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…]

Oct 232018
Over 1,300 government-run schools found shut in Balochistan

Over 1,300 government-run primary, middle and high schools have been found closed in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan, it emerged on Tuesday. The schools have been non-functional for the last few years as a result of poor governance, lethargy in the appointment of teachers by authorities, and chronic absence of teachers, an officer in the education department who declined to be named since he was not authorised to speak to media told DawnNewsTV. More than 250 government primary, middle and high schools have been found shut in Quetta and Pishin districts alone. See: Schools without roofs: the state of govt-run schools in Balochistan The figures were revealed during a meeting of all district education officers held in Quetta recently and chaired by the Balochistan education secretary Noorul Haq Baloch. However, independent sources put the number of non-functional schools in the province higher than what was stated during the meeting. When asked to comment on the reasons behind the closed schools, the secretary said the process of appointment of teachers in Balochistan was in the final phase. “With the new appointments, we will be able to re-open the non-functional schools in the province,” Baloch added. In Balochistan, the number of government-run primary, middle and high schools is estimated at above 13,000. The government in the recent past had established a complaint management cell to help the masses inform authorities about closed schools and ‘ghost’ teachers. Mobeen Khilji, a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) member of Balochistan Assembly, regretted that 150 government-run schools [Read More…]

Oct 202018
WOMEN?S ODI: Lanning leads Australia to victory against Pakistan

KUALA LUMPUR: Helped by captain Meg Lanning’s blistering 124 and Rachael Haynes’ measured 79, Australia put up 273-7, and that proved to be too many for Pakistan.Pakistan were bowled out for 123 in 40.1 overs as Australia took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match women’s One-Day International series by winning the second game by 150 runs in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.It also gave Australia two more ICC Women’s Championship points.After winning the toss and batting first, Australia got off to a slow start, scoring at little over three runs per over in the first 20 overs as Pakistan’s spinners, led by Sana Mir, did not let the batters cut loose.Pacer Diana Baig dismissed Alyssa Healy in the seventh over to break a 24-run opening stand while Sana caught Nicole Bolton off her own bowling to send her back for 18, with the score 39 in the 12th over.When Ellyse Perry was caught by Muneeba Ali off Nashra Sandhu, Australia were in a fix at 54-3, but that was when Lanning and Haynes got together and led an excellent recovery. Australian captain Lanning brought up her 50 off as many deliveries even as Haynes brought up Australia’s hundred with a boundary off Nashra in the 26th over.Lanning changed gears soon after reaching the milestone as she and Haynes took the attack to Nida Dar, who conceded 65 runs from her eight overs without picking up a wicket.By the end of the 34th over, both Australia batters had added 109 runs [Read More…]

Oct 202018
Pemra serves show cause notices to TV channels for airing Nehal Hashmi 's controversial speech

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Saturday issued show cause notices to news channels which had aired a controversial speech by former PML-N senator Syed Nehal Hashmi allegedly criticising the armed forces while defending the role of politicians in the development of the country. Hashmi, who had previously been imprisoned for his controversial remarks against the judiciary, while addressing a function at the Karachi Medical and Dental College on Friday, reportedly said that the armed forces had “done nothing for the defence and betterment of the country” and that the weapons acquired for the defence were “merely showpieces”. The outspoken politician’s speech was subsequently broadcast on TV channels — something which Pemra has deemed a violation of its code of conduct. The regulatory body, in its notification today, asked news channels why they had aired the speech of an individual who has a history of making controversial remarks. It also instructed the said channels to explain why they should not be punished with a fine or even a suspension. Soon after Hashmi’s hard-hitting speech went on air, the PML-N had launched a damage control exercise and dissociated itself from what the former senator had said about the military. Senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah had said that Hashmi’s statement had nothing to do with the party and reflected his personal views. “Mr Hashmi has been expelled from the PML-N, so the party cannot take any action against him,” the former Punjab law minister said. “He was sacked after he [Read More…]

Oct 192018
Politicians have done more for country than military: Nehal

KARACHI: Former PML-N Senator Syed Nehal Hashmi, who previously faced imprisonment for his controversial remarks against the judiciary, on Friday criticised the armed forces while defending the role of politicians in the development of the country. The politician, addressing a function at the Karachi Medical and Dental College, alleged that the armed forces had “done nothing for the defence and betterment of the country” and that the weapons acquired for the defence were “merely showpieces”. Soon after television channels had broadcast news reports about Mr Hashmi’s hard-hitting speech, the PML-N launched a damage control exercise and dissociated from what the former senator had said about the military. Senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said that Mr Hashmi’s statement had nothing to do with the party and reflected his personal views. “Mr Hashmi has been expelled from the PML-N, so the party cannot take any action against him,” he said. “He was sacked after he refused to step down as a senator on party orders over the statement that he made against the judiciary. One may disagree with state institutions but this is not the way to register a protest.” Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2018

Oct 182018
ECP notifies victory of 22 candidates, withholds notices of 13 others for not disclosing campaign costs

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday notified 22 candidates who had emerged successful in the October 14 by-elections, however, it withheld victory notifications of 13 candidates for not disclosing the cost of their respective election campaigns. Notifications were issued to seven candidates of the National Assembly, eight candidates of the Punjab Assembly, three candidates of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, and two candidates each of the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies. Of those that were issued notices included Khwaja Saad Rafique who had contested for the NA-131 Lahore seat, Chaudhry Salik Hussain who stood from NA-65 Chakwal, and Moonis Elahi who ran for the by-elections from the NA-69 Gujrat constituency. Besides these, Shaikh Rashid Shafique who won from NA-60 Rawalpindi, Zahid Ikram Durrani who secured victory in NA-35 Bannu, Malik Sohail Khan who triumphed in the NA-56 Attock by-polls, and Alamgir Khan who emerged successful from NA-243 Karachi were all issued notifications by the commission. ECP did not issue notifications to 13 successful candidates who had failed to provide details of the cost incurred during election campaigning activities. Among those whose notifications were withheld include Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ali Awan, Mansoor Hayat Khan and Ali Gohar Khan. The commission also directed all members of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies to submit their statement of accounts for the current financial year as well as those of their family members by December 31. The parliamentary members who fail to provide their yearly statement of accounts with details including property inherited or [Read More…]

Oct 182018
Peshawar High Court sets aside sentences of 74 convicted by military court

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday set aside the punishments awarded to 74 convicts by military courts in various cases of terrorism. Accepting their appeals against the military courts’ verdicts, a two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Lal Jan Khattak overturned the death and life sentences that were handed to the convicts. The court overturned their sentences after concluding that the charges against the accused had not been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Though a short order, the bench ordered that the convicts be released. Nearly 50 of them had been sentenced to death, while the rest were serving jail terms. The cases of three out of the 74 convicts whose sentences were overturned today are highlighted below: Gul Faraz Convict Gul Faraz of Dir was charged with the preparation, facilitation and transportation of a suicide bomber to a funeral site in Mardan where he blew himself up, killing dozens of people, including MPA Imran Mohmand, and leaving scores injured. He was sentenced to death by a military court, a verdict that was challenged in the high court by his nephew Zrawar Khan under Article 199 of the Constitution, under which a high court may take up a matter when there is no other adequate remedy provided by law. While allowing the writ petition, the two-member PHC bench overturned the death sentence and ordered Faraz’s release. He was acquitted on the grounds of: absence of substantial evidence, except for a confessional statement that [Read More…]