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Afghanistan wants world powers to ramp up pressure on Pakistan: US envoy

UNITED NATIONS (AFP): Returning from a UN Security Council visit to Afghanistan, US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday stressed the Kabul government wants world powers to step up pressure on Pakistan.

Haley joined the 14 other council envoys for talks with top Afghan leaders in Kabul at the weekend as the government considers holding peace talks with the Taliban to end decades of insurgency.

“They feel confident that the Taliban will be coming to the table,” Haley told reporters at UN headquarters.

While the peace talks will be Afghan-led, the Kabul government did request that the Security Council weigh in to bring Pakistan onboard.

“They did ask us for consensus to put further pressure on Pakistan to come to the table and change their behavior,” Haley said.

The Afghan government is making strides towards stability, she said, and “continue to make ten steps forward and with Pakistan they feel like they continue to take steps backward.”

“As long as they are supporting terrorism in Pakistan, the Afghan community is continuing to feel it is not safe,” she said.

Haley did not specify what measures could be taken to pressure Pakistan, but the council does have the power to impose sanctions.
Pakistan has long been accused of supporting the Taliban and various militant groups in Afghanistan — charges it denies.

President Donald Trump has frozen US payments of military aid to Pakistan, worth $900 million, saying Pakistan is not doing enough to target Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani militant group.

A question mark also hangs over a further $1 billion of US military equipment for Pakistan.

US officials believe that Pakistan’s intelligence agency and military have long helped fund and arm the Taliban to counter rising Indian influence in Afghanistan, whose government is backed by the US.

The Afghan government also requested council help to address narcotics production and trafficking, looking at “every country that moves them,” said Haley.

The council visit – the first since 2010 – comes as the government holds a conference next month to present its strategy for reaching a settlement with armed groups.

Kazakhstan’s Ambassador Kairat Umarov, who led the council trip, said parliamentary elections must take place this year and be transparent “to ensure the credibility of the government” and “prevent further destabilization.”

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CJCSC highlights Pakistan’s counter terrorism efforts at NATO Military Committee

F.P. Report

RAWALPINDI: Chairman Joints Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC) Committee, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat highlighted the efforts and achievements of Pakistan Armed Forces in counter terrorism domain at Chiefs of Staff session of NATO Military Committee in Brussels.

According to ISPR, the CJCSC attended Chiefs of Staff session of NATO Military Committee attended by representatives of 66 NATO and partner nations. The committee discussed peace and security matters.

General Zubair Mahmood Hayat also informed the participants about Pakistan Army’s efforts towards regional peace by special security measures along Pak-Afghan border including raising of additional FC forces and fencing.

On sidelines of the meeting, the CJCSC also met with General Kostarakos, Chairman European Union Military Committee and military representatives from Australia, Turkey, Jordan, Canada and Germany.

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Imran Khan holds Sharif Brothers responsible for Model Town tragedy

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan has held the Sharif Brothers responsible for the Model Town tragedy.

Addressing the protest rally jointly organized by the opposition parties at Mall Road on Wednesday, Imran Khan said that there is no place in the world where police open straight fire at innocent citizens protesting for their rights but police killed shot dead innocent people in Punjab.

He said that 11 children were killed in Kasur but the government adversely failed to endow justice to their heirs.

Imran Khan announced to support chairman of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri for his campaign to seek justice for the victims of the Model Town tragedy.

The PAT-led protest rally has brought various opposition parties including two big forces – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – at one stage.

Earlier, chairman Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri said that the opposition parties have gathered at the protest rally just to end the rule of the Sharifia Empire and they don’t want to over-rule the Constitution.

He demanded resigns from Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah over the tragedy of Model Town.

Co-chairperson Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari said that there is no danger for Pakistan but it is threatened only from Jati Umra and we have to topple its government.

Among others spoke on the occasion, were opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah of PPP, Syed Mustafa Kamal, convener Paksarzameen Party (PSP), Qamar Zaman Kaira of PPP, Chaudhry Aitezaz Ahsan of PPP, Sheikh Rasheed of Awami Muslim League.

Khursheed Shah said that the opposition parties gathered here at Mall Road just for seeking justice.

The big protest rally has brought arch-rivals Asif Zardari and Imran Khan together at one stage to topple Shahbaz Sharif government.

The rally was also attended by Khursheed Shah, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan and Qamar Zaman Kaira of PPP and senior PTI leader Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar and Pervaiz Elahi of PML-Q.

The protests were announced by the PAT seeking to remove PML-N government when it failed to provide justice to the Model Town victims.

Earlier, the Lahore High Court (LHC) allowed PAT to hold protest rally with a condition to wrap it up by 12 midnight. The media was also directed to not cover the rally after midnight.

A full bench, led by Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan, issued the order on a petition moved by Naeem Mir, a local trader. Justice Shahid Jamil Khan and Justice Shahid Karim Khan were the other members of the bench.

When the hearing resumed on Wednesday, the Advocate General Punjab informed the court about the steps taken by the authorities to stop the protest rally.

The AG said that the protest organizers have already been informed of the court rulings and relevant laws in this regard.

Advocate Asad Manzoor Butt, the counsel of the petitioner, argued that the planned protest on The Mall was an open violation of law and tantamount to destroying businesses besides other challenges for citizens.

The counsel argued that the protest was unconstitutional as all the opposition parties had come out against an elected government. He said the protests caused loss of millions of rupees.

Advocate AK Dogar had adopted the similar contention. Both the petitioners asked the court to order the government authorities to stop the protest.

Latif Khosa, counsel for the protesters said that it is their right to launch protests against injustices and the parties have not decided on the future course of action.

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NAB Lahore summons Punjab CM Shehbaz in connection with corruption scam

F.P. Report

LAHORE: According to media reports, the National Accountability Bureau (N-AB) Lahore has summoned Punjab chief minister Sheh-baz Sharif on January 22 in connection with the Ashiana housing scheme inquiry.

The bureau has been conducting an inquiry against the officials of the Punjab Land Development Company (PL-DC), Lahore Casa Develo-pers, Lahore Development Authority and others, said a notification issued by NAB Lahore on Wednesday even-ing.

The Punjab chief minister is called upon to appear before a combined investigation team and record his statement on January 22, read a letter by NAB Lahore.

NAB Lahore has been conducting an inquiry against management/officials of Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC), Lahore Casa Developers, Lahore Development Authority and others, it said.

The letter read that the prima facie Shehbaz Sharif, being the Punjab chief minister, ordered “cancellation of award of contract of Ashiana-e-Iqbal to successful bidder M/s Ch Latif and Sons, leading to award of contract to M/s Lahore Casa Developers (J.V), a proxy of M/s Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which resulted into loss of Rs193 million approximately.”

Shehbaz directed “PLDC to assign the project Ashiana-e-Iqbal to Lahore Development Authority (LDA) resulting into award of contract to M/s Lahore Casa Developers (JV), thus causing loss of Rs715 million approximately and ultimately failure of project,” it said.

The letter further said that Shehbaz “directed PLDC to award consultancy services of Ashiana-e-Iqbal project to M/s Engineering Consultancy Services Punjab (ECSP) for Rs192 million approximately, whereas actual cost was Rs35 million as quoted by NESPAK.”

The aim of the Ashiana housing scheme – an initiative of the Punjab government, was to provide economical and adequate residential facilities to the people with low-incomes and the government had invested Rs2 billion while acquiring 672 kanals of land in the Muloani Harlan area near Darbar Baba Noor Shah.

NAB’s probing into illegal housing schemes.

Earlier, the bureau had asked for the complete details of both the Ashiana housing scheme and the Paragon housing society for an investigation into the illegal housing schemes matter.

The NAB’s decisions ca-me following the complaints regarding an ‘illegal deal’ be-tween the companies overlo-oking the affairs of the Paragon housing scheme and the Punjab Land Devel-opment Company (PLDC), which allegedly involved 3,000 kanals of government land.

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Sh. Rasheed announces to quit from NA seat

F.P. Report

LAHORE: President Awami Muslim League (AML), Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad while addressing the Mally Road rally jointly organized by opposition parties has announced resignation from his seat in the National Assembly.

Speaking to the participants of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) hosted protest joined by various other opposition parties in Lahore on Wednesday, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said, “I resign from my National Assembly (Rawalpindi) seat.”

The Rawalpindi-based lawmaker from NA-55 constituency reasoned that he will resign in protest to express solidarity with the opposition that united against the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

He suggested that PTI Chairman Imran Khan should also resign from the seat in order to create pressure on the ruling party.

Rasheed said that it is his dream to see the Imran Khan as the prime minister of the country, and that he will be disappointed if that doesn’t happen. He further advised the opposition parties to become united for the dissolution of assemblies.

In reaction, Tahirul Qadri hugged Rasheed after his resignation announcement.

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IHC rejects Dar’s petition against accountability court proceedings

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday rejected former finance minister, Ishaq Dar’s petition to suspend the accountability court order of declaring him as a proclaimed offender.

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar, is facing a corruption of possessing more assets comparing to his declared sources of income. NAB filed a case against him in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case.

Hearing Dar’s plea, the two-member IHC bench also ended the stay order on the accountability court proceedings against him

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Pakistan can survive without US aid: FM Asif

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said that Pakistan can survive without the United State aid and adding that as a sovereign nation we cannot afford to hear the same taunts again in future.

Khawaja Asif said this while talking to media outside the Parliament on Wednesday. He said that US wants to improve relation with Pakistan and the recent visit of a senior US State Department official clearly indicated that they wants revival of the relations.

He added that President Donald Trump is wrongly considering the Coalition Support Fund as aid and I think he don’t know about it or intentionally keeping silence over it.

Regarding the Israeli PM visit to India, FM added that the nexus between Israel and India is decades long.

Earlier, on January 12, the ISPR said Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa informed US Centcom Commander General Joseph Votel and a US senator in phone calls over the week that Pakistan will continue its “sincere counter-terrorism efforts” even without US financial support in accordance with its own national interest and will remain committed to bringing the effort to its logical conclusion along with other stakeholders.

 

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Drone strike injures one in Kurram agency

F.P. Report

PARACHINAR: One person was injured in a drone strike in Badshah Kot area of Lower Kurram Agency on Wednesday.

The private news channel reported that a missile fired from a drone and it hit the house in Badsha Kot area of Kurram, which is one of the seven tribal agencies of Pakistan.

Earlier, in December last year, at least two people were reported killed in a drone attack near Pak-Afghan border and in October as many as 31 people were killed in three drone strikes targeting areas near the Pak-Afghan border in Afghanistan over a span of 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

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LHC reserves verdict on petition against PAT’s protest in Lahore

F.P. Report

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) reserved its verdict on a appeal filed against the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) led opposition alliance’s protest rally being held on the Mall Road today (Wednesday).

Chief of PAT, Dr. Tahirul Qadri-led Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) announced to launch the protest and all the major political parties favored their call and announced its participation in the protest rally on Wednesday (today), the basic aim of the protest to end the PML-N government in the Punjab province and federal in wake of Model Town incident.

AK Dogar filed a petition in the name of the lawyer’s forum yesterday and it was heard by a larger bench headed by Justice Aminuddin Khan and comprising Justices Shahid Jamil Khan and Shahid Karim.

Advocate General Punjab Shakeel Rehman and former governor of Punjab Lateef Khosa attended the hearing, while home secretary failed to appear before the court.

The petitioners said that the protest will create problems for the people and the blockade of road will also create economic hindrances and adding the protest will create disruption in the whole country.

 

Dogar added that the government should not have right to govern if it cannot implement the laws and adding that the government can stop the protest by using force.

He also asked the court to order the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to bar media houses from giving coverage to the protest.

The court asked PAT counsel regarding time duration of the protest. In response, Advocate Azhar Siidiqui said that he had heard PAT chief Tahirul Qadri say that the protest will not be called off until Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif resign.

 

 

 

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Man resembling of Kasur rape case suspect held in Lahore

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Police have reportedly arrested the main accused in the seven years old Zainab murdered case, from Lahore and declaring it a major development.

The private news channel reported that the suspected who lookalikes to a person can be seen in a CCTV footage from Bhatta Chowk which is an area of Lahore.

The suspected person was shifted to a nearby police station and according media report the suspect has confessed his crime of raping and killing the seven years old Zainab in Kasur.

Zainab was kidnapped on January 4 when she was on her way to Holy Quran class. Her body was discovered five days later from a garbage pile. The post-mortem report revealed that the minor girl had been raped and murdered.

Police believe the suspect is a serial killer as the same DNA found in previous assault cases in which nine girls, ages five to 10 years, were raped and killed seven of them.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also took suo moto notice of the Kasur rape case and summoned all investigators on next hearing, going to be held on Sunday.