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Opposition announces to move court as SA passes Anti-NAB law

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Opposition parties in Sindh Assembly decided to prepare ‘collective strategy’ and ‘challenge in court’ the Sindh Accountability Act 2017, which was passed by the house with majority vote amid protest and boycott by the opposition benches here on Wednesday.

Addressing joint news conference parliamentary leader of the MQM Syed Sardar Ahmed, parliamentary leader of PML-F Nund Kumar and leaders of other parties said they had made it clear in the meeting of Sindh Assembly’s standing committee that they had serious reservations without removing which the bill should not be tabled.

“We will make collective line of action and will challenge the passage of Anti-NAB law in the court,” said Sardar Ahmed.

Earlier, the house, with speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in Chair, passed with majority vote the Sindh Accountability Act, which will repeal the NAB laws, ending its reach to the Sindh where an independent accountability agency will work. Earlier, Murad Ali Shah came hard on the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 in his Sindh Assembly while delivering his speech, vowing to press for the bill repealing the ordinance.

Earlier in the Sindh Assembly, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (Pakistan) lawmaker Faisal Subzwari had questioned the provincial government’s “mala fide” intention in passing the NAB Repeal Bill which, in his view, was an attempt to protect the corrupt.

Taking offence over Subzwari’s comments, the Sindh chief minister clarified that the government would have “no role in the appointment of a chairman” of the proposed accountability body. The chairman will be appointed by a committee consisting of three members, each from the treasury and opposition benches as well as the speaker, who will have the decisive vote in case of a dispute, said Shah. He also took the opportunity to criticise the federal government for its inaction in certain cases.

The federal government has passed laws regarding NAB and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which enable them to prosecute the government’s own officers, he said, responding to the opposition’s concern that “the cat cannot be the protector of milk.”

“We should let the federal government pass laws for us and we should pass laws for them, or ask another country to pass laws for the country if your argument is to be accepted,” Shah argued. The chief minister also criticised NAB policy of plea bargain and their operations. He claimed that a tractor company which was receiving subsidy from the government was involved in financial irregularities worth Rs1.5 billion but had received a “clean chit” from NAB. “It was only after we reopened the case after NAB closed it, that we found out,” he said. Criticising NAB Ordinance 1999, Shah said that the law was such that no one else could take up a case already taken up by NAB, which was problematic.

Two days earlier, after suffering setback at its last passage the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party deferred “discussion over the Sindh Accountability Act, which was tabled in Sindh Assembly but sent to the Standing Committee for “deliberation” here on Monday. The PPP was expected to start discussion over the act, which was to be followed by its passage from the Assembly. However, sensing the opposition from opposition benches, the PPP sent the bill to standing committee.

On Saturday Sindh Cabinet after thoroughly discussions have taken some important decisions which include of Sindh Accountability Agency, repeal of removal from Service Ordinance, enhancement of differently abled (disabled) persons quota in government jobs and approval of captive power plant subsidy bills. The cabinet meeting was held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at New Sindh Secretariat.

The cabinet discussed the observations of the Sindh Governor on The Sindh Accountability Act 2017 passed by Sindh Assembly. The Sindh Governor raising some constitutional observations has called upon the provincial assembly to reconsider the bill and reject it. The cabinet discussing the observations of the Sindh Governor unanimously approved the draft bill and referred it to the provincial assembly.

Sindh Accountability Act 2017 would apply to all office holders who are performing their functions in connection with affairs and employment of the government funds in the Province. The Sindh Accountability Agency would be headed by its Chairperson. There would be an Accountability Commission consisting of Chairperson of the Agency; Advocate General, Prosecutor General of the Agency; Director General of the Agency; Director, Investigation to review the progress of cases of corruption.

The Chairperson would be a Judge of Sindh High Court or is qualified to be the Judge of High Court; civil servant of grade 21 or above with proven competence, good reputation and high integrity. Chairperson of the Agency shall be nominated by a parliamentary Committee of Sindh Assembly consisting of six members, three each from treasury and opposition named by the Leader of the House and the leader of Opposition. The Committee shall be headed by the Speaker of the Sindh Assembly.

The Sindh Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Act, 1991 and Rules made there under have been repealed. All cases pending with the Anti-Corruption Establishment under the repealed Act; employees recruited by the Anti-Corruption Establishment and all assets and liabilities, including furniture, fixtures machinery and vehicles shall stand transferred to the Agency.

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No military solution to conflict in Afghanistan: Aizaz

F.P Report

Washington DC: Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, addressed members of the Washington-based think tank community, local and international press, and academia, at an exclusive event organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Washington today. Ambassador Chaudhry briefed the audience on Pakistan’s economic turnaround and successes in the fight against terrorism, besides sharing Pakistan’s perspective on key issues and developments in the region.
The Ambassador said that Pakistan’s growth indicators were positive and pointing in the right direction because of the Government of Pakistan’s focus on economic stability and outward looking policies. The Government’s emphasis on building economic connectivity, best symbolized by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, had generated interest among international investors, including those from corporate America. This economic revival had taken place at the same time that the country had successfully turned the corner in its fight against terrorism and extremism. Referring to the great human and material cost entailed in reversing the tide of terrorism when it was ascendant elsewhere in the region, Ambassador Chaudhry said that, “No nation has done more in the fight against terrorism.”

Turning towards regional developments, the Ambassador said Pakistan continued to support an inclusive political reconciliation process in Afghanistan as the only viable path towards obtaining lasting peace in the region. There is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The Ambassador identified key steps for restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan, including intra-Afghan reconciliation, robust border management, repatriation of Afghan refugees and close cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Ambassador Chaudhry stated that the tendency of blaming Pakistan for security incidents inside Afghanistan was unhelpful. There was evidence that militant groups, having fled from Pakistan’s border areas as a result of Pakistan’s operations, had found sanctuaries in Afghanistan’s ungoverned spaces from where they planned and coordinated attacks against both countries.
Ambassador Chaudhry reaffirmed that Pakistan was ready to work with the United States as a partner for achieving peace and security in the region.
Washington DC, 26 July 2017

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At least 21 suspects arrested in Punjab security operations: ISPR

RAWALPINDI (APP): Security forces, with the aid of intelligence agencies, have intensified operations in Punjab and have arrested at least 21 suspects, said a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations. (ISPR).

“Pakistan Rangers Punjab along with CTD, Punjab Police and intelligence agencies have intensified ops in Punjab,” said the statement.

The statement added that the 21 suspects arrested include a Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat terrorist, a gang of kidnappers and unregistered Afghan residents.

The operations were intensified further under directions of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

A suicide bomber earlier this week targetted a group of policemen on Ferozepur road and martyred 26 people, including nine policemen.

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Abducted Pakistani diplomats in Afghanistan recovered

RAWALPINDI (Monitoring Desk): Two Pakistani diplomats abducted in Afghanistan last month have been recovered, the Foreign Office has said.

“The two diplomatic officials of the Consulate General of Pakistan in Jalalabad, who were abducted while travelling from Jalalabad to Torkham on June 16, 2017, have been safely recovered today in Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to the communiqué, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani telephoned Pakistan’s Charge d’Affiares in Kabul to inform that the Afghan security forces had recovered the two officials in a security operation.

Later in the evening, the statement added, the officials were handed over to the Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “They would be flown back to Pakistan to join their families as soon as possible,” it added.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua thanked Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai for safe recovery of the two abducted diplomats.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been tense in recent years, with both countries accusing each other of not doing enough to tackle militants.

Islamabad has said that Kabul is not doing enough to tackle Pakistani Taliban militants who have been driven out of Pakistan, but who still carry out attacks across the border.

Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar province, is a busy trading hub about 70 kilometres from the main border crossing with Pakistan, from which landlocked Afghanistan imports much of its goods.

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Nisar was excluded from PML-N’s consultative meetings, wants to know why: interior ministry

ISLAMABAD (Monitoring Desk): An interior ministry spokesperson on Wednesday, speaking on behalf of Chaudhry Nisar, dismissed media reports stating that efforts were being made to placate the interior minister, who is reportedly angry with the PML-N leadership.

“The truth is that the interior minister had adopted a contrary position on some important matters in the PML-N’s internal meetings, after which he was excluded from the consultative process,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the interior minister seeks an explanation for his exclusion from the PML-N’s meetings. He wants to know if the decision was made due to his contrarian stance, or due to some other reason.

The interior ministry spokesperson further said that unless a clarification is provided, “it will be difficult to resolve problems in a positive manner.”

The statement followed reports on Wednesday that it was unlikely that Nisar would make his political differences with the PML-N leadership public after he was reportedly assured that no change in the chain of command of the federal government would be made against his wishes.

A senior official of the PML-N had talked to media, stating that Nisar’s change of heart came when Finance Minister Ishaq Dar called on him and assured him that no minister junior to him would be nominated as prime minister in case Nawaz Sharif is disqualified by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.

The official said that Nisar had differed with the prime minister over a plan to appoint any minister other than the interior minister as a stopgap arrangement in case the premier was disqualified by the Supreme Court.

The interior minister, who had also reportedly been against the way the government had fought the Panamagate case, had twice invited the media to make an “important announcement”. He had deferred the press conference both times, the latter time in deference to the victims of the Ferozepur Road bombing attack in Lahore.

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Oil tankers association agrees to end strike

KARACHI (PPI): All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association (APOTOA) on Wednesday has announced to end strike after successful negotiations with Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA).

The authorities have assured to resolve the matter in 15 days whereas a committee will also be formed for this purpose. The supply would be restored in 10 to 12 hours as the tankers will start moving following the directives of the representatives.

On the other hand, several cities including Karachi and Quetta are facing dearth of petroleum due to the strike. Only few are providing the fuel with observing long queues. The public transports are also in short number on the roads.

Petrol stations in the Punjab city of Multan had mostly run out of fuel, while in Peshawar and other cities rationing petrol purchases were limited to 1,000 rupees per car and 100 rupees per motorbike.

Earlier, talks between APOTOA and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) failed after which the strike was decided to continue until demands are met. Spokesperson for the OGRA Imran Ghaznavi said that the government would not be ‘blackmailed’ at hands of the association.

The authorities clearly said that they will supply petrol to the stations through trains and NLC if tankers owners will not call off their strike.

OGRA and authorities concerned had tightened noose around oil companies and the association of oil tankers after Ahmedpur East tragedy in Bahawalpur last month that claimed at least 200 lives.

Last month, an oil tanker carrying 50,000 litres of inflammable oil had met an accident on a Bahawalpur road with petrol spilling all around that prompted the locals to stash the commodity. With a couple of hundreds of people gathered, the leaking tanker caught fire causing a blast followed with a blaze.

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26 Afghan soldiers killed in Taliban attack on Kandahar base: MoD

KANDAHAR (AFP): At least 26 Afghan soldiers have been killed and 13 wounded in a Taliban attack on a military base in Kandahar province, the Afghan Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Wednesday, the latest blow to struggling security forces.

The militants “attacked an army camp in Karzali area of Khakrez district of Kandahar last night,” MoD spokesman General Dawlat Waziri said. Afghan soldiers “bravely resisted”, he said, killing more than 80 insurgents.

Residents in the area described an hours-long attack launched by a 30-strong convoy carrying “hundreds” of Taliban who assaulted the base from multiple directions.

Air support was called in, several residents told AFP, though that was not immediately confirmed by officials. The insurgents claimed the attack via their Twitter account.

The resurgent Taliban have been ramping up their campaign against beleaguered government forces, underscoring rising insecurity in the war-torn country throughout the warmer weather fighting season.

Afghan security forces, beset by killings, desertions and nonexistent “ghost soldiers” on the payroll, have been struggling to beat back insurgents since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.

According to US watchdog SIGAR, casualties among Afghan security forces soared by 35 percent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed. The insurgents have carried out more complex attacks against security forces in 2017.

In April more than 140 soldiers are believed to have been killed on a base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, one of the deadliest ever Taliban attacks on a military installation.

While in early March gunmen disguised as doctors stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital — the country´s largest military hospital — in Kabul, killing dozens.

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Sindh Assembly demands PM Nawaz to step down

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution, demanding of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down after losing moral authority to rule the country.

The resolution was presented by Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Khairunisah Mughal and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Khurram Sher Zaman jointly. The resolution was passed unanimously as the PML-N and PM-LF lawmakers had walked out of the house when the resolution was presented. “This house demands that Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif should step down immediately as he has lost moral credibility to hold the all important post of premiership,” reads the resolution.

His act of concealing the facts of declaring assets, producing fake documents before honorable Supreme Court and its JIT and evading taxes has shattered the confidence of the people of Pakistan, said the mover of resolution. “It is therefore the considered opinion of this august house that Nawaz Sharif should resign forthwith”.

Speaking to the house, mover of the resolution Khurram Sher Zaman said that two judges of the Supreme Court had already disqualified the Prime Minister whereas the JIT formed at the directive of full bench has presented undeniable evidences after which it’s immoral for Nawaz Sharif and his family to stay in power.

Nawaz Sharif will not go to Saudi Arabia or Qatar but directly to the jail, he said. He proposed that a chapter should be included in the Sindh textbooks as lesson for people to learn from Nawaz Sharif’s fate.

Khurram Sher Zaman said the prime minister had become ineligible to hold the office, while PPP’s Nisar Khuhro seconded his stance adding that the house would not allow the prime minister to become a political martyr. PPP leader Saeed Ghani came down hard on the ruling party in a statement during the session stating ‘we want a respected leader as our PM.’

Muttahida Quami Movement – Pakistan lawmaker Faisal Subzwari also demanded accountability and end of corruption. “Joint investigation teams should probe all of the 179 mega corruption cases pending with the National Accountability Bureau,” Subzwari said.

On April 24, the speaker of Punjab Assembly blocked the opposition’s move in the house demanding prime minister’s resignation, but allowed the treasury to adopt a resolution reposing full trust in ‘active and sagacious’ leadership of Nawaz Sharif.

While addressing his cabinet in Islamabad on July 13, Nawaz termed the JIT report a pack of ‘allegations and speculations’ and announced that he will not resign as the prime minister on anyone’s call, as the cabinet members suggested that he fight the legal battle to vindicate himself in the Panama Papers case. The assembly session was adjourned till Wednesday.

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COAS Bajwa chairs security meeting, visits Lahore bombing victims

LAHORE (NNI): Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday chaired a security meeting at Corps Headquarters Lahore, during which he was briefed about the suicide attack that occurred a day earlier as well as recent updates from Operation Raddul Fasaad.

While expressing his grief for victims and their families, the COAS said: “Such incidents cannot lower our resolve to eliminate terrorism from its roots.” “We are breaking connectivity between terrorist masterminds and their facilitators,” he added.

While appreciating the police’s role in maintaining peace in Lahore, Gen Bajwa said: “The army fully supports and stands with police and other law enforcement agencies in their role as first responders.”

“We have fought against terrorism as a nation and the key to [successful elimination of terrorist elements] is national participation by reporting every suspicious activity to security forces.”

While discussing recent exchanges between Pakistan and Afghanistan regarding the presence of terrorist elements on each side, the COAS said: “Concurrent blasts at Kabul and Lahore are a testimony of our stance that both Pakistan and Afghanistan are victims of terrorism and will continue to suffer if these actors are able to use Afghanistan’s territory with impunity.”

He reiterated that Pakistan is ready to help Afghanistan to eliminate terrorist safe heavens in their border areas.

Visit to General Hospital

Gen Bajwa also visited Lahore’s General Hospital to inquire after those injured in the suicide bomb attack on July 24.

The blast, which took place near the Arfa Karim IT Tower on Ferozepur Road on Monday afternoon, had taken the lives of 26, nine of them policemen. Another 54 were reported injured in the attack.

According to Rescue 1122, the injured are being treated in various public hospitals in the provincial capital. Lahore’s DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf had said that the blast was a “suicide attack” and that “police were the target”.

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility, stating that a “suicide attacker” had used a motorcycle bomb to target the police officials.

 

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PM Nawaz blames India for jeopardizing Saarc

MALE (INP): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Maldives and Pakistan are agreed to cope the challenges jointly. He said that India has harmed South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and undermined the spirit of the regional forum.

Addressing a joint news conference along with Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in Male on Tuesday, he said both the countries share common views to make SAARC a vibrant organization for regional development.

“India has worked against the SAARC manifesto and targets,” PM said adding that it was essential to reactivate SAAR for the development of the region. Highlighting ties with Maldives, PM said that Pakistan to enhance ties with Maldives in all fields of mutual interest as Pakistan lauded its vision regarding establishment of peace in the region.

“Maldives President supported next SAARC meeting in Islamabad,” PM said. The Prime Minister said he also exchanged views with the Maldivian President over ongoing brutal repression by Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir.
He said Pakistan is ready to extend all possible cooperation to Maldives for welfare and development of its people.

He said the two countries have agreed to enhance cooperation in diverse areas, including trade, education, defence, tourism, and people to people contacts, and several Memoranda of Understanding were signed for the purpose.
The Prime Minister said four joint working committees have been set up to oversee implementation of the MoUs.

He said Pakistan-Maldives Joint Business Council and Joint Working Group have been established. Talking on the occasion, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom said that Pakistan is the trustworthy, durable and old fried and both country will continue their strong ties.

He underlined that both the countries agreed to enhanced ties in civil services, education, tourism, and trade fields.
“To enhance trade ties mutual working group will active again,” he said.

Earlier, a formal welcoming ceremony in honor of the Prime Minister was held at President’s office, where Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom greeted him.

India harmed SAARC and undermined spirit of regional forum: PM A smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces of Maldives presented Guard of Honor to the Prime Minister. Seven gun salute was also offered to greet him.
Nawaz Sharif inspected the Guard of Honor and national anthems of the two countries were played.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom introduced the cabinet members and others to the Prime Minister.
First Lady Kasloom Nawaz and Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz are accompanying the prime minister.India harmed SAARC and undermined spirit of regional forum: PM Nawaz Sharif will be Chief Guest at the celebrations of 52nd Independence Day of Maldives being celebrated tomorrow.

Several Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were signed between Pakistan and Maldives in Maley today.India harmed SAARC and undermined spirit of regional forum: PM These MoUs include cooperation in various sectors like trade and development of human resources, tourism, higher education, climate change and foreign, Civil services.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Maldivian President Abdullah Yamin Abdul Gayoom were also present on the occasion.