Pakistan News

KARACHI: Former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf continues to make headlines with his outspoken views.

At 74, the former army chief, who lives with his mother and wife in a tastefully decorated apartment in downtown Dubai, still displays the toughness associated with a soldier. He runs his own political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), and is facing several court cases.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, he spoke about various issues facing Pakistan and beyond. Mr Musharraf criticised the Pakistan government for not siding with the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — against Qatar. “I’m shocked at how the Pakistan government dealt with the Qatar crisis. Qatar was never with Pakistan, and we witnessed this many a time,” he said.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE “have always been Pakistan’s great friends. We must never do anything that’s against either country — both have always stood by us, and we must value their friendship”, he added.

Citing the Pakistan’s ruling party’s business interests in Qatar, he said his country’s “larger interests were ignored over personal business interests. If that’s the priority, then God save our country”.

Gen Musharraf’s words and deeds on Kashmir continue to be an area of interest for most observers and stakeholders.

“I’ve started working for the cause by taking a big initiative on the resolution of the Kashmir issue,” he said.

“I and other like-minded people have formed a group that consists of popular and prominent people from Pakis­tan, India and both sides of Kashmir. We’ll go to the UN, and the Indian and Pakistani governments,” he added.

“The Kashmir issue can be resolved, and I strongly believe that the present Indian government is capable of doing it because they represent the hard-liners.”

Gen Musharraf rejected the notion that Pakistan is over-romanticising the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Chinese investment in the port city of Gwadar.

“In this multipolar world, all three leading superpowers have strategic interests in Pakistan. We must use this interest in our own favour. For example…Gwadar provides China with access to the Indian Ocean,” he said.

“In today’s world, geo-economics will determine geopolitics and geo-strategies. CPEC gives us an excellent opportunity to use our strategic location to our favour,” he added.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2017

میڈیا اور اس سے وابستہ افراد صحت مند معاشرے کے قیام میں اہم کردار ادا کرتے ہیں بیرسٹر امجد ملک صحافیوں کی حوصلہ افزائی کیلئے اقدامات کرتے رہنا چاہئیں چیئرمین بورڈ آف گورنرز آف اوورسیز پاکستانی فائونڈیشن کا خطاب مانچسٹر (این این آئی) چیئرمین بورڈ آف گورنرز آف اوورسیز پاکستانی فائونڈیشن بیرسٹر امجد ملک نے کہاہے کہ میڈیا اور اس سے وابستہ افراد نہ صرف صحت مند معاشرے کے قیام میں اہم کردار ادا کرتے ہیں بلکہ اس کی اصلاح میں نمایاں کردار ادا کرتے ہیں اس لئے ہم سب کو صحافیوں اور صحافت سے وابستہ افراد کی کاوشوں کو سراہتے ہوئے ان کی حوصلہ افزائی کیلئے اقدامات کرتے رہنا چاہئیں۔ ان خیالات کا اظہار انہوں نے اوورسیز پاکستانی فائونڈیشن کے زیراہتمام میڈیا اور ملکی ترقی میں اس کا کردار کے حوالے سے منعقدہ سیمینار سے مانچسٹر میں خطاب کرتے ہوئے کیا ۔ بیرسٹر امجد ملک نے کہا کہ برطانیہ میں رہنے والے پاکستانی نوجوانوں کو زیادہ سے زیادہ مغربی میڈیا اور اداروں کو جوائن کرنے کی ضرورت ہے تاکہ میڈیا کے اس دور میں اپنا کردار موثر طریقے سے ادا کرسکیں ۔ چیئرمین بورڈ آف گورنرز نے پاکستان میں صحافتی خدمات انجام دینے والے صحافیوں اور برطانوی معاشرے میں اردو صحافت اور اس سے وابستہ صحافیوںکو شاندار الفاظ میں خراج تحسین پیش کیا۔ پریس کلب آف مانچسٹر کے سربراہ جاوید خان نے بیرسٹر امجد ملک کی کاوشوں کو سراہتے ہوئے کہا کہ میڈیا سے وابستہ افراد کو اپنی ذمہ داریوں کااحساس کرتے ہوئے خبریں نشر کرنا چاہئیں کیونکہ میڈیا پر نشر ہونیوالی خبروں سے لوگوں میں آگاہی حاصل ہوتی ہے اس لئے ان خبروں کا حقائق پر مبنی ہونا ضروری ہے انہوں نے کہاکہ صحافیوں کو خوشامد کی بجائے صحافتی ذمہ داریاں ادا کرنا چاہئیں۔ پریس کلب آف یو کے کے صدر قمر شکیل نے سیمینار سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ برطانیہ میں پاکستانی نژاد صحافی صحافت کے میدان میں کسی سے کم نہیں تاہم صحافتی اقدار کیلئے ٹریننگ ضروری ہے اور اس کیلئے حکومت پاکستان کو چاہئے کہ وہ ایک صحافتی اکیڈمی کا قیام عمل میں لائے جس کی ایک برانچ پاکستان میں ہو اور دوسری برطانیہ میں ہونی چاہئے تاکہ اوورسیز پاکستانی صحافی اس سے مستفید ہوسکیں۔ پریس کلب برطانیہ یو کے مانچسٹر کے صدر اسحاق چودھری نے کہا کہ اووسیز پاکستانی فائونڈیشن کے بورڈ آف گورنرز کے چیئرمین بیرسٹر امجد ملک مبارکباد کے مستحق ہیں جنہوں نے صحافت کے کردار اور صحافیوں کیلئے اس تقریب کا اہتمام کیا، انہوں نے کہا کہ پاکستان کے بعض علاقوں میں عام صحافی انتہائی مشکل حالات اور دہشت گردی کا شکار ہیں ان کیلئے خصوصی اقدامات ضروری ہیں، پاکستان قونصلیٹ مانچسٹر کے کمرشل اتاشی شعیب ظفر، اولڈہم کے میئر کونسلر شاداب قمر اور واچڈیل کے میئر آئین ڈکورتھ نے بھی تقریب میں خصوصی شرکت کی اور برطانیہ میں صحافت کے شعبے میں نمایاں خدمات انجام دینے والے صحافیوں کو او پی ایف کی جانب سے تعریفی اسناد بھی پیش کی گئیں۔ تقریب میں صحافیوں اور کمیونٹی شخصیات کی بڑی تعداد نے شرکت کی۔

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) expressed concerns on Tuesday over the skimming of debit cards that caused a total loss of Rs10.2 million to 559 customers recently.

The SBP asked banks to go for the Europay Mastercard Visa (EMV) standards, which are safe and protected, according to a press release.

The SBP said only 296 customers have confirmed disputed transactions and Habib Bank Ltd (HBL) is trying to limit the impact of hacking activities.

The SBP statement did not say who the hackers were. It said the hackers withdrew depositors’ money from various locations within and outside the country.

“Customers’ information on debit cards of HBL was compromised by hackers thro­ugh skimming to create its clones,” said the SBP.

The SBP has been in contact with the HBL management to ascertain the losses and ensure the return of money to the affected customers and precautionary measures.

“HBL has taken several immediate actions to determine and limit the impact of such transactions on customers. Specifically, it blocked all identified debit cards that were suspected to be misused and quarantined the automated teller machines used in hacking activity,” said the SBP.

Until Tuesday, 296 customers confirmed the disputed transactions and the estimated damage assessment done to the bank concerned is Rs10.2m for their customers, said the SBP,

It noted that HBL has also managed to start returning the money to depositors to the extent of their losses. “Efforts are under way to determine losses to any other banks’ customers using HBL ATMs and take remedial measures,” said the SBP.

ATM skimming is an illegal activity in which account details are stolen from the magnetic strip contained on the back of the debit card. Such incidents have happened, sporadically, in Pakistan as well, the SBP added.

The central bank has issued specific regulations for the security of payment cards and internet banking to safeguard depositors from fraudulent transactions. Under these regulations, banks are required to develop and implement a comprehensive framework for risk assessment, implementation of controls and monitoring.

“Debit cards with a magnetic strip on their backs – that store customers’ acc­ou­nt details – are particularly vulnerable to skimming and cloning. Debit cards, complying with EMV standards, featuring a chip and offering two-factor authentication are now considered most effective countermeasure to card-cloning through skimming globally,” said the SBP.

The central bank issued regulations for payment cards security in 2016 wherein banks are required to develop infrastructure for EMV compliance and issue cards by June 30, 2018.

“The SBP reassures bank customers that complying with its responsibility of ensuring a smooth and safe payment system, it will take every measure in coordination with banks to safeguard the interest of depositors against any fraudulent activity,” it said.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2017

THERE are growing indications that things are not going as well with CPEC as we are being told. Since the government did not release any meaningful details following the recent, seventh round of the Joint Cooperation Council — the crucial forum where the details of the various projects that come under the CPEC umbrella are being negotiated between the Pakistani and Chinese sides — news has managed to trickle out that many of the projects considered central by Pakistan have suffered setbacks.

The first news related to the Diamer-Bhasha dam project that was the most recent addition to the bouquet of projects being considered under the plan. That information emerged during a parliamentary committee hearing in which a former Wapda chairman said that the Chinese were asking for terms that Pakistan was unwilling to give in order to finance the mega dam.

The next bit of news came after the meeting itself, when reports trickled out that the framework agreements for the Peshawar-Karachi railway project, known as the Main Line 1 project, as well as the Karachi circular railway, could not be signed during the meeting.

 

For the circular rail, there appeared to be good reasons for the delay, but for the ML1 project, it was merely stated that cost estimates will take another two to three months to be finalised.

Now comes a report that three important road projects, brought into the CPEC framework in the sixth JCC meeting held last December, have also suffered setbacks.

According to the report, the Chinese have developed new rules for approving financing for CPEC projects, and each of the latter will have to be resubmitted through the new procedures before financing can be arranged.

All of these might prove to be temporary difficulties, and the projects mentioned (except for the Diamer-Bhasha dam which appears to have been scrapped), could be back on track within months. Or this could be the moment when CPEC is changing gears, entering a new phase of its construction beyond the ‘early harvest’ power projects, and the enterprise is growing beyond the ability of the government to effectively manage.

As CPEC grows, its implementation becomes more complex and unwieldy given the small number of people involved in drafting the Pakistani position in the talks. The only antidote to the growing difficulties the government appears to be running into is greater transparency, which is becoming more urgent with the passage of time.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Upset by the mishandling of the Faizabad sit-in and the total surrender of his party’s government to the protesters, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said that recent events had damaged the country’s repute at the international level.

Party sources told Dawn that in an “informal meeting” with the senior party leaders at Punjab House soon after appearing before an accountability court, the PML-N chief showed his displeasure over the language used in the one-sided army-brokered agreement between the government and the protesters.

Insiders said Mr Sharif was also unhappy because he was not consulted during talks with protesting leaders and over the preparation of the draft of the six-point agreement, where the government agreed to nearly all the protesters’ demands.

When Mr Sharif asked specific questions from Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal about the handling of the sit-in, the minister requested a “private meeting” with him over the issue. Later, sources said, Mr Iqbal and his deputy Talal Chaudhry briefed Mr Sharif on the issue.

ISLAMABAD: Upset by the mishandling of the Faizabad sit-in and the total surrender of his party’s government to the protesters, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said that recent events had damaged the country’s repute at the international level.

Party sources told Dawn that in an “informal meeting” with the senior party leaders at Punjab House soon after appearing before an accountability court, the PML-N chief showed his displeasure over the language used in the one-sided army-brokered agreement between the government and the protesters.

Insiders said Mr Sharif was also unhappy because he was not consulted during talks with protesting leaders and over the preparation of the draft of the six-point agreement, where the government agreed to nearly all the protesters’ demands.

When Mr Sharif asked specific questions from Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal about the handling of the sit-in, the minister requested a “private meeting” with him over the issue. Later, sources said, Mr Iqbal and his deputy Talal Chaudhry briefed Mr Sharif on the issue.

The Lahore High Court issued on Monday a notice to the Punjab secretary of the school education department on a petition by a teacher allegedly terminated for being an Ahmadi.

Shaukat Rauf contended that he had been terminated without being given an opportunity of defence merely on a complaint lodged by a fellow teacher. The petitioner said he was a true Muslim having firm believe in finality of prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) and had PhD degree in Islamiat.

He pleaded that his point of view was not heard by the authorities in a departmental inquiry, which was in sheer violation of fundamental right of fair trial.

He said the court had directed the respondent secretary to decide his departmental appeal against the termination but the order had not been complied.

The petitioner said the secretary committed contempt of court by not implementing the order and was liable to be punished under the relevant law.

Originally published in Dawn, November 28th, 2017

The Pakistan Army on Sunday morning said that it is "fully ready" to assist the federal government in an operation against protesters who remain camped out at the Faizabad Interchange even after a day-long crackdown by law enforcement agencies.

On Saturday, an operation was launched by the Islamabad police, with the help of Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel and other law enforcement agencies, against religious protesters who had all but paralysed the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi for over a fortnight.

Saturday's operation culminated with the Interior Ministry sending out a formal requisition for the deployment of military troops in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

By daylight on Sunday, there was no sign of armoured vehicles or soldiers on the streets. Social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, which had been suspended a day earlier remained restricted. Private television broadcasts remained blocked as well.

In response to the government's request for assistance with the operation, the Army — in an official letter to the Interior Ministry — said that it was prepared to cooperate with security personnel in keeping with Article 245 of the Constitution to protect the life and property of the residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

However, the letter states that before troops are deployed, there are a "few aspects meriting deliberation", such as how the "police has not been utilized to its full capacity" in dealing with the religious protesters.

It points out that "the Pakistan Rangers have not been given written instructions."

The letter also highlights that the Army is not a force traditionally used to disperse crowds or protesters, adding that the terms of the military's deployment in the twin cities need to be clarified in keeping with orders passed by the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court earlier this week.

On Friday, the IHC, displeased with government inaction against the Faizabad protesters, had pointed out that the participants of the sit-in could be dispersed using options other than bullets.

Similarly, the SC on Thursday had said that the efforts of the government to avoid loss of life by refraining from launching its operation against protesters were commendable. However, the apex court had added that "it does not follow that protesters can only be removed by firing upon them."

 

Protests continue on Sunday

The protesters amassed at the Faizabad bridge belong to various 'religious' parties, including the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) and the Sunni Tehreek Pakistan (ST), and have been calling for the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid and strict action against those behind the amendment to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath in the Elections Act 2017 ─ which had earlier been deemed a 'clerical error'.

Earlier, protesters gathered near Kachnar Park in Islamabad set police vehicles alight early Sunday morning, police said.

Five motorcycles and one car belonging to the police personnel were set alight by the protesters, police said, adding that the vehicles were personal property.

The protest participants also pelted police personnel deployed in the area with stones.

However, as the police have not been issued instructions to take action against the protesters so far today, the latter's actions were not met with any retaliation by the forces.

Between 50 and 60 protesters have gathered at the Taramri Chowk on Islamabad's Lehtarar Road, which has been blocked.

Protest participants also picked up two police officials from Islamabad's Sohan area, police said.

According to officials, negotiations are underway with the protesters for the return of the two officials.

Unrest in Karachi

Saturday's unrest in Islambad had spilled into cities across the country, including Karachi where roads were blocked and demonstrations were held.

Shahrah-e-Pakistan remained blocked on Sunday with oil tankers lined up along the highway since 2am.

A large number of protesters gathered at Numaish Chowrangi told DawnNews that they would continue their demonstrations until either their leaders in Faizabad told them to stop or their demands for Law Minister Zahid Hamid's resignation were fulfilled. The protesters continued to chant anti-government slogans.

A day earlier

A day earlier, at least six were killed and hundreds were wounded as violent clashes broke out between law enforcement personnel and protesters camped out at the Faizabad Interchange.

Finally acting upon court orders, the Islamabad police, with the help of Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel and other law enforcement agencies, had launched an operation against protesters, who had amassed at the Faizabad Interchange ─ which connects Islamabad to Rawalpindi ─ on November 8. Around 8,500 elite police and paramilitary troops in riot gear took part in the clearance operation.

A timeline of the crisis that has gripped Islamabad for the past 18 days

The operation was launched after several attempts by the government to hold talks with the protesters failed, with the latter remaining adamant on the matter of the law minister's resignation.

The use of tear gas, rubber bullets and batons by security personnel met with fierce resistance by protesters, who increased in number as the operation continued through the day.

At least 150 protesters were arrested before security forces withdrew.

Protests spread to other cities

Unrest in the federal capital spilled over to Karachi, as protesters loyal to the same religious parties took to the streets condemning the Faizabad operation. The protesters blocked roads and demonstrated at the Numaish traffic intersection in the city's busy Saddar area.

The protests later spread to other parts of the city, including Teen Talwar, Boat Basin, NIPA, Shahrah-i-Faisal near Stargate and Nursery, Hub River Road and Hassan Square, where both tracks of the road were closed for traffic.

At least 12 people were reportedly injured in skirmishes with police at Stargate and Nursery.

A large number of religious parties also took out rallies and staged demonstrations in Umerkot, Mithi, Sujawal and other towns of lower Sindh to register their protest against the ongoing operation against the protesters in Islamabad. They vowed to continue their protests.

Protest demonstrations were also held at Badin Press Club, Lahore's Imamia Colony and other settlements along the GT Road. Roads from Lahore to Gujranwala and Faisalabad were also closed.

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