Caretakers task police officers with ‘breaking Pakistan People’s Party’ before 2018 elections, claims Sindh Chief Minister

KARACHI: ICR, Nov 14, 2018 Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday claimed that the last caretakers had tasked the police offers with “breaking the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) people.” Addressing the Sindh Assembly, Shah said that arbitrary transfers of police officers were made by the interim government, which had left the policemen clueless. He accused the caretakers who ruled before 2018 elections of being busy trying to change PPP leaders’ alliances which diverted their attention from the law and order situation, resulting in an increase in street crime in Karachi. The chief minister said that the PPP government had been trying to control street crimes situation ever since it has come in the power. He apprised the members of the provincial parliament that as many as 61 incidents of terrorism had taken place in Sindh in 2013. The number came down to only two such incidents in 2017, while this year no terrorist incident has taken place in Sindh so far, he stated. He said that the incidents of street crimes and targetted killing have reduced, “we are not satisfied… we have to do more work”. – Inputs from DT/TV channels

Govt lacks capability, skill and strategy to resolve issues: Chief Justice; * Properties will be demolished on failing to pay regularization fees

ICMD, Nov 13, 2018 Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar Tuesday remarked that the current government lacks capability, skill and strategy to resolve the issues facing the country. “The current government does not have any capability or planning,” the chief justice remarked during hearing of a suo motu case pertaining to illegal constructions in Bani Gala, adding that construction was allowed in Zone 3 and Zone 4 without a master plan. A three-member bench headed by the top judge and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah had previously directed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to regularise all properties located in the federal capital’s suburbs including the sprawling residence of Prime Minister Imran Khan. During the hearing on Tuesday, Additional Attorney General Nayyar Abbas Rizvi submitted a report on behalf of the Capital Development Authority (CDA). As per the report, a 1960 map of Bani Gala shows roads in Zone 4. In 1992 and 2010, amendments were made to the map and some private housing societies were granted permission for constructions in certain areas of Zone 4, the report states. “A large green area is still present in Zone 4 and can be saved,” the additional attorney general informed the court. To this, the chief justice asked, “Do you want to construct roads in this area?” “It is possible that you install underground electricity cables since a Naya Pakistan is being made and you will need land for this,” he observed. “Land is needed for facilities in Bani Gala. If you want to develop as per a plan, then land will have to be bought and compensation will have to be paid to the owners. Fee will also have to be paid for regularistaion,” the chief justice said. “If you want to make a new city, then CDA should purchase land,” he said. The owners will have to pay off the fines for their illegal constructions, he said, adding that properties will be demolished if their owners failed to pay the regularisation fee. The additional attorney general informed the apex court that the prime minister had submitted a request along with a map for regularisation of his Bani Gala mansion. The prime minister’s counsel argued that the regularisation charges were too high. When the chief justice summoned CDA chairman on the matter of regularisation of Zone 1, he was informed that the latter had already left the court premises. “The CDA and Islamabad Capital Territory owe us Rs 3.42 million,” a representative of the Survey General of Pakistan informed the court. “CDA has granted approval for payment of dues and that Punjab government also owes some money,” the additional attorney general responded. The bench then directed that the amount be paid to the Survey General of Pakistan within a month. Further, the director general of environment department informed the bench that he has not received a copy of civil court’s judgment in favour of environmental protection. The SC issued notices to the respondents and adjourned the case till November 22.

Pakistani delegation in China to finalize relief package, discussion to take four days to give relief package a final shape

ICR, Nov 9, 2018 A high-level Pakistani delegation which left Pakistan yesterday is in Beijing for follow-on commitments that China made to Prime Minister Khan during his visit. Reports said it would take not less than four days to finalize the relief package Pakistan is looking for. The quantum of money would be clandestine, PM Khan said on Thursday. Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Tariq Bajwa, secretary finance Arif Ahmed Khan, secretary planning Zafar Hasan and secretary trade Muhammad Younus Dagha are part of Pakistani delegation. The process is also aimed at giving a final shape to an economic package which Pakistani economic leaders have been talking about as regards an increase in exports to China which has acceded more access to Pakistani good to its markets.

Asia Bibi freed from Multan prison, Govt refuses to put her on ECL; Afridi says no one can be placed on no-fly list until proven guilty

ICMD, Nov 7, 2018 Authorities on late Wednesday night freed Asia Bibi, a Christian woman recently acquitted by the Supreme Court in a blasphemy case, from a womens prison in Multan, sources said. Jail authorities had earlier in the day received documents pertaining to her release after which she was freed, they added The allegations against Bibi dated back to June 2009, when she was accused of blasphemy. Bibi was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 2010, despite her advocates maintaining her innocence and insisting the accusers held grudges against her. On October 31, the Supreme Court acquitted Bibi and ordered her release. On Wednesday, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi said the federal government will uphold the Supreme Court verdict and not place Asia Bibis name on the exit control list (ECL) until she is proven guilty. Until someone is proven guilty, how can we place his name on the ECL? There can be no question about that, the minister told Voice of America in an interview. The government will uphold whatever the Supreme Court decides, he asserted, in response to a question about an agreement signed between government and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) which stated that due process will be followed immediately to include the name of Asia Bibi in the ECL. Afridi said the rumours circulating about Asia Bibi leaving Pakistan are false. Asia Bibi and her family are in Pakistan and they are being provided security by the government, he added. The Supreme Court on October 31 acquitted Bibi after blasphemy charges could not be proven against her and ordered her immediate release. Following the verdict, violent protests erupted in several cities across the country wherein public properties were damaged and vehicles set on fire. The demonstrations also saw blockades of roads, closure of schools, colleges and universities, as well as cancellation of examinations. Speaking about the countrywide protests following the top courts verdict acquitting Bibi, Afridi said among the protesters, there was a group of people who damaged public properties for their own personal gains. He said the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leaders who signed an agreement with the government to end the demonstrations have already distanced themselves from those miscreants. When we informed TLP leaders of the miscreants and showed them the footages, they refused to accept them as their workers, he added.

Pakistan's "balance of payment crisis is over, claims Asad Umar

China fills half of the gap, just modalities are to be discussed ICMD, Nov 6, 2018 Finance Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday claimed that Pakistan's "balance of payment crisis is over" as China is committed to providing a short-term relief to Pakistan. He told media a Pakistani delegation is traveling to Beijing on Friday to discuss modalities of such a relief. "The long-term solution to the balance of payments crisis is to increase our exports, and to do that we should have enough income so that we do not need to borrow," Umar, who was a part of the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led delegation that visited China recently, explained during a press conference today. "In this regard, we have received a commitment from the highest level. "Regarding the doubling of our exports, we are not talking long-term. We have [this target] for the ongoing year. We have also discussed short-term reliefs. A decision in principle has been taken, but to discuss its modalities our contingent is going to Beijing on November 9. He said they had told the people about the $12bn financing gap, of which $6bn have come from Saudi Arabia, and the rest has come from China. Thus, the immediate balance of payment crisis of Pakistan has ended. I want to make that clear in unequivocal terms. We do not have any balance of payments crisis now. "

Fracas erupts in National Assembly as government and opposition members exchange hot words, almost got into a physical altercation

ICMD, Nov 5, 2018 Fracas erupted in the National Assembly on Monday as government and opposition members exchanged hot words and almost got into a physical altercation over the latter calling a deal with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to end violent protests against acquittal of Asia Bibi a surrender, and, in a taunting reference to Prime Minister Imran Khans surname (Niazi), compared the agreement to the surrender document signed by Gen AAK Niazi that led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP) legislator from Karachi Syed Rafiullah and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker from Layyah Abdul Majeed Khan exchanged words and even attempted to get physical but were stopped by their fellow members. The speaker called the sergeants-at-arms to expel both the members from the House. However, after failing to control the situation, he adjourned the sitting till Tuesday (today). Earlier, both PML-N and PPP demanded that the ruling party share the details of the agreement reached out with the protestors. Both parties were of the view that the government didnt take them into confidence before inking the deal. They demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan and State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi personally apprise the House about the details of the agreement. Beginning the debate, PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the protestors used offensive language about the armed forces and the judges and that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address to the nation had said that action would be taken against them. Now after the agreement, the government should tell the House how the deal will be implemented, he said, adding that the governments approach on the issue appears to be utterly non-seriousness. PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said his partys government also confronted sit-ins during its five years of rule. However, PMs speech and the ensuing dealare totally opposite to each other, he said, and demanded that the government reveal whereabouts of Asia Bibi since the apex court has already ordered her release from the prison. Appreciating the SC judgment in the Asia Bibi case, PPP leader Shazia Marri said her party also wanted answers of some questions over the three days of blockade across the country. Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said the protest and the agreement with the TLP was a sensitive issue because it was related to the respect of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). He clarified that the government had nothing to do with the Asia Bibi issue as the case was decided by the Supreme Court, which is an independent institution. He said the government will defend 295-C in both the houses of the parliament. He said the government will take action against those who took law in their own hands and damaged the public and private properties during the protests. -- DT

Over 1,100 rioters arrested across Pakistan, 300 booked in FIRs, public support, video footage being sought for identifications

ICR, Nov 4, 2018 Reports pouring in from various cities of Pakistan especially in Punjab, over 1,100 people have been arrested in connection with riots erupted after the SC decision in Asia Bibi Case. Also, around 130 cases have been registered against the people suspected to be involved in attacks on police and damaging properties during a protest called by the TLP. The action was resulted by the directives of the interior ministry which had asked all provincial and federal agencies to take action against the culprits involved in fomenting riots in various cities of Pakistan. A report said: The interior ministry sent the first letter in this regard to the provinces on Saturday and followed it up with another office memorandum on Sunday, directing all (provincial governments and federal agencies) to strictly comply with the direction. Stating that the Ulema had disowned the elements involved in violence, the interior ministry said video clips and photographs should be used to identify the miscreants in coordination with the PTA and Nadra. In Punjab, as many as 800 people have been arrested for violating section 16 of MPO and 300 booked in FIRs, says the Punjab police spokesperson. The rioters had injured 63 police officers in different areas of the province. The police used the footage for identifying and arresting the culprits. A number of 300 suspects were identified through this process. Most of the culprits belong to Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi divisions. However, 25 people have been booked in FIRs in the federal capital. Interior Minister Shehryar Afridi has asked all the provincial governments to seek public support for identifying the culprits so that the action is taken.

China promises more economic aid for Pakistan, but wont yet commit to specific pledges

Chinas Premier Li Keqiang and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan signed 15 agreements and memorandums of understanding in the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital, pledging stronger cooperation in fields such as poverty alleviation, agriculture, industry, and science. But although Pakistan is keen to negotiate a bailout to tackle its economic problems, China insists that more talks are needed to finalise the details. Pakistans foreign exchange reserves have fallen to a near five-year low of US$7.8 billion, the State Bank of Pakistan said on Thursday, while the net foreign reserves held by commercial banks have dropped to US$6.4 billion. During the visit, the two sides have made it clear in principle that the Chinese government will provide necessary support and assistance to Pakistan in tiding over its current economic difficulties, Chinese foreign vice-minister Kong Xuanyou told reporters after Li and Khans meeting. As for specific measures to be taken, the relevant authorities of the two sides will have detailed discussions, he said. He did not elaborate further. Li also stressed that China still viewed Pakistan as an all-weather partner, adding that the country was seen as one of Beijings foreign policy priorities. Cheng Xiaohe, deputy director of the center for international strategic studies at Renmin University, said China would offer economic assistance, but it was the Pakistan governments responsibility to tackle its economic problems. China cant replace the Pakistani government in taking care of its people, he said. While China continues to be Pakistans biggest foreign investor and aid donor, it is also working to increase liquidity amid its trade war against the US. As a result, Pakistan must seek all kinds of assistance, Cheng said. Beijing also took a firm line on the various infrastructure agreements between the two sides under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) part of the wider Belt and Road Initiative. China has pledged more than US$60 billion to Pakistan in the form of loans and investments for roads, ports, power plants and industrial estates under the scheme. But Pakistans ability to meet the repayments has long been a matter of some concern and Khan had signalled before his election victory that he was keen to renegotiate some of the deals. But on Saturday Kong said there would be no change in the number of projects under CPEC. There is no change at all. If there were, it would only be to increase [them], not decrease he said. In his meeting with Li, Khan invited the Chinese premier to visit Pakistan and see for himself the difference the mega-project has made in the country. In 2013 CPEC was just an idea. Now it is on the ground and it has caught the imagination of the people of Pakistan, he said. We feel that this a great opportunity for our country to progress, to attract investment. It gives us an opportunity to raise our standard of living and growth rate. The shift in tone on the CPEC projects may indicate that they are a precondition of further Chinese economic aid. China strongly believes that CPEC projects bring greater stability to both Pakistan and China. The economic corridor project will certainly boost the local economy of Pakistan as it will create new jobs and inject cash into local communities, Cheng said. Simultaneously, CPEC projects will also bring stability to Chinas southwestern region, he said, adding that China would push for their implementation despite Pakistans debt concerns. -- Intl News Agencies