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Khawaja Asif leaves for US to resume bilateral talks

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has left for the United States on a three-day official visit on Tuesday to resume the bilateral talks with the aim to ease tensions between the two countries after the US president Donald Trump allegations against Pakistan.

US vice President Mike Pence invited the Pakistani delegation for talks to wash out the misunderstanding between two countries, this he asked during the meeting with the PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Khawaja Asif will meet US Secretary of State Tillerson on October 4 and will also address the gathering at the US Institute of Peace in Washington to discuss US-Pakistan relations on October 5.

After the President Trump allegations against Pakistan for providing safe heavens to the terrorists, the tensions was on the rise between the two ally countries and also create difference on the Afghanistan issued among two countries.

Trump’s speech has not only strained Pakistan-US relations but can seriously impact US interests in Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation, as well as stability in the region.

 

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PAT challenges controversial Election Bill 2017 in LHC

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) on Tuesday filed a petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the Elections Bill 2017 and pleading to declare it null and void.

PML-N passed the Election Bill 2017 from the National Assembly on Monday after clearing it from the senate and the said bill pave way for Nawaz Sharif to hold a party position despite that he was disqualified in panama case by Supreme Court.

The PAT said in the petition the recently passed bill is against the constitution by allowing a disqualified person to head a political party.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Sheikh Rasheed-led Awami Muslim League have also decided to challenge the law.

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PM Abbasi, Khursheed Shah discusses new name for Chairman NAB

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Leader of Opposition in National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah discussed  the appointment of new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Khursheed Shah told media after the meeting that he consulted the PM Abbasi on the name of new chairman NAB and likely he will meet again the PM on Tuesday.

Shah added that he talked and consulted with all opposition parties apart from PTI and MQM and he was hopeful that the name of new Chairman will soon be finalized.

According to reports, Khursheed Shah also held meeting with PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the meeting with the PM Abbasi for the appointment of new chairman NAB.

Khursheed Shah also called upon Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and briefed him about his meeting with the prime minister in connection of appointment of new chairman NAB.

 

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NA approves Electoral Reforms Bill 2017

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 has been approved in the National Assembly on Monday (October 2) amid ruckus by the opposition members in Assembly.

Among the bill’s clauses is a controversial amendment that will allow politicians disqualified from holding public office to head a political party.

The bill when tabled in the Assembly had provoked strong protests from the opposition, as its members started tearing up the copies of the bill and chanted slogans against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

However, law minister Zahid Hamid tabled the bill in the parliament and the opposition members tore copies of the bill and circled National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq s dais to record their protest.

After the speaker refused to allow Khursheed Shah to speak, opposition members began shouting anti-government slogans and also tore copies of the bill.

Addressing the House, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the clause that was proposed to be added in the bill contradicted with the Article 62 and Article 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

PTI vice chairman demanded exclusion of Section 203 in the draft. Qureshi said that the provision would be challenged in the courts. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Clause 203 of the legislation, which pertains to the eligibility of persons to hold office in a political party, is “against the spirit of the Constitution.” Qureshi said that the clause pertaining to the eligibility of parliamentarians to hold party office was being removed solely to protect ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The PTI leader added that omission of the clause ? which states that any person ineligible to hold office as an MNA is also ineligible to hold the position of head of a political party ? was contrary to the Consitution as it would allow a disqualified individual to take charge of political affairs of a party.

“The Constitution says that any person not qualified under Article 62 and 63 (cannot hold office),” Qureshi said, adding that the Supreme Court had set precedent on the matter by disqualifying Nawaz under Article 62(1)(f) in the Panama Papers case.

Urging the government to reconsider the bill and include the omitted clause, Qureshi said that if the bill was passed in its present form, his party would approach the courts.

Members of the opposition chanted slogans and protested against the proceedings of the House.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed, amid chants of ‘shame shame’ from the PML-N lawmakers, addressed the lawmakers and said that the House was moving to risk democracy by mending the laws for a person.

Sheikh Rashid stated that democracy would suffer if the bill was passed.

“This law is being passed for one person,” Rasheed said. “I am going to the Supreme Court,” he declared.

“We know what games they [the ruling party] are going to play in the country,” Rasheed said.

He claimed that the government was going to play with the dignity of the polls in Pakistan.

The AML leader said that Pakistan has never in the history bore satisfactory results of any clash.

Session of the assembly was previously to be convened on October 4 but it was rescheduled for October 2.

“The reality behind Clause 203 has been hidden from us,” Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah asid as he presented proposed amendments to the bill.

Tariqullah said that it was condemnable that the legislation could allow a person who had been disqualified by the Supreme Court to hold office.

 

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Indian LoC firing leaves one local martyred, four wounded

RAWALPINDI (NNI): A local was martyred and four others wounded in another violation of the ceasefire by Indian troops at the Line on Control on Monday.

According to Inter Services Public Reltions, a local named Muhammad Deen embraced martyrdom while four others were injured in the cross-border firing of the aggressor’s forces in Rakh Chakri Sector.

Pak Army responded befittingly to Indian firing and destroyed their two check-posts.

The ISPR also released the video of destruction of Indian check-posts.

Meanwhile, Indian Deputy High Commissioner was summoned to Foreign Office in Islamabad Monday to lodge protest over the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian forces at Rukh Chakri and Rawalakot Sectors on Line of Control.

The Director General South Asia and SAARC Dr. Mohammad Faisal on this occasion condemned the ceasefire violations resulted in the shahadat of three civilians, and injuries to five others, including a woman.

He said the deliberate targeting of civilians is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity and international human rights laws.

The Director General said ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.

He urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement, investigate this and other incidents of violations, and instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC.

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Kurdish referendum in Iraq lacks legitimacy, says FO

ISLAMABAD (APP): The spokesperson for the Foreign Office (FO) said on Monday that the Kurdish referendum held in Iraq lacks legitimacy.

“The referendum violates the Iraqi constitution and therefore lacks any legitimacy,” said spokesperson Nafees Zakaria.

The FO added that the referendum presents a challenge to peace and stability of Iraq.

“Pakistan is deeply concerned over the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.”

Pakistan reiterated its support for Iraq and further said the country fully supports Iraq’s unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

“Pakistan joins Iraq and its neighbors, along with the international community, in its opposition to this referendum.”

The government reaffirmed its “full support for the government and people of Iraq” and added that Pakistan is concerned at attempts aimed at threatening the territorial integrity of Iraq or any other country in the region.

The Kurds, who have ruled over an autonomous region within Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, consider the referendum to be a historic step in a generations-old quest for a state of their own.

Iraq considers the vote unconstitutional, especially as it was held not only within the Kurdish region itself but also on disputed territory held by Kurds elsewhere in northern Iraq.

The United States, major European countries and neighbors Turkey and Iran strongly opposed the decision to hold the referendum, which they described as destabilizing at a time when all sides are still fighting against Islamic State militants.

The Iraqi government earlier ruled out talks on Kurdish independence and Turkey threatened to impose a blockade.

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Imran terms Ahsan Iqbal’s Rangers criticism a premeditated move

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday branded Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal’s media talk outside the Judicial Complex a premeditated move to save the ruling Sharif family from facing accountability.

The PTI chief addressed a press conference in Islamabad Monday over the Rangers matter and branded the statement and criticism by Ahsan Iqbal a premeditated move.

“They are intentionally targeting army and state institutions to save a disqualified man from accountability,” Khan said. “Ahsan Iqbal was staging a drama and his real intention was to save put pressure of judiciary. In democracy, you have to be accountable for your actions,” he claimed.

The government, he alleged, was bent upon starting a confrontation with state institutions to save a disqualified person. He further said that the PML-N leaders were running a propaganda campaign against judges and their observations. “Democracy can be harmed by inducting criminals in political parties. How can a disqualified person lead a political party?” he questioned.

Imran Khan said that the political party would attempt to block the electoral reforms bill in the National Assembly. He had earlier branded failure to block the bill in the Senate an embarrassment for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and reiterated the statement today in the press conference. He hailed vice chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Shah Mehmood Qureshi the best parliamentarian and branded him the best potential opposition leader for the House.

Khan claimed that a fresh election could save the country from anymore trouble. He said that PTI would approach other political parties to check the reforms bill in the National Assembly. He said that democracy would suffer if Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz opens its doors to criminals.

The PTI chief asserted that the lawmakers were criticising the armed forces for no reason. He rhetorically asked if Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had the only responsibility of protecting a criminal, Nawaz Sharif. Nowhere in the world a disqualified leader in the re-elected as the party president, Khan complained.

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At least 58 dead in Las Vegas shooting

LAS VEGAS (AFP): A gunman killed 58 people and wounded 515 otehrs when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

“The number of people who have died associated with this event has increased. Right now we’re using the number of 58,” Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters. “The number of injured – we are using the number of 515.”

According to police, the gunman, a Nevada resident identified as Stephen Paddock, had been found dead after a SWAT team responded to reports of multiple gunfire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, a hotel-casino next to the concert venue.

“We believe the individual killed himself prior to our entry,” Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told a news conference in the Nevada gambling hub. At least eight rifles were recovered from the room that had been rented by the 64-year-old.

Concert-goers screamed and fled in panic as a steady stream of automatic gunfire rang out at the venue shortly after 10pm local time, footage captured on smartphones showed. Lombardo told reporters that initial estimates had put the number of dead “at in excess of 50 individuals” while more than 200 had been injured.

In a later statement, police put the number of dead at 50 and said the number of people taken to hospital at approximately 406, although it was not immediately clear if that figure included anyone who was later pronounced dead.

Police said Paddock, who lived in a town around 80 miles northeast (130 kilometers) of Las Vegas, had opened fire on the crowds below from the upper reaches of the giant hotel located on the famous Las Vegas Strip.

Paddock’s female companion, who had earlier been named as a person of interest by police, is believed to have been located, Lombardo added. Thousands of fans were attending the concert next to the Mandalay Bay as part of a three-day country music festival known as Route 91.

Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city, known primarily for its gambling, shopping and entertainment. Video on the festival’s website showed stage set up outside the front of the Mandalay Bay.

The hotel is near McCarran International Airport, which said on Twitter it had temporarily halted flights after the shooting. Later, the airport said that some flights had resumed.

One Twitter user posted that the casino hotel was on lockdown, while another, citing police scanners, said two gunmen who had shot at a bodyguard and police were on the 32nd floor, although there was no confirmation from police.

Video clips posted online showed what sounded like automatic weapons as panicked concertgoers fled or dropped to the ground screaming.

Witnesses heard numerous gunshots at the hotel, where police tactical teams were searching for the attacker, according to reports on CNN and in the New York Times.

Islamic State group claims attack

The Islamic State group claimed the shooting massacre, saying it was carried out by one of its “soldiers” who had “converted to Islam several months ago”.

“The executor of the Las Vegas attack is a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried out the operation as a response” to calls to target countries engaged in military action, IS’s propaganda outlet Amaq said in online statements. It provided no evidence to back up its claim.

‘No evidence Las Vegas shooter tied to militant group’

However, two senior US officials said there was no evidence that the shooter tied to any international militant group.

One of the two officials said there was reason to believe that the shooter had a history of psychological problems.

 

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Rangers are subordinate of interior ministry: Ahsan Iqbal

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister, Ahsan Iqbal was angry over the Rangers force after being disallowed by the Rangers to enter the court complex where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif hearing was under way, Ahsan Iqbal said that Rangers is under my ministry and they have to follow my orders otherwise I will resign from the ministry.

This he while talking to media persons outside the court premises on Monday. Ahsan Iqbal said that he waited 15 minutes for Ranger commanders which is unacceptable and whoever has done this disciplinary action will be taken against him as the Rangers are subordinate to my ministry and they are supposed to work under the command of the civil administration and they will be punish to challenge the writ of the state.

Interior Minister said that it is the right of Nawaz’s supporters, legal aides and media to attend the hearing as “closed trials are a hallmark of martial laws”. He said the commissioner had made special arrangements for those who wanted to attend the hearing as space is limited.

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Nawaz’s indictment delayed to Oct 9

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz sons and son in law while the bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz daughter, Maryam Nawaz remain standing.

The accountability court hearing three corruption references against the Sharif family on Monday shows displeasure over the absence of Nawaz children before the court in the corruption references.

Khawaja Haris, Advocate of Nawaz Sharif informed the court during the hearing that Nawaz children are busy in tending to their mother in London and will appear in court once she is better.

Mohsin Ranjha, a member of legal team told media that the indictment of Nawaz Sharif was delayed to October 9 on the next hearing. The court has been assured that Maryam and her husband MNA Safdar will appear before the court, he added.

Earlier, when Nawaz arrived at the court, around 2,000 personnel of the police and Rangers had been deployed in and around the judicial complex in Sector G-11 and Nawaz Sharif was accompanied by Senator Asif Kirmani, and only his vehicle was allowed to enter the complex.

Media representatives, as well as supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and members of the government, were barred from entering the judicial complex.

This resulted in a delay of other hearings scheduled inside the complex, as lawyers and litigants were also barred from entering.