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Pakistan favours dialogue with Afghan Taliban to bring peace in Afghanistan: FM

F.P. Report

MUNICH: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi met Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of international security conference in Munich today.

Both the leaders are participating in the special session pertaining to Afghan peace process.

Talking to his German Counterpart Heiko Maas on the sidelines of international security conference in Munich today, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said Germany can take advantage of positive investment policies of Pakistan in the fields of energy, infrastructure, agriculture, food processing, water and waste management.

He said investment of leading German car company Volkswagen in Pakistani market is a good omen for business in Pakistan.

Both the Foreign Ministers agreed to turn Pak-German bilateral friendly relations into durable multi dimensional partnership.

Qureshi informed his counterpart about Pakistan’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan. German Foreign Minister showed interest to visit Pakistan in next month.

In an interview with a German newspaper, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said Pakistan has always been in favour of dialogue with Afghan Taliban regarding peace in Afghanistan, which is imperative for development and progress of entire region.

He said Islamabad has played its due role in the Afghan peace process and will do so in future. He said today Pakistan’s stance regarding peace in Afghanistan is being vindicated. Regarding Indian allegations over yesterday’s suicide attack in Occupied Kashmir, Qureshi said that since day one we have been desirous of good relations with all our neighbours, including India. He said India should also refrain from leveling unfounded allegations against Pakistan.

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FO summons Indian DHC over baseless allegations

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia and lodged strong protest over baseless allegations made by India.

The foreign office has rejected unfounded allegations of India on Pakistan in the aftermath of a suicide attack in the Occupied Kashmir.

Earlier, Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria left Islamabad. 

“Pakistan strongly rejects the Indian government’s allegations. Jaish-e-Muhammad is a proscribed outfit and has no links with Pakistan. The alleged attackers belonged to the area under Indian occupation,” it said.

Earlier, FO spokesperson Dr. Muhammad Faisal said “the attack in Pulwama district of Indian occupied Kashmir “is a matter of grave concern.”

He said Pakistan has always condemned heightened acts of violence in the valley.

“We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to State of Pakistan without investigations,” the spokesperson asserted.

India has withdrawn most favored nation status to Pakistan after blaming Islamabad for the Pulwma attack.

This was announced by India’s Union Minister Arun Jaitley after a security meeting in New Delhi that was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jaitley said the government has also decided to take all possible diplomatic steps in an effort to isolate Pakistan internationally despite its failures in such efforts in the past.

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Schedule finalised: Saudi crown prince to arrive in Pakistan on Feb 17 instead of 16

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is all set to visit Pakistan on February 17-18, the Foreign Office confirmed on Friday.

“The visit programme (itinerary) remains unchanged,” the FO statement added.

Earlier, he was expected to arrive on Saturday, February 16.
Sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that preparations had been finalised to give an “unprecedented warm welcome” to the visiting dignitary, who will be received personally by Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet members at the Nur Khan Airbase on Saturday evening.

Prince Mohammad, who is also the deputy prime minister and minister of defence of the kingdom, will be conferred with Nishan-e-Pakistan – the highest civilian award — during his visit to the country.

Banners heralding Mohammad bin Salman on his maiden visit as crown prince are already lining the streets of Islamabad.

The federal capital’s “red zone”, which houses the Parliament House and the Presidency, is to be sealed off, while civil aviation authorities have been told to reschedule flights during the royal guests’ arrival and departure.

Authorities in the capital said two five-star hotels had been ordered to cancel all advance bookings as rooms will be reserved for the prince’s entourage.

The premier will also accompany Prince Mohammad on the way to the PM House, where the royal guest will be presented the guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces. PM Imran will introduce his cabinet members to the Saudi prince, who will then hold a one-on-one meeting with the former.

The Saudi guests will be provided a three-layer box security from the military airbase to the PM House. Triple-one brigade of the country’s armed forces and Saudi Royal Guards will jointly perform the security duties on the occasion.

Islamabad is hoping to sign a raft of investment deals and other agreements during the two-day visit, including a $10-billion refinery and oil complex for the strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

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Pulwama attack: Qureshi tells India to stop accusing Pakistan

F.P. Report

MUNICH: Reacting to Indian accusations after Pulwama attack, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday urged India to refrain from leveling allegations against Pakistan without any plausible reason.

Speaking to a news outlet in Munich, he said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government desired better ties with all the neighbours, including India.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement is on record [in this regard]. India should desist from leveling allegations against Pakistan,” said the foreign minister.

His statement follows on the heels of yesterday’s blast in India held Kashmir that killed over 45 security personnel.

Underscoring the importance of the Munich Security Conference, he said it is an important forum as foreign and defence ministers as well as security experts from all over the world have gathered here to present their point of view on regional and international issues.

“This will help in formulating a joint strategy with mutual cooperation to resolve the long-standing issues.”

Qureshi said Pakistan had always backed talks with the Taliban for bringing peace in Afghanistan. “Afghan peace is indispensable for the development of the entire region. Pakistan played and will continue to play optimal role in the Afghan peace process.”

He said the recent talks between US officials and the Taliban seconded Pakistan’s standpoint on the Afghan imbroglio.

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Health insurance in tribal areas should be priority, says PM

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that health insurance for tribal areas should be provided on a priority basis.

The prime minister was addressing a ceremony on distribution of health cards to the public.

“The tribal areas lag behind in the fields of education and health,” said PM Imran.

The prime minister said that the war against terror in the tribal areas proved quite costly and this scheme of health cards can be quite a boon for the locals.

PM Imran said that he is fulfilling the promise of help for tribal people and under the health card scheme treatment up to Rs 720,000 can be given per house.

The prime minister, while speaking on the imminent visit of Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s visit said that the event will help bring in investment and create employment.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said a high-powered Saudi delegation including key ministers and over 20 businessmen from leading companies would hold meetings with their counterparts in Pakistan and discuss the potential of bigger investment between the two countries.

He added that a Pak-Saudi Coordination Council would be set up following the visit, whereas PM Khan would personally lead monitoring of the implementation of MoUs.

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Govt respects court’s decision to grant Shehbaz bail: Naeemul Haque

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and special assistant to the prime minister, Naeemul Haque on Friday said the government respects the court’s decision to grant bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shehbaz Sharif.

Speaking to the media here earlier today, Haque said respecting courts’ decisions made up an important pillar of democracy and expressed hope that the opposition leader would play a role in the National Assembly for the betterment of the country and its people.

“We hope Shehbaz Sharif will play his role in the [House] for the betterment of Pakistan, its people. We want personal attacks in the National Assembly to end, and for discipline to prevail,” the PTI leader said.

The Lahore High Court on Thursday approved Shehbaz’s bail petitions in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases, and ordered his release.

Commenting on India blaming Pakistan for yesterday’s deadly attack on a convoy of Indian paramilitary personnel in Pulwama, Haque said it was nothing new for India to put the blame on Pakistan.

“A movement is being run in India ahead of elections [there] to pile up blame game on Pakistan. I [saw an interview] by [former IoK chief minister] Farooq Abdullah in which it was stated that the Indian government has hidden away six fact reports on the situation in Occupied Kashmir. The facts are being hidden,” Haque added.

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Govt decides not to invite opposition at dinner in honor of Saudi prince

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided not to invite the opposition at the dinner that will be hosted in honor of Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman on Friday.

According to sources, Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari have also not been invited.

It is pertinent here to mention that leaders from the opposition were invited during the high-level visits in the past. Sources have further revealed that reason behind government’s such decision is the ongoing corruption cases and tension with the opposition.

The dinner will be hosted at the Prime Minister House on Saturday and at the President House on Sunday.

Let it be known that Muhammad bin Salman will arrive in Islamabad on Saturday on a two-day official visit to Pakistan on the invitation of Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan.

The Crown Prince will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation including members of the Saudi Royal family, key ministers and leading businessmen.

This will be the first state-level visit of the dignitary to Pakistan since his elevation to the position of the Crown Prince in April 2017.

During his visit, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman will call on the President Dr. Arif Alvi. He will also meet PM Imran and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

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Pakistan Navy seizes liquor consignment near Ormara coast

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The Pakistan Navy on Friday announced seizing a consignment of liquor near Ormara coast in Balochistan.

According to a spokesman of Pakistan Navy, the liquor consignment captured was being smuggled to Pakistan by sea is worth around Rs 20 million. The illegal consignment has been handed over to Pakistan Customs for further investigation and legal proceeding.

The spokesperson lauded the operation and credited planning, vigilance, and intelligence for its success.

The Navy conducted the intelligence based operation with permanent surveillance, planning and mutual cooperation, the spokesman said.

In an earlier operation this month Pakistan Navy seized a large consignment of hashish in an offshore operation near Pasni in Balochistan.

Approximately 2000 kilograms of hashish with a value of 30 million US dollars were captured by the Navy near Pasni town.

The successful seizure of narcotics by Pakistan Navy was the result of a joint operation conducted in the coordination with Anti Narcotics Force (ANF).

A Navy spokesperson revealed that the seized drugs were handed over to the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) for further legal proceedings.

A ?Pakistan Navy Ship last year seized huge cache of drugs worth millions of dollars while operating in the North Arabian Sea.

The operation by PNS ASLAT was carried out while undertaking Maritime Security Operations in Pakistani Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

After gathering credible evidence, Special Warfare teams of PNS ASLAT boarded the suspected vessel, undertook search operation and seized 5000 kg of Hashish.

Later, the sized drugs and suspects were handed over to Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) Ship for further legal proceedings and its disposal as per law.

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Zardari moves SC to stop FIA investigation in fake accounts case

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Friday filed an application in the Supreme Court (SC) seeking orders to bar the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from pursuing its investigation in the fake accounts case.

The plea, filed by Zardari’s counsel Sardar Latif Khosa, contends that a previous SC order directed the joint investigation team (JIT) to assist the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the investigation.

It states that the court’s orders were being violated as the FIA was still continuing its investigation in the fake accounts case.
According to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman’s application, the FIA recently summoned his legal adviser, Abu Bakr Zardari, and questioned him about some particular bank accounts.

The application states that NAB and FIA’s parallel investigations in the fake accounts case were illegal and in violation of the SC’s orders.

Zardari’s plea requests the SC to order the JIT and FIA to stop their investigative pursuits and remain limited to their court-mandated role of assisting the NAB investigation.

The former president’s move to approach the apex court came a day after a banking court in Karachi extended his pre-arrest bail in the fake accounts case till March 5.

Prior to that, on January 28, Zardari and his sister, Faryal Talpur, submitted a petition in the SC to review and recall the January 7 decision in the fake accounts case.

In the civil review petition prepared by Latif Khosa, the former president and his sister challenged the decision wherein the SC – in light of a report prepared by the JIT – directed NAB to conduct a fresh investigation within two months and file references against the accused.

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LEAs arrests five key suspects in Ali Raza Abidi murder case

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) has arrested five key suspects in assassination of former Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) lawmaker Ali Raza Abdi, on Friday.

Last year on December 25, former MNA Ali Raza Abidi was shot dead outside his house in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in Karachi.

According to sources, five members of an 11-member gang that was directly involved in Abidi’s killing were arrested from Lyari.

The arrested accused have made startling revelation in the interrogation. The gang killed the MQM’s former lawmaker on the political grounds by taking “wage”, relayed sources.

Furthermore, eight members of the gang were tasked to trace Ali Raza Abidi, whereas a trained rider along with the shooter was hired to assassinate him.

Sources further said that two main accused of the case have fled Iran, while further investigation from the held accused in the case was underway.

The law enforcing traced the accused after finding a clue from killing incident of Ehtisham, a youth, who was gunned down in city’s area of Liaquatabad last year.

Former Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA Ali Raza Abidi was gunned down late night on December 25 last year outside his residence in DHA area of the metropolis.

The CCTV footage of the incident showed that two unidentified assailants chased Abidi and when the politician stopped his vehicle in front of his residence, in Khayaban-e-Ittehad locality, one of the assailants opened fire on Abidi and managed to escape from the scene.