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All That Has Happened In Pakistani Politics In the Last 24 Hours

All That Has Happened In Pakistani Politics In the Last 24 Hours

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19 June 2019

Shahzad Akbar has claimed that the United Kingdom has agreed to extradite former finance minister Ishaq Dar

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Akbar said that an agreement in this regard has been reached, but extradition documents for Dar have yet to be signed.

He said that following the ratification of the document, Dar will be repatriated to Pakistan after being produced before a magistrate. Akbar said that the entire process will be completed soon.

An overweight man was airlifted to Lahore to receive treatment on the Army chief’s orders

Noorul Hassan — a resident of Mohallah Islampura in Sadiqabad — had appealed to Gen Bajwa on social media to take notice of his predicament and assist him in seeking treatment. Sadiqabad Assistant Commissioner Kashif Dogar told the media that Hassan, 55, could not travel in an ambulance by road due to his weight. He said that Hassan is a poor taxi driver and resides in a small house.

Rescue 1122 personnel broke the main door and wall of Hassan’s house to bring him out. Dogar said that the rescue team shifted Hassan onto a mini truck and transported him to a football ground in Sadiqabad where a helipad was fashioned for the air ambulance’s landing.

The Islamabad High Court says that they have found no ulterior motives on NAB’s part and dismisses Zardari and Talpur’s bail applications

The order also stated that “no mala fide or ulterior motives” were found on NAB’s part “which is the core principle for grant or refusal of the bail before arrest”. Last week, the high court had dismissed the applications for a pre-arrest bail by Zardari and Talpur in the fake accounts reference. Following the dismissal, Zardari was arrested by a 15-member NAB team while his sister, Talpur, was taken into custody on June 14. Both PPP leaders are in NAB custody on remand.

Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, who announced the verdict, in their written order issued on Tuesday said that white-collar crimes are “not easy to deduct and trace and cannot be equated with other general offences”.

The Lahore High Court has rejected the bail applications filed by PML-N leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique and Khawaja Salman Rafique

Both brothers are chief suspects in a corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) earlier this year.

NAB has accused the Khawaja brothers of wrongfully gaining approximately Rs18.2 million from M/s Paragon City (pvt) Limited in their bank accounts and failing to account for the illegal gains.

During today’s hearing, the NAB counsel told the court that the anti-corruption watchdog had initiated an inquiry against both brothers for allegedly owning assets beyond known means, but the inquiry had to be closed in 2007 after the two brothers both “won prize bonds”.

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18 June 2019

Imran Khan has taken notice of the incident between journalist Sami Ibrahim and Minister Fawad Chaudhry

Last week, Sami Ibrahim had reportedly filed a complaint accusing Chaudhry of slapping him at a wedding. A copy of the complaint,which was circulating on social media, said that Chaudhry had slapped and cursed the journalist without any provocation. It also accused the Science and Technology minister of threatening Ibrahim.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Science and Technology had issued a response, saying that the “incident” should not be treated as a “clash between two institutions but as a conflict between two individuals”.

Two policemen were killed yesterday when four unidentified gunmen riding motorbikes opened fire at them in Orangi Town, Karachi

The policemen — Allah Datta and Rehmat Ali — were on their way to Mominabad Police Station when the incident happened. Unknown gunmen opened fire at them using 9mm pistols near Zainab School Noori Chowk.

Both policemen were injured and passed away on the way to the hospital. Police investigation teams recovered four 9mm bullet shells. The bullet casings have been sent for forensic analysis.

Police say that they have busted a gang of alleged drug dealer who have been supplying drugs to student in Clifton and Defence

Acting on a tip-off, the Clifton police arrested three suspects named Taj Husain, Sajjad and Saif Rehman. The officer identified Taj as a ringleader of the gang. He hailed from Peshawar.

“This gang used to bring high quality drugs from Peshawar which was supplied to posh areas of the city owing to which the police were receiving complaints that even students of schools and colleges had become addicted.” The police seized 36 kilograms of hashish, a 9mm pistol and cash from the suspects.

Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa has stayed the execution of a mentally ill prisoner, Ghulam Abbas, who was to be hanged today

The news was confirmed by Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a non-governmental organisation working for Pakistani prisoners at home and abroad.

The order was issued on an application filed by JPP after the Punjab Home Department withdrew permission to allow an independent psychiatrist and two government doctors to visit Adiala Jail and evaluate Abbas, a press release issued by the NGO stated.

Imprisoned in 2004, Abbas was sentenced to death on May 31, 2006, by a district and sessions court for stabbing a neighbour.

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16 June 2019

Pakistan is set to receive $3.4 billion in budgetary support from the Asian Development Bank

Director General (DG) Asian Development Bank (ADB), Werner Leipach and Country Director ADB, Xiaohong Yang, called on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in Islamabad on Saturday to discuss financing options for Pakistan’s structural reform agenda.

Last month, Pakistan reached an accord in principle with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a three-year, $6 billion bailout package aimed at shoring up its fragile public finances and strengthening a slowing economy.

Maryam Nawaz has invited Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for a meeting to be held today

According to PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, Bilawal has accepted the invitation and he will arrive at Raiwind tomorrow afternoon. It has further been confirmed that a few important leaders from both sides will attend the meeting as well.

Maryam Nawaz, in response to a question regarding whether approval had been given by senior party leaders, tweeted: “This and all other decisions in the party are taken after the approval of MNS (Mian Nawaz Sharif) and MSS (Mian Shahbaz Sharif) and taking the senior leaders into confidence.”

Ministry of Science and Technology responds to Sami Ibrahim’s allegations against Fawad Chaudhry

Ibrahim had reportedly filed a complaint at Mansoorabad police station in Faisalabad, accusing Chaudhry of slapping him at a wedding. A copy of the reported complaint, that is circulating on social media and was retweeted by Ibrahim, alleged that Chaudhry had slapped and cursed the journalist without any provocation. It also accused the Science and Technology minister of threatening Ibrahim.

The statement issued by the ministry today said that Chaudhry had “reacted after another person tried to wound his self-esteem”. The response does not state the nature of the minister’s reaction.

Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar was granted protective bail by the Islamabad District and Sessions Court

Prior to Khokhar’s appearance in court today, roads leading to the court were blocked by police who made every attempt to arrest him.

Khokhar has been accused of creating obstacles in the way of PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s arrest on June 10 in the fake accounts case. A first information report (FIR) was registered against Khokhar that day at the Margalla police station and was sealed. “A false and baseless FIR was registered at the behest of the government,” said Khokhar whilst speaking to the media after obtaining bail.

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15 June 2019

Fawad Chaudhry said that the process for extradition of former finance minister Ishaq Dar, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz would be initiated soon

“Ishaq Dar is the linchpin in the whole episode; the people of Pakistan demand recovery of looted money and it will happen when Ishaq Dar is brought back as he knows about all the details of hidden money,” he said while talking to the media outside the Parliament House.

The former information minister said that negotiations had been made with the home department of the UK in the past two weeks for extradition of Mr Dar and the two sons of Nawaz Sharif. He added that there was positive response from the UK government in this regard.

Mystery surrounds Supreme Judicial Council hearing of references against judges

Mystery surrounds the proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) which held a closed-door session on Friday to commence a preliminary hearing of government-sponsored references against two superior court judges as no official handout was released about the proceedings.

At the conclusion of the SJC session, despite facing a volley of questions by chasing journalists, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor remained tight-lipped and did not offer any comment. But to many, his body language indicated that everything had not gone off well during the proceedings.

Bilawal Bhtto Zardari lashes out at NAB and  the government over aunt’s arrest

Four days after the arrest of former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur was nabbed by the National Acc­ountability Bureau (NAB) here on Friday in connection with a case pertaining to money laundering thro­ugh fake bank accounts.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari termed the arrests of his father Asif Zardari and aunt Faryal Talpur ‘pre-planned’ to divert attention of the people from the recently announced federal budget for 2019-20 which he called an “economic terrorism”.

Shahbaz Sha­rif forwarded the names of proposed members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan without consultation with the prime minister

Mr Sharif has forwarded six names to the Parliam­en­tary Committee on Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Members of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The three names for an ECP member from Baloch­i­stan are Salahuddin Mengal, former provincial advocate general and senior advocate of the Supreme Court; Shah Mohammad Jatoi, advocate of the Supreme Court; and Mohammad Rauf Ata, former advocate general and senior advocate of the Supreme Court.

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14 June 2019

The Supreme Judicial Council will take up references against judges today

As all eyes are on the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) which will take up on Friday (today) the references against two superior court judges, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Aman­ullah Kanrarni renewed his commitment to burn copies of the references outside the Supreme Court and lawyers, barring a part of the legal fraternity, announced observing strike across the country on the call of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC).

The five-member SJC comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh and Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth will commence hearing of the references at 2pm against Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court and Jus­tice Karim Khan Agha of the SHC for allegedly possessing properties in the United Kingdom.

President Dr Arif Alvi directed the Capital Development Authority  to cancel the construction of new bird cages for parrots at Presidency zoo

The president has ordered immediate withdrawal of the said tender notice and initiation of inquiry. The tender notice has been released without obtaining approval from the competent authority,” the spokesperson added.

Two days after announcing an austerity-oriented budget, the capital’s civic authority had floated a Rs2 million tender for birdcages in the Presidency.

CDA deputy director (civil) at Aiwan-i-Sadr Mohammad Farooq Azam floated the tender through advertisements in newspapers, and on the websites of the CDA and the Pakistan Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA).

The PTI says that the recent arrests have improved Pakistan’s image abroad

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has declared that recent arrests of opposition leaders have improved the country’s image abroad, stating that “those who have plundered the country and its resources will spend their lives in jails and for them doors to the power corridors have been shut forever”.

In a statement, PTI’s Information Secretary Omar Sarfaraz Cheema stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan was recognised across the world “as a man of honour for his honesty and patriotism” and there was a paradigm shift in world’s perspective about Pakistan.

Ministry of Finance estimates economic growth rate to further slow down to 2.4 per cent and inflation rate to rise up to 13pc

The NEC had approved a target of 4pc GDP growth rate for fiscal year 2019-20 in its meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 29. The meeting had also set a target of 8.5pc for inflation rate.

“The GDP growth is targeted at 4pc with agriculture (3.5pc), industry (2.2pc) and services (4.8pc). Inflation is projected at 8.5pc for 2019-20 in view of the higher administrative prices and monetary overhand of the past,” reported the Annual Plan 2019-20 of the Planning Commission released with the budget documents on June 11.

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13 June 2019

Farmers protest against water crisis in Badin

A large number of farmers, traders and villagers staged one-kilometre march on foot from Malkani Sharif town to Khairpur Gumbo in scorching heat to record protest against nagging water crisis in Badin district for the past several months.

After the protesters reached Khairpur Gumbo they also staged a demonstration on Pangrio-Jhuddo road for three hours and listened to speeches by their leaders.

Sindh Abadgar Tanzeem (SAT) leaders Pir Fayaz Hussain Shah Rashidi, Tariq Mehmood Arain, Mohammad Ali Liskani and others lashed out at officials of the irrigation department for their callousness towards landowners’ plight in irrigation sub-division of Khairpur Gumbo.

Altaf Hussain has been released on bail, but his investigation will continue

A day after his arrest in London, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain was released on Wednesday evening by the British authorities on bail without filing charges relating to a probe into his alleged hate speeches relayed from the United Kingdom to his followers in Pakistan.

The Metropolitan Police of London had raided Mr Hussain’s residence on Tuesday morning, taken him into custody and shifted him to the Southwark police station, where he was questioned in the presence of his lawyers in connection with the probe that the police said was focused on a speech broadcast in August 2016 as well as other speeches.

President Alvi has filed a reply on the plea against his candidacy

President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi through his lawyer submitted on Wednesday his reply in the Sindh High Court on a petition challenging his candidature for presidency. The petitioner, Azmat Rehan, who had lost the decades-long civil litigation regarding the ownership of a salt firm against Alvia Tabligh Trust, contended that Dr Alvi, a co-plaintiff in the suit, was not qualified to be elected president of Pakistan since he had allegedly filed fake and forged documents before the court in the 1977 civil case.

Dr Alvi in his reply contented that the allegations levelled against him in the petition were baseless and unfounded, adding that the petition was based on incorrect, fabricated and false averments. He maintained that the petition was not maintainable and also time-barred and pleaded for its dismissal with exemplary costs.

Arrangements to cope with the cyclone and heatwave are being reviewed in Sindh

The city administration on Wednesday reviewed at a meeting the arrangements for the implementation of contingency plans made to cope with the expected tropical cyclone and heatwave.

The contingency plan was made jointly by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), district administrations, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, DMCs, Pakistan Navy, cantonment boards, and other relevant departments.

Official sources said that a senior official of the Met department briefed the participants in a high-level meeting on the weather situation, telling them that the tropical cyclone Vayu was expected to hit Thatta and other parts of the province on June 16-17.

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12 June 2019

After his government revealed their first federal budget, Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to go after the thieves who put country badly in debt

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday night addressed the nation and vowed to go after the “thieves who left the country badly in debt”.

The address followed a noisy budget session in the National Assembly and two major arrests — Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and MQM founder Altaf Hussain by London police — earlier in the day. On Monday, former president Asif Ali Zardari was also arrested by NAB.

The premier announced that after putting to rest the initial focus of the government to stabilise the economy, his attention would be more targeted towards bringing the ones to task who had caused the country to fall into such dire straits.

The Supreme Court is losing Rs10 million a day of the  Rs10.6bn collected for dams

The Supreme Court was told on Tuesday that it was losing approximately Rs10 million a day as interest by not timely investing over Rs10.6 billion funds collected so far from donations for Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.

“This is all because of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP),” regretted Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed while heading a five-judge SC bench.

The implementation bench of the Supreme Court which had taken up the Diamer-Bhasha-Mohmand Dams Fund also hinted that it might not waste further time and rather determine how to invest the available funds on short-term instruments in the interregnum period for two, three or seven days or three months till a proper investment mode is determined.

An Alarming rise in HIV/AIDS cases in five districts of Punjab has been noticed

A nurse (L) hands out a red ribbon to a woman, to mark World Aids Day, at the entrance of Emilio Ribas Hospital, in Sao Paulo. REUTERS/Nacho Doce/Files

Faisalabad, Chiniot, Sahiwal, Jhang and Nankana — and currently more than 2,800 such patients from these areas are registered with the Punjab AIDS Control Programme (PACP) for free medicines.

They say that most of these patients come to know about their condition through screening tests conducted before donating blood, travelling abroad or undergoing a surgery.

It is worrying that in spite of such a high incidence of HIV-positive persons in these areas, neither the provincial government, nor the district administrations so far organised any screening camps to know the reasons for such a high number of  HIV patients.

The PML-N held demonstrations at several places in Lahore to protest against the arrest Hamza Shahbaz

The National Accountability Bureau, Lahore, arrested Hamza in money laundering, income beyond means and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases.

The PML-N workers held demonstrations at some 18 points including The Mall, Ferozpur Road, Chungi Amer Sidhu, Multan Road, Manawan, Mughalpura, Garhi Shahu and Ichhra. They burnt tyres and chanted slogans against Prime Minister Imran Khan and NAB. Traffic remained suspended and motorists faced inconvenience for several hours because of the protest.

The participants termed Hamza’s arrest a political victimisation by Imran Niazi and said the PML-N couldn’t be cowed down by such tactics.

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11 June 2019

The PPP has decided to call a country-wide protests after the arrest of co-chairman and ex-president Asif Zardari

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a press conference following the meeting said he would “make the government an offer”..

“But you will bring a budget that is an enemy of the people (awam dushman budget),” he continued. “You are threatening my workers, my family, you arrested my father. If you bring such a budget, I will show you what a protest is,” he said. Bilawal also promised that his party would bring judicial reform and raise issues of human rights at every forum. “We are ready to take any step,” he said.

The sources said that the party would protest the government’s “revenge tactics”, the budget, and the rising cost of living.

According to the Pakistan Economic Survey, the economy grew at an average rate of 3.29% in fiscal year 2018-19, missing the target of 6.2pc set in last year’s budget

Total revenue at Rs3,583.7bn (9.3pc of GDP) showed almost 0pc growth from July-March 2019, while growth in total expenditures was 8.7pc. The fiscal deficit was recorded at 5pc of the GDP compared to 4.3pc in the corresponding period last fiscal. The government’s total expenditure increased by 8.7pc from July-March 2019 to Rs5,506.2bn (14.3pc of GDP) against last year’s spending of Rs5,063.3bn (14.6pc of GDP).

According to the PES, exports fell by 1.9pc despite exchange rate depreciation, while imports declined by 4.9pc. The Consumer Price Index witnessed a rising trend in fiscal year 2018-19. It increased to 5.8pc in July 2018 after remaining sticky at 5pc for two months, and rose to 6.8pc in October 2018 “due to an increase in gas prices”, the PES noted. Remittances saw an 8.45pc increase in July-April 2019 compared to 5.36pc last year, reaching $17.88bn in the first 10 months of the fiscal year against $16.48bn last year.

A man from Arifwala has allegedly killed his wife over what police believe to be a over a domestic dispute

A man allegedly shot his wife dead on Monday here in 84-EB, a village on the outskirts of the city, police sources said. Police sources further said the man was identified as Riaz and the deceased as Maqboolan, a mother of three.

The woman’s brother alleged that the couple often got into fights and that the husband killed her while she was asleep. Police said they have registered a first information report (FIR) against Riaz and two of his accomplices.

Police have arrested a man for allegedly staging his own kidnapping

After a month-long investigation into a kidnapping for ransom, the police have claimed that the victim staged his abduction so he could use the Rs2 million ransom to pay off a debt. The police have arrested the alleged victim and registered a case against him.

According to the FIR, complainant Mohammad Hanif told the police on May 1 that his 26-year-old son Shamraiz Ali, a tailor working in Bahria Town Phase VII, had left the shop to deliver clothes to a client on April 29.

The police official said they began investigating and learned that the mobile phone through which the ransom demand was made was in Peshawar. He said police raided the location and found the alleged victim to be living there freely. “During the investigation, it was revealed that the victim had staged his abduction.” he said. Mr Ali told the press that he had been in severe financial crisis and facing pressure to return loans.

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10 June 2019

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has taken notice of the alleged police brutality in Umerkot against protestors from the Kolhi community

According to a statement by the party, the PPP chairperson has demanded the provision of speedy justice to the affected members of the Hindu community through an impartial inquiry and has called for action to be taken against police officials involved in the alleged torture. “To protest is the right of every Pakistani,” said Bilawal, according to the statement.

According to local reports, members of the Kolhi community living in the Fazal Chopan village had staged a sit-in at Allah Wala Chowk against the alleged atrocities of the influential Chopan family, who own the village.

The protest was led by Haryan, Popat and Rukhma Kohli, along with others who carried banners and placards and chanted slogans against the village owners, including Shah Nawaz, Haji and Allah Dad Chopan. The protestors from the Hindu community alleged that the village owners had demanded that they “be presented young girls” and ordered the residents to vacate the village upon failing to do so.

Lawyers have announced a strike on June 14 over the references against three judges

After the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), provincial bar councils have announced a strike on June 14 over references filed by the government against Supreme Court judge Qazi Faez Isa and two high court judges.

A meeting of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and all provincial bar councils was held at the Supreme Court to ponder over the references against judges. The participants exchanged views on a future strategy in this regard and made some key decisions.

All bar councils have announced a strike on June 14 on account hearing of a reference against Justice Isa. Speaking to media after the meeting, PBC vice chairman Amjad Shah demanded withdrawal of reference against Justice Isa.

KP government wants to delay the tribal district elections for provincial assembly, citing security concerns as the reason

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has requested the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to postpone for 20 days the first-ever provincial assembly elections which were to be held in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) on July 2.

The ECP had issued a notification on May 6 announcing the schedule for the provincial assembly elections. A June 3 letter from the KP Home and Tribal Affairs Department to the ECP, however, sought a delay in polls.

The letter cited “the current unwarranted situation and threats of [a] serious nature from across the border, and some developments within [the] newly merged districts [that] may sabotage the whole process of holding forthcoming elections.”

Firdous Ashiq Awan says the upcoming budget will be people-friendly and will be presented on 11 June

The first priority of the government is the people of Pakistan, Awam also said. The special assistant further commented that the forthcoming budget — for the fiscal year 2019-20 — would smooth the way for the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) long-term plan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, she noted, would himself inform the people of the government’s priorities as well. Earlier, on May 28, Awan had addressed a press conference in the federal capital and announced that the budget was set to be presented on June 11.

She had said the forthcoming budget would focus on improving the country’s economy as well as foreign debt. Further, one of the matters deliberated upon was that the common man not be impacted by the budget.

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9 June 2019

Firdous Ashiq Awan has served a Rs. 2 billion defamation notice to PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah for issuing “false, malicious and defamatory statements” against her

The notice said that Awan, who hails from a respected family, has been serving the masses for the last 20 years. It said Rana Sanullah in his media talk had leveled baseless and fabricated allegations, which hurt her, besides damaging her reputation.

Awan, through her notice, demanded an apology from the PML-N lawmaker and that it be published at the same space and broadcast must cover same time as the allegations were published and broadcast earlier.

She demanded Rana Sanaullah to withdraw his allegations, tender an apology and pay damages within a period of 14 days, failing which, the notice read, Awan has the right to initiate legal proceedings against him Defamation Act.

The Sindh government has refuted a fake weather ‘red alert’ for Karachi that has been circulating on Whatsapp

The Sindh government refuted a fake report circulating on Whatsapp and social media, saying it has not issued any weather-related ‘red alert’ for Karachi citizens. The fake text message that appears to have gone viral on Whatsapp and social media incorrectly predicts temperatures ranging between 50.1 to 55.5 degrees Celcius in the metropolis during the next 96 hours.

“Sindh Government has issued ‘RED Alert’ for next 96 hours in Karachi. Mean temperature will be between 50.1 to 55.5 °C,” read the fake message, advising citizens to “drink 8-9 liters of water a day and avoid going out in open sun from 9am-4pm.”

But the Chief Minister’s Adviser on Information Murtaza Wahab rejected the report, saying no such alert had been issued by the government.

Dr Sania Nishtar has announced that Differently-abled persons will be given health coverage and free assistive devices

Under the Ehsas programme, which was launched in March this year, the government will provide Sehat Insaf cards to differently-abled people who are registered with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) so that they can get free medical treatment from hospitals that are registered under the health cards, Nishtar announced.

Furthermore, government hospitals have been directed to issue certificates to differently-abled people as per United Nations classifications so that free assistive devices, such as canes, wheelchairs etc., can be provided accordingly.

The government will provide free white canes to the visually-impaired and wheelchairs to those paralysed from the waist down, she said. The government will also provide free hearing aids to people with hearing impairment under the Tahaffuz programme, which will be launched in September, Nishtar added.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi says that he has no desire to be the Prime Minister

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi says Imran Khan is the prime minister of the country and he (Qureshi) is not willing to become the prime minister.

“The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the allied parties agree with him (Mr Khan) being the prime minister. I am not a candidate for the premiership and I have no such desire,” he stated while replying to a question of the media persons here on Friday.

The minister said the protest by the opposition would create chaos which would damage the country and hamper democracy.

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8 June 2019

The Defence budget will remain unchanged

Defence budget during the next fiscal year will remain unchanged as compared to the outgoing fiscal year in rupee terms due to the country’s dire economic condition.

Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter on the eve of Eidul Fitr to announce that the military had “voluntarily agreed” to cut its expenditures due to “critical financial situation”. He noted the continuing “multiple security challenges” and pledged to spend the saved amount on development of the erstwhile tribal areas, which have been merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan.

Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa, while talking to troops during a visit to the Line of Control on Eid day, said the armed forces were “foregoing routine increase in annual defence budget”.

Opposition parties flexing muscles for anti-government protests

With all opposition parties flexing muscles for their already announced separate plans for holding anti-government protests after Eid, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has convened an important meeting of the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) at Zardari House here on Monday (June 10) to review “the country’s overall political situation” and devise future strategy.

The meeting will be presided over jointly by Mr Bhutto-Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari, according to an announcement made by the PPP’s central media office.

Concerns over new government plans to monitor online traffic

Given government plans to monitor online traffic, the telecom industry and digital rights advocates have cited various privacy and transparency concerns over the process.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) recently directed the telecom industry to deploy a suitable technical solution for monitoring, analysing and curbing grey traffic.

The system would be called Web Monitoring System (WMS) in order to monitor communications for the purposes of national security, measure and record traffic, call data record, and quality of services as specified by the PTA.

2 Hazara tourists from Quetta have been killed in blast in Balochistan’s Ziarat

Two people belonging to the Shia Hazara community were killed in an explosion in Balochistan’s Ziarat district on Friday, Levies sources said.

At least seven other Hazaras were also injured when the blast targeting their vehicle took place in Kawas area of Ziarat. The deceased belonged to the Hazara community of Quetta and were part of a group that was visiting Ziarat for sightseeing, Levies sources told DawnNewsTV.

The injured were rushed to a hospital in Quetta immediately after the incident. Quoting initial investigation, sources said the nature of the blast could not be immediately confirmed. It was also not clear whether the bomb was planted inside the vehicle or on the roadside.

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7 June 2019

Two soldiers were killed in Balochistan while on Eid patrol duty

Two Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers were martyred in Balochistan’s Harnai district while on Eid patrol duty, a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations said on Thursday.

According to the statement by the military’s media wing, “terrorists targeted FC troops during their patrolling on Eid security duties.” However, the statement by ISPR did not elaborate further on the incident.

The martyred soldiers include Sepoy Yar Muhammad, 23, of Kuch District in Sibi and Sepoy Mehtab Khan, 19, from Laki Marwat, said the statement.

The area has been cordoned off and a search operation has begun, the statement further added.

KP Minister says Fawad Chaurdhry’s announcement of Eid-ul-Azha and Muharram dates is ‘inappropriate’

In another swipe at Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai on Thursday said that Chaudhry should not have announced the dates for Eidul Azha and Muharram “as there has never really been any disagreement on these dates”.

“These two occasions have always taken place on the same date across Pakistan,” he said, in a conversation with DawnNewsTV.

“The issue was that of Ramazan. And you can see that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, we have been celebrating Eid on three [different] days and until now no one had ever taken notice of the matter. This issue has been taken seriously for the first time and we want this matter to be put to rest.

Shehbaz Sharif plans to return to Pakistan tomorrow

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif will be returning to Pakistan on June 8 [Saturday], a member of his personal staff confirmed to DawnNewsTV.

The development was also tweeted by an unverified account, seemingly belonging to the PML-N supremo’s son Suleman.It is pertinent to mention here that the budget for 2019-20 is to be presented in the parliament on June 11.

Earlier, lawyers had informed an Accountability Court that Sharif will be returning to Pakistan on June 11. However, it was also earlier said in court that the opposition leader will return to Pakistan after Eidul Fitr.

Sharif had announced a “quick visit” to London on April 9 after his name was removed from the no-fly list on Lahore High Court orders. Party sources had said at the time that he intended to return within 10-12 days.

Maryam Nawaz says that a meeting with Nawaz on Eid not allowed

Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz said on Tuesday that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had refused to allow her to meet her father Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat jail on Eidul Fitr day (Wednesday) and termed the refusal an inhuman act by a “cruel ruler”.

“Nawaz Sharif is facing fake and political cases. His health is deteriorating and what can be more cruel that his daughter is not allowed to see her father in jail. Those involved in politics of hatred and revenge should not forget that Allah Almighty changes time,” Ms Maryam said in a tweet.

Reacting to the Punjab government’s move, PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said the provincial government was not allowing Ms Maryam to meet her father in jail only to please (prime minister) Imran Khan.

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6 June 2019

Prime Minister Imran appreciates military’s ‘voluntary’ cuts in defence expenditures

Prime Minister Imran Khan revealed on Twitter late Tuesday that the military has agreed to slash the defence budget for the next fiscal year in line with broader austerity measures being introduced by the government.

The premier noted that these cuts were agreed to despite “multiple security challenges”.He further stated that the money saved would be diverted to aid the development of the merged tribal areas and Balochistan.

Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media wing, stated in a later tweet that the cuts “will not be at the cost of of defense and security”, and that it was important for the military to participate in the rebuilding of Balochistan and the erstwhile tribal areas.

Austerity measures: ‘We are one through thick and thin,’ says army chief

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday stated that the cuts to the defence budget offered by the military itself were not a ‘favour’ to the nation, insisting that “we are one, through thick and thin”.

In an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release shared by Director General of ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor on Twitter, the COAS also clarified that: “Irrespective of the voluntary cut in defence budget [for the] coming financial year (FY), there shall be no impact on our response potential to all types of threat and quality of life of the soldiers.”

Former Prime Minister Abbasi says that the PML-N will demand midterm polls

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will build up its anti-government campaign after Eid (this month) for midterm polls instead of pressing for replacement of Prime Minister Imran Khan with someone else from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

There are not many takers in the PML-N on the idea of building up the campaign on the ‘specific demand’ for replacing PM Khan for his “complete failure” of running the country.

The PML-N has also decided in principle to first see the momentum of the lawyers drive against the government to be launched in the middle of this month for “attacking” the judiciary by filing references against two judges of the superior judiciary before making its mind to join them (lawyers) on roads.

Afghan refugees can officially open bank accounts in Pakistan

Millions of Afghan refugees who have been residing in Pakistan for decades were unable to open a bank account for years. However, back in February the federal government took some steps to change this. After reviewing progress made by different government departments to curb money laundering, Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he had issued instructions that Afghan refugees who were registered could open bank accounts and participate in the formal economy of the country.

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5 June 2019

PM Imran Khan says there will be no concessions for people who do’ not avail the tax amnesty scheme

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that there would be no concessions for individuals not availing the tax amnesty scheme, hinting at a crackdown against evaders after June 30.

The government’s economic team comprising advisor Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi met with Prime Minister Imran Khan at Bani Gala.

According to sources, the meeting discussed the budget which will be presented on June 11. The FBR chairman also briefed the prime minister on the tax amnesty scheme. Hammad Azhar briefed the meeting on the extension in the date of tax returns and tax revenue.

KP minister says he ‘will fast one extra day as compensation’ for declaring Eid on Tuesday

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai on Tuesday hit back at Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry for criticising the provincial government’s decision to celebrate Eid on Tuesday (today) and terming it an “embarrassment”.

“I suggest that ‘Mufti Fawad’ focus on his work and not target the government and religious scholars,” Yousafzai said.

He defended the KP government’s decision to declare Tuesday as the first day of Eid, suggesting that while they were celebrating Eid on the correct day, the provincial government should have announced the beginning of Ramazan a day earlier.

The Federal Board of Reserves is asking banks for the data of people with bank accounts of Rs500,000 or more

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has asked all commercial banks to write a letter to account holders whose deposits are Rs500,000 or more and make it sure that these accounts are not benami accounts. Sample of this letter has also been drafted by FBR which would be written to all account holders. Geo News is in possession of this letter. Banks have been directed to provide the date of withholding tax deducted from accounts of clients who are not filing income tax returns.

These directions were issued after the marathon meeting of Chairman FBR with Chief Financial Officers of all commercial banks.

As per detail of the meeting minutes sent to banks, Chairman FBR emphasised that in the backdrop of FATF requirements it is imperative that banks must with the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements and help their customers.

Dr. Firdous Ashiq wants cabinet members to abandon ‘poisonous narrative’

Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Tuesday declared that cabinet members should “abandon the poisonous narrative that might affect someone’s integrity”.

Awan, who was speaking to journalists at the Lahore Press Club, said that members of the cabinet should keep in mind that they were “players in [Prime Minister] Imran Khan’s team”. She was speaking to journalists following the election of Arshad Ansari as LPC president.

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4 June 2019

Justice Qazi Faez Isa wrote a letter to President Dr Arif Alvi, repeating his request for a copy of the reference

In the eight-page letter, the Supreme Court judge expressed the confidence that the president will do everything in his power to ensure that all obey the Constitution.

Earlier on May 29, the judge had written a one-page letter to the president, complaining that selective leaks to the media amount to his character assassination, thus jeopardising his right to due process and fair trial.

In the fresh letter, which legal observers believe is a kind of a response to allegations being levelled against the judge for keeping three properties in London, Justice Isa said that he might have endured the inquisition tactics employed against him and his family. “But does the matter not suggest something more sinister to undermine the independence of the judiciary?” he asked. The letter went on to say that the judge would not permit this to happen and, as per his constitutional oath, would preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

Inflation rose to 9.11% in May

Pakistan’s annual consumer inflation picked up to 9.11 per cent in May from 8.82pc the previous month on the back of higher food and petrol prices, the statistics bureau said on Monday, adding to pressure on household budgets.

The reading saw big jumps in the prices of staples like cabbage, onions and potatoes, as well as petrol. It comes as the government is close to finalising a new bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund following a preliminary agreement last month.

The ISPR issued a strongly worded response to a BBC story, terming the report a “pack of lies”

The BBC story published on June 2, titled Uncovering Pakistan’s secret human rights abuses, looks into Pakistan’s long battle with militants as part of the post-9/11 “war on terror” and carries the accounts of locals as well as the top leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Manzoor Pashteen.

According to the report, local rights activists “say scores of civilians have been killed in successive air campaigns and ground operations by the military”. They have been collecting video and documentary evidence to back up their claims, adds the article.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in its statement on Monday, however, said the story “carries conjecturing implicating Pakistan Army without any proof”, adding that the report is “in violation of journalistic ethos”.

KP celebrates Eid today after nod from PM

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday officially declared Tuesday as the first day of Eidul Fitr across the province.

Information Minister Shaukat Yousufzai said that KP Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan will offer Eid prayers in Peshawar on Tuesday.

He said the decision was taken by the chief minister after an unofficial Ruet committee based at Peshawar’s Qasim Khan mosque claimed that it had received over 100 calls from different districts about sighting of the Shawwal moon.

3 June 2019

Inflation is likely to rise over next few years, according to experts

The government is expecting the inflation rate to “remain on the higher trajectory” over the next couple of years owing to second-round effect of currency depreciation, higher energy prices, rising commodity prices in international market and base money creation.

As such, the average inflation is expected to be 8.5 per cent in the next fiscal year (2019-20) that may touch 10pc by fiscal year 2020-21, a senior government official told Dawn.

The coming increase in energy and petroleum prices due in July will also play a role.

Papers from UK form basis of references against judges: government

Spokespersons for the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) of the Prime Minister’s Office, claimed in a joint statement on Sunday that they had received certified copies from the land registries of the assets in the United Kingdom owned by learned judges of the superior courts, on the basis of which references had been filed against them before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) as per the Constitution.

The spokespersons said the copies were duly attested by the High Commission of Pakistan in the UK and notarised in London.

Snakeskin shoes for Prime Minister seized by KP government

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Wildlife Dep­artment on Sunday went looking for a footwear shop in the city to confiscate snakeskin sandals meant for Prime Minister Imran Khan.

They didn’t have to look far as they had been tipped off that the famous Kaptaan Chappal creator, Nooruddin Shinwari, was making them in his shop called Afghan Chappal House in Namak Mandi, famous for its meaty cuisine.

In his defence, Nooruddin and his son Islam said that the serpentine material had been sent from the United States to the shop to craft two pairs, one for the donor and one for the Kaptaan to slip on.

Punjab ministry denies that the deaths of infants at Sahiwal hospital was caused by malfunctioning AC

The Punjab health department on Sunday refuted reports of a number of infants dying at the District Headquarters Teaching Hospital Sahiwal due to malfunctioning air conditioning in the children’s ward.

Punjab Additional Secretary Health Rafaqat Ali after a preliminary inquiry had confirmed earlier in the day that eight children had died at the facility in a span of 24 hours, but he had said that an inquiry would be held to determine the facts because five children had died at the facility “while the AC was functioning normally”.

In a statement issued in the evening, a spokesperson for the Punjab health ministry refuted the claims that five children had died at DHQ Sahiwal due to an out-of-order AC and negligence of the administration.

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2 June 2019

KP chief minister announces compensation for the people affected by the Khar Qamar incident

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan on Saturday announced a compensatory package for the affectees of the Khar Qamar incident which took place at a check post in North Waziristan earlier this week.

The chief minister said Rs2.5 million will be given to the families of the deceased and Rs1 million to those injured in the incident.

“The Pakhtun who are playing politics using the name of Pakhtun are unsuccessfully attempting to push the nation once more towards war, which is unacceptable,” he said. He stressed on the fact that peace had been restored due to the sacrifices of the people, Pakistan Army and security institutions and that sacrifices will continue to be made to maintain this peace.

Opposition slams government on petrol price hike

Opposition parties lashed out against the government on Saturday after yet another increase in the prices of petroleum products.

Petroleum prices in the country hit the highest-ever mark yesterday after the government announced a four per cent increase in oil prices for the month of June.The adjustment was made even though the international crude market price is at $67 per barrel, which is almost half of the 2008 highest record of $147 when retail prices stood below Rs80 per litre.

A soldier was killed in an attack on a patrolling Army vehicle in North Waziristan

A Pakistan Army soldier has embraced martyrdom in a firing-and-blast attack in North Waziristan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced on Saturday. According to the Army’s media wing, 26-year-old Amil Shah embraced martyrdom when a patrolling vehicle was targeted with an improvised explosive device (IED) and firing in Boya area of North Waziristan.

“Terrorist activities in North Waziristan have increased lately. Over the last month, five soldiers have been martyred and 31 injured due to terrorist activities,” read an ISPR statement.

Pemra sends notices to 14 news channels for commenting on the Supreme Judicial Council references

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Autho­rity (Pemra) served a show-cause notice to 14 news channels for failing to act upon its advisory to avoid commenting on references filed in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against senior judges, a press release by the regulatory authority said on Saturday.

The channels that received the notices are Geo News, DawnNewsTV, Dunya News, ARY News, Channel 24, 92 News, Express News, Aaj News, Ab Tak News, GNN, Samaa TV, Sach News, Neo TV and Koh-i-Noor.

Pemra directed the said news channels to ensure that orders issued by the Supreme Court and SJC as well as advisories issued by the regulatory authority are acted upon and warned against further violation.

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1 June 2019

Tackling Islamophobia focal point of PM Imran’s maiden speech at OIC

Leaders from across the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in Saudi Arabia early Saturday for the 14th session of the Islamic Summit, which follows two emergency Arab meetings the night before in Makkah criticising Iran’s behavior and influence in countries like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.The premier started his maiden speech at the OIC by raising the issue of Islamophobia: “When someone from the West blasphemed our Holy Prophet (PBUH), I always felt the response from the Muslim Ummah and OIC was lacking.”

“The OIC — us heads of states — owes a responsibility to the Muslim world […] when somebody blasphemes our Prophet (PBUH), it is a failure of the OIC that we have not been able to explain to the other countries the love and affection we feel for our Holy Prophet,” said Prime Minister Imran.

Government increases petrol price by Rs4.26 per litre for June

The federal government on Friday through a late-night notification issued by the Ministry of Finance announced an increase in the prices of petroleum products for the month of June. The price of petrol was raised by Rs4.26 to cost Rs112.68 per litre in June. In May, the per litre price was Rs108.42.

High speed diesel, which saw the maximum hike, was increased by Rs4.50 to cost Rs126.82 per litre from the previous Rs122.32 per litre.

References against judges ‘targeted killing’ of judiciary, says PML-N

Former prime minister and PML-N senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday condemned the references against two superior court judges and demanded that they be withdrawn.

While addressing a joint opposition press conference outside the National Assembly, Abbasi said that the country’s supreme judiciary was being attacked and a “targeted killing” [of the judiciary] was taking place.

Rupee strengthens as dollar’s slide continues

The rupee strengthened in the currency market on Friday as the value of the US dollar continued to slide in the interbank as well as the open market.

The greenback shed its value by Re0.35 in the interbank and was traded against Rs148.15. Similarly, the dollar shed its value by Re1 in the open market to be traded at Rs148.50.

According to currency dealers, the increasing inflows of remittance in connection with Eidul Fitr have supported the local rupee in the market. According to them, the majority of inflows came from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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31 May 2019

Supreme Judicial Council sends notice to government in cases against judges

The Sup­reme Judicial Council (SJC) finally removed doubt about filing of references against superior court judges when it issued on Thursday a notice to the federal government through Attorney General Anwar Mansoor for June 14.

The government through Law Minister Farogh Nas­eem is expected to furnish its reply to the notice within the stipulated period on the references filed a few days ago in the SJC against Jus­tice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court and Justice K.K. Agha of the Sindh High Court.

COAS endorses death sentence for retired brigadier, a civilian for ‘espionage, leaking information’

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa endorsed punishment to two senior retired Army officers and one civil officer “on the charges of espionage/ leakage of sensitive information to foreign agencies prejudice to the national security”, a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations said on Thursday.

“The officers were tried under Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and Official Secret Act by separate Field General Court Marshal (FGCM) for separate cases,” said the statement issued by the military’s media wing.

‘Terror bid foiled’ as Quetta police kills alleged suicide bomber outside Imambargah

Quetta police on Thursday killed an alleged suicide bomber in the city’s Mecongi road area when he attempted to gain entry into Imambargah Nasirul Aza, according to Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Abdul Razzaq Cheema.

A policeman was also injured when the bomber, reportedly dressed in a woman’s attire, hurled a hand-held bomb towards the Imambargah, the DIG said, adding that a “major terror bid has been foiled.”

Judicial probe into Farishta’s murder recommends strict action against police officials

The judicial inquiry report into the murder, abduction and alleged rape of 10-year-old Farishta has been submitted to the Chief Commissioner of Islamabad, and it recommends strict action against the station house officer, investigation officer and other police officials, DawnNewsTV reported on Thursday citing district administration sources.

The judicial probe, conducted by additional deputy commissioner general (ADCG) Wasim Ahmed, found that the police misbehaved with Farishta’s family when they attempted to lodge a complaint following the child’s alleged abduction.

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30 May 2019

Rs1.83tr national development outlay approved

Adding about 300 new federal projects to the portfolio, the National Economic Council (NEC) approved a consolidated national development programme for the next fiscal year envisaging Rs1.837 trillion investments and four per cent economic growth rate.

The NEC meeting, which was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by all the chief ministers as well as the prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, also cleared in principle the 12th five-year plan (2018-23) that forecasts 6.5pc economic growth rate by terminal year i.e. 2023 while mainly relying on the acceleration of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s second phase.

320 Pakistanis detained in Malaysia arrive

A special flight on Wednesday brought back 320 Pakistanis who had been stranded in Malaysia mainly due to the closure of eastern airspace of Pakistan for foreign airlines.

The flight landed at the Islamabad International Airport at 10.10pm, over 45 minutes behind the schedule, as their friends and relatives sitting on the floor waited for the deportees.

Some of the Pakistanis brought back to Islamabad on the special flight were detained by the Malysian authorities as their tickets expired after the closure of Pakistan airspace.

7 ministers among 91 MNAs issued ECP notices

As many as seven members of the federal cabinet are among the lawmakers to have been issued notices to explain material discrepancy in their statements of assets and liabilities for the current financial year.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which is currently carrying out audit of the statements of assets and liabilities of lawmakers, had started the exercise from members of the National Assembly.

The ECP has cleared 132 out of the total 342 MNAs, while cases of 69 are under process and 50 will be scrutinised later.

HIV positive woman killed by husband near Ratodero

An HIV positive woman was strangled by her husband and her body was hanged from a tree in Gharo Rind village in the Dakhan area on Wednesday.

After receiving this information from relatives of deceased Kareema Rind, 30 and mother of five children, the Dakhan police took the body into custody and shifted it to hospital. Later, the body was handed over to relatives after its post-mortem examination at Garhi Yasin Taluka Hospital.

The police registered an FIR against Bahadur Rind, the husband of the deceased, his brother Darya Khan Rind and relative Johar Rind on the complaint of Akbar Rind, brother of Ms Kareema.

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29 May 2019

Rs1.4tr rise in revenue target set for next year

The cabinet on Tuesday decided to present the budget for the upcoming financial year on June 11 and approved an additional revenue target of Rs1,400 billion.

The cabinet meeting, which was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan, also approved a proposal for award of capital punishment to those involved in child molestation in the wake of rising incidents of child abuse.

However, the meeting did not consider the proposal regarding the observance of Eid according to the recently developed Hijri calendar as had been announced by Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry. The minister had recently told a press conference that there was no need to have Ruet-i-Hilal Committee. The prime minister was of the opinion that the responsibility of sighting the crescent should continue to lie with the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee.

Zardari challenges in SC case transfer to Islamabad

Former president Asif Ali Zardari approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday, seeking transfer of the fake bank accounts case against him from the accountability court of Islamabad to the banking court in Karachi.

In his appeal moved through his counsel Farooq H. Naek, the Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman challenged the April 2 Sindh High Court order asking the National Accoun­tability Bureau (NAB) to file a corruption reference against him in the accountability court of Islamabad for allegedly maintaining fake/benami accounts.

Minister blames unfavourable weather for unmet wheat production target

Pakistan could not achieve the wheat production target this year largely due to unfavourable weather conditions that damaged the ready-to-harvest crop mainly in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, causing a loss of about 1.5 million tonnes of wheat.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mahboob Sultan told a news conference here on Tuesday that wheat production this year had been estimated to be 24.12 million tonnes. The government already had 3.7 million tonnes in reserves, and all together the country had 27.19 million tonnes of wheat in stock, he said, adding that the country’s population had complete food security. Responding to a question about the compensation to farmers who lost the wheat crop due to natural calamity, the minister said that revenue board in Punjab was estimating the cost of loss. However, he was not clear as to when the government would announce a compensation package.

Defence secretary traces terror link to N. Waziristan attack

Defence Secre­tary retired Lt Gen Ikramul Haq on Tuesday informed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence that the recent incident in North Waziristan’s Boyya area had its roots in the arrest of two suspects for their alleged involvement in the terrorist attack on an army check post last month. He made it clear that no one would be allowed to challenge the writ of the state.

According to the military, the Kharqamar check post in Boyya was attacked by a mob following which the troops retaliated. The incident left at least three people dead and five soldiers wounded.

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28 May 2019

PM to launch Qarz-i-Hasna, asset transfer schemes next month

The government will start next month the process of distributing over 80,000 loans and moveable/immovable assets every month to the deserving families under Qarz-i-Hasna and assets transfer schemes.

Both schemes will be launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan under the ambitious Ehsaas programme.

According to the Prime Minister Office, under the Ehsaas Qarz-i-Hasna scheme, over 80,000 loans will be disbursed every month among youth and women, enabling them to undertake their own business ventures and help their families extricate from poverty trap. These loans would be prioritised in the underdeveloped districts.

NAB grills Nawaz inside jail in vehicle misuse case

PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz severely criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan after a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team grilled her father Nawaz Sharif in jail on Monday for alleged misuse of vehicles purchased for a conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) during his stint as premier.

The two-member NAB team quizzed the former prime minister for two-and-a-half-hours in Kot Lakhpat jail, where he is serving a seven-year imprisonment in the Al Azizia Mills corruption case.

A source told Dawn that Mr Sharif insisted upon being given a questionnaire, to which he would reply with the help of his legal counsel. “However, NAB officials engaged him in one or another question related to his (previous) government’s decision to purchase, without paying import duties, 34 bulletproof vehicles from Germany for guests to the Saarc conference,” he said. These vehicles were allegedly used by Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, according to NAB.

Fawad Chaudhry set to introduce cellular payment system

After successfully launching Pakistan’s first moon-sighting website and a calendar, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry has come up with a new plan to introduce a payment system that will operate through mobile phones only.

“During a visit to China, I observed that every person was paying bills through cell phones. After reaching Pakistan I decided to introduce an integrated system due to which everything, from banana to car, will be purchased through cellphones,” Mr Chaudhry said while talking to Dawn.

MNA Ali Wazir produced before ATC, remanded in CTD custody for 8 days

MNA Ali Wazir, a day after his arrest during a clash between Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) workers and Army troops in North Waziristan tribal district, was produced before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Bannu on Monday.

Special ATC judge Babar Ali Khan remanded Wazir in the custody of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) for eight days.

According to the court order, the investigation officer of the case had requested the court for a 30-day physical remand of the lawmaker. However, the judge after perusing the record remanded Wazir in police custody for eight days.

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27 May 2019

Government’s economic team reviews budget proposals

With crucial meetings of the National Economic Council (NEC) and the federal cabinet lined up for the next few days, the government on Sunday firmed up budget proposals, including targets for taxation measures, for 2019-20.

Sources said a meeting presided over by Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh discussed various proposals that could create a revenue cushion of about Rs1.45 trillion in the next fiscal year, taking the year’s revenue target to Rs5.55tr from a dismal Rs4.2tr.

CPEC expanding to new sectors, says Chinese VP

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan opened his three-day visit to Islamabad on Sunday by recalling the strength of the bilateral relationship and expressing the resolve that Pakistan and China would continue to safeguard each other’s interests.

On the first day of the trip, VP Wang inaugurated a number of projects along with Prime Minister Imran Khan and the two leaders witnessed signing of several agreements.

Soon after his arrival at Chaklala airbase, VP Wang spoke at a meeting of “Friends of Silk Road” hosted by the Pakistan-China Institute.

3 people killed, 5 soldiers injured in exchange of fire at check post in North Waziristan

Following reports of violence during a protest in North Waziristan on Sunday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) released a statement in the afternoon saying that a check post in the area was assaulted by a group and in an exchange of fire, three people were killed while 15 were injured ─ including five soldiers.

According to the statement by the Army’s media wing, MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir ─ both of whom are leaders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) ─ were leading the group.

“A group led by Mohsin Javed [Dawar] and Ali Wazir assaulted Kharqamar check post, Boyya, North Waziristan tribal district this morning. They wanted to exert pressure for release of suspected terrorists’ facilitator arrested the other day,” added the statement, without specifying who the suspect was.

Human Rights body seeks report on rape involving policemen

The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has taken suo motu notice of a gang rape incident involving police officials and asked Rawalpindi police to submit a report to it.

Three police constables, of Rawat police station are among four people suspected of gang-raping a woman working for a call centre. The four suspects, who have been on remand in police custody, will be produced in a court on Tuesday. Police are likely to request the court to extend their remand by another four days.

The rape victim has already recorded her statement in the presence of Sumaira Alamgeer, a civil judge. According to her, the police officials kidnapped her and then raped her at gunpoint. Later they dropped her outside her hostel in Rawalpindi’s Satellite Town.

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26 May 2019

Hafeez aims for record high revenue target

The government announ­ced on Saturday that it would increase next fiscal’s revenue target to Rs5.550 trillion — almost 35.4 per cent or Rs1.450tr higher than current year’s revised estimate of Rs4.100tr — and all civil and military institutions would contribute to the austerity-oriented federal budget for 2019-20.

The next year’s budget would have three key combinations: fiscal consolidation, austerity and additional revenue mobilisation, said Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Hafeez Shaikh at a joint news conference with the ministers of energy, planning, revenue and information.

Bilawal announces endowment fund for treatment of HIV patients

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has announced setting up an endowment fund to ensure free and lifelong treatment of people living with HIV/Aids in Sindh.

He was speaking to journalists in Ratodero after visiting the blood screening centre in Taluka Head­quarters Hospital. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, PPP’s Sindh chapter president Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho, and adviser on information Murtaza Wahab were present on the occasion.

Opposition divided on NAB chairman’s resignation demand

The country’s two major opposition parties — the PML-N and the PPP — which have been crying foul over the ongoing accountability process for the past couple of years and have not missed any opportunity to target the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) — have adopted a cautious approach in their reaction to the controversy over some leaked audio and video clips involving NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal.

The two parties, which recently announced their plan to devise a “joint strategy” from the platform of the combined opposition after Eid to launch an anti-government movement, differ over the demand for the NAB chairman’s resignation as well as the mode of investigation into the affair.

Government likely to reverse tax concessions for salaried class

The government looks set to reverse tax concessions extended by the PML-N government to benefit high-earning salaried and non-salaried individuals substantially more than the middle-class workforce.

“We are considering reverting back to the income tax brackets applicable in the tax year 2017,” an official source told Dawn who is privy to budget-making process for 2019-20.

On Sunday, a high-level meeting will be held where tax proposals will be reviewed for consideration in the next budget, the official said, adding more such meetings will be followed on discussing the tax proposals.

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25 May 2019

PTI not in favour of creating new province in Sindh, says PM Imran

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is not in favour of creating another province within Sindh, Prime Minister Imran Khan declared on Friday during a visit to Karachi.

In a meeting with leaders of allied parties, the prime minister said that there would be no need for division in Sindh after the local government system, which has been introduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, is implemented in the PPP-led province.

Pemra serves notice to News One for airing ‘defamatory’ clips about NAB chairman

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has issued a show-cause notice to News One TV channel for airing what it called “defamatory” news items and clips in which National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal was allegedly shown in conversation with a woman, it emerged on Friday.

Some footage and a few audio clips — first aired by News One — in which a male could be heard talking to a woman and making inappropriate remarks at various points had emerged earlier this week. NAB had denied that the audio clips had anything to do with its chairman, branding them “baseless, fake and based on lies”.

Prayer leader shot dead in ‘targeted attack’ in Karachi

A prayer leader was shot dead in a suspected targeted attack in Karachi’s Sachal area on Friday morning, officials said. Mohammed Arbab, 55, was coming out of the Minarul Huda Masjid in Sachal Goth near Murtaza Chowk after offering Fajr prayers when armed pillion riders opened indiscriminate fire on him and fled, said Malir SSP Irfan Bahadur.

He sustained 11 bullet wounds and was transported to Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi. He was shifted to the operation theatre and died within half an hour, according to police surgeon Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi.

Three men sentenced to death for raping girl in Sanghar

Three men were handed death sentences on Friday by an additional sessions court in Sanghar on Friday for the gang rape of a student of class nine. Judge Inayatullah Bhutto awarded death sentence to Jahanzeb Qaimkhani, Danish Qaimkhani and Wasim Qaimkhani after they were found guilty of rape committed in 2010.

Another accused in the case, Suhail Rajput, was given life imprisonment.

All the convicts, who were present during the hearing today, were arrested by police from within the court premises after the judgment was pronounced.

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24 May 2019

Federal Board of Revenue eyes Rs775bn in fresh taxes next fiscal year

According to a detailed revenue plan drawn up by the tax bureaucracy, and shared with the International Monetary Fund in the last round of meetings, the government is aiming to introduce new tax measures equal to Rs775 billion in the forthcoming budget for the fiscal year 2019-20.

The revenue plan has been seen by Dawn, and detailed conversations with senior officials of the Federal Board of Revenue have provided the context in which it was produced. The plan has to be approved by the cabinet, something that was supposed to have happened in the first week of May but has been delayed due to changes at the top.

NAB says audio clips being associated with its chairman are ‘fake, based on lies’

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday denied that a series of audio clips aired by a private TV channel have anything to do with its chairman Javed Iqbal, branding them “baseless, fake and based on lies”.

The bureau was referring to some footage and a few audio clips — first aired by News One — in which a male can be heard talking to a woman, and making inappropriate remarks at various points.

While the TV channel linked the male voice with the NAB chairman, the corruption watchdog has vehemently denied the allegation, labelling it “the propaganda of a blackmailers’ group”.

In a first, Supreme Court to use e-Court system

For the first time in the judicial history of the country, the Supreme Court of Pakistan will on Monday put into use the e-Court system under which its registries in the provinces would be connected through the latest technology to its principal seat in the federal capital.

According to a statement issued on Thursday by the apex court’s public relations wing, the system would facilitate speedy disposal of outstanding legal matters pertaining to organisations and individuals in the provinces.

PM wants action against power, gas thieves continued

Prime Minister Imran Khan spent a busy day in his Banigala residence on Thursday and held several meetings on different national issues, including gas and electricity theft, forced conversions of minorities, legislation and business of the National Assembly.

He met National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, Minister for Power Omar Ayub, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, Law Minister Farogh Naseem and Azam Khan Swati.

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23 May 2019

National Security Council backs government’s plan to deal with economic crisis

While opposition parties are planning to launch a protest movement against the government over rising inflation after Eid, the National Security Committee (NSC) on Wednesday endorsed the government plan to deal with the economic crisis.

“The forum discussed and fully supported the ongoing efforts towards a sustainable and lasting resolution of country’s economic issues,” read the statement issued by PM’s Office following the NSC meeting.

Board of Investment chairman quits while Finance secretary also set to be replaced

Board of Invest­ment (BoI) chairman Haroon Sharif, who was appointed eight months ago, tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday. Later in the day reports emerged that Secretary Finance Younus Dagha is also likely to be replaced within days.

A high-level source familiar with these developments told Dawn that Mr Dagha had developed differences with Adviser to PM on Finance Hafeez Shaikh over the negotiations with the IMF. “Dagha felt that the adviser had negotiated a bad deal for Pakistan,” the source says. The differences emerged in the last round of meetings with the IMF.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the government was formulating a new petroleum policy

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday the government was formulating a new petroleum policy to provide incentives to the oil exploration and production (E&P) companies working in the country.

“In order to capitalise on the potential of the sector, the government is working on a new petroleum policy, offering incentives to foreign E&P companies and removing impediments to undertaking smooth and profitable business ventures,” Mr Khan was quoted as saying during his meeting with the chief executive officer of the Kuwait Petroleum, Shaikh Nawaf Saud Al-Sabah, who called on him along with a delegation.

FIR filed against Islamabad police officials for negligence in Farishta case

A case was registered against Station House Officer (SHO) Shahzad Town Sub Inspector Muhammad Abbas Rana and other police officials in Islamabad on Wednesday in connection with the abduction, murder and alleged rape of a 10-year-old girl, Farishta.

Ghulam Nabi, the victim’s father, registered a first information report at the Shahzad Town police station today under Section 166 (public servant disobeying law with intent to cause injury to any person) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

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22 May 2019

Fiscal blowout as deficit jumps to 5pc

In the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s first year in office, the country’s fiscal deficit in first three quarters (July-March) of the current fiscal year peaked to five per cent of GDP as expenditures broke past records and revenue performance was the lowest almost in a decade.

The details of fiscal operations released by the ministry of finance on Tuesday put the country’s nine-month total fiscal deficit at Rs1.922 trillion — the highest 3rd quarter deficit recorded in a decade, which is the time period for which data is maintained on the ministry’s website. It was Rs1.48tr in the same period last year.

Opposition parties up the ante against NAB

FILE PHOTO: Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab Province and brother of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, gestures after appearing before a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in Islamabad, Pakistan June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/File Photo

The country’s two major opposition parties — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party — which have been crying foul over the ongoing accountability process for over one year have slammed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal over his controversial interview to a senior journalist, with the former seeking “an explanation” from him and the latter announcing that it will take “action” against him.

Cabinet approves Rs100bn scheme for youth

The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved Rs100 billion Wazir-i-Azam Kamyab Naujawan Programme (WAKNP) under which the youth will be given soft loans up to Rs5 million for establishing their own business.

“Soft loan of Rs100,000 to Rs500,000 will be given at six per cent interest rate and Rs50,000 equity, while loans of Rs500,000 to Rs5,000,000 will be provided at eight per cent markup with 20 per cent equity,” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan while addressing a press conference following the cabinet meeting.

KP doctors end strike after successful negotiations with government

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s doctors ended their strike on Tuesday night following successful negotiations with the provincial government, according to Rizwan Kundi — a member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors Council (KPDC) and Young Doctors Association (YDA).

As part of the agreement between the doctor organisations and the government, it was decided that two committees will be formed, both Kundi and the provincial administration confirmed to DawnNewsTV.

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21 May 2019

The ‘Facilitator’ of Data Darbar suicide blast has been capture

In a major operation, the Counter Terr­orism Department (CTD) of Punjab and Intelligence Bureau have arrested the “facilitator” of Data Darbar suicide bomber.

A senior official who is part of the joint operation toldthe media that law enforcement agencies arrested Moh­sin Khan, son of Beh­ram Khan, who belongs to Shab­qadar area in Charsadda.

Nawaz seeks release from jail on medical grounds

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday filed in the Islamabad High Court a fresh petition seeking release from Kot Lakhpat jail on medical grounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.

A two-judge IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb will take up the petition on Tuesday.

The petition sought suspension of Mr Sharif’s seven-year sentence and subsequent grant of post-arrest bail on medical grounds. Citing medical reports, it claimed that the condition of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supreme leader was critical and he required a stress-free environment for his cardiac treatment as Mr Sharif, according to doctors, was suffering from numerous diseases that could prove to be a threat to his life.

KP doctors reopen OPDs at Lady Reading Hospital for 2 days, offering brief relief to patients

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors Council (KPDC) on Monday announced that the Outdoor Patients Departments (OPD) at the Lady Reading Hospital will open today until tomorrow to facilitate suffering patients. They, however, threatened to resume the strike against the provincial health minister if talks with the chief minister fail.

OPDs at Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), Hayatabad Medical Complex and other government hospitals in Peshawar remained closed

State Bank of Pakistan warns of higher inflation next fiscal year

In a move that will doubtless trigger dismay across the business community, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday raised its policy rate by 150 basis points to 12.25 per cent, 50bps above market expectations.

The bank cited rising inflation as well as expectations of future inflation driven by a weak rupee, widening fiscal deficit and potential adjustments to the utility tariffs as the key drivers behind the rate hike.

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20 May 2019

Pakistan needs diplomatic push to exit FATF grey list

Apart from technical compliance, Pakistan needs to launch an aggressive diplomatic effort over the next four weeks to secure enough support and votes to exit the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — the global watchdog on anti-money laundering (AML) and combating financing terror (CFT).

A senior government official told Dawn that the coming FATF Plenary and Working Group meetings in Orlando, Florida, scheduled for June 16-21, would be crucial for Pakistan to get rid of the grey list or fall into the black list having serious economic reper­cussions. The Orlando plenary will actually set the stage for Pakistan’s future even though a formal announcement would come out at the next FATF plenary due in Paris on October 18-23, he said.

Economy will come out of crisis soon, says PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed confidence on Sunday that problems confronting the economy would be overcome soon through concerted efforts by the government and the business community.

Mr Khan was speaking to a delegation of leading businessmen who called on him to offer suggestions to pull the country out of the economic crisis. The businessmen represented all leading chambers and different sectors of the economy.

SC likely to take up NAB plea against Shahbaz on June 13

The Supreme Court is expected to take up on June 13 the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) appeal which has challenged the Feb 14 Lahore High Court’s decision to release on bail former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and other accused facing a corruption case.

Earlier on May 15, the case was fixed before a three-judge bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed but the hearing had to be postponed in view of sudden ailment of senior counsel Ashtar Ausaf, who had appeared in the court to represent Mr Shahbaz. Now the bench is expected to resume the hearing on June 13.

Opposition parties to hold protests, call APC after Eid

Leaders of the opposition parties on Sunday announced their plans to “launch protests inside and outside the parliament after Eidul Fitr” and hold an All Parties Conference (APC) to “chalk out a joint strategy on how to tackle the problems facing Pakistan”.

The announcement was made by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at a press conference that followed an iftar-dinner he hosted at Zardari House in Islamabad and which was attended by a delegation of arch rivals-turned-allies PML-N and other major opposition parties.

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18 May 2019

PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira’s son has passed away in a road accident

The teenage son of senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party Qamar Zaman Kaira, Usama, was killed in a road accident in Lalamusa on yesterday. Kaira, according to reports, was informed of the accident involving his teenage son during a press conference after which he rushed to Lalamusa. The news of the boy’s death was later confirmed by PPP leader Chaudhry Manzoor.

Condolence messages poured in soon after news broke of the tragic accident. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari issued a statement, saying he was “deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of [Kaira’s] young son”. Bilawal also suspended all party activities for Saturday.

A FIR has been registered against a woman in Lahore for allegedly torturing her child maid

The Child Protection and Welfare Bureau recovered a child maid, who is around 10 years old, from a house in Lahore’s Defence Housing Authority (DHA) where she was allegedly being tortured by her employer.

A first information report (FIR) was also lodged at the Kahna police station with an official of the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau as the complainant. According to the FIR, residents of the area had called the bureau’s helpline after they heard the child screaming and complained that a woman was torturing her young maid at the house.

The KP government has threatened protesting doctors of removal if they don’t resume duty

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai yesterday warned protesting doctors of departmental action against them which could lead to their removal from services.

Under the banner of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors Council, the doctors in the province have been on strike for three consecutive days, demanding the registration of an FIR against Health Minister Hisham Inamullah Khan. They allege that Khan and his guards thrashed a general surgeon at the Khyber Teaching Hospital.

Women who married Chinese men have petitioned the LHC for action against FIA

The Lahore High Court on Friday accepted a petition by Muslim and Christian women married to Chinese nationals who sought action against the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for illegally keeping them from travelling to China with their husbands.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has over the past three weeks arrested scores of Chinese nationals and their suspected local abettors from various parts of the country in connection with its investigation into a transnational gang allegedly involved in contracting fake marriages between Chinese men and Pakistani women, who are later forced into prostitution and the illegal organ trade.

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17 May 2019

PM orders payment of media dues before Eid

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take measures for the payment of arrears to the print and electronic media organisations before Eid.

Chairing a meeting to discuss the payment of dues to print and electronic media, the prime minister asked the information ministry to hold consultations with the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) on the subject.

9 terrorists gunned down in Mastung operation

Nine terrorists were killed during a search operation conducted by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in the Kabo Koh Mehran area of Mastung district, Balochistan on Thursday.

Four security personnel also sustained injuries in the exchange of fire during the operation launched to bust terrorist hideouts in Balochistan.

“On a tip-off, the CTD conducted a raid in the Kabo Koh Mehran area of Mastung district. However, terrorists hiding in the area opened fire on the security forces,” said CTD sources, confirming that nine hardcore terrorists had been killed in the exchange of fire.

Judicial magistrate rejects bail pleas of Chinese nationals in ‘fake’ marriage case

A judicial magistrate on Thursday rejected bail pleas filed by 11 Chinese nationals and two locals in a case pertaining to alleged fake marriages, forced prostitution and organ trade of Pakistani girls in China.

Judicial Magistrate Amir Raza rejected the bail pleas after listening to the arguments from both sides.

The defence counsel, Saleem Ahmed Khan, contended that his clients had been arrested in a fake case. “The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested the suspects after fabricating a story,” the counsel said, adding that the suspects came to Pakistan for business purpose.

Naqeebullah murder case: SC asks why Rao Anwar wants to go abroad

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed former SSP Rao Anwar to resubmit his review petition seeking omission of his name from the Exit-Control List (ECL) as well as the earlier court order to keep his name on the no-fly list.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who was heading the three-member bench, asked the counsel representing Anwar that why a former police officer wants to go abroad. “Does he run a business abroad?” the judge asked. “He wants to meet his family,” Malik Naeem Iqbal, the counsel for Anwar responded to the bench.

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16 May 2019

Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N President, states Prime Minister Imran Khan “lies day and night” and is “wasting the nation’s time by spreading disinformation”

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif says he is not seeking asylum in the UK.

“The selected prime minister lies day and night. He is wasting the nation’s time by spreading disinformation.If I had applied for asylum, they [the government] should show proof of it,” he said responding to media reports of him seeking asylum in the UK.

The PML-N president added that he was in London for medical tests and will return to Pakistan before the budget session.

A province wide strike has been announced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the KPK Doctors Council in the aftermath of an attack on an assistant professor

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors Council (KPDC) announced on Wednesday a province-wide strike in all hospitals and private clinics after the police failed to register a first information report (FIR) against the provincial health minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan and his security guards for allegedly thrashing an assistant professor at the surgical ward.

“We will continue the strike until police register FIR against the health minister and his guards,” Dr Siraj, a member of the KPDC, told the media.

29 more cases of suspected HIV have emerged after widespread screening in Ratodero

As many as 29 more suspected cases of HIV were detected after the screening of 1,195 people in Ratodero taluka of Larkana district on Wednesday, District Health Officer Dr Abdul Rehman Baloch said.

The cases emerged as the blood screening camp at Taluka Hospital Ratodero continued for a 17th day on Wednesday where a team of doctors along with technicians carried out the tests.

A man in Shangla has allegedly killed his wife, daughter and male relative after suspecting that both women were involved in a relationship with the man

A man in Shangla allegedly killed his wife, daughter and a male relative after suspecting both women of involvement in a relationship with the man, said a Station House Officer (SHO).

SHO Chawga Bakht Haleem told the media that locals informed him of the incident that took place in the Shekolai area of Makhozi tehsil.

After receiving the information, he went to the site of the incident and found the bodies of the two women in a pool of blood inside the house, while another body was found on the road, at a distance of approximately 100 feet.

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15 May 2019

DNA test shows suspect as serial rapist of children in Karachi

Police on Tuesday informed an anti terrorism court that a detained suspect’s DNA sample had matched in at least four cases of alleged rape of minor girls in the metropolis.

Police claimed to have detained a suspect for allegedly trying to kidnap a minor girl with the intention to rape her within the remit of the Sukhan police station in 2018.

Journalist’s son goes missing in Karachi

Police have registered a case against the alleged abduction of senior journalist Shafqat Soomro’s son nearly a week after the 25-year-old engineer went missing in Karachi.

Soomro, the editor of a local news agency, told Dawn that his son, Muhammad Shafaat, has been missing for six days but law enforcement officials have, so far, been unable to uncover any clues as to his whereabouts.

Soomro said his son had studied Mechanical Engineering at Quaid-i-Awan University Nawabshah and was engaged in an internship at a local company.

3 government officials have been refused US visa

Newly-appointed Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses the media on his first day at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on August 20, 2018. (Photo by FAROOQ NAEEM / AFP)

The United States has imposed visa sanction on 3 senior Pakistani interior ministry officials because of a row over repatriation of deportees. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs that visa curbs had been applied by the US on three officials of Pakistan’s interior ministry.

A general surgeon was attacked by KPK health minister’s guards

The provincial minister, Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan, said he was attacked by the young doctors’ association, while a health department statement accused the surgeon of attacking the minister at the KTH where he was scheduled to attend a meeting about policy boards of medical teaching institutions.

The administration of the teaching hospital slapped a ban on the entry of assistant professor Dr Ziauddin Afridi into Khyber Medical College following the incident that also triggered doctors’ protest causing suspension of all services at the health facility.

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14 May 2019

4 policemen were killed when a blast ripped through a market in Quetta’s Satellite Town last night

Last night, 4 policemen lost their lives when a blast ripped through a market in Quetta’s Satellite Town. 2 policemen and 7 civilians have also been injured in the blast, while a police van was also damaged. The blast, according to DIG Cheema, was the result of an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in a motorcycle parked on the roadside.

The nature of the blast has not yet been determined and it is not clear if it was a targeted attack. This is a developing story we shall update you.

Asad Umar has been appointed the chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance

Yesterday, Asad Umar was announced as the chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance. He was removed from the office of the finance minister last month, but was unanimously elected to this post. Following his appointment, Umar said that the bailout agreement reached between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be presented before the parliament.

He also ensured that the IMF deal will be made public and allow for the people to have a say in the situation.

The National Assembly approves a bill to increase the number of seats allocated to the FATA and KPK

The first Constitution amendment to be approved by the present assembly that came into existence in August increased the number of seats in both the national and provincial governments for KPK and FATA. This was partially done to ensure that each region got the funding they required, as pointed out my Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The 26th constitution amendment was approved unanimously, ending with a standing ovation.

2000 teachers have been suspended for not coming into work

The Balochistan education department last week suspended more than 2,000 teachers across the province due to their continued absence from duty. The suspended teachers belong to Quetta, Dera Bugti, Pishin, Killa Abdullah and other districts of the province.

The suspended teachers were repeatedly issued show-cause notices to ensure their presence in schools. However, they failed to turn up, the secretary said, adding that over 200 teachers were suspended in Pishin, 81 in Dera Bugti and the rest in other districts.

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13 May 2019

The army has announced that the death toll has risen to 5 for the Gwadar attack

4 hotel employees, 3 staffers and a security guard, were killed while a navy soldier was martyred. Meanwhile 6 people, including 2 army captains, 2 navy soldiers, and 2 hotel employees, were injured as gunmen stormed the luxury hotel.

The Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack. The clearance operation at the hotel continued until late at night.

The army yesterday announced that security forces had completed the operation at the hotel, killed 3 terrorists.

Prime Minister labels Gwadar as a tool to “sabotage prosperity” in the area

Prime Minister Imran Khan, through a statement released by the PM Office, said, “such attempts, especially in Balochistan, are an effort to sabotage our economic projects and prosperity. We shall not allow these agendas to succeed.”

As the only luxury hotel in the area, foreign and Pakistani business delegations as well as diplomats frequent The Pearl Continental.

Neelum Valley is preparing for the flood of tourist expected at the end of Ramzan

 With 500,000 to 600,000 people tourist visting last year, Neelum Valley has started construction to be able to handle such a large flow of people. The valley, located on the far end of Azad Kashmir, offers an ideal vacation spot amid dense forests and streams. It is expected to receive more than 600,000 tourists this year.

Viral plea leads to 4 arrested in suspected gang rape of 15-year-old girl

Karachi police chief has ordered an inquiry into a video statement of the mother of the rape victim that went viral on social media two days ago.  After medical tests confirmed the young girl was raped, 5 people were arrested, including a 60 year old women. According to the complaint, 4 men and the 60 year old women came to the mother’s residence with acid when she was away, and gang-raped the young girl.

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12 May 2019

3 gunmen attack PC Gwadar, 1 confirmed dead

Just a few days after the Data Darbar terrorist attack, Pakistan witnesses another attack on our soil. Gunmen stormed the hotel in Gwadar, killing at least one person, according to the military. In a statement, Pakistan’s military said three armed men killed a security guard as they attempted to enter the Pearl Continental hotel on Saturday in the southern city.

 Security forces surrounded the attackers in a staircase leading to the top floor of the building, it said, adding that a security operation to clear the area was ongoing. The Baluchistan Liberation Army has taken responsibility for the attack. This is a developing story.

HIV-positive cases rise in Sindh as 56 more cases diagnosed in Ratodero

56 more suspected cases of HIV were detected after screening of 1,118 people at Ratodero taluka hospital and one-day screening camps set up in villages near the town yesterday, raising the total number of infected persons to 331 in 13 days.

Of the 56 suspected cases, 39 were children and 17 were adults.

In a camp in Tayab village, as many as 198 people were screened (63 male, 47 female and 88 children) and of them a six-year-old boy tested HIV positive whereas in Subhani Shar village, 250 cases were screened and six were detected HIV positive.

Government about to approve a developmental portfolio of about Rs1.57 trillion for next fiscal year

Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) will hold a meeting on May 20 to discuss future plans with the developmental portfolio. A senior government official told Dawn that the Planning Commission was working on a federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) of about Rs675 billion under an indicative budget ceiling conveyed by the Ministry of Finance.

10 more organizations are banned by the government in crackdown

According to a press release issued by the ministry, the action was taken in pursuance of the National Action Plan (NAP).

The newest additions to the list of banned outfits are Al Anfal Trust (Lahore), Idara-i-Khidmat Khalaq (Lahore), Al Dawatul Irshad (Lahore), Al Hamd Trust (Lahore and Faisalabad), Mosque and Welfare Trust (Lahore), Al Madinah Foundation (Lahore), Muaz bin Jabal Education Trust (Lahore), Al Eesar Foundation (Lahore), Al Rehmat Trust Organisation (Bahawalpur) and Al Furqan Trust (Karachi).

The entities were designated as proscribed organizations for their alleged affiliation with banned Jamatud Dawa (JuD), Falah-i-Insaniyat Founda­tion (FiF) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). This comes on the heals of two terrorist attacks in one week.

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11 May 2019

Prime Minister asks everyone to “stay strong” through this time of inflation

Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday urged citizens to “stay strong” in the face of rising inflation and promised that the country “will make it through this time”.

Prices of basic commodities have risen multiple times since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) took control of the government. The most recent increase came right before Ramzan. Prices of petroleum products also saw a massive hike last week, causing the price of petrol to increase by Rs9.42 and kerosene by Rs7.46 per litre.

FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi has devised a plan to freeze bank accounts in case of a dispute

The newly appointed Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman Shabbar Zaidi yesterday announced a  mechanism by which to freeze bank accounts in case of a dispute, directing authorities against freezing accounts without his prior approval and notice to the account holder.

In what was his first order in the capacity of the FBR chairman, Zaidi directed all chief commissioners inland revenue to inform the account holders 24 hours prior to freezing their accounts if they must do so.

FIA has arrested 3 more Chinese nationals suspected of involvement in human trafficking

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested three more Chinese nationals suspected of involvement in fake marriages and human trafficking from the Islamabad airport. The FIA’s immigration cell also took into custody three local women who were accompanying the Chinese men. The three couples were intercepted as they were about to leave for China.

The Chinese Embassy through a statement on yesterday denied that there was “forced prostitution or sale of human organs of those Pakistani women who stay in China after marriage with Chinese”, saying the reports are greatly exaggerated.

Social media giants are removing anti-polio vaccination content from their websites

Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have started removing anti-polio vaccination content from their websites. This comes days after Pakistan had requested to take down the misleading content.

The content was removed for spreading misunderstanding and discouraging the masses to vaccinate their children against the poliovirus.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), in its official correspondence, said that the “PTA has been proactively identifying and reporting anti-vaccination content hosted on different social media platforms”.

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10 May 2019

8 more children have tested HIV-positive in Shikarpur, making it 22 in this district alone

The cases emerged during the day-long blood screening exercise, which was started by the provincial government after an outbreak of HIV-positive cases in Larkana.

A total of 517 people have been tested in the Shikarpur villages of Dhakkan, Pirbakhsh Theem and Sarang Shar. In Dhakkan alone, eight children, the youngest of which was 1, and a woman were detected as HIV-positive. A meeting of high-level officials of the health department was held in Dhakkan. District Health Office Ghulam Shabbir Sheikh led the meeting in which it was decided that they should expand the blood screening drive to the surrounding villages. Teams comprising senior medical officers will visit different villages to inform people about preventative measures and encourage them to get tested.

The Supreme Court berates DHA for allocating state land to private entities

The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday took issue to the Defence Housing Authority’s (DHA) handing over of state land in Karachi to private entities. Furthermore, the court ordered the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to ensure implementation of its January directive ordering the city-wide demolition of illegal constructions.

The court in January had issued an order to demolish illegal constructions that were in violation of the original master plan. To help build Karachi into a mega city. The court goes on further to berate the SBCA for doing their job by ensuring the courts orders are carried out.

Shabbar Zaidi is officially the new chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)

The federal government has finally confirmed the appointment of Shabbar Zaidi as the new chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on an “honorary and pro bono basis for a period of two years with immediate effect”.

The appointment, which was first made by Prime Minister Khan, was notified yesterday by the Establishment Division. Interestingly enough, no one mentioned if Zaidi will also be given the additional charge of secretary revenue — a portfolio traditionally and jointly held by the FBR chairman.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari creates an uproar after attacking government on inflation

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari yesterday went after the government for it not being able to handle the “tsunami of inflation”, creating a scene within the National Assembly.

“This government has no plan, no mission and no vision,” he said, adding that the government had failed to meet its tax targets. He went further on to repeat his warning that the opposition would not accept any deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) unless the government has gotten the approval of the House.

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9 May 2019

Verdict reserved for TLP Chief and patron-in-chief.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) reserved its verdict on bail pleas filed by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan chief Khadim Rizvi and former TLP patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri. They also rejected an apology submitted by Qadri over incendiary remarks made by him during a protest against the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Aasia Bibi.

They were taken into “protective custody” by the state during a crackdown in November 2018 after the TLP decided to observe martyrs’ day on Nov 25, 2018. This came after the TLP led three-day protests across the country against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal that held put the country in gridlock.

FIA arrests 14 more Chinese nationals, recovers girls and weapons

Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Anti-Human Trafficking Cell recovered three Pakistani girls and arrested another 14 Chinese nationals in a continued crackdown on trafficking rings involved. Allegedly the girls were lured in with fake then trafficked to China for organ removal and sexual exploitation.

The arrests today add to the approximately 17 Chinese nationals arrested over the span of a week in separate raids in the 3 major cities. Current reports are that over 90 Pakistani women, many of them belonging to less privileged Christian families, have already been trafficked after being trapped into fake marriages.

Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson lodge protest against fresh ceasefire violations on the Line of Control

Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner to lodge a complaint against fresh ceasefire violations on the Line of Control on May 2 and May 5.

On May 2, cross border firing in the Rakhchikri sector had caused the death of a 15-year-old boy, Tahir Hafeez, while his 9-year-old sister Tahira had sustained serious injuries.

On May 5, firing from across the LoC in the Hotspring and Kotkotera sectors had resulted in the death of two civilians, including a woman named Nasreen Bibi and a 12-year-old child named Muhammad Zahid. A woman named Sonia Bibi had also sustained serious injuries.

Pakistan stock market dropped over 700 points in intra-day trading!

KSE-100 index plunged over 700 points in intra-day trading and slipped below the 35,000-point mark before recovering partially by the day’s end. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, which hasn’t been announced yet, sparked uncertainty and investors panicked and offloaded stocks.

Following a brief start in the positive territory, selling pressure emerged which persisted for most part of the day. Cherry-picking at the end of the session made the market keep the 35,000-point mark.

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