Pakistan News

ISLAMABAD: The Senate was told on Friday that 91 per cent of the revenues to be generated from the Gwadar port as part of the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) would go to China, while the Gwadar Port Authority would get 9pc share in the income for the next 40 years.

This was disclosed by Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Bizenjo after senators expressed concern over the secrecy surrounding the CPEC long-term agreement plan, with many observing that the agreement tilted heavily in China’s favour.

The minister said that the agreement was based on a build-operate and transfer model spread over 40 years. That means that Pakistan will take over the operation of the port along with the infrastructure to be built on it during the period to enhance the port’s cargo-handling capacity.

However, Senator Kal­soom Parveen of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) pointed out that the agreement had not been signed on the basis of equality as had been done with India. She asked Senate Chairperson Raza Rabbani to convene a meeting of the committee of the whole of council, in which all relevant departments which signed the pact would be called. Mr Rabbani, however, pointed out that there were already two committees on the CPEC, including a Senate committee and a parliamentary panel. He advised her to take up the issue at the Senate committee on CPEC.

ISLAMABAD: The Senate was told on Friday that 91 per cent of the revenues to be generated from the Gwadar port as part of the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) would go to China, while the Gwadar Port Authority would get 9pc share in the income for the next 40 years.

This was disclosed by Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Bizenjo after senators expressed concern over the secrecy surrounding the CPEC long-term agreement plan, with many observing that the agreement tilted heavily in China’s favour.

The minister said that the agreement was based on a build-operate and transfer model spread over 40 years. That means that Pakistan will take over the operation of the port along with the infrastructure to be built on it during the period to enhance the port’s cargo-handling capacity.

However, Senator Kal­soom Parveen of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) pointed out that the agreement had not been signed on the basis of equality as had been done with India. She asked Senate Chairperson Raza Rabbani to convene a meeting of the committee of the whole of council, in which all relevant departments which signed the pact would be called. Mr Rabbani, however, pointed out that there were already two committees on the CPEC, including a Senate committee and a parliamentary panel. He advised her to take up the issue at the Senate committee on CPEC.

ISLAMABAD: Protesters at the Faizabad sit-in beat up two photojournalists and tried to snatch their cameras on Wednesday while they were trying to capture images of an attack on police.

Muhammad Asim of White Star / Dawn and Jehangir Chaudhary of Daily Jang went through the horrifying experience after a group of protesters, armed with sticks and iron rods, tried to encircle some 20 policemen on a service road heading from the I-8 interchange to Faizabad.

While most of the cops managed to escape, a couple of them got trapped among the assailants and were roughed up.

When Muhammad Asim and Jehangir Chaudhary started photographing the incident, the attackers manhandled them as well. The protesters tried to snatch the two cameramen’s expensive equipment.

Fortunately, a few elderly persons stepped in and told the assailants to spare the cameramen, but only after they had agreed to delete the photographs.

The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) condemned the incident.

In a statement, RIUJ Presi­dent Mubarak Zeb Khan said stopping journalists from executing their duty amounted to an attack on freedom of expression.

“We will not tolerate such acts whether they are carried out by the government or a group of individuals. We call upon the government to take a strict note of this incident and ensure that journalists are not manhandled and allowed free access for coverage,” the statement said.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2017

WASHINGTON: Days before crucial talks with the US defence secretary, Pakistan has welcomed an American offer to take action against militants involved in cross-border raids from the Afghan soil, the Voice of America radio service reported on Wednesday.

The official US news outlet also reported that Pakistan believed the US offer “augurs well” for regional counterterrorism cooperation.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis is expected in Islamabad on Dec 3 for talks aimed at enlisting Pakistan’s support for implementing the new US strategy for Afghanistan. The strategy seeks to force the Taliban to join the Afghan peace process by defeating them in the battlefield.

Pakistan welcomes the US plan for persuading Taliban to seek reconciliation with the Afghan government but says that there’s no military solution to this dispute.

Earlier reports had suggested that the US military chief Gen Joseph Dunford could also visit Islamabad before Secretary Mattis for talks with his Pakistani counterpart and other senior officials. But official sources in Washington now say that Gen Dunford may not visit Islamabad, at least not before Secretary Mattis.

Diplomatic observers in Washington, however, see the US offer to take on TTP militants, and Pakistan’s acceptance of the offer, as a positive development.

In Rawalpindi, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military, Major Gen Asif Ghafoor, told VOA his country had always offered and sought cooperation to strengthen border security.

“Unilaterally Pakistan, having cleared all areas on Pakistan side, has restored writ of [the] state, including steps like enhancing [troop] presence along the border [with Afghanistan], establishing new forts and posts and has also started to fence the border to deny freedom of movement to illegal crossers and terrorists,” Mr Ghafoor explained.

The offer to take action against anti-Pakistan militants came from Gen John Nicholson, who commands both US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Addressing a news conference in Kabul on Monday, Gen Nicholson said his offer was meant to discourage Pakistan’s army from shooting across the border into Afghanistan while responding to border raids by militants.

“We have also offered if they [Pakistan] have a concern about anything on this side of the Durand Line [the border] to let us know and we will act against it so that it is not necessary for cross-border shelling to occur,” he said.

Afghan officials claim that last week Pakistani forces fired hundreds of rounds of mortar shells into the Afghan border province of Kunar, forcing Afghan villagers to flee their homes in harsh winter weather.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2017

A 28-year-old major of the Pakistan Army was martyred on Wednesday in an exchange of fire with terrorists in Dera Ismail Khan, said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations.

Major Ishaq was killed while security forces were "conducting a search operation on presence of terrorists in a hideout" in DI Khan's Kulachi area, read the statement posted by Director General ISPR Major Gen Asif Ghafoor on Twitter.

Chief of Army Staff Qamar Jawed Bajwa and other army officials attended the funeral prayers of the martyred major who leaves behind a wife and a one-year-old son.

On November 13, at least two soldiers were martyred and four others were injured in a suspected militant attack on a checkpost near the Pak-Afghan border in Bajaur Agency. The martyred soldiers were identified as Capt Junaid Hafeez and Sepoy Raham.

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Tehran on Sunday on a three-day official visit, the first by a Pakistani army chief in over two decades.

His arrival in Tehran was announced by military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor through a tweet. No formal statement was, however, issued revealing the caution with which the two sides are dealing with the visit that is seen by many as a major development in bilateral relations.

“COAS arrived Tehran, Iran on official visit. Scheduled to meet Iranian civilian and military leadership,” the ISPR director general tweeted.

It is expected that besides his meetings with top Iranian leadership, the army chief would also meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

 

The visit is expected to narrow the trust deficit between the two neighbours that profess to have ‘brotherly relations’, but have for long been on the opposite sides of the regional alignment and global politics. Their geo-political differences have manifested themselves in lack of cooperation on security issues between the two neighbours.

Key concern in Islamabad vis-à-vis Tehran is the growing Indian influence in Iran, which has predominantly been on the economic and trade side. There have been suspicions about India using Iranian soil for espionage in Pakistan. Tehran, meanwhile, is worried about presence of terrorist groups along the Pak-Iran border that have been targeting Iranian border forces.

Islamabad further has reservations about Tehran’s involvement in disputes in Arab world. Iran on the other hand suspiciously looks at Pakistan’s close ties with Arab monarchies.

Gen Bajwa has since the early days of his tenure worked on improving relations with Tehran. In this regard, he met Iranian envoy to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost several times over the past few months – at least three of which were made public. His approach towards Iran was driven by his understanding that “enhanced Pak-Iran military-to-military cooperation will have positive impact on regional peace and stability”.

The move for improvement in ties has been necessitated by evolving regional situation particularly the emergence of the militant Islamic State group as a major security threat and US plans for an open-ended stay in Afghanistan, which both sides see as detrimental for their interests in the region.

Director General Noor Institute of Strategic Studies Tehran Dr Sadollah Zarei, speaking at Islamabad Policy Institute, said: “Trump’s new policy for the region has made it all more important for the two neighbours to cooperate.”

Iran was one of the few countries to voice support for Pakistan after the latter was severely criticised by President Trump while unveiling Washington’s new policy for the region. Later Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif toured Tehran as part of his visit to regional countries for consultations on Trump’s policy.

Dr Zarei said there was a strong desire in Tehran for better relations with Pakistan.

Earlier visits by Gen Raheel Sharif (2016) and Gen Pervez Musharraf (2000) were not official visits by the army chief. Gen Raheel had accompanied the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif on a trip to Tehran for attempted mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, whereas Gen Musharraf went there as the country’s chief executive for participation in ECO Summit.

Analysts believe the start of a military dialogue between Pakistan and Iran would grant credibility to Pakistan’s policy of neutrality in the Middle East/Gulf even if they aren’t immediately able to make major strides towards better relations.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2017

LAHORE: According to Motorway Control Room, Motorway M-2 from Lillah interchange to Lahore, M-3 from Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad and M-4 from Gojra to Faisalabad have been closed for all kinds of traffic due to dense smog and zero visibility.

The road users can access to Helpline 130 and Control Room number 051-9231001 to avoid inconvenience.

The drivers have also been advised to reduce speed and maintain safe distance.

Meanwhile, Punjab government is making concerted efforts for the prevention of smog across the province.

According to spokesman of the provincial government Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, 236 industrial units, accused of spreading pollution, have been sealed while FIR has been lodged against 60 units.

He said that farmers are being informed about the adverse effects of smoke from burning of munds of rice crop. –Samaa/app

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has returned the petitions filed by a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader seeking detailed scrutiny of funding records submitted by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), observing that the petitions had been filed under a law that no longer exists.

In two letters sent to PTI leader Farrukh Habib, the ECP pointed out that the applications had been filed under the Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002 and the Political Parties Rules (PPR) 2002. However, since those laws were repealed in the Elections Act 2017, the ECP could not take action under them.

“The commission has decided that the petition may be returned with directions to re-submit the same in accordance with the provisions of Elections Act 2017, and the Election Rules 2017,” the identical letters read.

Advocate Faisal Chaudhry, who had moved the petitions on behalf of Mr Habib, said there was no bar on the ECP to take cognisance of the matter raised in the petitions. “Both parties have submitted their accounts under the Political Parties Order 2002, hence as per the law, action could only be taken under the PPO because the complaint is with regard to the period between 2013 and 2015 when the PPO was in force,” he remarked.

Petitions filed under law that no longer exists

He was of the view that the present law could be used to initiate proceedings against both parties, but punitive action would have to be enforced under the previous law.

He said the decision would also raise questions pertaining to the audit of the PTI’s funding records.

“If the PTI is reluctant to initiate proceedings against the other parties under the same law, it may also ask for same treatment, or at least it will give impression of selective justice,” he noted.

In two separate ‘complaints’ filed with the ECP, Mr Habib, a central leader of the PTI, had accused the PML-N and the PPP of concealing their sources of funds and companies registered by them in the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively, and sought cancellation of election symbols allocated to them “for their failure to meet legal requirements for eligibility to obtain the symbols”.

According to the complaint against the PML-N, the party had relied on non-quality control review-rated firms for audits, and had adopted an incorrect reporting format. In all divisions, no sources of funds were declared, the accounts were contradictory, did not comply with the mandatory requirements of the PPO or the PPR, and violated Article 6 and 13 of the PPO read with Rules 4 and 6 of the PPR.

“The respondent political party may be generating money from prohibited sources but since they have consciously failed to provide any information, it is clear that the respondent political party is attempting to conceal where the money is being generated from,” the complaint read.

It said that the PML-N had received funds under the category “other revenue” which failed to disclose what the sources of revenue were or explain how such exorbitant funds could be raised under the category of ‘other revenue’. “This revenue could be coming from a foreign company or foreign government or from a multinational, but no disclosure is being made clearly in order to conceal this information so that nobody can question the person or organisation which is sending these funds,” said the petition. It alleged that the PML-N operated a private limited company in the UK, which had not been disclosed in the documents submitted to the ECP.

According to the complaint filed against the PPP, the party’s account statements between 2009 and 2012 were not available either due to non-filing or for reasons best known to the party. The accounts of 2013 began with an opening balance of Rs41.47m from previous years, however, where that opening balance was generated from was not disclosed. “Therefore,” the complaint said, “no source of opening funds in the accounts of the year 2013 has been disclosed, thus it was upon this August Commission to have asked for it under Rule 10 of the PPR, which was not done and were therefore not looked into.”

The complaint said the PPP had a company, the PPP LLC, registered under US laws to collect funds for the party. As per details of the company, the funds had been collected from foreign nationals and the government of Pakistan in large amounts. “This is against the spirit of the PPO as contributions from foreigners or the Government of Pakistan, are prohibited under the PPO. Furthermore, the PPP has failed to disclose the existence of this LLC established in USA.”

 

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2017

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