British PM says India, Pakistan should resolve Kashmir issue bilaterally

LONDON: ICMD, Aug 20, 2019 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that tensions in occupied Kashmir are for India and Pakistan to resolve. Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke by telephone on Tuesday evening. A Downing Street spokesperson said: "Prime Minister Modi began by congratulating the Prime Minister on his appointment. "The two leaders agreed on the importance of the UK-India partnership and the need to build on it further, particularly through trade and economic ties and through the living bridge that links our countries. Prime Minister Modi said there are immense possibilities for the UK and India which would increase prosperity in both countries. "The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi discussed the current situation in Kashmir. The Prime Minister made clear that the UK views the issue of Kashmir is one for India and Pakistan to resolve bilaterally. He underlined the importance of resolving issues through dialogue. "Ahead of the G7, the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi agreed on the importance of working together to tackle climate change and other threats to biodiversity. They looked forward to meeting at the summit this weekend to discuss this and other issues."

Judge Arshad Malik video scandal verdict in 2-3 days

ICMD, Aug 20, 2019 Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on Tuesday stated that the Supreme Court would announce its verdict on petitions regarding judge Arshad Malik’s video scandal in two-three days. A three-member bench, headed by the chief justice heard the case today with Director General (DG) FIA Bashir Memon and Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan present in court. During proceedings, the attorney general informed the court that Judge Arshad Malik was posted to the accountability court on March 13, 2018. The chief justice then asked if the person who had appointed the judge had come forward, to which the attorney general responded no. Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa then remarked that Nasir Janjua had claimed he had appointed Judge Arshad Malik. Further, the chief justice said this meant that after the Panama Papers verdict, the government at the time had appointed the judge. Justice Azmat Saeed asked if a forensic audit of the video shown in the press conference could be conducted. To this DG FIA replied that they did not have the video. Expressing anger, Justice Saeed then remarked that apart from the FIA this video was available to the entire country and people in Pakistan and the court were asking if the video was real. DG FIA then informed the court that a forensic audit of the video had not carried out, assuring the apex court that this would be done. Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that three weeks were given to complete the investigation and the report was regarding two videos – one which was used to blackmail the judge and the other which was shown in the press conference. The chief justice inquired whether a petition had been filed in court to obtain any legal benefit, to which the attorney general said no petition had been filed. The chief justice remarked that the video would be of use for the release of Nawaz Sharif when a petition is filed. He added that it remained to be seen if a forensic audit could be carried out on a copy of the video and if this was possible for a YouTube video. Justice Umar Atta Bandial remarked that those who had made this story were now disassociating themselves from it. The chief justice added that if this video was proven to be real it would be quite effective. He said that Judge Arshad Malik has a past and could be blackmailed by anyone. The attorney general said that it would be difficult to prove this video to be authentic, to which the chief justice remarked that even the judge had confessed to the objectionable video, but how will the authenticity of the video shown in the press conference be proven. The FIA’s report was presented in the court which also included statements of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif. DG FIA informed the court that when Maryam Nawaz was asked where she received this video from, her response was that she did not know who made the video and received it from a worker. She added that the video was on a phone which did not have a SIM card. Last month, the Supreme Court took up the case on a petition submitted by a citizen named Ishtiaq Ahmed, who appealed to the apex court for an independent judicial inquiry of the video scandal. On July 12, judge Arshad Malik was relieved from his duties by the federal government for his alleged involvement in the controversial video scandal. Arshad Malik, in his letter to the IHC, alleged he was offered a bribe by Hussain Nawaz. “Nasir Janjua came to meet me and claimed that he had the cash equivalent of Rs 100 million in Euros for me immediately available out of which the Euro equivalent of Rs 20 million was laying in his car parked outside. "I was told that Mian Sahib is willing to pay whatever I demand on acquitting him in both references. However, I declined the bribe offered to me while committing remains sticking to merits,” he said in his letter. -- GT/TV Channels

No 'A' Class for Zardari, Talpur, to use facilities on personal expenditure

ICMD, Aug 21, 2019 An accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday rejected a request filed by PPP's Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur — both under National Accountability Bureau's custody in the fake accounts case — for the provision of 'A' Class facilities to them in Adiala jail. The court, however, granted approval for various amenities to be installed or brought for use at their own expense. Today's hearing was conducted by accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir in which the defendants were represented by counsels Farooq H. Naek and Sardar Latif Khan Khosa. An application seeking ‘A’ Class facilities for Zardari and Talpur in prison had been submitted on Friday. Khosa had argued during Friday's hearing that his client had been given ‘A’ Class facilities in jail even before he became the president of Pakistan. He said the former president had turned old and had been suffering from multiple diseases, yet the jail authorities were not providing him proper care. The matter had been adjourned until today and Zardari and Talpur were exempted from personal appearance. The court today allowed the provision of the following additional facilities on personal expenditure to the incarcerated PPP leaders: Airconditioning Television Radio Ipad/Ipod Refrigerator Cooker Kettle Toaster Torch Electric mosquito killer Iron Besides the above-mentioned appliances, approval was also granted for a personal attendant. An application had also been submitted by Talpur seeking permission to participate in the Sindh Assembly session. The court asked the counsels to approach the inspector general of prisons in this regard for transit remand. The judicial remand for both Zardari and Talpur has been extended till September 5.

India finally shares floodwater discharge data with Pakistan

ICMD, Aug 2019: India has finally shared data related to floodwater discharges in the River Sutlej with Pakistan, pledging to fulfil its responsibility under the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. However, it has refused to fulfil its responsibility under the Advance Flood Information Agreement (AFIA) signed in 1989 during the first government of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in the wake of the 1988 floods in Pakistan, according to a senior official at the Pakistan office for Indus waters. “They (Indian commissioner for Indus waters) contacted us on Monday night and shared data regarding floodwater discharge (50,000 cusecs) in the River Sutlej. He told us that since the treaty binds India to fulfil its responsibility of informing Pakistan about any such extraordinary situation, the information regarding discharges of 50,000 cusecs in Sutlej is being shared under the same accord,” said Pakistan’s Additional Commissioner for Indus Waters Shiraz Memon. River Sutlej is expected to be in high flood at Ganda Singhwala (Kasur) as water released by India from its dams will cross it during the early hours of Wednesday morning (today), says the Flood Forecasting Division (FFD) of the Pakistan Meteorological Department. Water flow in the eastern river given to India under the Indus Water Basin Treaty depends on the releases by India from the river’s Bhakra Dam and Pong over River Beas, which merges into Sutlej in Kapurthala, Indian Punjab. FFD chief meteorologist Dr Azmat Hayat Khan said on Tuesday India released 158,000 cusecs of water from both the dams, mainly from Bhakra Dam, around 24 hours ago. The FFD was expecting the releases in view of the chances of the filling up of both dams due to torrential rains over catchments of the rivers last week. He said the discharge at Ganda Singhwala from where Sutlej enters Pakistan was 48,000 cusecs (low flood) at 4pm, adding that the level was rising and the discharge was expected to reach 100,000 cusecs by Tuesday evening. It is likely to peak to 140,000 cusecs (high flood) on Wednesday morning. The level will then start gradually falling afterwards. The peak will reach Sulemanki on Aug 23. The discharge will initially be 70,000 to 90,000 cusecs (medium flood level) but is expected to increase to 130,000 cusecs (high flood) late in the night.

SJC quashes misconduct reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa

ISLAMABAD: ICMD, Aug 19, 2019 The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Monday quashed a reference against Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa, saying the allegations against him were not "serious or grave enough to constitute misconduct sufficient for his removal". The Council was hearing a reference alleging that Justice Isa had violated the code of conduct for judges by writing two letters to President of Pakistan Arif Alvi. The reference, filed by Advocate Waheed Shahzad Butt under Article 209 of the Constitution, was one of two pending references against the Supreme Court judge. Justice Isa had written letters to President Alvi after the law minister instituted a presidential reference against him for allegedly possessing properties in the United Kingdom in the name of wife and children. In the second reference, Advocate Butt had contended that by repeatedly writing letters "instead of explaining the sources of funds for such acquisition of properties", Justice Isa had violated the code of conduct for judges of the superior courts. Advocate Butt had also alleged that the letters were leaked to the media to generate unnecessary public controversy, that the language used in the letters was offensive, that the judge had unduly targeted the Prime Minister and leveled unsubstantiated allegations against President Alvi and other federal cabinet members. But, in its order issued on Monday, the Supreme Judicial Council noted that Advocate Butt had not alleged that the contents of the letters had been leaked to the media by Justice Isa himself. "We have also questioned the informant (Butt) appearing before us in person today in that regard and he has not been able to produce anything before us to establish that the respondent-Judge (Justice Isa) had revealed or disclosed anything about his relevant letters to anybody," the SJC noted in its conclusions. The Council said the absence of such an allegation against Justice Isa reduces the reference to "merely to writing of private letters by him to the President", which "may not ipso facto amount to misconduct on the part of the Judge". "The purpose or the contents of such letters might appear to some to be oblique or objectionable but such letters were merely private letters not shown to be meant or intended to be read by anybody other than the addressee and those to whom they had been copied," it noted. Regarding the contents of the letter, the Council said the judge might have "subjectively felt a sense of persecution" after a presidential reference was filed against him. It also noted that Justice Isa was under stress due to the medical condition of his daughter and father-in-law, which "might have aggravated his sense of harassment and might have contributed towards outrunning of his discretion". "In this view of the matter, the alleged impropriety in the private letters written by the respondent-Judge to the President has not been found by us to be serious or grave enough to constitute misconduct sufficient for his removal from the exalted office of a Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan," concluded the Supreme Judicial Council. -- GN

Trump's calls Modi, Imran Khan, urges to reduce tension over Kashmir issue

ICMD, Aug 20, 2019 United States President Donald Trump on Monday spoke with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Indian premier Narendra Modi, urging a reduction of tension between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. In a post shared on Twitter early on Tuesday morning, Trump said he had spoken to his "two good friends" — Prime Minister Imran and Prime Minister Modi — regarding "trade, strategic partnerships, and most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir". Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2019 "A tough situation, but good conversations!" he added. In a statement regarding Trump's call with Modi, White House spokesperson Hoga Gidley on Monday had said: "The US president conveyed the importance of reducing tensions between India and Pakistan and maintaining peace in the region.” "The two leaders [Trump and Modi] further discussed how they will continue to strengthen US-India economic ties through increased trade, and they look forward to meeting again soon." Later on Monday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at a press conference that US President Trump made a call to Prime Minister Imran Khan today after his talk with Modi and discussed prevailing situation in occupied Kashmir. Qureshi, in a press briefing in Islamabad on Monday, said Trump called Modi after his talk with Prime Minister Imran on Aug 16, in which the premier had taken the US leader into confidence prior to the United Nations Security Council meeting on occupied Kashmir. Trump in the call today (Monday) expressed desire in lowering tensions between Pakistan and India, said Qureshi.

About 4,000 people arrested in Kashmir since August 5

Thousands of people have been detained in Kashmir over fears of outbreaks of unrest after the BJP government stripped of the special status to the State two weeks ago, government sources told AFP. A magistrate speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said at least 4,000 people were arrested and held under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial. “Most of them were flown out of Kashmir because prisons here have run out of capacity,” the magistrate said, adding that he had used a satellite phone allocated to him to collate the figures from colleagues across the State amid a communications blackout imposed by authorities. Authorities have repeatedly declined to provide a tally of how many people have been taken into custody, apart from confirming more than 100 local politicians, activists and academics were detained in the first few days after the state was stripped of its semi-autonomous status. They said the “few preventive detentions” were made to avoid a "breach of the peace" in a region that has fought an armed rebellion against Indian rule for three decades. Jammu and Kashmir government spokesman Rohit Kansal said previously there was “no centralised figure” for the total number of people detained. But AFP spoke to numerous government officials in Srinagar, including police and security personnel, who confirmed the sweeping arrests. A police official who asked to remain anonymous told AFP “around 6,000 people were medically examined at a couple of places in Srinagar after they were detained”. “They are first sent to the central jail in Srinagar and later flown out of here in military aircraft,” he added. Another security official said "thousands are jailed" but that the figure did not include other residents whose detentions at police stations had not been recorded. -- Courtesy AFP

IoK: Curfew, communication blockade enters 14th day

SRINAGAR: ICMD, Aug 18, 2019 Communications and curfew blockade entered its 14th day in occupied Kashmir, following the Indian government’s decision to abolish Article 370 of the constitution, which granted special status to the occupied valley. The Indian authorities have been maintaining a strict curfew in the valley since August 5 when Narendra Modi government announced scrapping of the special status of occupied Kashmir. On Saturday, residents of the valley defied the curfew and protested against the abrogation of the special status resulting in several people getting injured. Six were shifted to a hospital in critical condition after the Indian occupying forces fired pellets and bullets on the protesters. Internet and phone communications remain clocked in the region while tens of thousands of troop reinforcements have flooded the main city of Srinagar and other towns and villages in the occupied valley. In addition, many of the region’s urban areas remained in lockdown and more than 500 political or community leaders and activists remained in detention. -- Agencies

2 men killed, 1 boy wounded in 'unprovoked' Indian firing on LoC

ICMD, Aug 18, 2019 At least two persons were killed and one young boy was wounded in two sectors of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in “unprovoked” Indian firing on Sunday, officials said. The deaths occurred in Battal sector in Poonch district while the boy was wounded in Abbaspur sector of the same district which has been facing cross Line of Control (LoC) shelling for the past several days. “Today the shelling began at 6:30pm and continued for two hours without any pause. However, it is intermittent at the moment,” a police official based in Battal told Dawn at 10pm, but declined to be identified. He said one of the shells landed close to the venue of the wedding of one, Muhammad Aqeel, son of Muhammad Siddique Bhatti in Darra Sher Khan village. Splinters of a shell pierced the groom’s 60-year-old uncle, Hassan Din aka Balochi, who had come all the way from Dadyal tehsil of Mirpur district to attend the ceremony. Apart from him, 63-year-old Lal Din, son of Muhammad Din, a resident of Darra Sher Khan village, was also hit by the splinters. Both died on the spot, the official said. In Abbaspur sector of Poonch district, Saddam Noor, a seven-year-old boy, was critically injured after he an Indian sniper hit him in the head from across the nearby LoC. The boy was rushed to CMH Rawalakot in critical condition, an official said.

Daesh claims responsibility of Afghan wedding suicide blast

KABUL: ICMD, Aug 19, 2019 Daesh on Sunday claimed responsibility for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees to a pact with the United States. The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of US forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan’s US-backed government. Daesh fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and US-led international forces and the Taliban. The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority community's neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of “infidels”. Daesh has claimed some of the most bloody attacks in Afghan cities over the past couple of years, with some aimed at a Muslim minority. The Taliban had earlier denied responsibility for the Kabul attack and condemned it. More than 180 people were wounded, with many women and children among the casualties, interior ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi said Sunday as families thronged to Kabul’s crowded cemeteries. “We want peace, not such brutal suicide attacks,” said Ahmad Khan, who was burying a relative.

1,320MW coal-fired Hub power plant commissioned

ISLAMABAD: ICMD, Aug 19, 2019 The government confirmed on Sun¬day successful commercial operations of a $2 billion 1,320MW coal-fired power plant set up by the China Power Hub Generation Company (CPHGC) under the China-Pakistan Econo¬mic Corridor (CPEC) project. “M/s CPHGC has successfully undergone through commissioning tests as per the agreed procedure. The engineer has certified the successful commissioning of the complex,” said a notification issued by the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) — a government-owned subsidiary responsible for procuring power from plants and selling them to distribution companies. The CPPA said the power producer had called for declaring its commercial operation date (COD) from Aug 17, 2019, while its engineer — SGS — had also issued certificate of initial tested capacity that came out at 1,249MW. Therefore, it called upon the National Power Control Centre (NPCC) to issue dispatch instructions to the CPHGC keeping in view the system requirements. Separately, the CPHGC announced that it had successfully declared the COD of its 1,320MW (2x660) imported coal power plant and integrated jetty with coal transhipment capacity of 4.2 million tonnes per annum. The CPHGC is a joint venture between the Hub Power Company (Hubco) and China Power International Holding (CPIH) and a part of early harvest energy projects under the CPEC framework agreement. – Courtesy Dawn