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Soldier martyred, terrorist killed in Mastung operation

F.P. Report

RAWALPINDI: One security personnel was martyred, while a terrorist was also killed in an exchange of fire during an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in Balochistan’s Mastung district, on Saturday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

The IBO was being conducted in Kabu area of Mastung, as part of the ongoing military offensive Radd-ul-Fasaad, the ISPR said in a statement.

The exchange of fire also left two terrorists wounded, it said, adding that huge quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from the scene.

In another IBO conducted in Shararah Algad area of North Wazirstan Agency, security forces seized a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, the ISPR said further.

The seized arms included sub-machine guns, self-propelled guns, rocket launchers, mortars, light machine guns, rifles, pistols, grenades, and huge quantity of various calibre ammunition and accessories of various weapons, it added.

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PM Abbasi has one-point agenda to get NRO for Nawaz: Imran

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Saturday alleged that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has a “one-point agenda” to get a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Khan responded to Prime Minister Abbasi’s recent remarks about the Senate polls saying it was common knowledge that “money works” in Senate polls.

“I have been saying this for years: money works in [Senate] polls. Did they not know this before? Now that they have lost, they are [crying] that the elections [were bought].”

“There can be no alliance with corrupt leaders like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari,” the PTI chairman reiterated.

He further claimed that both Nawaz Sharif and former dictator Pervez Musharraf have offered him seats in the past.

Imran Khan also lashed out at rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as he drew attention to provincial budget allocations.

Claiming that 55 percent of Punjab’s budget had been spent on the provincial capital alone, he said, “This amount [spent on Lahore] is three times that of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) budget.”

“Half of the budget of Punjab and Lahore goes towards [construction] of roads,” Khan said, adding that the “people of Multan never needed the Metro Bus service in the first place.”

“Even despite Rs 60 billion spent on Multan’s Metro Bus project, the buses are running empty,” he continued, and called on the National Accountability Bureau to “once again probe the Multan Metro project.”

Taking direct aim at Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Khan asked why the minister and Nawaz Sharif’s ailing wife Begum Kulsoom have had to resort to travelling abroad for medical treatment.

“Shehbaz Sharif failed to build a single hospital during his tenure where he or Begum Kulsoom Nawaz could be treated,” he said, drawing comparison to Shaukat Khanum Hospital. “It is the best hospital [in Pakistan]. I received medical care there twice.”

The PTI chief vowed to continue “informing the public about the ruling party’s corruption.”

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SJ finds contradictions in Sharjeel’s medical report

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Supreme Court of Pakistan on Saturday dispose-off application of Sharjeel Memon – Pakistan Peoples Party’s leader and former minister who is accused of billions of rupees corruption and directed that if Sindh High Court wants it may reconstitute a new medical board.

The apex court observed several contradictions in the medical report prepared by the board of Jinnah Hospital’s doctors.

During earlier hearing earlier this month, the apex court had rejected a medical board setup to determine the illness of Memon and directed to form of board with doctors from Pakistan Army and Punjab province.

The petition for setting up medical board for Memon was heard by Supreme Court bench here at the apex court’s Karachi registry. During the proceedings the court was informed that medical board had been setup, which the august court rejected and directed to form a board comprising of famous neurosurgeon Dr Asif Bashir, a Pakistan Army’s doctor and Dr of a private hospital Dr Athar Inam.  The new board after looking into the previous reports and conducting a checkup of the accused will compile its report within next fifteen days.

During the proceeding Chief Justice asked Inspector General of Police Nusrat Mangan as how many inmates have been shifted to Hospitals and whereSharjeel Inam Memon has and Shahrukh Jatoi had been kept. Mangan informed that Sharjeel was in central whereas Jatoi was in Malir Jail whereas total 9 inmates are in different hospitals of the city due to illness.

The judges asked Rasheed A Rizbi, counsel of Sharjeel Inam Memon, to do treatment of his client in the jail where doctors can be easily called in for treatment.

Chief Justice reprimanded Dr Semi Jamali, head of the emergency services in Jinnah Hospital, when she failed to provide details regarding Sharjeel Memon. Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar, on Saturday ordered to send Pakistan Peoples Party leader Sharjeel Inaam Memon, Shahzeb murder case convict Shahrukh Jatoi and all other prisoners back to Jail who had been living in hospital under the pretext of illness.

Earlier last month, Chief Justice had Expressed his extreme displeasure over the sending the condemned inmate, Shahrukh Jatoi to jail.  “How have you sent a convict who should be in the cell of convicted murderers to hospital,” Chief justice angrily asked Inspector General Prisons, Nusrat Mangan.

Chief justice summoned the report, which reads that the convicted criminal had piles whereas he was shown to have heart disease so that he may be sent to hospital. Chief justice while addressing to Dr Seemin Jamali, head of the emergency services in Jinnah Hospital, said it was the performance of doctors. The Chief Justice said that a board comprising doctors of Punjab will be formed to examine Shahrukh Jatoi.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who took notice of Jatoi’s transfer to Jinnah Hospital from jail premises, Shahrukh Jatoi complained of a heart ailment but it turned out to be piles, the Chief Justice remarked, as he demanded to know the whereabouts of the doctor who prepared the accused’s medical report.

The Chief Justice was further irked when he was told that Jatoi is being kept in Category C jail.

Why is a death sentence suspect being kept in Category C jail, Justice Nisar asked, and summoned a report from the jail administration on how many prisoners have been transferred to hospitals.

Jatoi had previously also served most of his incarceration at the JPMC citing medical issues.

Earlier last month, the Supreme Court had ordered the re-arrest of Jatoi, Siraj Talpur and other convicts in the Shahzeb Khan Murder case, following which Jatoi and the others were taken into custody from the court premises.

The apex court had been moved by members of the civil society against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) decision ordering a re-trial and removal of terrorism charges from the conviction against the accused.

The apex court, instead of accepting the civil society appeal, had taken a sou motu action and nullified the SHC order.

On December 23, 2017, Jatoi, the son of an influential feudal, and other defendants in the Shahzeb Khan murder case, were released from custody on bail after Shahzeb’s father submitted an affidavit in support of the defendant’s bail application.

Shahzeb was gunned down by Jatoi in a posh locality of Karachi on December 25, 2012. An ATC in 2013 had awarded death sentences to Jatoi and Siraj Talpur for the murder of Shahzeb, while life sentences were awarded to Sajjad Ali Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari.

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Malala Yousafzai gets emotional after landing in hometown Swat

SWAT (AFP): Malala Yousafzai landed in the Swat valley Saturday for her first visit back where she was shot in the head by the Taliban more than five years ago.

The visit by the 20-year-old Nobel laureate was kept tightly under wraps and she was accompanied by the Pakistani military, who were providing heavy security, as well as her mother, father and two brothers.

After flying by army helicopter to the northwestern region from Islamabad, she met with friends and family before visiting the all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, some 15 kilometres (nine miles) outside of Mingora, the district’s main town.

She looked happy on arrival at the school, where she is expected to speak with students before returning to Islamabad.

Mingora is where Malala’s family was living and where she was attending school on October 9, 2012, when a gunman boarded her school bus, asked “Who is Malala?”, and shot her.

She was treated first at an army hospital then airlifted to the British city of Birmingham.

Her near-miraculous recovery, and tireless career as an education advocate, have since turned her into a global symbol for human rights, and in 2014 she became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when she was just 17.

The trip comes two days after Malala, currently a student at Oxford University in the UK, made her emotional return to Pakistan, where her unannounced visit has been met with widespread joy and pride.

She broke down in tears as she made a televised speech on Thursday, saying it was her “dream” to be back, and has vowed to Pakistani media that she will return permanently after she has completed her education.

However she has also been met with pockets of intense criticism. Malala is widely respected internationally, but opinion is divided in Pakistan, where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country.

Change 

There had been much speculation within the country over whether Malala would go to Swat during her visit.

The mountainous region, once a prized tourist destination famed for its pristine scenery, was overrun by the Pakistani Taliban in 2007.

The militants imposed a brutal, bloody rule, but the army drove them out in 2009 in an operation widely touted as a success story in Pakistan’s long battle with extremism. Recently restrictions on tourists visiting the area were lifted.

However security has remained fragile, as the assault on Malala three years after the military operation demonstrated. In February this year 11 military personnel were killed in an attack, and analysts have warned the militants still have a presence there.

Residents of the area have praised Malala to AFP in recent days, crediting her with helping to generate improvements in education — especially for girls — in the deeply conservative region, part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Earlier this month an all-girls school built with money from the Malala Fund opened in Shangla district northeast of Mingora, where her family lived before moving to the city.

“This is the kind of task which was impossible to achieve even over two decades,” Shangla district councillor Altaf Hussain Gulab told AFP on Friday. “Malala made it possible in a period of just a couple of years.”

“We have just one Malala today but after a decade or so, we will have Malalas everywhere,” agreed Farman Ullah, a shopkeeper in Shangla.

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PM should challenge Senate polls if he has reservations: Shah Mehmood

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Friday that if Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has reservations over the election of the Senate chairman then he should challenge it, otherwise he should refrain from criticism.

The PTI leader was addressing a gathering, where he asked the prime minister to retract his statements regarding Sadiq Sanjrani, in which he alleged that the newly-elected chairman Senate holds no respect as votes in his favour were bought.

He further said that the government needs to scrutinise its claim of ending load-shedding in the country as it still persists.

Shah said that the time for the National Reconciliation Ordinance is gone as it neither has a place in the law nor in the Constitution.

Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo on Thursday had threatened to lead a protest march toward the capital city upon Abbasi’s failure to retract his earlier statement about the recent Senate elections.

On March 24, while addressing the inauguration ceremony of first ever CCV cable and Aluminium Alloy Plant at Sundur Industrial Area in Lahore, Prime Minister Abbasi had urged the members of the opposition to jointly nominate a new Senate chairman.

“The Senate chairman also serves as the acting president and it is a disgrace to the country that a man who bought votes became the leader of the upper house. Can there be any respect for the country after that?” he said.

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Army called to help extinguish fire on Margalla Hills

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Three days have gone but sudden fire which was erupted on the Margalla Hills on Thursday could not be controlled.

After failure of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Pakistan Army was called to help in extinguishing the fire on Friday.

According to sources, four helicopters and Air Force remained busy in extinguishing the fire while contingents of Pakistan Army and officers were sent to airlift the local people to safer places.

Millions of rupees trees and bushes have been burnt to ash while wild species fleeing towards surrounding hills.

Thousands of people from across Pakistan daily visit the Margalla Hills to enjoy their beauty. But the fire has polluted the pure environment of the capital’s hills.

Visitors, while strongly criticizing failure of the CDA to control over the fire, demanded of the government to take solid measures to control fire and to take action against those found involved in negligence.

It is the responsibility of the CDA to provide security to the Margalla Hills. However, due to the incompetency of the competent authority, the fires have been damaging the beauty of the capital’s hills for the last many years.

It has become a routine affair that the fire erupts in the Margalla Hills and due to incompetency of the authority.

When CDA member planning and Chief Metropolitan Asad Mehmood Kyani contacted, he said that they are putting efforts to control over the fire but the fire area is far away from main road due to which the department officials facing problems in controlling the fire. He said now helicopters are being used to sprinkle water on the fire area.

It is pertinent to mention here that the annual budget of the CDA is equal to the budgets of Baluchistan and AJK. It has been holding responsibility of the Margalla National Park for the past 40 years but it still lacks equipment and machinery to control fire.

The road facility on all sides of the Margalla Hills is available where the equipment and machinery can easily be provided, despite that the fires erupt on the Margalla Hills every year.

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Egypt’s Sisi wins second term with 96.9% of vote: state media

EGYPT (AFP): Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has won a second term with 96.9 percent of valid votes, state media reported on Friday, raising a previous tally from the preliminary count.

The flagship state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram also raised its estimate of turnout in the March 26-28 election to 42.08 percent, saying 25 million of Egypt´s 60 million registered voters had cast ballots.

On Tuesday, the paper had reported that Sisi was reelected with 92 percent of the vote on a turnout of just over 40 percent.

It gave no explanation for the upward revisions.

Sisi, who as army chief ousted Egypt´s first freely elected president — Mohamed Morsi — after mass street protests in 2013, won his first term in 2014 with 96.9 percent of the vote.

The only other candidate on the ballot paper this year, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, won 3.1 percent of the vote, Al-Ahram said.

Moussa, a little-known politician who is himself a supporter of the president, registered immediately before the close date for applications, saving the election from being a one-horse race.

The National Election Authority is scheduled to announce the full official result on Monday.

Moussa conceded defeat on Wednesday evening, saying he had hoped for 10 percent of the vote but knew all along that he was up against the “immense popularity” of the president.

More heavyweight would-be challengers were all sidelined, detained or pulled out.

Opposition groups had called for a boycott of this week´s vote which they labeled a charade.

Even at 42 percent, turnout was down on the 47 percent in the 2014 election despite appeals from Prime Minister Sherif Ismail for voters to fulfill their patriotic duty.

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Fire kills 20 Myanmar migrant workers on bus in Thailand

BANGKOK (Reuters): A fire on board a bus in western Thailand killed 20 migrant workers from Myanmar early on Friday, police said.

The bus was carrying 47 workers who had just crossed the border into Thailand to work legally. Three other people on the bus were injured but the rest escaped unharmed, police said.

“The driver said he saw fire breaking out from the middle of the bus, which then spread quickly,” Kritkanok Dan-udom, the chief of Maetor district police station, told Reuters.

Pictures in Thai media showed the burnt-out shell of the bus.

Thailand’s roads have been ranked as the deadliest in the world after Libya’s, according to the World Health Organization’s most recent study.

Thailand is estimated to have more than 3 million migrant workers, many of whom come from much poorer neighbor Myanmar. Work permit rules were tightened last year.

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Russia gives Britain one month to reduce diplomats

MOSCOW (AFP): Russia on Friday expelled Dutch diplomats and told Britain it had one month to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country, hitting back at EU countries after a coordinated campaign by the UK and its allies over a nerve agent attack on a former spy.

Earlier in the day Russia had summoned the ambassadors of a number of nations including Britain, France, Germany and Canada to inform them of retaliatory measures. Dutch ambassador Renee Jones-Bos said she had been told two diplomats would be expelled. Two of my colleagues are leaving Moscow. But we (the embassy) are staying here,” state news agency TASS quoted her as saying.

The Russian foreign ministry also gave Britain a month to cut its number of diplomatic staff in Russia to the same as Russia has in Britain. Moscow has already announced that it would expel 60 US diplomats and close Washington’s consulate in Saint Petersburg after the expulsion of its own diplomats and the closure of one of its US consulates.

In all, more than 150 Russian diplomats have been ordered out of the US, EU members, NATO countries and other nations in a coordinated action against Moscow, which they accuse of being involved in the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in a nerve agent attack in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

The ambassadors had earlier been seen arriving at the Russian foreign ministry, an AFP journalist reported. The ambassadors will be handed protest notes and told about the Russian side’s retaliatory measures,” the foreign ministry said in a terse statement.

The ministry did not say what those steps would be, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that Moscow would respond with “tit-for-tat” measures, but they might “not only” be symmetrical.

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Pakistanis among 17 dead in Turkey bus crash

ANKARA (AFP): At least 17 people have been killed and another 36 wounded after a bus carrying illegal immigrants, including Pakistanis, hit a lighting pole in eastern Turkey and burst into flames, local media reported on Friday.

The bus, which crashed late Thursday on the Igdir-Kars highway, was carrying nationals from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Images in Turkish media showed smoke rising from the charred bus with its front smashed and migrants lying on the road with bloodied faces.

“When we arrived at the scene we found a… migrant tragedy,” Igdir province governor Enver Unlu told reporters at the scene. “We are deeply saddened that the frequent smuggling of migrants, which goes on in our province, has ended in a traffic accident.”

Health officials said some of the injured were in a serious condition. The bus had capacity for 14 people but over 50 people including women were on board, according to Anadolu.

The Igdir public prosecutor has opened an investigation into the incident while officials sought to identify the driver. 13 illegal migrants were detained by security forces inside another bus, which Anadolu said had been on the same journey as the one involved in the crash.

Road accidents are common in Turkey. Turkish state broadcaster TRT said last month that 3,530 people were killed on the roads in 2017.