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Withheld coalition funds were reimbursement not assistance, says ambassador to US

WASHINGTON (AFP): Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Chaudhry on Friday clarified that the funds withheld by the US Department of Defence were reimbursement for expenses incurred by Pakistan towards achieving “our common objectives in the fight against terrorism’ and were not assistance.

The Pentagon has withheld $50 million to be paid under the CSF to Pakistan.

The ambassador said that Pakistan had paid a staggering human and financial cost in the fight against terrorism.

“It is a well-known fact that Pakistan’s counter terrorism efforts have resulted in a significant decline in terrorist attacks,” said Chaudhry.

He further said that Pakistan has spearheaded the fight against terrorism and had achieved significant successes.

“Pakistan is maintaining the momentum in fighting terrorism as is evident through Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad and the recently launched Operation Khyber-IV,” said the ambassador.

The US had allotted $900 million to Pakistan under CSF, out of which $550 million has already been reimbursed.

Out of it, $300 million was withdrawn by Congress as part of a broader appropriations act.

The report, quoting a Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump, said however that the withholding of funds did not reduce the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military had undertaken over previous years.

According to the report, the funds were held back after US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said he could not verify that Pakistan had made enough efforts against the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani group, during a US Congress defense committee hearing.

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Friendly fire by US missile kills 16 Afghan policemen

KANDAHAR (AFP) – A US airstrike killed 16 Afghan police and wounded two others in Helmand province, officials said Saturday.

The incident took place Friday 5 pm as Afghan security forces were clearing a village of Taliban elements, Salam Afghan, Helmand police spokesman, told AFP.

“In the strike, 16 Afghan policemen were killed including two commanders. Two other policemen were wounded,” he said.

Omar Zwak, Helmand provincial governor spokesman, confirmed the strike and gave the same account.

It occurred in Gereshk district in Helmand, large parts of which are under Taliban control.

NATO’s mission in Afghanistan issued a statement.

“During a US-supported (Afghan security) operation, aerial fires resulted in the deaths of the friendly Afghan forces who were gathered in a compound,” it said.

“We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families affected by this unfortunate incident,” the statement said, adding there would be a probe into what happened.

The US is the only foreign force in the coalition conducting airstrikes in Afghanistan.

Acting interior ministry spokesman Najeeb Danish gave a lower death toll than the provincial officials.

“The toll we have received is that unfortunately as a result of the strike, we have 12 police forces martyred and no one wounded,” Danish told AFP.

He said a ministry delegation had been sent to the area to investigate the incident and help families of the victims.

There have been a series of incidents involving US airstrikes and Afghans.

In February, a US airstrike in Sangin killed at least 18 civilians, mostly women and children.

Last November 32 Afghan civilians were killed in a US airstrike in the northeastern province of Kunduz.

In October 2015, a US air strike during fighting hit a hospital operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres, killing 42 people and sparking international outrage.

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Imran Khan submits his money trail of London flats

ISLAMABAD (Online): Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan told the SC that English counties he had played for did not maintain records older than 20 years, Imran Khan responded to the Supreme Court’s queries over a petition seeking his disqualification alleging non-disclosure of assets, ownership of offshore companies and receipt of foreign funds for the party.

The counsels of Imran Khan has submitted Imran rejoinder consisting of 24 pages to the court on Saturday.  In line with documents presented to the apex court, Imran started earning money abroad when he started playing cricked during his days as a student at University of Oxford, England.

The details state that Imran was selected to play cricket for Pakistan, also for Worcestershire from 1971. He played for Sussex County from 1977 to 1988. All the payments Imran received had income tax deducted from them at source, the documents state.

Since Imran had to spend his days outside Pakistan to fulfil his commitment to Sussex Country Cricket and to participate in other international cricketing events between 1977 and 1988, he was a non-resident, the statement reads. Therefore, it added, the Pakistani income tax law did not apply to him.

He also played for the Kerry Packer series, a cricket competition between 1977 and 1979, for US$ 25,000 per year. Additional to the earning were airfare, boarding, lodging and prize money. But by 1980 he was the highest paid overseas player in the United Kingdom.

Moreover, Imran also played in Australia for New South Wales between 1984 and 1985, earning Australian Dollar 50,000. In 1984, the documents read, Imran mortgaged a one-bedroom apartment in London through Royal Trust in the name of Niazi Services Limited.

The apartment was purchased for GBP 117,500 on mortgage on 20 years and initial down payment of GBP 61,000 to Royal Trust. As per the statement, Imran made the payment from his savings and earnings he got while playing for Sussex Country Cricket and Kerry Packer series.

According to the documents submitted to the Supreme Court, Imran managed to pay off the mortgage well before its due date as he had a benefit year in 1987 when he earned GBP 190,000 and his savings.

Since Imran made all the money while playing as a professional cricketer, the statement reads. The counsel of Imran Khan said that Imran Khan was not involved in any money laundering.

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Operation Khyber 4: Terrorist hideouts near Pak-Afghan border cleared

PESHAWAR (Monitoring Desk): Several terrorists were killed and their hideouts decimated as the Pakistan Army, along with Special Services Group (SSG), successfully cleared the highest mountain top, Brekh Muhammad Kandao, near the Pak-Afghan border.

“Terrorist hideouts were dismantled, and cache of IEDs, arms and ammunition were seized,” said the ISPR, military’s media wing, on Saturday in updates on the operation code-named Khyber-4.

At least 13 terrorists were killed and six others injured in targeted strikes by PAF jets, Army Aviation and artillery, said the ISPR on Thursday.

Operation Khyber-4 is part of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad or Elimination of Discord, and was launched in February after a sharp uptick in terrorist attacks in the country. It is aimed at “indiscriminately eliminating the residual/latent threat of terrorism”, consolidating the gains made in other military operations.

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Shahbaz to be PM if Nawaz disqualified

ISLAMABAD – Amidst political upheaval, top brass of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PML-N) have pigeonholed Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif as replacement if SC disqualifies Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers Case, sources told Dunya News.

Ruling party has also opted to accept whatever verdict apex court puts forward in Panamagate implementation case to evade any possible confrontation with legal and constitutional bodies.

PML-N arrived at the decision during a sitting of party’s top leadership chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif in the aftermath of Panamagate. Nawaz Shairf’s legal team also briefed him on the developments following reservation of judgment by apex court.

As per details garnered, ruling party contemplated on possible names as replacement if Supreme Court (SC) disqualifies premier. Well-informed inside aware revealed that replacement is aimed at completing five-year constitutional tenure so that all ongoing mega-projects would be completed.

Then, the party would put forth completed projects before masses during electoral campaign in bid to take credit and secure victory in 2018 polls. Second big motif behind completion of tenure is to acquire two-third majority in senate.

PM’s legal team prophesied it is highly unlikely that SC would disqualify him directly. It further narrated that SC would forward the reference to National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq who would have to make judgment within span of 30 days otherwise, the case would fall in jurisdiction of Election Commission of Pakistan.

On the other hand, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar skipped the sitting as rumors of rift surged.

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US stops 50 Million Dollars support to Pakistan

The US Defense Department withheld $50 million in Pakistan military payments after Pentagon chief Jim Mattis accused Islamabad of not doing enough to counter the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, an official said Friday.

“Secretary Mattis told congressional defense committees that he was not able to certify that Pakistan took sufficient actions against the Haqqani network to permit full reimbursement of the fiscal year 2016 Coalition Support Funds,” Pentagon Spokesman Adam Stump said.

The United States had allotted $900m in military aid to Pakistan through the special fund. The country has already received $550m of that, but Mattis’s decision means $50m will be withheld. The remaining $300m was rescinded by Congress as part of a broader appropriations act.

“This decision does not reduce the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military has undertaken over previous years,” Stump said. “Pakistan still has time to take action against the Haqqani network in order to influence the secretary’s certification decision in FY17,” he added.

Led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is also the Taliban’s deputy leader, the group has carried out numerous operations deep in the heart of Kabul and has been blamed by Afghanistan for a devastating truck bombing that killed more than 150 people in the capital in May.

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No one to accept JIT, PTI-led accountability, “this is ‘Istihsal’ in the name of Ehtisab”: PM Nawaz

CHITRAL (INP): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hit out at his opponents on Thursday, saying no one will accept JIT and PTI-led accountability.

“This is not Ehtisab (Accountability) rather Istihsal (Exploitation). “No one will accept this Istihsal in Pakistan, I want to tell the JIT, PTI and politicians that no one will accept accountability from you” he declared while addressing the public during the inauguration of the Lowari Tunnel, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday came down hard on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for what he said its utter failure to fulfill its electoral promise of making a ‘new Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’.

Addressing a public meeting in Chitral after inaugurating Lawari Tunnel, the Prime Minister said that people voted to power those who had made tall claims of making a ‘new Pakistan’ to make a new KP first in 2013 elections. “But they miserable failed,” he said, adding that the PML-N’s federal government was making a ‘new KP’ instead of those ruling the province. He added that the government was installing power plants in the country to eliminate darkness of load shedding and constructing roads and highways to accelerate the pace of economic growth.

He added that whatever development projects were being executed in Chitral were being carried out by the PML-N government not the local government. He said the federal government completed the Lawari tunnel project and was constructing roads in Chitral. He announced that PML-N government would construct a women university in the district.

He questioned whether he got contracts of mines or timbers or did take kickback in any projects. Nawaz Sharif sarcastically said that the JIT members had become ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Amin’. He said that those demanding resignation after getting up every morning should be ashamed. He warned the opponents not to test his patience anymore. “Whether today’s Pakistan is not much better placed than 2013’s Pakistan,” he asked. He added that in 2013 terrorism was at its peak and load shedding was crippling country economy.

Lashing out at PTI and PAT, he said that graves were dug for democracy in Islamabad. “Many shows were put up during last four years, but we did not bow before the forces of chaos and anarchy,” he added. He added that a circus of sit-ins was put up in the country. The Prime Minister said that people rejected the elements in 2008 and 2013 and would reject them in future too. Regarding the Lawari Tunnel project, the Prime Minister said that it would lead to economic growth and promotion of tourism in the area. He congratulated the people of Chitral on completion of tunnel project. Lowari Tunnel, a project connecting Dir with Chitral, is aimed at enhancing economic growth and employment opportunities in the region.

The premier reached Upper Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on Thursday afternoon to inaugurate the tunnel. He was accompanied by KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, adviser Amir Muqam, PML-N leader Pir Sabir Shah and aviation adviser Mehtab Abbasi. Lowari Tunnel, which includes two tunnels (8.5 kilometres and 1.9 kilometres), access roads and 12 bridges (35km), is located on Nowshera-Mardan-Malakand-Chakdara-Chitral National Highway (N-45).

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SC judges question Sharif children’s lawyer on Qatari letters, deed of London flats

ISLAMABAD (Monitoring Desk): As Salman Akram Raja, the lawyer representing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children in the Panamagate case, began his arguments before the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, the judges expressed their displeasure over the “media trial” being conducted outside the court.

A three-member bench of the SC, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, has been holding the proceedings since Monday following the submission of the joint investigation team’s (JIT) report. Lawyer Salman Akram Raja is representing Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz in the case.

“You’ve been conducting a trial in the media — all the documents [submitted to the court] have already been discussed in the media,” remarked Justice Saeed. “There’s a media dais outside, you should give your arguments there as well.”

The counsel, however, told the court that he had not given any documents to the media.

Justice Ejaz Afzal warned the lawyer that if the [prime minister’s] children fail to provide the money trail, Nawaz Sharif would have to suffer the consequences since he holds a public office. “We will be forced to take a decision against the PM [in such circumstances].”

Qatari letters

Raja objected to the JIT’s conclusion that recording Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani’s statement would be unnecessary, urging the court that there should be a complete inquiry into the matter.

The judges, however, dismissed further investigations into the case, saying that since the JIT had completed its work, the documents [relating to the two Qatari letters] had been sent to the registrar. “The court’s decision will be based on the documents.”

Justice Azmat Saeed pointed out that Al-Thani was asked to appear before the court in Pakistan or record his statement at the Pakistan Embassy in Doha, but he declined both options. “Are we all supposed to go to Doha?” he asked.

“Show [us the] the law’s firm account [that carried out the transaction] and the money trail will be evident,” said Justice Ijazul Ahsan. “This is not Panama or Africa, it’s England — all the records will be available.”

The lawyer said Al-Thani could answer the question of the missing records, to which the judge replied that the “Qatari prince has refused to answer even via video link.”

An official letter from Sheikh Al-Thani addressed to the JIT — dated July 17, 2017 — was also submitted in court, in which the former Qatari prime minister verified that he had not “received any confirmation yet” from the JIT regarding his appearance before “any court of law [in Pakistan] or tribunal for any purpose whatsoever.”

The former Qatari prime minister added that upon receiving such confirmation, he would propose a meeting in Doha in the coming week with the JIT “to confirm the veracity of [his] previous two statements.”

The Qatari letters submitted before the SC in the Panamagate case were the mainstay of the defence mounted by the prime minister’s son, Hussain Nawaz, who claimed that the London properties were handed over to the Sharif family by the Al-Thanis under a settlement.

Additional documents given as evidence

Raja submitted further documents on behalf of his clients before the SC, including one acquired from Abu Dhabi customs to show that scrap and machinery from the Gulf Steel Mills did move from Dubai after its liquidation, and an invoice from Ahli Steel Company verifying the shipment of dismantled rolling mill equipment from the Al-Azizia Steel Company.

The lawyer also presented a document from JPCA Ltd, an accountancy firm, dealing with the ownership of Nescoll and Neilsen, as well as papers from Minerva Financial Services Limited, the holding firm for both companies. One of the documents given to the court, confirming an agreement between PM’s cousin Tariq Shafi and Mohammad Abdullah Ahli for the sale of his 25pc shares in Ahli Steel, was shown by TV channels on Wednesday night.

‘Show us the money trail’

A day earlier on Wednesday, the prime minister’s lawyer, Khawaja Harris, concluded his arguments before the bench, trying to draw a distinction between owning an asset and deriving benefits from it. He maintained that the JIT had not accused his client of abusing his authority or committing corruption.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s lawyer, Tariq Hassan, had also presented arguments before the bench. He was told by the court to submit documents instead of a summary to establish that the minister had filed income tax returns between 1981-82 and 2001-02, as well as wealth tax returns from 1985 to 2007.

The apex bench had asked about the PM’s money trail, saying, “We’ve been waiting for it since day one.”

The judges had reminded the PM’s lawyer that the onus of establishing a money trail after claiming ownership of the Avenfield flats was on the Sharif family, adding that the money trail of the flats “remained shrouded in mystery — even to this day.”

The apex bench had also asked the counsel point-blank whether the judges should form their own opinion over the concealment of facts by his client or refer the matter to an accountability court.

The bench had resumed the Panamagate case on Monday, nearly three months after ordering the formation of a JIT to investigate the allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) lead counsel Naeem Bokhari was the first one to present arguments. He had requested that PM Nawaz Sharif should be asked to come to the court for questioning. During his arguments, Bokhari highlighted several findings of the JIT report that he said “incriminate” the Sharif family.

 

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India diverting attention from IOK atrocities: FO

ISLAMABAD (APP): Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said on Thursday that Pakistan strongly condemns Indian troops’ continuous violations along Line of Control (LoC).

Nafees Zakaria was speaking during the weekly media briefing at foreign office.

He also remarked that India has violated ceasefire agreement about 58 times this year, adding that dozens of innocent Kashmiris, including children, have been targeted by Indian troops.

On Wednesday, two Pakistani soldiers and two Kashmiri citizens were martyred in Indian troops firing along the LoC in Nezapir, Sabzkot and Kayani sectors, he said.

“India is not letting United Nations officials do their work,” he remarked, adding India is diverting world’s attention from atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

As many as 138 Kashmiris have been injured in Indian atrocities in IOK and about 54 Kashmiris arrested for raising their voice against Indian government, he added.
Moreover, he also said that peace in Afghanistan will be beneficial for Pakistan during his weekly media briefing on Thursday.

He also shared that about 3,000 scholarships have been granted to students in Afghanistan.

On the US President Donald Trump administration’s policy on Afghanistan, he remarked that that police has yet to be finalised. We can only comment on the policy once it has taken shape, he added.

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PM says elements demanding his resignation, repeatedly rejected by Pakistanis

SIALKOT (NNI): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said that those demanding his resignation have repeatedly been rejected by people of Pakistan.

Addressing members of the business community at Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), he said, “Despite massive pressure and destabilization attempts, the government has launched mega projects in infrastructure and communication sectors worth billions of rupees.” He said, “No one could prove even a penny of corruption. There are no allegations of corruption in public exchequer but his family is being held accountable for forty-four years.” He said, “Today’s Pakistan is much better than the one he inherited in 2013.”

The Prime Minister said, “First attempts were made to destabilize his government through sit-ins on the pretext of rigging in elections, then came the second phase of sit-ins and now he is facing third onslaught. Unscrupulous elements do not understand dynamics of development and are interested in only ousting of Nawaz Sharif.” Nawaz Sharif expressed the confidence that he will emerge victorious. He said, “Never ever in the history of the country so many mega projects in different sectors and regions were launched as were implemented during the last four years.”

The Prime Minister said, “Despite financial constraints, he has embarked upon a comprehensive programme for construction and improvement of motorways and highways.” He said, “Work is progressing ahead on Sialkot-Lahore Motorway besides Lahore-Multan Motorway. Similarly, Karachi-Hyderabad section of Karachi-Lahore Motorway is almost ready for inauguration on 14th of next month. Contract for Sukkur-Hyderabad portion is being awarded.” Referring to Balochistan, the Prime Minister said, “Apart from development activities, steps have been taken to restore peace and as a consequence it has effectively been mainstreamed with the rest of the country.”

The Prime Minister said, “A number of projects in energy sector have been initiated, load-shedding has been reduced significantly and it will be eliminated next year. The cost of generation has come down from Rs 15 a unit in 2013 to Rs 10 a unit now and is set to further slide to Rs 8.” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, “Had there been no negative politics Pakistan could have touched new heights of progress and development.” He pointed out that, “The stock market index that stood at just 19000 points in 2013 surged to over 44000 recently and dropped by ten thousand points due to negative politics.” The Prime Minister announced that Lowari tunnel project has been completed due to keen interest of his Government and he will inaugurate it today (Thursday).

Earlier, the Prime Minister inaugurated Riazuddin Sheikh Business and Trade Centre at SCCI. During interaction, the office-bearers of SCCI and local businessmen stressed continuity of investor-friendly policies under the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister. The business community said, “The Prime Minister’s economic policies had reinforced the confidence of domestic investors and were vital for economic stability.”

The businessmen lauded the economic turnaround achieved under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and expressed satisfaction over the conducive business environment coupled with improved security situation. They appreciated that the government had aptly overcome energy crisis in the country. The businessmen lauded the Prime Minister’s initiative of constructing Lahore-Sialkot Motorway and said it would not only augment economic activities but also connect Sialkot with CPEC. Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir and Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal were also present on the occassion.