Irfan Haider

Oct 252018
 
5 'Islami Jamiat Taleba students' suspended from Punjab University for thrashing man on campus

Five Punjab University (PU) students allegedly associated with the Islami Jamiat Taleba (IJT) were suspended on Thursday for beating up a man who was sitting with his wife on campus. The PU administration also suspended a security guard ─ who was present at the time ─ for his inaction. Videos of the incident circulating on social media show a large crowd of onlookers gathered outside the PU History Department around the man who is being beaten up by some students, while a woman yells at them to stop. “What has he done? He is my husband,” she can be heard saying in an attempt to dissuade the perpetrators from beating the man up. The man, identified as a Awais Rind, had gone to the History Department to pick up his wife when he was beaten by the IJT students, PU Spokesperson Khurram Shahzad said. PU Vice Chancellor Prof Niaz Ahmed took notice of the incident and ordered PU Registrar Khalid Khan to take strict action against the students involved, Shahzad said. “No one has permission to take the law into their own hands,” the spokesperson said. He added that the incident was “unbearable” and assured that the administration will “maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the campus”. He said that five IJT students involved in Rind’s thrashing have been suspended, along with a security guard who stood and watched instead of preventing them from beating the man. A meeting of university administration officials took place today, after which it is expected [Read More…]

Oct 252018
 
Policeman martyred in 'targeted' gun attack in Quetta

A policeman was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Quetta’s Nawan Killi area on Thursday morning, police said. Head Constable Muhammad Musa was going to work on his motorcycle and when unidentified attackers opened fire on him and escaped unhurt from the site of the attack, police said. The police officer died on the spot. His body was shifted to Quetta’s Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination. Police and other law enforcement personnel reached the site of the attack and launched an investigation into the incident, which police said appeared to be a targeted killing. Police officers are said to be high-risk targets in Balochistan. Balochistan has been divided into two areas – A and B – based on how their security is organised. Police are responsible for maintaining law and order in Category A areas ─ 10 per cent of the province ─ while Category B is under the control of the Balochistan Levies. However, 90pc of violent crime occurs in Category A areas that are covered by police. The high level of organisation in police ranks is believed to be one of the factors that incite violence against it by terrorist outfits. Around 2001, at the onset of the deterioration in Balochistan’s security situation, Baloch separatists would target police constables in Quetta, mainly because most cops hailed from Punjab. With the passage of time, as the ethnic composition of the police department changed, sectarian and militant outfits began carrying out attacks against cops. In recent years, most targeted [Read More…]

Oct 242018
 
Saudi Arabia has placed no conditions in exchange for bailout money, assures Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday assured that Saudi Arabia had placed no conditions in exchange for the bailout money it pledged to Pakistan during the premier’s visit to the Kingdom to attend an investment conference, DawnNewsTV reported. He made these remarks on Wednesday during an informal conversation with media persons in Islamabad. “We have received a total package of $6.2 billion,” the minister said. FM Qureshi said there has been no change in Pakistan’s role in the Islamic military alliance and asserted that “a clear message has been conveyed to the United States that dialogue is the only way forward when it comes to the Afghanistan issue”. “Unless and until the Taliban are integrated into the system, it is not possible to move forward [to address the Afghanistan issue],” he said. “The US itself is currently trying for initiating talks with the Taliban. It is wrong to say that Pakistan must do everything. The Taliban are not in our pockets,” FM Qureshi commented. Also read: Shah Mehmood Qureshi: Always next in line Speaking about the war-torn region of Yemen, the foreign minister said that Pakistan’s stance will remain the same, in that, the state does not believe in a military solution to the problem. “We will not send our forces there,” he affirmed. Referring to the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, he said that there were difficulties in completing the project due to the fact it was marred by multilateral sanctions imposed by the United Nations and unilateral sanctions [Read More…]

Oct 242018
 
NAB prosecutor begins argument in appeal against Sharifs' bail

National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) special prosecutor on Wednesday began his arguments in the corruption watchdog’s appeal challenging the Sept 19 order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for suspension of the jail terms awarded to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield reference. As the hearing began today, NAB special prosecutor Akram Qureshi explained to the apex court bench the basic facts and developments in the case. “According to the NAB Ordinance’s Section 9(b), the options of writ had been abolished,” he said. “The clauses related to bail and punishments had been eliminated.” Qureshi argued that “the writ is permissible only in hard circumstances,” adding that “the high court had not mentioned any such hardships in its judgment.” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar noted that “there may not be another judgement on suspension of sentences” that is 43 pages long. “Show me another such judgement that exceeds more than a page and a half,” he said. The special prosecutor concurred with the chief justice’s observation, adding: “Sir, in my career I have never seen this long a judgment on suspension of sentences. Ask someone wise, and maybe [you] would find another instance. Qureshi also questioned the basis on which the IHC had used the “hardship” principle. “The principle of hardship is adopted either in extremely severe cases of ailments whose treatment may not be possible in jail or cases where appeals had not been filed in years,” the prosecutor [Read More…]

Oct 232018
 
Charred bodies of oil firm’s abducted employees found in North Waziristan

Charred bodies of four persons were recovered from a torched vehicle in North Waziristan’s Spin Wam tehsil on Tuesday. Security officials confirmed that the bodies are of three employees of Maripur Oil and Gas Company and a Frontier Corps (FC) official deployed for their security. According to the details provided by an FC official to DawnNewsTV, the employees of the oil and gas exploration company and their paramilitary escort were heading towards their office a day earlier when they were kidnapped by unknown gunmen. Later their bullet-riddled bodies were found burnt inside a torched vehicle in Spin Wam’s Abakhel area following a day-long search operation, the official said. He further revealed that the deceased include an FC official, a foreman, a driver, and a labourer. A local intelligence official also confirmed the incident and fatalities, saying it was unclear where the gunmen were from as no group has so far claimed responsibility for the incident. The identities of the deceased persons remain unknown so far. Moreover, the security official said this was the second such incident to take place in the span of two weeks. Earlier, two employees of the same company had gone missing, of which one was recovered through the efforts of a local jirga.

Oct 232018
 
Supreme Court bench slams NAB for its 'double standards'

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday levelled severe criticism at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for its “double standards” and questioned why the corruption watchdog has become “politicised”. A three-member bench of the apex court made the remarks after hearing a petition for bail filed by the Sindh Ministry of Information’s Section Officer, Sarang Latif. After turning down the petitioner’s bail request, the bench severely censured NAB. “It seems as if NAB is in no mood to proceed with this trial,” Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked, before asking: “Who is the prosecutor for this case?” An additional prosecutor told the judge that the lead prosecutor is from Karachi and he did not know his name. “[This] is a case concerning [corruption to the tune of] Rs5 billion,” Justice Gulzar said in exasperation. “It looks like the local prosecutor takes his money, shows up in court and leaves [without accomplishing anything].” Justice Qazi Faez Isa remarked that “NAB’s conduct is not the same in every case.” “In some cases NAB goes the extra mile, but in others it does not seem to care,” he added. “Why is NAB getting politicised?” Justice Gulzar also accused NAB of “colluding” with its targets and asked why it so often offers plea bargains. “NAB does not seem to want to do anything; it has put everyone in misery,” he said. “Millions of rupees of this nation are spent on NAB. Has it ever accomplished anything other than plea bargains? Let us know just one case [Read More…]

Oct 232018
 
Saudi Arabia agrees to provide Pakistan $3 billion to address balance-of-payments crisis

Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide Pakistan $3 billion in foreign currency support for a year to address its balance-of-payments crisis, the government announced on Tuesday. The Kingdom has also agreed to provide Islamabad a one-year deferred payment facility for import of oil, worth up to another $3 billion. The agreements in this regard were signed during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia to attend the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference, a trip he undertook on the invitation of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud. According to a press release issued by the government, several far-reaching decisions on bilateral economic and financial cooperation were reached during the discussions held between Pakistani and Saudi officials: It was agreed that Saudi Arabia will place a deposit of US $3 billion for a period of one year as balance-of-payment support. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in this regard between Finance Minister Asad Umar and his Saudi counterpart Muhammad Abdullah Al-Jadaan. It was also agreed that a one-year deferred payment facility for import of oil, up to $3 billion, will be provided by Riyadh. This arrangement will be in place for three years, after which it will be reviewed. Saudi Arabia also “confirmed its interest” in investing in a petroleum refinery in Pakistan. An MoU for this project will be signed after obtaining the cabinet’s approval. The Kingdom also expressed interest in the development of mineral resources in Pakistan. In this regard, the federal government will hold consultations [Read More…]

Oct 232018
 
Rs8.5 million worth of drugs seized from three Nigerians in Islamabad

Police on Tuesday seized narcotics worth Rs8.5 million from three Nigerian nationals near the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) campus in Islamabad. The three men, who were arrested, are suspected of supplying drugs to students in educational institutions of the capital, police said. The drugs recovered by Secretariat Police from the suspects included 800 grams of heroin, 250g cocaine and 300g marijuana. A first information report has been registered against them. Senior Superintendent Police (operations) Mohammad Amin Bukhari, on whose directions the operation was carried out, praised the station house officer of Secretariat Police Station over the seizure of the drugs. “The criminals destroying the future of children will be dealt with an iron hand,” a police statement quoted Bukhari as saying. An Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) official had revealed earlier this year that as many as 67 per cent of university students in the country use drugs. About 7.6 million people in Pakistan are drug addicts, out of which 78pc are men and 22pc women, ANF Director North Brig Hammad Dogar had said while speaking at a seminar in Rawalpindi.

Oct 232018
 
Cyber crimes in Pakistan hit a record high in 2018: FIA

Cyber crimes, especially the harassment and blackmailing of women, have increased sharply in Pakistan in the last three years, DawnNewsTV reported citing figures released by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The agency said that its cyber crime circle has so far conducted 2,295 inquiries, registered 255 cases and made 209 arrests in 2018 — all highest since the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), 2016 was enforced. The corresponding figures for 2017 were 1,290 inquiries, 207 cases registered and 160 arrests made, whereas figures for 2016 stood at 514, 47 and 49. The FIA admitted that cyber crimes are on the rise in Pakistan but added that “the government’s recent measure to establish 15 new cyber crime reporting centres” will help control the situation. In June, FIA Cyber Crimes Director retired Capt Mohammad Shoaib had told a Senate standing committee that the agency only has 10 experts to investigate cyber crimes in the country.

Oct 232018
 
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi challenges government ministers to live television debate

Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has challenged government ministers to have a live debate with him on television over the issue of alleged corruption in LNG deals and power projects set up during the PML-N government’s tenure. Speaking at a news conference at National Press Club in Islamabad on Tuesday, Abbasi refuted the allegations of Federal Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry that the PML-N government had set up costly projects due to which they would now have to increase the power tariff. The allegations the former prime minister was referring to were made on October 19 during a news conference following a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. In the conference, the petroleum minister had discussed the LNG agreements signed by the PML-N government: a gas supply deal with Qatar and two LNG re-gasification terminals with two local business groups. “Pakistan economy is under tremendous stress because of these two contracts (of LNG terminals) that were signed in frustration, haphazard manner and with malevolence,” he had said. Ghulam Sarwar said the two LNG terminal contracts were given to two business groups — Engro and Pakistan Gas Port — at “exorbitant rates of unprecedented levels and show there were some underhand deals”. Flanked by PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb and PML-N Senator Musaddiq Malik today, Abbasi declared that he owned each and every decision taken by him as the prime minister and is ready to have a debate on the same at [Read More…]