.”

Today Supreme Court has decided what Nawaz had already six months ago that there should be a commission to probe if he committed any corruption,” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said.

Minutes before the verdict, PTI chairman Imran Khan said he is optimistic and enthusiastic about the Panamagate verdict. “This is a situation similar to the 1992 World Cup,” Imran said. “Today is a day when Pakistan will win.”

??????? ??????? ????? ????? @ImranKhanPTI ????? ???? ???? ???#PakistanAwaitsJustice pic.twitter.com/pyC4Ur1R7u

— PTI (@PTIofficial) April 20, 2017

A ring of steel was placed around the Supreme Court Thursday ahead of a ruling on corruption allegations that could see the prime minister ousted from power after the Panama Papers linked his family to offshore businesses.

Around 1,500 police commandos and riot forces have been deployed around the court in Islamabad ahead of the highly-anticipated decision, expected in the afternoon. Dozens of baton-wielding police were also seen along some roads leading into the capital.

The verdict will be announced in Courtroom 1 and only those possessing security clearance passes were allowed in.

The controversy threatens to plunge Nawaz Sharif’s governing party into turmoil ahead of looming general elections, and as security and the economy improve in the militancy-plagued country. It erupted with the publication of the so-called Panama Papers last year, 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which documented the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful.

Among the global elite implicated were three of Sharif’s four children — his daughter and presumptive political heir Maryam, and his sons Hasan and Hussein.

Policemen walk in front of the Supreme Court building ahead of its decision on a case related to the Panama Papers leaks, in Islamabad on Thursday, April 20, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Policemen walk in front of the Supreme Court building ahead of its decision on a case related to the Panama Papers leaks, in Islamabad on Thursday, April 20, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

At the heart of the matter is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies. Sharif’s ruling PML-N party insists the wealth was acquired legally through family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.

But lawyers for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, argue the paper trail for the funds is non-existent, and say the onus is on Sharif to prove his relatives did not engage in money laundering.

The case has dominated headlines in Pakistan for the better part of a year, though many observers believe the court would be reluctant to directly oust Sharif.

It has repeatedly emphasised it is not conducting a criminal trial, while PML-N lawmakers told AFP that Sharif himself had not been named in the Panama Papers. “We are hopeful the decision will come according to the law of the country, not on expectations of the opposition,” provincial PML-N lawmaker Hina Butt said.

Maryam amazed by ‘overwhelming’ support for Nawaz ahead of Panamagate verdict

The court has taken such action before, however, holding former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in contempt in 2012 for refusing to re-open corruption investigations into then president Asif Ali Zardari, resulting in his disqualification.

‘Change the course of history’

But the five-member bench could also direct law enforcement agencies to carry out more detailed investigations into the allegations against Sharif, verbally censure him or his children, or clear him entirely.

“The nation is expecting some sort of judgement which will change the course of history in Pakistan,” senior Supreme Court lawyer S M Zafar told AFP, though he said it was difficult to predict the verdict.

Regardless of the outcome, he said, the case was important for Pakistan, which ranked a lowly 116th out of 176 countries in a corruption index released by Transparency International in January.

Political analyst Rasul Buksh Rais said: “It’s going to be (a) historic decision that will push Pakistan into electoral mood in either case,” adding that he did not expect disqualification.

He said a new judicial commission could be in the offing, which would allow Khan to claim moral victory for exposing corruption. “Whether the court convicts him or not today it spells trouble and the prime minister will be weakened,” added Herald newspaper editor Badar Alam.

A five-judge larger bench of the apex court – headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa – will hand down its judgment. The bench had reserved its verdict on February 23 after hearing out attorneys from both sides.

Justice Khosa had observed that 26,000 pages were submitted in the Panamagate case and the judges would read ‘each word’ of them. He observed that it was not a case wherein a short order could be passed.

SC reserves judgment in Panamagate case

The ruling was delayed by more than a month – at first because all the judges were in different registries of the apex court and then because all five of them were giving their individual input in writing due to the importance of the case.

Despite the weeks-long wait, everyone in Pakistan has been on the edge of their seats, with politicians especially anxious as their future course of action depends on the outcome of the judgment.

In particular, the PTI, which filed one of the petitions against the Sharif family, had voiced concern over the delay saying it was creating uncertainty among the general public.

In a written response to the Panamagate petitions submitted before the Supreme Court in November last year, the premier denied holding any offshore companies, said he had declared all his assets in 2013 and argued that he was not liable for disqualification under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

PML-N mulls options ahead of Panamagate verdict

Anticipating a Supreme Court verdict against the Sharif family in the Panamagate case, the PTI leadership on Wednesday decided to formally launch its campaign for next general elections by staging a ‘massive public rally’ this week – most probably on Friday – on Islamabad’s Parade Ground.

It is the same Parade Ground where the PTI staged on November 2 its last big gathering – the Thanksgiving Rally – organised after the party had called off its Islamabad lockdown plan in the wake of the Supreme Court’s announcement to take up the Panamagate case.

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Get ready for ‘equal opportunities’, Bilawal tells people of South Punjab

LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Sunday that days of deprivation for the people of South Punjab are over, asking people of the region to get ready for the dawn of development, prosperity and equal opportunities.

“PPP has the best plans for poverty-hit masses and we will cleanse south Punjab of PML-N,” he said while addressing party leaders and workers from the region during interviews for candidates for different districts of South Punjab, including Multan and Bahawalpur divisions; districts of Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and Lodhran.

Reorganisation drive: Bilawal holds interviews of party leaders

“PPP will free South Punjab from the ‘throne of Raiwind’ in the next elections,” he added.

Bilawal went on to say it was upsetting for him to know that the literacy rate in south Punjab stood at only 12%. “The days of deprivation are now numbered.”

Before the interviews, the family of Imtiaz Ahmed, a party worker who was killed in an exchange of fire in Bahawalnagar district with a rival political party activists, met the PPP chairman at Bilawal House.

Bilawal takes notice of Pitafi’s ‘derogatory’ remarks against woman legislator

Killers of a PPP worker, he said, were roaming around in the Haroonabad area and police are not ready to arrest them. “In reality, PML-N, which boasts about transparent investigation, is involved in the killing.”

PPP leaders, including former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood, Natasha Daultana, Shaukat Basra, Abdul Qadir Shaheen and others were present on the occasion.

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Haqqani’s claims of facilitating CIA ‘confirm state institutions’ concerns’

ISLAMABAD: Army broke its silence on the controversy triggered by Pakistan’s former ambassador’s revelations on the issuance of visas to CIA operatives, saying Hussain Haqqani’s article vindicated the position of the country’s state institutions.

“Views of Hussain Haqqani published in a mainstream US newspaper, especially his account on issue of visas vindicate stance of Pakistan state institutions,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Wednesday.

Views of Hussain Haqqani pub in a mainstream US newspaper esp his account on issue of visas vindicate stance of Pak's state institutions.1/2

— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) March 29, 2017

“The veracity of concerns about his role in the entire issue also stands confirmed.”

The veracity of concerns about his role in the entire issue also stands confirmed.

— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) March 29, 2017

Haqqani, in an article for The Washington Post earlier this month admitted facilitating the stationing of American special operations and intelligence personnel on Pakistani soil. Similarly, classified documents revealed the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government had at the highest official level allowed Haqqani to issue visas to American nationals, bypassing all security protocols.

The security forces have maintained all along that the envoy could not have worked alone, without keeping the civilian government in the loop.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in his policy speech before the Senate indicated that the interior ministry, through a letter dated July 16, 2010, had allowed Haqqani to issue diplomatic visas to American nationals without referring their cases to the ministry or security agencies for clearance.

As many as 2,487 visas had been issued between July and December that year, amounting to a 50 per cent increase over figures for previous six months. This figure was all-time high against data for the previous three years.

PPP defends visa powers to Haqqani

The PPP, which was in power back then, however, fiercely defended the move.

Senator Farhatulllah Babar said although Haqqani was empowered by the prime minister to issue visas, it did not mean that due process within the Embassy, involving representatives of other relevant departments, had been circumvented.

Likewise, Yousuf Raza Gilani said that he had never allowed Haqqani to issue visas to members of the US special forces.

“The envoy had only been allowed to issue visas conditionally,” Gilani told reporters in Multan last week. “Empowering any ambassador did not imply he could resort to illegal means [during the conduct of his services],” he said.

‘Hussain Haqqani is selling his motherland’

Although, the ISPR statement did not elaborate further, the emphasis on vindication of Pakistan state institutions’ stance appears to refer to the ‘memogate.’

The controversy revolves around a memorandum addressed to Admiral Mike Mullen ostensibly seeking help of the Obama administration in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid to avert a military takeover of the civilian government in Pakistan, as well as assisting the government to take over military apparatus.

Haqqani was removed from his post in November 2011 after being accused of hatching a conspiracy to undermine the then military leadership.

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Visa controversy is a non-issue, says Gilani

Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Friday that visas issued to Americans during his tenure is a non-issue and was brought to the limelight to divert attention from other issues which matter.

Addressing a press conference in Multan, Gilani said, "This letter that has been leaked has a set of conditions that can be found in the first part, they include the point that people should be given visas only if they have the State Department's recommendation and the reason for their visit is very clear."

"The point of creating this controversy is to keep the nation from focusing on the real matter at hand," said Gilani while discussing the controversy which arose after Hussain Haqqani's op-ed in a foreign publication.

The former prime minister added that the presence of Osama bin Laden be discussed rather than raising the issues of visas.

"It is clear that the force that came into Pakistan for the operation that killed Osama did not have any visa at all."

Gilani also demanded that an investigation into visas issued to Americans should be conducted from 2002 to 2017.

Brushing the controversy off as a 'non-issue' Gilani said, "If the findings of the judicial commission that we created had been made public these questions that are being raised today would have been answered a long time ago."

'Iftikhar Chaudhry wanted to be president'

Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Friday criticised former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, saying he was a "political judge" during his tenure.

He said Chaudhry set up a political party which he said, was an indication of his "intentions".

"He always wanted to be president," Zardari said.

He also congratulated former federal minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi who had been jailed over charges of corruption, saying "God has given him respect."

The former president further said PPP aims to win Punjab in the next elections, adding that the party is currently being reorganised in the province.

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Via DAWN.com

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