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Money recovered from tycoon lands in Supreme Court

Special Assistant to PM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar addressing a press conference on Thursday. Communications Minister Murad Saeed is also seen. —Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
Special Assistant to PM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar addressing a press conference on Thursday. Communications Minister Murad Saeed is also seen. —Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

ISLAMABAD: After three-day confusion as to who will be the beneficiary of 190 million pounds [Rs39 billion] recovered by the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) from the family of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, the money has been transferred to the Supreme Court’s accounts and the government has requested it for the transfer of the money to the national exchequer.

“The money has been transferred to the Supreme Court and we have already filed a request before the apex court that the money should be given to us [state of Pakistan],” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar at a joint press conference with Communications Minister Murad Saeed. He later confirmed it during a private TV talk show.

Besides, he told Dawn that out of 190m pounds, 140m pounds had been transferred while 50m pounds would be received later when a property of 1 Hyde Park [owned by Malik Riaz] would be sold.

The SAMP, however, did not remove the ambiguity as to how the money can be transferred to the Supreme Court, if the NCA anno­unced in its official press release that it will be given to the state of Pakistan. “We [the government of Pakistan, NCA and Malik Riaz] have also signed a deed of confidentiality. Therefore, I cannot comment more than what has already been presented in the official press releases of the government and the NCA,” he said, adding that: “Is the Supreme Court not part of the government? So if the money goes to the apex court it means that the money comes to the state.”

Earlier, when the NCA gave its decision on Dec 3, Mr Akbar had claimed that the money would directly come to the state.

Shahzad Akbar says out of £190m, £140m has been transferred while £50m will be received later when a Hyde Park property is sold

Interestingly, hours after the NCA verdict, Malik Riaz had claimed, in his tweets, that the recovered amount would go to the Supreme Court to return Rs460bn for acquiring vast land in Karachi for developing the Bahria Town housing scheme. His tweets raised eyebrows of many as to why the government was not taking credit of the recovery.

Barrister Iftikhar, a senior legal expert on UK laws, said at the TV channel that there must be no link with the money repatriated by the NCA to the state and the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Former attorney general Irfan Qadir said if the money went to the Supreme Court then the court will have to explain about it that how it came into its bank accounts.

Replying to a query that in one of the video clips that did the rounds on social media in which he was receiving a bag from Malik Riaz somewhere in the UK, Shahzad Akbar said it was nothing but a laptop. “It was my laptop as the bag could not carry 190 million pounds,” he added.

According to a press release issued on Tuesday by Prime Minister Office, the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) in the PMO facilitated repatriation of 190 million pounds (approximately $250 million) through a settlement and that the NCA had agreed for immediate repatriation of funds to the state of Pakistan.

Responding to a question that will the government go for criminal proceedings against the real estate tycoon for being involved in money laundering, the SAPM said: “The government encourages agreements in civil cases and recovery of laundered national wealth and does not wish to keep people in jail.”

He, however, took credit of the recovery of 190 million pounds and said it was the first time in Pakistan’s history that money had been repatriated from another country through the legal process, adding that the settlement was reached in a civil case not a criminal one.

Mr Akbar said the government was thankful to the UK government and the NCA for expediting the investigation on the complaint of the government of Pakistan and returning the money to the motherland.

The SAPM was reluctant to elaborate as to how the money was stashed away and was there any political figure involved in the crime; he said as another country [UK] was involved in the matter, he was bound to confidentiality and could not comment on the details. “We have inked a bond of confidentiality with the UK government and therefore we cannot talk about the details of the case,” he added.

Corruption of Sharif Family

Mr Akbar recalled the alleged corruption by leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and his family and said the assets of the Sharif family have increased exponentially over the span of ten years.

He said the corruption of Shahbaz Sharif and Sharif family was exposed by English newspaper Daily Mail and despite Shahbaz’s claim that he will sue him [Shahzad Akbar] and the daily, nothing has so far been done against it by Mr Sharif.

Mr Akhbar explained that the corruption was carried out during Shahbaz’s tenure as Punjab chief minister. Through charts, he explained that their entire fortune has been built by accumulating money from kickbacks into their personal accounts, before injecting them into their own companies to mimic sales. “During this period, Shahbaz’s assets rose by 70 per cent while his son Salman’s rose by 8,000 per cent,” he said.

However, despite their repeated claims of innocence, the Sharifs have not been able to provide a single shred of evidence which proves to the contrary, he added.

Referring to the article published in Daily Mail that alleged that Shahbaz had embezzled funds provided by UK’s Department for International Development, he said former chief minister Punjab was surprisingly mum on the issue despite his initial response.

“So many facts have been revealed in recent days. Setting his claims about taking legal action against The Mail aside, he has not given a specific answer to any of the allegations levelled against him,” he said.

He said the Punjab CM secretariat was being used by Shahbaz Sharif as a hub of planning of corruption.

Mr Akbar raised several questions including had one Nisar Ahmed Gill and one Mahr Ali acted as front men of ex-chief minister Punjab.

Malik Riaz not guilty

Meanwhile, Malik Riaz pointed out that NCA had not declared him guilty of any wrongdoing after year-long investigation into property and accounts connected to his family.

Talking to reporters at the launch of Bahria Town Peshawar office on Thursday, the real estate tycoon said they were working in Pakistan despite many hurdles. He said other people should also follow suit and bring their money back to Pakistan. He said he would even mortgage his house to pay the sum agreed in settlement with the Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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Govt trying to get $9bn Chinese loan for railway project at 2pc

ISLAMABAD: No allocations would be made in the next budget for unapproved projects and efforts are in progress to secure a $9 billion Chinese loan for Main Railway Line (ML-1) at around two per cent interest, a Senate committee was told on Thursday.

At a meeting of the panel, federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms Asad Umar said he had issued directives that no unapproved project should be included in the next Public Sector Development Programme. No project will be included in the PSDP in future till land is purchased for it.

He said it would also be settled in advance whether a project would be funded by the federal government or the province concerned. “We have seen the fate of Karachi Green Line and other projects,” the minister said while referring to cost escalations and delays in various projects due to undecided issues.

The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development & Reforms, presided over by Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani, discussed various issues related to Nai Gaj dam, ML-I, toll tax on Motorway and G.T. road and new projects.

No allocations in next budget for unapproved projects, Senate committee told

The committee emphasised the need to improve fencing on motorways and their enhanced surveillance, besides maintenance of Grand Trunk Road on priority to avoid wear and tear of vehicles and safety of passengers.

Discussing the issues relating to design and upgradation of ML-1, a senior officer of the Ministry of Railways told the committee that 80pc design work of the 1,680km project had been completed. “The project is going to cost more than $9bn and the government is trying to secure loan for it at around 2pc interest,” he said. If the loan was obtained, he added, it would be the lowest interest rate among all the projects on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor portfolio.

The meeting was told the project was anticipated to generate 20,000 direct and 150,000 indirect jobs and would be completed in three phases. Under phase-I, four sections will be completed in three to four years.

The project will increase line speed and capacity and freight volume. The speed of passenger train will increase from the current 65 to 110km to 160km per hour, while freight train will be operated at 120km per hour from almost half the speed at present.

The committee directed the officials concerned to submit traffic count of major motorway projects — M1, M2 and M9 — within a week. Keeping account of traffic congestion, it was recommended that a traffic strategy must be formulated as early as possible to ensure smooth and safe traffic in the country.

Discussing compliance on the committee’s recommendations, its chairman said Wapda was holding the Planning Commission responsible for delay in construction of Nai Gaj dam in Sindh. The meeting was informed that letters had been issued to Wapda and other relevant agencies to take action against those responsible for the delay. The panel decided to have an exclusive meeting on the issue and directed that a response from the Department of Irrigation, Government of Sindh must be sought within a week.

Taking up the issue of 300 scholarships for girl students of less developed areas, the committee was informed that a proposal had been finalised on the matter. However, its implementation will begin in conjunction with the Ehsas Programme that envisages award of 50,000 scholarships. The committee decided to wait until the programme was launched and the Higher Education Commission submitted a detailed report to examine the entire episode in depth.

During discussion on special seats in medical colleges / universities for students belonging to the tribal districts and Balochistan, the committee was told the Pakistan Medical Comm­ission would address the matter later. Minister Umar assured the panel that he would personally take up the matter with the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and the issue could also be raised at the Council of Common Interests. The matter will also be referred to Senate Standing Committee on Less Developed Areas.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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ECP stands non-functional as CEC retires

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has become non-functional with the retirement of Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza on Thursday.

A senior official of the ECP told Dawn that many important activities of the poll body, including revision of electoral rolls and scrutiny of political parties’ funds, will come to a complete standstill while conduct of any by-polls and preparations for local government elections will also come to a halt.

The ECP member from Punjab retired Justice Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi, being the senior among the only two members of the incomplete commission, will take the oath as the acting chief election commissioner under Article 217 of the Constitution on Friday. But he would not be able to form a bench to hear any complaint as the minimum strength of a bench under the existing law has to be three. This means all cases of defection and disqualification will remain pending till the appointment of a new chief election commissioner.

The good news is that the government has finally proposed three names for the post of new chief election commissioner. The government’s nominees are incumbent ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, former federal secretaries Fazal Abbas Maiken and Arif Ahmad Khan.

Government proposes three names for post

The parliamentary committee on appointment of CEC and ECP members will meet on Tuesday to consider the three names each proposed by the government and the opposition for the positions of CEC and ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif had proposed the names of Nasir Mehmood Khosa, Jalil Abbas Jillani and Ikhlaq Ahmed Tarar for the post of CEC.

He had also proposed the names of Nisar Durrani, retired Justice Abdul Rasul Memon, former registrar of the Sindh High Court, and Aurangzeb Haq as ECP member from Sindh. And for the office of the ECP member from Balochistan, he suggested the names of senior Supreme Court lawyer Shah Mohammad Jatoi, former advocate general Mohammad Rauf Atta and Raheela Durrani.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had proposed the names of retired Justice Sadiq Bhatti, retired Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Abdul Jabbar Qureshi for the post of the ECP member from Sindh. For the office of the ECP member from Balochistan, the prime minister recommended the names of Dr Faiz Kakar, Mir Naveed Jan Baloch, a businessman and a former caretaker minister in the provincial government, and former district and sessions judge, Quetta, Amanullah Baloch.

Last day in office

Meanwhile, the outgoing Chief Election Commissioner, Sardar Muhammad Raza, spent his last day in the office in a unique fashion. The national voters’ day, which originally takes place on Dec 7, was organised at the ECP on Thursday, where the CEC delivered a speech.

In his speech, he said that under the Constitution, it is the basic responsibility of the ECP to take such steps for the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections under which all political parties and candidates are provided a level- playing field, so that the supremacy of the Constitution is established and the electorates cast their votes in ideal atmosphere to elect the country’s democratic leadership.

He said the ECP took various steps over the past five years to meet its key responsibility. He referred to the conduct of delimitation exercise in provinces of Sindh and Balochistan for the conduct of local government elections in 2015 after new laws were framed.

Likewise, he said, after sixth census and 24th Constitution Amendment, delimitation for national and provincial assemblies was carried out despite paucity of time in early 2018.

Stressing the importance of error-free electoral rolls in the electoral process, he said the ECP has installed computerised electoral rolls system (CERS) in all its provincial, regional and district offices and the electoral rolls were updated on the basis of the system. He said the process of registering voters on one of the addresses mentioned on their CNICs was also at the final stage.

ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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Dua was kidnapped for ransom, say police

KARACHI: The police authorities believe that law student Dua Mangi was kidnapped for ransom.

The young woman was kidnapped by armed men from Bukhari Commercial in the DHA early on Sunday while her friend Haris Fatah Soomro was shot at and wounded.

South Zone DIG Sharjeel Kharal said on Thursday that “it appears to be a case of kidnapping for ransom”. It had been ascertained through investigation that the student was kidnapped for ransom, he said, but did not elaborate. The DIG South was leading different reams of police probing the incident.

According to a Karachi police spokesperson, police were investigating the case from different aspects as more than 12 persons had been questioned.

The police and Citizens-Police Liaison Committee were also probing the incident from the perspective of a past kidnapping case, according to a police statement.

In May, a girl, Ms Bisma, had been kidnapped from DHA and she returned home reportedly after payment of ransom.

Meanwhile, lawyers and members of civil society, students of S.M. Law College and relatives on Thursday held a protest demonstration outside Karachi Press Club for Dua’s safe recovery.

Dua’s cousin Keenjhar Sindhu told the media that several days had passed, but the authorities had failed to trace her.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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NA deputy speaker summons interior minister after BNP-M protests 'arrest of four women' in Awaran

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri on Thursday directed the interior minister to take notice of the alleged arrest last month of four women from Balochistan's Awaran district and come to the session tomorrow to brief lawmakers on the issue.

The directives were issued after the opposition members led by Sardar Akhtar Mengal of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, a government ally, staged a sit-in in front of the speaker's dais.

According to Mengal, "four women had been kidnapped on November 29 and taken away to a torture cell and tortured".

On Tuesday, the BNP-M had termed the reported arrest of the women a direct attack on the traditions of Baloch people. The party had demanded the formation of a high-level committee to investigate the incident.

During a press conference that day, BNP-M acting president Abdul Wali Kakar had stated that the four Baloch women were picked up from their homes without showing any warrants and put behind bars.

The BNP-M leader had said that a day after the four women were picked up from their home at night, they were presented before media personnel in the presence of Levies and police personnel. Some weapons were also shown to the media and it was claimed that they belonged to the arrested women.

While speaking on a point of order in the NA session today, Akhtar Mengal criticised the government for following the footsteps of the previous governments which had neglected the Balochistan province. He said no one could run Balochistan "on gunpoint".

He questioned whether it was "unseen forces" that were running the government or a civil government. "What message will the arrest of these women send to people?"

Mengal also remarked what kind of government "hides the faces of terrorists in court but allows the display of pictures of women with weapons placed in front of them".

"Neither did the previous government wish to take Balochistan forward with them, nor does this government," he said.

"A committee for Balochistan was formed in June but its members have still not been named," said Mengal. "When you want votes, then you want Akhtar Mengal and you want Shahzain Bugti," he said in further criticism of the government.

Earlier in the session, PML-N general secretary Ahsan Iqbal protested against the non-issuance of production orders for Rana Sanaullah and the failure in production of Saad Rafique despite issuance of orders. He said that the Punjab government was defying the speaker's orders by not producing Rafique in the house. "This is an insult to parliament. We are staging a walkout against this. We will come back only when the respect and honour of the chair of the speaker are restored."

The BNP-M chief, after a brief protest at the dias and threatening to quit the coalition with the government, joined the opposition in walking out. He declared that the party will not return until the "kidnapped" women are released.

Abdul Qadir Patel of the PPP pointed out a lack of quorum, as there were only 75 members in the house against the required 86.

The deputy speaker then adjourned the sitting till Friday morning and asked the interior minister to appear in the assembly.

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Moody’s upgrades outlook for five banks to ‘stable’

KARACHI: Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday changed the outlook of five leading banks from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’ and affirmed their existing B3 long-term local currency deposit ratings.

The banks include Allied Bank Ltd (ABL), Habib Bank Ltd (HBL), MCB Bank Ltd, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and United Bank Ltd (UBL), according to an announcement by the New York-based rating agency.

The rating actions follow Moody’s decision on Dec 2 to affirm B3 rating for the Government of Pakistan and change the outlook on the sovereign rating to stable from negative and reflect reduced external vulnerability risks and ongoing fiscal reforms.

However, the banks’ outlook was changed mainly due to high exposures to the government securities which is almost risk-free and high yielding.

“The banks’ rating actions reflect improvements in the operating environment in Pakistan and in the country’s sovereign credit profile, which affect the banks’ given their high government exposures that link their credit profiles to that of the government and the expectation that the government’s capacity to support banks in case of need will not deteriorate,” said the agency.

The primary driver of Moody’s decision to change the outlook for the banks to stable is the extensive interconnectedness between their balance sheets and sovereign credit risk, owing to the banks’ high exposures to government securities.

The high direct exposure to government credit risk, in addition to the primarily Pakistan focus of their operations, links the banks’ credit profile to that of the government.

As a result, the improvements in the operating environment and in the sovereign credit profile have eased pressures on banks as well.

The stable outlook assigned to the local currency deposit ratings also reflects Moody’s expectation that the government’s capacity to support banks in case of need will not deteriorate.

The agency said this is reflected by the stable outlook on Pakistan’s sovereign B3 bond rating which is driven by reduced external vulnerability risks on the back of policy adjustments and currency flexibility as well as ongoing fiscal reforms that will mitigate risks related to debt sustainability and government liquidity.

Moody’s decision to affirm the banks’ ratings reflects their stable deposit-based funding structures, high liquidity buffers and good earnings generating capacity, as well as Pakistan’s high growth potential, said the agency.

The agency said further improvements in the operating environment and in the sovereign’s credit risk profile could place upward rating pressures.

Moody’s would downgrade the banks’ ratings in the event of a weakening of Pakistan sovereign’s creditworthiness, it said.

Additional pressure may arise from a weakening in banks’ baseline credit assessment, driven by asset quality pressures that also affect banks’ capital buffers, it added.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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Two arrested in Islamabad in army officer murder case

ISLAMABAD: Two persons were arrested over their alleged involvement in the murder of an army officer in the capital last month, said the police.

One of the suspects is an Afghan national and the other is a native of the tribal area. They were residing in a slum located in Golra, the police said.

Maj Mohammad Laraib of the Special Services Group (SSG) was stationed in Attock. He had come to Islamabad on an official duty and after finishing it was meeting a friend in G-9 when he was murdered on Nov 21.

Police officials said two suspicious mobile phone numbers were picked during the geo-fencing of the crime spot as they were found switched off since the incident.

The investigators collected details of the persons on whose names the numbers had been issued and through vigilance traced them to Golra. After their arrest, the suspects were shifted to Karachi Company police station for further legal process.

The officials said the suspect belonging to the tribal area had a criminal record and was arrested by Shalimar police in the past while details about the other were being collected.

The officials said the killer had taken away the victim’s wallet but neither his brother nor the eyewitness, the officer’s friend, had informed the police about it.

But during the examination of CCTV footage, the investigators found that the army officer had the wallet which was missing after his murder.

The footage showed him buying coffee from a bakery at G-9 and after paying the bill putting it into his pocket. The purse is missing and there is the possibility that the killer might have taken it away.

So far, it is a murder case and if the police find any trace of robbery in the incident the relevant section of the law will be add to the FIR, the officials added.

Meanwhile, the police announced the arrest at a press conference and stated that Major Laraib was murdered by two street criminals who had been arrested following hard work by two investigation teams.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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'Full potential of youth, women will be unleashed,' says PM on launch of Digital Pakistan Vision

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that with the introduction of the 'Digital Pakistan Vision', the full potential of the contribution of youth and the women to the economy will be unleashed.

According to a press release from the Prime Minister Office: "The Vision sets Pakistan’s digital ambition and has been designed for the government and the private sector to work towards a digitally progressive and inclusive Pakistan."

Speaking at the launch ceremony of the initiative, the prime minister regretted not having launched it at the very beginning when his government was formed.

"I should have given attention to Digital Pakistan earlier. This is the most important thing for Pakistan right now, especially its youth. The whole world is moving forward digitally and we have been left behind.

"But you all know, and must be tired of hearing it, but we had an unprecented debt [...] and all our attention was focused towards stabilising the economy and our currency."

The premier said Pakistan has the world's second largest youth population "which can be converted into our strength with this one initiative alone". "Our women will be able to fully contribute. This is a very big opportunity."

He said that the introduction of e-governance will be essential in combatting "the endemic of corruption which started out at the top but with their flight to foreign countries has now settled down in the lower tiers of society".

"E-governance is the best way to make the lives of people easier."

PM Imran said in e-governance had been introduced in Shaukat Khanum 19 years ago, and by doing away with paper receipts, "all sorts of pilferage was done away with".

He said the same was being attempted for implementation but he was sad to report that the move was being met with a lot of resistance.

"You won't be able to stop us for much longer," he said, addressing the institutions opposed to shifting to digital platforms.

He said e-commerce will also be brought in after removing cyber security hurdles.

The premier reiterated his oft-repeated mantra of "ghabrana naheen hai (you must not give in to fear)" and promised "exciting times ahead" for the country.

"The country will experience a quantum leap ahead."

'Billion-dollar opportunities'

Tania Aidrus, a senior Google executive who quit her position to lead the initiative, also addressed the event.

She said that with the premier's assurances she had the confidence to "take a leap of faith and contribute to Pakistan".

Aidrus said that one of the foremost reasons why she was so bullish regarding opportunities in Pakistan was the fact that "more than 100 million people are below the age of 25".

"This means that for every Pakistani who retires in the next 20 years, three young Pakistanis will enter the workforce," she said.

Aidrus said these young Pakistanis are tech-savvy. "Technology is a part of their lives."

Tania Adrus addressing the event. — DawnNewsTV
Tania Adrus addressing the event. — DawnNewsTV

She also spoke of a "strong, growing middle class" and a growth in consumer spending "in every vertical (market)". "Penetration of technology in these vertical markets is very low currently."

"In every market, whether it is transport, commerce, payments, in every vertical there is an opportunity to have billion-dollar companies," said Aidrus.

The tech consultant also said that Pakistan has more than 70 million internet users and local tech talent as well as diaspora which has been forming tech companies for a decade. "All these people are ready to contribute to the development of Pakistan."

She said all the government has to do is create an enabling environment, make digital building blocks, and policies which do not constrain innovation.

Aidrus then introduced the five strategic pillars which will form the basis of the new digital initiative:

  1. Access and Connectivity that ensures every Pakistani has access to the internet that is a fundamental right that we need to make available universally and especially to underserved populations.
  2. Digital Infrastructure that creates the ability to do most daily tasks using smart-phones in a secure and faster manner.
  3. E-Government that digitises intra-government operations and processes towards a paperless and efficient environment and also digitises government services for citizens and businesses for better delivery.
  4. Digital Skilling and Literacy that enables our tech graduates to secure relevant jobs. A majority of our tech graduates today cannot compete globally because our curriculum is outdated and barring them from monetising those skills.
  5. Innovation and Entrepreneurship that provides an enabling environment for startups to flourish.

"Today we all need to make a commitment that we are ready to be a part of the revolution and will work together to move it forward.

"And to the skeptics: the question is not whether or not it can take place in Pakistan. The question is: how quickly can we begin?" she concluded by saying.

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Verdict on Imran’s acquittal in PTV attack case delayed

ISLAMABAD: Perhaps due to lack of coordination among lawyers for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) could not announce its decision on the acquittal plea of Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Parliament House and PTV attack cases.

ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan had last month reserved verdict in the case which was supposed to be announced on Thursday.

PTI leaders, including President Dr Arif Alvi, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood and Minister for Planning Asad Umar had withdrawn identical petitions to save the court from taking time to decide so many petitions.

However, when the proceeding was resumed on Thursday, a court official said dozens of PTI workers were also seeking same relief and it was not possible for the judge to decide the single petition and keep the others pending.

This was due to the fact that the legal team of the PTI did not make any effort for withdrawal of the petitions pending even before Mr Khan applied for the acquittal.

Subsequently, the court observed that the case would be decided after hearing all other applicants.

Further hearing in the petition was adjourned to Dec 12.Police had invoked Anti-Terrorism Act against PTI chief Imran Khan, Arif Alvi, Asad Umar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood, Ejaz Chaudhry and others for inciting violence during the 2014 sit-in.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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FO hails expected resumption of talks between US, Taliban

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday welcomed the expected resumption of US-Taliban talks that have remained suspended for three months and urged all parties to the Afghan conflict to engage constructively.

“Pakistan welcomes the announcement regarding resumption of the US-Taliban talks. We hope that it will lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and ultimately to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

“Pakistan encourages all parties to the conflict to engage constructively as a shared responsibility,” it added.

The US State Department has announced that Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad would visit Qatar for “rejoining talks with Taliban”.

The meeting, in which the two sides will discuss a political settlement of the Afghan conflict, start of an intra-Afghan negotiations process and ceasefire, is expected to take place next week. Amb Khalilzad is currently in Kabul for exchange of views with Afghan leaders.

The US-Taliban talks were abruptly called off by President Donald Trump in September after an attack in Kabul in which an American soldier was killed. The two sides were then close to signing a deal, which would have paved the way for ending the war in Afghanistan and withdrawal of US forces.

Donald Trump during an unannounced visit to Afghanistan last week for joining American troops there on Thanksgiving Day disclosed that the talks were being resumed and that Taliban had agreed to a ceasefire.

The Foreign Office further said the resumption of talks had vindicated Pakistan’s longstanding position that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. “An inclusive peace and reconciliation process, involving all segments of the Afghan society, is the only practical way forward,” it added.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a meeting with ambassadors of European countries briefed them on Pakistan’s efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. The FO said the envoys appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in this regard.

During the meeting, he hoped that the recently-agreed Pak-EU Strategic Engagement Plan would contribute to improving bilateral relations and economic cooperation with the European Union.

Mr Qureshi asked the EU ambassadors to review travel advisory to Pakistan in view of improved security and peace situation in the country.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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2 soldiers martyred in North Waziristan operation: ISPR

Two security forces officials were martyred in an intelligence-based operation conducted near Charkhel village of North Waziristan, a statement by the military's media wing said on Thursday.

"Presence of terrorists was reported in a hideout. During operation two terrorists killed," said the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement.

The martyred soldiers were identified as Havaldar Sher Zaman and Sepoy Muhammad Jawad.

The incident follows an exchange of fire with terrorists four days ago which resulted in one Frontier Corps soldier being martyred and two others getting injured.

"Terrorists raided an FC post in North Waziristan district near the Pak-Afghan border," according to an ISPR statement.

Earlier, in November, three soldiers of the Pakistan Army were martyred in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in North Waziristan.

The martyred soldiers were a part of the army's patrolling team. One other soldier was also injured when the IED went off, an ISPR statement had said.

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Chinese embassy refutes AP report on sold Pakistani brides, says it is untrue

China's embassy in Islamabad has rejected a report by The Associated Press on Pakistani brides being sold to Chinese men, calling it "same old stuff and not true".

A statement by the spokesperson of the Chinese embassy dated December 4, quotes a question pertaining the AP report which claimed that 629 girls and women from across Pakistan had been sold to Chinese men.

The report alleged that women were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, forced fertility treatments and, in some cases, were also pushed into prostitution. Furthermore, AP said that accusations of organ trade had also surfaced in reports drawn up by Pakistan's investigation agencies.

Responding to claims, the Chinese embassy spokesperson said: "The Chinese government will protect legitimate marriages and combat crimes. If any organisation or individual commits a crime in Pakistan under the banner of transnational marriage, China supports the Pakistani side to crack it down according to Pakistani laws.

"Under the joint efforts of the two government, the illegal marriage matching activity has been effectively curbed."

The spokesperson added that the Ministry of Public Security of China had investigated the matter and had found no evidence that Pakistani women, who had stayed in China after marriage to Chinese men, had been forced into prostitution or organ sale.

"Actually, the Chinese side also sent a task force to Pakistan to carry out law enforcement cooperation with the Pakistani side, which is proved to be very effective (sic)," the spokesperson said.

"It is clear that certain media has made groundless story again without full investigation and [irrespective] of the facts. Its intention is very suspicious. We will never allow a few criminals to undermine China-Pakistan friendship and hurt the friendly feelings between two peoples. We also hope that media reports should seek truth from facts, be objective and fair."

FIA investigation

In May, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) held scores of Chinese nationals and Pakistani partners for their alleged involvement in fake marriages used to traffic Pakistani women to China for organ removal and sexual exploitation.

An FIA team also raided houses in Lahore where they arrested nine Chinese men, a woman and three local accomplices and rescued two Pakistani brides. The FIA also made arrests in Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The FIA swung into action after allegations that some Chinese nationals were involved in the sexual exploitation and organ trade of Pakistani women taken to China as brides. Most of the alleged victims were from poor families, Christian and from various cities in Punjab.

The AP report, however, claimed that probe against networks allegedly involved in the "lucrative trade" of selling brides to Chinese men had come to a halt due to “immense pressure” on FIA officials pursuing such cases.

"No one is doing anything to help these girls," AP quoted an official, who requested anonymity. "The whole racket is continuing, and it is growing. Why? Because they know they can get away with it. The authorities won’t follow through, everyone is being pressured to not investigate. Trafficking is increasing now."

In May this year, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, when asked about the trend, had said: "We have to protect our girls and we also have to protect our bilateral relations."

He said that the two sides wanted to avoid the implications of the problem and also wanted to foil the designs of those powers who were fanning the issue. "The element who wants to affect the bilateral relations between Pakistan and China is also playing a role in this," he said.

"We have to handle both the issues and we are trying to resolve them in an amicable manner."

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Rape victim set ablaze in India while making way to court; in critical condition

A 23-year-old rape victim was set ablaze by a gang of men, including the alleged rapist, as she made her way to court in northern India on Thursday, police said, stirring public outrage and shame over the scourge of crimes against women.

During the past week, thousands of Indians have protested in several cities following the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old vet near the southern city of Hyderabad.

Protesters and parliamentarians are pressing for courts to fast-track rape cases and demanding tougher penalties.

The woman attacked and burned on Thursday morning was in a critical condition, according to D.S. Negi, a doctor at the Civil Hospital in Lucknow, the capital of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

“The condition of the girl who was set on fire and bought to Lucknow at 10am is very serious. She has 90 percent burn injuries and we are taking utmost care. A team of doctors are observing her,” Dr Ashutosh Dubey, medical superintendent of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Hospital, was quoted as saying by PTI.

She had been on her way to catch a train in Unnao district to attend a hearing when she was doused with kerosene and set on fire, police said.

“As per the victim's statement, five people were involved in setting her on fire, including the one who was accused in the rape case,” Vikrant Vir, a police superintendent in Unnao, told Reuters.

All five men have been detained, Uttar Pradesh police said in a tweet.

Police documents seen by Reuters showed the woman had filed a complaint with Unnao police in March alleging that she had been raped at gun point on Dec 12, 2018.

Having been subsequently jailed, the alleged rapist was released last week after securing bail, police officer S.K. Bhagat said in Lucknow.

Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous state and has become notorious for its poor record regarding crimes against women, with more than 4,200 cases of rape reported there in 2017 – the highest in the country.

The Uttar Pradesh state government, currently controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, came under fire in July from opposition groups accusing it of protecting a lawmaker accused of rape.

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'An attack on Dawn is an attack on us all': Journalists rally against siege of Islamabad offices

Journalists across various cities protested on Thursday against the siege of Dawn's Islamabad offices by a mob earlier this week.

The mob on Monday had staged a demonstration against the publication of a news report regarding the origins of the London Bridge attacker who stabbed two persons to death last week. The charged mob, carrying banners and chanting slogans against the newspaper, had remained outside the office building for nearly three hours, besieging the premises and making the staffers hostage.

On Tuesday, dozens of people had also staged a protest demonstration outside Karachi Press Club against Dawn. The participants had threatened to besiege the offices of the media group if “prompt action was not taken against the management and outlets of the organisation for publishing false news.”

Today's protests were held by the journalist fraternity in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Quetta outside the Dawn offices and local press clubs in a show of solidarity with the publication. Participants held banners inscribed with slogans in support of Dawn and strongly condemned the attack.

Participants in Karachi carried banners from the Karachi Union of Journalists, Hyderabad Union of Journalists and Sukkur Union of Journalists condemning the siege and pledging solidarity with Dawn.

Addressing the Karachi protest, Editor Dawn Zaffar Abbas said that "one by one, all of the media organisations are being suppressed" and called on all media houses to come together and remain united at such a time.

"When Geo is attacked, we remain quiet. When Dawn is attacked, most of us, again, remain quiet. When the distribution of Jang newspaper and The News is prevented, others seek to take advantage of the situation."

Abbas said that the circulation of Dawn was also being stopped in certain cities once more. "We must understand, the editors as well as the owners, that when someone views it as an opportunity to cash in on greater sales in such times, then what has happened with us can happen with them too. That's why we all need to stand together," he said.

He asked of the authorities: "What is our fault? That we are publishing news reports? If we have violated any laws, if we have committed treason, there are laws for that. File a case against us, drag us into court, jail us, but what is this? You don't like the newspaper, you don't like the news it publishes, so you gather government employees and stage a protest against it?"

Chants of "shame, shame" followed, after which he went on to say: "You stop our paper from distribution in parts of the country, you force cable operators to stop broadcasting our TV channel.

"Democracy will never be able to take flight in the country this way. If democracy has to flourish then freedom of expression and freedom of the press will have to be valued.

"If you do not value these, you will have to bear the brunt of the resulting loss."

In Islamabad today, banners from the Pakistan Union of Journalists and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan were seen in the protest.

Awami National Party leader Afrasiab Khattak addressed the gathering and vowed to "stand by freedom of the press at all cost". He said that "even Zia was not as harsh on the press as is the current regime".

Protesters chanting slogans outside Dawn's Islamabad offices. — Photo by Inamullah Khattak
Protesters chanting slogans outside Dawn's Islamabad offices. — Photo by Inamullah Khattak

In Lahore, a sizable number of the journalist community gathered outside the city's Dawn offices. Participants chanted slogans of "until the media is free, our fight will continue" and "an attack on Dawn, is an attack on us all". They called on the government to stop such attacks on media offices.

"We have come to express solidarity with Dawn and its workers," said a participant of the protest in Lahore.

"An attack on Dawn is an attack on media freedom. Journalism is the fourth pillar of the state," said another.

Senior journalist Zulfikar Mehto lamented that Dawn's offices were forcibly shut and "the editor was issued threats".

A protest in support of Dawn was also held outside the Quetta Press Club. Besides senior journalists, members of civil society from various schools of thought also participated.

"Times are worse today than when we had a dictatorship," said President Quetta Press Club Razaur Rehman. "All of the country's journalists will remain united in the future against such elements," he vowed.

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Shehzada Zulfikar said that journalists, television channels and newspapers are not "enemies of the state". "There is a difference between creating disturbance and protesting," he said, adding that a difference of opinion over a news report is anyone's right.

Pakistan Union of Journalists President (PUJ) Ayub Tareen said that it was shameful to have asked journalists to apologise in front of the cameras. "Only with free media will civil society and political parties function effectively."

A large number of journalists also gathered on the call of Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) to protest outside the Peshawar Press Club.

KhUJ President Fida Khattak addressed the crowd, condemning the restriction on media by the incumbent government.

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US Speaker Pelosi says Democrats will draft articles of impeachment against Trump

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said she has directed a House committee to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump over his effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, a historic step that sets up a fight over whether to oust him from office.

“The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and (a) crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival,” Pelosi said in a televised statement.

The impeachment fight undertaken by House Democrats is unfolding even as the Republican president is running for re-election in 2020.

“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our Founders and our hearts full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment,” she added, referring to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

Pelosi made the remarks a day after the Judiciary Committee held a hearing in which three constitutional law experts called by Democratic lawmakers said Trump had engaged in conduct that represents impeachable offenses under the Constitution. A fourth expert called by Republican lawmakers called the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry rushed and flawed.

Articles of impeachment represent formal charges against Trump and would originate in the Judiciary Committee before going to the full House. If the Democratic-led House passes articles of impeachment as expected, that would lead to a trial in the Senate on whether to convict Trump of those charges and remove him from office. Republicans control the Senate and have shown little support for Trump's removal.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said on Twitter that Pelosi and other Democrats “should be ashamed,” adding that Trump “has done nothing but lead our country — resulting in a booming economy, more jobs & a stronger military, to name just a few of his major accomplishments. We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate.”

The three law professors chosen by the Democrats made clear during Wednesday's hearing that they believed Trump's actions constituted impeachable offenses including abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice.

The House Intelligence Committee this week submitted findings from its inquiry into Trump's push for Kiev to launch an investigation related to former US Vice President Joe Biden, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Trump also asked Ukraine to look into the discredited theory promoted by the president and his allies that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 US election.

Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to Ukraine — a US ally facing Russian aggression — to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce the investigations.

“Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called the impeachment investigation a hoax.

The House may vote by year's end on the formal impeachment charges, but Democrats, who control the chamber, say no decision has been made at this point on the specific charges. Those could include abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice.

Judiciary panel Democrats on Wednesday said they may look beyond Trump's relations with Ukraine to include Trump's earlier alleged efforts to impede former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into his 2016 campaign's relations with Russia, but they stopped short of saying that could trigger a separate charge.

Impeachment history

No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment, though Republican Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 after the House began the impeachment process in the Watergate corruption scandal. Two other presidents were impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.

The last impeachment effort in the United States came in 1998 when a Republican-led House passed articles of impeachment against Democratic President Bill Clinton - charges arising from a sexual relationship he had with a White House intern. The Senate then acquitted Clinton in 1999, leaving him in office.

The other president who was impeached was Andrew Johnson, impeached by the House in 1868 — three years after the end of the US Civil War — but left in office by the Senate.

Trump's fellow Republicans in both chambers have stood by him, and have accused Democrats of seeking to overturn the 2016 election.

Republican Representative Andy Biggs, who sits on the House Judiciary panel, told Fox News earlier on Thursday: “What we are seeing is a rush - rush - to impeachment.” “I think you're going to see several articles of impeachment so there's a menu there. ... That's the type of political shenanigans that are going to go on here to undermine the election of 2016,” Biggs said.

Republicans in the Senate have given no signs they would break with the president now.

Ahead of Pelosi's statement, Trump urged House Democrats to move quickly if they were going to impeach him so that the Senate could take up the issue.

“If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business,” Trump tweeted.

Polling has shown Americans are also largely divided along party lines over impeachment.

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Special court to announce verdict in Musharraf treason case on Dec 17

A special court in Islamabad on Thursday said it would announce the verdict in the high treason case against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf on December 17 after hearing the arguments of the government's new prosecution team.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on November 27 stopped the special court from issuing the verdict it had earlier reserved in the high treason case. Additionally, the high court had directed the government to notify a prosecution team by December 5.

On October 24, the special court was informed that the government had sacked the entire prosecution team engaged by the previous PML-N government to prosecute the high treason case against Musharraf.

Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth headed a three-member bench of the special court as a new prosecution team for the government appeared before the court during today's proceedings.

Prosecutor Advocate Ali Zia Bajwa said that he and Munir Bhatti had been appointed as prosecutors in the case and after receiving the notification of his appointment at 4pm on Wednesday, he had received a 3,000-page record.

The prosecutor asked for time to read over the record of the case, adding that he would not depend on the arguments of the previous prosecution team.

Justice Nazar Akbar, who was part of the bench, asked the newly appointed prosecutor to tell them when he would present his arguments, adding that he would not be given more than a week's time.

Advocate Bajwa asked the court to give them a reasonable amount of time.

Justice Seth said they (prosecutors) should set aside other cases and fight this case, while Justice Akbar added that four days were enough to prepare.

Justice Seth added that judges had come from various parts of the country for the special court.

"This is a special case and this is a special court," Justice Seth remarked.

The prosecutor said there was "a lot of pressure" on them, in response to which Justice Akbar said: "What pressure could there be on lawyers and the court? The lawyers' job is to assist the court."

Justice Seth added that they would write that the prosecution should give their statements by December 17.

Adjourning proceedings till December 17, Justice Seth said they would hear arguments in the next proceeding and announce the verdict.

IHC verdict binding on special court

Earlier in the week, IHC ruled that its order of stopping the special court from announcing its verdict in the treason case was binding on it (special court) regardless of the fact that it comprises three high court judges.

In the previous hearing of the case in the special court, the bench acknowledged the receipt of a short order of the IHC dated November 27 in which the special court was restrained from announcing its verdict in the treason trial.

However, the court remarked, "without commenting upon the maintainability and jurisdiction of the said petition […] before the Islamabad High Court, we direct the representative of the ministry of interior to nominate the prosecutor".

The high treason trial of the former military dictator for clamping the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007, has been pending since December 2013.

He was booked in the treason case in December 2013. Musharraf was indicted on March 31, 2014, and the prosecution had tabled the entire evidence before the special court in September the same year. However, due to litigation at appellate forums, the trial of the former military dictator lingered on and he left Pakistan in March 2016.

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Chasing hot money

IN response to Pakistan’s large external financing requirements, the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) began a concerted campaign this summer to attract inflows from a segment of international fixed income investors that indulge in what are known as ‘carry trades’. These investors, typically highly leveraged hedge funds, borrow in currencies that have low (or negative) interest rates, and buy government securities in emerging markets that offer high interest rates. Since the targeted country’s currency can devalue/depreciate after the trade has been made, those countries that are on an IMF programme and where the external account has stabilised enough to minimise the risk of the exchange rate weakening and imposing a loss when converting back to US dollars, are considered most attractive.

This is where Pakistan comes into the picture. Since the governor’s foreign bank-arranged road show in July, Pakistan has received over $1 billion worth of inflows under this head. Looking at the yield differentials that Pakistani government securities offer, it is easy to see why. With the three-month London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) at around 1.9 per cent, and the three-month Pakistan government Treasury bill offering an interest rate of around 13.6pc, the yield ‘pick up’ (or difference) is an astounding 11.7pc. (The borrowing cost in Swiss franc for a hedge fund investor would be around -0.75pc, magnifying the return even further).

Enhancing the return for these investors is the fact that the rupee has appreciated nearly 5pc since beginning July. Hence, a foreign fund manager who bought a three-month government of Pakistan T-bill in July would have made a gross return of around 16pc on this trade! This explains the near-gold rush appeal of Pakistani government securities for global fund managers. In a recent story on the subject in the Financial Times, the chief economist at Renaissance Capital, a large player in emerging markets, was quoted as saying that the case for buying Pakistan’s bonds was straightforward. “Where else can you get double-digit yield on an undervalued currency?” Indeed.

The central bank is ignoring significant potential risks.

Surely such a level of interest and actual inflows can only be a good thing? The prime minister has been misguided into believing so, tweeting his pleasure at the ‘investment’ in Pakistan. That is the first problem. These inflows of hot money are being mis-characterised as investment when in actual fact they represent very expensive, and very short-term, commercial borrowing for Pakistan. (For the foreign fund managers, this is portfolio investment. But from Pakistan’s perspective it is nothing more than expensive short-term borrowing). A more sensible alternate source of external market-based borrowing for the country would be issuing Eurobonds, sukuks and ‘panda bonds’, which would be longer tenor (five years and upwards) and at considerably lower cost. A raft of emerging market borrowers are taking advantage of favourable issuance conditions in the international bond market. If the government decided to take this route to raise around $3bn this year, it can shave over six percentage points off its borrowing cost in my estimation. This would translate into potential saving of around $200m every year (the equivalent Rs31bn annually).

So why is the SBP governor sold on this avenue of expensive borrowing for the country? For starters, as the IMF resident representative in Egypt, he is familiar with this approach, when the Fund nudged that country to attract large-scale inflows to rapidly boost its foreign exchange reserves. With domestic interest rates touching over 17pc at their peak, and the Egyptian pound stabilising under the IMF programme, Egypt managed to attract billions of US dollars into its onshore government securities market.

As a result, its forex reserves grew rapidly in a relatively short period of time. Both the SBP and the IMF are keen to replicate this rapid accumulation of Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves, as this will not only meet set targets under the Fund programme but will boost the country’s external account buffers. In turn, this will set the stage for a turnaround in overall market and investor confidence. An additional benefit for the SBP is that such inflows are among the only source of generating rupee liquidity in the banking system after the preclusion of government borrowing from the central bank.

Despite these benefits, there are substantial risks and problems associated with these inflows of hot money. First is their fickle and volatile nature. They can, and have in the case of Mexico (peso crisis, 1994), Thailand (baht crisis, 1997), Russia (1998), Argentina (2001), to name a few episodes, caused disruption and upheaval in currency markets, asset markets, the domestic banking system, monetary management etc. by surging inflows as well as ‘bunched’ outflows. Even a recent IMF study (February 2019) admits that “the use of short-term debt has been associated with a higher incidence of financial crises in the past”.

Speculative carry traders are often highly leveraged and heavily dependent on borrowing, and are prone to sudden withdrawal from emerging markets due to abrupt changes in global risk appetite and/or decrease in availability of funding liquidity. Hence the term ‘hot’ money.

A second serious problem was pointed out in my column in Dawn in July this year (‘Anatomy of a crisis’). As the hot money book grows, and the SBP’s dependence on these inflows increases, the central bank will ‘lock’ itself into keeping domestic interest rates higher than they would be otherwise to ensure continued attraction for foreign fund managers.

The high interest rate policy, however, will discourage domestic investment, weigh the banking sector with potential bad loans, and impose a huge burden on public finances. Given that the government is slated to borrow several trillion rupees domestically in the current year in gross terms, a reduction of even a couple of percentage points in SBP’s policy rate can translate into an overall saving of around Rs400bn in debt-servicing cost. Clearly, the short-term benefits of SBP policy are being outweighed by very significant costs.

The writer is a former member of the prime minister’s economic advisory council, and heads a macroeconomic consultancy based in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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Govt to sell unused state properties at Dubai Expo

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to sell its precious unutilised state properties at the Dubai Expo to attract foreign and Pakistani investors to the country and the funds generated through the exercise will be spent on public welfare schemes related to education, health, food and housing.

It was decided at a meeting on abandoned state properties held at the Prime Minister Office on Wednesday. The meeting was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“These unutilised state properties will be marketed at the Dubai Expo to attract foreign and Pakistani investors to buy these assets,” Privatisation Secretary Rizwan Malik informed the prime minister during the meeting.

The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to sell all precious abandoned properties of the state and to spend the money to be fetched from their sale on welfare of the masses.

The prime minister said that despite having properties worth billions of rupees, state institutions were bearing losses of billions of rupees every year.

“Utilisation of properties worth billions of rupees will help generate funds which will be spent by the government on public welfare schemes such as schools, colleges, hospitals. It is an important component of the government’s policy,” the prime minister said.

“Unfortunately, criminal negligence was done by the previous governments as they did not utilising these valuable properties. Despite billions of rupees’ assets, various federal government institutions are bearing losses of billions of rupees every year,” he added.

The prime minister warned that strict action would be taken against government officials who did not identify unused properties or tried to hinder the government move.

Mr Khan directed the Asset Management Committee and federal ministries as well as provincial governments to resolve all issues related to identified properties next week and implement the government decision immediately.

The meeting was attended by the Mini­ster for Ports and Shipping, Ali Haider Zaidi, Minister for Privatisation Mian Muhammad Soomro, Assistant Secre­tary for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zul­fiqar Abbas Bukhari, Special Assis­tant to the Prime Minister on Informa­tion Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Spokes­person to Prime Minister Nadeem Afzal Chen and federal secretaries.

Privatisation Secretary Rizwan Malik informed the meeting about the progress made by government departments on the use of various properties positively and their possible privatisation.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019

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Senior PML-N leaders head to London to consult Shehbaz on 'important political matters'

Members of the PML-N parliamentary group departed for London on Thursday to meet ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and to consult party president Shehbaz Sharif on important issues, said party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb.

Speaking to DawnNewsTV, Aurangzeb said the PML-N delegation will seek the leadership's guidance on parliamentary matters. According to party sources, a meeting of the senior PML-N leadership, headed by Shehbaz, will take place on Friday.

A spokesperson for PML-N's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa President Ameer Muqam said he had departed from Islamabad to head to London in the morning. However, he added that Muqam had gone on his own, separate from the PML-N delegation.

Meanwhile, PML-N workers confirmed that the parliamentary advisory group for the party was heading to London. According to party members, Aurangzeb, MNAs Khawaja Asif, Rana Tanvir, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Senator Pervez Rashid have already left for London while party's secretary general Ahsan Iqbal is expected to leave tomorrow.

The sources added that the group will discuss the law regarding an extension in the army chief's tenure, the appointment of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members as well as politics in the country.

The final decision regarding the law for extending the army chief's tenure will be made by Nawaz, the sources said.

The opposition and government are facing a deadlock over the appointments of ECP members, as both sides have failed to reach a consensus on the matter. Though both Shehbaz and Prime Minister Imran Khan have sent their recommendations for the post to the relevant parliamentary committee, an agreement is yet to be reached.

Members of the opposition on Wednesday approached the Supreme Court requesting it to "pass an appropriate order" in the wake of an impasse in parliament on the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and two ECP members.

Meanwhile, on November 28, the apex court in its short order announced that Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa would remain the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another six months, during which the parliament will legislate on the extension/reappointment of an army chief.

Additional reporting by Adnan Sheikh

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Israel's foreign minister says he hopes Corbyn loses British election

Israel's foreign minister said on Thursday that he hopes Jeremy Corbyn loses next week's British election, citing allegations of anti-Semitism buffeting the Labour Party leader.

With Israel in political disarray of its own after two inconclusive elections, the British contest has elicited few comments from Israeli leaders despite deep concern among British Jews over Corbyn and media reports that some might opt to emigrate if he wins.

Last week, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the Israeli government had not discussed the prospect of Corbyn's election or the future of intelligence and security ties with Britain should the veteran pro-Palestinian campaigner become its leader.

But pressed on the issue in an Israeli Army Radio interview on Thursday, Katz was more forthcoming as the December 12 ballot approaches.

"I won't meddle in internal elections but I personally hope that he won't be elected, with this whole wave of anti-Semitism [...] I hope the other side wins," he said.

Labour Party spokesmen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Katz played down the prospect that security relations with Britain, which include intelligence sharing over Islamist militant activity, would necessarily be degraded should Corbyn take office.

"Leaders don't harm their country's own interests so fast. But we will, of course, discuss these things if they occur," Katz said.

Corbyn has rejected allegations of anti-Semitism — last week Britain's chief rabbi accused him of failing to stem the "poison" gripping Labour — while holding to policies that rile Israel.

Last year, Corbyn said he would recognise a Palestinian state if elected. In a speech on Sunday, he pledged increased oversight of British arms exports to Israel in the name of not fuelling its conflict with the Palestinians.

On Tuesday, Corbyn made a direct apology for not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism in his party.

"Obviously I'm very sorry for everything that has happened," he said. "But I want to make this clear, I am dealing with it, I have dealt with it."

Polls have shown Labour trailing Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party. And for now, Israel does not appear to be bracing for an influx of British Jewish immigrants.

Asked about this possibility, its Immigration Ministry said in a brief statement only that it "is prepared to take in immigrants from all over the world and welcomes immigration in any political situation".

The quasi-governmental Jewish Agency for Israel, which handles immigration requests abroad, said 507 British Jews moved to Israel between January and October, an 8 per cent rise compared with the same period in 2018.

Yigal Palmor, the agency's head of international relations, played down any sense that Corbyn's candidacy was a major spur for British Jews to leave.

"We have no solid findings to show an increase in British immigration (due to the elections). What we have are more general indications — more discussions of the option," he said.

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UK agency takes possession of tycoon’s property in London

LONDON: A day after news of British authorities accepting £190 million settlement offer from the family of Malik Riaz made international headlines, the National Crime Agency (NCA) — which spearheaded the investigation into the real estate magnate’s assets in the United Kingdom — issued a statement which contradicted his stance on the sale of the Hyde Park flat in question.

A day earlier, Mr Riaz tweeted that he sold his UK property in order to fund the Supreme Court-mandated offer in the Bahria Town Karachi case. Mr Riaz had said: “I sold our legal & declared property in UK to pay 190M £ to Supreme Court Pakistan against Bahria Town Karachi.”

However, when asked to clarify whether or not the proceeds of the settlement are a result of a sale made by Mr Riaz, a senior communications officer of the NCA told Dawn via email: “The NCA has taken ownership of the property and it will be sold with the proceeds going back to Pakistan.”

In the light of this statement, it is evident that possession of the £50 million property in question, namely 1 Hyde Park Place, London, W2 2L, is now with the British crime agency and any funds generated from its sale will be held by the NCA till they are repatriated to the state of Pakistan and not an individual. It is unclear how Mr Riaz plans to use these funds to pay the amount agreed to in the Bahria Town case.

Says proceeds from sale of Hyde Park flat will go to Pakistan

A spokesperson for Bahria Town did not respond to Dawn’s request for a comment.

In March this year, a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed had accepted a Rs460 billion offer by Bahria Town to implement the court’s judgement which held that the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority by the Sindh government, its exchange with the private land of the developer and anything done under the provisions of the Colonisation of Government Land Act, 1912 by the provincial government were illegal and of no legal existence.

The NCA had said on Tuesday it had accepted an offer of a staggering £190 million from the family of Malik Riaz after a months-long investigation into property and accounts connected to them.

The first record of the NCA’s move to probe the property and assets belonging to Mr Riaz in the UK surfaced in December 2018, shortly after the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) came to power. The crime agency in a press release dated Aug 14, 2019 stated: “The NCA has been granted freezing orders on eight bank accounts containing a total of more than £100 million, which is suspected to have derived from bribery and corruption in an overseas nation. Approximately £20m held by a linked individual was frozen following a hearing in December 2018.”

It added that the Account Freezing Orders (AFOs) were obtained at the Westminster Magistrates Court on Aug 12, and that they represented “the largest amount of money frozen using AFOs” since they were introduced under the UK’s Criminal Finances Act 2017.

The development made headlines in major international publications such as The Guardian, Al Jazeera and the Financial Times. British dailies reported that Mr Riaz would have to hand over 1 Hyde Park Place, a Grade II listed 16,000sq ft family home overlooking central London’s famous park. One report describes the property as a “10-bedroom mansion that includes a cinema, swimming pool, gym, steam room and spa”.

A search on the UK’s digital land registry reveals that Ultimate Holdings Mgt Ltd (incorporated in the British Virgin Islands) is the registered owner. The document says it shows current information as of Nov 14, 2019 and does not take into account any application made after that date.

According to Land Registry records, the same property was purchased for £42.5m in 2016 from Hasan Nawaz Sharif, the son of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The Sharif family sources told Dawn Hasan Nawaz had no link to the property after it was sold three years earlier.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019

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Inflation surges to nine-year high

ISLAMABAD: Inflation rose to 12.7 per cent year-on-year, the highest level in nine years mainly driven by an increase in prices of food items, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported on Wednesday.

Inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), edged up by 1.3pc over the previous month after the PBS revised its calculation methodology by setting the new base year 2015-16 instead of the previous 2007-08 financial year.

Finance ministry in a brief statement claimed that inflation would come down from the next month without saying how they figured this.

The data released on Wednesday shows that higher prices of food items have been the largest driver in overall inflation in November. It has also been observed that the prices of essential food items are higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

Food inflation in urban areas rose by 16.6pc in November on a yearly basis and 2.4pc on a monthly basis and that in rural areas by 19.3pc and 3.4pc, respectively.

In urban areas, the food items which saw an increase in their prices are: tomatoes (149.41pc), pulse mash (11.72pc), pulse moong (7.79pc), wheat (6.86pc), potatoes (6.72pc), wheat flour (4.74pc), beans (4.53pc), onions (3.82pc), dried fruits (3.22pc), pulse masoor (2.66pc), mustard oil (2.49pc), pulse gram (1.94pc), milk fresh (1.42pc), cooking oil (1.2pc), fish (1.17pc), gram whole (1.04pc) and vegetable ghee (1pc). The prices of items that declined in urban areas are: fresh vegetables (11.52pc), chicken (2.28pc), sugar (1.18pc) and fresh fruits (1.03pc).

In rural areas, the items that witnessed an increase in their prices are: tomatoes (189.67pc), onions (13.83pc), wheat (10.85pc), pulse moong (8.55pc), beans (6.24pc), wheat flour (6.15pc), fresh fruits (4.68pc), potatoes (4.43pc), pulse masoor (3.89pc), dried fruits (3.05pc), cotton cloth (2.58pc), gram whole (1.48pc), eggs (1.31pc), fish (1.3pc), readymade food (1.19pc), rice (1.02pc) and pulse gram (1.01pc).

Similarly, non-food inflation in urban centres was recorded at 9.6pc year-on-year, while it was 9pc in rural areas. The rise in non-food inflation is mainly driven by an increase in oil prices over the past few months and a combined impact of depreciation of the exchange rate. The government passed on this increase to domestic consumers.

Non-food prices also remained under pressure on account of education index, which increased by 6.12pc. Clothing and footwear went up by 9.37pc, housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuel by 8.81pc, furnishing and household equipment by 10.84pc, health by 11.39pc, transport by 13.95 pc and recreation and culture by 6.8pc.

The change in base year means the economy’s price levels in FY16 will now be the base against which all existing prices will be calculated for the CPI.

Based on the new base year, inflation in November rose to 12.7pc from 11pc in the previous month.

Going by the old base year of FY08 that was being used until three months ago, the key inflation index comes in at 12.3pc for November, showing a 1.2pc increase over October.

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that Pakistan’s inflation may escalate up to 13pc, but the government’s estimate is between 11pc and 13pc for the current fiscal year.

The urban CPI covers 35 cities and 356 consumer items, while the rural CPI tracks 27 rural centres and 244 items. The former grew by 12.1pc year-on-year in November, whereas the latter jumped by 13.6pc.

The core inflation rate in urban areas was 7.5pc in November, according to the new methodology, as it dipped from 7.7pc. The core inflation rate in rural areas was 8.4pc in November, while it was 8.6pc in the previous month.

The central bank determines the key policy rate (which currently stands at 13.25pc) on the basis of the core inflation rate.

Average inflation measured by the Sensitive Price Index crawled up 14.22pc in July-November from 1.99pc during the same period last year, while the Wholesale Price Index went up 13.52pc from 16.99pc.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019

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Painstaking efforts made to find properties, SC judge observes

ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court judge observed on Wednesday that a mention of three assets in the reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, instead of only one in the original complaint, suggested some surveillance had been done to look for additional properties.

“Abdul Waheed Dogar’s complaint has one property, but the reference initiated later has mentioned three offshore properties which were owned by the family members,” observed Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, adding this showed that surveillance was made for the properties.

The observation came during the hearing of a set of challenges against the filing of the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa by a 10-judge full court.

Muneer Malik, counsel for Justice Isa, had contended before the court that the complaint cannot be supplemented by any other authority or even by the President, on whose opinion the reference was filed, though the complainant may add any evidence or information to his complaint.

When Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel asked about the educational qualification of the complainant, Muneer Malik replied that to him he was just a “two bit proxy.”

The documentary evidence in the original complaint by Dogar was not forthcoming even now, the counsel argued, adding this “led us to presume that it does not exist”.

Had the original complaint filed by Mr Dogar been sent to the President or the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), both might have thrown it out and consigned it to the dustbin if not supported by evidence, the counsel said.

But the complaint was directly sent to Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar, who heads the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU), and finally landed at the President’s desk with a draft of the reference, the counsel argued.

“Most of us would throw it into the dustbin, but the ARU chief considered it serious enough to be taken to the law minister for further discussion,” the Muneer Malik said.

The complaint received so much importance because somehow the law minister and the ARU chairman allegedly knew about the offshore properties in advance, but wanted to create a paper trail.

The ARU chairman met Mr Dogar, who allegedly gave an extracted copy of the search property of one property and the FBR expert found more properties through their wider search.

At this Justice Miankhel asked the counsel about the annexure, but the latter replied that these were not even included in the reference material.

When Ziaul Mustafa of the FBR, who discovered three properties, found the properties through his wider search, he had no idea about the Spanish name of the wife of Justice Isa. The documents were collected on April 23 within one week of the task given by the ARU chairman even without the name.

Justice Munib Akhtar observed it was conceivable that the wife’s name was given to the expert from the complaint of Dogar. But the counsel wondered where it has been written. They did not even know the name of the son of Justice Isa.

“You want to say that they already had the information before the filing of complaint and Dogar was introduced merely to justify the collection of the material,” commented Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who heads the full court, asked the counsel to explain why mention was made in arguments of “surveillance by intelligence agencies” even though there was no evidence or even allegations of surveillance by intelligence agencies. “Since the information and certain records were accessed in UK, why should they be mentioned in the arguments.” The counsel, however, replied his case was that the reference was initiated against Justice Isa only because of Feb 4 TLP sit-in.

Referring to a query about laws in different countries on covert surveillance, the counsel cited a 2102 judgment in which certain laws of UK, USA, New Zealand, Canada and Norway were available to ensure transparency.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019

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Trump calls Trudeau two-faced as palace gossip goes viral

Nato leaders professed unity on Wednesday at a summit near London but a spat over off-the-cuff chit chat at a royal reception rattled their show of solidarity.

US President Donald Trump branded the leader of America's northern neighbour two-faced after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to gossip about Trump in comments caught on camera and microphone.

Trudeau was seen standing in a huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain's Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II at Tuesday evening's Buckingham Palace reception for Nato leaders.

After Johnson asked Macron "Is that why you were late?" Trudeau could be heard saying Macron was late "because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.” Trudeau confirmed that was a reference to Trump's long and unscheduled question-and-answer session with journalists earlier on Tuesday.

Trudeau also said: “You just watched his team's jaws drop to the floor.” He explained on Wednesday that was in reference to Trump's decision to hold the next Group of Seven meeting at Camp David, the presidential retreat.

Footage of the palace reception was recorded by a pool camera. The clip was posted online by Canadian broadcaster CBC and has been viewed more than 5 million times.

Speaking Wednesday at the summit venue in Watford, outside London, Trump said Trudeau was likely upset that the US president had broached the fact that Canada falls short of the Nato target of spending 2% of its gross domestic product on defense.

"Well, he's two-faced," Trump told reporters. "And honestly, with Trudeau he's a nice guy, I find him to be a very nice guy but you know the truth is that I called him out on the fact that he's not paying 2 per cent and I guess he's not very happy about it.”

Trudeau had a quiet word and a handshake with Trump as he arrived at the summit on Wednesday, and later tried to shrug off the episode.

"As you all know, we have a very good and constructive relationship between me and the president," Trudeau told reporters at a news conference.

Asked if the incident had given him pause for thought, Trudeau said that ensuring the focus of attention remained on matters of substance is something that were all going to try to do a little harder.

Johnson, meanwhile, professed ignorance when asked by reporters about the conversation.

"That's complete nonsense," he said, adding: "I really don't know what is being referred to there."

Leaders of the 29 Nato states met to mark the 70th anniversary of the military alliance and trying to patch up differences over defence spending, the alliance's strategic direction and member nation Turkey’s military action in northern Syria.

The two-day gathering ended with a show of unity, as the leaders declared their commitment to the alliance's principle of collective defense, saying in their final declaration that “an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all.”

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Imran Farooq murder case: FIA's request to record witnesses' statements via video link approved

Islamabad's Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Thursday approved the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) request for recording the statements of 32 British witnesses via video link in the murder case of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Dr Imran Farooq.

ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand presided over the case. FIA prosecutor Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed presented a list of witnesses, which included the wife of the deceased, before the court and requested that the agency be allowed to record their statements via video link.

The defence counsel raised an objection to this. However, the FIA prosecutor argued that the evidence in the case has been acquired through a Mutual Legal Assistance between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

He maintained that arrangements in this regard are already underway. Once these are complete, we can record the statements of witnesses on a daily basis, he argued.

However, the judge voiced reservations over unnecessary inclusions in the list. This prompted the prosecutor to say that unnecessary witnesses will be struck from the list when the time comes.

He maintained that the court's decision will be forwarded to the UK attorney general who will inform the UK Border Agency. The entire process will be done through the ministry of foreign affairs, he said.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the court accepted the request.

On Monday, the head of UK’s investigation team probing the murder case appeared before the ATC and submitted the original record of the case to the judge for perusal.

Detective Chief Inspector of the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Staurt Greenaway informed ATC judge Arjumand that the code name for the case was “Operation HASTOR” and that being the head of the investigation team he had examined all aspects of the incident in order to ascertain the truth.

He testified that all the evidence collected during the course of the investigation was in his custody.

He produced the original map of the crime scene, post-mortem and forensic reports, CCTV footage of the incident, murder weapons, fingerprints of the accused persons, their passports, details of bank accounts, records related to admission of accused Mohsin Ali in the London Academy of Management Sciences (Lams) and his emails.

Farooq, a senior leader of the MQM, was murdered outside his home in London in 2010.

On Dec 5, 2015, the FIA registered a case against the MQM founder and other party leaders for their alleged involvement in his murder.

The trial of the murder suspects has been standstill since last year as the prosecution case was stuck up because of non-availability of evidence.

Last year, the Islamabad High Court had directed the trial court to conclude the much-delayed trial by October 2018. However, the prosecution of the FIA repeatedly requested the court to extend the deadline since the British government was reluctant to share evidence related to the murder fearing that the accused might get death sentence if convicted. European laws do not permit the sharing of evidence with a country where the offence was punishable by death.

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Two killed in Hawaii's Pearl Harbor base shooting: official

A US sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii on Wednesday before committing suicide, an official said.

The two people killed were Department of Defense civilian employees, while a third civilian was wounded but "in stable condition at (an) area hospital," the official told AFP.

Earlier, a spokesman for the US base would only say that security forces had responded to reports of a shooting at around 2:30pm local time and that the base was on lockdown for several hours.

One witness told local media he was sitting at his computer when he heard shots fired and saw three victims on the ground.

The witness, who did not want to be identified, said he then saw the gunman who was wearing what appeared to be a navy or sailor's uniform shoot himself in the head.

Hawaii News Now said several civilians were among the gunshot victims.

The shooting reportedly took place near the south entrance to the sprawling base.

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IHC constitutes board to examine Zardari’s health condition

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday constituted a medical board comprising doctors of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and the personal physician of former president Asif Ali Zardari to examine his health condition.

Hearing a petition seeking post-arrest bail for Mr Zardari on medical grounds, an IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq sought a report from the medical board on Dec 11, when it will resume the hearing of the identical petitions filed by the former president as well as another bail petition filed by his sister Faryal Talpur in the fake bank accounts case.

The court also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit a para-wise reply to these petitions.

Asks NAB to submit reply to bail petitions of former president and his sister

Advocate Farooq H. Naek, the counsel for Mr Zardari, argued before the court that the former president “is a chronic patient suffering from multiple ailments. He is a heart patient having three stents in his heart. He has a Holter Monitor attached to his chest so that the doctors are able to check and note variations in his heartbeat and blockages in his arteries. The petitioner is a patient of ischemic heart disease, which means that his heart may have inadequate supply of blood and oxygen”.

Mr Naek argued that Mr Zardari also “suffers from various other ailments such as cervical and lumbar spondylosis, sensory and motor neuropathy with impaired proprioception”.

The petition states: “The case against the petitioner is that the matter arouse out of inquiries initiated by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) regarding fake/benami accounts connected with various individuals and entities. Another inquiry was also initiated on receipt of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) from the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). An investigation team headed by Dr Nazaf Quli Mirza, additional director general FIA, was constituted to investigate the matter.”

According to the petition, former chief justice Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the case and transferred it to NAB.

Initially, the IHC granted interim bail to Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur in this case on Aug 18 last year, but NAB arrested the petitioner following dismissal of his bail plea on June 10 this year.

The petition said that NAB had detained Mr Zardari for 68 days and then the court sent him to Adiala jail on judicial remand. However, in October the petitioner was shifted to PIMS owing to his deteriorating medical condition.

According to the petition, Mr Zardari “is seriously ill and his condition is unstable … the petitioner is chronic patient suffering from various ailments including but not limited to cardiovascular disease … the petitioner is, undoubtedly suffering from multiple ailments and as such, needs treatment in conducive conditions free from any kind of pressure and stress. In custody, it cannot be said that the petitioner shall have full peace of mind”.

Subsequently, the court was requested that “the petitioner may graciously be granted bail after arrest”.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019

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