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Supreme Court forms three larger, five regular benches for this week

ISLAMABAD (APP): Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed has constituted three larger benches and five regular benches at the principal seat Islamabad to hear a number of important cases during the next week, starting from Monday.

On Monday, a five-member larger bench headed by the CJP and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi will announce opinion on the reference filed by President Dr Arif Alvi under Article 186 of the Constitution of Pakistan regarding elections for the members of the Senate of Pakistan.

On Monday, a 10-member larger bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice YAhya Afridi, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan would hear petition filed by SC judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Mrs Sarina Isa, Supreme Court Bar Association, Sindh High Court Bar Association and others regarding proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

On Tuesday, a five-me-mber larger bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Ban-dial and comprising Just-ice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, J-ustice Munib Akhtar and J-ustice Yahya Afridi would hear Wajid Ayeb petiton re-garding concealment of a-ssts in local bodies election.

The first bench is comprised of Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi while the second bench is comprised of Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Yahya Afridi.

The third bench is comprised of Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Munib Akhtar. Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed will be members of the fourth bench, while the fifth bench will consist of Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan.

The benches will hear many important cases including service and pension matters of government employees, educational institutions matters, labour cases, appeals against death sentences and life imprisonment, appeals against acquittal of accused in murder and corruption cases, bail appeals in NAB cases, election petitions of different politicians, post-arrest bail plea filed by former Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah and NAB appeals seeking cancellation of bail of Syed Khursheed Shah’s family members according to NAB on receipt of multiple complaints against the petitioner Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, MNA that he is richest man in the Sindh beyond his known sources of income. The NAB conducted inquiry and investigation whereby collected the evidence against him and filed a Reference in NAB Court Sukkur. He was nominated the accused No.1 in the Reference No.17/2019 along with seventeen others. The Petitioner/ accused in connivance with other co-accused persons accumulated assets beyond their known sources to the tune of Rs.1,229,449,803/-, which are disproportionate to their known sources of income, cases against mashroom growth of law colleges, Balochistan government petition challenging the vires of Shariah Nizam-e-ADI Regulation 2009, evacuee trust properties cases, pre-arrest bail plea filed by Danish and according to NAB the accused in their own capacities, misused their authorities; conducted fake elections of Managing Committee of the Society, issued fake audit report and illegally registered sub-leases of 47 residential plots and thus aided and abated co-accused to usurp land of the Society, pre-arrest bail plea filed by Muhammad Ibrahim offe-nce under section 164 (2) (4) of Sindh Land Revenue Act, 1967. Petitioner had issued fake ownership documents of 36-00 Acres of Prime Land situated in District East, Karachi Scheme-33 and cases relating to PEMRA license.

According to cause lists, no adjournment on any ground will be granted and no application for adjournment through fax will be placed before the court. Furthermore, if the counsel is unable to appear for any reason, the advocate-on-record will be required to argue the case.

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Bilawal predicts surprising results in Senate polls

ISLAMABAD (TLTP): Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday predicted “surprising results” in upcoming Senate elections following Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) recent victories in by-polls held across the country.

“PDM has challenged the government on every front… it defeated the government in by-polls as well. We will send this puppet government and the Prime Minister packing,” he said at a news conference flanked by PDM head Maulana Fazlur Rehman and former premier Yousaf Raza Gillani on Sunday.

The joint presser took place following a meeting between the leadership of PPP and Jamiat Ulema-e-Isalm-Fazl.

Bilawal said the opposition alliance wants to give a message to the masses that even the members of the government are not with the federal government in Senate elections. “We are very much hopeful that our candidates would give surprising results in the Senate polls,” he added.

He said that PML-N was also winning by-polls in NA-75 Sialkot-IV constituency but the PTI government rigged the elections.

To a question about MQM skipping dinner organised by the PTI-led government, Bilawal revealed that they are holding dialogue with MQM and other government allies. “MQM was elected from Karachi. However, the federal government has rendered Karachi an orphan,” the PPP chief said.

Bilawal claimed that every party in KP, whether a part of PDM or not, is on the same page against the PTI government. “We are united… all parties including PML-N, PPP, JUI-F, ANP and JI are united,” he added.

The PPP chairman hoped that the Supreme Court would give its verdict on mode of voting in Senate polls “as per the law and constitution”, adding that the alliance is however prepared for both scenarios — secret or open ballot.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, speaking on the occasion, said that PDM is not just an electoral alliance but a movement, adding that all the parties are united to oust the ‘puppet government’. “It is good news that PDM is fighting elections with a united strategy in all four provinces,” he maintained.

He said that there will be a meeting of PDM after the Senate polls to devise future strategy of the alliance. “Getting rid of such rulers would be a big service to the people of Pakistan,” he maintained.

The JUI-F chief said that the government benches are disappointed and fear their loss in Senate elections.

“There was some apprehension that the parties in PDM may lose their candidates to each other but now we are confident that no such thing will happen.”

He lamented the killing of three of his party workers, saying that Pakistan was becoming a lawless country with incompetent rulers at the helm.

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Apex Court to hear Justice Isa’s review petition today

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Supreme Court (SC) will hear the review petition filed by Supreme Court Judge, Justice Qazi Faez Isa in the Presidential reference filed against him seeking an additional review of the ruling on the presidential reference filed against him on December 08, 2019.

The SC judge along with other petitioners including his wife Mrs. Sarina Isa, Supreme Court Bar Asso-ciation, SHC Bar Assoc-iation and others had so-ught review and removal of paragraph 2 to 11 of the June 19, 2020 verdict.

A 10-member larger bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice YAhya Afridi, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan would hear petition on Monday (March 1).

Recently, a six-member bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial had referred the matter to the chief justice to include judges who wrote dissenting notes in the presidential reference against Justice Isa.

The Supreme Court Judge had initiated the proceedings over Justice Isa’s alleged non-disclosure in wealth returns of three London properties acquired on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015.

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SC to hear PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah’s bail plea on Wednesday

ISLAMABAD (APP): Supreme Court of Pakistan will hear bail plea of former opposition leader in National Assembly and senior leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah on Wednesday (March 3).

According to details, a three member bench presided by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Yahya Afridi would hear the bail pleas filed by Syed Khyrsheed Ahmed Shah and his son Syed Farukh Ahmed Shah.

The court, while fixing the plea for hearing, sent notice to prosecutor NAB.

NAB had alleged that it conducted inquiry against Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, MNA on receipt of multiple complaints that he was richest man in the Sindh beyond his known sources of income and investigation whereby collected the evidence against him and filed a Reference in NAB Court Sukkur.

He was nominated the accused No.1 in the Reference No.17/2019 along with seventeen others and the Petitioner/ accused in connivance with other co-accused persons accumulated assets beyond their known sources to the tune of Rs 1.229 billion which were disproportionate to their known sources of income, it added.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had also approached the Supreme Court against the decision to grant bail to Syed Khursheed Shah’s son-in-law, wife and others.

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Value-addition of horticulture produce crucial to boost exports: President

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Sunday said value-addition of horticulture produce was crucial for Pakistan to boost its exports and get an edge in the highly competitive international market.

Addressing at a seminar on ‘Trade Potential of Pakistan Citrus – From Roots to Trade Routes’, the President said it was important for the country to improve quality standards of local fresh fruits with improved packaging and preservation to attract high-end markets.

The seminar organized by Ministry of Commerce and Sargodha Chamber of Commerce and Industry here at Aiwan-e-Sadr was attended by traders, exporters and horticulture experts of citrus.

President Alvi said Pakistan was rich in production of citrus being the world’s sixth largest producer of superior quality Kinnow, however stressed an effective policy to broaden its exports.

He said phytosanitation – a systematic approach of pest prevention in food crops, and organic farming could enhance yields besides reducing the chances of rejection by the importing countries citing ‘unsafe’ produce. He mentioned that China, Japan, Korea and several other developed countries could prove attractive markets for Pakistan’s fresh fruits and emphasized the need for adopting their stringent food standard policies. Dr Alvi said food security was important for economic stability, adding that water conservation and bio-diversity were need of the hour. He expressed concern that improper treatment and preservation of crops mainly wheat and rice resulted in infestation and led to loss of quality stuff for export purposes.

The President called for investment in phytosanitation and applicable market-related research as a ‘way forward to translate benefit of yield into revenue’.

He urged exporters to be mindful of presentation of packaged fruits by sorting out blemish-free produce and ensuring preservation timeline from production till delivery to consumers.

Dr Alvi said embassies could play an important role for introducing the country’s fruits to the taste-buds of consumers across the glove by organizing festivals particularly of Kinnow, mango and apricot. He recalled that as President of Pakistan, he sent the gift of Pakistan’s King fruit mango to the world leaders as goodwill gesture. The President visited the stalls of citrus with a variety of Kinnows, Musambi, Eureka Lemon and Grapefruit put on display and lauded the efforts of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Sargodha Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Earlier, Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam said the country’s 24,000 hectares land was producing citrus with this year’s production recorded 2.3 million ton. He said putting in place an effective phytosanitation system for pre-shipment examination was key to address the problems of pests. Secretary Chamber of Commerce and Industries Muhammad Saleh Ahmed Farooqi said the country recorded 25 percent growth of citrus fruit in first seven months this fiscal year.

He said the government was working on a strategy to set up National Export Development Fund to be headed by the Prime Minister, which would galvanize partnership between academia and industry for best yield and exports.

President Sargodha Chamber of Commerce and Industries Malik Asif Ameer said Sargodha was known as ‘California of Pakistan’ for its citrus orchards with over 160 processing units.

He suggested removal of impediments by establishing Free Trade Agreements and setting up a dry port in the city to capture bigger citrus market. With total production of around 2.3 million tons, Pakistan exports annually about 0.44 million tons of citrus valued at around US$ 166 million. Pakistan produces more than 30 types of different fruits amongst which citrus leads with a share of about 30 percent of the total fruit production. About 20 percent of citrus produced in Pakistan is exported to over 30 countries including high-end and regional markets.

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COVID-19 claims 23 lives, infects 1,176 more people

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The national tally on Sunday of total active COVID-19 cases recorded 21,836 with 1,176 more people tested positive for the deadly virus and 2,502 people recovered from the disease during the last 24 hours.

As many as 23 corona patients have died during past 24 hours, 22 of them were under treatment in hospital and one in their respective quarantines and homes on Saturday, according to the latest update issued by the National command and Operation Centre (NCOC). During the last 24 hours most of the deaths had occurred in the Punjab followed by Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Out of the total 23 deaths, 10 people died, were under treatment, on ventilators. The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major areas including Multan 18 percent, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 28 percent, Peshawar 18 percent and Lahore 35 percent. The maximum Oxygen beds (alternate oxygen providing facility other than ventilator administered as per medical requirement of COVID patient) was also occupied in Four major areas of Gujrat 94 percent, Peshawar 36 percent, Mirpur 23 percent, and Lahore 23 percent and ICT 24 percent. Around 218 ventilators were occupied elsewhere in the country while no COVID affected person was on ventilator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Balochistan. Some 38,920 tests were conducted across the country on Saturday, including 11,225 in Sindh, 15,786 in Punjab, 6,361 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 4,338 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 428 in Balochistan, 314 in GB, and 468 in AJK.

Around 545,277 people have recovered from the disease so far across Pakistan making it a significant count with over 90 percent recovery ratio of the affected patients.

Since the pandemic outbreak, a total of 579,973 cases were detected that also included the perished, recovered and under treatment COVID-19 patients so far, including AJK 10,198, Balochistan 19,045, GB 4,956, ICT 44,259, KP 72,162, Punjab 171,349 and Sindh 258,004. About 12,860 deaths were recorded in country since the eruption of the contagion. Around 4,343 perished in Sindh among eight of them died during past 24 hours. Seven in the hospital and one out of the hospital.

About 5,350 in Punjab had died with 13 deaths in past 24 hours occurred in the hospital. 2,072 in KP where two of them died in hospital on Saturday, 496 in ICT, 200 in Balochistan, 102 in GB and 297 in AJK succumbed to the deadly virus.

A total of 8,951,838 corona tests have been conducted so far, while 631 hospitals are equipped with COVID facilities. Some 1,994 corona patients were admitted in hospitals across the country.

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Pakistan to exit from FATF grey list, Hafeez Sheikh to win Senate election: Rashid

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday said Pakistan would come out of grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as it complied with almost all points in the global watchdog’s action plan.

Addressing a press conference here, the minister said Pakistan has complied with 24 out of 27 points of FATF and it would come out of it’s grey list. The remaining three points would also be cleared soon and the country would succeed in exiting the FATF’s grey list during its next meeting, the minister opined.

Regarding the Senate elections on Islamabad seat, the minister said Dr. Hafeez Sheikh would succeed on it as he worked hard in the economic team of Imran Khan to stabilize the economy. Sheikh Rashid said Hafeez Sheikh studied from the best universities of the world, including Oxford and Cambridge, and earned a doctorate degree in economics. The current account deficit of 20 billion dollar was converted into surplus and exchange rate also improved due to the efforts of Hafeez Sheikh, he said adding that his forefathers also remained active in politics in their times.

After winning the Senate elections, he (Hafeez Sheikh) would be in better position to contribute productively in the prosperity of the country.

He said Yusuf Raza Gilani tried to protect corruption of Asif Ali Zardari and was disqualified. Gilani, he said, gave the necklace donated by Turkey’s first lady in 2010 for flood victims to his wife which was later returned after the issue was highlighted. Sheikh Rashid termed the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Sri Lanka as `historic’ and said that Imran Khan offered role for improving the ties between China and United States.

He said the civil military relations were exemplary and precedent had been set for better understanding between both of them in future to put the country on right track of development. He said Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan was enjoying good relations with United States, China, Russian, Saudi Arabia and other Arab world. Peace in Afghanistan was very much crucial and Pakistan always wished stability there, he added.d

Minister for Interior said Pakistan got a significant position among the comity of nations as naval exercise of around 40 countries have been conducted here. He said successful discussion with India would only be possible when India restore Jammu and Kashmir’s status and include it on the agenda of talks. Setting aside

the Kashmir issue would be disloyalty, he added.

Regarding the political development in the country during last couple of days, he said, release of Hamza Shehbaz did not matter and MQM would also stand with Imran Khan because it was the party of qualified persons. “I consider Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf and Hafeez Sheikh would win under the leadership of Imran Khan,” the minister added.

He said there would be no hurdle for Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for its planned march in case no law and order situation had been created.

The minister said Armed Forces and People of Pakistan had rendered great sacrifices for the country and no one would be allowed to undermine it. Recalling the successful operation by Pakistan Air Force on February 27, 2019, he said our great force achieved victory and foiled the nefarious designs of India on that day.

To a question, the minister said those involved in the murders of a religious scholar and seminary students in Bhara Kau would be apprehended soon. He directed Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad to ensure the arrest of perpetrator of this heinous crime within 24 hours.

The minister said Supreme Court’s decision regarding Senate elections would be exemplary. He said adjustment on Punjab seats in Senate was made as per proportionate of parties’ seats in the Punjab legislature and nothing unusual would happen in other provinces and Islamabad.

Sheikh Rashid said that patrolling system of Islamabad police was being revamped and Eagle Squads comprising of vehicles and motorbikes would start functioning soon. He said Rs. 30 million has been released which would be helpful in improving policing affairs.

The minister said 370 gardens in federal capital were being beautified, adding that he was conducting visit of each garden. Citizens might have their `Iftar dinner’ at these gardens during Ramazan, he maintained.

The minister said on-line visa facility had been introduced and passport fee had also been reduced as people might get passport with the validity of 10 years after paying Rs. 4,500.

He also warned Federal Investigation Agency to improve performance and said that black sheep in the department would not be spared.

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Law Reforms to ease out masses sufferings

ISLAMABAD (APP): An independent and virtuous judiciary is vital for democracy, governance, security, economic growth, and equity as it ensures the Rule of Law for all citizens. It guarantees protection to the rights of law abiding citizens and serves as a shield against unruly groups or individual’s threat to any particular person, community, sect or religion.

One of the strongest aspects an independent judiciary owns is to ensure good governance which helps to establish a just, prosperous and well-balanced society.

Promotion of this culture in any state required frequent reforms of the system to meet the everyday requirement of justice and remedies to neglected and disadvantaged class. But, unfortunately in Pakistan, frequent promise of judicial reforms made by successive regimes for decades remained elusive.

The PTI government after coming into power bore the torch of reforms in judicial system and its successive initiatives provided a ray of hope for reformation of the old age judicial system.

It was the manifesto of the PTI to ensure provision of easy justice to the people, especially the weak segments of society. For implementation of manifesto, Prime Minister Imran Khan, on May 29, 2020, had constituted two committees headed by PM’s Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan and Law Minister Farogh Naseem respectively to suggest constitutional reforms and look into the plight of women prisoners and recommend remedial steps for the purpose.

The mandate of the committees was to suggest constitutional reforms and devise a roadmap for implementation of these reforms.

The committee on constitutional reforms was directed to devise a roadmap for prompt implementation of reforms in the criminal justice system, police culture, registration of cases, investigation and prison system and the second committee was formed to suggest reforms for judicial system and women prisoners’ wellbeing.

Discussing the reforms introduced by the PTI government in past two years, Federal Law Minister Barrister Dr. Farogh Naseem said the ministry drafted state of art legislation, references, opinions and vetting. “The statute of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) was pending since last 10 years and previous governments had failed to enact legislation for a mutual legal assistance regime.”

He said the law ministry drafted the Mutual Legal Assistance law to provide legal support to the requesting state (foreign country) by executing necessary actions on its territory in criminal cases warranting shared assistance.

“The MLA would regulate the procedure for rendering and soliciting mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.”

He said the statute of inheritance law was also drafted by the ministry and passed by the Parliament to establish Succession Facilitation Units in collaboration with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) for the issuance of letters of administration and succession certificates. “Earlier, this process used to take months but now it will take 15 days. Previously all the legal heirs had to be physically present at the courts, now even if legal heirs are absent, the Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates will be issued.”

Furthermore, he said, connecting the NADRA database to all foreign missions, Pakistanis or their legal heirs abroad will be able to get their Letters of Administration or Succession Certificates processed from abroad without the need of being physically present in Pakistan or appearing before the Pakistani Courts. “It will save lot of expense and time of applicants and mitigate burden on the courts.”

Before the amendment, the courts were issuing the letters of administration and succession certificates under the Succession Act, 1925, Farogh Naseem noted. “The system developed now with NADRA’s assistance would make overseas Pakistanis to obtain Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates at Missions Abroad. He said legislation for the protection of women is the most significant achievement as enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Act, 2020 is a vital piece of legislation and protects women from depriving them of inherited property. “The Act will empower Ombudsman to take action in cases where women are deprived of their legal right to acquire and possess property.”

The government has also introduced Legal Aid and Justice Authority Act, 2020 to provide financial and legal aid to women and children in criminal cases. Another major step is for fighting gender based violence is the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial), Ordinance, 2020 promulgated along with Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 to ensure expeditious redressal of rape and sexual abuse crimes. Special investigation teams and special courts for speedy trial on women and children related cases are being planned.

Major legislation of the PTI tenure include the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act, 2020; the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2020; the Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Act, 2020; the promulgation of the COVID-19 (Prevention of Hoarding) Ordinance, 2020 and the COVID-19 (Prevention of Smuggling) Ordinance, 2020.

Senior Advocate Supreme Court Zulifqar Ahmed Bhutta said MLA is an important piece of legislation enacted by the present government. “Earlier, there was no law to collect evidence from abroad for a crime committed in Pakistan. After the MLA, the government can seek evidence from a country against an offence committed in Pakistan and conspired abroad. It is remarkable achievement.”

He also appreciated Enforcement of Woman’s Property Rights Bill, 2020 to protect and secure rights of ownership of woman in property. “Over the decades, women were deprived of property. Now, the Ombudsman would be deployed to decide such cases in three months instead of years as per previous practice. The Supreme Court in recent judgments had also abolished limitation period in such cases.”

Bhutta said the other good initiative is Administration and Succession Certificates Act, 2019. Law ministry and NADRA have collaborated to devise a system where the succession certificates and letters of administration will be now issued in 15 days instead of months or years.“These are the positive initiatives and would prove to be beneficial for all citizens.”

According to the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP), there are 47,377 cases pending with the Supreme Court, more than 300,000 with the five high courts and above 2,000,000 with the subordinate judiciary of the four provinces and the federal capital. The Supreme Court has also made it clear that as per the constitution, access to justice is a fundamental right of the citizens. In April 2019, Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa had setup 110 model courts all over the country to deal with murder and narcotics cases conducting daily trials to provide speedy justice to public and reduce massive backlog.

The cost of litigation has also decreased because of the expeditious disposal of cases. These model courts are being considered a silent revolution in the judicial history wherein murder trials pending for years are being concluded in the short span of time.

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FO: Pakistan would act with iron resolve to protect, preserve the sovereignty

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office of Pakistan issued a statement on Saturday marking the second anniversary of Pakistan’s befitting response to India’s irresponsible military misadventure on February 27, 2019.

According to the official press release of Pakistan Foreign Office, the entire Pakistani nation remembered with great pride Pakistan’s befitting response to India’s irresponsible military misadventure two years ago.

“The whole world witnessed that Pakistan, once again, not only resolutely safeguarded its territorial sovereignty, but also acted with tremendous restraint and responsibility,” the statement added.

The government, armed forces and the people of Pakistan stood united against any threat or misadventure and would always “act with iron resolve to protect and preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity”, FO stated.  

While remembering the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Foreign Office statement mentioned that “Pakistan remained committed to peaceful resolution of the long outstanding Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” it said.

Furthermore, highlighting the India’s aggressive behaviors, the Foreign Office mentioned that Ind-ia’s violation of Pakistani airspace was in complete violation of the UN Charter and international law,

“The valiant Pakistan Armed Forces swiftly responded and displayed exemplary professionalism,” it said. 

On 27th February 2019, Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian fighter jets and captured an Indian pilot.

The captured Indian pilot was returned as a gesture of peace, the statement added.

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Ex-PSM chief, others acquitted in canteen contract reference

KARACHI (TLTP): An accountability court on Saturday acquitted all accused including former chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) Moeen Aftab Sheikh in a reference against alleged corruption in the canteen contract.

The persons nominated in the canteen contract’s corruption reference were acquitted by an accountability court in Karachi.

According to NAB, the accused were involved in alleged corruption which led Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) to suffer a financial loss worth Rs80 million following the suspicious contract of 19 canteens.

The accused persons include former PSM chairman Moeen Aftab Sheikh, Rafiq Khan, Imtiazul Haq, Asghar, Zahid Ali and others.

Earlier in February last year, an accountability court had acquitted former chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) Moeen Aftab Sheikh over lack of evidence in a corruption reference worth Rs490 million.

Ex-PSM chief Moin Aftab Shaikh along with ex-director (commercial) Sameen Asghar had been accused of misuse of authority which caused a financial loss of Rs0.49 billion to the national exchequer.

Moreover, the accountability court had also acquitted three accused including the former chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) Moeen Aftab over lack of evidence in a corruption reference worth Rs900 million in January last year.

PSM ex-chairman Moeen Aftab, director of commercial Sameen Asghar and contractor Abdul Rasheed were nominated in the reference. It is pertinent to mention here that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed nine corruption references against Moeen Aftab.

The anti-corruption unit had opened an investigation into the matter in 2010, which was later transferred to NAB over directives of the Supreme Court. Moeen Aftab had been acquitted in three out of nine corruption references filed by the anti-corruption watchdog.