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Intense fog causes closure of motorway sections, delays flights in Punjab

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Dense fog continues to blankets plain areas of Punjab and it disturbed the air and road traffic and causing closure of several sections of motorway on Sunday.

Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has said that dense fog is continue and the plain areas of Punjab are experiencing intense fog, with low to zero visibility on the roads,.

The major sections of M-2 from Lahore to Pindi Bhattian, and M-4 motorway from Khanewal to Multan were closed for traffic after heavy fog in the area.

Moreover, the National Highway from Lahore to Ahmedpur Sharqia and from Sialkot to Narowal was also closed due to low visibility.

Officials of the motorway police have advised caution to drivers and commuters alike, urging people to stay indoors unless travelling is absolutely necessary.

Commuters are also advised to check with the motorway police before travelling.

Because of intense fog in Lahore, several flights of private airlines and Pakistan International Airlines were delayed or diverted.

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Bugti urges Punjab govt to ban student political unions

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti on Saturday urged government authorities in Punjab to impose a ban on student groups formed either on partisan or political basis at the Punjab University.

Addressing a press conference here, Bugti called for ban on all sort of partisan p-olitical activities at the varsity.

Extending gratitude to Punjab government for awarding scholarship to students from Balochistan, the Home Minister appealed the provincial government to take preventive measures against students’ politics.

“Be it council of Baloch students, Pakthuns or Jamaat-e-Islami, the university shouldn’t allocate its rooms to students indulged in politicizing issues,” he said.

He said he is in favour of apology over the incident by the students in police custody but the varsity administration should ensure a complete ban on student politics.

Referring to recent clashes at Punjab University, he announced that the terrorism charges against the students are being withdrawn.

“The culture which we eliminated in Balochistan, is now taking root in Punjab,” Bugti added.

On the occasion, he urged Punjab government to not cut quota for students from Balochistan.

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Politicizing of police breeds fake encounters, says Fawad

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Fake and staged encounters in Sindh including Karachi are the result of politicizing of Sindh police and the provincial government is not interested in bringing serious police reforms, said Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) central spokesman Fawad Chaudhry here Saturday.

Speaking to media at the residence of PTI Sindh leader Haleem Adil Sheikh he said Naqeebullah Mehsud was kidnapped and killed by a hooligan, donning the uniform of Sindh police. He said the police in Sindh have become politicized and it has failed to provide safety of life and property of citizens. He said in fact the PPP and PML-N are the two faces of same base coin and they have failed to serve the masses.

He said the provincial government of Sindh has been paying Rs2.5billion every year to the rangers for maintaining law and order; however, the provincial government has failed to bring any meaningful police reforms.

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Asma Jahangir asks SC to act against TV anchor

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Outspoken human rights campaigner and former president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Asma Jahangir has lashed out at a senior anchorperson  and his TV channel for a false claim about the existence of an international child porn ring in Kasur.

Ms Jahangir also called for the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) and the country’s electronic media watchdog to take a punitive action against the lying anchor.

Her demand came in the wake of Dr Shahid Masood’s false assertion that Imran Ali, the prime suspect of Zainab murder case, was found to be operating 37 local and foreign bank accounts.

Taking notice of Masood’s claim, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar directed the Punjab government to constitute an inquiry team and investigate the matter. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said that not a single bank account was found to be in Imran Ali’s name.

Separately, Punjab government’s spokesman Malik Ahmed Khan said that Dr Shahid Masood’s false claim was an attempt to divert the direction of the investigations. He said that a legal notice was sent to the anchor for his baseless scoop.

“PEMRA should take notice against anchor and TV for making false statements and before the Supreme Court as well They should penalise both,” Asma Jahangir said, in a series of tweets yesterday without naming any individual.

“This ring of journalists who deliberately lie should be unmasked so that we can give credibility to our otherwise robust and brave Journalists These lying so-called journalists protect each other and stand by each other Repeat each other’s lies to confuse people,” she said.

The rights activist stressed on the need to speak out against what she called a ring of lying scandal mongers masquerading as journalists. “We should expose rings who commit crimes against children.

Also let us raise our voices against a ring of lying scandal mongers masquerading as journalists”

“As a handful of anchors have invariably got away with concocted stories in a callous manner with impunity Competing with each other in lying to please their masters This time anchor went too far The anguish created was inhuman SC should take action on false statement before it.”

“We want free and independent media not a manipulative and misleading media with ulterior motives or a puppet media. “So disgusting to take advantage of a child’s gruesome murder Compulsive lies on the media by anchors should be discouraged Code of conduct by journalist bodies be made and media houses be fined for accommodating anchors who deliberately lie Where is media’s editor policy?”

“How disgusting that a tragedy like rape of a child be so politicised Anchors who are compulsive liars should be made accountable and Media houses who retain them be heavily fined so that free and responsible journalism flourishes Misleading and agonising people is not journalism,” she added.

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ECP would lose confidence of masses if elections not fair: JI

F.P. Report

LAHORE:  Ameer, Jamaat e Islami, Pakistan, Senator Sirajul Haq, has said that  if the general elections were not fair, free and impartial, the Election Commission would lose confidence of the masses.

Talking to the media outside the parliament house, he said that nobody would accept the results of the rigged elections this time. He said it was essential to get rid of corruption and the corrupt leadership to ensure the continuity of the democratic system.

He said that the JI wanted elections and the accountability process to go together as this alone would weed out the corrupt from politics. He said that electoral reforms were essential before the elections and the corrupt and people should not be allowed to contest the polls.

He said that the people named in the Panama leaks, owners of off shore companies and availing bank loans remissions must not be allowed to contest the polls without clearance from the Supreme Court.

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Pakistan needs progressive alternative to hate-driven politics, says Bilawal

DAVOS (Monitoring Desk): Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto, in his first interview with an Indian media channel, said Pakistan needs a genuine, progressive voice and an alternative to the populist, hate-driven politics done by mainstream political parties.

“PPP has always been a progressive party in Pakistan. That’s the way forward. That’s the kind of politician I want to be. Shehbaz [Sharif] and Imran [Khan] have their own reasons for doing politics. I am doing it for the people,” said Bilawal.

Commenting on the tense relations between the two nuclear neighbours, Bilawal said that while relations between the two countries are not at their best at the moment, giving peace is our only chance.

He, however, added that steps need to be taken on both sides to ensure long-lasting peace, including through back-channel diplomacy.

He emphasised on holding talks as equal partners to resolve the stalemate.

“India and the rest of the world think that they can just dictate Pakistan and that’s not how a partnership works or is built. We need to have a discussion over reservations of both countries with each other,” he said.

Answering a question, the PPP scion said Pakistan needs a strong army as it is engaged in the fight against terrorism.

“It does not serve my purpose or my country’s purpose to criticise my armed forces when they’re fighting terrorists,” said Bilawal when probed further regarding the armed forces.

On being asked whether he chose to be in politics out of his own will, he said, “I didn’t choose this life. It chose me,” adding that he finds great motivation and solace in furthering his mother’s lifelong mission.

‘Pakistan has to fight against terrorism for itself’

Earlier, in an interview with German broadcaster DW, Bilawal said, “We have to fight against extremism and terrorism not for [US President Donald] Trump or for [Indian PM Narendra] Modi, but just for ourselves.”

He stressed on open debate about extremism and terrorism, not just about militancy. “The cultural and ideological narratives should also be discussed. In doing so, militancy should be countered.”

Speaking about Pakistan’s sacrifices, the PPP chairman said that he thinks it may be that the world’s major powers “prioritise their strategic interests rather than fight against extremism and terrorism.”

He said that Pakistan has been pursuing all available military options, but lamented absence of a holistic approach.

“We are currently pursuing whatever military options are available, but there is no holistic approach and we’re not implementing a national action plan to resolve the problem. We are also not doing anything about counteracting the extremist ideological narrative.”

Asked about efforts by opposition parties to affect a change of government and bring forward next elections, Bilawal said his party is fully prepared for elections, whether they are held on due time or are brought forward.

“But for a democratic transition, it is necessary that parliament completes its term and that the power transition from one civilian government to the other happens smoothly,” he maintained. “It will be good for our country.”

The PPP chairman however criticised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for tending to “destroy the whole system.”

“The problem, in my opinion, however, is that Nawaz Sharif wants to destroy the whole system by any means and at any cost so that he can escape from the problems posed by the Panama Papers scandal.”

Questioned about his criticism of Nawaz for his friendship with Modi, he said that his criticism was in the context of Kashmir and that he criticised the former premier for his personal friendship with Modi.

“My point has been that there should be good and friendly ties between India and Pakistan at state level. But friendship between these two leaders hasn’t turned into a friendly relationship between the two states,” he said, urging for state-level engagement between the two neighbours.

Asked about threats to freedom of expression and independent media in Pakistan, the PPP chairman said that Pakistan’s media is in a state of crisis nowadays for a number of reasons and media outlets in the country are increasingly influenced.

He also regretted mistreatment of journalists in the country saying that it conveys a very bad message.

“The kind of atrocities journalists go through is really bad. When such things happen even in the capital Islamabad, they send a very bad signal.

“But it’s not just in Pakistan that free speech is under attack. That’s the case now in many parts of the world,” Bilawal said.

“So we have to discourage this trend and address this issue by standing up for those in the media community, both in Pakistan as well as across the world.”

In response to a question about fake news, he said that propaganda, misinformation and disinformation have always been part of political warfare.

“Social media and other new platforms have given it a new life and reach through which the fake news phenomenon can reach everywhere.”

The PPP chairman, however, said that censorship in the name of fighting fake news is a dangerous thing for Pakistan.

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SC bans selling, marketing of four substandard packaged milk brands

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: The Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Saturday ordered to ban four companies from selling substandard milk in the country.

These directives were issued on the occasion of hearing of a suo motu case pertaining to sale of substandard packaged milk at the Karachi Registry.

Sindh’s authorities have subsequently been told to remove milk belonging to Day fresh, Nurpur, Day Fresh UHT and Sky Milk from sale racks.

According to the report, the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSI) has declared milk from all four companies unfit for human consumption.

The report further pointed out that milk from three more companies had not met the standards set by the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority.

It was also stated in the report that a total of 53 brands were tested for a quality check, out of which these four brands turned out to be below standard.

The Supreme Court, subsequently, banned the four companies from selling and marketing their milk products with immediate effect, after laboratory results failed to convince the bench of the quality of the milk supplied. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, heading a three-member bench that heard the case, expressed annoyance at the laboratory results that showed the aforementioned companies to be selling substandard milk in the city.

In his remarks to the counsel of one of the companies, the CJP observed that it was not milk they were selling, but tea whitener.

During a previous hearing of the case earlier this month, the CJP had directed the relevant authorities to conduct laboratory tests of all brands of packaged milk products available in the city’s markets. He had also chided the concerned authorities for their failure to submit complete details to the court regarding use of injections in cows.

The Chief Justice, in the Lahore Registry, is already hearing the matter of sale of unsafe milk in Punjab as part of suo motu notices on public welfare issues.

Earlier this week on Thursday, while hearing a suo motu case on safe drinking water, the Supreme Court halted 24 mineral water companies from operating in the country until they could satisfy the court regarding their safety standards.

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Mandatory in Constitution to hold Senate elections on time, says Rabbani

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Saturday said that it is constitutionally mandated that Senate elections be held on time.

“The Senate election must be held on time as the Constitution states,” Rabbani said, adding that any actions that are against the Constitution should not be taken.

“The Constitution does not say anything regarding the completion of electoral college,” he said in Lahore while addressing the convocation of a private law college.

“The election will be held on time and new members will take oath on March 12,” the Senate chairman said.

He also said, during his address, that respecting institutions was necessary for their stability.

“We must respect the institutions in order to make them stable, but it is also imperative that the institutions work while remaining well within their constitutional limits.”

Rabbani claimed that Pakistan has operated under either the ‘law of the jungle’ or martial law in the past.

“Whatever laws we had in the past were not the same for people in power and the common man,” he said.

The Senate chairman further stated that everyone should believe in the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law.

Earlier, the ruling PML-N invited applications from party hopefuls for the upcoming Senate elections.

According to a press release issued by the PML-N spokesperson Asif Kirmani, the party has invited applications for the Senate elections to be held in March 2018.

The applications will be accepted starting from January 27 until February 3 at the party’s Islamabad secretariat, the statement added.

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Ahsan rules out general election before time

LAHORE (APP): Federal Minister for Interior, Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal Saturday ruled out holding of general election before completion of constitutional term of the incumbent assemblies.

Responding to journalists’ queries after inaugurating the first-ever NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) Facilitation Desk for the business community here at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), he said the Senate election would also be held on time.

The minister said that general election could not be held before July 2018, as the new voter lists and new delimitation of electoral constituencies were yet to be completed. The elements spreading rumours about early holding of general election were, in fact, conspiring against democracy in the country. All such claims were aimed at formation of a long-time caretaker government in the country, he added.

However, these elements would face sheer disappointment in the next general election as the people would support the agenda of economic development, he said adding that there was dire need to get ready for economic revival instead of indulging in sit-ins and negative politics.

To a question, he said that Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) President Nawaz Sharif had already nominated Shehbaz Sharif as the candidate for Prime Minister’s office in the next general election and there should not be any ambiguity in this regard. To another question, he said that ‘on-arrival visa policy’ had existed even before 2013, but it was not clear earlier.

However, the incumbent government had ensured transparency in its implementation. The business community and tourists at large would be facilitated under this policy, he said and made it clear that security matters in this regard would not be compromised at any cost.

Earlier, addressing the businessmen, Ahsan Iqbal said that economic health of the country was very weak before 2013, as Pakistan had, at that time, been considered the most dangerous country of the world due to presence of terrorists and deteriorating law and order situation. The industrial activity had badly been affected due to power shortage, while country’s economic growth had become stagnant at mere three per cent annually.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the PML-N government targeted four areas including energy, extremism, economy and education and achieved considerable success in all these areas. He said the World Economic Forum has declared Pakistan better than India as an emerging economy.

He said that GDP growth reached 5.3 per cent in the previous year and it was expected to touch six per cent mark by the year-end. The federal minister said that the incumbent government had also added up to 11,000-MW of electricity to the national grid, while investment in infrastructural development has reached Rs 413 billion. Lahore-to-Karachi motorways were being completed at a fast pace, he added.

Ahsan Iqbal said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project would change the destiny of Pakistan, as the two countries were taking ahead the project to its next stages successfully.

Today, the world is eying Pakistan as an ideal country for investment, he added. In his welcome address, LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid said that governance and institutional quality had affected country’s progress over the years.

He said that CPEC had changed geo-political situation in the region due to which new geo-political pressures were developing on Pakistan. As far as completion of CPEC was concerned, he said that governments of Pakistan and China had to engage private sectors of both countries to create a win-win situation for all.

Malik said, “We must develop a comprehensive approach with the ownership of all stakeholders to succeed in implementation. The proactive approach adopted by Chinese businessmen gives this impression that they are taking CPEC much more seriously than us.

“The government needs to give right type of incentives to transform this scenario where both Chinese and Pakistani businessmen have level playing field and fair opportunities to grow.”

On this occasion, Lahore Chamber’s Senior Vice President Khawar Rashid and Vice President Zeshan Khalil also assured the federal minister of the best cooperation from the business community.