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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.

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26 people, including 9 policemen martyred in Lahore blast

F.P. Report

LAHORE: 26 people have been martyred in a suspected suicide attack in the Ferozepur area of the provincial capital on Monday afternoon, confirmed DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf Speaking to media, DIG Operations confirmed nine policemen were martyred in the blast.

57 people were also injured in the explosion. Many of the injured are said to be in critical condition. DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf said a police picket was targeted in the attack. “We are collecting evidence and this could be a suicide bombing. The death toll includes police and civilians.”

Police sources said a suicide attacker targetted police personnel deployed at the site, media reported. The explosion took place near the Arfa Karim IT Tower. Several motorcycles and at least one vehicle were destroyed in the explosion.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, addressing a press conference, said terrorism can not be ruled out as the motive behind the explosion. He added that security forces are conducting their investigations.

Sanaullah further said that the government has started a security operation against terror organisations and the situation is much better when compared to 2011-12.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan confirmed that an anti-encroachment drive was being conducted at the time explosion. Anti-riot police personnel were deployed at the spot among others.

Rescue and relief efforts underway the area was cordoned off by a heavy contingent of security forces and the section of the road leading towards Lahore was sealed. Forensic experts are conducting investigation in to the attack.

The injured were shifted to Jinnah Hospital, Lahore General Hospital and Ittefaq Hospital. Several of the injured are in critical condition, Geo News reported. Police personnel are also among those injured. An emergency was imposed in the city’s hospitals.

Identity of those killed in the explosion has not yet been ascertained as of yet.  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the blast. He directed authorities to provide all possible medical assistance to wound of the suicide attack.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has condemned the blast and has directed the Army to provide immediate relief and rescue. Army troops have also reached the site.

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Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan admires efforts of Pak Army

RAWALPINDI (APP): Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan and Resolute Support Mission (RSM), General John W. Nicholson, called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Monday where the two discussed terrorism and regional security situation.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations, the army chief raised concern over the blame game perpetrated by some quarters in Afghanistan and the United States to undermine the contribution of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

He said it’s not a coincidence that this theme is being played at a time when policy review is being undertaken in the US. He said Pakistan will continue to act positively despite provocations as the armed forces consider war on terror a part of national interest.

Important issues including border management, regional stability and peace came under discussion. General Nicholson has appreciation the professionalism of Pakistan Army and admired resilience of the people of Pakistan during war on terror.

The two agreed to enhance cooperation and highlighted the need for continuous engagement between forces in both countries.

COAS Bajwa and Gen Nicholson converged on the need to increase coordination for peace and stability in the region. Also, the meeting was also attended by the United States Ambassador David Hale.

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24 killed as car bomb explodes in western Kabul

KABUL (AFP): At least 24 people have been killed and 42 wounded after a Taliban car bomb struck a bus carrying government employees in western Kabul on Monday, officials said, in the latest attack to strike the Afghan capital.

“The car bomb hit a bus carrying employees of the ministry of mines during rush hour,” interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast that hit a busy neighbourhood of the Afghan capital just before 7am (0230 GMT).

The bombing comes as the resurgent militant group has stepped up attacks across the country in recent days, with several new districts falling to the Taliban over the weekend.

The blast hit an area of the capital that is home to many Shia Hazaras, a persecuted ethnic minority who have been targeted many times in the past.

It is also near the home of prominent politician and former warlord Mohammad Mohaqeq. Omid Maisom Mohaqiq, a spokesman for the politician, said the bomb had detonated near the first checkpoint approaching the house, “killing and wounding some civilians”.

An AFP photographer at the scene saw multiple bodies and wounded people in the street, surrounded by shattered glass as security forces cordoned off the area.

The charred remains of the bus stood in the middle of the road and a black column of smoke from the explosion hung in the air.

An army truck and forklifts were attempting to remove the carcass of the bus as ambulances as well as taxis and private cars ferried the injured to nearby hospitals, an AFP photographer said.

One-year anniversary

Kabul’s Hazara community, on Monday, were due to mark the one-year anniversary of an attack in the heart of the capital that killed 84 and wounded more than 300 people, mostly members of the ethnic minority.

That attack was the first in Afghanistan claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group, which has since carried out multiple attacks targeting the country’s Shia minority.

The Hazara community were due to hold a demonstration to mark the July 23, 2016 tragedy, but had agreed to postpone the march after meeting with President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday.

Kabul is regularly rocked by suicide bombs and attacks. A recent UN report showed that attacks on the capital accounted for nearly one-fifth of all civilian Afghan casualties in the first half of 2017.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which has been documenting civilian casualties since 2009, said in its recent report that 1,662 civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured in the first six months of the year.

Many died in a single devastating attack in Kabul in late May when a truck bomb exploded, also during the morning rush hour, killing more than 150 people and injuring hundreds.

UNAMA put the civilian death toll at 92, saying it was the deadliest incident to hit the country since 2001. The bloody toll for the first six months of 2017 has unsettled the government and put increasing pressure on President Ghani.

Protests and deadly street clashes hit the Afghan capital in the wake of the May attack as people incensed by security failures called for his government’s resignation.

The UNAMA report also said that nearly half of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces have seen an increase in civilian deaths in the first six months of the year, mainly due to the rise in attacks by anti-government forces across the country.

Nato’s combat mission in Afghanistan ended three years ago, handing sole responsibility to the country’s security forces, which have also suffered spiralling casualties as they try to beat back the resurgent Taliban and contain the growing threat from IS.

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Nawaz Sharif rejects JIT charge he hid UAE employment

ISLAMABAD (Monitoring Desk): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had declared his chairmanship of FZE Capital as well as his Iqama [employment contract] in the nomination papers he submitted prior to the last general elections.

This was stated in a 25-page reply submitted by the premier’s counsel to the apex court on Sunday.

The detailed response was submitted by the prime minister’s counsel, Khawaja Harris, in the chambers of the Supreme Court judges.

The reply states that Nawaz Sharif’s Iqama as well as his employment in UAE were shown in the copy of his passport which was attached to the nomination papers the premier submitted with the Election Commission of Pakistan in 2013. The premier’s counsel writes that as there was no separate column in the nomination papers, his employment and Iqama were not mentioned there directly.

It is also stated in the response that Nawaz Sharif is the chairman of FZE Capital, a Dubai-based company.
The reply also clarified that the premier was not the chairman of Chaudhry Sugar Mills, as stated in the Panama case Joint Investigation Team’s final report. It reveals that the prime minister, however, was a shareholder in the company till June 2016.

The reply states further that the prime minister never attempted to hide these facts, as declared by the JIT.

The seal of the Returning Officer for NA-120, Lahore, is also stamped on the nomination papers, proving that they are verified by election officials.