Meeting of the National Security Committee held on 14th May 2018

Prime Minister Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the 22nd meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) held at Prime Minister’s House today. The meeting was attended by the Minister for Defence & Foreign Affairs, Khurram Dastgir Khan, Mr. Miftah Ismail, Minister for Finance, Revenue & Economic Affairs, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Director General ISI Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, National Security Adviser Lt Gen (R) Nasser Khan Janjua and senior civil and military officials.

The meeting reviewed the recent statement in the context of Mumbai attacks, as it appeared in the Daily Dawn of 12th May 2018, and unanimously termed this statement as incorrect and misleading. The participants observed that it was very unfortunate that the opinion arising out of either misconceptions or grievances was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities. The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions.

The meeting recalled that it was not Pakistan, but India that has delayed the finalisation of the case. Besides many other refusals during the investigation, the denial of access to the principal accused, Ajmal Qasab, and his extraordinarily hurried execution became the core impediment in the finalisation of the trial. At the same time Pakistan continues to wait for cooperation from India on the infamous Kulbhushan Jadhav and Samjhota Express episodes.

The National Security Committee resolved that Pakistan shall continue to play its due role in fighting the war against terrorism at all fronts.

Ends.

4 people drown as footbridge collapses in Neelum Valley, 11 still missing: officials

Police on Sunday confirmed that four people have drowned following the collapse of a footbridge over an icy water channel in Neelum Valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) while at least 11 others are still missing.

The 11 missing tourists, mostly young students, were among those who were standing on the footbridge when it collapsed on Sunday.

“Though we are yet to confirm an exact figure, it is believed that between 20 to 25 persons were standing on the footbridge when it crumbled,” said Mirza Zahid Hussain, the superintendent of police in Neelum Valley.

“The violent current immediately swept away the victims; so far, four bodies have been recovered,” he added.

The SP said that the figures could vary as teams were collecting the details of all tourists that had entered or left the area from the relevant check posts.

An official at a control room in Muzaffarabad said the deceased had been identified as Shahzeb, Abdul Rehman, Adeem and Hammad, adding that it was yet to be confirmed which city they belonged to.

He said eight students — identified as Anam, Alina, Waleed, Sajid, Hamza, Rashid, Zubair (all residents of Faisalabad) and Iqra Mazhar (resident of Multan) — were rescued and had been admitted to the District Headquarters Hospital Athmuqam where their condition was said to be stable. Another three were discharged after treatment.

neelam bridge

The tragedy occurred when the tourists, many of whom were said to be the students from Lahore, Sahiwal, Faisalabad and Multan, were picnicking along the gushing Jagran Nullah near Kundal Shahi, a town located some 75 kilometres northeast of Muzaffarabad.

Neelum valley is one of the most attractive tourist locations in the AJK, which draws hundreds of thousands of tourists from across the country, particularly in the scorching summers.

The area is, however, prohibited to foreign tourists because of its proximity to the heavily militarised Line of Control, the de facto border that splits the disputed Himalayan region between the nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan.

Raja Mubasher Ejaz, a leader of the PPP, was among those who witnessed the footbridge’s collapse, apparently because of the load of people standing on it.

“The students were enjoying the view of the emerald green water and taking selfies when suddenly it collapsed, sweeping them away,” he told Dawn.

The Jagran Nullah merges into Neelum River some 4 kilometres ahead of the site of the incident.

Ejaz said four of the tourists who clung to the wooden bars of the collapsed bridge were immediately rescued by the locals at the site while the other four were recovered after a little while from a distance.

According to SP Hussain, there is a warning board along the wooden bridge about its maximum load capacity which the tourists ignored.

One of the survivors told reporters that while he and one of his friends struggled to get hold of some rock in the stream and eventually succeeded, others could not withstand the force of rapidly moving water and were flown away. He thanked the locals for rescuing them.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed grief on the loss of lives in the incident.

According to a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the COAS directed for all possible assistance to the civil administration for relief and rescue.

“Pakistan Army rescue and relief efforts [are] underway… [and] army troops along with doctors and paramedics have reached the incident site,” the statement said.

It said that two Pakistan Army helicopters had flown SSG special divers to the incident site for the search operation. The choppers airlifted four bodies and 11 injured from the valley to Muzaffarabad.

Meanwhile, a number of people on social media criticised the authorities over a lack of proper guidance to the tourists.

“The government has been squandering millions on unnecessary constructions but unfortunately, it cannot spare funds for projects, such as this bridge, involving safety and security of precious human lives,” wrote Faisal Jamil Kashmiri, a civil society activist, on his wall.

On July 7 last year, a tourist family from Rawalpindi was struck by a dreadful tragedy after three of its young members were swept away by the same violent stream, almost around the same spot.

SC temporarily bars PIA from placing image of Markhor on aircraft’s tail

The Supreme Court on Sunday temporarily barred the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from replacing the Pakistan flag on the tails of its airplanes with an image of the Markhor — the country’s national animal.

While hearing a suo motu case regarding the airline’s performance, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar ordered PIA to halt the revamping of its aircraft until a report on the matter is submitted in the court.

“We have found out that you are planning to replace our national flag [on the tails of PIA aircraft] with the picture of an animal,” the chief justice said to the managing director of PIA, who was present in the court.

“Which animal are you planning to place on the tails of the planes?” the CJP asked, and was told that a picture of a Markhor, PIA’s new mascot and Pakistan’s national animal, will be placed on the national flag-carrier’s tail.

The PIA MD was ordered by the chief justice to present a report regarding the award of contract for pasting stickers of the Markhor on the planes.

“Do you know the cost required for [placing the new mascot on the tail of] each plane?” Justice Nisar asked the MD, questioning if the national flag-carrier is so profitable that it can splash out funds on the stickers.

“Rs2.7 million are required to place the sticker on the tail of each plane,” the official replied.

Unconvinced, the CJP responded that the rebranding of each plane will actually cost Rs3.4m.

Jusitce Nisar also took the PIA MD to task about the delay in his flight from Karachi to Islamabad on Saturday.

“Do you know what time I reached Islamabad yesterday? Why was my flight two-and-a-half hours late?” the CJP asked. He was told that the flight was delayed due to a technical difficulty.

“I will also take a look at your performance,” the CJP warned the PIA MD.

‘Missing’ KU professor returns home safely

Prof Dr Riaz Ahmed, a political activist and head of the Applied Chemistry Department at Karachi University, who had gone missing on Friday, reached home safely on late Saturday night, an associate of Dr Ahmed confirmed to Dawn on Sunday.

Dr Ahmed had left the varsity on Friday evening but went missing at some point on his way home. The professor had made phone contact with another faculty member at around 9:45pm after which his phone was switched off.

Dr Jamil Hasan Kazmi, president of the Karachi University Teachers Society (Kuts), on Sunday said that the captors of Dr Ahmed dropped him near his home late last night.

According to Dr Jamil, he spoke to Dr Ahmed after his return. The KU professor told him that he was not harmed while in captivity, neither was he questioned by his captors. “Dr Ahmed said he knew nothing about the motives of his captors,” he said.

Following reports of Dr Ahmed going missing, activists associated with the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) had connected the incident to an alleged crackdown on sympathisers ahead of its rally scheduled for Sunday [today]. They had demanded the release of Dr Ahmed and several others allegedly detained as part of the same crackdown. Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir had also said that Hashim Khan, who played an instrumental role in highlighting Naqeebullah Mehsud’s extrajudicial killing, was picked up for supporting PTM.

Past arrest

Dr Ahmed was arrested last year by the Sindh Rangers on charges of possessing a pistol, which he maintains were false and fabricated.

He was picked up minutes before he was to hold a press conference at the Karachi Press Club to demand proper treatment for the late Dr Hassan Zafar Arif, a professor and leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London, who had been in police custody at that time.

Ahmed was released on bail days later.

The associate professor was also the core organiser of a seminar on Balochistan’s missing persons held at KU in 2015 after a similar session was cancelled by the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Imran Khan is not the judiciary’s ‘ladla’, says CJP during Bani Gala case hearing

The Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) — and not the Supreme Court of Pakistan — had decided to regularise the illegal constructions in Bani Gala area to facilitate “not only Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan but one million residents” of the area.

This information was shared by the CADD State Minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry before the apex court on Sunday.

The minister, on Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s direction, repeated his statement in court, following which the top judge said: “Imran Khan is not our ladla (blue-eyed boy). The statements issued in this regard are incorrect. Let’s call [Minister of State for Information] Marriyum Aurangzeb and show her the CADD minister’s statement.”

Following last year’s Panamagate verdict — in which PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif was disqualified as the prime minister — the party leadership, including Nawaz himself and his daughter Maryam, stepped up its criticism of the judiciary and often dubbed Imran Khan as the “ladla — the favourite, the blue-eyed boy, of the kingmakers”.

Justice Nisar, heading a three-member bench, was hearing a suo motu case based on a letter by Imran Khan. The PTI chief had invited the court’s attention towards the large scale encroachment on the botanical garden, uncheck and unplanned construction in Bani Gala, massive denuding due to large scale tree felling and pollution of the Rawal Lake due to sewage.

“The government is supposed to take action on such matters [Bani Gala constructions]. What can we do when the government does not take action?” the chief justice asked.

Earlier during the hearing, the chief justice had asked the minister why he was giving the impression that the court had provided a concession to Imran Khan. He told the minister to explain the issue or the court would have to take action against him.

“Why was Marriyum Aurangzeb issuing statements about the court providing concession to Imran Khan? Why do you want to defame the courts?” he asked.

At one point, the minister said that Imran Khan had submitted forged documents to the court. “What action did you take if the documents submitted were found forged,” the top judge asked the minister. To this, the state minister responded that the division did not take any action because the matter was sub judice.

“The court had not refrained you from taking action. You are free to proceed with legal action if you intend to do so,” the chief justice said.

Read: Bani Gala: Built on illegalities

The summary to regularise the illegal constructions at Bani Gala have been sent to the federal cabinet, the minister said.

The chief justice ordered to refer the issue of constructions around Korang Nullah to the federal ombudsman. He asked all affectees to submit their applications before the ombudsman within two days.

The hearing of the case was adjourned for two weeks.

Islamabad police only ‘stopped’ journalists’ press freedom rally, officials tell sessions judge

Islamabad police on Saturday told a sessions court judge that its officials had merely “stopped” a group of journalists from marching towards the Red Zone on World Press Freedom Day rather than manhandled them, as alleged earlier.

On World Press Freedom Day, observed on May 3, a group of journalists had marched towards Islamabad’s D-Chowk to protest restrictions placed on the media.

They were, however, stopped and allegedly manhandled by police posted in the area. After reports of the incident began circulating, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had taken suo motu notice of the case and ordered sessions judge Justice Sohail Nasir to investigate the allegations made by the journalists.

Justice Nasir visited China Chowk, the scene of the incident, today and interrogated Station House Officer (SHO) Khalid Awan and Superintendent of Police (SP) Amir Niazi.

When asked if the policemen present on the site that day had been in contact with their seniors, the SHO responded in the affirmative, saying that “the high command had ordered that nobody be allowed to go [towards the Red Zone] since Section 144 had been imposed”.

He added that the rally was allowed to move forward after the deputy commissioner (DC) issued permission.

The sessions judge inquired what the journalists who attended the rally had carried with them. SHO Awan said that the demonstrators had been holding placards with slogans concerning press freedoms.

The judge then asked the journalists if they had asked the Islamabad DC for permission. He was told by one of the reporters, who had attended the demonstration, that the DC had called him after being messaged through WhatsApp.

The reporter further alleged that the rally was “intercepted” by SP Niazi. He claimed that the police suspected them of trying to cause a disturbance, when they had only meant to raise the problems being faced by the journalists’ community in Pakistan.

The SP, who was present at China Chowk, told the sessions judge that the journalists were unable to produce written permission for the rally when asked.

He added that the officials had asked SSP Najeebur Rehman for directions and were told to contact the capital city administration.

Police and journalists submitted evidence, including video footage and wireless logbooks, to the court. Justice Nasir will resume his inquiry on May 14.

An earlier report prepared by Islamabad police had held the capital administration responsible for the manhandling of journalists.

The report said, “no senior representative of the ICT [Islamabad Capital Territory] administration arrived to negotiate with the agitating journalists”.

The report had recalled that around 35 media persons led by a DawnNews TV reporter had gathered outside the press club and announced their march towards Parliament House in the Red Zone.

Later, about 50 journalists tried to remove barbed wires and barriers “in order to enter the Red Zone forcibly”. SP Niazi along with a police contingent reached there and tried to stop them.

Later, the rally crossed Express Chowk and staged a sit-in there. The protesters also tried to manhandle police officials, the report had alleged.

An hour later, the deputy commissioner had reached the spot and allowed the journalists to proceed towards Parliament House.

SC summons PM Abbasi in pilots’ fake degrees case

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday, while hearing a case pertaining to fake degrees of pilots, summoned heads of all Pakistani airlines as well Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to appear in the next hearing.

“Isn’t it a matter of clash of interests?” asked the chief justice when told that the prime minister is also the head of Airblue. “Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will have to appear in the capacity of a chief executive officer and not a premier.”

The chief justice, who was heading a three-member bench, said that he was issuing notices to heads of all Pakistani airlines as the matter has been pending for the last four months and reports in this regard have not been submitted as yet. He directed the heads of Pakistan International Airlines, Airblue Limited, Serene Air and Shaheen Air International to appear before the bench.

During the hearing, Civil Aviation Authority Director Nasir Ali Shah told the court that the authority has received the reports on pilots’ degrees from Shaheen International Airline and Serene Air today in Karachi, while the report of Airblue was received on Wednesday.

Talking about PIA, Ali Shah said that degrees of 1,972 people were verified while 24 pilots were found to be holding fake degrees.

The chief executive officers of the airlines were directed to appear in person at the SC Karachi registry on Saturday.

Lawyers possessing fake degrees

Later during the hearing, the chief justice took a suo motu notice of lawyers holding fake degrees and sought a report on the issue form all bar councils within a month.

The apex court also issued a notice to the Higher Education Commission, directing the officials to cooperate with bar councils on the issue of degrees verification.

The chief justice remarked that there were some lawyers who were practicing law without degrees while others were appearing in the court without licences.

Junoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz lawmakers join PTI

The estranged PML-N lawmakers who had formed the Junoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM) a month ago officially merged into the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday and will now contest the 2018 general elections under the PTI banner.

The two parties had reached an agreement a day earlier and made their merger official at a press conference in Islamabad today.

JPSM president Khusro Bakhtiar said that the merger was made possible after the PTI included the formation of a new province in south Punjab to their election manifesto. Under the deal, the PTI is to set in motion the procedures to create a new province in south Punjab within 100 days if it forms the next government.

“We had presented our case in front of Pakistan just a month ago,” said Bakhtiar. “In just this one month, the party that will be the creator of a new Pakistan, has not only added our demand for a separate province in south Punjab to its manifesto but also promised the same — not to us but to the people of Pakistan.”

Bakhtiar again highlighted the importance for a separate province, saying that doing so is imperative for “Pakistan’s internal cohesion” and that it would help the country emerge as a powerful nation.

In a reference to the PML-N, he said that the party that has been ruling Punjab for the last 30-35 years kept south Punjab with itself not for the sake of federation but just to keep on ruling.

“It’s the decision of the people of southern Punjab that they don’t want to live this life of subjugation,” he added.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan, after welcoming Bakhtiar and the rest of the JPSM leaders into his party, explained that agreeing to the formation of a new province “is not a political decision but [his] conviction”.

“Others before me may have made the same promise but I strongly believe that a federation gets stronger only when the federating units are happy to be a part of the nation,” he said. “I believe that administering big units is very difficult.”

“Lahore is my city; I should be happy that 53 or 55 per cent of Punjab’s budget is being spent there but as a Pakistani I can tell you that this is damaging Pakistan,” Khan said before adding that the practice promotes inferiority complex.

The PTI chief said that if his party comes into power he would expedite both the south Punjab province as well as Fata’s merger into the KP.

“We commit that, even though it won’t be easy, this will be our cause and we will expedite this — not just this but Fata’s merger into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa too,” he said.

When asked why does he want to split Punjab into two but merge Fata into the KP, Khan said: “Fata’s issue is that its system has been demolished due to the war on terrorism. They neither have an old system nor a new one. The people there never wanted to join KP but they’ve sort of become orphans now so a merger with the KP is their demand now.”

suba maaz

We disclosed Seven Boxes of PTI Corruption. Asif Luqman Qazi

We disclosed seven mega cases of misappropriation earlier, which showcase CM Pervaiz Khattak’s corruption and incompetence. Today, we are opening the first box of corruption that is BRT Peshawar. Several stories of corruption and incompetence have emerged out of this box, BRT. We will open the rest of the six boxes to expose the financial misappropriations committed by CM Pervaiz Khattak, so that those involved in loot and plunder can be taken to their ultimate reasonable end.

BRT Peshawar has turned into a project of ruin for the people of the province due to political adventurism and self‐centered policies of Pervaiz Khattak. A 40 billion rupee financial burden has been offloaded on the backs of poor masses of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to project a false image of CM’s grandeur and benevolence. A project estimated at 49 billion by provincial government has now inflated to 70 billion rupees in cost. It should be noted here that this is the same project which PTI Vice-Chair and Member of Parliament Asad Umar claimed they would complete in 9 billion. Similar projects of Punjab government in Lahore and Rawalpindi were mockingly termed “Jangla Bus” by PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

People of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa can rightfully ask about the compulsion to start this project if it was a jungla bus, that too with no more than 6 months remaining for the term of the Khyber Pukhtunkha government to end. If Asad Umar could complete it in 9 billion, why did the CM plan to spend 40 billion more in initial estimate? Why are the people of KP burdened with 70 billion in loan, which is the biggest amount in loans taken by any KP government? It should be noted here that Lahore and Rawalpindi Metro Bus projects were built by the government of Punjab out of their own resources without taking loans. The miserable planning, that did not even include a field survey, will also cost the exchequer 7 billion rupees in deficit every year, that will deprive more important and essential projects in health and education. CM Pervaiz Khattak is a contractor himself and he knows the impact of a deficient design in such a project.

33 amendments have been made to the initial design providing opportunities for the contractors to mint more money out of this project according to their whims and desires, at the expense of burdening the poor masses. CM himself has stated that nowhere in the world has such a project ever been completed in 8 months. According to experts, approximate appropriate time for completion of such a project is 3 years and even with full swing civil works the project cannot be completed before March 2019. A question arises, what made CM KP think that they will miraculously complete this project in 8 months, if it has not been done anywhere else in the world. Civil officers in the project’s administration have been apprising CM Khattak about the realistic riming for completion of this project but CM kept on giving unreasonable deadlines which were practically impossible to meet. In the end these officers were made scapegoats and insulted. That compelled them to resign from their positions, which is yet another setback for the project. Minutes of BOD meetings will testify for these facts.

Officers of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa’s transit company, TransPeshawar, were forced to neglect rules and regulation in order to comply with CM’s unreasonable deadlines. A public project worth 70 billion is devastated due to Chief Minister’s ill-conceived ambition and urge to take credit. Using development projects for political adventurism is a crime against the nation itself. CM’s political expediency has turned Peshawar into a mega crater and citizens are facing severe hardships. CM Khattak has a vast experience in using public money for political promotion. He has been using development funds of the province to oblige his cronies and generously awarding public jobs to his political supporters.

Details will be disclosed to the public in due course of time. The company awarded with the construction of the BRT Peshawar project was already notorious for mishandling the Orange Line Train project in Lahore. Selection of such a blacklisted company and pressurizing it to complete in haste speaks volumes about the real intention of Pervaiz Khattak. We believe that the way BRT Peshawar is initiated, and the way its execution is mishandled is a cruel joke with the residents of Peshawar and a lethal blow to the crumbling economy of this impoverished province. This province has already suffered a lot due to terrorism and any kind of political interference in development projects will be devastating.

We Appeal to the Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan to take notice of acts of financial terrorism which have caused more damage to the people of this province than real acts of terror. People of Pakistan appreciate the way Chief Justice has lead the crackdown on acts of corruption by federal government and the former Prime Minister. We are hopeful that the Chief Justice will similarly take action against large scale corruption done at the behest of CM KP. We demand that suo-moto action be taken against malpractices of Pervaiz Khattak and NAB be ordered to initiate an inquiry against him. We also demand that Supreme Court should summon the BRT officers who have been illegally removed from their posts and give them an opportunity to present their case. On our part, we will continue to expose the corrupt practices of rulers, whether in federal or provincial governments.

Ahsan Iqbal shifted to ICU in stable condition after two surgeries: doctor

After surviving an assassination attempt on Sunday evening, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal underwent two consecutive surgeries and has now been shifted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Services Hospital in Lahore.

Medical Superintendent of the Services Hospital, Dr Ameer, said Iqbal was in a stable condition and the minister will be kept under observation for 24 hours.

Iqbal will be kept under treatment at the hospital till his recovery, the doctor added.

According to the medical superintendent, doctors had decided not to remove the bullet from Iqbal’s body as the procedure could create some complications. The bullet had fractured an elbow joint of the minister before landing into his abdomen, the doctor said.

On Sunday, the interior minister narrowly escaped an assassination attempt during a corner meeting in his constituency in Narowal. A suspect had fired at the minister from a distance of some 15 yards. He was rushed to the District Headquarters Hos­pital, Narowal for first aid and then airlifted to the Services Hospital, Lahore, to undergo surgery.

Police arrest suspect

ahsan iqbal

The people standing around the assailant overpowered him before he could fire a second shot at his target. The policemen then arrested the suspect, seized the weapon and shifted him to a police station.

District Police Officer (DPO) Imran Kishwar told reporters that the suspect — Abid Husain, a resident of nearby Verum village — had managed to slip into the corner meeting. He apparently carried a 30-bore weapon, which he pulled out and fired at the minister.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) retired Capt Arif Nawaz told Dawn that the 22-year-old suspect who was arrested from the spot in Kanjroor town of Shakargarh tehsil, had confessed to opening fire on the minister due to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat issue.

TLYRA condemns attack

The Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah issued a statement condemning the attack on the minister. TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Pir Afzal Qadri, in a joint statement, demanded of the government to conduct a judicial inquiry of the attack.

The attack on the minister just months ahead of the 2018 general elections needs to be probed, they said, adding that the TLYRA is a peaceful religio-political party that believes in change through political struggle and polls.