Got rejects Opposition ToRs, ready to negotiate
ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the Government rejected the Terms of References (ToRs), prepared jointly by the Opposition parties, and invited them to negotiate and prepare new ToRs in collaboration with the government.
He said that the government is keen to take the Panama Leaks probe to a logical conclusion but the opposition parties are making hurdles in the way.
He said that the Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif was the first to react on the Panama Papers Leaks and sincerely wanted to resolve the issue but the opposition did not want to cooperate in this regard.
Chaudhry Nisar blamed the opposition to use the issue for making a political disturbance in the country.
He said that on the demand of the opposition, the government had written a letter to the Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court to form a judicial commission to probe the Panama Leaks issue but some parties asked to discuss it in the Parliament.
The Interior Minister said that some parties wanted it to be probed on media.
He said that they prepared their own Terms of References (ToRs) which showed that they did not want a proper solution but only to mislead the nation.
However, he said that the Supreme Court is the highest-ranked institution in the country. This is the only institution which can probe the case in and the entire nation will respect its verdict.
PM Nawaz takes notice of harassment of ‘PTI women’
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday took notice of the alleged harassment of women at the PTI public meeting in Lahore on Sunday and called for the immediate arrests of the suspects.
On the sidelines, a four-member committee headed by PTI spokesman Naeemul Haq has been formed to investigate the harassment of women at the party’s gatherings, a PTI source said.
The PTI claims to have proof that the PML-N sent men to harass women at the gatherings. The party interviewed over 50 men and women and assessed 12 video clips recorded at the Islamabad gathering, the source said.
The party will compile a report in two days and send recommendations to Imran Khan, the source said.
The PTI on Tuesday approached police to register a case against PML-N activists for the alleged harassment of women during the Lahore public meeting. However, a case had already been registered by police a day earlier against 100 unidentified men in connection with the incident.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on Monday said over 50 alleged culprits had been identified with the help of footage acquired through various sources. “If Imran can organise rallies, he should also provide security to women,” he said, adding, “We will surely find out to which party they belong.”
Meanwhile, Chaudhry Nisar Wednesday suggested the formation of a committee to probe the alleged harassment of women at recent Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) gatherings.
“The opposition, including the PTI, should form a committee. We will make a committee too and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) will be taken on board to identify those involved,” Nisar said.
“The photographs of the people involved should be shared by the media and the police,” he said, adding that NADRA would use the photos to identify the suspects and that the victims could be made witnesses.
“The media and opposition party’s committee can decide if they are PTI workers, PML-N men or members of another political party,” the interior minister said. “They will be severely punished.”
The interior minister went on to question why such incidents occur ‘only in PTI gatherings’. “Do you hear of this happening in PPP, PML-N, JUI-F or ANP rallies?”
“It isn’t right to put the blame on others instead of looking within your own ranks,” he said.
Khursheed, Aitzaz say opposition framed ToRs with consensus
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stalwart Syed Khursheed Shah has said that opposition had framed terms of references (ToRs) for the judicial commission on Panama Papers with consensus.
Speaking to media here Wednesday, Khursheed Shah, opposition leader in the National Assembly, said he will write a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after taking opposition parties into confidence.
PPP leader Atizaz Ahsan has urged Nawaz Sharif to accept terms of reference (TORs) of opposition parties if he was innocent in the light of the Panama leaks scandal.
While talking to media on Wednesday Atizaz said that the opposition parties have agreed that the accountability should be started from prime minister since his sons have confessed to having billion of rupees in their offshore holdings.
He urged Nawaz Sharif to inform the public about his savings and tax returns dating back to the tenure when was the Punjab’s chief minister.
All the opposition parties have agreed on TORs to probe Panama leaks allegations and nine political parties are in favour of the prime minister’s resignation while only two political parties opposed the demand he said while talking about the opposition parties meeting held earlier.
The PPP leader demanded that Nawaz Sharif should brief the parliament how the Nandi Power Project cost escalated 300 million to 800 million.
PTI postpones Faisalabad rally ‘out of concern for women supporters’
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday postponed their May 8 Faisalabad public meeting citing concern for the safety of female attendees after women supporters were allegedly harassed at the party’s recent public gatherings. Party insiders, however, claim the real reason is a rift between party workers organising the event.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan posted a statement to Facebook saying the public meeting had been postponed in light of the harassment of female attendees of the party’s gatherings in Islamabad and Lahore over the past month.
“I don’t trust the Punjab police” after women were harassed at PTI gatherings, he said, adding that plans to attack the women were a conspiracy to restrict their participation in politics. Khan implied his party is afraid the same will happen in Faisalabad.
A source in the party, however, told DawnNews that the Faisalabad public meeting had been postponed due to a rift between organisers of the event.
PTI organisers in Faisalabad have some differences with a party member appointed by Shah Mehmood Qureshi to organise the public meeting, the source said.
The differences between the organisers were so severe, the meeting had to be postponed, he said.
Pakistanis third biggest foreign investors in Dubai property
DUBAI: For more than 10 years Dubai property prices have been on a roller coaster, creating and wiping out fortunes, but recently they appear to have run out of steam.
The Gulf emirate shot to prominence as an attractive real estate market after opening up special freehold zones for foreign buyers in 2002.
Prices peaked in 2008, driven mainly by speculative investments, but later nosedived as finances dried up because of the global financial crisis, shedding half the sector’s value.
Dubai developers keep building despite weak market and echoes of 2008
Renewed demand boosted values and rents at breakneck speed between 2012 and 2014, stirring fears of yet another bubble until prices headed south again, though more slowly this time.
Last year prices fell by an average of 12 per cent, according to Craig Plumb, head of MENA research at property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle.
“The market is having something of a soft landing at the moment, so the prices have been now falling for over a year… We think the market will continue to drop a little bit more, but not as much as it already has,” he said.
“We think that most of the decline we’ve already seen.”
Dana Salbak, head of MENA research at Knight Frank property consultancy, put the 2015 drop in residential prices at 10 per cent.
“We saw a slowdown in the residential sector. We saw prices dip about 10 per cent over 2015. Not so much in the first quarter of the year,” she said.
Dubai’s market is driven by overseas demand which has fallen as currencies weakened against the US dollar to which the UAE dirham is pegged, pushing up prices, Plumb said.
“Real estate in Dubai is now more expensive for buyers holding other currencies,” Knight Frank said in its 2015 report.
Indians top the list of foreign investors in Dubai property. In 2015, they spent more than 20 billion dirhams ($5.4 billion) out of a total of 135 billion dirhams.
British and Pakistani buyers followed with 10.8 billion dirhams and 8.4 billion dirhams respectively. Iranians spent 4.6 billion dirhams, Canadians 3.7 billion dirhams and Russians 2.7 billion dirhams.
Dubai property has also been affected by a slowing economy that has created fewer jobs, which in turn means not as many people arriving to demand housing, Plumb said.
And although its economy does not rely on Dubai’s dwindling resources of oil, the plunge in oil revenues for the UAE and other Gulf states has exerted indirect pressure.
The drop in oil prices and the economic slowdown have “impacted investors’ sentiment, their willingness and appetite to invest”, said Salbak. “They adopted a cautionary approach.”
But a collapse like the 2009 crash is probably not on the cards.
“We don’t think there is very much likelihood of the market collapsing in a spectacular sense. Our forecast is for another decline of between five and 10 per cent in 2016,” said Plumb.
He said the market would bottom out by the end of 2016.
“We see them (prices) stabilise at these new rates, which is a good sign, a sign that the market has reached the bottom of the cycle,” said Salbak, adding that prices should pick up next year.
She argued that government pledges to maintain increased investments in infrastructure construction send “positive signs for the market that the government is still committed to this sector, to the real estate sector, to construction”.
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties which developed major Dubai projects including Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, also sounded optimistic.
“We are in the long-term business. Cycles come and go,” he told AFP, adding that the current drop in prices is “OK”.
“We are in business, it is not that bad,” he said after unveiling plans to build an even taller tower.
Alabbar argued that it was good prices did not experience a “drastic (and) crazy 2007 increase” during post-crisis recovery.
“Everybody wants prices to increase, but I think they have to be affordable,” he said.
“I think the balance between supply and demand… is very encouraging.”
Salbak also said supply is “currently being controlled”, with developers “more cautious and wary of the need to phase out their delivery of projects, in line with demand”. - AFP
COAS orders inquiry into MQM worker’s custodial death as Rangers suspend officials
KARACHI: The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into the death of Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) activist Aftab Ahmed, who died in the custody of Rangers paramilitary force under controversial circumstances.
While directing to hold an inquiry into Ahmed’s death, the army chief instructed “justice must be done”, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Rangers said in a press release they suspended an unspecified number of officials for their ‘suspected involvement’ in Ahmed’s death. Director General (DG) Rangers Maj Gen Bilal Akber set up an investigation team to probe the cause of Ahmed’s death and “reveal the facts”, it said.
Maj Gen Akber on Tuesday accepted that the deceased MQM worker was tortured by Rangers in custody, but maintained that he died due to a heart attack.
The development comes after pictures and videos doing rounds on the social media showed the corpse of the deceased MQM worker having severe torture marks across his body.
Aftab Ahmed was said to a coordinator of senior MQM leader Farooq Sattar.
Heart attack or torture?
While doctors reserved the cause of death of Ahmed, the paramilitary force claimed that the activist died of heart failure.
The MQM, however, rejected the Rangers’ claim and blamed the force for brutally torturing the activist in custody and then influencing the post-mortem examination. It demanded an independent inquiry commission to determine the real cause of Ahmed’s death.
Rangers officials claimed that on early Tuesday morning Ahmed complained of “discomfort in breathing and chest congestion” and was rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where he died after 25 minutes of admission and treatment at the emergency unit of the health facility.
A brief statement issued by the Rangers said that Ahmed was arrested by the paramilitary force on May 1 “due to his involvement in several crimes” and an antiterrorism court was informed about his 90-day preventive detention for investigation.
Ex-PM Gillani among 10 declared as absconders in TDAP Scam
KARACHI: The federal anti-corruption court at Karachi issued non-bailable arrest warrants of former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani and 9 others in a case of embezzlement of public money in Trade Development Authority Pakistan (TDAP). The FACC also declared them as absconders under the criminal procedure code’s clause 512.
This was observed at the FACC at Karachi during hearing of the TDAP Scam under Judge Muhammad Azeem. The Federal Investigation Agency – FIA had submitted seven Challans in the FACC, The FACC ordered the FIA to arrest the absconders and produce in the court on May 19.
As a matter of fact, the former PM Gillani has always been appearing in the court in past and the reasons for declaring him as absconder is not known. Others as accused are ex-DG TDAP Abdul Hakeem Dawoodpota, Farhan Junejo, Maher Haroon Rasheed and others. They are accused of inflicting colossal loss to the national exchequer in 2008 to the tune of billions. - NNI
Lt Gen Bajwa confirms sacking of army officers as ‘part of anti-corruption drive’
KARACHI: Weeks after the news of the sacking of military officers was leaked to the press, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesperson Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa confirmed the suspension of the six army officers by the army chief as part of the “army’s aggressive pursuit of an anti-corruption drive”.
“These officers were dismissed, punished and sent home in a single related case,” Bajwa said during an interview with prime time television journalist Kamran Khan on Dunya TV, in a first official comment on the move.
Bajwa added that the action was taken after months of investigation.
Answering a question about the army’s silence and the absence of an official version after the sackings, Bajwa maintained “such actions within the army are not made public anywhere in the world”.
“This news was not made public but was leaked days after the action was taken.”
“I did not deny the news at that time but as I told you, it is not the institutional policy to do so. A press release was issued in the National Logistics Cell (NLC) scam case because NLC was a public institution,” Bajwa told the show host.
The ISPR spokesman maintained the army already has a branch dedicated to investigate such activities and present its reports to COAS, who takes the required action.
General Raheel Sharif has strengthened this unit of army and is aggressively pursuing the anti-corruption drive, he added
Answering queries about military courts, he told the show host that the 11 death sentences announced a day earlier have taken the total number of decided cases to 88 and expressed hope that all pending cases will be decided by January 2017, the end limit of military courts.
“A total of 11 military courts are working across the country day in and day out but no decision is being taken without following due process or in haste,” claimed Bajwa.
He added that at least 207 cases are pending in military courts , 88 have been decided and some cases are in pipeline, which will be forwarded to the courts after apex committee and ministry of interior’s approval.
Pakistan to decide how it wants to fulfill its defence needs: US
WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday said it is up to Pakistan to decide how it wants to fulfill its defence needs.
“It is up to Pakistan to speak to how they will fulfill their defence needs. These are obviously sovereign decisions that Pakistan has to make,” Kirby said during his weekly press briefing.
Kirby’s statement comes a day after Pakistan expressed disappointment over Congress’ unwillingness to fund F-16 sale to Pakistan. Pakistan has indicated it may buy F-16 fighter jets from somewhere else if financing for the state-of-the-art planes is not arranged as Washington told Islamabad it would have to finance the purchase itself.
When asked to comment on Pakistan’s description of US aid as ‘peanuts’, Kirby said, “I would again say that it is an important look for ways to improve our cooperation as best we can.”relationship and we’re going to continue to support that relationship and
“It is a relationship we have absolutely no intention of losing focus on or diminishing in any way,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said when asked if US unwillingness to subsidise the F-16 purchase will affect bilateral relations.
Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, admitted on Tuesday that arranging funds for eight F-16s Pakistan intend to buy from the US was an issue. “The US has decided to sell F-16s to Pakistan. The only issue is now financing,” Aziz told reporters at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).
Pakistan will consult with the suppliers of F-16s regarding the alternates of financing. “If arrangement is made, we will buy F-16s from the US, otherwise we will have to look for planes somewhere else,” he added.
Aziz’s comments came a day after the US State Department said it had asked Pakistan to fund the whole purchase of F-16 fighter jets on its own. “Given Congressional objections, we have told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for that purpose,” spokesperson John Kirby told a weekly press briefing.
Previously, Islamabad was supposed to pay only $270 million while the Obama administration was to pay $430 million in subsidy through the US foreign military financing budget for the fighter jets.
However, during a recent Congressional hearing, US lawmakers made it clear that they would not allow the Obama administration to use American funds for the deal. The decision to stop the subsidy came last week after hearing of a subcommittee on Asia and Pacific of the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs.
At the hearing, US lawmakers accused Pakistan of not doing enough to fight militants and expressed concerns that the jets could be used against India while also raising objections to using American taxpayers’ money to fund the sale. - Agencies
‘India exerting diplomatic pressure to ban Masood Azhar’
NEW DELHI: With China blocking India’s bid at the United Nations to proscribe Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, Indian government on Wednesday said it is exerting diplomatic pressure to remove the “technical hold” and get a ban imposed on him.
Minister of state for external affairs V K Singh told the Lok Sabha that India has also told China that there cannot be selective approach when it comes to terrorism.
Last month, China had blocked India’s bid at the UN to ban Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief.
During Question Hour, Singh said the move to ban Azhar is on “technical hold” at the UN. “Hum zor dal rahe hai (we are putting pressure)” through diplomatic channels to ensure that it is done away with, he noted.
China is among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and has veto powers. The others are France, Russian Federation, the UK, and the US.
The UN had banned the JeM but India’s efforts for a ban on Azhar after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack also did not fructify as China did not allow the ban.
On reforms at the UN, Singh said the expansion in both permanent and non-permanent category of its membership would be an essential element of the reforms at the UNSC.
Referring to the four permanent member countries, Singh said “hamari baat ko samarthan karte hain (they support our demand for reforms).”
On China, he said the country understands India’s position and is of the view that India should have the opportunity to do good work at the UN.
“We are seeking enough support” for UNSC membership and leaders of the country who visit overseas raise this issue, Singh said and noted that reforms in the UN is a long process.
In a written reply, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said a large number of countries have supported India’s initiatives for reform of the Security Council, as well as endorsed India’s candidature for permanent membership.
“This has been expressed in various forms and fora including in bilateral discussions with the government of India,” she said.
“Government is of the view that early reforms of the Security Council is an essential element in the overall effort to reform the UN in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus to further enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions,” Swaraj said.
A series of initiatives involving bilateral and multilateral platforms continue to be taken in pursuance of permanent membership in an expanded UNSC, she said.
“India is also actively engaged in the ongoing Inter-governmental negotiations on UNSC reforms at the UN and is working alongside other reform oriented countries through the G-4 (India, Japan, Brazil and Germany) and the L.69 (a cross regional grouping of developing countries) groupings,” she added.
To another query, she said that India is not a member of the ‘1267/1989/2254 ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qaida Sanctions Committee’ since the country is not member of the UNSC. The 15 members of the UNSC are the members of this committee.
“A 10-member ‘analytical support and sanctions monitoring team’ (monitoring team) comprising of independent experts, assist the sanctions committee. Depending on the vacancies available, India and all other member states may forward nominations of their nationals to serve on the monitoring team for which selections are made by the UN secretariat,” Swaraj said. - PTI
Imran Farooq murder trial to commence May 12
ISLAMABAD: The trial for Imran Farooq’s murder case is slated to commence from May 12, and will be held in the premises of Adiala Jail due to security reasons.
The challan submitted in an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Wednesday by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was accepted, after having been objected upon previously. The defence counsel will be provided a copy of the challan.
Khalid Shamim and Moazzam Ali are co-accused in the case, but were not presented before the presiding judge, Kausar Abbas Zaidi.
The London police had named Mohsin Ali Syed and Mohammad Kashif Khan Kamran as wanted men in connection with the murder as they were in the UK when Dr Farooq was murdered. They arrested the three men during the last five years but released them later without filing any charges.
However, it was widely reported that both Mohsin and Kamran had been taken into custody by Pakistani intelligence agents the moment they landed at Karachi airport in 2010.
The third suspect, Khalid Shamim, was allegedly taken into custody in January 2011 and a petition regarding his ‘illegal detention and going missing’ was filed by his wife in the Sindh High Court.
In March last year, Moazzam was arrested at his Azizabad house for facilitating the suspects in getting a British visa.
On June 18, 2015, the Frontier Corps claimed to have arrested Mohsin and Shamim in Chaman in Balochistan.
The FC claimed that the two were illegally entering Pakistan from Afghanistan.
On Dec 5, 2015 — the day Karachi went to the local government polls — the FIA registered a murder case against MQM chief Altaf Hussain, his nephew Iftikhar Hussain, Moazzam Ali Khan, Khalid Shamim, Kashif Khan Kamran and Syed Mohsin Ali.
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