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‘Government told clerks will proceed with strike plan’

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:05

LAHORE: An All Pakistan Clerks’ Association (Punjab Chapter) delegation on Monday declined an additional chief secretary’s (ACS) request that they call off a strike planned for Tuesday (today) to press the government to implement their charter of demands. “We told the ACS that we will proceed with the strike as planned,” APCA Chairman Haji Irshad said.

Irshad said an APCA delegation had visited the Civil Secretariat on Monday to meet the ACS. “The delegation was assured that the charter will be approved within a couple of days and requested to call off the strike,” he said.

Irshad said the delegation was told that work had been completed on two of the demands listed in the charter. “He said the government had completed paperwork for increasing Special Education Department budget by 50 per cent and setting minimum salaries of Zakat Department employees at Rs12,000.

However, he said, the request for calling off strike was rejected because the government could no longer be trusted to fulfill its commitments. “They have not even prepared a summary of the demands included in the charter for approval by the chief minister,” he said.

The APCA Punjab Chapter will observe a pen-down strike across the province and hold sit-ins in front of the Punjab Assembly and offices of the district coordination officers in all districts of the province.

The sit-in in front of the Assembly will start at 10am and continue for four hours.

On March 26, APCA Punjab ended its protest at the Club Chowk after a session with Minister Rana Mashhood, MPA Rana Sanaullah and officers where it was decided that the demands would be met in two weeks. Some of these demands included five per cent increase in salaries of the clerical staff in the province to set it equal to salaries in other provinces, scale upgrade, time scale promotion for staff between BPS grades 5-16, upgrade in the scale of superintendent to BPS grade 17, and salary raise in accordance with inflation.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015. 

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Better planning can reduce traffic fatalities: seminar

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:05

LAHORE: The high fatality rate in traffic accidents in Pakistan can be brought down by effective planning and abiding by traffic rules, speakers at a road safety seminar said on Monday.

The event was held at Government College University (GCU).

A number of students and teachers were present at the seminar which was organised by the Horticulture Society in collaboration with the National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) at the university’s Bokhari Auditorium.

Intelligence Bureau DIG Azeem Arshad, NH&MP Training College Commandant SSP Mirza Faran Baig, SSP Syed Baqir Raza, singer Jawad Ahmad and GCU Dean of Sciences Dr Islamullah spoke at the event.

Arshad said that road safety was a major issue in the country.

“We need to change our attitude towards traffic rules. It is imperative for all stakeholders to make collective efforts for road safety,” he said.

He said that modern technology should be used to create a better road safety environment for motorists in the country.

Baig said that a majority of people were unaware of road safety rules.

“There is an absence of education, enforcement and engineering in the traffic sector. The behaviour of road users is also a major issue,” he said.

Baig said the number of accidents could be reduced using new strategies. “All public and private sector institutes need to play their role in strengthening road safety. Road safety literature should be a part of syllabus,” he said.

Ahmad said that it was imperative for everyone to be aware of and to address road safety problems.

“We need to take immediate action to protect ourselves and others on roads,” he said.

He praised the NH&MP’s efforts to improve traffic discipline on national highways.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015. 

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Honouring our fire-fighters: A rescuer is always a rescuer

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:05

Four people had perished in a house fire in Moshinwaal last year. Fire fighter Usman Nawaz was told that there was only a slim chance that their child might be alive. Nawaz had braved the flames and carried the child out of the crumbling building. He was honoured with the Best Fire Rescuer of 2015 title at a ceremony marking the International Fire Fighters’ Day at the Governor’s House on Monday.

Nawaz joined the Rescue-1122, Khanewal, in 2010 and has several heroic acts to his credit. “I’m proud to be a fire-fighter,” he says.  Last year, there was an emergency call from the Khanewal DPO’s house and Nawaz was among the fire-fighters who barged into the burning building wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and managed to put out the fire in no time. The DPO had appreciated their efforts saying, “If I had such brave and enthusiastic personnel in the district police, I would have nabbed all the criminals in the area in 10 days.”

Also honoured at the ceremony were fire-fighters who had lost their lives while trying to rescue people.

The ceremony was presided over by Acting Governor Rana Mohammad Iqbal. NDMA Chairman Maj Gen Asghar Nawaz, Daily Pakistan’s Mujeebur Rehman Shami, Fire Safety Commission Secretary Advocate Rafay Alam and Rescue-1122 Director General Rizwan Naseer.

“I salute the fire-fighters who lost their lives trying to save others,” the governor said.

Most countries focus on preventing fire breakouts, he said. “I expect all government departments to work hard to create safer communities – this is not a job for fire-fighters alone.”

The Rescue-1122 DG said the rescuers who had died in the line of duty were true heroes of the society. He said since its inception, the Rescue-1122 has managed to prevent losses worth more than Rs180 billion in more than 64,000 major fire incidents.

Rafay Alam stressed the need to ensure proper planning in urban development. “We take pride in our fire-fighting service but we need to take responsibility of ensuring safe buildings.”

Media should raise awareness about the importance of following building safety codes, Mujeebur Rehman Shami said.

Fire-fighter Wajid Ali, who joined Rescue-1122 Hafizabad in 2010, has been an active member of community training teams for flood preparations as well.

He helped evacuate flood victims in the 2012, 2013, 2014 floods and has trained other Rescue-1122 officials and Civil Defence staff in rescue techniques.

Last year, he managed to rescue several people who were trapped under a Rice Sheller after the roof of the building collapsed due to a fire.

Sajjad Hussain joined the Rescue-1122 in 2006 as a Disaster Emergency Response Team (DERT) Rescuer in Faisalabad.

He was promoted to lead fire rescuer (LFR) in Khanewal in 2010 and was named one of the top three LFRs last year.

Last year in June, Hussain was sent to control a fire breakout at a Vocational Training Institute in Khanewal. Clad in PPEs and carrying a self-contained breathing apparatus and his fireman’s axe, Hussain barged into the building and rescued 25 students.

This year, in March, he jumped into a roaring fire that erupted at a restaurant in Khanewal where a wedding ceremony was going on and rescued 40 people.

“We acknowledge the dedication, heroism and importance of fire fighters of our country,” NDMA Chairman Nawaz said.

The International Fire Fighters’ Day serves as a reminder of the horrible effects of fire incidents and highlights heroic actions of valiant fire-fighters in saving precious lives, he said.

Nawaz said rapid urbanisation, non-observance of basic fire prevention measures, non-implementation of fire safety codes and resource inadequacy of fire-fighters were challenges that made Pakistan highly vulnerable to fire hazards, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015.


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Inconvenienced: MNA’s neighbours protest faulty transformer

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:05

Scores of residents of Chiniot protested outside the house of National Assembly Member (MNA) Qaisar Ahmad Sheikh on Monday against the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (FESCO) over a faulty transformer.

The protesters chanted slogans against the FESCO and the government and demanded immediate replacement of the transformer.

Talking to newsmen, Adnan Haidar, a protester, the transformer installed close to the MNA’s house was faulty and kept tripping electricity in other houses in the area.

He said dozens of electronic goods including freezers, refrigerators, energy savers, ceiling fans, pedestal fans and electric water pumps had been destroyed as a result.

He said the residents asked for the transformer to be replaced but had to spend three days without electricity.

On being informed, Sheikh met the protesters and assured them that the transformer would be replaced within 24 hours.

The MNA also asked the protestors to provide him a list of electronics items damaged because of the transformer so that residents could be compensated.

The protesters dispersed on the MNA’s assurance that power would be restored within a few hours.

Talking to The Express Tribune, the MNA nearly 60 transformers were running in the city on two phases.

“I am trying to get all such transformer replaced as early as possible,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015. 

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Unchecked practice: Family protests against doctor, allege negligence

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:05

Scores of residents of D-Type Colony on Monday staged a protest demonstration against doctors of a private hospital, accusing them of negligence which they said had resulted in the death of woman during surgery.

The protesters gathered at the clinic and smashed windows and damaged furniture.

The protesters also blocked the D-Type Colony road for traffic. They placed the woman’s body on the road and urged police to arrest doctors responsible for her death.

Athar Ali, one of the protesters, told The Express Tribune that Rubina Bibi, wife of Javaid, a resident of Sharif Chowk in D-Type Colony, had reported abdominal pain when she was brought to Aslam Abdali’s clinic. He said the doctor advised surgery. He said the doctor operated on the woman. He said she died in surgery.

He said after operating on her, the doctor fled from the clinic.

On being informed, a team from D-Type Colony police station visited the scene and assured them protesters and and pacified the protestors by assuring them that the action would be taken against the responsible and he would be taken to task in accordance with law.  On receiving this assurance, the demonstrators called off their protest and dispersed from the scene.

Talking to newsmen, the D-Type Colony SHO said the doctor had been arrested in a raid. He said a case had been registered against him on the family’s complaint. He said a team had been formed to investigate the case.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015. 

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Deadly attack: Guard shot dead outside school in Dera Ghazi Khan

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:05

A guard was shot dead on Monday by two unidentified gunmen outside a school in Dera Ghazi Khan.

Saroorwali Government Boys High School Headmaster Muhammad Bilal told The Express Tribune that he had heard gunshots near the school gate at around 12.15pm.

“I called the emergency response team before heading outside to see what had happened,” he said.

He said when he went to the gate, he saw that Ghulam Abbas, the guard on duty, had been shot in the head.

“Fearing a terrorist attack, I summoned another guard and asked him to fire warning shots in the air,” he said. He said the guard fired two shots at his request. He said a large number of parents and neighbours began gathering at the scene at hearing the commotion.

He said during this time, teams from the Counter-Terrorism Department, the bomb disposal squad and the Elite Force reached the school.

He said they searched the building and some neighboring buildings.

DPO Ghulam Mubashir told newsmen that witnesses had told police that two men riding a motorbike had shot Abbas.

He ruled out terrorism, saying it was likely that the man had been killed over a personal enmity. “The men who killed him did not try to enter the school building. Instead, they fled,” he said. He said police teams had searched the school for explosives before school administration was allowed to resume routine.

The DPO said Abbas was taken to a basic health unit where he was declared dead on arrival. He said doctors had told him that the man had been shot at close range.

He said CCTV footage from the school’s entrance had been obtained. “A team has been formed to investigate the incident,” the DPO said. “They will compile a report which will be shared with the public.” Abbas’s family staged a protest demonstration on hearing the news of the killing. They placed his body on Multan Road and blocked it for traffic. They urged police to arrest the suspects immediately.

The funeral prayers were offered at his native village. Abbas ran a grocery store in the evening and was a father of eight.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015. 

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Coop secy stopped from working

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:04

Lahore High Court on Monday stopped the cooperatives secretary from performing official duties and issued him a contempt of court notice in a petition seeking directions for him to explain his decisions in a Model Town Cooperative Housing Society property dispute.

The secretary, Babar Tarar, was asked to respond to the notice by May 18. Justice Farrukh Irfan directed the department to send some other ‘responsible’ officer to appear before the court at the next hearing.

Earlier, Tarar submitted that the court could not interfere in his work and that he was not bound under law to obey court orders about his official duties. Justice Irfan dismissed the statement and directed him to stop serving duties as the cooperatives secretary.

Petitioners Fiza Naeem Bukhari and her five siblings, who are claiming to be the children of the late owner of three plots (no84,85 and 86) in J-Block of Model Town, had sought directives for the secretary to explain why he had changed his decision in their petition seeking inclusion of their names in the MTHS record as legal heirs of the owner.

They had said that Tarar first directed the cooperative societies’ registrar to add their names as legal heirs of the property owner but later withdrew his decision. They had stated that the MTHS mutated the plots in the name of one Rabia Salman Qureshi.

They had said they had challenged the move in a civil court as well as before the cooperatives societies’ registrar and both ruled in their favour. “The respondent had challenged the civil court and the registrar’s decisions before the secretary,” they said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015. 

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Old-age benefits: Finance Dept ordered to pay pension arrears

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:04

Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered the Finance Department on Monday to start paying arrears of pension to all eligible pensioners.

The bench ordered Finance Secretary Yousaf Khan to present an amended plan to pay the arrears.

The court issued the order while dismissing a plan, submitted by the secretary, saying that the department was wiling to pay Rs3.5 billion a year in this regard. He said the arrears of pensioners stood at Rs35 billion.

The judge noted that at this rate it would take 10 years to clear the arrears which was not acceptable. The bench ordered the secretary to come up with an amended plan.

The court then adjourned the hearing until June 11.

Afzal Shahin Pirzada, counsel for the petitioners, said the petitioners were already over 75 years of age. He said the government should not delay releasing the pensions.

The lawyer said the high court and the Supreme Court had already ordered the department to pay the retired employees their full pension.

Pirzada said the Finance Department was coming up with “lame excuses” and not complying with court orders. He said the Punjab Accountant General had also recommended that the department pay the retired workers.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015. 

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Saad Rafique urged not to appeal the verdict

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:04

LAHORE: Instead of going for an appeal against the election tribunal’s verdict, Saad Rafique should face the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in re-election, PTI Punjab president Ejaz Ahmad Chaudhry said on Monday.

He was addressing a press conference after the announcement of the election tribunal’s decision.

“Today represents a new dawn of democracy. The sanctity of vote has been reestablished through PTI chairman Imran Khan’s efforts,” he said. Chaudhry said that the PTI accepted the election tribunal’s decision. “We have confidence in the country’s judiciary,” he said.

“The returning and the presiding officers were guilty of changing the results. Hamid Khan will be the party’s candidate for fresh elections in NA-125. If the candidate is changed, it will be a party decision,” he said.

He said that local government and cantonment polls should not be compared with national level elections. “The party will prepare well for the upcoming local government elections,” he said.

Mian Muhammad Hussain, who represented PTI in the tribunal, said that the case was based on the fact that the rigging was preplanned. “The result maintenance system was stalled and the results were delayed. Forms 14, on which presiding officers compile results, were absent from the election record,” he said.

PTI Punjab information secretary Andleeb Abbas said the decision was a victory for NA-125 voters. “For several months, the NA-125 voters were on the streets, demanding justice. The sit-in in Defence was a reflection of the voters’ sentiments,” she said.

PTI leader Chaudhry Sarwar said that the tribunal’s verdict had proved that justice could prevail in the country. “PTI will not stop here. It will continue to voice its opinion against corrupt politicians. We will ensure that all measures are undertaken to exclude corrupt elements from the electoral process,” he said.

Later, supporters and party workers gathered at the Lalak Jan Chowk to celebrate the decision. They distributed sweets and danced to the tune of PTI anthems. PTI Lahore president Abdul Aleem Khan addressed the gathering and congratulated the workers. He said that Imran Khan would soon announce his schedule for a visit to the constituency.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015. 

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Energy crisis: PM to inaugurate 100MW solar energy project

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 19:04

LAHORE: A 100 megawatt (MW) solar energy project is being inducted into the national transmission grid on Tuesday (today). Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will preside over the induction ceremony. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, too, will be present.

The Qauid-i-Azam Solar Park has been completed at a cost of $131 million in one year.

“The project was scheduled to be completed during the first quarter of 2014. However, it was delayed after the Chinese firm granted the contract failed to fulfill the criteria during the due-diligence process carried out by Punjab government,” an energy department official said.

The Punjab government had announced plans to establish the Qauid-i-Azam Solar Park over an area of 10,000 acres in Bahawalpur district. The Qauid-i-Azam Solar Park Company was then registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

In October 2013, a BS-19 Pakistan Administrative Services officer, Najam Ahmad Shah, was appointed chief executive officer of the company. The company invited expressions of interest for the project. As many as 12 companies applied for pre-qualification. Three of these were shortlisted. Chinese company, Tbea, was then awarded the contract.

“The government invested $131 million in the project. The machinery was imported. The construction has been completed and is in the commissioning process,” Shah said. He said that the project was completed in 12 months, which was less than the benchmark fixed by the NEPRA. “The project was financed by Punjab government and a commercial bank. Ground breaking of the project was held last year on May 9,” Shah added. He said that it would improve the provincial share in electricity allocation.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015. 

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Press freedom day: Karachi declaration issued at media conference

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 18:17

KARACHI: Delegates at the International Media Conference 2015 issued on Sunday a Karachi declaration, calling upon the government of Pakistan to respect as well as implement all international instruments on the protection of journalists, including binding and nonbinding resolutions, covenants and declarations of the United States.

Journalists, editors and media representatives from Pakistan, international and regional organizations met at the International Media Conference held in Karachi which was organised by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ), to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day.

Journalists from 15 countries representing International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and other journalist unions took part and helped finalise the declaration. The conference was also attended by Federal Executive Council (FEC) members and editors and journalists from different newspapers.

They delegates recalled that there was a high number of violations against journalists in Pakistan, in particular the killing of journalists, which has reached over 100 in the last decade. Pakistan has been identified as one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world.

The demanded that instruments on the protection of journalists be implemented within national laws and that the justice system be overhauled to end impunity.

The declaration urged the authorities to establish rights for families of killed journalists for compensation, directly or through media institutions, and the setting up of a solidarity fund for the victims.

Media organisations, they said, have a duty of care and moral responsibility for the safety of all their journalists, in particular news gatherers, staff or freelancers, to provide hostile-environment safety training and equipment, medical care and life insurance.

The declaration also noted that media editors have a responsibility to systematically publicise crimes against journalists, investigate them as thoroughly as possible and expose any failure of government to make the perpetrators account for their crimes.

In the declaration, primacy of quality training and education for journalists, was acknowledged.


It was declared that, in view of journalists being killed every year while carrying out their jobs, most of those incidents of violence remain uninvestigated and unpunished, and that urgent action is required by authorities to put an end to them.


Place the issue of the safety and protection of journalists, at every opportunity, on the agenda of national, regional and international institutions; To work with the IFJ at international level, in particular through the relevant structures of UNESCO, the United Nations and the Human Rights monitoring mechanisms in the United Nations system; To seek the help of the IFJ’s expertise to establish detailed database of all the killed journalists with the view to take legal action whenever possible; Develop amongst its unions and members a culture of being responsible for their own safety and a duty of care towards each other; Continue monitoring the safety of journalists .

Finally, the participants expressed their appreciation and thanks to the Governor of Sindh, Dr Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan, for his efforts to help organise the Karachi International Media Conference.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015. 

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Altaf’s speech: Khurshid Shah condemns statements against army

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 18:17

SUKKUR: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah on Sunday condemned the statements made by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain against the army, saying that such tirade against state institutions is not acceptable.

Addressing the media in Sukkur on Saturday, Shah expressed concerns over MQM supremo’s live telecast.  Opposing resolutions against the MQM chief in provincial legislatures, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwart said that the move sets a bad precedent.

“If we start talking about our armed forces, it will only benefit our enemy. Our enemies want to see turmoil in the country,” the PPP leader said.

In his speech on Friday, the mercurial MQM leader criticised the military and said the party had always been discriminated against. The controversial speech drew sharp reaction from all quarters including the military.

In a series of tweets after the address, the military’s spokesperson lashed out at the MQM chief’s expletive-laden verbal outburst.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015. 

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Price of law enforcement: 7 policemen kidnapped near Rahim Yar Khan

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 18:16

BAHALWALPUR: Seven policemen were abducted on Sunday from a police checkpoint near Rahim Yar Khan, close to the Sindh-Punjab border. Police launched a search and rescue operation but it yielded no results.

An assistant sub-inspector, a head constable and five constables were kidnapped from the checkpoint in the Machka area by the Sultushar gang, said a police official.

An operation was immediately launched to locate and rescue the policemen. The search party also combed the river area with the help of boats.

However, the operation had to be stopped as darkness fell. The search party has set up camp in the locality and will resume their efforts in the morning.

“We have requested additional forces to assist us in the operation,” Rahim Yar Khan DPO Sohail Zafar Chatta said. “We shall succeed in rescuing our colleagues.” He said he was personally monitoring the entire operation.

Until last reports, more than 1,000 police officials from Rahim Yar Khan had been participating in the search and rescue operation. According to the search party, the kidnappers were hiding in the river area.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken notice of the incident and issued orders to the relevant authorities to immediately rescue the abducted police officials and arrest the criminals behind the kidnapping. He said the kidnappers should be meted out harsh sentences.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also taken notice of the abduction and issued directives to rescue the kidnapped policemen as soon as possible.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015. 

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Rigging evidence: PTI chalks out new strategy

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 18:16

As the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) faces difficulties in finding evidence of systematic rigging in 2013 elections, the Imran Khan-led party has started working on a two-pronged strategy: to extract desired statements from its witnesses or establish their own role in rigging the polls.

The PTI is mainly relying on official records, election commission and Nadra’s response, statements of different politicians, and reports from non-profit organisations and media to establish its case before the three-member judicial commission inquiring allegations of electoral fraud during the previous general elections.

The party has presented the names of 14 witnesses to prove its rigging claims. The commission headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk will begin recording their statements on May 6. Three more important people – former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, former chief election commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim and former Nadra chairman Tariq Malik – are also in the PTI’s wish-list who may be called anytime during the proceedings.

The party leaders believe they have credible evidence how Nadra’s report was tampered with after the ouster of Malik and the word “fake” was replaced with “unverified”. The current Nadra chairman, who is believed to be a close friend of National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq’s son from school days, will also be made a party.

PTI leader Ishaq Khakwani also confirmed that neither the list submitted before the commission by the party nor the questionnaire given by the commission was final to prove rigging.

In a recent chat with media persons, PTI chief Imran Khan claimed the party had a video of Punjab’s former caretaker chief minister admitting that officials were not obeying his orders.

Insiders in the PTI told The Express Tribune the party was reluctant to summon former chief election commissioner Ibrahim and former Nadra chairman Malik, who would be contacted with Pakistan Peoples Party’s assistance. In case he is ready to record a favourable statement, then the commission will be requested to arrange a video link with Malik, who now lives in the US, they added.

The sources claimed the party had dropped the idea to rely on former election commission official Afzal Khan for favourable statements.

PTI leader Khakwani said the party had identified Ebrahim and Malik as the key witnesses. The PTI leaders believe that a few instances indicate many aspects of rigging: former chief justice’s “pressure tactics” against the caretaker setup; appointment of Ebrahim as the chief election commissioner despite his alleged involvement in a case related to Pakistan Steel Mills; and the appointment of political parties’ favourites as provincial chief election commissioners.

As a backup plan, in case these officials do not cooperate with the PTI, Khakwani and Jahangir Tareen have been tasked to collect evidence showing a nexus between Ebrahim and Justice Chaudhry, the sources said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015. 

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Pak-China Corridor: Foreign elements fanning doubts: Ranjha

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 18:15

ISLAMABAD: Some foreign elements wanted to create misunderstanding about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Parliamentary Secretary for Information and Broadcasting Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha said talking to PTV. The federal government has already briefed all the political parties and provincial governments on the CPEC, but some elements were unleashing propaganda against the economic corridor. It should be noted that some political parties have objected to the route of the Gwadar-Kashgar road link.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2015.

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Taken: Boy rescued, kidnappers arrested

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 18:15

NOWSHERA: A boy who had been kidnapped for ransom approximately a week ago was rescued by Akbarpura police on Saturday. Two of the accused kidnappers were also arrested. Akbarpura police official Akhtar Naseer said Awal Khan had been abducted by then unidentified men on April 27 from outside his house. According to Naseer, the Nowshera DPO and DSP issued special directives for the recovery of Khan. Evidence led the police to the boy and the two accused abductors Maula Dad of Kohatian, Chamkani and Jehandir, a resident of Mohallah Dhobian in Akbarpura. During initial interrogation, the two men reportedly confessed to having kidnapped Khan for a ransom of Rs1.2 million. Both the accused were later handed over to the counter-terrorism department for further investigation.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015. 

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Déjà vu: Committee on G-B status dubbed a poll ploy

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 18:12

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a recent public meeting announced formation of a committee on the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). It is the fourth such committee in 35 years. The prime minister held out an assurance that the committee’s recommendations will be implemented, but local political parties are sceptical as they believe it is a ploy by the ruling PML-N to win the upcoming elections in the region.

All previous committees had failed to decide the matter. The first committee was constituted by the then prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1975, the second was formed by military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq during his rule, while the third, a subcommittee of the Senate Human Rights Committee, was unveiled during President Asif Zardari’s tenure.

The third committee had been tasked to recommend amendments to the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order 2009 to empower the local populace under political expediency. The PPP government is said to have dealt with the issue halfheartedly.

The key demand of the G-B people is status of a full-fledged province but none of the three committees ever considered their demand and continued to linger on the issue with ad-hoc arrangements.

“The PML-N is also contesting the forthcoming elections for the G-B legislative assembly and the PM’s announcement has come right before the election scheduled for next month,” said Nawaz Khan Naji, the president of Balawaristan National Front (BNF).

The announcement should not be taken as a serious move on the part of the federal government, he told The Express Tribune, adding successive governments in Islamabad since 1948 had denied the people of G-B their economic, political and constitutional rights.

The Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement (GBUM) also rejected the committee. Its Secretary General, Shahzad Agha demanded formation of another committee that comprised local people and representatives of the G-B-based political parties. Let the people of this region decide their destiny themselves.

The president of the G-B chapter of Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) was of the view that the federal government was trying to hoodwink the people with such hollow announcements. He alleged that the present caretaker chief minister and the governor of G-B were appointed to rig the forthcoming polls.

Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, chairman of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and Asad Umar of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are also not convinced that the committee ould be of any utility. “I agree with the political leaders of G-B that the announcement by the prime minister is merely a political stunt. A government that continuously ignored people’s demand for the establishment of a FATA should not make tall claims about G-B,” Sherpao said. Islamabad has also failed to address such issues in Azad Kashmir, he remarked. “I don’t expect an early decision about the future status of Gilgit-Baltistan by the federal government,” Sherpao predicted.

Asad Umer also poured scorn on the committee, saying the move was aimed to win the G-B elections with false and fabricated promises. He was of the view that both PPP and PML-N are trying to exploit the people of G-B.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015. 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Landmine: Four servicemen injured in blast

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 18:03

BANNU: Four members of the security forces were injured on Sunday  when the vehicle they were patrolling in hit a landmine planted by unidentified militants in Spin Warm area of North Waziristan Agency. A security official said that several vehicles of the forces were patrolling the area on Sunday, when one of them hit a landmine. He said four personnel including, Shehzad, Babar, Jamaludding and Saifullah were injured in the blast, while their vehicle was also damaged. Meanwhile, a security forces official was killed and another injured in two separate attacks in South Waziristan Agency on Sunday. Some unidentified militants shot dead an official on duty at a check-post in Sararogha area and fled. Separately, a rocket fired from an undisclosed location hit a check post in Khamrang area of Wana, injuring an official. Security forces have started a search operation in the area, officials said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015. 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Karachi Mubarak Festival: A call to reclaim public spaces

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 17:41

KARACHI: The first session of ‘Karachi Mubarak Festival’ (KMF), organised by MAD School in association with ‘I Am Karachi’, was celebrated at the Aladdin Amusement Park on Saturday.

It was near dusk, with the sky growing dark in the distance, when Aladin Amusement Park transformed into a melting pot of cultures. The diverse populace of Karachi gathered at the park to revere the spirit of the city. KMF is an attempt to celebrate the cultural flamboyance of Karachi through music, art and dance.

The event kicked off with a marching band ushering people into the ground. It was followed by a series of performances to highlight the mix of ethnicities in Karachi.

The first performance was a Balochi dance followed by a Sindhi dance. The flamboyant performers set the stage ablaze with their quirky moves on the traditional tunes.

The next performance was given by LOL Waalay. The improvisational comedy troupe not only gave a riveting performance but also engaged the audience in their act to make them feel a part of their troupe. The whimsical jokes of the troupe made the audience burst into laughter from the beginning till the end.

The performers in the Pashtu dance were garbed in traditional Pukhtun outfits with a red jacket embroidered with golden beads. Their performance was soothing to the eyes as the lights on the stage became blurred and the effect of the sparkling golden beads formed a surreal view.

Performers from ‘We Are One’, a group of five strangers brought together by MAD School’s Lyari Star Project’ gave a performance on Pakistani pop songs. It was followed by ‘The Mobsters’, a dance group of 10 teenagers.

The last performance was given by the Punjabi dancers who enthralled the audience with their moves on the tunes of traditional Punjabi music. The event concluded with the performance of Mai Nimani, a singer from Thar.

The diversity of the festival was a close depiction of the Karachi that ‘I Am Karachi’ campaign wants to achieve. Nida Butt, the director of festival, was positive about the future of the city.

“We have lived under the shadow of violence for a long time and the ‘I Am Karachi’ campaign is a social and cultural response to this problem,” said Butt. “Karachi Mubarak Festival is an endeavour backed by ‘I Am Karachi’ to reclaim our public spaces and fill them with arts, culture, theatre and sports.”

She urged the audience to be a part of upcoming sessions of KMF to be organised in various parts of Karachi. “I invite all residents of Karachi to come out with their families on May 10 and May 16 to join us at Frere Hall and Port Grand, respectively,” Butt said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015. 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

‘Militants’ killed after Rao Anwar attack yet to be identified

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 17:41

KARACHI: The suspected militants killed following an attack on former Malir SSP Rao Anwar on the Malir Link Road on Saturday evening have yet to be identified, while the police have registered a case about the incident.

Anwar is currently facing suspension after he addressed a controversial press conference on Thursday about the arrests of two suspects, Tahir alias Lamba and Mama Junaid, who he claimed were members of the Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing. A joint investigation team has been formed to probe his allegations.

Anwar’s armoured convoy came under attack on Saturday evening when, according to him, he was on his way to visit the site where Bin Qasim DSP Abdul Fateh Sangri was killed on Friday. Assailants on motorcycles and a car hurled a hand grenade at the former SSP’s convoy. Anwar claimed that five suspected militants were killed in the ensuing encounter, while their accomplices escaped.

Although the deceased suspects have yet to be identified, the police believed that they were affiliated with militant outfits. “They may have belonged to alQaeda or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan,” Steel Town SHO Haroon Korai told The Express Tribune, adding that there was so far no development in the case.

The police have registered FIR No 130/15 on behalf of the state against the militants killed and their absconding accomplices under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Further investigations have been initiated.

The bodies of the militants were taken to the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth for identification. “The bodies will remain here while we wait for their heirs,” said Ghulam Hussain, the morgue in-charge, while talking to The Express Tribune. “Some people visited the morgue but they did not return.”

Meanwhile, the bodies of four suspected militants killed late on Saturday night in an alleged encounter with the Counter Terrorism Department in Ittehad Town, Baldia Town, also remained unidentified at the Edhi morgue.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015. 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News