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Pakistan, China agree to improve cooperation in railways

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China on Monday agreed to improve cooperation in railways sector and deputed technical teams to work out the details in this regard.

According to the details, the consensus was made during a meeting between the delegations of the two countries in the federal capital. The Chinese delegation of National Railway Administration (NRA) was headed by An Lusheng while Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was leading the Pakistani side.

Talking to the delegation, Sheikh Rashid said no modification will be made in framework agreement between National Railway Administration of China and Pakistan Railways.

He said that up-gradation of ML-1 should be completed swiftly as the current government was interested in up-gradation of ML-1 and ML- 2.

The minister said ML-2 and ML-3 were also important for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and China should give importance to these projects.

It is pertinent to mention here that Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, on Sep 10, had said that Pakistan Railways was the backbone of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

“Unfortunately no work has been done in the past in the railways under the CPEC,” he said in a video message.

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JIT holds Azam Swati, guards responsible for farmhouse row

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: A joint investigation team (JIT) formed by the Supreme Court to probe Federal Minister Azam Swati’s misconduct and assets held him and his guards responsible for the row over farmhouse land which eventually resulted in the transfer of Islamabad IGP Jan Muhammad.

The JIT, headed by DG National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi Irfan Mangi, submitted its report to the apex court. The report, which comprises five volumes, holds Swati and his guards responsible for the incident.

The report also raises questions over the transfer of IGP Jan Muhammad, the sources added. The IGP was abruptly transferred on October 27 after he allegedly refused to take action on a complaint by Swati’s son regarding a fight over purported encroachment with a family at their farmhouse.

The transfer made headlines on the media and prompted the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of it. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar subsequently formed the JIT to probe allegations of misuse of authority, misconduct and encroachment against the minister.

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Current rulers only eyed power, achieved it through rigging: Bilawal

F.P. Report

GHIZER: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Monday that the current rulers of the state were only concerned about coming to power, which they achieved through rigging of elections.

Speaking at a rally here, he said the present rulers were not interested in resolving public issues.

“Their destination was power, which they achieved by rigging [the polls]. They do not do politics for the people, rather they take U-turns after making promises,” he said.

The PPP chairman said the politics of incumbent rulers revolves around themselves.

“Their economic policies have inundated the masses with a tsunami of inflation,” he said, while criticising the government. “Those lecturing on national honour are touring countries for taking loans.”

Bilawal said the politics of Peoples Party is centered around the poor and oppressed, noting, “We initiated Benazir Income Support Programme during Asif Ali Zardari’s reign.”

The PPP chairman said his party provided constitutional rights to the people of the province.

“Peoples Party made Gilgit-Baltistan autonomous by bringing reforms here, gave subsidy on wheat,” he noted, promising to keep struggling for constitutional, political and democratic rights of the people of the region.

Bilawal said he had come to the people of Gilgit Baltistan for the first time, but not the last. “I want your favour and support,” he told the participants.

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‘Trump tirade a lesson for Pakistani leaders who appeased US’

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari on Monday said recent outburst of US President Donald Trump against Pakistan should be a lesson to those leaders of the country who continued to appease the United States after 9/11.

Reacting over Trump’s tirade in her tweeter handle, the minister said the policies of the United States do not match with country’s strategic interests and the war on terror after the 9/11 led to death and destruction in Pakistan, adding the U.S. policies with regard to China and Iran are not in favor of Pakistan.

Shireen Mazari went on to give examples of the appeasement such as free space to Raymond Davis and other operatives and illegal killings by drone attacks.

The United States President, Donald Trump in an interview to an American news channel on Sunday (November 18) defended the administration’s decision to halt “Pakistan’s aid” and alleged that Pakistan had done nothing for the United States of America.

He also accused Pakistan of sheltering the then al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, adding Pakistan failed to curb terrorism in Afghanistan.

“And we gave Pakistan $1.3 billion a year… [but bin Laden] lived in there, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year –which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” he claimed while talking to the news channel.

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Four died, 15 rescued as boat capsizes in Indus river

F.P. Report

KHAIRPUR: At least four people were killed, while 15 others rescued as a boat capsized in Indus river near Saggiyoon in Khairpur district.

As per details of the incident, a woman and three children were drowned to death, when a boat carrying nearly 20 villagers keel over in Indus river near here.

The divers fished-out four bodies and managed to rescue 15 others travelling over the boat and moved them to a nearby medical facility for the first aid.

The cause of the incident could not be ascertained till filling of this news report.

Earlier in the month of August current year, a boat that was carrying over 15 fishermen capsized near Sonmiani in the territorial waters of Balochistan, leaving at least two people dead.

According to the fisheries department, the boat had sank due to rough waters near Sonmiani area in Lasbela district.

Two dead bodies were retrieved from the sea while five of the fishermen on board managed to swim to safety.

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Baluchistan was pushed towards terrorism through proper planning: Asim Bajwa

F.P. Report

QUETTA: Commander Southern Command lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa on Monday said that Baluchistan was pushed towards the menace of terrorism through a proper planning.

He, however, said that development work has been started in the province now. He shared his view while addressing a ceremony in connection with operational excellence award in Quetta. He was the chief guest of the event.

Addressing the ceremony, Asim Saleem Bajwa said that we fought against the menace of terrorism untidily and remained successful. Lauding services of Frontier Constabulary, the southern command commander said Frontier Constabulary established rite of the government through its skills while fighting in the Terrain Mountains of the provinces.

He paid homage to the FC officials for their courage and determination against anti-state elements. Bajwa further said FC is here for your protection and security and following their courage the province had been put on the path of development and progress.

He said, “Peace and development are deeply inter-linked with each other.” The southern commander added few anti-state elements had pushed the youth of Baluchistan to the mountains. He, however, said over 70 people have surrender before the military and resumed normal activities in the society.

Talking on under-development of the province, he said that they were jointly working for the development of Baluchistan. He hinted that the government will launch new development project in the province in the near future.

Bajwa maintained that Pak Army will jointly work with the provincial police.

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SC directs NAB officials to ‘work properly’ in Ashiana Housing case

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday while hearing the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case directed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials to “work properly”.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Azmat Saeed heard bail pleas of Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case suspects Munir Zia and Imtiaz Haider.

As the hearing went under way, the assistant counsel of the suspects informed the court, “Zia’s lawyer, Azam Nazeer Tarrar, is busy with cases being heard at the SC’s Lahore Registry, thus, the hearing should be adjourned for three days.”

At this, Justice Saeed turned to the NAB prosecutor and asked, “What really is the case about?” The prosecutor responded, “The suspects caused a loss to the national exchequer through the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme. Someone else had won the contract but it was awarded to a company named CASA.”

When Justice Saeed inquired if NAB had gotten CASA owners caught, the accountability watchdog’s investigation officer said, “CASA is a joint venture of three companies and an interim reference has been filed against six suspects.”

“Former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and Fawad Hasan Fawad have been arrested in connection to the case and investigated. A final reference will be filed later,” the investigation officer further said.

Justice Saeed then questioned, “If CASA is a joint venture of three companies then how have only six suspects been arrested?”

NAB officials, start working properly, he remarked.

Further, the judge asked whether the main suspect in the case approached the court for bail. The NAB investigation officer responded, “Suspect Ahad Cheema has not filed a request in the Supreme Court as yet.”

Justice Saeed remarked, “This is an important case and NAB should investigate properly. We are not making any decision today as counsels are not present.”

The hearing of the case was then adjourned till November 29.

Shehbaz has been in NAB’s custody since October 5 in connection to the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case and his son, Hamza Shehbaz, has also been summoned for questioning in the case.

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SC orders conditional removal of ex-overseas commissioner’s name from ECL

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday ordered conditional removal of the name of former commissioner of the Punjab Overseas Pakistanis Commission, Afzal Bhatti, from the exit control (ECL) list.

A two-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case at Lahore registry.

Director General National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Saleem Shahzad, informed the bench that Rs. 13.5 mln state money has been outstanding against Mr. Afzal Bhatti. He told the bench that Mr. Bhatti was ready to pay five million rupees in the national exchequer.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said, Afzal Bhatti will be free if he pays back Rs. 6.5 million to the national treasury.

The CJP directed that the recovery of the amount should be completed within 10 days and his name be removed from the exit control list.

The Supreme Court had earlier ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file a reference against Afzal Bhatti over his appointment as Punjab Overseas Pakistanis’ Commissioner.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had passed the orders during hearing on the appointment of Afzal Bhatti, who was also a board member of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC).

During the hearing, NAB Director General Punjab Saleem Shahzad appeared before the bench and submitted a detailed report regarding Afzal Bhatti’s appointment.

Bhatti had in a hearing had also confessed before the bench that he is not a citizen of Pakistan.

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SHC seeks record of fee hike by private schools since 2005

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday sought record from the director general of private schools regarding fee hike during last 13 years.

While hearing the contempt of court proceedings against private schools over non-compliance of the court orders, the SHC bench also sought details of private schools that increased fee without the approval of the Sindh government.

The larger bench hearing the case comprised Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Ashraf Jehan.

“The schools have increased the fee despite court orders. Parents are facing hardships in its wake,” the bench observed.

The court, while questioning the lawyer of private schools, also inquired about implementation on the previous court orders.

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar asked the lawyer, “Do you want us to indict the managements of private schools violating court orders?”

The court also quoted a petition saying that administration of schools were seeking fee of two to three months in advance, thus adding to financial plights of parents.

The SHC bench remarked that additional fee charged by private schools from children should be readjusted.

The court adjourned the hearing of the case until December 3.

During the hearing on Nov 12, the court had expressed displeasure and issued contempt notices to the four schools and DG private schools for non compliance with the court orders. Replying to a question, the DG private schools had claimed before the court that the record of schools’ fee structure lost in rains.

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PM Imran formally requests for regularization of Bani Gala property

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on has formally submitted a request for regularization of his properties in Bani Gala.

According to local news channel report, PM Imran Khan submitted papers before Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Monday regarding his two properties including is 250 kanal residence and an adjoining property in the federal capital.

Earlier, chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar has directed the premier to regularize his property, submitted ownership papers, maps and other related documents to the authority.

The development comes as CDA has begun regularization of Bani Gala Zone 4.

As many as 132 requests were forwarded regarding commercial and residential properties to CDA and the owners will have to pay commercialization charges in the form of a fee which will be Rs3,500 per square foot.

“In addition, residential property owners will have to pay a penalty of Rs100 per square foot while commercial property owners while have to pay Rs200 per square foot as penalty,” local media report quoting sources.

Bani Gala is a vast stretch of land in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. The area also houses the home of incumbent premier, Imran Khan who now moves back and forth between his personal residence and the official residence – the home of the military secretary at the PM Secretariat.