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UN hails first step on Syria detainees, cautious on Sochi plan

GENEVA (Reuters): UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said Syria talks in the Kazakh capital Astana on Friday had agreed on a “working group” for the release of detainees, which he said was a commendable first step towards an arrangement between the warring sides.

He also said that Russia’s plan to convene a Syrian “congress of national dialogue” in Sochi next month should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the UN-led Geneva talks on ending the war in Syria.

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Maryam Nawaz likely candidate for Punjab chief ministry

LAHORE (NNI): Maryam Nawaz – daughter of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif who is also the ruling PML-N head – is the likely candidate for Punjab chief ministry, predicted senior political analyst Salman Ghani.

He told that Maryam will contest in both elections of the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly. His informed sources revealed that the emerging politician has started meeting both provincial and federal lawmakers. Nawaz Sharif will retain Punjab and grip its politics to maintain his reputation, Ghani added.

It is worth mentioning that Nawaz Sharif himself confirmed in the recent announcement that his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif will replace him as the PML-N candidate for premiership. Maryam Nawaz had successfully managed the NA-120 election campaign of her mother Kulsoom Nawaz while she was ailing in London.

Ghani predicted that Maryam Nawaz will contest in the 2018 general elections from four seats that are NA-120, NA-123, PP-147 and PP-144. He said that she has launched election campaign in these constituencies already without any formal announcement.

While quoting his sources, Ghani predicted that Nawaz will keep Punjab under his grip through Maryam in view of how she challenged the Supreme Court verdict after his disqualification.

Despite the apparent party consensus for the names of Shehbaz and Maryam next in line, it is too early to consider it the final call as several decisions for the future are due to take place in the PML-N sittings.

Both Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz had joined the the 27-member Central Executive Committee of PML-N earlier this month.

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PM launches scheme for promotion of home remittances through M-wallets

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Prime Minister Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that Government of Pakistan is taking several strategic initiatives to promote inflow of home remittances in the country.

“In continuation of our efforts, I am pleased that GoP in collaboration with the SBP and financial industry is launching a scheme for promotion of home remittances through m-wallets,” he said.

He was addressing the launching ceremony of ‘Promotion of Home Remittances through M-wallet Accounts.’ The Prime Minister said that the scheme will help in channelizing home remittances through Branchless Banking (BB) channels. ‘It will help achieve twin objectives’, said the PM, ‘Firstly, it will facilitate the populace by provision of home remittances in swift, convenient and cost effective manner by utilizing the network of BB agents across Pakistan; secondly, it will help enhance the usage of m-wallets and creation of digital accounts.’ Mr. Abbasi also announced Government’s budgetary support to incentivize home remittances through M–Wallet accounts.

The Prime Minister reminded the audience that since 2013, after coming to power, his party had made significant strides as it stabilized economy, accelerated GDP growth and introduced structural reforms to uplift the living conditions of the common man. He said that financial inclusion is considered as one of the key instruments for economic development. ‘Unfortunately, Pakistan is among the countries accounting for around 5 percent of the world’s unbanked population,’ he said adding ’In Pakistan only 23% of the adult population has access to formal financial services.’

Mr. Abbasi said that in Pakistan remittances have been the second-highest source of foreign exchange earnings for the country, after export receipts. ‘Over the past 10 years, remittances have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 12 percent – one of the highest growth rates for any country in the world,’ he said adding, ‘Pakistan’s relatively better performance in the region is principally attributed to sustained increase in emigrant workers during past few years and supportive policies of the Government and the State Bank.’ He also appreciated the role of the Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) in strong growth in remittances.

Earlier, in his welcoming address, the Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Mr. Tariq Bajwa thanked the Prime Minister for his visit to SBP and launching this important initiative. Introducing the scheme of home remittances through M-Wallets, the Governor stated that that it will help to achieve two objectives: one, increasing financial inclusion in the country; and, two, making transfer of home remittances faster and at low cost, thus competing with informal channels of delivery.

Mr. Bajwa stated that against the clear challenges of limited financial access in the country, SBP has been pursuing a long-term strategy to address financial exclusion through BB regulatory and market-development initiatives. Alternative channels are providing flexible, cost-effective, and convenient modes of doing transactions.

‘The industry has progressed remarkably during last few years,’ said the Governor, adding further, ‘as of June 2017, 27.3 million mobile wallets (branchless banking accounts) have been opened while branchless banking agents have increased to 402,000.’ This growth has resulted in providing basic banking services close to locations of customers, thereby saving their time and travelling costs. “I believe it is high time to leverage technology led banking to provide tailor made solutions to the masses to satisfy their financial needs”, stated the Governor.

While sharing further details, Governor SBP said that all BB providers and individuals receiving home remittances are eligible for this scheme. New category of BB Level 1 (L1) account ’Home Remittances Account (L1-HRA)’ is required for receiving remittances through this scheme. There is no initial deposit and minimum balance requirement. For each USD received, HRA holder will earn air time of Rupee 1 in the registered SIM against the account. The incentive is being provided through public-private partnership shared equally between GoP and BB provider. ‘Through this initiative we will be able to compete with the informal channels on both efficiency and cost,’ the Governor said.

The beneficiaries would be able to withdraw cash from ATMs, respective bank branches or thousands of branchless agents. Further, they would be able to make digital payments to settle their utility bills etc. by using their M-Wallets. The scheme is expected to improve financial inclusion and inflow of home remittances through formal channels in the country significantly, particularly for far flung areas with limited financial infrastructure.

The event was attended by the Ministers, international partners, high ranking Govt. officials, chairmen board of directors of banks & DFIs, SBP board members and CEOs/presidents of banks/DFIs. Presidents of various business chambers and trade bodies were also present on the occasion.

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Murad directs foolproof security arrangements for PSL final

Directs police chief to procure two bulletproof buses


Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that he is keen to bring international cricket back to Karachi, therefore he would provide foolproof security for the PSL final match scheduled to be held in the city on March 25.

This he said while talking to Chairman PCB Najam Sethi who called on him along with his security team here at the CM House here on Friday. Those who attended the meeting include PCB Director Security & Anti-Corruption Mohammad Azam Khan, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, IG Sindh AD Khowaja, Home Secretary Qazi Shahid Pervaiz, Deputy DG Rangers Brig Nasir, Adl. IG Karachi Mushtaq Maher, Commissioner Karachi Aijaz Ali Khan, DIG South Azad Khan and SSP security.

The chief minister said that he has already issued necessary directives to his administration to make foolproof security arrangements for PSL final match. “People of Sindh are excited to receive international cricket players in the city,” he said.

The PCB Chairman said that there should be security rehearsal for PCB event. On this the chief minister directed IG Police and Deputy DG Rangers to make full dress security rehearsal and get it covered by the media. “This would further develop confidence of international cricket in our security arrangement,” he said and directed the IG Police to do the drill within next 30 days as and when requested by PCB security team. He went on saying the provincial government has already provided foolproof security to two important events successfully. They were of Syedna Mufaddal saifuddin Moharram Majalis and other one of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan and now this event would also be held in a most successful way.

Najam Sethi told the chief minister that they would arrange some armored vehicles or bullet proof vehicles to transport the players from airport to hotel and to the stadium. On this, the chief minister directed IG police to procure two bullet proof armored buses. The specification of the armored buses should be in accordance with the international standards; he said and directed the IG Police to make necessary consultation with PCB security team for the purpose. “Mr Sethi, we would do each and everything whatever you want but we want you to bring international cricket back to Karachi,” he asked him in a lighter mood.

Mr Sethi told the chief minister that the repair work of the stadium was in progress. On this IG Police AD Khowaja suggested that SSP security may be inducted into the team of PCB responsible for carrying out repairing work. The SSP security would suggest installation of walk through gates, Installation of CCTV cameras, construction exit and entry points in accordance with security requirement etc. The meeting decided to involve the SSP security in the repair work.

It may be noted that PSL final match would be played in Karachi on March 25. Mr Najam Sethi lauded the efforts of the chief minister for restoring peace in the city. “You have done your job successfully,” he said.

The chief minister directed IG police, Home secretary and PCB team to coordinate with each other for further decisions.

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Indian brutalities can’t deprive Kashmiris of right to self-determination: Shehbaz

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has said that India must realize that Kashmiri people cannot be deprived of their inalienable right to self-determination through continued brutalities.

He was talking to a high-level parliamentary delegation of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) comprising of Ministers and members of the legislative assembly and led by the AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan which called on him here on Friday. Both the leaders strongly condemned the Indian brutalities against unarmed Kashmiri people in occupied Kashmir and violations of line of control.

Shehbaz Sharif said that international conscience is needed to be awakened over the worst form of carnalities committed by the Indian occupied army against unarmed Kashmiris. He said the government of PML-N is providing sufficient funds for different programs aiming at providing basic necessities of life to the people of Azad Kashmir; adding that wonderful steps have been taken for the development and prosperity of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. There is no example of such steps taken for the welfare of the AJK people in the seventy years’ history of the country, he added.

The Punjab Chief Minister said that funds have been provided by the Punjab government from its budget for the development and prosperity of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Meanwhile, the students of AJK are also fully benefiting from the educational schemes of the Punjab government along with other provinces.

Shehbaz vowed that Punjab will continue to lend a helping hand for the betterment of the AJK people in future, as well. The development of Azad Jammu and Kashmir is in fact the progress of Pakistan and we all have to cover this journey of development collectively, he added. The Chief Minister also assured to solve the problems of the refugees settled in the Punjab province.

Speaking on the occasion, AJK PM Raja Farooq Haider said that Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has set new records of public welfare and Punjab province has been made a glowing example of development due to the hard work and vision of Shehbaz Sharif.

The speed and work quality of Shehbaz Sharif is an example of its own and the people of other provinces are appreciative of the exemplary role played by Shehbaz Sharif for the development of Punjab. Punjab government has given the proof of its love for the Kashmiri people by providing resources for the development of AJK, he added.

The AJK delegation was comprised of Ministers including Syed Shaukat, Ch. Aziz, Chairman Public Accounts Committee Ch. Muhammad Ishaq, members of the legislative assembly including Mian Yasir Rashid, Javed Akhter, Raja Muhammad Siddique and others. Provincial Minister Malik Nadeem Kamran, Chairman P&D, SMBR and others were also present on the occasion.

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Christmas terror bid foiled as three terrorists arrested in Muzaffargarh

F.P. Report

MUZAFFARGARH: The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) foiled a terror bid by arresting three terrorists during an operation in Muzaffargarh early Friday, CTD officials said.

The terrorists belong to a banned outfit and were plotting an attack during Christmas festivities, CTD said.

Hand grenades were among the ammunition seized from the terrorists during the operation.

Meanwhile, in Multan, two terrorists were gunned down during a CTD encounter, officials said.

The CTD team, on a tip-off about the presence of five or six terrorists affiliated with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, conducted a raid on a compound near Jalalpur Pirwala. As the security personnel warned the suspects to surrender, they restored to firing.

In retaliatory fire, two of the terrorists were killed while three others managed to escape the scene taking advantage of the darkness.

CTD also seized ammunition from their possession, included an automatic rifle and a pistol.

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Want to tell people reason behind my ouster: Nawaz Sharif

LAHORE (NNI): Disqualified premier Nawaz Sharif has said on Friday that he wants to let the people of Pakistan know the reason behind the punishment he was subjected to in form of his disqualification from the premiership.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Nawaz Sharif convened a meeting with senior members of the political front in capital city of Punjab today.

The PML-N chief discussed political scenario of Pakistan among matters of importance.

Reportedly, Nawaz Sharif instructed the authorities to prepare for a rally in Kot Momin of Sargodha and issued directives for the local body representatives as well as the Members of Provincial Assembly (MPA) to ensure a successful public display of power.

Nawaz Sharif is to address a political rally on December 31 in Tehsil Kot Momin of District Sargodha.

The ruling PML-N chief was disqualified by the top court in a corruption probe on July 28 this year following which the party criticised the verdict and Nawaz Sharif led a rally from Islamabad to Lahore using Grand Trunk Road which headlined as the GT Road homecoming .

The PML-N chief announced earlier this week that Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shehbaz Sharif is going to be party s candidate for premiership after General Elections 2018.

Meanwhile, it should be added here that daughter of the ousted premier, Maryam Nawaz is reportedly to contest for Punjab Chief Minister.

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Citizen moves SC against Daniyal Aziz

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: A writ petition has been filed against Federal Minister for Privatization Daniyal Aziz in Supreme Court on expressing contemptuous remarks against members of Panama bench.

The petitioner Nadeem Nisar in his petition has adopted that Daniyal Aziz has expressed contemptuous remarks against honorable judge of member of Panama bench.

“The Federal Minister is busy in contemptuous campaign against judiciary and violating his oath. His speech in this regard is highlighted on social media despite presence of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif”, the petitioner added.

The petitioner added that Federal Minister has hatched conspiracy to influence on pending cases in Supreme Court.

In the petition, it is requested that orders be issued to remove the hated and contemptuous speech of Daniyal Aziz from social media and legal action be taken against him under contempt of court ordinance 2003.

It is worth mentioning here that petitioner hails from home constituency of Federal Minister Daniyal Aziz.

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Ferozabad torture case: Nephew of DSP arrested on complaint of victim’s father

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): The nephew of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ferozabad Yaqoob Jatt was arrested on Friday in connection with the torture of young men by police officials.

The case against the nephew was registered by one of the victim’s father, who was also threatened by the DSP’s nephew, Chaudhry Qadeer Younus. Younus had threatened the teenager’s father with dire consequences if he pursued the case and for bringing the case to the media’s attention.

The DSP was suspended on Thursday, however, no legal action has been taken against him for torturing citizens.  Jatt was subsequently ordered to report to the City Police Officer (CPO).

As reported earlier, three teenagers — accused of teasing girls in the Police Lines area — were allegedly tortured by police officials, following which their families staged a protest outside the police station.

In a statement to Geo News on Thursday evening, Jatt admitted assaulting the young men after receiving reports that they had teased girls.

“They were teasing our girls from Police Lines. I beat up a policeman’s son and two boys,” he had commented.

Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for Sindh Mushtaq Mahar has appointed Sultan Khawaja — the Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) for East — as the investigation officer for this case.

Mahar had ordered a report to be submitted and action be taken against the policemen if they are found responsible for the torture.

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13 outlaws held; 72 wine bottles and 30 liter liquor recovered

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Police have arrested 13 outlaws from various areas of the city and recovered 3.30 kilogram hashish, 835 gram heroin, 72 wine bottles and 30 liter liquor from them, a police spokesman said.

Following directions of Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Sajid Kiani, he said that efforts were accelerated against anti-social elements. ASIs Gul Khan and Haider Ali from Sabzi Mandi police station arrested Nauman Ashraf and Shehbaz Daud and recovered two 30 bore pistols from them.

Sub-Inspector Asif Hussain nabbed Tahir Khan for having 335 gram heroin while ASI Fawad Khalid arrested Majeed Masih for having 30 liter wine. Sub-Inspector Shabbir Ahmed from Kohsar police arrested Niaz and recovered 1700 gram hashish from them while ASI Muhammad Rasheed arrested Aakash Masih for possessing 500 gram heroin. ASI Rai Imran from Karachi Company police arrested Reham Khan for having 20 liter alcohol while Sub-Inspector Rab Nawaz from Tarnol police arrested Tufrail for having 1100 gram hashish.

ASI Ibrar Hussain from Shalimar police arrested Ahsan Farooq and Asif Hyat for having wine while Zahid Mehmud was held in possession of 10 wine bottles. Sub-Inspector Aashsiq Hussain from Induustrial area police arrested Hamza Khan for having one wine bottle while ASI Saeed recovered 48 wine bottles from a car (LHM-1807).

Sub-Inspector Muhammad Haneef from Khana police arrested Afzaal Ashraf and recovered 230 gram hashish from him. Cases have been registered against these nabbed persons and further investigation is underway from them.

SSP Islamabad Sajid Kiani has appreciated this performance and directed all police officials for vigilant policing in their respective areas.