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JIT holds CTD responsible on Sahiwal incident: Law Minister

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat on Tuesday, while terming the Sahiwal encounter ‘100 percent correct’, said the initial investigation report had held the Counter Terrorism Department officials responsible for loss of innocent lives in Sahiwal.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting that was held to review the JIT’s preliminary report, the Provincial Law Minister said the Additional IGP of the CTD had immediately been removed from his post, while DIG CTD and the SSP, who led the Sahiwal encounter, were suspended. He also said that the DIG Sahiwal was also removed from the post.

He said five officers of the CTD would be produced before an anti-terrorism court and have been charged under Section 302 (PPC).

Raja Basharat said Punjab Govt has fulfilled its promise for speedy investigation of Sahiwal incident.

Raja Basharat said the head of the JIT had sought some time to complete the investigation to ascertain the facts about Zeeshan, alleged terrorist who was killed during the incident.

He also said that the CTD officials were held responsible for Khalil and his family’s murder. The Punjab Law Minister also informed that an in-camera briefing would be held tomorrow (Wednesday) to inform the media about facts.

The minister further informed that the details about the car used by Khalil’s family would be revealed tomorrow.

Earlier, the JIT probing the incident in which four people were killed had submitted its preliminary report to the Punjab government in the evening today. A high-level meeting headed by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was held to review the report.

Punjab minister Abdul Aleem Khan, provincial law minister Raja Basharat, the chief secretary and additional chief secretary for home, Punjab Inspector General of Police Amjad Javed Saleemi as well top officials from relevant agencies attended the meeting. Additional Inspector General (AIG) Ijaz Hussain Shah, who headed the JIT, was in attendance as well.

Meanwhile, the Joint Investment Team visited the Qadirabad area of Sahiwal for the second day today. The Additional Inspector General, Police Establishment and the head of the Joint Investigation Team formed for probing the Sahiwal incident, Aijaz Shah has sought two more days from the Punjab government for filing an investigation report.

In a statement issued by him in Sahiwal, he said that six members of the JIT are detained and statements of eye whiteness have not so far completed. He said that as it is a very serious case which cannot be investigated in a short span of time.

“It is not even possible to submit an initial report right now. We will conduct investigations on scientific basis and determine what the truth is,” Mr Shah had said while speaking to the media after visiting the incident site and recording statements of eyewitnesses.

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UAE formalises $3b deposit into SBP to support Pakistan’s economic growth

DUBAI (Monitoring Desk): Pakistan and United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a $3 billion bailout package on Tuesday, as part of Abu Dhabi’s support for Islamabad’s falling foreign exchange reserve and resolving balance of payment crisis.

According to Emirates News Agency, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) DG Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi and other officials were present during the signing of the agreement.

Speaking on the occasion Suwaidi said, “The directive to deposit $3 billion with the State Bank of Pakistan aligns with the UAE leadership’s keenness to bolster Pakistan’s economy, help its government achieve financial stability and overcome economic challenges, and drive comprehensive development in the country.”

While praising the UAE leadership for their continued support to the people of Pakistan, Bajwa said that the support from ADFD over the years has stimulated economic growth and contributed to sustainable development.

To date, ADFD has provided AED1.5 billion (approximately Rs57 billion) to fund sustainable development projects in Pakistan spanning diverse sectors, including transport, water and agriculture, healthcare, and education.

In December 21 last year, the UAE had announced it would deposit $3 billion into Pakistan’s foreign currency account to help it successfully overcome international payment crisis and to avoid a stringent International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal.

Abid Qamar, the SBP spokesperson, said they would soon share details whether the announced funds will be deposited in one-go or in tranches like Saudi Arabia has been doing and that when the deposits would be transferred to Pakistan.

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PM Khan promises to steer country out of crucial period

F.P. Report

DOHA: Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledge for steering country out of the present critical period.

Addressing the Overseas Pakistanis in Doha today, prime minister said, when PTI government was sworn in, it was just like four wickets down for 20 runs on the board.

“But I know very well how to play in pressure situation, sooner the Green Passport will regain its position in the world,” he contented.

Terming Overseas Pakistani as an asset of the nation, PM Khan appreciated their contribution for uplifting the foreign reserves of the country.

I’m fully aware about the problems being faced by you [overseas Pakistanis], the premier maintained.

“Those sending money to Pakistan are ‘heroes’ and those doing money laundering are ‘villains’ of the country,” said prime minister, and added that he will continue fighting the villains of the country.

He said a time is not far away when people will not go overseas in search of jobs as Pakistan is going to become economic hub.

Giving example of Qatar, he said honest leadership can uplift any country of the world as it spent the money generated from the gas sector for the prosperity and uplift of the country.

Imran Khan said Pakistan has huge potential for tourism and it can earn billions of dollars from this sector.

He said Pakistan has fascinating beaches, snow clad peaks, religious sights of Sikhism, Buddhism, and Hinduism to attract large number of tourists from across the globe.

Concluding his address, PM Khan thanked Qatari leadership for inviting him and according him a warm reception. He also thanked overseas Pakistanis for their precious time.

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Final report in Sahiwal killing may be delayed: JIT head

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Punjab Police Additional Inspector General (AIG) Syed Ijaz Hussain Shah, who is heading the joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe the Sahiwal killings, “It is not even possible to submit an initial report right now. We will conduct investigations on scientific basis and determine what the truth is.”

He stated it is not possible to submit a final report on the incident by 5pm Tuesday.

The JIT head along with team members visited the site of the incident and recorded statements of three to four three eyewitnesses.

Talking to the media, “Nothing can be said till all things are clear. Six officials of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) are under custody and their statements have been recorded, meanwhile we are collecting evidence,” he added.

“We can only reach a conclusion after initial statements are recorded and lab results are received,” the JIT head further said. “We will present a report to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar after we receive lab reports.”

The eyewitnesses also spoke to the media and said, “The JIT did not inform us before visiting and there were dozens of people present on the site at the time of the incident, however, statements of only three to four people were recorded.”

Meanwhile, sources said that the Punjab CM has refused to give the JIT more time to probe the incident. The JIT should present its report by 5pm and the whole nation is waiting for it, Buzdar was quoted as saying.

The sources said that Buzdar upheld that he does not want any delay in serving justice. “A meeting has been summoned at 5pm and I will review the final report myself,” the provincial chief minister was further quoted as saying.

Buzdar vowed that those responsible will be given exemplary punishment in light of the JIT’s findings.

On Saturday, four people – including three members of a family – were killed in an alleged encounter in Sahiwal. CTD personnel said they had killed a local commander of militant organisation Daesh and three others in the operation. Eyewitnesses, however, disputed the claim and said the people in the car did not fire at officials, nor were any explosives recovered from the vehicle.

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NAB to form JIT in fake bank accounts case

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday announced to form a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the fake accounts case involving former president Asif Ali Zardari.

According to a press release, Director General NAB Rawalpindi Irfan Mangi will be heading the JIT team which will be overseen by the anti-graft watchdoh Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.

It added that the decision to constitute a JIT was taken during a high level meeting chaired by the NAB chairman.

“JIT has begun its investigation,” it said. “Investigation will be carried out in light of Supreme Court’s judgement and evidence. NAB believes in taking the case to its logical conclusion after a transparent probe. Media should refrain from speculation.”

The apex court had ordered NAB to initiate a fresh inquiry into the money laundering and fake bank accounts case.

32 people including Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman, his sister Faryal Talpur and his close aides Hussain Lawai and Omni group chairman Anwar Majeed along with his Abdul Ghani are being inviestigated by the Federal Investigation Agency.

The laundered amount which is said to be black money was gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.

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SC orders Karachi be restored to 40-year-old state, illegal constructions be razed

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The Supreme Court Karachi Registry on Tuesday ordered that the city be restored to how it was 40 years ago and directed authorities to demolish unlawful constructions.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sajid Ali Shah heard the case regarding illegal construction of wedding halls, shopping malls and plazas in residential areas.

During the hearing, the top court’s Karachi Registry ordered, “In Karachi, no house will be demolished to be used for commercial purposes.”

Barring the use of residential houses for commercial purpose, the bencj said, “Wedding halls, shopping malls and plazas will not be constructed on residential plots.”

The bench also sought details of wedding halls, shopping malls and plazas constructed in the city in the last 30 to 40 years and sought recommendations from the Sindh government regarding restoring the city to how it was 40 years ago. Further, the bench summoned the chief secretary in personal capacity. 

“Do whatever but implement court orders,” the bench directed. “If the orders are not implemented then we will ask DG Sindh Control Building Authority (SCBA) Iftikhar Qaimkhani to pack up.”

Censuring DG SCBA, Justice Ahmed questioned, “If you can’t work then why are you sitting on the post? Should we give this city to the federal or Sindh government?” 

“If they cannot run the city then the Sindh government can takeover,” Justice Ahmed remarked.

He further told the DG SCBA, “After a few days, you will also go to Canada.”

“Does anyone feel ashamed after looking at the condition of this city?” the judge asked. “SCBA officials only care about making billions,” he added.

Turning to the additional advocate general, Justice Ahmed said, “Finish the system of local government.” 

‘All encroachments should be immediately demolished’

The judge further told DG SCBA, “You and your officers are playing with fire. Have you ever seen the lavish lives your offices are living?”

Ordering that encroachments on Jam Sadiq Ali Park, Abdullah Gymkhana and KMC be immediately demolished, the court ordered, “All encroachments across the city should be immediately razed.”

Further, the bench also barred the SCBA from issuing no-objection certificates (NOC) for construction of commercial buildings unless the projects are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The court also sought a report on the details of SCBA’s financial matters for the accountant general.

“The buildings which are not part of the master plan should be demolished. The city should be restored to how it was 40 years ago. No matter how many buildings there are, they should be demolished,” Justice Ahmed said.

The judge further remarked, “Eight-storey buildings have been constructed on government quarters. Everyone was involved in making money and the city was destroyed. Is this anybody’s father city that they may do as they please?”

“Who is permitting the construction of wedding halls and shopping centres in every street? Should we hand over the city to the federal government?” he asked.

At this, DG SCBA said, “Work is being done and we will implement court orders.” Justice Ahmed responded, “You should at least say that you should quit. You are increasing your bank balance in accounts which are in Dubai and the US.”

The DG SCBA then said, “I apologise, court orders will be implemented.”

Express anger again, the bench remarked, “We know that permission for wedding halls is still being granted. Wedding halls have been constructed everywhere, including Qayyumabad, North Nazimabad and Federal B Area.”

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UNGA president calls on COAS, lauds Pak Army’s contributions

F.P. Report

RAWALPINDI: United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces on Tuesday lauded the contributions made by the Pakistan Army for maintaining peace, stability and rehabilitation in conflict zones , said the military’s media wing.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), she called on Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Islamabad at the general headquarters and discussed mutual interests including regional security.

“UN values Pakistan’s role in the war against terror and efforts to resolve the regional issues,” she said.

The army chief thanked the visiting dignitary for her acknowledgment and contributions as part of UN.

On Kan 21, Espinosa paid rich tribute to sacrifices rendered by Pakistani peacekeepers for global peace and security during her visit to Center for International peace and stability (CIPS).

“Pakistani troops have saved many lives under the UN umbrella,” she said.

According to ISPR, the delegation paid tribute to 156 Pakistani peacekeepers who sacrificed their lives in the noble cause of humanity and restoring peace and stability in different regions.

The army’s media wing’s added that CIPS was established in 2013 to provide peacekeeping training to domestic and international peacekeepers and was inaugurated by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. “Pursuing a long history with UN Peacekeeping since 1960’s Pakistan has been wholeheartedly supporting UN in Peacekeeping in more than 44 missions.”

Earlier, on her arrival, she was welcomed by National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Rector Lieutenant General (retd) Naveed Zaman. Pakistan’s Ambassador and Permanent representative to the UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi was also present during the visit.

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TLP leaders sent on 14-day judicial remand by ATC

F.P. Report

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court on Tuesday sent Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri along with four others to prison on a 14-day judicial remand.

During the hearing of a case related to nationwide protests and hate speech against the state institutions following the acquittal of blasphemy accused Aasia Masih by the Supreme Court.

A huge number of TLP workers and supporters had gathered outside the ATC. Strict security measures were made in and outside the court while extra security personnel were deployed to deal with any unavoidable situation.

The accused, Rizvi, Qadri, Illama Aijaz Ashrafi and Illama Farooqul Hassan have been charged with fuelling countrywide protests during which they delivered hate speeches targeting state institutions.

They have been also accused of inciting people to damage public and private property during the protests.

On October 30, 2018, nationwide protests erupted against the acquittal of blasphemy accused Aasia Masih on the call of the TLP.

Several parts of the country witnessed severe disruption as enraged protesters blocked roads and forced markets to shut down. Protesters resorted to arson and vandalism in many parts of the country and damaged private and public property in various incidents.

On November 2, 2018, the religious party called off its protest sit-ins after reaching an agreement with the federal and Punjab governments.

A day after the deal, however, the government swung into action and launched a crackdown against the protesters who vandalised public properties and also booked the top TLP leadership.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the federal government to work in collaboration with the provincial governments to bring the culprits behind bars.

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PTI calls ‘key’ party meeting before mini-budget

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) has summoned an important consultative meeting of the party’s parliamentary body before they table mini-budget in the Parliament.

PM Khan has called the meeting at 11am on Wednesday.

The premier will chair the meeting that will be briefed by Finance Minister Asad Umar. The party has directed all relevant members to ensure their presence in the key meeting.

It is expected that the PTI will also finalize its strategy to tackle the looming opposition protest against the government.

The finance minister on Jan 11 announced that his party would unveil the mini budget about two weeks later. The PTI-led federal government is presenting the mini-budget in order to introduce a comprehensive economic plan for the next three years. It had already announced a mini- budget in September last year.

The incumbent government intends to bring the third finance bill in the parliament to achieve tax collection targets.

Earlier, the minister said the country’s trade deficit had reduced due to a rise in foreign remittances and exports.

The minister said the government was in contact with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but they were not in a hurry for the IMF package. “We will sign an agreement that suits the country’s economy.”

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Indian forces martyr two Kashmiris in Shopian

Monitoring Desk

SRINAGAR: Indian occupied forces continued its atrocities in the occupied Kashmir and martyred two more youth in Shopian district on Tuesday.

According to Kashmir Media Service reports, the Indian forces killed the youth during a search operation in Heff Shirmal area of the district.

Meanwhile, despite snowfall and rains, people took to the streets and staged forceful demonstrations against the killing of the youth. Indian troops and police personnel fired pellets and teargas shells to disperse the protesters, injuring several of them.

The authorities have snapped mobile Internet service in the area.

On the other hand, the troops during door-to-door searches barged into several residential houses and harassed the inmates at Dandosa in Rafiabad area of Baramulla district.