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Treason case: Petition filed in LHC against Geo TV

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 17:34

LAHORE: 

A petition was filed before the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking treason proceedings against the administration of the Geo and Jang Group and cancellation of Geo’s licence by PEMRA.

The petition also sought the court directions for the cancellation of declaration of daily newspapers Jang and The News due to ‘baseless allegations’ made against ‘the most respectful and credible institution of the country’.

The petitioner, ARY News anchor  Mubashir Lucman, prayed the court issue directions for Pemra to suspend the transmission of Geo TV and restrain the publication of Daily Jang and The News till a final decision of his petition.

Submitting the petition in person, Luqman said that despite the fact that no FIR has been lodged in the murder attempt on journalist Hamid Mir, a ‘scandalous and appalling’ campaign has been initiated by the news groups owned by the respondent wherein ‘false, frivolous, baseless and unsubstantiated allegations have been leveled against the most respectful and credible institutions of our country’.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Complaint to PEMRA: Ministry seeks cancellation of Geo’s licence

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 17:31

ISLAMABAD: 

The Ministry of Defence on Tuesday submitted a complaint with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) seeking action against Geo TV for tarnishing the image of a state institution, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The complaint was submitted under the Pemra Ordinance and rules for a false and scandalous campaign undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of state institution ISI and its officers, sources told The Express Tribune.

The four-page complaint, which includes the script of news bulletins, tickers and breaking news, says that ‘the said reporting has violated the specific terms and conditions of its licence’.

The violation of terms and conditions of the licence issued by Pemra to the Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd makes the network liable for measures including ‘cancellation of licence by Pemra’.

The complaint urges Pemra to ‘immediately suspend the licence, and after examining the facts cancel the licence of the Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd granted under Section 20 of the Pemra Ordinance, 2002’.

It seeks ‘… prosecution of the editorial team and management of Geo under Sections 33 and 36 of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 read with all enabling provisions and the Pemra rules as amended from time to time’.

Referring to the April 19 incident, the complaint says that ‘apparently an assassination attempt was made by some unknown assailants at around  1730 hours at Karachi on Hamid Mir, an anchorperson associated with Geo News, a venture held and operated by M/S Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi. Immediately thereafter, a vicious campaign libelous and wherein false accusations were made against a state institution tasked to work for the defence, sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan i.e. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its DG Lt General Muhammad Zaheerul Islam’.

“The telecast in question/campaign was aimed at undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of the state institution and its officers and falsely linking it with the terrorist outfits/activities,” it said.

“The attempt was detrimental to the interest of the institution and the country. The said footage was picked up by foreign media, particularly Indian channels, who instead of objectively reporting the incident overplayed it repeatedly,” it added.

The complaint says, ‘The reporting made and the programs aired cannot be viewed as a single event. Geo Network has a history of acting illegally in furtherance of the anti-Pakistan agenda. If required, material can be provided to the regulator. The inability of the editorial team and management or monitoring staff at Geo failed to either control the content and deliberately allowed scandalous views to go on air. This constitutes a breach of terms of its licence and violating code of conduct. Moreover, the above instance establishes that the editorial team and management of Geo has clearly violated the following provisions of Pemra rules/code of conduct, making Geo liable for cancellation of its licence: (a) Rule 15 of Pemra rules (b) Para (c), (g), (j) of standing code of conduct (c) Section 20(a) of the Pemra Ordinance (d) Section 27(a) of the Pemra Ordinance.”

“The said false, malicious and irresponsible reporting is a continuation of the policy of Geo Network for maligning the state institutions as it has done earlier in the case of Daniel Pearl, Wali Khan Babar, the killing of Mr Hammad (an officer of Supreme Court of Pakistan) and also the killing of parents of an honorable judge of the Supreme Court at Lahore. The malicious campaign later proved false.”

The complaint further said that the print media, particularly Jang and The News also published defamatory, libelous and scandalous material as has been done by their sister-concerns in electronic media. The management, therefore, followed the suit and joined hands for carrying out the above mentioned illegal acts.

This makes the said publications and the persons responsible for actions under i) Sections 3, 4 and 9 of the Defamation Ordinance 2002, ii) Sections 19 and 27 of the Press, Newspaper, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002 and the rules framed there-under and also the terms and conditions of the licence/declarations granted or operated there under and iii) the measures and mechanism under the Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance, 2002.

A senior official told The Express Tribune that a sealed envelope carrying the defence ministry’s application from the secretary defence was delivered for the Pemra chairman at 9:32 pm.  “Pemra will discuss the entire issue in its Board of Directors meeting on April 24,” sources added.

Interior minister expresses grave concern

Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan expressed serious concern over the ongoing slurs against the national security institutions in the backdrop of the attack on Hamid Mir.

“It is a matter of serious concern that national institutions are being attacked and blamed without any evidence in the garb of this attack,” the minister said in statement. “Nowhere in the world key national security institutions were ever criticised and blamed in this manner,” he added.

He said that while negative propaganda against state institutions was made by particular circles, ‘our enemies disseminated it to the whole world’.  He added that the government has constituted a three-member judicial commission to probe the attack and there was no justification for such baseless allegations.

While condemning the attack on Hamid Mir, the minister said it is a tragedy not only for his family but for the entire nation and the journalists’ community.

Nisar said the officers and Jawans of armed forces were laying down their lives for the security of Pakistan. And the unilateral negative propaganda against national security institutions is not only regrettable but also condemnable.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

In the eye of the storm: Army chief pays ‘morale boosting’ visit to ISI HQ

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 17:26

ISLAMABAD: 

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif paid a ‘morale boosting’ visit to the headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on Tuesday after the country’s premier spy agency was implicated in the recent attack on anchor Hamid Mir.

This was the first visit by Gen Raheel to the ISI’s head office since he took over from his predecessor Gen Parvez Kayani in November last year.

A security official told The Express Tribune that the army chief’s visit was not only meant to acknowledge the ‘unsung heroes’ who laid down their lives for the country but also to show solidarity with the ISI at a time when questions are being raised about its role.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said that Gen Raheel made it clear that no one would be allowed to undermine the role of ISI. “All attempts to discredit and malign the institution will be foiled,” the official quoted the army chief as saying.

The official also disclosed that ISI Director General Lt. Gen Zaheerul Islam, while giving a briefing to the army chief, conveyed his serious concern over what he called ‘deliberate camping’ by certain elements against the spy agency.

The ISI is in the eye of the storm after Hamid Mir’s brother blamed the agency for Saturday’s attack in Karachi. The chief military spokesperson has already issued a strong rebuttal to the allegations and called for an impartial inquiry.

However, another official voiced his concern over reluctance from the civilian authorities to defend the ISI, which theoretically reports to the prime minister.

According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on his arrival at the headquarters, the ISI chief received Gen Sharif. “He was given a detailed briefing on internal and external security situation of the country,” said the statement.

The army chief appreciated the ISI’s role towards national security and lauded the contributions and sacrifices of its officers and men towards strengthening the defence of the motherland, according to the statement.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Negative propaganda against defence institutions condemnable: Nisar

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 16:05

While terming the attack on journalists as highly condemnable, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stressed on the need to avoid undue criticism against defence institutions, Radio Pakistan reported.

Taking notice of the undue criticism against defence institutions, the interior minister said negative propaganda against state institutions provides enemies a chance to exploit the situation.

The attack on Mir is a tragic incident, not only for his family but also for the whole nation, said Nisar.

He further said that the way incident was used to malign the national institutions without any evidence is a matter of grave concern.

Recognising the valor and sacrifices made by the defence institutions, Nisar said officers and jawans of our defence institutions are rendering great sacrifices for the nation and therefore the negative propaganda against the institution is condemnable.

The minister stated that there was no justification for allegations when the government has already set up a commission consisting of three senior Judges of the Supreme Court to inquire into the matter.

No one should be blame before inquiry is completed: Altaf

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain while condemning the attack on journalist Hamid Mir, said nothing should be done to harm the dignity of institutions responsible for national security.

It is inadvisable to blame any institution or individual before the three member judicial commission set up by the Prime Minister completes its investigation, said Altaf.

MQM chief said at a time when Pakistan is facing internal and external threats and grave challenges, it would not be right to blame institutions responsible for national security in these difficult times.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Nisar summons joint meeting of govt, Taliban talks committees on Wednesday

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:21

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has summoned a joint meeting of the government and Taliban talks committee in Islamabad on Wednesday, Express News reported.

The meeting follows Saturday’s postponed meeting.

It is expected that the meeting will review progress made in talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), so far. Further, a future course of action is also expected to be charted.

Last week, the Taliban formally announced that the ceasefire with the government had ended. The joint committee is expected to review this development as well.

Last week, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced on Wednesday not to extend the ceasefire it had declared on March 1 and extended on April 4 for another six days. The group, however, said that peace talks with the government will continue.

Senior Taliban intermediary Professor Muhammad Ibrahim said that he and his colleagues would encourage the TTP leadership to continue to cease fire. He reiterated that the Taliban have not disengaged from the dialogue process. At the same time, he called upon the government to take steps for bridging the trust gap.

In wake of the ceasefire collapse, the government had decided that the fragile peace talks with TTP will not be ‘open ended’ and alternatives would be explored to deal with militancy if the process fails to achieve the desired results soon, officials said on Sunday.

The decision was taken during the recent meeting of the National Security Committee, which agreed to give peace a chance despite TTP’s announcement to call off their 40-day ceasefire.

A senior official told The Express Tribune that the civil and military leadership would pursue talks with a condition that the process would now have certain timelines. “Some positive outcome has to be achieved sooner than later because time is running out,” said the official while requesting anonymity.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Defence minister sends Pemra reference against Geo TV

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:20

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Defence approved and sent on Tuesday a reference to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) regarding Geo TV’s allegations against the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Express News reported.

The defence secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik had sent a strong-worded and stern reference to defence minister Khwaja Asif, who then approved it to send forward to Pemra.

Asif himself was under fire a few days ago for his remarks against former president Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

The reference alleges that Geo TV has violated the code of conduct set by Pemra, and seeks the immediate suspension of the channel’s licence. A cancellation of the licence has been sought upon completion of the investigation into the matter.

The following is the text of the reference obtained by The Express Tribune:

 

 


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Blast in Chaman, at least five injured

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 08:20

CHAMAN: Five people, including a member of the Frontier Corps (FC), were injured when a motorcycle bomb detonated in Kandahari Bazaar on Mall Road, Chaman on Tuesday.

The township shares a border with Afghanistan.

It was the second bombing during the past 24 hours in Chaman. “The explosive device was fitted to a motorbike parked beside the road. Unknown miscreants detonated the explosives by a remote control as the FC vehicle passed by the area,” police officer Mohammed Ashraf, told The Express Tribune.

Four passers-by and a man of FC sustained injuries in the blast. The blast was heard in the entire Chaman Town. Police and security forces reached the spot soon after the blast and threw a cordon in the area for collecting evidence from the crime scene. The injured were shifted to the nearby Civil Hospital, where four of the injured are stated to be out of danger while one is in critical condition. A state of emergence was declared at the hospital after the blast.

“Five people sustained multiple splinter wounds and four are out of danger,” Mohammed Ashraf said. A car was also damaged in the blast.  “FC man sustained minor injuries and is completely stable,” he added.

According to Bomb Disposal Squad, more than two kilograms of explosive materials were used in the explosion. The Kandahari Bazaar is one of the most crowded areas in Chaman where hundreds of shops are located.

Two people were injured on Monday after roadside bombing in Chaman and it was the second bomb blast during the past 24 hours. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks until this report was filed.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Pakistan successfully test-fires Hatf III

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 03:03

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan conducted a successful test-fire of the Hatf III (Ghaznavi) missile on Tuesday, an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release reported.

The short range surface-to-surface ballistic missile can carry nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 290 kilometres.

The launch was witnessed by the Chairperson Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) General Rashad Mahmood, Director General Strategic Plans Division Lieutenant General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Commander Army Strategic Forces Command Lieutenant General Obaid Ullah Khan, Chairperson NESCOM Muhammad Irfan Burney and other senior military officials and scientists.

Addressing the troops after the launch, the JCSC chairperson commended the troops on achieving technical and operational excellence in operating the state of the art weapon system.

Mahmood also congratulated all the scientists and engineers for the successful launch.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

NA-89: Notifications declaring Ludhianvi winner suspended by SC

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 00:44

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended the notifications which declared Maulana Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) as winning candidate from Jhang NA-89, Express News reported.

The Election Commission of Pakistan and an election tribunal had declared Ludhianvi the winner after Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Sheikh Muhammad Akram was disqualified for allegedly being a loan defaulter. The election tribunal had passed the order on a petition filed by Ludhianvi in which he had alleged that Akram was not an eligible candidate as he did not fulfil the condition of being “sadiq and ameen” (truthful and trustworthy).

A three-member bench – headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali – suspended both the notifications, saying that the tribunal had not given enough reasons for the disqualification. The bench said the tribunal’s decision did not take into account the ground realities in the constituency and the number of votes each candidate received.

The bench issued notices to all the respondents and asked the tribunal to re-evaluate the situation and inform the court within three months.

Constituency

NA-89 has long been an ASWJ hub. In 1988, when it was known as Sipah-i-Sahaba, its founder Haq Nawaz Jhangvi won 39,000 votes in this constituency, but lost out to Begum Abida Hussain. However, he vowed that Abida Hussain would quit the constituency.

In 1990, Hussain contested the election from elsewhere, though Jhangvi had been killed by then. Maulana Isarul Qasmi won the NA-89 seat as well as the PP-77 Punjab Assembly seat in 1990, defeating the PML-N’s Sheikh Yusuf.

Qasmi too was killed, but the party remained in control of the constituency. Sipah-i-Sahaba’s Azam Tariq won both seats by a wide margin in 1993, the loser again being Yusuf. The PPP’s Nawab Amanullah Khan Sial won the seat in 1997, while Azam Tariq again won it in 2002. After Tariq was assassinated, Sheikh Waqas Akram won the seat in a by-election as a candidate of the PML-Q and retained it in the 2008 elections.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

ECP plea: Poll body seeks more time to hold LG elections

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 00:10

ISLAMABAD: 

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday told the apex court it would not be able to complete the delimitation process for local government (LG) elections in Sindh and Punjab within 45 days.

Submitting two review petitions on behalf of the ECP, Advocate Akram Sheikh requested the Supreme Court to revisit its March 19 and March 20 verdicts to complete the delimitation process in two provinces within 45 days.

The apex court had given five months to the federal and provincial governments to do the appropriate legislation to empower the ECP to carry out the delimitation process for LG polls. After the legislation, the commission is allowed only 45 days to complete delimitation process so that elections can be held by November 15, 2014.

The petition said that undertaking delimitation of constituencies for the LG polls in Punjab would be a huge exercise, including several steps.

“Each such step will require to be completed within the timeframe given in rules for completing each such activity, which is to be mentioned in the rules,” the ECP submitted in its petitions, available with The Express Tribune.

The ECP said it had sought opinion from the provincial election commissioners as to how much time would be required to accomplish the task of delimitation. They suggested that approximately 6 to 9 months were needed for the completion of the task, it added.

It said there was every likelihood that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) might also seek indulgence of the court to authorise the ECP to carry out delimitation process and there was an overwhelming possibility that request of the K-P government would be acceded to by the SC.

“[in this case] the ECP may have to initiate the process of delimitation of constituencies for the local government elections in three provinces simultaneously or in tandem, followed by the issuance of election programmes for holding elections in these provinces.”

The petitions pointed out that Local Government Acts of Sindh and Balochistan allowed 60 to 120 days for holding the LG polls after the receipt of formal request from provincial government. But no such timeframe had been provided in local government Acts of Punjab and the K-P, it added.

“Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter and to ensure fairness ad transparency of the elections, this court may consider allowing minimum 90 days time to the ECP to conduct local government elections in the provinces of Punjab and the K-P on the analogy of Sindh and Balochistan,” the commission requested.

It also recommended that the provincial legislature might provide timelines for completion of various activities involved in the delimitation of constituencies. “It will be appropriate, if the time for completion of delimitation is left open either to be decided by the legislature or the ECP,” it said.

The commission said if the court thought to give a timeframe then it might consider the appropriateness of extending the time to a reasonable limit allowing the ECP to complete the ‘gigantic task’ of delimitation process in a free, fair and transparent manner.

The ECP further pointed out that last local government elections were held in all the four provinces in 2005 and the term of local governments expired on December 31, 2010. A senior ECP official told The Express Tribune that if the ECP’s fresh plea was accepted then the LG polls might be deferred in Punjab and Sindh till May next year.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Tharparkar address: JuD chief hits out at Modi for inciting exodus of Hindus from Sindh

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 23:03

HYDERABAD: 

Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed vowed that Pakistan will not allow Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to encourage members of the Hindu community to migrate from Sindh.

Addressing a gathering in Tharparkar’s Mithi town on Monday, he criticised the BJP frontrunner Narendra Modi for his provocative statements inciting members of the Hindu community to migrate across the border.

“The BJP leader has incited members of the Hindu community in Sindh to migrate to India, but I want to remind him about the Ahmedabad and Gujarat carnage. Such orchestrated incidents have never taken place in Pakistan,” the JuD chief said.

While Tharparkar is known for harmonious coexistence of Hindu and Muslim communities, last month Hindu places of worship were subjected to a series of attacks in the area.

Reassuring the Hindu community, Saeed said that conspiracies aimed at stoking religious or ethnic disharmony will not be allowed.

The JuD chief blamed India for the water shortage in the country. The tail-end areas of Sindh are dealing with severe water scarcity as India is building dams in Kashmir, he added.

Saeed also said that the JuD does not discriminate between Hindus and Muslims while working for their relief.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Reported cases: Research shows rise in acid terrorism

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 23:00

ISLAMABAD: 

Over the past four years, there has been a substantive increase in the number of reported cases of acid attacks in Pakistan. Meanwhile its victims continue to face huge medical, social, legal and economic challenges to reintegrate in mainstream society.

According to a report titled ‘Fostering Effective Implementation of Pro Human Rights Laws: Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011 (Act XXV), an Example of Good Practice’ — the total Number of Acid Attacks’ reported cases in 2009 was 43, which jumped to 143 in 2013.

In the first three months of 2014, a total of 49 cases have already been reported; while 65% of the victims scarred by acid attacks are still awaiting justice.

The report – jointly compiled by the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) Pakistan in collaboration with National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Australian Aid – was launched in April 2014.

The report reveals that from 2009 to 2013, the highest number of acid attacks (150) was reported in year 2011; the number declined to 110 in 2012. However, in 2013, the number of reported cases once again shot up to 143.

In acid attacks, Punjab took lead with 589 cases, followed by Sindh with 29 cases. In Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), 16 cases each were reported, followed by Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) with 10 cases, Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) with 6 cases and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) with 1 case. Meanwhile, 282 incidents occurred at unknown areas, the report claims.

Districts of Southern Punjab present the highest number of acid attack cases with 104 reported from Multan, 87 from Muzaffargarh, 72 from Rahim Yar Khan and 70 from Bahawalpur. In Sindh, the highest number of attacks (15) was reported from Karachi, says the report.

Sex segregation of victims

Out of the total number of reported cases from across the country, at least 519 out of 949 victims are females – clearly reflecting and confirming that acid violence is also a form of gender based violence. Of the total, 15% victims are children, says the study.

The report suggests that radicalisation, terrorism, easy availability of acid, defective law, rampant poverty and lack of progressive education can fuel gender-based violence that can eventually result in acid attack, adding that majority of the attack survivors belonged to rural and feudal area.

However, these statistics are just the tip of the iceberg as the individual interviews of respondents – including survivors, police and people from communities, conducted during study – reflect that there are many families which do not always want to report attacks out of fear of reprisal or simply because family members are involved, or they are not empowered enough to start legal action.

Moreover, hospitals receiving acid attack victims lack gender segregated data and their data entry indicators are too vague to be relied upon.

Shortage of rehab centres

The report says that neither the medical structures are resourceful enough nor the nurses sufficiently trained to adequately treat the attack survivors. Very few victims have an access to emergency medical services and the government does not provide sufficient specailised acid burn treatment or rehabilitation facilities, it says.

The report highly recommends that the legislative framework of Pakistan must evolve. It suggests repealing discriminatory laws, passage of pending legislation related to human rights, adoption of new legislation to ensure gender equity as well as development of human rights, GBV and child protection policies.

Talking to The Express Tribune, the ASF Chairperson Valerie Khan said the increase in the number of cases showed people were getting aware of their fundamental right to report such cases by breaking the silence.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Book leads to peace: Three-day National Book Day kick off today

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 22:51

The fifth National Book Day festival will kick off at the Pak-China Friendship Centre on Tuesday at 11am. The opening ceremony will start with school children’s ‘book parade’, ‘book anthem’, hoisting of ‘book flag’ and oath-taking ceremony renewing their pledge to promote reading culture.

Federal Minister for Information and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid will be the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony, said a press release. A large number of youth, students, educationists, writers and poets, and people from all walks of life are expected to attend the gala.

The three-day event was conceived and introduced by Mazharul Islam, an internationally acclaimed short-story writer, novelist, folklorist and former Director-General of National Book Foundation (NBF).

The current NBF chief, Dr Inamul Haq Javed who is also a man of letters, has continued the good tradition and format of the programme.

The event aims to promote book reading and literacy besides providing an opportunity for all to buy books at discounted price.

An important segment of the opening day will be an evening with writer Ataul Haq Qasmi.

On the second day of the event, special programme will be arranged with legendary actor, narrator and teacher Zia Mohiyuddin in the segment of “Live with Legend” at 7pm where he will present the history of literature from classical to contemporary literature. Many sessions such as peace conference, dialogue on human rights, “Qissa Khawani of folk stories”,“Kitaab Kahani”, “Overseas Pakistanis writers’ corner”, “Aik pal-Multiple”, “Big book reading”,“ “Book Walk”, “Book Castle”, “Chaaey-Khana”, “Model Library”, “Space Technology programmes”, “Brail Books”, “Lucky Book Draw”, “Video Display”, “Language Laboratory”, “Youthful Book Session”, “Gogi Show” and “Book Ambassadors’ Conference” are part of the event.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Katchi abadi removal: Three civic agency officials hurt by stone-pelting residents

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 22:38

ISLAMABAD: 

CDA officials and slum dwellers clashed on Monday during a demolition drive carried out by the enforcement wing of the authority at a newly-established illegal settlement in sector I-10/1.

As many as three staffers, including two supervisors and one sub-inspector from the enforcement wing sustained serious injuries when illegal occupants pelted stones on the demolition team after it started bulldozing 80 mud huts. The huts were established on a green area near street 17 in Sector I-10/1.

“It went ahead as normal in the beginning. But minutes before the end of operation, the illegal occupants engaged in harsh arguments and later the situation turned violent,” said Enforcement Wing In-Charge Mohammad Iqbal, who led the demolition drive.

He said besides the seriously injured staffers, a number of anti encroachment officials also sustained minor injuries. Iqbal said one of the seriously-injured officials had been hit on the head.

He said the settlement was illegally established in the “recent past” and the number of mud huts there had begun increasing with every passing day.

He said despite huge resistance and violence, the demolition team successfully completed the operation.

He said injured were rushed to the hospital and their medical reports were submitted to the Sabzi Mandi police for registration of a case against the attackers.

Iqbal added that the residents were mostly beggars, labourers, and their families.

He said that on Monday, the same demolition team also removed a small settlement comprising of 35 mud huts along the bank of a seasonal nullah in Sector G-10/2.

On April 14, an illegal settlement between the I-10 and H-10 green belt, comprising of around 1,500 mud houses, was removed by the authority.

The drive against illegal slums was initiated after the incumbent regime came to power last year, but only intensified after the Islamabad High Court in January took notice of the mushrooming growth of illegal settlements in Islamabad.

All Pakistan Alliance for Katchi Abadi (APAKA) Chairman Aasim Sajjad said bulldozing mud houses would not yield the desired results. He said instead of resolving their issues, such demolition drives were multiplying the worries of the poor.

He said the incumbent government did not have any rehabilitation or resettlement plan for these people. “If the government could approve lavish housing colonies for generals, judges, bureaucrats, and journalists, than why not low-cost housing scheme for these people,” Sajjad said.

He said Monday’s drive was tantamount to lack of political will and indifferent approach of the government towards the poorest of the poor.

Sajjad said APAKA would continue to resist any of the government’s move aimed to displace poor. He said a massive protest rally would be carried out on Wednesday to denounce the ongoing demolition drives.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Illegal appointment: IHC rejects bail of two former CDA officers

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 22:29

ISLAMABAD: 

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday rejected the bail applications of two former Capital Development Authority (CDA) officers who are under trial for allegedly allowing an illegal appointment.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui rejected the bail applications of the civic agency’s former human resource development deputy director Abdur Razzaq and former finance deputy director Malik Arshad, both of whom are accused of illegally appointing a retired Pakistan Telecommunications Corporation (PTCL) officer in the CDA during the previous PPP government.

In March, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had arrested both officers and the court later sent them on judicial remand. According to the FIA, the officers had appointed Tanvir Hashmi on deputation in 2009 despite the fact that he was not a government employee at the time.

According to the CDA, Hashmi was appointed as a BS-18 accounts officer and was permanently absorbed by the agency soon after. Later, it was found that Hashmi had taken early retirement from PTCL and had used forged documents to get the CDA job.

The two accused played a key role in his appointment.

According to CDA officials, Abdur Razzaq, a ‘seasoned’ CDA cadre officer, was referred to by CDA employees as the ‘king’ of HRD-related matters. He has been serving in the HRD for the last eight years and had never been transferred to another directorate, a rarity in government service.

Hashmi is currently on the run, and FIA has yet to recover Rs1.8 million that Hashmi took from the CDA as a house-building loan, or the government vehicle he was given.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Controversial law: Opposition hoots and jeers as PPO tabled in Senate

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 16:40

ISLAMABAD: 

The controversial Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO) was introduced in the upper house of parliament on Friday, amidst hooting and cries of protest from members of the opposition and treasury benches. After it was opposed, the bill was referred to a select committee and each member of the house was assured that they would be able to give their recommendations on the bill.

In the absence of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the PPO was introduced in the house by Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid. As the bill was moved, the Senate hall resounded with voices shouting, ‘Question’. Hamid maintained that since the bill was opposed, it should be sent to the committee for further deliberation.

Calling the PPO a ‘black law’, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said its passage was tantamount to declaring Pakistan a ‘national security state’, adding that the proposed law trampled the fundamental rights of citizens. The PPO, he said, is in direct contravention to the Constitution.

Citing the Annual Human Rights and Democracy report published by the United Kingdom’s government and Office of the Commonwealth, Senator Rabbani said the PPO was an impediment to trade concessions offered by the European Union as 27 conventions pertaining to human rights were being affected by this particular law.

In his reply, Zahid Hamid stated that the report mentioned by Senator Rabbani concerned the PPO’s original draft. The present draft has been considerably modified, he said, and clauses related to detention of suspects were subject to Article 10 of the Constitution. He described the proposed law as similar to the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

ANP Senator Haji Adeel described the PPO as politically motivated and said the clauses related to detention were ripe for abuse. Instead of sending the bill to the select committee, a larger committee of the house should examine the PPO and suggestions should be included to another draft, he said.

MQM Senator Col (retd) Tahir Mashhadi, one of the most vociferous critics of the bill, described it as reminiscent of the Nazi era in German history.

“It is an amalgam of all laws that have been abused for victimisation,” he said. In the presence of so many existing laws, no known terrorists were convicted and even those who were in custody were being released, he said.

PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha expressed his reservations against the select committee to which the bill was referred, saying the output of the committee was not satisfactory. Although there was a need for a law with particular reference to terrorism, passing a law without consensus and in which the burden of proof lies upon the person charged, will result in pandemonium, he added.

Additionally, on a point of order during the Zero Hour, PPP Senator Saeed Ghani demanded that the investigation report by a committee of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) that probed the happenings and names of those involved in helping Pervez Musharraf to declare a state of emergency on November 3, 2007 should be presented in the house.

Opposition parties staged a walkout in protest when Senator Kamil Ali Agha drew the attention of the house towards a protest in Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan, where more than 20 political parties were protesting against the government’s decision to end the subsidy on wheat.

The decision had caused a shortage of flour, said Senator Agha. If the government could provide a daily subsidy of Rs1.23 billion for the metro bus service, why a similar amount couldn’t be provided in this case, he asked.

The Surveying and Mapping Bill 2014, which was also to be laid before the house was deferred on the government request.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Socio-economic development: Govt to spend $1.6b in Balochistan, says PM

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 16:33

ISLAMABAD: 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that his government will spend $1.6 on the socio-economic development of Balochistan, which has been in the throes of a low-key insurgency since 2004.

“Establishing peace in Balochistan is a priority of the government to ensure sustainable economic activity in the province,” he told his cabinet colleagues in a meeting on Friday. The cabinet – which met after a three-month hiatus – gave the go-ahead for several projects, including import of LNG and electricity from Qatar and Iran, respectively.

The socio-economic package includes provision of skilled manpower through training of human resource in different sectors, including health and education, he said, adding that he himself would monitor these projects. “The public money is sacred and we should ensure its judicious and efficient spending.”

As Pakistan has already given control of Gwadar port to China, the plan also envisages the investment of $12 billion by Beijing. As part of the economic corridor that will turn Pakistan into a hub of regional cooperation, Gwadar port will be connected through road, rail and fibre links to China to help enhance trade between the two countries.

Premier Nawaz issued directions to complete the Gwadar port extension project on a priority basis. Gwadar is being developed as a model city and a socio-economic package has been planned for it, he said, adding that Gwadar airport and seaport were being developed on modern lines.

LNG terminal at Karachi Port

The cabinet also approved a policy of the Ministry of Petroleum to import Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar and the establishment of a terminal at Karachi port for this purpose. Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi informed the meeting that all arrangements for LNG projects will be completed by the end of this year.

An official handout issued after the meeting said the cabinet approved the tariff of $0.66/mmbtu for the LNG services project secured through a competitive bidding process by the Petroleum and Natural Resources Ministry. The cabinet also decided that the policy guidelines of the tariff shall be conveyed to OGRA.

Sources privy to the meeting said that some cabinet members had reservations over the proposed LNG import and price mechanism and this triggered a heated debate.

The petroleum minister claimed that the price of LNG is competitive with the international market. He said the agreement has been made with the Qatari company EPTL for a period of 15 years.

Premier Nawaz directed the information minister to review the proposed Right to Information Bill in consultation with the opposition to make it more viable.

The cabinet reviewed the overall political situation in the country, including national security and ongoing process of dialogue with the Taliban. The cabinet endorsed the decisions recently made by the National Security Committee.

The prime minister briefed the cabinet on his recent visit to China and the development projects finalised during the tour, including Pak-China trade corridor for the uplift of the country.

Nisar briefed the cabinet on the overall security situation, dialogue process with the Taliban and ongoing targeted operation in Karachi.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar gave a detailed briefing on the economic situation of the country and upcoming projects.

The cabinet also discussed the issue of pollution in Pakistani waters. It was informed that Pakistani waters have become a dumping ground for the waste of sea vessels. Nawaz issued directions to clear Pakistani waters of shipping waste.

The cabinet granted its approval to the MoUs signed between Iran Power Generation Transmission & Distribution Management Company (Tavanir) and National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) in the field of electricity transmission.

List of other projects approved by the cabinet

The cabinet approved the tariff of US$0.66/MMBTU for LNG services project, secured through competitive bidding process by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. It also decided that the policy guidelines of the tariff, will be conveyed to OGRA.

The Cabinet further decided that other aspects of the commercial agreement will be settled between the two parties, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and EPTL of Qatar. Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while briefing the cabinet, said the price of LNG was competitive with the international market. He said the contract will be for 15 years and will provide 200 MMBTU of LNG in the first year and would be increased to 400 MMBTU from the second year.

The cabinet deferred Amendment in CDA Ordinance, 1960. The cabinet considered and approved the Proposed Amendments in the Patent Ordinance 2000 regarding electronic publication of patent journal.

It granted approval, in principle, for the draft Bill for Creation of Joint Maritime Information Organization (JMIO).

The cabinet also approved Amendment in Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 (FERA, 1947).

It also approved SBP (Amendment) Bill 2010 and the SBP Banking Services Corporation Ordinance (Repeal) Bill 2010.

The cabinet approved Equity Participation Fund Repeal Bill-2014.

The cabinet approved reconsideration of the decision of the cabinet regarding repeal of Section 27B of the Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962.

It deferred the Right to Information Bill, 2014 and the prime minister directed for further consultations with opposition and stakeholders.

The cabinet considered the Constitution (Twenty-First Amendment) Bill 2013 and referred it to the relevant committee for further consideration.

Two amendments were proposed to the Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973. The cabinet approved one amendment in the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973. However it deferred the second amendment for further deliberations.

The Cabinet considered a bill titled, “The Islamabad Subordinate Judiciary Service Tribunal Act, 2014″ and referred it to the Law Division for further review.

Approval, in principle, was granted by the cabinet for negotiations with the Government of the Republic of Turkey on Memorandum of Understanding in the field of environment.

Approval was given to start negotiations and approval for signing of Memorandum of Cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.

Formal Approval of the cabinet was accorded for signing of MoU between the Government of Pakistan and People’s Republic of China on Raikot-Islamabad section of China-Pak Economic Corridor by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC). It gave approval for signing of Protocol for the Period from Nov 2004 to Nov 2012 and approval for revision of Protocol between the Government of Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China for Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Surveying and Mapping.

The cabinet gave approval, in principle, for negotiations of the draft agreement between the Ministry of Defence, Pakistan and the Ministry of Interior, UAE for secondment of qualified technical military personnel (drum majors) to UAE.

It gave approval for signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Government of the United Republic of Tanzania on Defence Cooperation.

The cabinet gave approval for signing of Revised Draft Agreement between the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Defence of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on Military Cooperation.

The cabinet gave approval, in principle, for negotiations of the Draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on Defence Cooperation.

It considered to grant approval, in principle, for initiation of negotiations to the signing of Agreement between Pakistan and South Africa on Defence Industrial Corporation but deferred the matter. While discussing this agenda item, the prime minister directed that the matter of production in defense sector was of immense importance and the cabinet should be briefed on the matter in detail.

The cabinet gave approval, in principle, to start negotiations on the Agreement on Economic Cooperation between Pakistan and Czech Republic.

It approved initiation of negotiations for signing of Reciprocal Agreement and Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) between the Government of Pakistan and the Government of Qatar.

The cabinet gave, in principle, approval for negotiations of Memorandum of Understanding between the Supreme Audit Institutions of Pakistan and Vietnam on Cooperation on Auditing in Public Sector.

The cabinet gave approval of initiation of negotiations between State Bank of Pakistan and Central Bank of Philippines for signing an MoU on cooperation in the field of banking supervision and exchange of information.

The cabinet gave approval of initiation of negotiations between State Bank of Pakistan and Central Bank of France on signing of MoU on Cooperation in the field of Banking Supervision and Exchange of Information.

The cabinet approved the initiation of negotiation between the State Bank of Pakistan and Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) on cooperation in supervision of supervised institutions.

The Cabinet formally approved Framework Agreement in the field of housing development, signed during the visit of Prime Minister to Turkey on 16-18 September, last year.

The meeting nodded, in principle, to start negotiations between National Productivity Center of Turkey and National Product. The Cabinet also approved, in principle, for starting negotiations regarding bilateral Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of the USA and Pakistan concerning the imposition of import restriction on archaeological material.

It was also approved to start negotiations with the government of the Djibouti for the holders of diplomatic and official passports. The Federal Cabinet approved ratification of an agreement on transfer of offenders signed between Pakistan and Yemen.

The cabinet approved signing of agreement between the governments of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Pakistan’s government visa on exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports.

An approval for cooperation in the field of Higher Education and Scientific Research between the Ministry of Inter Provisional Coordination of Pakistan and Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the UAE, was also given.

The cabinet also consented to signing the MoU between the Government of Pakistan and South Africa for cooperation in combating illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals.

The cabinet gave ex-post facto approval, in principle, to starting negotiations and signing of protocol on compliance of phytosanitary requirements between Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Russian Federation) and Department of Plant Protection, Ministry of National Food of Plant Protection and Research, Government of Pakistan on mutual supplies of productions of high phytosanitary risk.

The cabinet permitted, in principle, for entering into an agreement concerning the export of manpower from Pakistan with the Italian government. The signing of MoU between governments of Turkey and Pakistan on sister seaport relation and cooperation was also approved by the cabinet. The Federal Cabinet nodded to starting negotiations and for signing of MoU on cooperation in preventing and combating pollution from ships between the Governments of Pakistan and Iran. On the occasion, the issue of pollution in Pakistan sea waters was also discussed.

The prime minister was informed that the Pakistani Sea has become a dumping ground for ship waste. To this, the prime minister directed Minister for Ports and Shipping to take concrete steps to make the seas pollution free.

The Cabinet approved the signing of MoU in the fields of standardization, metrology, certification, accreditation and the other related activities between Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) and Jordan Institution of Standards and Metrology (JISM).

The Federal Cabinet approved the signing of MoU between Iran Powers Generation, Transmission and Distribution Management Company (TAVANIR) and National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) in the field of electricity transmission.

APP

Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Legalised: SC rejects plea against NAB chairman’s appointment

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 16:28

ISLAMABAD: 

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected two petitions, including that of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, against the appointment of Qamar Zaman Chaudhry as chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Two NAB chairmen – Justice (retd) Deedar Hussain Shah and Admiral (retd) Fasih Bukhari – were sacked by the top court during former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s tenure. Then leader of opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had challenged their appointments.

On October 29, 2013, the PTI chief moved a petition through his counsel Hamid Khan under Article 184(3) of the Constitution against the incumbent NAB chairman’s appointment, saying that it is the result of a ‘muk muka’ (understanding) between the PPP and PML-N.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk, took up the matter and dismissed the petitions of Imran and Mahmood Akhtar Naqvi after hearing arguments for three days.

Imran contended that Qamar Zaman Chaudhry’s appointment is illegal and without justification against the provision of Section 6 of the NAB Ordinance 1999 and the consultation over that slot was mala fide; a fraud upon the law and Constitution.

Imran further submitted that the consensus ought to have been among all opposition parties in parliament as there is a strong public perception that the appointment of the incumbent chairman of NAB was the result of complicity between these two parties.

He pointed out that a person could not be appointed chairman unless he was a retired federal government officer in BPS-22 of equivalent.

The petition also pointed out that it was a matter of record that contempt proceedings were pending against the bureau’s chairman and a show-cause notice was issued to him by the apex court.

“Propriety demanded that name of such a person should have not even been considered at all because his conduct was not above-board, as he by his conduct has shown that he has no respect for the rule of law and the judiciary.”

Meanwhile, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah moved an application to become party to the case against the appointment of the incumbent NAB chairman.

He rejected the petitioner’s stance and stated that all opposition parties, including PTI, were consulted before the appointment was made despite no constitutional or legal requirement to do so.

Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for the opposition leader, strongly defended the appointment of the NAB chairman.

Aitzaz pleaded that it was wrong that the name of a civil servant could not be considered for the office of NAB chairman before his/her retirement, as there was no bar in law. Qamar Zaman was appointed NAB chairman after his retirement, he added.

Regarding the appointment of chairman NAB, he said the prime minister has two roles; first as a consultant, under Section 6 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999; second, to advise the president under Article 48 of the Constitution.

He contended that the president is bound to act upon the advice of the prime minister after the passage of the 18th Amendment. He also raised questions over the court’s jurisdiction to entertain petitions under Article 184 as it restricts one’s right to appeal.

Justice Amir Hani Muslim said that the Constitution has given this right to the court.

“If there is any review petition, it should be turned into an appeal. I had given this proposal to former chief justice also,” Aitzaz said. He added that Imran should legislate if he had objections to the process of appointment of NAB chairman.

At the end, Khawaja Haris argued on behalf of the government and defended the appointment.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2014.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Asif says he has respect, not contempt for armed forces

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:56

Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif lamenting how an old speech of his had been presented out of context, asserted late on Friday that he respects and acknowledges the sacrifices made by the armed forces of Pakistan, Express News reported.

In an attempt to ease tensions between the army and government, Asif said he was not trying to undermine the efforts of the armed forces, adding that some people were trying to create misconceptions by repeating a speech delivered many years ago.

The defence minister added that that the army is an asset of the country and he is proud of the valour and sacrifices of the armed force personnel for the protection of Pakistan.

He lamented that some people were trying to create differences between civil and military leadership when army is engaged on many fronts, adding this is not in the interest of the country.

Earlier, there were reports of tension between the army and government after a speech of Asif from 2006 resurfaced and went viral on the social media in which Asif was seen heavily criticising the armed forces.

During a visit to the headquarters of the Special Service Group (SSG) at Ghazi Base, Tarbela on April 7, 2014, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif had said that the army will uphold the sanctity of all institutions but will “resolutely preserve its own dignity and institutional pride”.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

Mastermind behind attack on Express News anchorperson arrested: CCPO Lahore

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 08:17

LAHORE: Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Chaudhry Shafiq said that police have arrested six people, including the mastermind behind the attack on Express News anchorperson Raza Rumi.

CCPO Chaudhry Shafiq told media in Lahore that the mastermind, identified as Abdul Rauf Gujar, belongs to banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). Gujar was a resident of Badami Bagh area of Lahore, he stated.

On March 28, analyst and Express News show “Khabar Se Agay” anchor Raza Rumi, came under a gun attack in Lahore, in which his driver, Mustafa, was killed and his guard injured. This was the fifth attack on Express Media group.

Shafiq said that the six suspects were involved in assassination attempts on various political and religious persons, adding that they were also involved terrorism, kidnapping and dealing drugs.

The CCPO claimed that the suspects were also responsible for the murder of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ)’s Punjab chief Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muawiya and the attack on renowned playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed.

On January 21, unidentified armed men shot at Syed’s car near Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore. The playwright survived the attack.

On December 6 last year, Muawiya was killed after unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car along Ravi Road.


Categories: Pakistan & World News

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