Dawn – NAB summons Shahbaz today in three corruption cases

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 20 August 2018. The National Accoun­tability Bureau (NAB) summoned on Monday former chief minister and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif for his alleged involvement in three corruption cases.

NAB has been conducting inquiries against Mr Sharif in different corruption cases, including Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme, Punjab Power Development Company (PPDC) and the potable water project.

Mr Sharif was directed to appear before the NAB investigating team at 11 am in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing scheme corruption case and at 2 pm again in the PPDC case.

The PML-N president has already appeared three times before the NAB investigating team and recorded his statements.

In the past, Mr Sharif had requested the NAB team to suspend its investigation till the general election 2018.

PML-N chief faces investigation in cases related to Ashiana housing, Punjab Power Development Company and Saaf Pani project.

The NAB team has now resumed the investigation after the general election and started summoning people in the cases.

In the PPDC case, Mr Sharif was facing charges of illegal appointments.

The NAB investigating team had rejected his reply to the questionnaire in the case and termed it incomplete and unsatisfactory.

According to a notification available with Dawn, NAB said: “You (Shahbaz Sharif) are hereby called upon to appear on August 20 at 2 pm at Investigation Wing-II, NAB Thokar Niaz Baig before combined investigation team to record your statement regarding nomination of Syed Farrukh Ali Shah as member NEPRA (Punjab) and his appointment as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) PPDCL.”

Mr Sharif was also summoned in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme case over disclosures of former principal secretary Fawad Hassan during investigation.

Fawad was arrested by NAB for alleged misuse of authority and awarding contracts illegally in the housing scheme while serving as the secretary of implementation to Mr Sharif in 2013.

The clean water case pertains to alleged corruption in Punjab Saaf Pani Company.

Mr Sharif had earlier appeared before NAB’s joint investigation team in the Saaf Pani case and answered questions put to him by investigators.

The company was established by the Punjab government to conceive, plan, design, execute and manage projects for the provision of safe drinking water, in terms of both access and quality, to communities living in rural areas of the province.

His son-in-law Ali Imran Yousuf is also facing corruption inquiries in both the PPDC and PSPC scams. The bureau has written to the interior ministry to bring him back from abroad through Interpol.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1428054/nab-summons-shahbaz-today-in-three-corruption-cases

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Dawn – Indian cricket star Sidhu arrives in Pakistan for Imran’s oath-taking with ‘message of love’

Former Indian cricket star Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday arrived in Pakistan to a warm welcome to attend the oath-taking ceremony of prime minister-elect Imran Khan, who had brought the 92′ World Cup home.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 17 August 2018.

Talking to reporters soon after his arrival in Pakistan, Sidhu said he had come to the country as a goodwill messenger and “with a message of love” to become a part of Khan’s happiness.

He said he was saddened today by the demise of former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who he recalled had started the friendship bus service between the two countries.

Answering a question, he said he had brought a Kashmiri shawl as a gift for Khan. He also entertained reporters with a few couplets conveying a message of peace and love between the two neighbours.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Khan has invited several Indian and Pakistani cricket stars of his time to the oath-taking ceremony scheduled for tomorrow at the President House. President Mamnoon Hussain will administer the oath.

According to PTI Senator Faisal Javed, besides Sidhu, India’s former cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev had been invited.

Khan has also remembered his colleagues and invited Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Moin Khan and Aaqib Javed who had played the 1992 Cup final at Melbourne, Australia.

After having secured a simple majority in the July 25 general elections, the PTI is in a comfortable position to form its government at the Centre with its allies.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427553/indian-cricket-star-sidhu-arrives-in-pakistan-for-imrans-oath-taking-with-message-of-love

Dawn – PTI lawmaker submits resolution for south Punjab in provincial assembly

In an apparent attempt to fulfill the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s promise for the creation of a new province comprising the southern part of Punjab, a PTI lawmaker newly elected to the Punjab Assembly has submitted a resolution seeking the House recommend that the federal government initiate the process for the creation of a Southern Punjab province.

Arif Malik

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 15 August 2018. “This House strongly recommends to the federal government [that it] initiate the process of creation of Southern Punjab [province] immediately,” reads the resolution submitted by MPA Mohammad Mohsin Leghari.

The PTI had included the formation of a new province in south Punjab to their election manifesto in May this year while absorbing a political party calling itself the Junoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM; the South Punjab Province Front).

The JPSM mainly comprised estranged leaders of the PML-N who had formed the platform for the single-point agenda of carving a new province from the southern parts of Punjab.

Under the PTI-JPSM deal, the PTI was to set in motion the procedures to create a new province in south Punjab within 100 days if it formed the government.

Interestingly, the PTI’s bitter opponents, the PPP and the PML-N, had also been vocal in their support for a new province in south Punjab.

During electioneering for the 2018 polls, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and PTI’s Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi had announced their support for the new province on the same day.

Addressing a press conference on April 15, Qureshi had said that the PTI endorsed the demand for the creation of a southern Punjab province “not for linguistic reasons but on administrative grounds to mitigate the miseries and sense of deprivation being faced by some 35 million people living in Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions”.

Similarly, Shahbaz Sharif, while talking to journalists, had gone a step further and said that his party had committed to the cause of reviving the Bahawalpur province as well as creating a South Punjab province.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had also said in April that his party had raised the issue of the establishment of a south Punjab province.

“We will make a separate province (of south Punjab) and end the deprivation of this belt if you people support us,” he had told a political gathering in Multan.

He had also raised the slogan, ‘Ghinson, Ghinson, Sooba Ghinson’ (we will get the (new) province), in front of a cheering crowd.

According to Article 239 of the Constitution, the process of creating new provinces requires a two-thirds majority in separate votes in the two houses of parliament and then a further two-thirds majority in the provincial assembly of the affected province.

Given the current party position of arch-rival parties in the parliament, as well as in the Punjab Assembly, the creation of the province has become a complex issue.

The PML-N and the PPP, both a part of the opposition in Punjab and the Centre, will not easily let the PTI have the credit of a new province despite the fact that both of the parties had already endorsed the cause of a new province in south Punjab.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427151/pti-lawmaker-submits-resolution-for-south-punjab-in-provincial-assembly

Dawn – Jinnah’s words

Editorial, 13 August 2018. August 11 is of particular significance to Pakistan’s minorities. It reminds them of the iconic words spoken by the founder of the nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah on that day in 1947, words that contained the promise of a country where they would not be discriminated against on the basis of their faith.

“You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of the state….” declared the Quaid-i-Azam in his inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly.

In 2009, 11 August 2018 was designated National Minorities Day by the PPP-led coalition government, an initiative continued by the PML-N.

Participants at a convention held this year to mark the day emphasised the importance of including members of minority communities in national decision-making processes and in all tiers of governance.

They also called for Mr Jinnah’s iconic speech to be made part of the Constitution so it could provide guidance for the formulation of laws and policies in the country.

It is deeply unfortunate, but not surprising, that 70 years after Independence, minorities in Pakistan should still have to ask for a more inclusive society.

Most leaders who came after Mr Jinnah disregarded his words. Some appeased right-wing elements, even actively patronised them.

In fact, matters have come to such a pass that religion is often the touchstone of one’s worth as a citizen of Pakistan, and what one can expect from the state.

Non-Muslims cannot aspire to the highest offices in the land for which only Muslims, according to the Constitution, are eligible.

That in itself makes non-Muslims second-class citizens, excluded from serving their country in certain capacities, a discrimination based solely on faith.

Religious triumphalism means anyone advocating a secular ethos, essentially what Mr Jinnah was doing in his above-quoted speech, invites the risk of being called a traitor or an infidel, allegations that can result in a grievous outcome to the individual.

Meanwhile, a landmark judgement by Justice Tassaduq Jillani which ordered the state to take specific policy measures to address the persecution of minorities and ensure their rights has been gathering dust since 2014.

A constitutional democracy can only be strengthened when all citizens, regardless of their faith, actually believe they are equal before the law.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1426733/jinnahs-words

Dawn – Rochdale grooming gang members to be stripped of UK citizenship, face deportation to Pakistan

Three men convicted of grooming girls for sex in a case that fuelled racial tensions in Britain face deportation to Pakistan after an appeals court upheld a government decision to strip them of British citizenship, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

London – UK, 09 August 2018. The ruling by the Court of Appeal clears the way for the men, all of Pakistani nationality, to be removed from Britain and be possibly deported to Pakistan. They had acquired British citizenship by naturalisation.

Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Qari Abdul Rauf were among nine men of Pakistani and Afghan descent convicted of luring girls as young as 13 into sexual encounters using alcohol and drugs. They were based in Rochdale, in northern England.

The three men were jailed in May 2012 but were later released on licence. The gang’s ringleader, Shabir Ahmed, was sentenced to 22 years in jail and remains in custody.

Aziz, Khan and Rauf were convicted on conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation charges. Aziz was not convicted of having sexual intercourse with any child.

The case centres on a decision by Prime Minister Theresa May, when she was home secretary, to strip the men’s citizenship “for the public good”.

The men had challenged the government decision at two immigration tribunals, arguing revoking their citizenship would violate their human right to a family life, as they have children living in the UK. Their appeals were dismissed.

The convicts then approached the Court of Appeal, senior judges of which ruled on Wednesday that the previous tribunals had made a “proper and lawful assessment” of the likelihood of deportation.

A person can be deprived of British citizenship for the public good on the grounds of “involvement in terrorism, espionage, serious organised crime, war crimes or unacceptable behaviours”.

After serving their sentences, the three convicts will have a further legal right to appeal their deportation and the process could take months, according to the BBC.

It quoted a Home Office spokeswoman as saying: “This was an appalling case. We welcome the court’s finding and will now consider next steps.”

The five victims of the gang who gave evidence in the 2012 trial were all white, and spoke of being raped, assaulted and traded for sex, being passed from man to man, and sometimes being too drunk to stop the abuses.

The men, ranging in age from 22 to 59, used various defences, including claiming the girls were prostitutes.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1425951/rochdale-grooming-gang-members-to-be-stripped-of-uk-citizenship-face-deportation-to-pakistan

Dawn – The politics of religion

Zahid Hussain

Op/Ed, 08 August 2018. The 2018 elections have proved to be a mixed bag for the religious right. While the vote bank of the mainstream Islamic parties has shrunk, the strong showing of a newly formed radical group has led to jitters.

Although it has failed to win even a single seat in the newly elected National Assembly, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has emerged as the fifth largest group in terms of vote share, and is nominally behind the MMA which itself is an alliance of the mainstream Islamic parties.

Indeed, the growing electoral support for the extremist outfit whose politics is based on animus against other religious groups and that justifies violence in the name of faith is worrisome; yet it is not likely to change the power matrix in the country.

The rout of the top leadership of the MMA came as a huge surprise in the elections, and so has the expansion of the TLP’s popular base.

There may or may not be any correlation between those two developments; still, the spectacular rise of a radical Barelvi movement has given a new and dangerous twist to the issue of religion and politics in the country.

It may be indicative of disenchanted voters of the mainstream Islamic parties leaning towards extremist groups with a stronger bias against adherents of other religious beliefs.

Although they remain on the fringes of power politics, religious groups in the country continue to wield more influence than their electoral support base indicates. The combined share of the vote for the religious parties, mainstream or otherwise, however, remains below nine per cent.

It was significantly lower than the over 11 % achieved by the MMA during its remarkable success in the 2002 general elections when for the first time in Pakistan’s history the religious parties had managed to lead a provincial government. Their triumph, however, was largely limited to one province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

While also losing ground in its stronghold, the mainstream Islamic coalition seems to have been completely wiped out in Punjab and Sindh where the TLP has made significant inroads.

That also raises the question of whether the TLP electoral gain has largely been at the expense of relatively moderate Islamic parties like the Jamaat-i-Islami and the JUI-F.

The spectacular rise of the TLP over the past year has changed the dynamics of religious politics in the country.

Traditionally, the JI, in particular, has had a significant vote bank in the two provinces. This time, it was perhaps the worst electoral performance by the party that has long been the face of political Islam in the country.

Most shocking has been the humiliation suffered by the religious parties’ coalition in KP where the entire top leadership comes from. Its resurrection has raised the prospect that the MMA would at least present a formidable challenge to the PTI juggernaut. But that did not happen. There have been several factors contributing to the defeat.

It was evident that both the JI and the JUI-F which remained in opposite camps for the past five years had lost much credibility in KP. It was mainly an alliance of expediency to prevent the division of the religious vote that had cost the two parties in the 2013 elections.

Moreover, there was nothing new the alliance could offer to the electorate to counter the PTI’s overwhelming support in KP. The slogan of Islam was not enough to win public support.

Meanwhile, the spectacular rise of the TLP over the past one year has changed the dynamics of religious politics in the country. In fact, it is a movement rather than a well-knit and organised political party born out of the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.

It has also been an assertion of Barelvi radicalism against Wahabi and Salafi groups.

Led by firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the TLP used the blasphemy issue to whip up religious sentiments both in the urban and rural areas.

It was given further impetus during a two-week siege of Islamabad. The virtual surrender of the state emboldened the group. The clerics were also encouraged by the widening civil-military divide.

The group showed its electoral prowess for the first time in the by-election for NA-120 in Lahore last year by getting a significant number of votes, more than the JI candidate. Its growing electoral appeal was also witnessed in the Peshawar and Bhakkar by-elections.

Yet the TLP’s performance in the general elections across Punjab and Karachi was beyond expectation. It had put up candidates in almost all the constituencies of the national and provincial (Punjab) assemblies, eating not only into the vote bank of JI but also of the PML-N that had traditionally enjoyed the Barelvi vote.

Surprisingly, the TLP’s biggest success came from Karachi where it won two provincial seats and came very close to winning a National Assembly seat.

The party seems to have received support from followers of groups like the JUP that has traditionally had a significant vote bank in the metropolis. The disintegration of the MQM and the gap thus created also helped the TLP make inroads.

It was most intriguing how the Election Commission registered a party with a sectarian/communal base and that preached extremism and violence, and then allowed it to participate in the elections.

It gets more and more bizarre as even Pemra had banned the telecast of TLP rallies because of the vitriolic speeches of its leaders. How come the two state agencies have different laws applied to a such a group?
Similarly, some banned militant outfits were also allowed to participate in the election under new banners in violation of the law. This is more than a policy of appeasement and has raised questions of tacit backing from some state institutions.

Radical groups deal a serious blow to the nation’s struggle against extremism and militant violence. The TLP may not have a concrete programme for it to be a formidable electoral force in the long term. But allowing such groups to operate freely and participate in elections could be disastrous.

It remains to be seen how the new PTI administration deals with this scourge of extremism. Given its soft stance towards the religious right, fears are that such groups may get greater space.

The writer is an author and journalist.

zhussain100@yahoo.com

https://www.dawn.com/news/1425703/the-politics-of-religion

Published from Notre Dame du Chant d’Oiseau
1150 Brussel/Bruxelles

Dawn – PTI’s Punjab CM choice may take a few more days

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 05 August 2018. Amid anxious moments for potential candidates for the Punjab chief minister and ministers, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has given yet another deadline, now ranging from one week to 10 days.

For the past one week, the candidates and their supporters have been lobbying for the coveted slots. The party leaders had earlier announced that the chief minister would be announced within 48 hours but now they say it may take more time as Imran Khan is busy in forming the federal government.

Party’s central information secretary Fawad Chaudhry said the Punjab chief minister and cabinet members would be announced till Aug 11 or a maximum of 10 days from now onward.

He also told the media persons that the party had got the support of 26 independent candidates and was in a strong position to form its government even after the party candidates relinquish the Punjab Assembly seats to retain the National Assembly seats.

Besides potential candidates’ anxiety, the Punjab bureaucracy is also eagerly looking towards the PTI about its decision of appointing the chief minister in Punjab.

Meanwhile, the PTI leaders say the PML-N rulers have been exposed as the load-shedding has reared its ugly head once again because the power generation companies stopped working due to a lack of payment after July 31.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1424964/ptis-punjab-cm-choice-may-take-a-few-more-days

Published from Notre Dame du Chant d’Oiseau
1150 Brussel/Bruxelles

Dawn – Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) to decide provincial portfolios today

Saleem Shahid

Quetta – Balochistan – Pakistan, 03 August 2018. President of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) Jam Kamal Khan Alyani has said that the party will decide about the leader of the house on Friday (today).

Speaking at a press conference at the residence of Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran, he said the parliamentary party of the BAP would meet on Friday to decide about the parliamentary leader, speaker and deputy speaker.

While Sardar Khetran originally belonged to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, he contested the general election as an independent candidate and after emerging victorious, he announced joining the BAP.

With the joining of Sardar Khetran, the BAP’s strength reached 19 and the support of the PTI, ANP, BNP-Awami and HDP made it stand at 31.

Secretary General of BAP Manzoor Ahmed Kakar, Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar and other party leaders were also present on the occasion.

Mr Alyani denied any differences or a deadlock in the party on the issue of appointing parliamentary leader.

He said that decision regarding nomination of chief minister, speaker, deputy speaker and other offices would be taken with the consent of party members and allies who had joined hands with the BAP for the formation of the next coalition government in the province.

Decisions on the issues of Balochistan would be taken in the province as BAP was firm on its stance that the party would not accept decision from Raiwind, Banigala or Lahore anymore, he said, adding that giving an impression about differences in the party over chief minister and other issues was wrong.

He said in reply to a question that BAP leadership had met the leaders of all political parties, including Imran Khan, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, ANP, BNP-Awami and MMA and held talks for the formation of a coalition government.

He said that he met Sardar Mengal and MMA leaders in Islamabad and was now waiting for their decision about joining the government or sitting in the opposition.

In reply to a question, Mr Alyani said that ANP senior leader Ilyas Bilour had confirmed his party’s support for BAP.

Welcoming Sardar Khetran’s joining BAP, he said it was the third generation of Khetran and Jam families of joining hands with each other.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1424633/bap-to-decide-provincial-portfolios-today

Dawn – PTI claims it has numbers to form government at Centre and in Punjab

Fahad Chaudhry

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 30 July 2018. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has claimed that it has the support of a sufficient number of lawmakers to form governments in both the Centre and Punjab.

Party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry, while addressing the media on Monday evening, claimed that the party had secured the backing of 168 out of the nearly 328-330 lawmakers returned to the National Assembly in the July 25 election (after counting the allocation of reserved seats).

Fawad Chaudhry claims PTI has the numbers to form the Federal and the Punjab governments.

Out of the house of 342, Chaudhry noted that around 10 seats would be vacated by candidates successful from more than one constituency, and that the remaining two seats had had their elections postponed.

The numbers are to be secured with the help of independents (seven seats), MQM-Pakistan (six seats), PML-Q (four seats), the Balochistan Awami Party (two seats) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (two seats).

The PML-Q has declared its support after settling on a “formula” with PTI, under which it will be given ministries in the center and Punjab. Talks with MQM-Pakistan are still ongoing, Chaudhry said. Jahangir Tareen is headed to Karachi to negotiate terms.

Punjab

The PTI has also claimed it has the numbers to form the Punjab government, and that the chief minister will be from the PTI.

For a simple majority, one needs the support of at least 149 directly elected MPAs out of 297 general members to form government in the largest province of the country in terms of population.

The breakdown of the party’s lead in Punjab is not clear as yet, but the party claims the support of 180 lawmakers, including reserved seats.

Earlier, in a meeting with PTI chairman Imran Khan, MPAs-elect Saeed Akbar Niwani from PP-90 Bhakkar, Ameer Muhammad Khan from PP-89 Bhakkar and Fida Wattoo from Bahawalnagar had announced they would lend their support for the PTI, a press release by the party’s Central Media Department said.

Abdul Hai Dasti from PP-270 Muzaffargarh, who had announced his support for PTI on Sunday also met Khan.

After the July 25 vote, the PML-N has emerged as the single-largest party in the Punjab Assembly with 129 seats, while the PTI has a tally of 123. The PML-Q has eight MPAs after the joining of an independent member, while the PPP has six. There are 28 independents in all.

The PML-N claims support of nine independent candidates, but has not made their names public. Its efforts to woo the PPP and PML-Q are proving futile. It had assigned National Assembly former speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq the task of persuading the ‘Q’ leadership to support ‘N’ in the race for the chief minister’s office.

The PTI leadership claims it is closing in on its goal of 149 seats in the Punjab Assembly. It has so far mustered the support of 13 independents, taking its tally to 136 — seven more than the PML-N’s total. Four independents joined the party on Saturday and six others on Sunday.

Expecting to rope in 10 more independents in the next two days and with the support of PML-Q’s eight seats, the PTI leaders had been tweeting “Game over for PML-N”.

Meanwhile, the PTI also managed to garner the support of two independent Members of National Assembly-elects. MNAs-elect Sanaullah Mastikhel from Bhakkar and Ghaffar Wattoo from Bahawalnagar announced joining the party after calling on Imran Khan. PTI’s senior leader Jahangir Khan Tareen was present at the meeting.

According to the press release, the PTI chairman welcomed the MNAs and MPAs-elect into the party.

As per figures provided by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the PTI has emerged as the largest political party in the country, winning 115 of the 270 National Assembly seats on which the elections were held. The party, however, is short of the 137 needed for simple majority even.

PTI leadership has now decided to reach out to other smaller groups and independents since the party has already declared that it will not join hands with the PPP and the PML-N. There are 13 independents who have won NA seats, and PTI claims to have the support of at least three of them.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1423845/pti-claims-it-has-numbers-to-form-govt-at-centre-punjab

Dawn – Pakistan Election 2018 Map

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