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Top judge assures Musharaf of security on his return to Pakistan

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar has assured to provide Rangers security to the former president Pervez Musharraf on his return Pakistan to record his statement in National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case.

While resuming the NRO case on Tuesday, the top judge also directed authorities concerned to facilitate him with the doctor of his choice.

He has also ordered to open former army general’s farm house in Chak Shahzad for his stay. “He should come and record his statement and then he is free to move wherever he wants,” the Chief Justice said.

Meanwhile, responding to a question related to Musharraf’s return, defence lawyer said that his client is not a cowardly man and that he respects court and all the state institutions.

The counsel told the court that Musharraf had not earned this money in Pakistan.

It merits mentioning here that all graft cases against Pakistanis were shelved in 2007 after the then attorney general Malik Qayum wrote to the Swiss authorities following the promulgation of the NRO by then president of Pakistan Pervez  Musharraf.

 

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SC approves in-camera briefing in Asghar case

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has allowed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to give an in-camera briefing in Asghar Khan case on Tuesday.

According to details, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar headed a three-member bench and it resumed the hearing pertaining to the execution of the implementation of the judgment in the Asghar Khan case.

As the hearing underway, Director General FIA Bashir Memon informed the bench that he wanted to apprise the court about some facts pertaining to the case separately. He requested the court to hold an in-camera session.

Approving the request, the top judge remarked that all facts should be made public as no institution is above the law.

Former Air Marshal Asghar Khan, in his petition filed in 1996, claimed that two senior army officers and then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan doled out Rs 140 million among few individuals to thwart the bid of Pakistan People’s Party, secure victory in the 1990 elections.

The petition was filed when Justice Nasim Hassan Shah was the Chief Justice, however, the verdict came after a span of 16 years on October 19, 2012 when the apex court issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against Gen (retd) Beg and Lt Gen (retd) Durrani, however, nothing substantial was done in this regard.

Among the politicians accused of receiving money, the most noticeable is Nawaz Sharif, the former premier of Pakistan, who, according to the affidavit submitted by Asad Durrani got Rs 3.5 million.

On October 19, 2012, a Supreme Court bench headed by a former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), Iftikhar Chaudhry, directed the then PPP government to take action against the former military officials for doling Rs140 million to politicians in order to ensure the defeat of slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto in the elections.

The Federal Investigation Agency had also been tasked with investigating the matter against the politicians, including embattled Sharif, who had allegedly received the money to run election campaigns. It was also ordered to recover the distributed amount from the accused politicians with profit.

Later, Beg and Durrani had later filed a review petition against the verdict, while these petitions were turned down by the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. However, both military officials refused the findings of the court in the case.

 

 

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Three more Kashmiri youth martyred by Indian occupied forces

Monitoring Desk

SRINAGAR: As many as three more Kashmiri youth were martyred by Indian forces in a fresh act of state terrorism in Indian occupied Kashmir’s (IoK) Kupwara district on Tuesday.

Kashmir Media Service reported that all three youth were killed by the Indian occupied forces during violent cordon and search operations in Tangdhar area of the district, while two youth were killed yesterday, bringing the toll to five in two days.

Earlier, Indian soldier, who was killed in an attack in the same area, later the Indian army said that the operation was ongoing in the area.

A complete shutdown was observed in Bandipora and Pulwama districts to protest against the killing of a youth by Indian troops.

All business establishments were shut while traffic was off the road in the two districts.

Five youth were killed by the troops during a cordon and search operations in Shokhbaba Sumlar area of Bandipora on Friday (Ashur – 10th Muharram). The shutdown was observed for the fourth consecutive day, today, in the district.

Meanwhile, normal life was crippled in Tral area of Pulwama district due to strike against the killing of one youth by Indian troops, yesterday. Three people were also injured in troops’ firing on the protesters in Aripal area of the town.

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Apex court to hear Tareen’s petition against disqualification

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will hear the review petition on Thursday, filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen against his lifetime disqualification.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will lead a three-member bench and Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab, will be the other members of the bench to hear the plea of disqualified PTI leader.

Last year on December 15, the apex court had disqualified the PTI’s secretary general for life under Article 2(1)(f) of the Constitution for concealing assets on a petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz leader Hanif Abbasi.

CJP while announcing the verdict, remarked that Jahangir Tareen was not Sadiq’ (honest) and ‘Ameen’ (righteous) and adding that Tareen has been disqualified for not disclosing his off-shore company, Sunny View Limited (SVL),” said the top court while explaining the legal grounds for the disqualification.

The bench had declared that the SVL was set up by the PTI leader which had a legal title of the property measuring 12 acres known as ‘Hyde House’ but the real owner and beneficial of this property was Tareen.

In his review petition, Tareen, a close aide of Prime Minister Imran Khan, also submitted an affidavit explaining his innocence in the case. Opposing to the court verdict, he argued that he was not the beneficial owner of the UK property.

 

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Congressman Joe Wilson calls on FM Qureshi

F.P. Report

NEW YORK: Congressman Joe Wilson, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina, called on Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York.

Congressman Wilson serves on both the House Foreign Affairs and the House Armed Services Committees.

In the meeting, the Foreign Minister outlined his Government’s domestic and foreign policy priorities. He said the support of young Pakistanis had played a major role in the election victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. A major part of the Government’s wide-ranging development agenda was focused on delivering education, jobs and opportunities to the youth.

Foreign Minister Qureshi also shared Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for a peaceful neighborhood, which was critical to achieving the Government’s ambitious socio-economic plans for Pakistan. He said Pakistan desired a broad based relationship with the United States that was based on mutual trust and respect. Appreciating Congressional assistance for enhancing Pakistan’s counter-terrorism capacity in the past, the Foreign Minister noted that Pakistan had successfully turned the corner in its fight against terrorism at a great cost of human life and resources.

Congressman Wilson congratulated the Foreign Minister on the PTI’s election victory, following a second and historic democratic transition in Pakistan. He emphasized the need for continued cooperation between the two countries for achieving their common objectives in the region.

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Money laundering case: Zardari, Faryal appear before banking court

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur appeared before banking court in a money laundering case on Tuesday.

While talking to media outside the court, Asif Zardari has said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government presented a ‘mini drama’ not a mini budget.

Former president said that the incumbent government has failed to maintain the ties between Pakistan and India.

Strict security measures were made to avoid any untoward situation.

Earlier, a session court in Karachi had declared Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur absconders in the case while Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed along with his son Abdul Ghani were arrested from Supreme Court (SC).

Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and their associates are accused of sending Rs35 billion abroad through fake accounts after which, their names were placed on Exit Control List (ECL).

Hussain Lawai, chairman of Pakistan Stock Exchange, and his associates are accused of opening 29 fake accounts in the Summit Bank and United Bank  Limited in Pakistan.

FIA had prepared a report, revealing that more than 10 political personalities were allegedly involved in fictitious transactions worth Rs35 billion.

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Hike in gas tariff only burden on elite class: Govt

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the opposition leader allegations, Minister for Finance Asad Umar said on Monday that the government decision to increase the gas prices only put the burden on elite class not for the poor.

Addressing to the National Assembly session, the minister defended the government decision of hiking prices of gas, saying that the gas prices increased 10 per cent to 143 per cent but not effect on the poor or domestic users.

Asad Umer responded the speech of Shehbaz Sharif, saying that the prices of natural gas have increased drastically in past few months so the government has only shifted the burden on elite class not middle class or poor people of the society. “The subsidy worth Six to seven billion rupees will be allotted to the farmers for their relief in the budget,” he explained.

He said that Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority – In its summary – had recommended a 46 per-cent increase in gas tariff citing Rs154billion in losses. “The fall of rupee and increase in energy prices in the international market in last 15 months is more than 50 percent,” said Asad Umar.

The minister said that instead of former finance minister Ishaq Dar spoke about for taking two billion rupees. He also said that the tax has been imposed only on the elite or rich class people, adding that no government had taken such huge amount of debt in the history of Pakistan as the previous five years tenure got the loans.

Asad Umar took a jibe on the PML-N led government and said that the circular debt of the country has been reached worth of twelve hundred billion of rupees. Criticizing the previous government, he said that the economy crisis prevailed everywhere due to the PML-N government.

Opposition Leader in National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif said that the facts relating to the electoral results should be made public.

Addressing to the session of NA, Shehbaz Sharif said that the PML-N hope that parliamentary commission will compile its report at earliest. He mentioned that the opposition parties welcome parliamentary commission on alleged rigging in the last general election.

“Those who chanted slogans of ‘tabdeeli’ (change or transformation) made myriad tall claims and created the dreams of relief in the mind of people but deluded public,” the PML-N president said. He said mini-budget tantamount to inflation bomb and It did not expect from Finance Minister Asad Umar that he will bring such anti-public budget.

Shehbaz Sharif accused the federal government of creating difficulties for the under-privileged class. He said that 143 per cent hiked gas prices, adding that If the government raise the price only for the rich no one raise objection but increase in taxes on the poor is an injustice towards their poor.

 

 

 

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Pakistan won’t be affected by internal politics of India: Fawad Chaudhry

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Declaring that the Kashmir issue is the biggest source of contention between India and Pakistan, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Monday said that Pakistan stills stands for peace and dialogue.

“Pakistan and India are both atomic powers. So one option is have war and then nothing will remain between the two countries,” he said while addressing a Senate session.

He said Pakistan invited India for peace and dialogue to put forward its stance, and it is the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan that issues are resolved between the two countries.

He said that nations do not develop solely on their own but rather regions prosper, and that the CPEC will bring an massive economic boom in Pakistan which will affect the whole region.

Regarding the recent statements of Indian army chief, the federal minister said Pakistan will not be affected by the internal politics of India and will not be threatened by anyone.

He said that statements and the aggressive stance of the Indian government was an attempt to divert from the Rafale jet scandal which has marred the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said that the India should look at its own backyard as the restive region of Kashmir was now out of the its hands. “Kashmir is out of the hands of India. Pakistan stands for peace,” he said.

Pakistan is fully capable of responding to any aggression but India should look at internal matters as it is facing political instability, he said.

It may be recalled that the information minister yesterday, in an telephonic interview to an Indian channel, termed Kashmir as the biggest issue of contention between the two countries.

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CCI meeting discusses 7-point agenda including energy and water

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Council of Common Interests with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair held in Islamabad on Monday.

The meeting deliberated on a seven-point agenda including the issues of energy and water.

According to the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, the meeting discussed import of Liquefied Natural Gas, launching a countrywide cleanliness drive and setting up a task force for streamlining regulatory functions.

The Petroleum, Exploration and Production Policy 2012 and matters pertaining to Workers Welfare Fund and Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution also came under discussion during the meeting.

Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan and Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan besides the Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Miraz and Minister for Finance Asad Umer attended the meeting.

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334 people found to be involved in money laundering case, JIT tells SC

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: A joint investigation team formed by the Supreme Court to probe into an ongoing Rs35 billion money laundering case told the top court on Monday that they have uncovered 33 more suspicious accounts and found that 334 people were involved.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar is hearing a case pertaining to money laundering of Rs35 billion from fictitious bank accounts.

During the hearing, a joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe into the case submitted its first progress report before the bench in a sealed envelope.

FIA Additional Director General Ahsan Sadiq, who is heading the JIT, informed the bench that they faced difficulties owing to time constraints and reviewed the investigations that have been conducted so far.

The JIT head further informed the court that they have discovered 33 more suspicious accounts and they are being scrutinised.

“The investigations so far have indicated that 334 persons were involved and made transactions in the bank accounts in question,” Sadiq said. “210 companies had links with the fake bank accounts,” he added.

To this, Justice Nisar asked, “Is there any progress on the investigations regarding money that was sent through sea launches?” However, the JIT head responded in the negative.

Justice Nisar then remarked, “We have trusted the JIT with the responsibility.”

“The purpose of the bank accounts is to legalise money that was stolen,” he added.

The chief justice then said, “Omni Group accountant Arif Khan also has an integral role.” However, the JIT head informed the bench, “Arif is not in Pakistan and I cannot yet say which country he is residing in.”

Sadiq further said that steps are being taken to bring back those accused in the case to the country. “Meanwhile, we are also in contact with National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and State Bank of Pakistan for records to aid with investigations.”

Further, the JIT head told the bench that contractors deposited money in the fake bank accounts. To this, Justice Bandial asked whether the money was deposited through cross cheques.

Responding to the judge’s question, the JIT head said, “We will have to investigate. Of the companies that deposited money in the accounts, 47 are directly linked to Omni Group.”

Justice Nisar then asked how many sugar mills are owned by the Omni Group and Sadiq told him that they are 16.

The chief justice then questioned, “Is Omni Group someone’s benamidaar?” In response the JIT head said, “Contractors also deposited money in the fake money accounts and the names of official contractors have been included in the report. However, it is difficult to probe all transactions.”

“Omni Group will pay for the JIT’s expenses, why should the government pay if someone else has stolen money,” Justice Nisar remarked.

However, Omni Group’s counsel refused to pay for the JIT’s expenses and said, “All our accounts are frozen and we don’t even have money to pay salaries of employees.”

Justice Nisar then told the Omni Group counsel, “Sell one of the houses and give money to the JIT.” However, he responded, “Even all our assets are frozen.”

The top court then ordered that the special court should not issue a ruling on Omni Group’s petition to unfreeze their accounts.

The Supreme Court also directed the special court to not issue any orders in the case without informing it beforehand.

“Under Article 184, we stop the special court from issuing an order on the petition. The special court should not give any rulings without informing the Supreme Court,” the bench directed.

The hearing of the case was then adjourned for the next 10 days.

The FIA is investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious accounts, including Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested in July in connection with the probe.

The former president’s other close aide and Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and his son, Abdul Ghani, were also arrested by the FIA in August.

Over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, according to sources.

The amount, according to FIA sources, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.