Dec 262017
NAB chairman orders 'immediate' inquiry into offshore companies of 435 Pakistanis

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal has ordered an immediate inquiry into the companies held by 435 Pakistanis in tax havens abroad, DawnNews reported on Tuesday.The chairman ordered the inquiry after taking notice of 435 offshore companies held by Pakistanis in Panama and the British Virgin Islands, a press release issued by the Bureau said on Tuesday.The inquiry into offshore holdings of Pakistanis will proceed without "any fear or favour", NAB said.The bureau has asked the Federal Investigation Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, State Bank of Pakistan and FBR to provide information regarding offshore companies owned by Pakistanis.The Supreme Court had last month sent notices to NAB and the federal government seeking reports on action taken against Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers.The Panama Papers, a massive investigation into secretive offshore companies owned by the world’s political and business elite, had sparked controversy in several countries last year. At home, their publication led to the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.It should be pointed out here that the setting up of off-shore companies is, in itself, not a criminal act and has many legitimate uses.However: "These companies are established for tax-evasion purposes," the lawyer arguing on behalf of the petitioner had alleged. "Action should be taken against those who engaged in money-laundering." Click for detailed story

Dec 212017
Opposition stages walkout in NA again over absence of Fata reforms bill from agenda

Opposition lawmakers staged a walkout from the National Assembly for the ninth consecutive session after a bill on the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) reforms was absent from the agenda once again, DawnNews reported on Thursday.On Tuesday, after the opposition registered its protest over the government's inability to table the Fata reforms bill, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had assured parliamentarians that the bill would be presented in the lower house on Wednesday.Explore: The Fata merger — Towards a brave new worldDespite the speaker's assurance, however, the bill was not presented in the Assembly on Wednesday which sparked protests and a walkout by the opposition.Hours after Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch annou­nced in parliament that the government intended to introduce “Supreme Court and High Court (Extension of Jurisdiction to Fata) Bill 2017 in the National Assembly on Thursday (today), Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) jirga council members regarding the Fata reforms for the first time. The meeting between the premier and the JUI-F members did not produce any fruitful results and a member of the council declared that the party's reservations over the reforms remained. However, Barrister Zafarullah Khan, who is looking after the law ministry after Zahid Hamid quit as law minister last month, told Dawn that the two parties were "near a consensus".Come Thursday, the legislation was missing from the agenda yet again, prompting a strong protest from the opposition leaders who staged a walkout [Read More…]

Nov 162017
NA passes Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017 to 'strengthen' Khatm-i-Nabuwwat clauses

The National Assembly on Thursday evening passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017 to restore Khatm-i-Nabuwwat laws to their original form and make sections relating to it "more effective." The bill was tabled by Law Minister Zahid Hamid, who assured the house that he and his family "were Muslims and believed in the finality of prophethood". "My family and I are ready to lay our lives for the honour of Prophet Muhammad," the law minister offered to his critics, some of whom have insisted on his resignation for his alleged role in the affair.Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal stepped in to support the beleaguered lawmaker, assuring him that: "In a state, faith and connection to God is a matter between him and God. No person can make a decision on anyone's faith.""I will ask my brother [Zahid Hamid] that your faith is your personal matter and you do not need to present any clarifications regarding your faith," he added.Sections 7B and 7C of the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002 were also restored to their original form via the bill.Section 7B states that the status of Ahmedis remains as stated in the Constitution of Pakistan, while section 7C states that if an enrolled voter's belief in the finality of Prophet Muhammad's prophethood is contended, they shall have to sign a declaration reaffirming their belief, failing which their "name shall be deleted from the joint electoral rolls and added to a supplementary list of voters in the same electoral area as non-Muslim."Hamid said [Read More…]

Sep 192017
NAB to send summons to London for Sharif family's appearance in corruption references

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday gave former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other family members another seven days to appear before the accountability court in connection with the Supreme Court-mandated corruption references.NAB ordered that the family should appear before the court on September 26, directing that the summons be dispatched to the Sharif family's London address. Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Captain Muhammad Safdar left for London on Monday to meet the rest of the family there.During the court proceedings, NAB prosecutors told the court that they were not allowed entry into the Sharif family's multiple homes and had to hand the summons to the guards at each of the properties.The prosecutors also said that earlier, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz had refused to receive the summons.PML-N leader Asif Kirmani, who appeared in court on the Sharifs' behalf, said that the family was not present [in court] as they had all gone to be with Kulsoom Nawaz who is recovering from surgery. Kirmani also told the court that Kulsoom is scheduled to undergo another surgery in the next couple of days, therefore an exact date for the family's return cannot be ascertained. A PML-N leader close to the Sharif family had told Dawn on Monday that “Nawaz Sharif and his children will not appear before the accountability court and they are likely to skip all the proceedings of the accountability courts.”Last month, the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had chosen not to appear before NAB after [Read More…]

Sep 092017
Tremendous evidence available, says NAB in appeal against Zardari's acquittal in assets case

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Saturday filed an appeal against Asif Ali Zardari's acquittal in a corruption reference that accused the PPP co-chairman of acquiring assets through illegal means.The appeal was filed at the Lahore High Court's Rawalpindi bench by NAB officials. The plaintiffs in their appeal have demanded that the Rawalpindi accountability court's judgement acquitting Zardari in the assets reference be discarded and the case be referred to a trial court.The appeal, a copy of which is available with DawnNews, states that NAB has a "tremendous amount of documentary evidence relating to the properties and bank accounts and other movable and immovable assets" which could have been used to take the investigation further.A NAB spokesperson told DawnNews that the accountability court issued acquittal orders of Zardari without taking into consideration the "solid evidence" submitted by NAB. "The court has acquitted Zardari as a result of a hasty trial which will set the wrong precedent [for future cases]," he said.The request for Zardari's acquittal, submitted by his counsel and PPP leader Farooq H. Naek, was accepted by Justice Khalid Mahmood Ranjha, who ruled that the reference lacked a legal basis.Zardari had previously been exempted from appearing in the case owing to security concerns.The reference against Zardari was filed before an accountability court in 2001, but was closed in 2007 under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) issued by the government of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.The Supreme Court, in its verdict in the NRO case on December 2009, had ordered the [Read More…]

Aug 262017
SC allows NAB to record JIT members' statements

Pending references The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to record statements of all six members of the joint investigation team (JIT) that probed the Sharif family's business dealings in the Panamagate case.The permission was granted by the apex court following a request from NAB seeking permission to record statements of the men who had probed the business dealings of the Sharif family.The SC addressed a letter in this regard to JIT chairman Wajid Zia, instructing that the JIT members should record their statements before NAB in order to ensure all legal requirements and formalities are fulfilled.The letter stated that recording the statements will help avoid any possible lacuna that may damage the case.Sources within NAB told DawnNews that investigators needed statements from the JIT members, as well as the evidence collected by them in order to proceed with the task of filing references against the Sharif family, as mandated by the apex court.On Aug 17, NAB was also granted access to the secret Volume X of the report prepared by the JIT.The ousted premier and his family have yet to appear before NAB, despite having been served three notices by the anti-corruption watchdog.Pending references While disqualifying Sharif under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution on July 28, a five-judge Supreme Court bench had asked NAB to file four references in a Rawalpindi accountability court within six weeks on the basis of the material collected and referred to by the JIT as well as that already available [Read More…]

Apr 132017
Cannot rule out role of foreign agencies in disappearance of retired Army officer: FO

The Foreign Office said on Thursday that the role of foreign intelligence agencies cannot be ruled out in the disappearance of retired Lt Col Habib Zahir, a former Pakistan Army officer who mysteriously went missing in Nepal earlier this month.Addressing a weekly press briefing in Islamabad, FO spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Zahir had been trapped in Nepal "after being lured into a job offer". Retired Lt Col Mohammad Habib. ─Photo courtesy Baqir Sajjad Syed He said Pakistani authorities are in touch with the Nepali government to trace the missing ex-army man and Nepal is cooperating in this regard. Zakaria, however, warned against linking Zahir's disappearance with the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian spy sentenced to death by a Pakistani tribunal earlier this week on charges of espionage and sabotage earlier this month. "It is unreasonable on India's part to link the Jadhav case with Habib Zahir," he said, reminding that Zahir had retired from the army a long time before Jadhav's arrest.Zakaria seemed to be responding to a startling allegation published by an Indian news outlet quoting unnamed Indian security sources, who claimed that Zahir was part of the team that had picked up convicted spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.“Zahir was at the Indo-Nepal border last week. He was in the team that had trailed Jadhav. There is definitely a connection between the two cases,” The Indian Express quoted an Indian officer as saying on Wednesday. Editorial: Reducing Pak-India tensions in a time of spy warsCol Zahir, who retired from the [Read More…]

Dec 072016
Evidence being collected regarding Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav, says Sartaj Aziz

Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday informed the Senate that evidence was being collected regarding the role of Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav in Pakistan. Aziz was briefing the Senate about Pak-India relations and skirmishes along the Line of Control (LoC).“So far, we have just statements about the involvement of the Indian spy in terror activities in Pakistan,” said Aziz. The adviser added that further evidence needs to be gathered.Aziz also told the Senate that the United Nations has been provided a dossier regarding the involvement of Indian intelligence agency RAW in Pakistan. He added that the Senate will be informed soon about progress.Jhadav's arrest and confessions Law enforcement agencies had announced the arrest of Jadhav during an intelligence-based raid in Balochistan's Chaman last month.The Indian Foreign Ministry had confirmed that the arrested man was a former Indian Navy officer, but the Pakistani government claimed to have recovered travel documents and multiple fake identities of Jadhav, establishing him as an Indian spy who entered into Balochistan through Iran — holding a valid Iranian visa.In a video shown to media during a joint press conference by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) head Lt Gen Asim Bajwa and Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid on March 31 Kulbushan Jadhav confessed to involvement in terror activities in Balochistan and Karachi.After Jadhav's arrest, Pakistan summoned Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale to lodge a strong protest over 'India's spying activities' in Pakistan, besides apprising the international community about the arrest. Click for detailed [Read More…]

Nov 152016
Trump would deserve Nobel prize if he resolves Kashmir dispute, says Sartaj Aziz

Adviser to prime minister on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday said United States (US) president-elect Donald Trump would deserve Nobel prize if he intervenes and succeeds in resolving the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan."Trump would deserve Nobel prize if he helps resolve Kashmir dispute," he said on a lighter note while responding to a question regarding Trump's offer to mediate between Pakistan and India.Aziz indicated that Pakistan will welcome any such intervention by the US president-elect Donald Trump. The US president-elect, in an interview with an Indian newspaper in October, had said that he would be pleased to mediate between Pakistan and India.“Well, I would love to see Pakistan and India get along, because that’s a very, very hot tinderbox. That would be a very great thing. I hope they can do it,” said Trump.Pakistan to participate in Heart of Asia Conference in India Sartaj Aziz, while talking to media in Islamabad, also revealed that Pakistan will participate in the Heart of Asia Conference scheduled to be held in India on December 3, 2016.“Unlike India, that had sabotaged Saarc summit in Pakistan by pulling out, Pakistan will respond by participating in the Heart of Asia being held in Amritsar, India, on December 3,” confirmed Aziz.The adviser said he himself will participate in the conference and will not repeat India’s blunder where it boycotted Saarc summit in November.Aziz, however, said it has not been confirmed yet whether he will meet his Indian counterpart on the sidelines of the conference [Read More…]

Nov 052016
Nacta recommends banning Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al Alami

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) on Saturday forwarded names of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al Alami (LJ-A) to the Ministry of Interior recommending banning of the militant groups."Nacta has recommended Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al Alami to be included in the list of proscribed organisations," said the letter written by Nacta to the Ministry of Interior. JuA emerged in August 2014 after splitting from the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). *Analysis: Wrangling persists in listing terror groups*It has carried a number of attacks in Pakistan against military personnel, law-enforcement agencies (LEAs), government buildings, politicians, religious minorities and lawyers.JuA also claimed responsibility of the attack on lawyers in Quetta on August 8 this year which claimed 70 lives.Earlier in August, the US State Department designated JuA as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs).The list of banned or proscribed organisations by Ministry of Interior contains 61 groups and the addition of two more militant outfits will increase the number of banned outfits to 63 in the country.Nacta has also recommended Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al Alami (LJ-A) to be placed in the list of proscribed terrorist organisations. Read: Ban on militant groupsThe group claimed responsibility of attacking Police Training Academy in Quetta on October 25 in which 61 cadets were killed.Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al Alami is a splinter group of banned Lashar-i-Jhangvi (LeJ) involved in sectarian violence across the country and particularly in Quetta and Karachi. Click for detailed story

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