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FO dismisses Indian PM’s statement accusing Pakistan of sponsoring terror

Tariq Ullah Wardak

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office Thursday strongly dismissed a recent statement by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism and said the attempt was meant to divert world’s attention from the ongoing human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with US Vice President in Singapore Wednesday had said, “All the leads in global terror attacks ultimately lead to a single source – Pakistan, which was also politically mainstreaming the people involved in terrorist activities,” as was quoted by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.

Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Faisal, at a weekly briefing, said India was habitual of blaming Pakistan rather than positively responding to the latter’s offer for negotiations.

“India should refrain from doing this and instead should work on the better option (negotiations),” the spokesman said in reference to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s letter to his Indian counterpart, proposing resumption of bilateral dialogue and discussion on all outstanding issues.

He confirmed that the body of slain SP Tahir Khan Dawar was still not handed over to Pakistan, to which strong protest was registered with the Afghan authorities.

He said Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul and the consulate in Jalalabad were constantly in touch with the Afghan Foreign Ministry for the early recovery of body and its transfer to Pakistan.

To a question on Asia Bibi, the Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy, the spokesman said she was still in Pakistan “alive and safe”.

On reasons of US Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad putting off his upcoming visit to Pakistan, he said the Foreign Office was in touch with the US authorities for the finalization of dates.

However, he said Pakistan’s relations with the US were beyond the framework of Afghan reconciliation.

On Moscow format, he said Pakistan as a policy was successfully engaged in efforts to ensure Afghan peace and believed that the forum with regional countries would help resume stability of the war-torn country.

He said military-focused strategy could not be successful in Afghanistan and the conflict required a political Afghan-led and Afghan-owned solution.

He mentioned the recent report by Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs with its key finding that around 500,700 were killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan in terror-related incidents since 2011 and also identified Pakistan as the worst victim.

On repatriation of Afghan refugees, he said the process at present was suspended due to winter season in both countries.

He said the repatriation process would resume in March and the SAFRON ministry was working on the issue.

On crackdown by China separating Pakistani men from their Uygur wives, the spokesman said the Foreign Office was in touch with Chinese authorities to resolve the issue.

On the government’s efforts for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from the US prison, the spokesman said the matter was consistently being raised with the US focusing her legal rights during detention.

He said the consulate general in Houston paid regular visits to Dr Aafia, making around 12 visits in three years.

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Funeral prayers of SP Tahir Dawar offered in Peshawar

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: The funeral prayers of slain Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar were offered at Police Lines in Peshawar on Thursday.

KP Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi, IG KP police Salahuddin Khan Mahsud and other officials attended the funeral.

Tahir Khan Dawar, who was kidnapped from Islamabad’s G-10/4 area on Oct 26, was murdered in Afghanistan as his tortured body was found in Dur Baba district of Nangarhar province this week.

Afghan authorities handed over the mortal remains of the martyred cop to a Pakistani delegation at Torkham border crossing this evening after which the body was brought to Peshawar.

The Foreign Office said in a statement that Pakistan hoped that Afghan authorities will offer full cooperation in ascertaining the circumstances behind the killing of the police officer in Afghanistan.

“The sad episode of retrieval of the body of SP Tahir Khan Dawar following his brutal murder in Afghanistan two days ago, ended as an official delegation brought it back today. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and pray for the Maghfirah of the departed soul,” the statement read.

It said after the news of Dawar’s death on the evening of November 13, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul immediately contacted Afghan authorities for its confirmation and handing over of the body of the deceased to Pakistan. The Ambassador of Pakistan had asked the Afghan government to immediately send the mortal remains foregoing routine formalities.

The Afghan Charge d’ Affairs in Islamabad was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs twice yesterday, and again this afternoon to register our strong protest over the inordinate delay and manner in which the body was handed over, said the Foreign Office.

“Written and verbal demarches were made, which resulted in the visit of an official delegation to Afghanistan, who brought it back to Peshawar this evening.”

Earlier, it was reported that the Afghan officials refused to hand over the mortal remains of the cop to a Pakistani delegation led by Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi who arrived at the Torkham Gate to receive his body.

They handed over the body to a jirga comprising tribal elders and MNA Mohsin Dawar.

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Nawaz Sharif disassociates himself from Qatari prince’s letters

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Former premier Nawaz Sharif on Thursday while recording his statement in the Al-Azizia reference distanced himself from Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani’s letters which the Sharif family had presented as evidence in the Supreme Court during proceedings of the Panama case.

“I have no relation with the Qatari prince’s letters,” the former premier said while recording his statement for a second consecutive day before an accountability court in Islamabad. The Sharif family had submitted letters from the Qatari royal family before the Supreme Court last year.

Accountability court judge Muhammad Arshad Malik resumed hearing the Al-Azizia corruption reference, filed by the National Accountability Bureau last year on Supreme Court orders. Nawaz has answered most of the 151 questions posed to him by the court in the corruption reference against him.

Responding to a question, Nawaz asserted, “I was not a part of any transaction in any capacity. My name has not been mentioned in any document.”

The former premier also raised reservations over the statements of Wajid Zia, the prosecution’s star witness and Panamagate JIT head. While answering the questions, Nawaz also constantly consulted his counsel, Khawaja Haris.

In response to another question, the former premier said, “The records of our business were seized after martial law was imposed in 1999. We filed complaints in this regard but no action was taken.”

“Judge sb, this not only happened with us in 1999 but has always happened. It is a painful story of our family,” he added.

The former premier continued, “In 1972, Pakistan’s biggest steel mill — Ittefaq Foundry — was nationalised. No one even asked whether we had money to eat.”

“I was not even a politician back in 1972 and entered politics in the 1980s,” Nawaz said.

Further, the former premier said, “The JIT’s Volume X is a mere investigative report and not acceptable evidence. I am not a witness to any document submitted by the JIT other than my tax records.”

“I had provided the JIT with my tax records,” he added.

Nawaz continued, “Mutual legal assistance (MLA) was presented as evidence against me. The MLA from Saudi Arabia did not get a response while the response from United Arab Emirates (UAE) was factually incorrect.”

The accountability court has until November 17 to wrap up the remaining two corruption references – Al-Azizia and Flagship Investments – against the Sharif family.

The Supreme Court had granted final extension to the court last month, after its deadline to conclude the trials against the Sharifs had ended on October 7.

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‘More than a terrorist organisation in Afghanistan’ behind SP Dawar’s murder: DG ISPR

F.P. Report

RAWALPINDI: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said the brutal murder of Superintendent Police (SP) Tahir Dawar in Afghanistan was high condemnable.

In a series of tweets, DG ISPR said SP Tahir Dawar’s abduction, move to Afghanistan and follow up behaviour by Afghan authorities raised questions which indicated the involvement or resources more than that of a terrorist organisation in Afghanistan.

The military spokesman reiterated that while investigations by Pakistani authorities were in process, Afghan security forces should cooperate in border fencing and bilateral border security coordination to deny the use of Afghan territory against Pakistan.

SP Dawar was reported missing from Islamabad on October 27 and his death was confirmed by the Afghan government on November 14. The police officer’s body along with his service card was found by locals in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Earlier on Thursday, Afghan officials handed over the body of SP Tahir Dawar to Pakistani officials at the Torkham border. The body was received by a tribal jirga led by MNA Mohsin Dawar. State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi along with KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousfazi was also present at the border.

Pakistani officials had held talks with officials from Afghanistan after the latter refused to hand over the body. Afghan officials wanted the body to be handed over to MNA Mohsin Dawar or tribal representatives.

Speaking in the Senate, Minister of State for Interior Arfidi said SP Dawar was abducted from Islamabad and taken to Mianwali from where he was taken to Bannu and then to Afghanistan.

The minister of state for interior asserted, “Some people want to destabilise Pakistan.”

“We will make an example out of those responsible for SP Dawar’s murder and will make sure the case reaches its logical conclusion whether it is in Pakistan or Afghanistan,” Afridi vowed.

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Pakistan in contact with US government on Dr Aafia issue: FO

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday said Pakistan was in contact with the US government over the issue of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

During the weekly news briefing, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal told reporters that officials from Pakistan’s Consulate in Houston had met Dr Aafia 12 time during the last three years. The spokesman also informed reporters about Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s meeting with Dr Fouzia the sister of Dr Aafia.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, a resolution calling for the release of Dr Aafia was passed. The resolution was tabled by JUI-F Senator Talha Mehmood and stated that the government should take measures for the return of Dr Aafia and contact the United States.

On November 6, Pakistani scientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui who has been in jail in the US since 2010 on charges of attempted murder and assault on US personnel wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan. In the letter appealed to the prime minister for her release, calling her imprisonment in the US illegal.

Following the letter, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said Dr Aafia’s issued had been raised regularly with US authorities. In a press release, the ministry stated that the issue of respecting the human and legal rights of Dr Aafia Siddiqui was also raised in the meeting at the Foreign Office with Ambassador Alice Wells.

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Rs360 million transferred from Dar’s account to Punjab government

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Rs360 million has been transferred from the bank account of former finance minister Ishaq Dar to the Government of Punjab.

In October, an accountability court ordered the auction of Ishaq Dar’s assets and confiscated his bank accounts in Pakistan on a plea by the National Accountability Bureau. NAB had filed the petition after Dar went to London for medical treatment and continues to abscond in corruption cases against him in the accountability court.

According to reports, Rs360 million was deposited in over a dozen accounts linked to Ishaq Dar. The funds will be released to Dar if he is able to prove his innocence in court.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court was informed that questions from United Kingdom’s Home Office pertaining to the return of Dar to Pakistan had been forwarded to NAB and the bureau would respond to them.

The apex court ordered NAB to respond to the UK Home Office’s questionnaire in one month and submit a report.

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PTI’s Waleed Iqbal, Seemi Aizdi win Senate by-election

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Both Senate seats from Punjab on which by-election were held today (Thursday) were won by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Waleed Iqbal won on a general seat and Seemi Aizdi emerged winner on a reserved seat for women, following the vote count after 5pm.

The seats fell vacant after the de-notification of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz members, Saadia Abbasi, the sister of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Haroon Akhtar, as members of the Parliament for possessing dual nationality.

The PTI members were contesting against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Saud Majeed and Saira Afzal Tarar.

Iqbal won with 184 votes, while Majeed secured 176 votes.

On the women’s seat, Aizdi was able to get 183 votes while Tarar got 175 votes.

A total of 358 votes were cast in the by-election.

Polling for the vacant Senate seats commenced at the Punjab Assembly building in Lahore at 9am and concluded at 4pm.

The ruling PTI cast 179 votes while 10 PML-Q members cast their vote.

Further, by-election on one provincial seat PB-5 Dukki and one National Assembly seat NA-258 are also being held today.

Polling has ended on both seats and vote count is under way.

All 23 polling stations of NA-258 and 75 of PB-5 have been declared highly sensitive.

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Information minister barred from Senate session

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani has barred the Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry from attending Thursday’s Senate session after he failed to apologize for his misconduct which created uproar in yesterday’s session.

Earlier in the today’s Senate session, Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani demanded an apology from Information minister and also warned him that he would be barred from the Senate if he failed to apologize, as the opposition staged a walkout protesting his remarks during Wednesday’s session.

In Wednesday session of the upper house, Chaudhry had accused Pushtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Achakzai of robbing the country and making anti-state statements.

The accusation had resulted in a strong response from PkMAP senator Usman Kakar, who accused Chaudhry of “licking the boots” of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

The Senate chairman had intervened and more than once asked Chaudhry to not use “unparliamentarily” language, saying that running the House was the government’s responsibility and it needed to exercise greater tolerance towards the opposition.

Sanjrani eventually had to turn off Chaudhry’s mic amid uproar by the opposition.

As the session got under way today, the chairman had warned Chaudhry that he would be barred from the Senate if he did not apologize for the ruckus. The info minister, however, failed to apologize, and was subsequently barred from attending today’s session.

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Responsible of SP Dawar’s murder to be made an example: Afridi

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Khan Afridi has said that some forces trying to destabilize Pakistan by targeting our brave soldiers and policemen.

This he said while answering to a question on Thursday regarding the martyrdom of Superintendent Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar.

Minister told the Upper House that the martyred SP Dawar used to receive death threats and his brother and sister-in-law had also been martyred earlier.

Afridi added that an FIR that SP Dawar had gone missing was registered on October 28 while adding that the Afghan government confirmed reports of his martyrdom on November 14.

He further shared that SP Dawar was abducted from Islamabad and taken to Mianwali from where he was taken to Bannu and then to Afghanistan.

Afridi said that he will make sure to reach the case to its logical conclusion and adding that the responsible of SP Dawar’s murder will be make an example whether it is in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Minister added that SP Dawar’s matter was sensitive and we kept receiving reports from intelligence and security agencies that he could not be contacted and was being traced.

He also criticized the previous government’s Safe City project and said, “Over 1,800 cameras were purchased for the project but not even one has the ability to identify faces or number plates.”

SP Dawar had gone missing from Islamabad on October 27. Speculation over the fate of the missing officer mounted on Tuesday when pictures of a body found in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, purportedly that of Dawar, started circulating on social media platforms.

On Wednesday, Information Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Shaukat Yousufzai said the Afghan government had confirmed the martyrdom of SP Dawar.

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PM orders immediate inquiry into SP Tahir Dawar brutal murder

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered immediate inquiry of the brutal murder of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar, who was abducted from Islamabad last month and found dead in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his tweet on Thursday, said that  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has been directed to coordinate with Islamabad police in holding an inquiry immediately.

A report of the matter has also been sought from Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Afridi.

The dead body of the slain police officer will be shifted to Pakistan on Thursday (today) through Torkham border.

Earlier on Wednesday, Afghanistan Foreign Ministry confirmed that SP Tahir Dawar was killed in Nangarhar province, stated Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Faisal.

Faisal added that the corpse of ill-fate police official was first seen by people of Afghanistan’s district Dur Baba. “Afghanistan Foreign Ministry informed Pakistan’s embassy about the recovery of the dead body of Tahir Dawar. The dead body also contain service card of late SP Dawar”, added spokesperson.

On October-26, the ill-fated police official had gone missing from Ramna neighborhood of the federal capital. A high-level committee was constituted on October-28 which conducted raids at scattered places in country. The committee also held talks with members of Jirga (traditional assembly of tribal leaders).