Posts Tagged ‘zardari’

PML-N, PPP mull over joining hands in by-polls

ISLAMABAD: After going separate ways during the recent election for the key offices of prime minister and president and causing serious damage to the opposition’s unity, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are now considering joining hands in the coming by-elections.

A PML-N delegation, headed by Opposition Leader in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, met PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bokhari at his residence here on Sunday and conveyed him a message of the PML-N leadership that the two parties must work together from the platform of joint opposition inside and outside the parliament.

The PML-N delegation comprised Senator Chaudhry Tanveer, former minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and former MNA Anjum Aqeel.

Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Mr Bokhari said the two sides had discussed the possibilities of fielding joint candidates in next month’s by-elections to be held in 11 constituencies of the National Assembly and 26 of the provincial assemblies. These seats have fallen vacant due to different reasons, including resignations by those elected on more than one seat and death of some contesting candidates.

Zafar-led delegation conveys party high-command’s message to Peoples Party

Mr Bokhari said they had discussed various options and proposals, but refused to provide details, saying he could not do so before discussing them with his party’s leadership. He said the PML-N leaders had also sought time so that they could also consult their leadership.

In reply to a question, the PPP leader said cooperation between the two parties would not be limited to two or three seats, and they would have to agree on a formula for all the constituencies.

Asked if the PML-N delegation had conveyed any message of their supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, Mr Bokhari said, “The message was simple that we should work as joint opposition inside and outside the parliament to give a tough time to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.”

He expressed the hope that there would be more meetings between the two parties in a few days and said that not only the PML-N, but other opposition parties would also be taken on board, if they (the PPP and PML-N) reached consensus.

Similarly, when contacted, PML-N’s Raja Zafarul Haq said the two sides had agreed to increase coordination and cooperation with a view to playing an effective role of opposition. He said they had discussed the option of jointly contesting the upcoming by-elections, but no final decision had been made so far.

Sources said the main purpose of the visit of the PML-N’s delegation was to seek cooperation on the two National Assembly seats — NA-53 Islamabad and NA-60 Rawalpindi. However, they said, Mr Bokhari made no commitment with the PML-N team and stressed the need for a broader cooperation and adjustments on all the seats being contested in the by-polls.

The sources said that PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif was reaching Islamabad on Monday (today) after which contacts between the country’s two major parties and arch rivals of the past were expected to increase. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is also expected to be present in the capital as the National Assembly is also in session.

It was the first direct and formal contact between the two parties after the Sept 4 presidential elections in which the PPP had fielded Chuadhry Aitzaz Ahsan whereas the PML-N and other opposition parties had nominated Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as their joint candidate against the PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi.

Despite hectic efforts and mediation of other parties, the PML-N had refused to vote for Mr Ahsan due to his controversial remarks about the illness of Nawaz Sharif and his wife Kulsoom Nawaz whereas the PPP had also refused to withdraw from the race.

The failure of the opposition parties to field a joint candidate virtually provided a walkover to Dr Arif Alvi who managed to win the election without facing any difficulty.

And after facing humiliation in the presidential poll, the two parties started passing the buck holding each other responsible for it.

Making a direct attack, PML-N information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan had alleged that Mr Zardari had damaged democracy. He alleged that the PPP had ditched the combined opposition twice — first by refusing to vote for Shahbaz Sharif in the election for the prime minister and then by unilaterally nominating Aitzaz Ahsan as the presidential candidate.

Another PML-N leader Engineer Amir Muqam was of the opinion that Prime Minister Imran Khan and president-elect Dr Alvi should be “thankful” to Mr Zardari for the party’s victory in the presidential election.

Similarly, when a reporter sought Mr Zardari’s comments on the PML-N allegations, he had said with his usual smile on his face: “They are saying that Zardari has broken the opposition alliance. Why shouldn’t we say that Mian Sahab (Shahbaz Sharif) has never been in the opposition?”

The grand opposition alliance formed by 11 parties soon after the July 25 elections had fallen apart within weeks following the PPP’s refusal to vote for PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif against PTI chief Imran Khan in the election of prime minister despite agreeing on a formula during a meeting of the multiparty conference.

The PPP backed out of its commitment and asked the PML-N to replace Mr Sharif with some other candidate, explaining that the party could not vote for him as he had made some controversial remarks against Mr Zardari during the election campaign.

The cracks within the opposition ranks deepened when the PPP unilaterally nominated Mr Ahsan as the presidential candidate, drawing the ire of other opposition parties.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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Law will take its course, PTI responds to Nawaz judgement

LAHORE: Stating that the decision of the Islam­abad High Court (IHC) to suspend the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield reference was on a “procedural basis”, Infor­mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the government fully respected the country’s courts.

In a statement issued by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s media department on Wednesday, Mr Chaudhry said that the country’s courts were functioning independently and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was also an independent and autonomous institution and the government had no role to play in its activities.

Mr Chaudhry, who is also the information secretary of the ruling PTI, said the government respected the IHC’s order like all its previous judgements. He said the government as well as the people of Pakistan wanted action against all those involved in corruption.

Bilawal terms the verdict ‘relief’ to Sharifs

“The people of Pakistan want that their looted wealth brought back to the country and the government is working to achieve this objective,” he asserted.

Stating that the nation was now aware about the character of the Sharif family, he alleged that the Sharifs were yet to provide evidence of its ownership of billions of rupees. He said the law would take its course and the case would further unfold.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari termed the IHC verdict a “relief to the Sharif family”.

In a statement issued from Bilawal House Karachi, the PPP chairman said that after the death of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the Sharif family was going through “testing times”.

“The PPP and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto fought for the independence of judiciary and were an integral part of this important movement. The PPP has also suffered at the hands of judicial verdicts but not once have we disrespected the courts,” he added.

The PPP chairman said he could not comment on the legal aspects of this verdict as courts were yet to decide on the appeals.

“We believe that our courts should not seem to be seen as part of any political victimisation. Rule of law and independence of judiciary are essential for any democratic system to thrive,” he concluded.

Similarly, PPP Punjab president Qamar Zaman Kaira in a separate statement said that as soon as the accountability court had announced 10-year jail term for the PML-N’s supreme leader, it was being expected that the (Islamabad) high court would bail out the ex-premier.

Mr Kaira said Nawaz Sharif had always been getting relief [from courts] and the it was repeated once again on Wednesday.

He said the grounds the IHC had made as basis in its verdict for releasing Nawaz Sharif would be known only in the detailed judgement.

Mr Kaira, however, said that so far only punishment had been suspended as the former prime minister would have to face the case and submit the money trail for the assets to which he had admitted ownership.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018

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Seeking details of Benazir’s assets disrespect to a martyr: Zardari

ISLAMABAD: Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday filed a review petition in the Supreme Court, challenging its Aug 29 order in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case in which the court had sought details of his and those of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s foreign assets.

Terming the seeking of details of Ms Bhutto’s assets disrespect to a martyr, Mr Zardari argued in the petition that such details had nothing to do with the case and that it was out of context and against his fundamental rights.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar which is seized with a petition filed by the Lawyers Foundation for Justice president Feroz Shah Gilani asked Mr Zardari in the Aug 29 order to submit an affidavit highlighting details of foreign assets and bank accounts, including Swiss accounts, belonging to him, his slain wife, children (Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari) and other dependants.

Mr Gilani’s petition seeks recovery of public amount allegedly wasted against the backdrop of the NRO in 2007. He nominated Mr Zardari, former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and former attorney general Malik Abdul Qayyum as respondents in the case.

PPP co-chairman challenges apex court’s Aug 29 order in National Reconciliation Ordinance case

Moved by senior counsel Farooq H. Naek, the review petition argued that the Aug 29 order had erroneously shifted the burden of proof to Mr Zardari, asking him to prove his innocence. This is something that Mr Zardari has done time and again and even he has been acquitted multiple times on merit.

The actual burden of proof, the review petition argues, remains on the party which has brought the case before the court. The Aug 29 order prime facie aimed at seeking to gather information which would somehow incriminate Mr Zardari, it added. This is against the spirit of Article 13 of the Constitution which provides protection against double punishment.

Moreover, the review petition says, setting Oct 5, 2007 as date from which financial information of Mr Zardari and his family should be included in the affidavit is arbitrary, ad hoc and does not find basis in the law.

The Aug 29 order has also failed to take into account the practical difficulties that would occur in attempting to gather information required to be furnished in the affidavit sought under the order.

The record is likely to have been shredded and no longer available, especially when it comes to old property documents and details of their sale and purchase price, it says.

The order is also in violation of Article 4, 175 (2) and 187 (1) of the constitution which guarantees rights of individuals to be dealt with in accordance with the law, establishment and jurisdiction of the courts and issue and execution of processes of the Supreme Court, respectively.

Thus, the petition of Mr Gilani does not fall within the purview of Article 184(3) of the constitution, the review petition says, adding the Aug 29 order is asking for the details for a period spanning over a decade. Even under income tax law the limitation prescribed for assessments by Section 121 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 is five years and anything before the same is exempt from assessment.

Moreover, under Section 60 of the Election Act 2017, a candidate is only to furnish a statement of his assets and liabilities for the preceding year whereas under the Aug 29 order the affidavit to be supplied covers the period from Oct 5, 2007 till date, which is unheard of.

Even under the election law a candidate is only supposed to furnish details of his spouse and dependent children whereas the order seeks details of the children who were not dependant, the review petition says.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2018

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Will hold protest if govt doesn’t form commission to probe ‘rigging’ by tomorrow, warns Bilawal

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday warned that his party will hold protests against the PTI government if it fails to form a commission to investigate the rigging allegations regarding the July 25 general elections.

Talking to reporters outside the Parliament House, Bilawal said, “If the government failed to form a probe commission by September 18, PPP would prepare a strategy for the protest.”

“We will wait until tomorrow,” he asserted.

Explore: ,Here’s a list of constituencies where PTI, PML-N, PPP are alleging rigging,

He also hinted at consulting the PML-N and other opposition parties in case an investigation commission is not formed by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The PPP chairman also expressed “disappointment” over President Arif Alvi’s address to a joint parliamentary session earlier today.

Moreover, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif also reiterated his party’s demand of forming a parliamentary commission to probe rigging allegations regarding the general elections, ,Geo News reported,.

He complained that opposition leaders were silenced during the presidential speech. Asif said that opposition leaders were told that they would be able to present their stance following President Alvi’s speech but they were not allowed to speak after the address ended.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 17, 2018 at 10:25 pm

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Qatari emir’s brother meets Nawaz to offer condolences

LAHORE: Several prominent leaders, including Qatari emir’s brother Sheikh Thani Bin Hamad Al-Thani and Turkish company Albayrak’s chief executive Ahmet Albayrak, condoled with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the death of his wife Begum Kulsoom at Jati Umra on Saturday.

A large number of parliamentarians, including former Punjab minister Khawaja Imran Nazir and Balochistan National Party chief Akhtar Mengal, as well as people from all walks of life visited Mr Sharif and conveyed their condolences. They offered Fateha and laid wreaths on the grave of Begum Kulsoom.

BNP chief Akhtar Mengal said that the late Begum Kulsoom struggled for democracy in the most trying times, adding that her services would be remembered forever.

PPP says Zardari, Bilawal to visit Jati Umra

Speaking about the opponents of dams, he said that Article 6 should be invoked not only against those criticising construction of dams but also against those abrogating the Constitution.

Meanwhile, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif expressed his gratitude to political leaders and thousands others who came and attended Begum Kulsoom’s funeral and sent condolence messages.

As Qul for Begum Kulsoom will be held on Sunday (today), Shahbaz Sharif requested people to recite the Holy Quran and pray for the deceased at their homes. He said it was decided that only family members and close relatives would participate in the Qul at Jati Umra.

Punjab Pakistan Peoples Party media adviser Sajjad Anwar told Dawn PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari would go to Jati Umra to condole with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the death of his wife.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2018

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FIA wants SC to set up medical board in ‘fake’ accounts case

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday approached the Supreme Court to seek a directive for establishment of a high-powered medical board to determine the veracity of claims that health of two accused in the fake accounts case, Khawaja Anvar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed, was deteriorating fast or not.

Anvar Majeed, the chairman of the Omni Group of Companies, and Ghani Majeed were arrested by FIA on the premises of the Supreme Court on Aug 15 and are still under detention for their alleged involvement in the Rs35 billion fake accounts case.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, which is seized with the alleged money laundering case, will resume hearing on Monday.

On Sept 6, the apex court appointed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe allegations that the fake accounts were used for laundering money and that the case also involved former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur as accused.

Board to find out if claims by accused about declining health are true or not

Headed by Ahsan Sadiq, an additional director general at the FIA, the JIT will also comprise Imran Latif Minhas, a commissioner at the Regional Tax Office, Islamabad; Majid Hussain, a joint director at the State Bank of Pakistan; Noman Aslam, a director at the National Accountability Bureau; Mohammad Afzal, a director at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan; and Brigadier Shahid Parvez of the Inter-Services Intelligence.

Through a report, the FIA informed the Supreme Court that the JIT had set up its secretariat in Karachi and even commenced its work on Sept 12.

The Supreme Court has asked the JIT to identify persons implicated in the case and collect material evidence to ensure that if wrongdoing was committed all those involved are prosecuted.

The JIT will enjoy all the powers relating to inquiries and investigations, including those available in the Code of Criminal Procedure, National Accountability Ordinance, Federal Investigation Agency Act 1974, and anti-corruption laws.

In its application filed on Friday, the FIA explained that Anvar Majeed and Ghani Majeed were sent to judicial lock-up after their arrest on Aug 28.

However, due to his “fast deteriorating health” Anvar Majeed was admitted to the National Institute of Cardio-Vascular Diseases whereas Ghani Majeed was admitted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi, due to abdominal pain and high blood pressure.

The Supreme Court had earlier rejected a similar application moved by senior counsel Shahid Hamid, who was representing Ghani Majeed. The counsel had claimed that the health of his client was bad because his rectum had been bleeding since Aug 19. He had quoted doctors as saying his client needed immediate medical attention. Subsequently, Ghani Majeed was hospitalised and his condition was stabilised after much efforts. Mr Hamid also wondered why a 45-year-old man was suffering from bleeding of the rectum.

The application highlighted that the JPMC director through a letter on Sept 6 had requested the setting up of a board of doctors, but the Sindh health department through its Sept 11 letter had declined the request and advised that the doctor who was treating the patient could decide his course of treatment.

In all fairness and justice, the FIA application argued, the Supreme Court might order the establishment of a high-powered medical board to look into the claims of deterioration in the health of the accused.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2018

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Condolences pour in for Kulsoom Nawaz: ‘The woman who stood like a rock in the face of dictatorship’

Politicians tweeted heartfelt condolences as news of ,Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s death, spread on Tuesday.

The official PML-N Twitter account tweeted party president Shahbaz Sharif’s confirmation of the news and prayed for her forgiveness.

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President Arif Alvi also issued a statement, tweeted by the official account of the President of Pakistan, offering support to her family.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his grief over Begum Kulsoom’s death and promised his government’s assistance to the Sharif family in this time of grief.

He also directed the Pakistan High Commission in Britain to facilitate Begum Kulsoom’s family in London in every way possible.

“Sad to learn of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s death,” his account tweeted on Tuesday evening. “She was a courageous woman of great dignity and confronted her disease with fortitude. My condolences and prayers go to the Sharif family.”

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The official account of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the ruling party, also paid respect to the former prime minister’s wife, saying that the party had “massive respect for her”.

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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, in a video message, said Begum Kulsoom was a “brave woman who stood her ground in difficult times”, as he extended “sincere condolences” to PML-N workers and Sharif family.

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PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto paid homage to Begum Kulsoom, calling her a “brave woman” who struggled for democracy.

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India’s Minister of External affairs Sushma Swaraj also expressed grief over the demise of Begum Kulsoom and extended “heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family”.

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PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan also offered his condolences and prayed that God grants her family “enough strength” to cope with her loss.

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Former PML-N minister Khurram Dastagir Khan hailed Begum Kulsoom as a “dissenter against dictatorship” and a “courageous Pakistani”.

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Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari expressed her grief at the news and extended her condolences to the Sharif family, noting that Begum Kulsoom “deserves the nation’s respect”.

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PPP leader Sharmila Faruqi also tweeted prayers that Begum Kulsoom’s family finds the strength to cope with the event.

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MQM leader Syed Ali Raza Abidi hoped that the government would grant “early bail” to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain retired Mohammad Safdar, who are serving sentences in Adiala jail.

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Pak Sarzameen Party founder Mustafa Kamal said he was saddened to hear the news and extended support to Begum Kulsoom’s family.

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National Party leader Hasil Bizenjo prayed that the deceased rests in peace.

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Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also extended his condolences “to the bereaved family on [the] sad demise of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz”.

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Chief Justice of Pakistan also expressed “deep sorrow and grief” on Begum Kulsoom’s demise and said that he “prayed to Almighty Allah to shower His blessings upon the departed soul”.

Remembering Begum Kulsoom Nawaz

As news of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s passing spread, friends and acquaintances expressed grief and shared their memories of the three-time first lady and her role in Pakistan’s politics.

Journalist Nusrat Javed

“She played an extraordinary role [during Musharraf's martial law era]. In fact, at that time it felt there was a sole face and singular voice of dissent [Begum Kulsoom Nawaz's].

“In a personal capacity, she was a very loving woman. She used to always step forward in times of need, when for example, news of someone surfaced who was in a critical medical condition and did not have the means to seek treatment. She used to help such people quietly.

“She had a very motherly behaviour not only towards the party members but people in general.”

PML-N lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal

“She was a very loving lady and my association with her was that of a fellow party member as well as a leader. When martial law was enforced and Nawaz Sharif was jailed, she stood bravely in the face of such dire circumstances and carried forward the party’s struggle for democracy. She served as an inspiration for us all.”

Former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair

“She was an outstanding lady and in my opinion, an exemplary one, whatever one’s political views are.

“She supported her husband throughout his political career. And when Nawaz Sharif went to jail, she came out and engaged in a political struggle, even though it was unheard of for a woman in Pakistan to do so at the time.

The few times that I met her, she came across as a good Pakistani housewife; she was educated, articulate and intelligent.”

Journalist Meher Bokhari

“It’s very unfortunate for the children and Mian [Nawaz Sharif] Sahab. Maryam Nawaz would credit [her political standing to] her mother ? her father was not in favour of her entering politics. Her mother said that she [Maryam] was ready.

“She played a crucial role in convincing her husband given how well she [Maryam] had campaigned for the 2013 elections … It was Begum Kulsoom who broke the family’s long-held tradition of not allowing women to foray into politics.”

ANP leader Zahid Khan

“Whenever I met her during talks between leaders, I found her to be a very wise and prudent woman. I never once saw bitterness in her temperament. She was the sole lady to stand up in the face of Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship. Even the male members of the party were not as bold as she. It is not just a loss for the party but for the whole nation.”

Journalist Mujahid Barelvi

“I was recalling the time when I was on the flight during the [Sharifs'] visit to Azerbaijan and Madina. I had the opportunity to join them for breakfast.

With other leaders and their families, I had never known spouses to have that sort of presence. In her case though, I observed her to be a very impressive personality. She used to join in during conversations and even quipped when Nawaz asked ‘Is there no Nihari or paaye for breakfast?’ to say ‘No we have put a stop to all these things’.

It is very unfortunate the way she was consumed all of a sudden by such an illness for a whole year and which caused so much suffering for the family.”

Journalist Iftikhar Shirazi

“There is no doubt that in 1999, when the military coup took place and Nawaz Sharif’s government was dissolved, all the bigwigs of the N-League were not fighting his case (like they should have). In such dire times, Kulsoom Nawaz took matters into her own hands. She took to the streets and held protests the result of which was a secret agreement which then led to Nawaz Sharif and his family living in exile in Europe for 10 years.

“In such stressful times, no other member of the party played such a crucial role, as she did. They all either parted ways or stepped back or changed loyalties, but either way they did not stand with Nawaz Sharif.

“Even now, when he was disqualified and his NA-120 Lahore seat was left vacant and she stood for elections, it was unfortunate that she was unable to appear in the assembly and take oath as a parliamentarian; yet it can be said that she was a member of parliament for more than a year.

“She may not have forayed into politics the way her husband or the Sharifs in general had, but whenever dire circumstances arose, she was with Nawaz Sharif. She served as his advisor as well; whenever she was needed, she never refused to serve the party in any way she could and to bring the family out from all the tough times it went through.”

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 12, 2018 at 12:25 pm

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Millions withdrawn from Omni Group’s ‘frozen’ accounts, FIA tells SC

The Omni Group allegedly withdrew funds from bank accounts that were supposed to have been frozen under court orders, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the Supreme Court on Friday through a report.

The Supreme Court, on the FIA’s request, had earlier ordered the freezing of 41 bank accounts operated by six companies owned by the Omni Group, whose chairman, Anwar Majeed — along with former president Asif Ali Zardari and others — is being investigated over allegations of money laundering.

The FIA reported to the court today that, despite its orders, 10 of the 41 accounts were not frozen right away, due to which millions of rupees worth of transactions were conducted from those accounts.

Read: ,SC forms JIT to probe ‘mega corruption’ fake accounts case against Zardari and acquaintances,

The said accounts, according to the agency, were all held by the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), which had issued instructions to its staff to “debit block” the accounts.

However, owing to the negligence of a staffer, the FIA said, the accounts were frozen after some delay, and that allowed some transactions to take place.

The staffer, an Assistant Vice President named Afzal Sadiq, has since been suspended, the agency told the court.

Pak Ethanol, Tando Allayar Sugar Mills, Omni Polymer Packages, Omni Pvt Ltd, Chambar Sugar Mills and Ansari Sugar Mills are the six companies whom the 10 bank accounts belong to.

Fake bank accounts case

Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, along with Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed and other business aides, face allegations that they illegally channeled funds through fake bank accounts and laundered them in connivance with the CEOs of major banks.

The case was initially registered in 2015 against former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai, who is widely believed to be close to former president Zardari.

Lawai is in judicial custody, which the FIA has been given physical remand of Anwar Majeed and several others.

Zardari and siblings are out after securing pre-arrest bail. They have reportedly been handed questionnaires seeking their responses to the allegations levelled against them.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 7, 2018 at 12:25 pm

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SC forms JIT to probe ‘mega corruption’ fake accounts case against Zardari and acquaintances

The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe alleged laundering of billions of rupees through fake bank accounts in connivance with bankers and others to several suspected beneficiaries, including former president Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.

PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, his sibling Faryal Talpur and several of their business associates are currently being probed as part of a 2015 case regarding fake accounts and fictitious transactions —which were initially found to have totalled Rs35 billion — conducted through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL.

FIA’s Additional Director General (Economic Crime Wing) Ehsan Sadiq has been appointed as the head of the JIT by the apex court.

The other members of the JIT include Brigadier Shahid Parvez of Inter-Services Intelligence, Muhammad Afzal of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, NAB Islamabad Director Noman Aslam, Majid Hussain of State Bank of Pakistan and Tax Commissioner Imran Latif Minhas.

The JIT, its members and members of the FIA have been directed not to provide the media with any information regarding the investigation.

Moreover, Pakistan Rangers have been tasked to provide adequate security to the team. This has been done to address the DG FIA’s apprehensions regarding the JIT’s security.


The apex court has given the following mandate to the JIT:

  • The JIT shall set up its Secretariat at a place convenient to it.
  • The JIT shall have all powers relating to inquiries and
    investigations including those available in the Code of Criminal
    Procedure, 1908; National Accountability Ordinance, 1999; Federal
    Investigation Agency Act, 1974 and the Anti Corruption Laws, etc.
  • All executive authorities or agencies in the country shall render
    assistance and provide support to the JIT in its working, if
    required.
  • The JIT shall submit periodic reports before this court qua the
    progress made in the investigation on fortnightly basis under sealed
    cover for our examination.
  • The Additional Director General, FIA, who shall head the JIT may
    co-opt any other expert who may in his opinion be necessary to
    complete the investigation in an effective and timely manner.
  • First report of the JIT shall be filed within a period of 15 days
    from today.

The court has rejected a request to move this investigation to Islamabad at the moment. However, room has been left for the request to be reexamined, should the need arise.

The case will now be heard in the Supreme Court on September 24.

According to the court’s order, the JIT has been formed due to reports of “slackness and slow progress” of the case and because of information that the “investigation was being obstructed and hampered”.

The director general of the FIA had also told the court that their office was making slow progress in the case due to lack of expertise and because the investigation was being “willfully obstructed at every stage” because of “alleged involvement of high profile and powerful political and business figures in the tainted transactions”.

The FIA, in its progress report submitted in the SC, claimed to have identified two more companies belonging to the Zardari Group — M/s Landmarks and National Gases (Pvt) Limited — in connection with the alleged laundering of billions of rupees.

The agency said it came to know of the two companies from a hard disk confiscated during last week’s raid on Khoski Sugar Mills — an Omni Group-owned facility whose head Anwar Majeed is a close Zardari confidant.

Earlier this week, while hearing a suo motu case regarding a delay in the FIA probe into the case, the SC had deliberated over the formation of an investigation team, but said that it would only be constituted once the defence and prosecution lawyers conclude their arguments.

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SC orders formation of JIT to probe ‘mega corruption’ fake accounts case

The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe alleged laundering of billions of rupees through fake bank accounts in connivance with bankers and others to suspected beneficiaries, including former president Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.

A Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) JIT has been investigating a 2015 case regarding fake accounts and fictitious transactions conducted through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL.

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

While hearing a suo motu case regarding a delay in the FIA probe into the case, the SC had earlier deliberated over the formation of an investigation team, but said that it would only be constituted once the defence and prosecution lawyers concluded their arguments.

The three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, however, has not decided who will be a part of the JIT. The apex court is also in favour of halting the proceedings in the trial court.

The CJP described the case as a “big corruption case”.

“It is necessary to have a mega corruption case probed by a JIT,” he said, adding that the court had constituted JITs to probe a number of similar cases.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked FIA Director General Bashir Memon why his team wanted the inclusion of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence officials in the JIT, to which Memon responded that the FIA wanted officials belonging to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, the Federal Board of Revenue, and the State Bank of Pakistan, along with ISI and MI officials on the JIT.

“Whether or not the people being investigated talk is up to them,” Memon said.

The DG FIA added that investigating officers’ lives have been threatened.

‘Who put the money in accounts?’

Shahid Hamid, the counsel for the Omni Group, its chairman Anwar Majeed and Ghani Majeed rejected the creation of a JIT to probe the case, and expressed concerns over the media coverage of his clients.

“We will control the media, but tell me why we shouldn’t create a JIT,” the CJP responded. “This is not some small case. Did angels put the money in the bank accounts?” he asked. “We will find out who the money belongs to.”

“For now, we are not accusing anyone,” the top judge said. “Why is the Omni Group shying away from the JIT?” he asked.

The CJP said that the court wanted to create a JIT in order to uncover corruption, adding: “It is possible that the JIT results are in your favour.”

FIA Director General Bashir Memon told the bench today that during a search of Majeed’s office, a company in Dubai had been discovered.

Memon said that the company’s accounts contained millions of dirhams. “Through foreign currency accounts money is being sent to England and France,” he said, adding that the amount was being transferred through fake bank accounts.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked Memon if the FIA had any experts skilled in foreign currency. The CJP agreed that an advanced, modern team was needed.

Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor pointed out that certain problems arose when investigating banks and other such institutions outside Pakistan. “The problem is that we can’t get the help of skilled private personnel,” he explained, adding that the National Database and Registration Authority had the help of skilled IT personnel.

The CJP said that the creation of a JIT was necessary. “We can have a JIT investigate all over again,” he said. “We want to bring the truth to light. A fraud worth billions has taken place.”

Munir Bhatti, the counsel for Nimr Majeed, Mustafa Majeed and Ali Kamal Majeed was present in the court. He said that Ali Kamal’s six-year-old daughter had been unwell abroad and that if is client was cleared by the court, he would travel to visit her.

“No one will leave the country until we conclude the investigation,” the CJP asserted, adding: “We must be convinced if someone is unwell.”

The top judge observed that whenever a big fish was caught by the DG FIA, he became sick. “Even young people seem to get sick when they are caught,” he said.

Bhatti said that since the family members did not hold any public positions, a Panama-style JIT ? as earlier suggested by the court ? could not be created to probe the case.

Justice Bandial asked the lawyer what rights of his would be impinged upon due to the creation of a JIT and wondered what objections he could have to institutions investigating the case asking other state institutions for assistance in the matter.

“Whose Rs35bn are these? Where did they come from, and where did they go?” the CJP asked the Omni Group lawyer. “We want to find out, Shahid Hamid, whether any angels were behind this.”

The CJP said that the investigation of the case could be carried out in Sindh, but the DG FIA was of the opinion that it should take place in Islamabad as the MI’s help would be necessary for probing call records and other data.

Memon said that because of the SC’s notices, banks had handed over their records, and that in this case the heads of the banks were involved themselves.

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PPP, PML-N indulge in blame game after facing humiliation in presidential poll

ISLAMABAD: Instead of reviewing their strategies, the two major opposition parties — the PPP and PML-N — have started passing the buck to each other for the humiliation in ,Tuesday’s presidential election,.

The blame game continued throughout the day as the opposition leaders came to Parliament House to vote and even after the announcement of the unofficial results of the election by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

“The romance of (PPP chief) Asif Zardari with the establishment that started from the barren and rocky mountains of Balochistan when he became instrumental in toppling our government in the province months before the Senate elections has now reached the green and fertile hills of Islam­abad,” remarked information secretary of the PML-N and Senator Mushahidullah Khan making a direct attack on the PPP while talking to Dawn after the expected defeat of the two opposition candidates at the hands of PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi.

Mr Khan was of the opinion that Mr Zardari had not only damaged democracy, but the PPP had itself suffered an irreparable loss. He alleged that the PPP had ditched the combined opposition twice — first by refusing to vote for Shahbaz Sharif in the election of the prime minister and then by unilaterally nominating Aitzaz Ahsan as the presidential candidate.

Another PML-N leader Engineer Amir Muqam was of the opinion that Prime Minister Imran Khan and president-elect Dr Alvi should be “thankful” to Mr Zardari for the party’s victory in the presidential election. He alleged that the PPP had played a negative role in creating a rift in the opposition alliance and every party would testify to this.

Mr Muqam in a statement said the PPP had played a “historic role” in helping the PTI in gaining control of the President House.

He suggested that as the PPP had already played its role now the ruling PTI should take some steps for the benefit of the PPP as a “goodwill gesture”.

When a reporter sought Mr Zardari’s comments on the PML-N allegations, he said with his usual smile on his face: “They are saying that Zardari has broken the opposition alliance. Why shouldn’t we say that Mian Sahab (Shahbaz Sharif) has never been in the opposition?”

On the other hand, when this similar question was put to the PML-N president, he avoided making any comment about the PPP and instead blamed the media for the disunity in the opposition’s ranks.

When contacted, PPP’s vice-president Sherry Rehman said her party had worked very hard to keep some level of unity in the opposition “but we do have a party cadre to answer to and a worldview to adhere to”.

She claimed it was wrong to suggest that they had floated Aitzaz Ahsan’s name without consulting the opposition, saying “we did try to take everyone on board in different teams to field one candidate”.

“A measure of media speculation unfortunately destroyed the confidence-building on one candidate,” she said while indirectly endorsing Mr Sharif’s viewpoint.

Another PPP leader said that fielding Maulana Fazlur Rehman was not a good move by the PML-N as it made it difficult for the party to withdraw its candidate. Even Mr Ahsan had stated before the elections that had the PML-N fielded people like Ayaz Sadiq or Raja Zafarul Haq, they would have considered withdrawing from the race.

A senior PML-N leader said he considered both the PPP and his own party responsible for the debacle in the presidential election, saying the two parties had made it an issue of ego.

Commenting on the statements coming from the two sides after the defeat in the election accusing each other for the humiliation, he said: “A bad workman always blames his tools.”

“Look at the results. We were so close, yet too far,” he added.

The grand opposition alliance formed by 11 parties soon after the July 25 elections had fallen apart within weeks following the PPP’s refusal to vote for PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif against PTI chief Imran Khan in the election of prime minister despite agreeing on a formula during a meeting of the multiparty conference.

The PPP backed out of its commitment and asked the PML-N to replace Mr Sharif with some other candidate, explaining that the party could not vote for him as he had made some controversial remarks against Mr Zardari during the election campaign.

The cracks within the opposition ranks deepened when the PPP unilaterally nominated Mr Ahsan as the presidential candidate, drawing the ire of other opposition parties.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2018

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PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi elected 13th President of Pakistan

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Dr Arifur Rehman Alvi has been elected the 13th President of Pakistan, according to results provided by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Alvi, who is now set to succeed the outgoing President Mamnoon Hussain, edged out PML-N backed chief of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Fazlur Rehman and senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan in the presidential race by garnering more votes than both his rivals combined.

The ECP, in a press release, said that a total of 1,110 voters participated in the presidential polls held simultaneously at the Parliament House and the four provincial assembles today. Of the total votes cast, 27 votes were declared invalid.

After the total valid votes were treated according to the provision of paragraph 18 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, Alvi secured 353 votes, Rehman bagged 185, while Ahsan’s tally stood at 124.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has summoned the trio or their agents to the ECP Secretariat tomorrow to witness the tabulation process, after which the official result will be announced and the winner notified.

Votes breakdown

Of the 430 votes cast in the National Assembly and Senate, PTI’s Alvi received 212 votes, JUI-F’s Rehman bagged 131 and PPP’s Ahsan garnered 81; six votes were rejected.

Of the 61 Balochistan Assembly members, 60 cast their votes, with former CM Nawab Sanaullah Zehri the sole absentee. According to provisional results reported by DawnNewsTV, PTI’s Alvi secured 45 votes, while 15 lawmakers voted for Rehman. PPP’s Ahsan failed to receive any vote.

In Sindh Assembly, PPP’s Ahsan garnered 100 votes, Dr Alvi bagged 56, whereas just a solitary vote was cast in the favour of JUI’s Rehman; one vote was wasted.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, Dr Alvi received 78 of the total 109 votes, while Rehman and Ahsan had 26 and five votes respectively to their names.

In Punjab Assembly, Dr Alvi secured 186 votes, whereas Rehman and Ahsan received 141 and six votes respectively; 18 votes were rejected.

The unusually high number of rejected votes in the Punjab Assembly could be attributed to ,last week’s murmurs, that a group within the PML-N was unhappy over the party’s decision to nominate Rehman, and even termed him a “bad choice”.

‘President of the entire nation’

“I am grateful to God that the PTI-nominated candidate has been successful in the presidential race today,” Alvi said in his victory speech. “I am also thankful to Imran Khan for nominating me for such a big responsibility.”

In his impending five-year term, Alvi said he hopes that the “fortunes of the poor” take a turn for the better, and that they get “food, shelter and clothing”.

Alvi said that “from today I am not just a president that was nominated by the PTI but I am the president of the entire nation and all parties”.

“Each party has an equal right on me,” he added.

A joint sitting of the Senate and the newly elected national and provincial assemblies — together known as the electoral college of Pakistan — was called to elect the country’s 13th president.

The voting started at around 10am and ended at 4pm. The NA and Senate members voted inside the National Assembly hall, whereas the MPAs did the same in their respective provincial assemblies.

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives at the Parliament House to cast his vote. — Twitter

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives at the Parliament House to cast his vote. — Twitter

With an hour left in the 4pm voting deadline, Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the Parliament House and cast his vote.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had barred the members from carrying mobile phones with them at the time of voting.

Personnel of Rangers and FC were deployed around the Parliament House and the buildings of the provincial assemblies, which were declared as polling stations.

PTI's Arif Alvi casts his vote. — DawnNewsTV

PTI’s Arif Alvi casts his vote. — DawnNewsTV

With the Constitution requiring the presidential election to be held at least a month prior to the outgoing president’s final day in the office, the exercise that took place today should have instead been held by August 9, as incumbent President Mamnoon Hussain’s term will expire on September 9.

However, since the electoral college was not complete by the Constitutionally set deadline, the presidential election was ,subjected to delay,.

Lawmakers cast their votes at the National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV

Lawmakers cast their votes at the National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV

The exercise held today marked the end of a lengthy poll season that began with the July 25 general elections and was followed by various speaker, deputy speaker, prime and chief ministerial ballots.

The newly elected president will take oath of the office on September 9 after the expiry of the five-year term of incumbent president Hussain.

‘No complaints’

While arriving at the parliament for the election, Dr Alvi told reporters that members of all political parties should “vote for the best candidate according to their conscience”.

He said he expects to win a “clear majority” from all legislatures.

PPP candidate Aitzaz Ahsan arrives at parliament in Islamabad. — AP

PPP candidate Aitzaz Ahsan arrives at parliament in Islamabad. — AP

PPP’s Ahsan, who spoke to media representatives after visiting the parliament, said votes were being cast efficiently and the process was properly moving forward.

He said the matter of significance was not who from among the three candidates is elected president, but that a new head of state is going to be elected “through the democratic process”.

Ahsan said he had no complaints about the election process and that he would congratulate whoever emerges as the winner.

‘PPP stabbed joint opposition in the back’

Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F said it will remain an “example in history” that the PPP “stabbed the joint opposition in the back” by refusing to accept Rehman as the opposition parties’ nominee.

JUI’s Haideri launches scathing criticism of PPP.

He said he believed that “apparently”, the establishment’s favourite party has come to power in the centre.

“The second party [backed by] the establishment has emerged in the form of PPP as an apparent part of the opposition,” he alleged.

Tussle over opposition candidate

After the Election Commission of Pakistan set September 4 as the day of the 2018 presidential elections, four candidates were nominated and had subsequently filed their papers.

While the PTI and its allies have seen their candidates stave off any upsets in all the post-general election polls this summer, its presidential candidate, the PM-nominated Dr Arif Alvi, could have had a tougher task since the PTI does not have a majority in the Senate, whose members are also going to vote today.

Moreover, the presidential election is held via a secret ballot, which keeps the door open for horse-trading.

However, Dr Alvi’s presidency bid was given a huge boost due to ,disagreements within the opposition camp,.

Explore: ,Alvi, Rehman, or Aitzaz — who will be the next president of Pakistan?,

The PPP claims it’s “suggestion” to nominate Aitzaz Ahsan as the opposition’s candidate was misconstrued as a finalised nomination, which did not sit well with the PML-N as Ahsan had been a front line critic of its leadership in the past.

A lawmaker arrives to cast her vote for presidential election at parliament in Islamabad. — AP

A lawmaker arrives to cast her vote for presidential election at parliament in Islamabad. — AP

The episode reopened old wounds, and despite efforts to reconcile, a middle ground was not to be reached. PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari did not budge and stuck with his nomination of Ahsan. Meanwhile, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had been given the task to mediate between the two parties, ended up garnering the joint opposition’s support for himself; he was nominated by PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif.

A fourth candidate, PML-N’s Ameer Muqam had also filed his nominated papers but ,withdrew from the race, at the eleventh hour, possibly in Rehman’s favour.

How is the president of Pakistan elected?

As mentioned above, the electoral college of Pakistan comprises six leading elected bodies of Pakistan: the Senate, the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies.

Of the sextet, the Senate and the NA’s members are given one vote each. However, the four provincial assemblies are assigned an equal weight with the smallest of them all — the Balochistan Assembly — serving as the base.

Read: ,How PTI is poised to take President House in upcoming election,

The Balochistan Assembly has 65 members while the strength of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly is almost double this number, i.e. 124; so the vote of a member of the KP assembly has half the value of the vote of a member of the Balochistan Assembly.

According to the rules, the votes polled for candidates in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies are multiplied by 65 and divided by the total strength of that house, i.e. 371, 168 and 124 respectively. The values obtained are then rounded off.

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PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi elected 13th President of Pakistan: unofficial results

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Dr Arifur Rehman Alvi has been elected the 13th President of Pakistan, according to provisional results.

The PTI nominee, according to unofficial results, has edged out PML-N backed chief of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Fazlur Rehman and senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan in the presidential race by garnering more votes than both his rivals combined.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has summoned the trio or their agents to the ECP Secretariat tomorrow to witness the tabulation process, after which the official results will be announced and the winner notified.

Of the 430 votes cast in the National Assembly and Senate, PTI’s Alvi received 212 votes, JUI-F’s Rehman bagged 131 and PPP’s Ahsan garnered 81; six votes were rejected.

Of the 61 Balochistan Assembly members, 60 cast their votes, with former CM Nawab Sanaullah Zehri the sole absentee. According to provisional results reported by DawnNewsTV, PTI’s Alvi secured 45 votes, while 15 lawmakers voted for Rehman. PPP’s Ahsan failed to receive any vote.

In Sindh Assembly, PPP’s Ahsan garnered 100 votes, Dr Alvi bagged 56, whereas just a solitary vote was cast in the favour of JUI’s Rehman; one vote was wasted.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, Dr Alvi received 78 of the total 109 votes, while Rehman and Ahsan had 26 and five votes respectively to their names.

In Punjab Assembly, Dr Alvi secured 186 votes, whereas Rehman and Ahsan received 141 and six votes respectively; 18 votes were rejected.

‘President of the entire nation’

“I am grateful to God that the PTI-nominated candidate has been successful in the presidential race today,” Alvi said in his victory speech. “I am also thankful to Imran Khan for nominating me for such a big responsibility.”

In his impending five-year term, Alvi said he hopes that the “fortunes of the poor” take a turn for the better, and that they get “food, shelter and clothing”.

Alvi said that “from today I am not just a president that was nominated by the PTI but I am the president of the entire nation and all parties”.

“Each party has an equal right on me,” he added.

A joint sitting of the Senate and the newly elected national and provincial assemblies — together known as the electoral college of Pakistan — was called to elect the country’s 13th president.

The voting started at around 10am and ended at 4pm. The NA and Senate members voted inside the National Assembly hall, whereas the MPAs did the same in their respective provincial assemblies.

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives at the Parliament House to cast his vote

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives at the Parliament House to cast his vote

With an hour left in the 4pm voting deadline, Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the Parliament House and cast his vote.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had barred the members from carrying mobile phones with them at the time of voting.

PTI’s Arif Alvi speaks to reporters at the NA.

Personnel of Rangers and FC were deployed around the Parliament House and the buildings of the provincial assemblies, which were declared as polling stations.

With the Constitution requiring the presidential election to be held at least a month prior to the outgoing president’s final day in the office, the exercise that took place today should have instead been held by August 9, as incumbent President Mamnoon Hussain’s term will expire on September 9.

However, since the electoral college was not complete by the Constitutionally set deadline, the presidential election was ,subjected to delay,.

Lawmakers cast their votes at the National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV

Lawmakers cast their votes at the National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV

The exercise held today marked the end of a lengthy poll season that began with the July 25 general elections and was followed by various speaker, deputy speaker, prime and chief ministerial ballots.

The newly elected president will take oath of the office on September 9 after the expiry of the five-year term of incumbent president Hussain.

‘No complaints’

While arriving at the parliament for the election, Dr Alvi told reporters that members of all political parties should “vote for the best candidate according to their conscience”.

He said he expects to win a “clear majority” from all legislatures.

PPP candidate Aitzaz Ahsan arrives at parliament in Islamabad. — AP

PPP candidate Aitzaz Ahsan arrives at parliament in Islamabad. — AP

PPP’s Ahsan, who spoke to media representatives after visiting the parliament, said votes were being cast efficiently and the process was properly moving forward.

He said the matter of significance was not who from among the three candidates is elected president, but that a new head of state is going to be elected “through the democratic process”.

Ahsan said he had no complaints about the election process and that he would congratulate whoever emerges as the winner.

‘PPP stabbed joint opposition in the back’

Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F said it will remain an “example in history” that the PPP “stabbed the joint opposition in the back” by refusing to accept Rehman as the opposition parties’ nominee.

JUI’s Haideri launches scathing criticism of PPP

He said he believed that “apparently”, the establishment’s favourite party has come to power in the centre.

“The second party [backed by] the establishment has emerged in the form of PPP as an apparent part of the opposition,” he alleged.

Tussle over opposition candidate

After the Election Commission of Pakistan set September 4 as the day of the 2018 presidential elections, four candidates were nominated and had subsequently filed their papers.

While the PTI and its allies have seen their candidates stave off any upsets in all the post-general election polls this summer, its presidential candidate, the PM-nominated Dr Arif Alvi, could have had a tougher task since the PTI does not have a majority in the Senate, whose members are also going to vote today.

Moreover, the presidential election is held via a secret ballot, which keeps the door open for horse-trading.

However, Dr Alvi’s presidency bid was given a huge boost due to ,disagreements within the opposition camp,.

Explore: ,Alvi, Rehman, or Aitzaz — who will be the next president of Pakistan?,

The PPP claims it’s “suggestion” to nominate Aitzaz Ahsan as the opposition’s candidate was misconstrued as a finalised nomination, which did not sit well with the PML-N as Ahsan had been a front line critic of its leadership in the past.

A lawmaker arrives to cast her vote for presidential election at parliament in Islamabad. — AP

A lawmaker arrives to cast her vote for presidential election at parliament in Islamabad. — AP

The episode reopened old wounds, and despite efforts to reconcile, a middle ground was not to be reached. PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari did not budge and stuck with his nomination of Ahsan. Meanwhile, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had been given the task to mediate between the two parties, ended up garnering the joint opposition’s support for himself; he was nominated by PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif.

A fourth candidate, PML-N’s Ameer Muqam had also filed his nominated papers but ,withdrew from the race, at the eleventh hour, possibly in Rehman’s favour.

How is the president of Pakistan elected?

As mentioned above, the electoral college of Pakistan comprises six leading elected bodies of Pakistan: the Senate, the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies.

Of the sextet, the Senate and the NA’s members are given one vote each. However, the four provincial assemblies are assigned an equal weight with the smallest of them all — the Balochistan Assembly — serving as the base.

Read: ,How PTI is poised to take President House in upcoming election,

The Balochistan Assembly has 65 members while the strength of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly is almost double this number, i.e. 124; so the vote of a member of the KP assembly has half the value of the vote of a member of the Balochistan Assembly.

According to the rules, the votes polled for candidates in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies are multiplied by 65 and divided by the total strength of that house, i.e. 371, 168 and 124 respectively. The values obtained are then rounded off.

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NA, Senate and provincial assemblies to elect 13th president of Pakistan today

A joint sitting of the Senate and the newly elected national and provincial assemblies — together known as the electoral college of Pakistan — will elect the country’s new president via a secret ballot today.

With the Constitution requiring the presidential election to be held at least a month prior to the outgoing president’s final day in the office, the exercise taking place today should have been held by August 9, as incumbent President Mamnoon Hussain’s term will expire on September 9.

However, since the electoral college was not complete by the Constitutionally set deadline, the presidential election was ,subjected to delay,.

The presidential election will be held simultaneously at the Parliament House, Islamabad and the four provincial assemblies between 10am to 4pm. The NA and Senate members will vote at the Parliament House, whereas the MPAs will do the same in their respective provincial assemblies.

The exercise today will mark the end of a lengthy poll season that began with the July 25 general elections and was followed by various speaker, deputy speaker, prime and chief ministerial ballots.

The candidates

After the Election Commission of Pakistan set September 4 as the day of the 2018 presidential elections, four candidates were nominated and had subsequently filed their papers.

While the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its allies have seen their candidates stave off any upsets in all the post-general election polls this summer, its presidential candidate, the PM-nominated Dr Arif Alvi, could have had a tougher task — at least on paper.

This was due to the fact that the PTI does not have a majority in the Senate, whose members are also going to vote today. Moreover, the presidential election is held via a secret ballot, which keeps the door open for horse-trading.

However, Dr Alvi’s presidency bid was given a huge boost due to disagreements within the opposition camp. The PPP claims it’s “suggestion” to nominate Aitzaz Ahsan as the opposition’s candidate was misconstrued as a finalised nomination, which did not sit well with the PML-N as Ahsan had been a front line critic of the its leadership in the past.

The episode reopened old wounds, and despite efforts to reconcile, a middle ground was not to be reached. The PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari did not budge and stuck with his nomination of Ahsan. Meanwhile, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had been given the task to mediate between the two parties, ended up garnering the joint opposition’s support for himself; he was nominated by PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif.

A fourth candidate, PML-N’s Ameer Muqam had also filed his nominated papers but ,withdrew from the race, at the eleventh hour, possibly in Rehman’s favour.

How is the President of Pakistan elected

As mentioned above, the electoral college of Pakistan comprises six leading elected bodies of Pakistan: the Senate, the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies.

Of the sextet, the Senate and the NA’s members are given one votes each. However, the four provincial assemblies are assigned an equal weight with the smallest of them all — the Balochistan Assembly — serving as the base.

The Balochistan Assembly has 65 members while the strength of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly is almost double this number, i.e. 124; so the vote of a member of the KP assembly has half the value of the vote of a member of the Balochistan Assembly.

According to the rules, the votes polled by a candidate in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies are multiplied by 65 and divided by the total strength of that house, i.e. 124, 168 and 371, respectively. The values obtained are then rounded off.

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Smooth sailing for PTI candidate in presidential race

ISLAMABAD: As many as 1,121 lawmakers from the country’s all six legislatures are set to vote for the top constitutional office of the president in a three-way — but an apparently one-sided — contest on Tuesday (today) with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led ruling alliance having a clear edge over the opposition candidates.

Having the highest number of party votes in the 706-vote electoral college for the presidential election, PTI-backed candidate Dr Arif Alvi will be facing Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who has the support of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and other opposition parties except the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that has fielded Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan as its candidate.

The JUI-F chief, who was nominated by the PML-N and other opposition parties after the PPP’s refusal to withdraw the candidature of Mr Ahsan, made hectic efforts and used his connections with former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari to convince him to withdraw his party candidate for the sake of opposition’s unity and to give a tough fight to the government, but failed.

Opposition parties fail to agree on consensus candidate despite last-ditch efforts before today’s poll

The Maulana made a last-ditch effort in this regard on Monday night when he met Mr Zardari and other senior leaders before PPP parliamentarians’ meeting to finalise the party’s strategy for the presidential election.

Sources in the PPP told Dawn that the JUI-F chief also had a one-on-one meeting with Mr Zardari. But the PPP reiterated that it was not going to withdraw Mr Ahsan from the race, the sources said. Instead, they added, the PPP leadership requested the Maulana to withdraw his candidature as Mr Ahsan had ‘brighter chances’ to win the Sept 4 election.

Later, the Maulana talked to PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif to apprise him about his meeting with the PPP, some TV channels reported in the late hours. Mr Sharif, however, declared that his party would not vote for the PPP candidate, Mr Ahsan.

A PPP delegation, headed by Mr Zardari, also met Balochistan National Party (BNP) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal to seek his party’s support for Mr Ahsan.

Earlier on Monday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that it had completed all arrangements to conduct the presidential election as per the Constitution.

Retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza, the chief election commissioner, would perform as the returning officer.

Polling will be held from 10am to 4pm in all the four provincial assemblies and at the Parliament House in Islamabad where members of the lower and upper houses of the parliament will cast their votes.

The ECP has barred the members from carrying mobile phones with them at the time of voting, which will be held through secret ballot. The ECP has also issued directives to the federal government regarding deployment of the Rangers and FC personnel around the Parliament House and the buildings of the provincial assemblies, which have been declared as polling stations.

The PTI is the only party with members in all the elected houses and it has the support of its allied parties — the Balochistan Awami Party, Grand Democratic Alliance, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Muslim League, Awami Muslim League, Balochistan National Party, BNP-Awami and Jamhoori Watan Party.

Besides the MMA and the PML-N, Maulana Fazlur Rehman has the backing of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, National Party and Awami National Party.

Importantly, as the election of president is held through secret ballot and the post is constitutionally non-partisan, cross-party voting does not constitute ‘defection’.

Though in the present situation the ruling party can emerge victorious through its own votes and those of its allies, the votes polled by each candidate will have political meaning beyond victory in this election.

The newly-elected president will take oath of the office on Sept 9 after the expiry of the five-year term of incumbent president Mamnoon Hussain.

The grand opposition alliance, which had been formed by 11 parties shortly after the July 25 general elections, had fallen apart following the PPP’s refusal to vote for PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif in the election of the prime minister against PTI chief Imran Khan despite agreeing on a formula during a multiparty conference.

The PPP asked the PML-N to replace Mr Sharif with some other candidate, declaring that it could not vote for him as he had made some controversial remarks against Mr Zardari in the past.

Cracks within the opposition ranks deepened when Mr Ahsan’s name as PPP candidate for presidential election appeared in the media. The PPP drew ire of all other opposition parties for ‘unilaterally nominating’ the opposition candidate without consulting them. In a subsequent meeting of opposition parties in Murree on Aug 25, the PPP team headed by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani made all-out effort to woo other opposition parties to agree on Mr Ahsan’s nomination, but the efforts bore no fruits. The PML-N leaders said Mr Ahsan had passed some derogatory remarks against their party supremo Nawaz Sharif and his ailing wife.

While briefing the reporters after the meeting, the opposition parties announced that they had agreed to field a joint candidate and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif would announce the name of the joint candidate next day. However, Mr Sharif could not do so and gave no reason for it.

Later in a TV interview, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman accused the PPP of damaging the opposition’s unity while admitting that their failure to field a consensus candidate would provide a walkover to the ruling coalition candidate.

The JUI-F chief, who had been playing the role of a mediator between the PPP and PML-N, presented himself as a candidate and managed to muster support of all opposition parties other than the PPP.

The Maulana after submitting his nomination papers told the media that if the PML-N and PPP could accept him as a mediator, there was nothing wrong in becoming a candidate.

After scrutiny of his papers by the Election Commission of Pakistan, Mr Ahsan had expressed the hope that not only the members of other opposition parties, but those belonging to the ruling PTI would also vote for him. The PPP stalwart was of the opinion that since secret voting would be held during the presidential election and there was no constitutional bar on lawmakers for voting against the party line, all assembly members could vote according to their “conscience”.

He said had the PML-N nominated persons like Ayaz Sadiq or Raja Zafarul Haq as presidential candidate, the PPP would have considered withdrawal of its candidate from the race despite the huge difference between his world view and the Maulana’s.

PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi vigorously ran his campaign by visiting the provincial metropolis to seek votes for him. Upon his request, former PTI secretary general Jahangir Tareen also cut short his foreign visit and returned to the country in order to run his election campaign.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2018

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Opposition in desperate bid to field joint presidential candidate

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Sunday made an appeal to the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership to withdraw its presidential candidate Aitzaz Ahsan in favour of the ‘joint’ opposition nominee Maulana Fazlur Rehman while, sources say, some PPP leaders may try to meet Nawaz Sharif to discuss the matter when he arrives to attend the hearing of NAB references against him in an accountability court in Islamabad on Monday (today).

Maulana Fazl called on PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif at the latter’s Model Town residence here and reportedly asked him to help persuade the PPP leadership to withdraw its candidate in his favour. “Not withdrawing Mr Ahsan means giving a walkover to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate Dr Arif Alvi like the PPP did in the election of prime minister,” the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief said.

The PPP also believes the ,PTI would benefit, if there were two opposition candidates. “We need to show maturity. Asif Ali Zardari is hopeful that Mr Ahsan will be the joint candidate of the opposition at the end of the day,” a PPP leader told reporters.

He told Dawn that there were chances that the PML-N and PPP leaders might meet to evolve a consensus on a joint opposition candidate. “Both sides — the PML-N and PPP — have not yet lost hope on reaching a consensus,” he said, adding that the PML-N was a bit disappointed that the PPP did not agree on the name of Maulana Fazl.

PML-N asks PPP to withdraw Aitzaz; PPP leaders may try to meet Nawaz today

“The Sharif brothers were of the view that since Maulana Fazl enjoyed good relations with the PPP leadership, Mr Zardari would support him for the presidential election. But Mr Zardari seems to have his own political cards to play, giving a surprise to the opposition,” he said.

After the meeting with Shahbaz Sharif, Maulana Fazl told reporters that he thanked the PML-N leadership for reposing trust in him and nominating him as a joint candidate of the opposition (except the PPP). “We — the PML-N and 10 other parties — will jointly contest this election. We will try our best to persuade the PPP leadership to withdraw its candidate in favour of the joint opposition candidate (Maulana Fazl),” he said.

Interestingly, Shahbaz Sharif did not accompany Maulana Fazl during his media talk, instead sent his son Hamza Shahbaz and PML-N hawk Khawaja Saad Rafique for the purpose.

Explaining why he could not withdraw in favour of the PPP candidate, the JUI-F chief said: “It is difficult for us — PML-N, five parties of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and five other parties — to withdraw our candidate. Instead it is quite easy for the PPP to withdraw its candidate.”

Reminding the PPP of its earlier ‘rigid’ stance during the election of the prime minister and Punjab chief minister, he said: “PPP benefited the PTI candidates in the election of the prime minister and chief minister by abstaining from voting. This attitude is not even good for PPP’s politics. I ask the PPP leadership to only consider me as a joint candidate for the slot of president because it is the only way to keep the opposition intact.”

Maulana Fazl said he was considered a solution to the opposition’s problem in the presidential poll. “All opposition parties have seen a solution to this problem (joint candidate of opposition) in me. The PPP should also realise that when it comes to protest, torture, and going to jail, I am acceptable to the PPP, but when it comes to the presidential election, I am not acceptable to it… that should not happen. I ask the PPP to accept me as a joint candidate as a lot depends in this decision on the future of the joint opposition,” he said and warned that the opposition might remain in disarray if it did not have a consensus candidate.

Hamza Shahbaz said: “Fazlur Rehman is the joint candidate of opposition and we will try to take other parties, including PPP, on board.”

Saad Rafique said if the opposition remained divided on a consensus candidate, Asif Zardari and the PPP would be responsible for this. “The PPP should not do what it had done in the election of the prime minister. We appeal to the PPP to withdraw its candidate in favour of Maulana Fazlur Rehman as he has a long political struggle,” he said.

Punjab PPP president Qamar Zaman Kaira told a press conference here on Sunday: “We’d tried to meet Nawaz Sharif in Adiala jail as per desire of PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif to [formally] seek his support for Aitzaz Ahsan as opposition’s joint candidate in the presidential vote but could not for reasons that might not be disclosed right now.”

Mr Kaira, former opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, Chaudhry Manzoor, MPA Hasan Murtaza and other PPP leaders were accompanying Aitzaz Ahsan during his visit to the Punjab capital for his electioneering.

Ruling alliance’s nominee Arif Alvi had already visited Lahore on Friday and Saturday with regard to his election campaign.

A PML-N leader claims that the PPP leaders are ready to meet Nawaz Sharif in the accountability court on Monday (today) if the N-League requires so and the JUI-F chief withdraws from the presidential contest.

Mr Kaira held the media responsible for “speculating” Mr Ahsan as the PPP nominee, leading to a rift among opposition parties on the joint candidate issue.

“In our internal consultations, we’ve in fact suggested and not declared Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan as our candidate like other [opposition] parties prepared their own suggestions. But a TV channel through its tickers began presenting him as our final selection and the impression is refusing to go notwithstanding our repeated denials,” he regretted.

In reply to a question about PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid’s statement that Mr Ahsan should seek forgiveness from the Sharifs for his outburst against them, Mr Kaira said the PPP didn’t commit the sins requiring forgiveness and that if the trend was set then each and every party would have to seek forgiveness from the PPP for their statements and actions against its leadership in the past. He said the N-League too had distanced itself from Mr Rashid’s ‘dictatorial’ remarks.

Mr Kaira said he didn’t believe the PML-N leadership would resort to quid pro quo in the presidential poll for the PPP had not voted for Shahbaz Sharif in the prime ministerial election. He told a questioner that there existed no opposition alliance and the agreement among the opposition parties was on jointly working on the one point — exposing rigging in the July 25 elections.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2018

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New LG system to cost Rs30 billion: Khursheed

OKARA: The PPP has said it supports Prime Minister Imran Khan’s austerity campaign, but the proposed new local bodies system and election may cost at least Rs30 billion in the current economic situation.

The PPP would cooperate with the government in any legislation or amendment designed purely in the interest of the country. This was stated by PPP MNA Syed Khursheed Shah while talking to the media at the residence of PPP’s district president Chaudhry Sajjadul Hassan that he visited to offer condolences on the demise of Mr Sajjad’s brother, Chaudhry Ahsan.

Former Senate chairman Nayyar Bukhari, former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, former MNA Chaudhry Manzoor Hussain were also present on the occasion.

Mr Shah said that election for the head of state was very important as it represented the entire nation.

To a query, he said Maulana Fazlur Rehman would not take any step on his own without consulting the PML-N.
Regarding the money laundering cases against PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Mr Shah said everyone knew the background of these “unjustified cases”.

He also said that the status of chief justice of the Pakistan (CJP) was very honorable and it must be maintained – apparently with reference to the CJP’s raid at a hospital in Karachi.

He further said that local bodies law in Sindh was functioning well; Prime Minister Imran Khan could change the law in the provinces ruled by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

To a query, he said the plantation of 10 billion trees in the country was a good idea, but it needed land also.

Mr Shah said his party would continue its struggle to fulfil the PPP slogan of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ in the country, especially in Punjab.

Earlier, former principal information officer of the government, Rao Tehsin Ali Khan, also condoled with Mr Sajjad just as the PPP leadership reached there.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2018

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