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Relief efforts: Allow charities to help IDPs, PTI plea to govt

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 03:14

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the ruling party in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, made a strong pitch on Saturday for allowing national and international non-governmental organisations to take part in relief activities for the displaced population of North Waziristan.

The party’s additional secretary general Saifullah Niazi, federal lawmaker Ayesha Gulalai and K-P Revenue Minister Ali Amin Gandapur addressed the media on Saturday and demanded that the government probe complaints of substandard food provided to the IDPs by the World Food Programme (WFP).

Niazi added that the provincial government requires an additional Rs4 billion from the federal government in order to provide medical facilities to the IDPs.

Niazi criticised the government for a ‘lack of support’ for the provincial government in order to deal with the influx of IDPs and said the government is responsible for the incorrect assessment of the possible number of IDPs expected as Operation Zarb-e-Azb kicked off. Naizi said the government said 0.7 million IDPs were expected, while the number of displaced persons has crossed one million to date.

He added that the provincial government is providing Rs23,000 to each displaced family.

Niazi said that three major hospitals, 34 basic health units and 45 medical camps have been established by the provincial government to cater to the IDPs where more 30,000 patients including male female and children have been treated.

PTI leaders demanded that the government ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity to the IDP camps in Bannu and other cities by restoring more than 100 electricity transformers which are out of commission.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Youm-e-Ali processions: Security beefed up in parts of Pakistan

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 00:50

KARACHI / LAHORE / MULTAN: Strict security measures are in place and Section 144 has been imposed in various parts of the country to avoid any untoward incident on Youm-e-Ali (RA), Express News reported on Sunday.

In addition to the imposition of Section 144, which bans a gathering of over four people at one place for rallies and protests, pillion riding has also been banned in Karachi, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Multan and Quetta.

Cellular services remain active in Lahore and Karachi even after the Sindh government had announced on July 18 that mobile-phone services would be suspended from 4 am till 11 pm today and a similar announcement was made for parts of Lahore.

The Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) is checking the procession route in Karachi before letting people through. CCTV cameras are also in place and sharp-shooters have taken position on tall buildings along the route. The district government has also set up a control room for 24 hours and routes from Gurumandir to Tower  have been sealed using containers.

Here is a map of the route of Youm-a-Ali processions in Karachi:

In Lahore, 5,000 police officers in uniform as well as police commandos in civil clothes have been deployed.

Police are searching people passing through the procession route in Lahore three times and 100 CCTV cameras have also been installed in the city.

Over 2,000 police officers have been deployed in Multan, including the Multan regional police officer (RPO) and district coordination officer.

Processions have already started in Karachi and Lahore, while a small procession has commenced in Multan where another larger one was due to begin at 1pm today. 


Categories: Pakistan & World News

LoC violation: Indian firing kills one Pakistani

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 00:39

SIALKOT: One person was killed in Mirajke area along the Pakistani side of the Line of Control after India’s Border Security Force (BSF) allegedly opened fire, Express News reported on Sunday.

According to sources in Pakistan Rangers, the BSF has been firing mortars across the border in Charwa sector since 12:30am.

Spokesperson for Punjab Rangers said troops have responded to BSF’s “unprovoked firing”.

The firing also left three women and a child injured, who were shifted to Combined Military Hospital, Sialkot for medical assistance.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Electoral reforms: Govt likely to notify panel under Zahid Hamid on 21st

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 00:12

ISLAMABAD: 

Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid will lead a 33-member electoral reforms committee, likely to be notified by Monday, as the ruling party makes a renewed effort to defuse Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) August 14 rally against alleged rigging in last year’s election.

The house, under rule 244(B) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007, authorised the speaker to constitute the committee in consultation with the Senate chairman and leaders of the parliamentary parties.

The committee – to comprise members of all parliamentary parties in proportion to their representation in parliament – will evaluate the shortcomings of the previous elections and make recommendations for electoral reforms to ensure that polls are held in a free, fair and transparent manner.

It will work on the pattern of the parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms that drafted the 18th Amendment. It may make rules for regulating its procedure and shall present its report to parliament within three months from the date of the notification of the committee.

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq has finalised 22 names for the said committee while Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain will submit 11 more names till July 24.

Federal minister Lt Gen (Rtd) Abdul Qadir and MPs Anusha Rehman, Naveed Qamar, Shazia Marri are part of the committee. Three members each from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) will be included in it.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has forwarded the names of the Senate opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan, the PPP’s parliamentary leader in Senate Mian Raza Rabbani and the upper house’s former chairman Farooq H Naek, while the other four members will be recommended by other opposition parties.

Zahid Hamid, who was law minister during former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, will lead the committee. Hamid was also awarded the law ministry’s portfolio in the cabinet but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken back charge from him after initiation of the treason trial against Musharraf.

Hamid is considered a key abettor in the decision for November 3, 2007 emergency rule. The defence team of Musharraf also named him as an abettor.

The speaker may replace any member of the committee on request of the leader of the parliamentary party concerned. Quorum to constitute a sitting parliamentary committee for electoral reforms shall be one-fourth of the total membership.

PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari welcomed this step and said that her party was given due representation in this committee and its demands were also incorporated as this panel would also investigate irregularities into the previous elections.

She said that the main opposition parties the PTI and the PPP had agreed to work closely to press the government on electoral reforms.

The National Assembly speaker said every political party would be given representation in the electoral reform committee.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Paris Principles: Two decades after pledge, govt fails to form rights panel

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 00:08

ISLAMABAD: 

The federal government has failed to constitute the National Commission for Human Rights for the promotion and protection of rights in the country in view of the National Commission for Human Rights Act, 2012. Though the law was promulgated in May 2012, the federal government has yet to start the process of appointing members of the commission.

According to the Paris Principles which were adopted at the first International Workshop on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights held in Paris in October 1991, and endorsed by the UN General Assembly, member states must establish national rights institutions.

Nearly 100 national human rights institutions have been subsequently constituted by member states. However, even after nearly 21 years, Pakistan has failed to constitute a national human rights commission.

However, PPP MNA Nafisa Shah told The Express Tribune that a meeting is being held tomorrow (Monday) to finalise the names of members of the commission, adding that there are names from the government and the opposition.

According to the National Commission for Human Rights Act 2012, the commission must consist of 10 members, including a chairperson and a member each from the four provinces, Fata and Islamabad Capital Territory, minority communities and the chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women. Two seats must be allocated to women within the commission.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Special emissary: Fear of Afghan action prompted Achakzai’s trip

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 23:54

ISLAMABAD: 

Leader of Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party Mehmood Khan Achakzai revealed on Saturday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had flown him to Kabul as his special emissary last month in the wake of credible information that the Afghan government was “likely to take some action against Pakistan”.

On June 19, the foreign ministry confirmed Achakzai’s Kabul sojourn amid speculation that the PkMAP leader was seeking Mullah Fazlullah’s extradition and eliciting its cooperation in Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

However, in an interview with BBC Pashto, Achakzai said, “The government received intelligence from very credible sources that Kabul is planning something against Pakistan.” He added, “The Pakistani leadership insisted that they do not want any misunderstanding or a dangerous situation between the two friendly countries.”

Achakzai said the government asked him to discuss the issue with President Hamid Karzai and the foreign secretary accompanied him on the trip. Achakzai had two meetings with the Afghan president, and the Pakistani foreign secretary and close aides to President Karzai were present at one meeting.

Achakzai did not discuss Karzai’s reaction to Pakistan’s concerns. Pakistan had shared the information of a possible ‘plan’ with ambassadors of the US, China and other countries, he added.

Achakzai said Kabul is mulling a response to the alleged cross-border attack by Pakistani forces that left three Afghan National Army soldiers dead in Kunar in June. President Karzai reportedly instructed his security forces to prepare for a response to the attacks, according to a statement issued in Kabul last month.

Afghan foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmad Shakib Mustaghni had also claimed that Pakistani forces entered Dangam district in Kunar province in civilian clothes and attacked Afghan soldiers, a charge denied by Pakistan.

“If Pakistan and Afghanistan want to end terrorism, they will have to make a commitment that they will not shelter armed opponents in their respective countries,” said Achakzai, referring to Karzai’s claims that Islamabad supports Afghan Taliban. Discussing Operation Zarb-e-Azb, he said the operation was launched ‘in a hurry’ and no one had prior information. “The ill-planned operation uprooted hundreds of thousands of people when there was no settlement mechanism for the IDPs,” he said.

Achakzai questioned why many Uzbek, Arab, Chechen and militants from other countries entered Waziristan. “Who supplied dangerous weapons, food and other facilities to these foreign militants who have launched attacks on the GHQ and other sensitive installations?” he asked.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

PTI’s August 14 march: It will be a one-day event, says Pervaiz Rashid

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 23:50

LAHORE: 

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid took a swipe at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf over its August 14 long march, predicting that it would last barely a day and its party leader Imran Khan would fly to Britain the next day (August 15).

He said the government would not arrest the PTI chief. “Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) workers have faced many imprisonments and so we will not like to put Imran under house arrest,” he said in remarks to the media.

Rashid, however, clarified that the government would not allow anyone to create hurdles in the way of democracy. “No terrorists will be allowed to come and attack Pakistanis in the name of freedom of expression and democracy,” he added.

He accepted Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri’s debate challenge.

“After attempting a long march Qadri had come back to his original vocation of debating,” he said, adding that Pakistan Ulema Council Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi would be enough to respond to Qadri’s debate call, which, he said, might be telecast live on Pakistan Television.

Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, meanwhile, appealed to Imran Khan to avoid turning the country’s independence day into a day of chaos and anarchy through his long march.

He said as head of the committee constituted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to finalise arrangements for independence day celebrations, he would soon issue the schedule of events. He said the defence ministry would issue details of events, parades, speeches and venue of the celebrations.

Rafique said the PML-N did not want to comment on Asif Ali Zardari’s statement in which he had criticised the PM Nawaz for interfering in provincial matters.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Allocation of Hajj quota: Govt challenges LHC ruling

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 23:42

ISLAMABAD: 

The federal government has challenged the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) judgment against allocation of a quota of 15,000 pilgrims to the old Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs) in Hajj Policy 2014.

A two judge-bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, will hear the federal government’s appeal against the LHC’s July 15 ruling tomorrow (Monday).

Talking to The Express Tribune, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Atiq Shah – who has drafted the government’s appeal – said the LHC did not have jurisdiction to issue judgment on executive policy issues.

He said the top court, while setting aside the LHC judgment in same matter, had earlier observed that it was not the function of the high court to exercise jurisdiction under Article 199 by interfering in the policymaking domain of the executive.

Similarly, the Hajj Organisers Association of Pakistan has also challenged the ruling. Kamran Murtaza will appear on behalf of the petitioner tomorrow (Monday).

He said if the high court order was not suspended at this stage then Hajj operations might be affected as the Saudi authorities had expressed satisfaction over the Hajj Policy 2014.

Justice Khalid Mehmood Khan of Lahore High Court had declared the Hajj Policy 2014 to grant quota of 15,000 pilgrims to private Hajj tour operators as unlawful.

“The respondent government should first instance utilise the quota …. and if the respondent is unable to perform its duty due to any reason, this quota of 15,000 pilgrims will be offered to all the registered tour operators  of ministry of religious affairs,” the LHC had noted

The detailed judgment, issued on July 15, stated that there was a huge financial difference between the expenses of Hajj through private tour operators and the government of Pakistan, adding that the government was charging Rs272,000 per pilgrim whereas  tour operators were charging even more than one million rupees per pilgrim.

“We are a Muslim state but our Muslim state is not providing any subsidy or financial assistance to Hajis whereas a secular country, India, is repeatedly providing different financial facilities to Muslims for performing Hajj, including subsidy in fare and other expenses,” the LHC had noted in its judgment.

The LHC had said it was the duty of the government, as well as the private operators, to assist Muslims in the performance of Hajj and not to burden them to an extent where it becomes impossible for a Muslim to perform this sacred duty.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Aerial support: 15 militants killed as army bombs suspected hideouts in NW

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 20:49

NORTH WAZIRISTAN: As many as 15 suspected militants were killed as the army resorted to aerial bombardment of eight locations believed to be militant hideouts in the Shawal area of North Waziristan early on Sunday, Express News reported.

According to sources, security forces pounded eight locations in the Darri Wastay area.

As a result of the bombings, 15 suspected militants were killed.

On Wednesday, jet strikes in the Shawal Valley had killed 35 militants.

Sunday’s targeted action in Shawal come a day after the army announced it had cleared Boya and Degan villages. The army said it was conducting house to house searches in Mussaki, Hurmez and Mir Ali bazaar and battling militants in areas surrounding Mir Ali.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Army purges two key villages of militants

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 20:11

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan Army announced on Saturday that it had purged the important villages of Boya and Degan of local and foreign militants, counting it as a major success following the clearing of Miramshah. “The consolidation of Boya and Degan is in progress,” it added.

At Mirali, a house-to-house search in Mussaki, Hurmez and Mirali Bazaar is under way. At least four terrorists were killed during an exchange of fire with militants holed up inside Mir Ali, who were firing rockets, mortars and using heavy machine guns and sniper rifles, according to a statement issued by the ISPR, the military’s media wing.

Twelve IEDs were neutralised last night alone, while an IED-making factory, a huge cache of arms and ammunition and foreign currency were also recovered. Meanwhile, the targeting of terrorists and their hideouts in other areas in North Waziristan Agency is continuing, said the ISPR.

In Khyber Agency’s Jamrud tehsil, at least half a dozen houses were razed to the ground by the political administration for their alleged association with suspected militants. An official of the political administration said the operation was launched in Ghundai, Pump House, Bakarabad, Osai Khula, and Nehar areas, adding that 15 tribesmen were held and a curfew imposed.

Separately, Corps Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani visited Mirali, Boya and Degan and met the troops fighting in the operation. “Terrorists are being eliminated and dislodged from their bases in North Waziristan as the operation progresses as per plan,” read the ISPR statement.

Similarly, earlier on Saturday, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said the command and control structure of terrorists has been made dysfunctional in North Waziristan. “Terrorists are on the run [...and they] will be tracked down in the entire country for their complete elimination,” he said in a statement.

To avert terrorist attacks, Asif said, coordination has been strengthened among security institutions. There is no place for terrorism in a democratic country, he added.

Also lauding the progress of Zarb-e-Azb, Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Abdul Qadir Baloch, a retired lieutenant general, said 50% of the operation’s objectives have been achieved. The government wants the operation to end as soon as possible, he said.

However, the minister cautiously added that this operation is more dangerous than the 1965 and 1971 wars.

Up to 98% of the population of the tribal areas is against militants while a mere 2% is pro-militant.

He also expressed “dismay” over the lacklustre response of Karachi’s business community who generated only Rs10 million for internally displaced persons (IDPs). “The federal government will have to garner funds for the war-victim families [on its own],” he told a news conference in Karachi.

The minister, who had flown to Karachi to meet with industrialists and businessmen to collect funds for IDPs, said that around Rs30 billion is required for relief and rehabilitation of the near one million displaced people. They may remain in the camps for a further six months. He, however, lauded property tycoon Malik Riaz for giving Rs5 billion.

Responding to a question to protest against the arrival of IDPs in Sindh, he reiterated, “Not a single person from the war-torn area lives in Karachi. Those who had earlier come here have left for K-P and other areas.”

Most of the displaced families, he added, have refused to live in the camps. “Only 200 to 300 families are living in the camps.”

With Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s help, Ramazan packages have been distributed to IDPs.

Meanwhile, the distribution of relief items for IDPs continues at Bannu, DI Khan and Tank. A total of 133,002 of ration packs have been distributed so far with 1,639 tons of food items collected. Moreover, 59 relief-donation points established by Pakistan Army all over the country and transported to Bannu.

Khursheed Shah contacts PM Nawaz

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah telephoned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and discussed issues related to IDPs, law and order and Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

Shah informed the prime minister that IDPs have demanded the government ensure that no load-shedding takes place in their camps, said the statement issued by the opposition leader.

In addition, he also apprised the premier about other concerns raised by the displaced families related to their safety and security. IDPs have also demanded additional police personnel at the camps.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Tobacco-free capital: CADD initiative achieving targets, to a degree

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 19:34

ISLAMABAD: 

A recent initiative to stem tobacco use seems to be bearing fruit, albeit partially, as more than 30 public places in the city have been registered as smoke-free zones.

The anti-tobacco policy was initiated by the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) for the city’s public places to make Islamabad a tobacco-free city and is in continuation of another government initiative titled “Strengthening Tobacco-Free Islamabad”.

According to the policy, when a public place is declared as tobacco/smoke free zone, experts will train the staff of the public places, install proper sign boards both inside and outside the facility and provide information, education and communication material to raise awareness.

The policy seems to be working as several hotels, restaurants, schools and government offices are complying with the directions and ensuring tobacco use is discouraged.

Last month, the Islamabad High Court directed the capital’s deputy commissioner to submit a compliance report in three weeks with regard to action taken against places offering sheesha.

Some untouchables remain

Despite some progress, a number of restaurants in the city’s posh areas are openly offering sheesha to youngsters and so far have not been raided even once.

Among them is Cafe Roof Top in Sector F-6 which openly offers sheesha to youngsters and their employees are ignorant of any anti-tobacco law in the country.

Talking to The Express Tribune, one of the waiters said they were serving sheesha without any objections from the regulatory authorities.

“A majority of the people working here are not aware of an anti-tobacco law and the police have not yet asked us to stop serving it,” he said.

The CADD initiative’s manger operations, Mohammad Aftab, said they are doing everything they can to materialise the dream of making the capital a smoke-free zone but are faced with various challenges.

“There are some restaurants who offer sheesha during certain hours of the day when they know police will not be available to make a raid,” he said.

He said it is the responsibility of police to monitor the sale of sheesha and take action against people violating the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance, 2002.

However, some action is being taken to ensure the law’s implementation. From January this year to date, Islamabad Assistant Commissioner (Rural) Mariam Mumtaz, has conducted various raids in her sub-division and registered 54 cases against violators and fined them more than Rs70,000.

The Islamabad Police also arrested 21violators during a recent raid at restaurants and cafes in Sector F-6/4, including the daughter of a federal secretary. Similarly, a special team headed by the SHO of Kohsar Police Station, raided a restaurant titled “Baskin Chalet” situated in House No. 19, Street 52, Sector F-6/4 and arrested 21 people for violating tobacco laws at public places.

A case has been registered against the restaurant’s administration for violating sections 5,7,8,9 and 10 of the ordinance.

Aftab said CADD is trying to involve members of the youth who are non-smokers to stand up for their right to breathe fresh air by pasting posters at public places. He said 500 stickers have been pasted inside shops in Jinnah Super Market and more than 300 public places have been covered by “No-Smoking” plates.

A nationwide survey by the World Health Organisation conducted last year found that 15 per cent of children aged 13 to 15 are using tobacco in various forms. These include 18 per cent boys and 11.3 % per cent girls. Some 10 per cent of the children interviewed said they had been provided with free cigarette samples by tobacco companies, while 40 per cent said they started smoking before the age of 10.

An estimated 100,000 people are killed due to tobacco use in the country every year.

Additional Reporting By Sehrish Wasif

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Positive energy: Standing tall on her own two feet

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 19:33

ISLAMABAD: 

Walking through the narrow alley that leads to Shamim’s well-lit, cosy five-marla house, one finds Chamkeeli, Shamim’s pet goat, her two parrots and some chicken hanging about to greet visitors.

The gate opens to reveal Shamim’s warm smile and bright eyes. “Come on in” she said.  “Are you fasting? If not, I’ll make you some chai.”

Passionate about her pets, Shamim, 39, lives with her husband in Golra, located in the outskirts of Islamabad. Over two decades ago she married into her husband’s family who lived in a katchi basti where Fatima Jinnah Park is now located. Unable to bear children, Shamim had to face continuous humiliation, threats of divorce and verbal and physical abuse by her in-laws, which forced her to move out along with her husband Yaseen, a few years after their marriage.

Yaseen operates a laundry in the capital, but he has never been able to support his wife financially. After moving around in various neighbourhoods, unable to pay rent and living hand to mouth, Shamim realised she would have to become financially independent to make ends meet. Since then she has worked as a housemaid, an assistant at daycares and now as a masseuse for many years.

She works during the day and washes clothes that her husband brings home from his laundry at night. With savings she put together over years of hard work, in 2001, Shamim built herself a modest house, consisting of one room and a bathroom. She also sold all her jewellery and bought her husband a small car so that he could commute to work. In the following years, she was able to build three more rooms which she rents out to supplement her income.

“I was an only child and showered with attention from my family. Little did I know that things would take such an unfortunate turn and I’d have to struggle my entire life.”

Despite her hardships, Shamim has an exceptionally warm heart and helps the underprivileged in her neighbourhood in every way she can. She contributed to the building of a school and a mosque in Golra, and has given one of her rooms for free to a poor relative, an orphan whose needs she takes care of.

“Life doesn’t work out as planned; everyone has their share of struggles. I try to remain positive and convert my challenges into opportunities. Everyone should give back in whatever way possible and women should not depend on anyone. It is satisfying, self-assuring and makes one’s faith stronger.”

Shamim is forward-looking, and firmly believes in women’s empowerment. With her help, many women in her area now own sewing machines and are earning a livelihood by stitching clothes, bedspreads and other items. She has also inspired a number of girls in her family to acquire education and skills in the hope of living a better life.

According to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2012-13, 46.76 per cent of people are employed in rural areas of which 12.73 per cent are women.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

In solidarity: PPP holds rally against Israeli atrocities

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 19:32

The human rights cell of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its Rawalpindi chapter held a protest outside the National Press Club against Israeli aggression in Gaza on Saturday.

Central Coordinator HR Cell Dr Nafisa Shah said “the party strongly condemns the Israeli aggression that has led to the slaughter of more than 300 innocent Palestinian civilians, including women and children, besides causing tremendous damage to infrastructure”.

“The Gaza Strip today is facing the worst kind of Israeli blockade which is illegal, immoral and inhuman. Gaza today has been termed the world’s largest open air prison, with around 1.5 million people caged in an urban ghetto deprived of a life with freedom and dignity,” she said.

PPP local leader Imran Ashraf said the world community and Islamic countries have failed to play their role in resolving the legitimate demands of Palestinians.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Youm-e-Ali: Pillion riding, cellular services to be barred in multiple cities

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 16:12

Ahead of Youm-e-Ali, security has been beefed throughout the country with a ban on pillion riding, and partial closure of cellular services has been instituted in multiple cities for Sunday, Express News reported.

According to details, respective provincial governments have imposed a ban on pillion riding in eight cities and instituted a partial shut down of mobile services in five cities.

In Sindh, mobile services will remain shut in Karachi from 4am in the morning to 11pm in the evening on Sunday. Pillion riding has been banned in Karachi and Sukkur for three days.

In Punjab, pillion riding has been banned in Rawalpindi, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, Gujranwala, Dera Ghazi Khan and Lahore. Mobile phone services will remain shut in Jhelum, Attock, Chakwal, Gujranwala and Lahore.

In Balochistan, pillion riding will remain banned in Quetta and some other provincial areas declared as sensitive.

Tight security measures have been put in place in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where the security apparatus has been put on high alert in Peshawar. However, no ban has been instituted there.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Names of MNAs finalised for parliamentary committee on electoral reforms

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:52

ISLAMABAD: To bring about changes in the entire electoral process, names of 22 members of National Assembly were finalised to include in the proposed parliamentary committee on election reforms, Radio Pakistan reported on Saturday.

The MNAs have been selected from all the different political parties to ensure representation.

The committee will be formed once eleven nominations from the Senate are received by the speaker of the National Assembly.

The 33-member parliamentary committee is being formed to jointly introduce reforms to the entire electoral process.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Burglaries: Robbers strike at three places

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 02:09

ISLAMABAD: 

Robbers struck at three different places in the limits of Margalla police on Thursday.

In the first incident, Abdul Salam lodged a complaint with the local police that he was on his way home after withdrawing Rs165,000 cash from a bank when four armed motorcyclists  intercepted him and snatched the cash and a mobile phone.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Ijaz lodged a report with the same police that unidentified thieves entered his house in Sector G-9/2 by breaking its locks and took away cash, prize bonds, jewellery and other valuables worth Rs900,000.

Moreover, Aftab Arif approached the police that auto-thieves have stolen his motorcycle Honda-125 (HAB-1696) from outside his house in Sector G-8/4.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Khan vs Chaudhry: For ‘defaming’ ex-CJP, lawyer files contempt plea against Imran

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 01:56

ISLAMABAD: 

The Islamabad District Bar Association president has moved a contempt petition against PTI chief Imran Khan, accusing the MNA from Rawalpindi of ridiculing and disrespecting Supreme Court judges including former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

IHCBA president Nasir Ahmad Kayani filed the contempt petition under Article 204 of the Constitution.

The petitioner says that Khan accused former CJP Chaudhry of rigging the 2013 general elections when it is a known fact that he had nothing to do with the election as all returning officers were appointed by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The petitioner contended that after the general elections, Khan was summoned in a contempt of court case by an SC bench headed by the former CJP for terming the role of judiciary to be “shameful”, but when he was confronted by the court, he maintained that his remarks were not in reference to the apex court but rather district courts and returning officers. “This speaks… [to] how [Khan] is distorting the facts in ridiculous and malicious manners”

The petitioner expressed apprehension that if Khan is allowed to proceed unchecked in this manner, the respect, honour and prestige of SC’s judges would not be safe from threats and mudslinging. He claimed that Khan’s fresh attempt to bring disrepute to the ex-CJP amounts to ridiculing and maligning the judiciary.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

UK foreign office report: More high Brits being caught in dry Pakistan

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 01:48

ISLAMABAD: 

Be it lack of awareness or ignorance of local laws, the number of drugs arrests in Pakistan involving British nationals have increased by a whopping 167 per cent over the previous year, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s British Behavior Abroad Report 2014 reveals.

The annual report is a part of the FCO’s “Know Before You Go” campaign, which encourages British nationals to prepare before foreign travel so they can avoid preventable problems. The report reveals that with a total of 393,000 British nationals visited Pakistan this year, while 80,000 were living in the country over the same period.

The number of drug arrests rose from three cases to eight in a year. Meanwhile, the total number of detention cases for 2013-14 went up to 30 from 21 during the same period a year earlier — a 43 per cent increase.

No rape cases were listed in the report, although one case of sexual assault was listed.

Other cases including abductions, accidents, child abduction and custody matters, missing persons, deportation, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and financial transactions rose from 167 to 239 this year.

One of the more worrying finding for Pakistani authorities may be that the Consular Section at the British High Commission in Islamabad handles 43% of all forced marriage cases reported to the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) in London.

The practice is illegal in Pakistan but rarely policed.

While there has been a decrease in some of the more serious types of consular cases in the past year, Pakistan remains among the top 20 countries where British nationals are likely to require consular assistance.

Overall, FCO consular staff handled 17,517 assistance cases globally in 2013-2014.

In a statement issued by the UK High Commission in Pakistan, Consular Affairs Minister Mark Simmonds, said, “This year’s report has highlighted some encouraging downwards trends [which] allow our staff to concentrate more on supporting our most vulnerable customers.”

Meanwhile, a High Commission spokesman said the government of Pakistan has become serious about drug trafficking over the last year. “The Anti Narcotics Force is actively playing its role and vigilantly monitoring air routes.”

The spokesperson said that they were collaborating with a range of national and international partners to create awareness about drug use, while at the same time, working on various capacity-building programmes that have led to more cases being recorded.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Campus murder: Violent act exposes lack of security on varsity campus

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 01:39

RAWALPINDI: 

Students of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University (AAU) have expressed serious concern over the lack of adequate security arrangements on campus after a man allegedly walked onto campus and shot a female student dead without any hindrance.

Saira Naveed, a 22-year-old BS Computer Science student, was leaving the university on July 16 when Shoaib Ismail, 26, appeared on the scene and shot her in the head.

Female AAU students told The Express Tribune that after the incident, they felt insecure and asked the university administration to improve security arrangements on campus.

Meanwhile, a court on Thursday sent Ismail on judicial remand for two weeks.

The accused was produced before a court by the New Town police, where he reportedly confessed to the crime, according to Muhammad Hayat, the investigation officer for the case.

Ismail claimed that they had contracted a court marriage some four years ago as Naveed’s parents opposed the marriage.

The investigation officer claimed that the accused had already confessed.

He said that the police would submit a challan after completion of Ismail’s remand.

According to the police, the alleged killer was quoted by an investigation officer as saying, “I stayed near her, waiting for her to die, because I wanted to take her body to her parents’ house.”

The deceased was laid to rest near Afshan Colony, Qasim Market. A large number of students and relatives attended her funeral prayer.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

US citizen briefly arrested for carrying weapon at Islamabad airport

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 01:10

ISLAMABAD: A United States citizen was briefly arrested at Islamabad airport on Friday for attempting to board a plane carrying a pistol and 15 bullets, Express News reported.

William Jones, who was identified by police and airport officials as a US security trainer, was planning to travel to America via Abu Dhabi when he was taken into custody.

Muhammad Fayaz, a police officer deputed at the airport, said: “The Airport Security Force (ASF) has handed over to us a US national after recovering a magazine and 15 bullets from him.

“The bullets and magazine were discovered through a scanning machine.”

An airport security official told AFP that the man was set to travel by Etihad flight EY-232 from Islamabad to Abu Dhabi and onward to the United States.

“He is residing in the US embassy as a security trainer,” the official said.

After his arrest, Jones was sent to the airport police station where a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged, Express News reported.

Jones was released on Friday afternoon after a senior official of the US Embassy paid his bail, which was granted by a local court.

“Judge Qaiser Hussain released the detained US national on personal guarantee of a Pakistani employee of the US embassy,” Musaddaq Hussain, Station House Officer (SHO) of the airport police station, told AFP.

A spokesperson for the US embassy was not immediately able to provide confirmation of the arrest.

On May 5, a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent, Joel Cox, was arrested at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi for carrying 15 bullets of 9mm caliber and a pistol clip in his baggage. The case was later dismissed by a court on May 19, after police failed to present evidence.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

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