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School reopens in Helmand’s Baghran after 30 years

 LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): A school in the Baghran district of southern Helmand province has been reactivated after 30 years, at a time when the Taliban are in control of the district.

Deshu and Baghran are two districts which have been under the Taliban control for the past 15 years and the government has never captured them.

Helmand education director Daud Shah Safari said 15 schools had been approved for Baghran district but only one school reopened in Pai Sang locality.

He said the primary school has around 200 students currently being taught by only four teachers who had studied region while proper administrative mechanism for the school would be set up later.

“The school was made functional with support of religious scholars and tribal elders and efforts are underway to revive all the 15 schools in the district,” he said.

According to Safari, the school was currently being run in an old government building with no chairs, desks and concrete floor, but he promised to equip the school with everything it needs in the coming days.

Provincial Council member Abdul Hameed Akhundzada said schools in Baghran could not be activated because the Taliban’s opposition and people’s lack of interest.

Mohammad Akbar, a resident of Baghran, said he was really happy after the school was made functional in the district.

“One generation of our children was deprived of schooling, it is a positive move that a school has been made operational,” he said.

Governor Mohammad Yasin Khan said the school in Baghran district was reopened with support of local elders and ulema.  He added besides Baghran district, schools in Deshu, Khanshin and other districts would be opened as well.

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Adela Raz becomes Afghanistan’s first female envoy to UN

KABUL (Web Desk): Adela Raz, Deputy Foreign Minister, has been appointed Afghanistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, the first women to be given the most prestigious position in the Afghan diplomatic service since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001.

She will soon replace Ambassador Mahmood Saikhal. He represented Afghanistan in the United Nations with dedication, commitment and active diplomacy.

“Congratulations to Deputy Minister Adela Raz for her appointment as my successor, who I am sure will do an excellent job. I am humbled by the messages of praise and support from friends and colleagues. Thank you all! It has been an absolute pleasure to represent my country at UN with honor and pride,” Saikhal said in a tweet.

Presidential Palace in a degree on Monday has appointed Raz as permanent representative to the United Nations, a move, according to a foreign ministry spokesman, giving a chance for an Afghan woman for the first time to represent Afghanistan in the UN.

She had previously served as the Chief of Staff at the Administrative Office of the former president and the economic secretary of MoFA before serving as Afghanistan envoy to UN.

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Parliament passes Afs 399bn national budget

KABUL (Web Desk): Parliament on Monday passed the Afs 399 billion national budget for FY 2019-2020with a majority of votes, with a major focus on security, infrastructure and governance.

The budget was passed following the proposal mooted in the House by the Finance Ministry for parliamentary approval of appropriation of fund for meeting necessary development and non-development expenditures of the government.

The Afs 399 billion budget is made up of Afs 275 billion ordinary budget and Afs 124 billion development budget.

Government’s priority reflected in the national budget account for security, infrastructure, education, governance, agriculture and rural rehabilitation sectors, with allocations of respectively 41percent, 14percent, 13percent, 9 percent and 8 percent, the ministry said in a statement.

Nearly 49 percent of the national budget is funded from domestic revenues, with the remaining raised from foreign aid.

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Peace negotiator, 5 of his kin, killed in air strike

KABUL (Web Desk): An air strike in volatile Paktia province has reportedly killed a prominent member of the High Peace Council(HPC) and five of his family members in Zurmat district, officials said on Monday, the latest casualties from a surge in air operations into Taliban hideouts amid painstaking efforts to galvanize peace negotiations.

A tribal chieftain and an HPC councilmember Mohammad Naeem was killed along with his brother, a son and three other relativesafter bombs were dropped on his house, said Jannat Khan Mangal, Paktia peace council chief.

Following the tragedy, relatives of the victims staged a protest in Gardez, capital city of Paktia, carrying corpses of the councilmember and his skin in a car.

According to a Zurmat district resident, Afghan and coalition forces launched the air and ground operations in the area.

On the other hand, Paktia security officials confirmed operations, but said they had no accurate information about casualties and identities of those killed.

Airstrikes have recently increased in many provinces of the country against insurgents, but sometimes they caused casualties to civilians.

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Govt distributes relief aid to conflict victims

KABUL (Web Desk): State Ministry for Disaster Management has distributed food items and cash to more than 1,250 needy families in Faryab and Ghor provinces.

Ghor Provincial Disaster Management in cooperation with World Food Program (WFP) has distributed money to 1,200 needy families affected from unnatural disasters in Ghor province, the authority said in a statement.

Statement said that each family received 12,000 afghanis through this humanitarian program.

Similar, Faryab provincial disaster management directorate in cooperation with Save the Children has helped 50 displaced families through relief item and food distribution program.

Statement said that 50 families displaced due to conflict were helped in Shirin Tagab and central city of Maimana.

Each family received flour, oil, rice, blanket and winter cloths in the district, added statement.

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DG ISPR terms 2019 ‘year of progress’

F.P. Report

RAWALPINDI: Director General (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor on Monday termed 2019 a “year of progress”, in pursuit for a peaceful, prosperous and vibrant Pakistan.

“In our national pursuit for a peaceful, prosperous and vibrant Pakistan, 2019 is year of progress,” Maj Gen Ghafoor said on Twitter.

He also expressed the resolve to consolidate their successes and gains.

“United we shall consolidate our successes, In sha Allah. May Allah continues His blessings upon us, Amen,” the DG ISPR said.

The spokesman for the Pakistani military further paid a tribute to resilient Pakistani nation and martyrs for their struggle for a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan.

“Salute to resilient Pakistanis and Martyrs,” he added in his tweet.

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Shireen Mazari, Maleeha Lodhi discuss human rights, gender empowerment issues

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Maliha Lodhi on Monday discussed human rights and gender empowerment issues in Pakistan.

“Pakistan is moving forward on its human rights and gender empowerment commitments and we need to send this message across the globe,” Dr Shireen Mazari said during a meeting with Dr Maleeha Lodhi here at the Ministry of Human Rights.

During the meeting, Pakistan’s commitment to improve the human rights and gender empowerment conditions within country and ways to project Pakistan’s endeavours in this regard at the international level were discussed.

They also deliberated upon the ways to raise Pakistan’s concerns over human rights violations in the Indian held Kashmir and condition of Muslims in the Europe.

The minister apprised Dr Lodhi of the various steps being taken by the government in the direction of gender equality and empowerment. The Pakistani envoy to the UN ensured her to use the platform of the United Nations in order to project Pakistan’s resolve towards human rights and gender empowerment.

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Rangers nab 17 suspects in Karachi raids

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The spokesperson of Sindh Rangers on Monday said the law enforcers apprehended 17 suspects during raids in different areas of Karachi.

He said weapons and drugs were recovered from the suspects. “The criminals were involved in extortion, murder, robbery and drug-peddling,” he said.

The spokesman said the raids were conducted in Kalakot, Landhi, Korangi, Awami Colony, Garden area, Kharadar and Boat Basin.

The paramilitary forces have released its performance report for law enforcement in Karachi reporting decline in terror incidents.

The spokesman of Rangers has stated that the Rangers conducted 4,258 law enforcement operations in Karachi and arrested 2,245 terrorists and criminals and handed them over to the police for prosecution.

The special teams of rangers recovered 12 kidnapped persons in the city.

Four personnel of Rangers were martyred in operations, while nine others were injured while fighting with terrorists, the agency’s spokesperson said.

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References filed against four ex-prime ministers in 2018: NAB report

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed 50 references including against four former prime ministers during 2018.

This has been reported in the yearly performance report of the anti-graft watchdog’s Rawalpindi office.

“Total 50 references were filed including against four former PMs — Nawaz Sharif, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Yousaf Raza Gillani and Shoukat Aziz – and several other influential persons,” said the report.

This year witnessed a great deal of financial embezzlement news as anti-corruption watchdogs delved deeper into illegitimate conducts allegedly committed by powerful politicians and public servants.

The NAB Rawalpindi said 228 million rupees had been submitted to the public exchequer in the outgoing year.

It said 50 persons were rounded up, 90 inquiries were held and 40 of the inquiries were completed. At least 28 new investigations were approved during the year, it added.

The anti-graft body said Rs3, 601 million were recovered from the rental power project. The body said a corruption reference was also lodged against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Babar Awan.

Culprits in the Madarba case were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and fined nine billion rupees, said the NAB.

The accountability bureau said investigations against former finance minister Ishaq Dar and former information technology minister Anusha Rehman were underway in 3-G and 4-G cases. While, inquiry in LNG import case against another senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was also afoot, it added.

“Different other probes are being carried out which include the ones against Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and former prime minister Asif Zardari in Park Lane case; former foreign minister Khawaja Asif in money laundering case and former president Pervez Musharraf as well,” it said.

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CM Punjab directs to ensure law, order on new year’s eve

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has directed the authorities concerned to take best security arrangements to maintain law and order situation in the province in the wake of new year celebrations.

While issuing directions to the Provincial Cabinet Committee on Law and Order, he said implementation of law should be ensured at every cost and indiscriminate action should be taken against the elements engaged in aerial firing.

The chief minister said that senior police officers should remain in the field. He also directed for necessary arrangement to ensure the flow of traffic.

Meanwhile, he felicitated nation on advent of the new year and hoped that 2019 will bring about a prosperous and developed Pakistan.

In his message issued on Monday, Buzdar said that new year will emerge as a harbinger of bright future for the people of Pakistan.

He said that we will leave no stone unturned to transform the country as a peaceful and real welfare state.

“Our commitment is taller than the challenges and 2019 will bring a ray of hope for the Pakistani nation,” he said.