WASHINGTON, Sept 2, (AFP): The US military plans to cancel $300 million in aid to Pakistan due to Islamabad’s lack of “decisive actions” in support of American strategy in the region, the Pentagon said Saturday. The US has been pushing Pakistan to crack down on militant safe havens in the country, and announced a freeze on aid at the beginning of the year that an official said could be worth almost $2 billion.
Source: Arab Times
Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked that the media give his government three months before criticising its performance, DawnNewsTV reported on Friday.
The statement was made during a meeting with journalists in Islamabad.
The PM promised that three months down the road, there will be a marked difference in the way the country is run. He also mentioned that none of his cabinet members was appointed permanently and could be shuffled around on the basis of performance.
According to Geo.tv, PM Khan, responding to a question, said that while Pakistan cannot fight the US and looks to improve ties with Washington, the government will not give in to any unjust demands made by the White House.
He mentioned that Pakistan seeks peaceful relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran as well.
According to DawnNewsTV, PM Khan also told journalists that he has directed the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau to continue an indiscriminate accountability process in the country.
He added that if any member of the government is suspected of any indiscretion, they should also be held accountable.
The prime minister also pointed out that Pakistan's circular debts stands at Rs1.2 trillion and that progress would not be possible without across-the-board accountability.
During the meeting, PM Khan was also asked about his usage of a helicopter for travel to and from Banigala, which he defended as a way of saving citizens from the trouble of traffic holdups.
The Supreme Court on Friday initiated proceedings in a case pertaining to the sudden transfer of the District Police Officer (DPO) Pakpattan under controversial circumstances.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had on Thursday taken suo motu notice of the transfer of former Pakpattan DPO Rizwan Gondal, allegedly over an altercation with citizen Khawar Fareed Maneka, ex-husband of First Lady Bushra Imran.
The chief justice had ordered Punjab Inspector General (IG) Kaleem Imam, Additional Inspector General (AIG) Abu Bakar Khuda Buksh, Sahiwal’s regional police officer (RPO) and the Pakpattan DPO to appear before the Supreme Court at 9:30am today along with the inquiry report.
"What's the story?" Chief Justice Saqib Nisar asked as he began hearing the case on Friday morning. "Why has the entire nation been obsessed with it for the last five days?"
According to the media's reporting of the reasons behind Gondal's transfer, relying on several unsubstantiated reports, the officer was allegedly transferred for refusing to apologise in person to Khawar Maneka over an altercation between Maneka and police officials.
The altercation was said to be over an incident involving Khawar Maneka and the Pakpattan police. Late on August 23 or early August 24, Khawar Maneka was flagged to stop at a security picket in Pakpattan by police, but he allegedly refused and raced ahead. The police had subsequently chased him down and forced him to stop, after which harsh words were exchanged between the two parties.
"I want to make it clear that we want the police to be free and empowered. It does not sit well that the chief minister [of Punjab] or someone sitting with him may have been responsible for the officer's transfer," the chief justice said on the outset of the case's hearing.
The chief justice's reference to the 'person sitting with the chief minister' is to Ahsan Jameel Gujjar, said to be an influential person who is close to the Maneka family. Gujjar and Punjab CM Usman Buzdar had reportedly summoned Gondal to the CM's office for an 'explanation' of the events in Pakpattan shortly before the officer was transferred from his posting.
"Where's Khawar Maneka?" the chief justice asked. "Where's Ahsan Jameel Gujjar? Why was the DPO called to [Khawar Maneka's] dera to apologise?"
"Why was the DPO transferred at 1am in the night? Could the transfer not have waited till the morning? What was the urgency that the transfer orders had to be issued at night only?" the CJP asked.
"We will not tolerate any political interference [in the police's operations]," Justice Ejazul Ahsan chipped in.
"We'll see how anyone can be transferred under pressure," the CJP added.
Responding to the judges' queries, the IG Punjab took the stand to state his version of events.
"There was no pressure on me to make the transfer," IG Imam said. "This was a departmental decision."
"We found out through the Special Branch and various other sources that Rizwan Gondal had not been entirely forthcoming to us," the IGP said, elaborating on his decision to move Gondal out of Pakpattan. "In any case, a transfer is not a punishment."
To the question of why Gondal went to CM House, the IG said: "The chief minister summoned DPO Rizwan Gondal."
"Did you stop the chief minister from meeting the DPO?" the chief justice asked.
The CJP then asked the IG what was wrong with the police questioning a woman pedestrian — a reference to reports that there had been a separate incident in Pakpattan early in August also involving a member of the Maneka family — a woman — who had similarly been 'stopped' by police for questioning.
The IG told the court that the woman hadn't simply been stopped for questioning: "Someone also grabbed her by the arm," he said.
Gondal himself took the stand next.
"The chief minister's PSO Haider called me and the RPO for a meeting," Rizwan Gondal told the court.
"I had told the RPO about the August 23, 24 incident," Gondal said. "I had also informed the IG Punjab through WhatsApp."
"On the day of the incident, I received a phone call at 4pm that I should present myself at CM House before 10pm that night," Gondal deposed. "I reached there at 10pm, where I was introduced to Ahsan Jameel as the chief minister's 'brother'."
"Jameel asked me to tell him if there was some kind of conspiracy against the Maneka family," Gondal said.
"I also received messages from abroad," Gondal said, presumably referring to pressure on him to apologise to the Manekas.
"Who sent those messages?" the chief justice asked.
"Among the people who sent the messages was an ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) colonel named Tariq. He messaged saying I should go to the dera," Gondal said. "Another message was sent by my senior, Azeem Arshad."
Gondal said he "kept calling Ibrahim Maneka to tell him that if he could not come to my office, he could come to my house", referring to reports that he had been asked to apologise to Bushra Imran's son from her first marriage on the harassment issue.
The AIG was called to the stand next.
"The first incident, of harassment of a woman, took place on August 5," the AIG deposed to the court. "No action was taken on this from August 6 to August 23, even though the DPO should have investigated the incident. We are public servants, there should be no ego involved in what we do."
"On August 24, 18 days after the incident, we were told that someone called from abroad and that someone called from the ISI," the AIG said.
"So your position is that the August 5 matter should have been investigated by the DPO and wasn't?" Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked.
"The writ of the state should always be upheld," Justice Bandial remarked. "The police is there to serve, but our police asks complainants to come with a car if they want their complaint to be registered. We need to change this system."
However, Gondal dismissed the allegation.
"I can say on oath that I was not informed by any police official about any incident of harassment," Gondal told the court.
"What was the chief minister's role in all of this?" the chief justice asked. "Where did his friend drop in from? Is Ahsan Jameel Gujjar some kind of influential individual?"
"How soon can Khawar Maneka and Ahsan Gujjar be presented before the court?" he subsequently asked.
Khawar Maneka, however, excused himself from leaving Lahore before 3pm. Meanwhile, Ahsan Jameel Gujjar could not be reached by the additional advocate general of Punjab.
When the court was informed by the additional attorney general after a break that Maneka, Gujjar and Col Tariq could not be presented before the court today due to various reasons, the court adjourned the case to Monday.
It additionally summoned the CM's PSO, the DIG Headquarters Shehzada Sultan and the CM's CSO, tasking the IG Punjab with the responsibility of ensuring everyone was present for the hearing.
Ominously, the chief justice also told the Punjab advocate general to read court judgements involving Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.
"We'll see if the authority accorded to public offices was abused in this case," he said.
ISLAMABAD: Expressing her love for Pakistan, Polish travel blogger Eva zu Beck, who stirred the ‘Kiki Challenge’ controversy in a PIA simulator recently, announced her decision to launch the world’s first interactive travel show for Pakistan combining social media, TV, live content, written words and on the ground activities.
Ms Beck announced the launch of her new venture at the National Press Club on Saturday. She said it was her passion to promote tourism in Pakistan and fight misrepresentation of the country in the social media.
“Nearly 40pc of travellers take the idea of their destinations through social media. We find Pakistan totally missing in that space.”
It is my passion to promote tourism and fight misrepresentation of the country on social media, Eva zu Beck says
She also identified challenges faced by Pakistan’s tourism sector which included lack of tourist friendly infrastructure and limited information about transport, hotels, guesthouses etc.
She said her initiative might lead to the availability of such information.
She said the mission of the show would be to transform how international travellers think about Pakistan and create a positive and long-lasting change to the local tourism industry.
“It is high time we establish Pakistan as a destination for travellers looking to experience the perfect combination of nature and culture in a single setting,” said Ms Beck.
“The big question that nobody is asking is how we can develop the local tourism industry in responsible and environment friendly ways?”
She said in attracting more attention to Pakistan as a tourism hub, the travel show would work with local organisations to expand the current tourism infrastructure and ensure responsible growth.
“In addition to promoting tourism in Pakistan at the international level, this programme will showcase the creativity and media innovation coming out of the country’s young generation. At the heart of the undertaking will be collaboration with local talent and foreign influencers,” she added.
Ms Beck attracted criticism from local authorities while trying to promote Pakistan’s soft image through her strong social media outreach on Independence Day.
She recorded a PIA “Kiki Challenge” video that was featured across all the major media outlets. But the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sensed some corruption case in the matter and took notice of the video.
Ms Beck at the press conference said she did not receive any written notice from NAB.
“I know about the notice as much as you all know about it,” she said, adding she was blogging about Karachi when she was contacted by the PIA marketing team to work on this unusual idea.
“It was a training plane parked in a covered training area and the challenge was done with all formal permission,” she added. “I received overwhelming positive response from every section of society.”
She said she was overwhelmed by the love and encouragement in Pakistan.
“I came here with a totally different perception. The perception about Pakistan on foreign media is totally opposite of what the reality is,” she added.
The Senate Standing Committee on Aviation recently also discussed the Polish tourist’s video.
Members, including Senator Sherry Rehman, criticised the objections over the matter and wondered what was wrong in the video.
“We should not make it an issue. There was nothing wrong in it and we should not criticise everything. Even she (tourist) does not need to apologise for promoting Pakistan,” said Ms Rehman.
After graduating from the University of Oxford, Ms Beck spent five years developing Culture Trip, a London-based travel media start-up that has five million social media fans and over one billion video views.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Friday nominated Sardar Usman Buzdar as his party's candidate for Punjab chief minister.
Khan, who is set to become the prime minister on Saturday, made the announcement himself in a video message.
"I have nominated Sardar Usman as Punjab chief minister," the PM-elect said. "And I want to tell you the reason for doing so.
"He belongs to an area of Punjab that is the most backward. People there have no water or electricity or hospital.
"The special thing about Sardar Usman is that he is well acquainted with how people live in those areas and secondly, he is aware of how the poor lead their lives.
"When he will assume the office of the chief minister he will know the nature of the plight that faces the under privileged people of Pakistan.
"He is the only MPA to not have electricity at his home. I am confident that he will work brilliantly to bring to fruition our vision, which aims at uplifting the lower sections of society and the backward areas of Pakistan."
Senior party leader Jehangir Tarin congratulated Buzdar, and added: "Usman hails from the poorest part of the Taunsa Sharif — an area that has lagged far behind even other areas of South Punjab. IA! his appointment will help bring South Punjab out of its miseries."
Buzdar, who hails from Taunsa Sharif, had triumphed in the 2018 general elections from PP-286 (Dera Ghazi Khan-II) by securing 26,897 votes.
The first-time MPA was a tehsil nazim of a mountainous tribal area of Dera Ghazi Khan during former president Pervez Musharraf's era.
He is the son of the Buzdar tribe chief, Fateh Muhammed Khan Buzdar, who himself was an MPA in 1985, 2002, and 2008.
Buzdar, who is now in pole position to become Punjab CM, was a member of the PML-Q from 2002 to 2011. Later, he left the party to join the PML-N.
In 2013, he ran for provincial assembly seat on a PML-N ticket but was defeated by a PPPP contestant.
Before the 2018 general elections, Buzdar joined the Janoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz, which then merged with the PTI, thus making him a member of Khan's party.
Buzdar has a bachelor's degree in law and master's degree in political science.
Former Indian cricket star Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday arrived in Pakistan to a warm welcome to attend the oath-taking ceremony of prime minister-elect Imran Khan, who had brought the 92' World Cup home.
TV footage showed the cricketer turned politician walking over to the Lahore side of the Wagah border.
Talking to reporters soon after his arrival in Pakistan, Sidhu said he had come to the country as a goodwill messenger and "with a message of love" to become a part of Khan's happiness.
He said he was saddened today by the demise of former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who he recalled had started the friendship bus service between the two countries.
Answering a question, he said he had brought a Kashmiri shawl as a gift for Khan. He also entertained reporters with a few couplets conveying a message of peace and love between the two neighbours.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Khan has invited several Indian and Pakistani cricket stars of his time to the oath-taking ceremony scheduled for tomorrow at the President House. President Mamnoon Hussain will administer the oath.
According to PTI Senator Faisal Javed, besides Sidhu, India’s former cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev had been invited.
Khan has also remembered his colleagues and invited Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Moin Khan and Aaqib Javed who had played the 1992 Cup final at Melbourne, Australia.
After having secured a simple majority in the July 25 general elections, the PTI is in a comfortable position to form its government at the Centre with its allies.
The armed forces will only support the electoral process and have "no direct role in conduct of elections," Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a press conference on Tuesday in which he also invited people to come out and vote for "whatever leader, and whatever party they like".
Terming the third democratic transfer of power in Pakistan a continuity of the democratic process, the director general (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the armed forces will only support the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in its duties according to the code of conduct provided by the commission itself.
He pointedly recalled that this was not the first time that the forces were being deployed for election duty.
He said that in 1997, 192,000 troops had been delegated on duty to oversee 25,000 polling stations for what he termed a "full deployment". Then, in 2002, the army deployed less than 35,000 troops for 64,470 polling stations "because the ECP only tasked the Army with overall security". Likewise, in 2008, 39,000 troops were deployed even though the number of polling stations was much higher (64,100) because the troops were, again, only in charge of overall security.
He added that the 2013 elections had been difficult security-wise because of the ongoing war against militancy. Many politicians had received death threats and an Awami National Party (ANP) leader had even been killed. To counter the prevailing insecurity, 75,000 troops had been deployed for 70,185 polling stations, Gen Ghafoor recalled.
He said that in the 2018 elections, 105.95 million eligible voters will be able to exercise their right to vote at 85,307 polling stations, hosted inside 48,500 buildings as more than one station may exist in the same building. A total of 371,388 security forces officials will be deployed for election duty.
"Considering the situation on our borders, the civil armed forces and retired personnel are also being commissioned for the purpose," he said, adding that the total deployment includes 134,894 reservists (who have retired from forces within the past five years) and around 4,000 personnel each from Pakistan Air Force and Navy.
Gen Ghafoor explained that this time around, the ECP has entrusted the Army with six tasks:
Maintenance of overall security in the country.
Provision of security to printing presses.
Transportation of the material before election day.
Transportation of material from RO office to polling stations as well as security of polling staff on polling day.
Deployment on polling day inside and outside polling stations.
Securely transporting election material and polling staff back to Election Commission offices.
He clarified that the army will not take over any printing material during the entire process and that the ECP will have its officers present at all times, who the soldiers will only provide security to.
"The counting of ballots is the ECP's job," he added.
He said that on polling day, troops will be stationed both inside and outside the polling stations. Two security officials will be present inside and two outside 20,831 'sensitive' polling stations, he said, while deployment will be lower at non-sensitive polling stations.
The DG ISPR said that the army has, with the ECP, set up an Army Election Support Centre which will ensure coordination with the commission.
The troops, he said, will ensure that only polling staff, polling agents, voters and other authorised people can enter the stations.
"We have to help the ECP in a non-political, non-partisan manner," Gen Ghafoor said.
He said no unauthorised person would be allowed at the printing presses until the printing of election material is completed by July 21. He also said that the troops would accompany ECP officials during the transportation process only to protect material from falling into the hands of any unauthorised person. He added that the ECP will have complete support of the armed forces, and that military helicopters and airplanes may also be used for transportation if the need arises.
"If you see any irregularity on election day, please make a note and bring it to our notice," he said. "Report it to the ECP and report to us. Please leave the soldiers deployed to election duty alone. They are there to do a job and have been briefed accordingly."
"Go out and vote for whatever party and whatever leader you want to vote for," he continued. "Let's try to ensure that if the election turnout has been 40pc in the past, it is much higher this time around."
Responding to some tough questions on electoral engineering and the alleged role of the so-called establishment in subverting the democratic order, Gen Ghafoor noted that there had been no election in the country's history when political parties did not allege that some form of rigging had taken place.
"How is it possible to tell 106m people who to vote for?" he asked. "How is it possible that we secretly tell [around] 350,000 troops that 'you should do this'?"
In response to questions about people switching loyalties, he recalled that candidates switch parties before every election and that "there is nothing new about this".
He also disassociated the army from any role in the allotment of the 'Jeep' symbol to certain independent candidates, saying that it was the ECP which allots symbols to candidates.
"The jeep you are trying to paint as ours is not even our jeep," he remarked wryly, an apparent reference to the difference in the model of jeeps commissioned for army use and the one as it shows on the symbol.
He also said that a PML-N candidate from Multan — who had accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of pressuring him into switching parties but then backtracked saying it had, in fact, been the Agriculture department — has been investigated by the Agriculture Department for around two years for alleged misdoings during a past tenure there.
To another question, Gen Ghafoor also assured that the army was monitoring cyber threats, especially those coming from other countries.