Pakistan Citizen’s Portal app clinches 2nd spot at World Government Summit

   13 February 2019

The Pakistan Citizens’ Portal app, which was launched in October last year by Prime Minister Imran Khan, was declared the second best government mobile application in the world at the World Government Summit, the premier announced in a tweet on Wednesday.

About 4,646 mobile applications of different categories were submitted by 87 countries in the competition held in Dubai at the WGS earlier this week. Indonesia came out on top while the United States stood at the third spot.

The citizen’s portal app was developed by a team in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa “free of cost” in a “record time of 45 days”, the prime minister said.

“This is the first time any government-owned mobile application [has] reached this level in Pakistan.”

So far, around 250,000 out of 420,000 complaints that were registered through the app have been resolved with 55 per cent ‘satisfactory’ feedback from the public, according to statistics posted by Prime Minister Khan.

The application has a 4.5 rating on Google Play and a 3.5 rating on Apple Store.

The World Government Summit is a non-profit organisation, that holds an annual event in Dubai. According to its website, the World Government Summit is a “global platform dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide”. The organisation aims to “set the agenda for the next generation of governments” to tackle both global and local challenges with the help of technological innovations.

The event held by the World Government Summit serves as “knowledge exchange platform” by bringing together governments and private entrepreneurs. Leaders, entrepreneurs and experts from over 150 countries are invited every year.

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Govt to launch crackdown against ‘extremist narratives’ on social media, says minister

   13 February 2019

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday announced that the government is gearing up to launch a crackdown against extremist narratives on social media in the next few weeks.

Chaudhry, who was addressing an event in Islamabad, said: “We have created a mechanism through which we will control hate speech on social media as well. A working group of our agencies, including the FIA, sat [to discuss this].

“Our problem is that the digital media is taking over formal media so it is important for us to regulate this. We are bringing a new authority called the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority which will serve as a one-window operation for digital, print and electronic media.

“The informal media is a greater problem than formal media as the former is soon set to take over the latter so the need was to build a capacity through which we can monitor social media, trace fake accounts and those who break the law could be prosecuted.

“This week we have made some important arrests on the basis that they used social media to issue fatwas and advance their extremist narratives and threats. In the next few weeks we will launch a strict crackdown.

Chaudhry made it clear that the state will not allow extremists to dictate their narrative by use of force.

“The state wants a dialogue but that cannot happen if other does not let you do that,” he said. “If you are told that ‘my opinion is final and if you disagree I will shoot you or you should be hanged for saying this’ then you are using the state’s powers. Only the state has the power to use force or violence. Any individual cannot be allowed to the same.

“There is also a need for an international debate and it is taking place too. We’re very glad that his Royal Highness is coming to Pakistan and the Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 actually also provides a massive opportunity against extremism.

“We want to build a national and international narrative against extremism and we believe in making the laws reign supreme in Pakistan.”

Earlier in his speech, the information minister told his audience how Pakistan has managed to rid itself from “an irregular conflict” which he said was more complicated than “regular conflicts” where at least the enemy’s identity is clear.

“Our problem was that we got stuck in an irregular conflict in Afghanistan. Regular conflicts united nations as it happened in 1965 when the entire country knew that the battle was against India. But in irregular conflicts you do not know the enemy and that creates doubts in minds.

“It was due to our resilience that we have almost managed to escape this irregular conflict. Any other society may have gotten shattered in similar circumstances; we have seen that happen in the Middle East.

“We have been wounded, we have sacrificed 70,000 lives, blood was shed everywhere but we are not out of it. The next phase now is to consolidate on this and not allow people to exhibit hatred because the first stage of [this process] is extremism and the next is terrorism. The seed of terrorism is sowed through extremism.”

“Dialogue is a basic principle of a society and if that goes missing then there will be bloodshed. Our extremist part of the society says that ‘we won’t allow dialogue and whosoever disagrees from my opinion, we will issue fatwas against them.'”

“This is where the state comes into play. People have complete right to stick to their opinions and express themselves. However, people do not have the right to curb others’ freedom. The extent of my freedom ends where others’ begin. This principle of the freedom of expression is the genesis of Article 19.”

“Some [also] think that their freedom of expression is limitless. No sir, there is no liberty in the world that is without an extent. So you cannot infringe my freedom for the sake of your freedom. We have laws for this but they could not be enforced earlier due to political issues but now that we have made it out of the irregular conflict, it’s the state’s responsibility to address this and not allow hate speech.”

Chaudhry also thanked the “formal media” for helping the government curb hate speech before stressing the need to extend the crackdown on social and digital media.

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Investigators be trained in judicial academies: CJ

   12 February 2019

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, who also heads the Law and Justice Com­mission of Pakistan, (LJCP), on Monday observed that training of investigation officers and prosecutors should be carried out in the judicial academies across the country to improve their professional standards.

Chairing a meeting of the commission, he pointed out grey areas in investigations and emphasised that investigating agencies needed to chalk out such mechanisms where not only the culprits of the offence were identified but were also convicted under the relevant provisions of the law.

“The system needs to provide the truthful evidence and the apprehension of false evidence be totally eliminated,” the top judge said.

The committee in its last meeting held on Jan 7, had decided that the police reforms may be prioritised for implementation, and in this context, the complaint redressal mechanism and police investigation may be taken up firstly.

The main agenda of the meeting was to discuss the implementation of public complaints redressal mechanism, the measures to improve quality of investigation and criminal justice reforms.

The committee noted that the LJCP could engage with the federal and provincial judicial academies in arranging modules/courses for improvement of the professional standards of the investigation. The committee said that in its next meeting it would deliberate upon measures to improve the quality of investigation.

The meeting was attended by Punjab IGP Amjad Javed Saleemi, Khyber Pakhtun­khwa IGP Dr Naeem Khan, Sindh IGP Dr S.K. Imam, Balochistan IGP Mohsin A. Butt, Islamabad IGP Amir Zulifiqar Khan, AJK IGP, Salahau­ddin Khan, and Gilgit-Baltistan IGP Sanau­llah Abbasi as well as former IGPs Tariq Khosa, Shoukat Javed, Tariq Parvez,

Dr Shoaib Suddle, Syed Masud Shah, and Afzal Ali Shigri.

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Prosecute hateful fatwa givers under terror laws

   07 February 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday recommended that persons, issuing edict or fatwa, harming others, must be dealt with under the Anti-Terrorism Act and ruled that all intelligence agencies must not exceed their respective mandate.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mushir Alam disposed of a suo motu case of the 2017 Faizabad sit-in staged by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and issued a detailed judgment. Last year in November, the court had reserved its judgment.

The judgment authored by Justice Qazi Faiz Isa ruled that a person issuing an edict or fatwa, which harms others or puts others in harm’s way, must be criminally prosecuted under the Pakistan Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and/or the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. The verdict observed that the law applies equally to the government and state institutions.

“Protesters who obstruct people’s right to use roads and damage or destroy property must be proceeded against in accordance with the law and held accountable”, the verdict held. The court observed that subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law, citizens have the right to form and to be members of political parties.

“Every citizen and political parties have the right to assemble and protest provided such assembly and protest is peaceful and complies with the law imposing reasonable

restrictions in the interest of public order,” the verdict ruled, adding that the right to assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to hold and enjoy property.

The court noted that when the state failed to prosecute those at the highest echelons of government who were responsible for the murder and attempted murder of peaceful citizens on the streets of Karachi on 12th May, 2007, it set a bad precedent and encouraged others to resort to violence to achieve their agendas.

The verdict ruled that the Constitution earmarks the responsibilities of the Election Commission which it must fulfil, however, if a political party does not comply with the law governing political parties then the Election Commission must proceed against it in accordance with the law.

“The law is most certainly not cosmetic as contended on behalf of the Election Commission,” says the verdict and held that all political parties have to account for the sources of their funds in accordance with the law.

The verdict stressed that the state must always act impartially and fairly and held that the law is applicable to all, including those who are in government and institutions must act independently of those in government.

The verdict ruled that broadcasters who broadcast messages advocating or inciting the commission of an offence violate the Pemra Ordinance and the terms of their licences and must be proceeded against by Pemra in accordance with the law.

“Cable operators who stopped or interrupted the broadcast of licenced broadcasters must be proceeded against by Pemra in accordance with the Pemra Ordinance, and if this was done on the behest of others then Pemra should report those so directing the cable operators to the concerned authorities,” says the verdict. The verdict said Pemra has been failed to protect the rights of its licence holders.

The verdict further held that those spreading messages through electronic means which advocate or incite the commission of an offence are liable to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

The court ruled that all intelligence agencies (including ISI, IB and MI) and the ISPR must not exceed their respective mandates. “They cannot curtail the freedom of speech and expression and do not have the authority to interfere with broadcasts and publications, in the management of broadcasters/publishers and in the distribution of newspapers,” says the verdict.

The court ruled that intelligence agencies should monitor activities of all those who threaten the territorial integrity of the country and all those who undermine the security of the people and the state by resorting to or inciting violence. The verdict said the role of agencies in foreign countries is clear.

“To best ensure transparency and the rule of law, it would be appropriate to enact laws which clearly stipulate the respective mandates of the intelligence agencies,” the verdict ruled.

The verdict held that the Constitution emphatically prohibits members of the armed forces from engaging in any kind of political activity, which includes supporting a political party, faction or individual. The court directed the Government of Pakistan through the Ministry of Defence and the respective chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force to initiate action against the personnel under their command who are found to have violated their oath.

The court said that in the context of terrorism, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 does envisage a role for intelligence agencies, armed forces and civil armed forces. Similarly, police and other law enforcement agencies were directed to develop standard plans and procedure with regard to how best to handle rallies, protests and dharnas, and ensure that such procedures are flexible enough to attend to different situations.

The verdict clarified that though the making of such plans/procedures is not within the jurisdiction of the apex court, however, the court expects that in the maintenance of law and order every effort will be taken to avoid causing injury and loss of life.

The court also directed the federal and provincial governments to monitor those advocating hate, extremism and terrorism and prosecute the perpetrators in accordance with the law. It directed its office to send copies of this judgment for information and compliance to the Government of Pakistan, through the cabinet secretary, secretary defence, secretary interior, secretary human rights, secretary religious affairs and interfaith harmony, secretary information, the chief secretaries of the provinces, the Election Commission of Pakistan, Pemra, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the chief commissioner of Islamabad.

Similarly, the court directed the secretary defence to forward the judgment to the heads of the armed forces, the DG ISI, DG ISPR and the head of the Military Intelligence. The secretary interior is directed to forward the judgment to the DG Intelligence Bureau, DG Federal Investigation Agency, IGs of Police of the provinces and the Islamabad Capital Territory. The secretary information is directed to forward the judgment to the directors of all press and information departments, who in turn are directed to forward it to all newspapers published in their territories. Pemra is directed to forward this judgment to all television channels and all its licenced broadcasters and operators.

Justice Qazi Faiz Isa concluded the judgment by quoting Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: “I consider it my duty to call upon the Muslims to temper their resentment with reason and to beware of the dangers which may well overwhelm their own state. Should they allow their feelings of the moment to gain mastery over their actions. It is of utmost importance that Pakistan should be kept free from disorder, because the outbreak of lawlessness… is bound to shake… its foundation and cause irreparable damage to its future. I pray to God that He who has bestowed on us this great boon of a sovereign state, may now give our people courage to… preserve intact the peace of Pakistan for the sake of Pakistan.

Read More

Judges review SC’s performance in full court meeting in Islamabad

   06 February 2019

A full court meeting under Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa’s stewardship was held at the Supreme Court in Islamabad on Wednesday to review the court’s performance in terms of dispensation of justice and disposal of cases.

The meeting’s attendees, in a joint declaration, noted that during 2018 the apex court received 6,407 petitions and decided 6,342 cases, whereas 40,535 cases are still pending.

The judges in attendance expressed their satisfaction over the institution’s performance, its disposal rate and discussed different strategies, ways and means to bring improvements in case management.

They underlined the need to categorise the cases in order to diminish the backlog of cases and to make efforts to improve the dispensation of justice.

The full court recommended that special benches should be constituted to deal with different categories of cases, adjournments should be discouraged, appeals should be fixed in chronological order and reviews must be fixed in the next week subject to the availability of judges.

The judges also agreed that video link connectivity between the Supreme Court and its branch registries should be created to facilitate lawyers in presenting their arguments.

At the onset of the meeting, the judges congratulated the chief justice for assuming the highest judicial office.

Justice Khosa, in reciprocation, thanked his fellow judges and appreciated their commitment for the dispensation of justice to the public.

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Govt to launch crackdown against ‘extremist narratives’ on social media, says minister

  16.1  13 February 2019

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday announced that the government is gearing up to launch a crackdown against extremist narratives on social media in the next few weeks.

Chaudhry, who was addressing an event in Islamabad, said: “We have created a mechanism through which we will control hate speech on social media as well. A working group of our agencies, including the FIA, sat [to discuss this].

“Our problem is that the digital media is taking over formal media so it is important for us to regulate this. We are bringing a new authority called the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority which will serve as a one-window operation for digital, print and electronic media.

“The informal media is a greater problem than formal media as the former is soon set to take over the latter so the need was to build a capacity through which we can monitor social media, trace fake accounts and those who break the law could be prosecuted.

“This week we have made some important arrests on the basis that they used social media to issue fatwas and advance their extremist narratives and threats. In the next few weeks we will launch a strict crackdown.

Chaudhry made it clear that the state will not allow extremists to dictate their narrative by use of force.

“The state wants a dialogue but that cannot happen if other does not let you do that,” he said. “If you are told that ‘my opinion is final and if you disagree I will shoot you or you should be hanged for saying this’ then you are using the state’s powers. Only the state has the power to use force or violence. Any individual cannot be allowed to the same.

“There is also a need for an international debate and it is taking place too. We’re very glad that his Royal Highness is coming to Pakistan and the Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 actually also provides a massive opportunity against extremism.

“We want to build a national and international narrative against extremism and we believe in making the laws reign supreme in Pakistan.”

Earlier in his speech, the information minister told his audience how Pakistan has managed to rid itself from “an irregular conflict” which he said was more complicated than “regular conflicts” where at least the enemy’s identity is clear.

“Our problem was that we got stuck in an irregular conflict in Afghanistan. Regular conflicts united nations as it happened in 1965 when the entire country knew that the battle was against India. But in irregular conflicts you do not know the enemy and that creates doubts in minds.

“It was due to our resilience that we have almost managed to escape this irregular conflict. Any other society may have gotten shattered in similar circumstances; we have seen that happen in the Middle East.

“We have been wounded, we have sacrificed 70,000 lives, blood was shed everywhere but we are not out of it. The next phase now is to consolidate on this and not allow people to exhibit hatred because the first stage of [this process] is extremism and the next is terrorism. The seed of terrorism is sowed through extremism.”

“Dialogue is a basic principle of a society and if that goes missing then there will be bloodshed. Our extremist part of the society says that ‘we won’t allow dialogue and whosoever disagrees from my opinion, we will issue fatwas against them.'”

“This is where the state comes into play. People have complete right to stick to their opinions and express themselves. However, people do not have the right to curb others’ freedom. The extent of my freedom ends where others’ begin. This principle of the freedom of expression is the genesis of Article 19.”

“Some [also] think that their freedom of expression is limitless. No sir, there is no liberty in the world that is without an extent. So you cannot infringe my freedom for the sake of your freedom. We have laws for this but they could not be enforced earlier due to political issues but now that we have made it out of the irregular conflict, it’s the state’s responsibility to address this and not allow hate speech.”

Chaudhry also thanked the “formal media” for helping the government curb hate speech before stressing the need to extend the crackdown on social and digital media.

Read More

Investigators be trained in judicial academies: CJ

  16.1  12 February 2019

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, who also heads the Law and Justice Com­mission of Pakistan, (LJCP), on Monday observed that training of investigation officers and prosecutors should be carried out in the judicial academies across the country to improve their professional standards.

Chairing a meeting of the commission, he pointed out grey areas in investigations and emphasised that investigating agencies needed to chalk out such mechanisms where not only the culprits of the offence were identified but were also convicted under the relevant provisions of the law.

“The system needs to provide the truthful evidence and the apprehension of false evidence be totally eliminated,” the top judge said.

The committee in its last meeting held on Jan 7, had decided that the police reforms may be prioritised for implementation, and in this context, the complaint redressal mechanism and police investigation may be taken up firstly.

The main agenda of the meeting was to discuss the implementation of public complaints redressal mechanism, the measures to improve quality of investigation and criminal justice reforms.

The committee noted that the LJCP could engage with the federal and provincial judicial academies in arranging modules/courses for improvement of the professional standards of the investigation. The committee said that in its next meeting it would deliberate upon measures to improve the quality of investigation.

The meeting was attended by Punjab IGP Amjad Javed Saleemi, Khyber Pakhtun­khwa IGP Dr Naeem Khan, Sindh IGP Dr S.K. Imam, Balochistan IGP Mohsin A. Butt, Islamabad IGP Amir Zulifiqar Khan, AJK IGP, Salahau­ddin Khan, and Gilgit-Baltistan IGP Sanau­llah Abbasi as well as former IGPs Tariq Khosa, Shoukat Javed, Tariq Parvez,

Dr Shoaib Suddle, Syed Masud Shah, and Afzal Ali Shigri.

Read More

Prosecute hateful fatwa givers under terror laws

  16.1  07 February 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday recommended that persons, issuing edict or fatwa, harming others, must be dealt with under the Anti-Terrorism Act and ruled that all intelligence agencies must not exceed their respective mandate.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mushir Alam disposed of a suo motu case of the 2017 Faizabad sit-in staged by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and issued a detailed judgment. Last year in November, the court had reserved its judgment.

The judgment authored by Justice Qazi Faiz Isa ruled that a person issuing an edict or fatwa, which harms others or puts others in harm’s way, must be criminally prosecuted under the Pakistan Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and/or the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. The verdict observed that the law applies equally to the government and state institutions.

“Protesters who obstruct people’s right to use roads and damage or destroy property must be proceeded against in accordance with the law and held accountable”, the verdict held. The court observed that subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law, citizens have the right to form and to be members of political parties.

“Every citizen and political parties have the right to assemble and protest provided such assembly and protest is peaceful and complies with the law imposing reasonable

restrictions in the interest of public order,” the verdict ruled, adding that the right to assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to hold and enjoy property.

The court noted that when the state failed to prosecute those at the highest echelons of government who were responsible for the murder and attempted murder of peaceful citizens on the streets of Karachi on 12th May, 2007, it set a bad precedent and encouraged others to resort to violence to achieve their agendas.

The verdict ruled that the Constitution earmarks the responsibilities of the Election Commission which it must fulfil, however, if a political party does not comply with the law governing political parties then the Election Commission must proceed against it in accordance with the law.

“The law is most certainly not cosmetic as contended on behalf of the Election Commission,” says the verdict and held that all political parties have to account for the sources of their funds in accordance with the law.

The verdict stressed that the state must always act impartially and fairly and held that the law is applicable to all, including those who are in government and institutions must act independently of those in government.

The verdict ruled that broadcasters who broadcast messages advocating or inciting the commission of an offence violate the Pemra Ordinance and the terms of their licences and must be proceeded against by Pemra in accordance with the law.

“Cable operators who stopped or interrupted the broadcast of licenced broadcasters must be proceeded against by Pemra in accordance with the Pemra Ordinance, and if this was done on the behest of others then Pemra should report those so directing the cable operators to the concerned authorities,” says the verdict. The verdict said Pemra has been failed to protect the rights of its licence holders.

The verdict further held that those spreading messages through electronic means which advocate or incite the commission of an offence are liable to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

The court ruled that all intelligence agencies (including ISI, IB and MI) and the ISPR must not exceed their respective mandates. “They cannot curtail the freedom of speech and expression and do not have the authority to interfere with broadcasts and publications, in the management of broadcasters/publishers and in the distribution of newspapers,” says the verdict.

The court ruled that intelligence agencies should monitor activities of all those who threaten the territorial integrity of the country and all those who undermine the security of the people and the state by resorting to or inciting violence. The verdict said the role of agencies in foreign countries is clear.

“To best ensure transparency and the rule of law, it would be appropriate to enact laws which clearly stipulate the respective mandates of the intelligence agencies,” the verdict ruled.

The verdict held that the Constitution emphatically prohibits members of the armed forces from engaging in any kind of political activity, which includes supporting a political party, faction or individual. The court directed the Government of Pakistan through the Ministry of Defence and the respective chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force to initiate action against the personnel under their command who are found to have violated their oath.

The court said that in the context of terrorism, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 does envisage a role for intelligence agencies, armed forces and civil armed forces. Similarly, police and other law enforcement agencies were directed to develop standard plans and procedure with regard to how best to handle rallies, protests and dharnas, and ensure that such procedures are flexible enough to attend to different situations.

The verdict clarified that though the making of such plans/procedures is not within the jurisdiction of the apex court, however, the court expects that in the maintenance of law and order every effort will be taken to avoid causing injury and loss of life.

The court also directed the federal and provincial governments to monitor those advocating hate, extremism and terrorism and prosecute the perpetrators in accordance with the law. It directed its office to send copies of this judgment for information and compliance to the Government of Pakistan, through the cabinet secretary, secretary defence, secretary interior, secretary human rights, secretary religious affairs and interfaith harmony, secretary information, the chief secretaries of the provinces, the Election Commission of Pakistan, Pemra, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the chief commissioner of Islamabad.

Similarly, the court directed the secretary defence to forward the judgment to the heads of the armed forces, the DG ISI, DG ISPR and the head of the Military Intelligence. The secretary interior is directed to forward the judgment to the DG Intelligence Bureau, DG Federal Investigation Agency, IGs of Police of the provinces and the Islamabad Capital Territory. The secretary information is directed to forward the judgment to the directors of all press and information departments, who in turn are directed to forward it to all newspapers published in their territories. Pemra is directed to forward this judgment to all television channels and all its licenced broadcasters and operators.

Justice Qazi Faiz Isa concluded the judgment by quoting Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: “I consider it my duty to call upon the Muslims to temper their resentment with reason and to beware of the dangers which may well overwhelm their own state. Should they allow their feelings of the moment to gain mastery over their actions. It is of utmost importance that Pakistan should be kept free from disorder, because the outbreak of lawlessness… is bound to shake… its foundation and cause irreparable damage to its future. I pray to God that He who has bestowed on us this great boon of a sovereign state, may now give our people courage to… preserve intact the peace of Pakistan for the sake of Pakistan.

Read More

ToR for police reforms review body raise eyebrows

  16.1  02 February 2019

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf government has apparently shown distrust in reforms in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police as Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued new terms of references (ToR) for a high-profile committee notified to suggest amendments to the both KP Police Act 2017 and in Punjab police rules.

The PM has directed the committee to come up with fresh amendments to make, what a senior official believed, police force of the both provinces “a strong arm of the government rather than a public serving institution.”

A notification for the high-profile committee and the ToR has been issued by Mohammad Azam Khan, the secretary to the prime minister.

In recent times, Imran Khan has been referring to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Act 2017 as one of the major achievements of his party, saying the PTI has given the KP public a politically and operationally independent force.

An official, who is privy to the information, said that the ToR of the committee clearly indicated that the PM wanted amendments to KP act in order to keep the government’s influence on the police instead making it operationally independent.

He further said that as per the ToR of the committee, the powers vested with the KP police chief under the 2017 act might also be reviewed.

He said an exhausting exercise was done while introducing reforms in KP by reviewing the Police Act 1861, particularly to end home department’s influence in the police and making it operationally and politically independent force.

This achievement was declared as a major breakthrough in the history of the country and the then Inspector General of KP Police, Nasir Khan Durrani, had earned fame for the historic and landmark amendments, he said.

Acknowledging his services, PM Khan had also engaged him for similar nature reforms in Punjab police by appointing him head of the reforms commission constituted for the purpose last year.

However, the new ToR notified recently create a set of controversies as he also desires amendments to the KP ACT 2017, the official said.

He said the ToR for the committee notified by the PM Secretariat, surprisingly, excluded the words ‘operationally and politically independent police, replacing them with ‘police for the government’.

“Appropriate provisions for use of police by the government for the purpose of implementation of laws/policies and maintenance of law and order in the interest of good governance”, reads one of theToR issued by the PM Secretariat for the committee.

According to the notification, the PM has appointed Interior secretary retired Maj Azam Suleman as chairman of the seven-member committee.

Its members are chief secretary of Punjab Yousuf Naseem Khokhar, IGPs of Punjab and KP Amjad Javed Saleemi and Salahuddin Khan Mehsud, the director general of national police bureau, the law secretary of Punjab and the home secretary of KP.

The official said the appointment of Azam Suleman as chairman of the committee further raised a question as he was the Punjab home secretary when the Model Town incident occurred.

The Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) had challenged his posting as interior secretary claiming that he had attended a crucial meeting held on June 16, 2014, a day ahead of the tragedy.

“The committee is hereby constituted to look at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Act with a view to have it replicated in Punjab subject to necessary improvements and amendments”, reads the notification.

The PM further directed the committee to consider the newly-recommended amendments to the existing laws of the KP.

“The Prime Minister has further been pleased to desire that amendments/improvements arrived at after above exercise may also be considered for incorporation in the existing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Act 2017,” further reads the notification.

The TORs also included the internal accountability mechanism and external accountability and oversight.

The official said that the PM also directed the committee to come up with amendments for appropriate checks and balances to safeguard against internal maladministration and police highhandedness, probably in the wake of the Sahiwal operation carried out by the CTD.

“The committee shall submit its recommendations to the Prime Minister within one month of its constitution”, reads the notification.

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Leaked Safe City images spark concern among citizens

  16.1  27 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: Leaked images captured by Safe City cameras have sparked concerns among citizens about the intrusiveness of the programme as well as the misuse of captured footage.

The leaked images of couples travelling in various vehicles went viral on social media last week.

The Safe City project was launched in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar to monitor antisocial elements, criminals and terrorists and prevent criminal and terrorist activity.

However, the facility has sometimes failed to deliver the desired results, as witnessed in the kidnapping and murder of Peshawar Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Dawar.

The recently-leaked footage has now raised a number of questions about the project, such as whether it is keeping people safe or putting them at risk.

After the images were leaked and circulated on social media, the Islamabad police initiated an investigation to determine if the images were leaked from the capital or elsewhere, police officials said.

Although recent images were not leaked from Islamabad, police officer says four people were dismissed over leaks a few years ago

They said the investigation revealed that the images were not captured by Safe City cameras in Islamabad.

Investigators contacted the owners of the vehicles pictured and asked for statements in the matter.

One of the individuals contacted, who owned a car bearing an Islamabad registration plate, told the police the image was captured in Lahore.

Another individual whose vehicle was also registered in Islamabad told investigators he had sold his vehicle to a Lahore resident.

The owner of a vehicle bearing a Lahore registration plate told investigators that he was residing in Bahawalpur and working in a hospital there.

He told them he had visited Lahore in the first two weeks of December, which was when the image was captured.

The police officials said the National Database and Registration Authority director general was verbally informed that the investigation had found that the images were not captured by Safe City cameras in Islamabad.

A senior police officer told Dawn on condition of anonymity that images were leaked from the Safe City cameras in Islamabad a few years ago, including photographs of girls leaked in 2016.

Four people were found guilty in the incident and dismissed from service.

The officer said it was not possible to download images and videos from the Safe City project in Islamabad, and it is also difficult to copy footage with mobile phones and video cameras. Under the standard operating procedure (SOP), it is impossible to leak images and videos from the Safe City control room and building.

However, the official said, three other authorities are also using and controlling Safe City cameras installed in the capital.

Safe City SP Hassam Iqbal, when contacted, said that the project in Islamabad works under SOPs to counter and avoid such incidents.

The users of cameras, screens and computers attached to the project are working under logins and passwords, and whenever an authorised official uses or opens them a log is maintained with their name, time, and the identification of the camera and computer, he said.

“Downloading snaps and videos is also restricted and only authorised officials may do so after providing their login and password,” he said, adding that they are only provided access after approval from the concerned officer.

Cameras, mobile phones and USBs are prohibited inside the control room, Mr Iqbal said, and internet is not provided to avoid the transfer of data. He said anyone copying images or videos would be booked under cybercrime laws.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2019

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PM forms new body in third bid to reform Punjab police

  16.1  24 January 2019

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has constituted a high-powered committee to suggest reforms in the Punjab police on the pattern of those in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, giving a prime role to Interior Secretary retired Maj Azam Suleman and Principal Secretary to the PM Muhammad Azam Khan.

The chief secretaries of Punjab and KP, Yousuf Naseem Khokhar and Naveed Kamran, have been appointed as members of the committee.

Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Amjad Javed Saleemi and KP IGP Salahuddin Khan Mehsud will also be part of the committee, which was formed after the PM chaired a meeting in the wake of the Sahiwal incident on Thursday.

The prime minister directed the committee to formulate recommendations taking into account the professional inabilities in the police that surfaced in the aftermath of the Sahiwal operation to avoid such incidents in the future, a senior official privy to the information told Dawn. He said all the above-mentioned officials were present in the meeting as well as Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

The premier directed the committee to furnish recommendations for capacity building of the police force — particularly training, purging it of corruption, making it service-oriented and depoliticising it.

This is the third time the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government (PTI) is attempting to reform the Punjab police since assuming power, the official said.

However, he said that during the meeting the PM ignored IGP Durrani while discussing reforms, when he himself had been showering praises on Mr Durrani publically for bringing reforms in the KP police.

Due to the IGP’s efforts, PM Khan had sought his services and constituted a high-powered ‘Commission on Police Reforms and Implementation’ in Punjab appointing Mr Durrani as its head on Sept 18, 2018. The commission was tasked with ridding the police of political interference/corrupt elements in all its ranks, granting it operational autonomy and empowering the head of the force in transfer/posting matters of senior officials.

The official said that during Thursday’s meeting, Prime Minister Khan also directed Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to make necessary amendments to laws through the Punjab Assembly once the newly constituted committee formulates the draft proposals in this respect.

The first effort of the PTI government to reform Punjab police suffered a major setback when Mr Durrani resigned as head of the commission on Oct 9, only 20 days after his appointment. The resignation had come hours after the Punjab government had transferred the then Punjab police chief Muhammad Tahir and replaced him with Amjad Javed Saleemi.

The government had come under immense criticism, as there was a perception that the ruling elite in Punjab were behind the resignation. To avoid embarrassment, the government had formed another high-level committee, appointing the home secretary as its head. The Punjab IGP was made a member of the committee.

This second committee also became controversial when senior policemen from Police Service of Pakistan criticised the Punjab administration for appointing a bureaucrat as head of a committee to reform the police. Resultantly, only two sessions of the committee were held and it was yet to furnish its recommendations.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2019

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Sindh govt ordered to formulate new regulations for police in 6 weeks

  16.1  24 January 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday ordered the provincial government to formulate within six months new rules and regulations for the police department.

A bench headed by Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi passed these orders while hearing a petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against Inspector General of Police Sindh Dr Syed Kaleem Imam and others for their alleged failure to comply with the high court’s Sept 7, 2018 order, seeking reforms in Sindh police.

Faisal Siddiqui, counsel for the plaintiff, complained that the concerned parties had not yet responded to the contempt application.

Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin assured the bench that new rules had been drafted and sent to the provincial cabinet for approval. He sought six weeks for approval of the new regulations.

The petitioner’s counsel said that new laws for police had already been on the cabinet’s agenda thrice but no decision had been made so far. He argued that the despite the court’s Sept 2017 orders, the government had failed to legislate so the provincial government should be dissolved. He also pointed out that neither the interim nor the incumbent government had worked on reforms in police rules.

In 2017, the court had ruled that, “The Inspector General shall, within 30 days, frame draft rules setting out the manner in which he (and the police hierarchy acting through him) is to exercise the power of transfers and postings in the police force at all levels (including PSP officers serving in the Province). The rules must be framed in such manner as ensures autonomy of command and independence of operation. The rules must be transparent in form and reality, and fair in operation and effect.”

The court had added in its judgement: “The draft rules shall be transmitted to the provincial cabinet and also, to ensure transparency, posted simultaneously and prominently on the website of the Sindh Police. The provincial cabinet must consider the draft rules at its next meeting or a meeting specifically called for such purpose within 15 days.”

The court adjourned the case until Feb 27.

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Law and Justice Commission set to issue police reforms report today

  16.1  14 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Police Reforms Committee (PRC) constituted by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has emphasised the need to redress public complaints against police as highest priority.

The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, chaired by CJP Nisar, is going to launch the PRC report today (Monday). The committee was working on three broad areas of its terms of reference (ToRs), including model police law, accountability and operational matters and legislative reforms.

The first question that came before the PRC was the constitutionality of police law in Pakistan. A brief survey of constitutional aspects of police law in the country was carried out. The record shows that since 1947, the federal nature and the role of federation in dispensing criminal justice has been constitutionally protected, according to the executive summary of the PRC report available with The Express Tribune.
Behavioural change key to better policing: CCPO

The summary says after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the propensity of the provincial governments to control police led to multiplicity of provincial police laws without appreciating the jurisprudence expounded by the Supreme Court and without taking into account the importance of fair and effective enforcement of fundamental rights of the people as guaranteed in the Constitution.

At the moment, the four provinces have introduced separate police laws in disregard to Articles 142 and 143 of the Constitution, it says.

Also the PRC, after examining the Police Order 2002, has ensured it provides the requisite uniformity and standardisation of its institutional structures. The PRC believes there are some areas that need compatibility with latest constitutional and legal developments.

The second thematic area identified in the ToRs is accountability and operational matters, which is further itemised into internal and external accountability, improving the quality of investigations, revamping of urban policing organisational structure, alternate dispute resolution (ADR) and diagnosing weak areas in the anti-terrorism legal regime in Pakistan.

Behind bars: Police arrest ‘wanted’ robber during raid

In so far as the accountability mechanisms are concerned, the PRC is of the view that public complaints against the police require to be addressed as the highest priority if meaningful reforms in the criminal justice system are to be achieved.

The PRC says there is a need to have an internal accountability mechanism at the central police office to deal with complaints against the department. Punjab has established a Discipline and Inspections Branch headed by an officer of the rank of additional IGP.

Conversely, for external accountability mechanisms, the PRC recommends establishment of Police Complaints Authorities as provided in the Police Order, 2002 (Articles 103-108). These authorities will deal with complaints of neglect, excess or misconduct against police officers.

The complaints of ordinary nature may be referred to the heads of police concerned. However, complaints of serious nature, like death, rape or serious injury to any person in police custody may be referred to the chief justice of high court for inquiry through a district and sessions judge (D&SJ).

The PRC is of the view that the investigation side needs major up-gradation to win public confidence. In this regard the committee recommends organisational revamping and giving investigation its due place within operations. As investigation is not a key priority area for rank and file in the police organisations, the whole unit needs to be geared towards according due priority to this vital responsibility.

Poor quality of investigation being also a major concern of the judiciary needs urgent remedial measures. In order to bring about a substantial qualitative improvement in the state of affairs relating to investigation, the PRC recommends introduction of the concept of investigation teams and appointment of best officers as investigators.

Taking into consideration the principles contained in the Alternate Dispute Resolution Act, 2017, the PRC is of the view the police can play an effective role in settlement of disputes in petty criminal cases, and therefore, the act may either be extended to the whole country or the provinces may legislate their own laws on the same lines.

The third thematic area relates to policing-related amendments in laws like CrPC, evidence law, ATA etc., the PRC has recommended appropriate changes therein.

The PRC has also pointed out that a relationship between the law making and available budget or resources is missing. Excessive legislation was introduced without allocating resources for implementation. Resultantly, there are more new laws with no resources, hence eroding the trust of citizens in the government’s ability to deliver on rights and the constitutional dispensation.

Furthermore, the committee believes that work on improving services is a continuing effort that needs persistent institutional ownership as well as trust by the courts and the public at large. The PRC shall be looking forward to assist the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its effort to implement the fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan.

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119 killed in terror incidents in Balochistan last year: IG

  16.1  12 January 2019

QUETTA: A total of 119 people — including 15 police personnel — were killed and 114 injured in terrorism-related incidents in Balochistan during 2018.

Twenty-five terrorists were also killed in encounters and 55 arrested in 1,245 intelligence-based operations (IBOs) in the province.

Inspector General of Police Mohsin Butt disclosed this while briefing reporters at his office on Friday.

He said that 1,245 IBOs and 1,869 combing operations were conducted under the National Action Plan across Balochistan in 2018 in which 55 terrorists were killed and 4,188 absconders and 5,449 accused were arrested. They belonged to 22 militant groups.

He said that another 898 suspects had been arrested during IBO operations.

IG Butt said that besides seizure of 21,103 weapons, 2,536kgs of narcotics were also recovered. He added that a total of 8,755 incidents of crimes — including 42 sabotage activities, 34 targeted killings and 11 sectarian killings — were reported in 2018 as compared to 9,490 in 2017.

He said the Balochistan police had started implementing recommendations of the Law and Justice Commission, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, from Jan 8 to hold police accountable and redress public complaints.

He said the commission’s report would be formally launched on Jan 14 at the Islamabad High Court.

“The purpose of this exercise is to restore the trust of the public in the police force and bridge the gap between them, besides making police forces accountable so that overall improvement could be made in their capability,” IG Butt told reporters.

In the recommendations, he said, there was an emphasis on redressing of complaints against police personnel such as delay in registration of FIRs — especially in criminal cases — or delay in arrest of accused in these FIRs.

He said separate cells had been established in all 33 districts of Balochistan. These cells would be equipped with all facilities, including internet, computers and phones, to receive public complaints via email. He said the complainants would receive feedback about their complaints at each stage.

In reply to a question, IG Butt said that 1,800 more recruitments would be made in the police force and 1,000 of them had been sent to Sindh for basic training, while the remaining 800 would be trained in Balochistan. He said there was sharp decline in crime and terrorist activities in Quetta due to deployment of the newly-introduced Eagle squad comprising 800 personnel.

He said the strength of the anti-terrorist force (ATF) would be increased to 2,000 in the province. Presently, the number of ATF personnel is around 850.

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595 martyred in 262 terrorist attacks in 2018

  16.1  6 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: A total of 595 people, including security officials, were martyred and 1,030 others were injured in 262 terrorist attacks carried out by militant, insurgent and violent sectarian groups across the country during 2018, an Islamabad-based think tank report states.

“These attacks posted a 29 per cent decrease from the previous year,” according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies’ (PIPS) Pakistan Security Report 2018.

“Of these attacks, as many as 171 attacks were perpetrated by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its splinter groups – Jamaatul Ahrar, Hizbul Ahrar and others, martyring 449 people.
“Meanwhile, nationalist insurgent groups, mostly in Balochistan and a few in Sindh, carried out 80 attacks, martyring 96 people. As many as 11 terrorist attacks were sectarian-related, martyring 50 people and injuring 45 others.”

The PIPS report states that significantly, more than half of these attacks, around 136, hit security and law enforcement agencies. Meanwhile, security forces and law enforcement agencies killed a total of 120 militants in 2018 – compared to 524 in 2017 – in 31 military/security operations as well as 22 armed clashes and encounters with the militants reported from across four provinces.

The most ominous attacks were on political leaders and workers; in 24 attacks on them, 218 people were martyred and 394 injured. The deadliest ones took place in the run-up to the July 25 general elections.

The report also noted a total of 131 cross-border attacks from Pakistan’s borders with Afghanistan, India and Iran, claiming 111 lives and injuring 290 others.

Balochistan remained the centre of attention with 354 people martyred in attacks while 59 per cent of the total toll in Pakistan took place in the province.

Pakistan’s border along Iran also saw some clashes, a few hinting at diplomatic blame game. Two attacks by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) stood out for their modus operandi as in both, the banned group tried to kill Chinese workers and diplomats.

Yet, the report warns, the violence from Islamist groups like TTP and ISIS should not be conflated with that of Baloch secessionists. While religiously-inspired groups carried less attacks in Balochistan, the death toll was far greater than the secessionists’. Even some of their suicide attacks, alarming indeed, got foiled in the initial stages. However, the National Action Plan’s point of reconciliation in Balochistan awaits implementation.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, including erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas agencies, faced the highest number of terrorist attacks compared to all other regions of Pakistan. A total of 125 reported attacks from the province claimed 196 lives and injured 376 people.

While NAP requires revision, the National Internal Security Policy 2018-2023 is much granular in assigning specific tasks to different government departments. It should be made part of public debate, states the report.

More importantly, in 2018, a consensus document which condemned violence in the name of religion was released. Paigham-i-Pakistan is a unanimous declaration-cum-religious decree signed by 1,800 religious scholars across the country, and backed by the state. It is to be seen how the clergy responds to it, but endorsements by members of the banned outfits raise question whether they are still embraced.

After all, in 2018, the usual cat-and-mouse game continued between state authorities and banned outfits. One set of administrative measure aimed at banning them was followed by another of unbanning them: several banned leaders who were barred from travelling out of district, under the fourth schedule category, not only organised street protests but forced the government to remove their names. Others even tried to contest elections; when stopped, they changed the organisations’ names.

Apparently, Pakistan is struggling to convince the world by projecting its anti-militant actions and ensuing sacrifices. Such claims come under question every time there is a drone strike or some erstwhile leader holds a press conference or public demonstration.

The problem is compounded with the absence of any coherent policy of reintegrating and mainstreaming certain groups. As a result, attempts at mainstreaming them are seen as deliberate attempts to excluding those already mainstreamed. More so, unqualified mainstreaming has resulted in pushing the religious discourse to the extremes, with sectarian thinking becoming a new normal.

PIPS report calls for removing any ambiguity to this end, and recommends that any process to this end should be inclusive, led by parliament, which should lay down a criteria to the pre-conditions of mainstreaming such groups. This will greatly help the government too which has to navigate through several challenges.

For one, the country is direly in need of financial bailout, and all eyes are set on the review of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2019. That assessment is linked with the status of banned outfits in the country.

At the same time, new developments in the region, especially to the western side, can affect security in Pakistan too. In Afghanistan, American troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan will have divergent consequences on global jihadist outfits present in the region. Any unclear withdrawal can provide space for Afghan Taliban, who are keen to take on their new rival, IS in the region, but have been known for being supportive of al Qaeda.

Similarly, given the unending rivalries in the Middle East, where different countries are expected to take one side, a minor border clash in the hinterlands of Pakistan and Iran can escalate over the years. This, the report notes, should be studied too.

The report also calls for empowering civilian-led law enforcement apparatus. It was in this spirit that the role of NACTA has been critical, a focal body of relevant intelligence feeds. Instead of empowering this body under the direct chairpersonship of the prime minister, proposals have been floating in 2018 to either abolish NACTA completely or undo its backbone, Joint Intelligence Directorate. PIPS report calls for revisiting such thoughts.

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KP gets first anti-harassment ombudsperson

  16.1  3 January 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Wednesday approved appointment of prominent human rights activist Rukhshanda Naz as the first anti-harassment ombudsperson of the province.

Briefing journalists following a meeting of the provincial cabinet, Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai said that the cabinet approved appointment of Ms Naz as the province’s first anti-harassment ombudsperson.

The government had failed to appoint an anti-harassment ombudsperson in the province since the enforcement of Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act in 2010 that prompted a non-governmental organisation to move Peshawar High Court for the purpose. The court ordered appointment on the position in September 2017.

Cabinet amends rule to entrust welfare of transgender persons to social welfare and women protection department

In November 2017, the then cabinet had approved amendments to the Act to pave way for the appointment of ombudsperson to hear cases of harassment against women at workplaces.

ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD
Mr Yousafzai said that a search and scrutiny committee headed by chief secretary proposed three names for the ombudsperson and the provincial cabinet after detailed discussion agreed to appoint Ms Naz on the position.

Official documents show that the search and scrutiny committee in its meeting on September 26, 2017 had shortlisted three candidates including Ms Naz, Mah Talat and Shakeela Begum from a panel of five candidates.

The cabinet also decided to frame a comprehensive policy regarding formation of new districts in the province.

Mr Yousafzai said that setting up new districts put strain on the provincial exchequer; therefore, such units would be formed on the basis of need instead of political grounds.

The cabinet also formed a three-member committee comprising senior member Board of Revenue and secretaries of finance and local government departments to devise a policy in this regard. “The committee has also been notified,” said the minister. He said that in future, no new district would be created on political basis; however, no change would be made to the earlier formed districts.

The cabinet also formed a committee to determine eligibility of engineers for getting technical allowance. He said that currently, about 480 engineers were entitled to get technical allowance while a similar number was demanding the same allowance.

The minister said that the committee would comprise officials of finance, law and administration departments and would present its report within three months.

The cabinet also approved amendments to KP Rules of Business, 1985 to entrust the welfare of transgender persons to social welfare and women protection department.

Mr Yousafzai said that previously social welfare department had shared a draft transgender protection policy with law department; however, it could not have been implemented before amending the KP Rules of Business, 1985.

He said that the cabinet also approved a two-member selection committee for the formation of KP Prevention of Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commission. The committee would shortlist three names to be appointed as chairman and members of the commission.

He said that PTI MPA Arshad Ayub Khan was selected from treasury benches while ANP’s Sardar Hussain Babak would represent opposition in the committee.

The cabinet also approved Rs1 billion for the Billion Tree Tsunami Programme. He said that provincial forest department prepared a proposal, costing Rs27.38 billion and.

He said that half of the amount would be provided by the federal government while the provincial government would contribute the remaining half.

The minister said that forest department had asked for Rs3.75 billion for the current year; however, the cabinet allowed Rs1 billion for the purpose and of which finance department would provide Rs500 million while the remaining amount would be provided form the coffers of the Forest Development Corporation.

Mr Yousafzai said that cabinet also allowed the transport department to ink agreement with National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP). It will allow the NH&MP to patrol the Swat Motorway. The provincial government will bear the cost of the policing.

The cabinet also decided to hold its next meeting in Khyber tribal district. Chief Minister Mahmood Khan also directed his cabinet members to regularly visit the merged districts. A schedule will be issued soon in this regard.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2019

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Summary for 2nd extension in military courts sent to cabinet, NA committee told

  16.1  2 January 2019

The law ministry informed a National Assembly standing committee on Wednesday that the summary for a second extension in military courts has been forwarded to the federal cabinet for approval.

The information regarding the military tribunals, whose two-year term will expire in March 2019, was provided during a meeting of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice.

The session of the sole standing committee formed in the lower house of parliament so far was held with Riaz Fatyana in the chair. In attendance at the meeting were Shahbaz Sharif and Khawaja Saad Rafique, the two PML-N MNAs who are both in National Accountability Bureau’s custody and were brought to the session upon issuance of production orders.

Answering a question, Malaika Ali Bukhari, the law ministry’s parliamentary secretary, informed the committee that the interior ministry had sent a summary regarding the extension in military court’s term to the law ministry, however, the summary “did not mention a time period” for which the tribunals could be extended.

She said after approving the summary, the law ministry forwarded it to the federal cabinet for approval.

In case the government decides to give a second extension to the military courts, it will have to get a constitutional amendment passed from both houses of parliament.

The military courts were allowed to try civilians accused of terrorism in January 2015, soon after a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014. In the attack, 144 people — mostly children — were killed by the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

Examine: The sun has set on Pakistan’s military courts — here’s why it should never rise again

The courts were given a two-year constitutional cover as both houses of the parliament passed the 21st constitutional amendment with the inclusion of a sunset clause despite fears among lawmakers that the tribunals they were authorising would not be able to ensure due process to the suspects and might undermine democracy.

The courts remained dysfunctional from Jan 7, 2017 (due to expiry of the two-year constitutional cover) till March 2017, when the military courts were extended for another two years by the parliament amid controversy that the constitutional cover could not be given to the Military Act under which the military courts were resumed.

On December 13, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak had informed the National Assembly that the military authorities had to decide 185 cases of terrorists in three months (till March).

NAB law
During the meeting, PML-N MNA Rana Sanaullah inquired about the progress on a possible amendment in the National Accountability Ordina­nce (NAO) 1999.

The ministry’s representatives informed the body that it would take another month or two before legislation in this regard could take shape. Sanaullah directed the ministry to present the draft of the bill within 45 days.

Committee chairman Fityana expressed the concern that the law ministry was bringing forward very little new legislation and that efforts should be made to increase its number. He directed the ministry to brief the committee at the next session about various issues of national importance and legal reforms.

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SHC seeks details of cases declared ‘A-class’ in Sindh during 10 years

  16.1  23 December 2018

KARACHI: Expressing displeasure at police and judicial magistrates over disposal of cases under ‘A-class’, the Sindh High Court has directed the Sindh prosecutor general and the inspector general of police to furnish details of cases in which A-class reports were filed in courts across the province.

The A-class reports pertain to those cases in which accused persons are unknown or untraceable.

The court also asked top officials of police and prosecution to communicate a 2016 judgement (Nasrullah vs. SHO) of the SHC regarding A-class reports to their departments and file complete record of such cases during the last 10 years.

IGP, prosecutor general reminded of a 2016 judgement regarding A-class reports

It also directed the member inspection team (MIT) of the SHC to call reports in this regard from judicial magistrates.

The bench, headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, observed in its order that it was believed that the magistrates and subordinate courts had no knowledge of the judgement about A-class cases and ordered recirculation of the judgement to all criminal and special courts.

“The SSPs all over Sindh, who are bound to supervise the investigation of cases, must depute teams of competent officers to monitor the investigation of A-class cases and file reports before magistrates on fortnightly basis while magistrates are competent to take any coercive action against the delinquent officials in case of non-compliance,” it added.

These directions came during the hearing of an application in which the applicant submitted that he lodged an FIR at the Ferozabad police station, but police failed to arrest the accused and filed an A-class report.

The applicant added that he had received some information about the accused and approached the district and sessions court concerned for reinvestigation, but the plea was dismissed on the ground that the order passed by a magistrate on the police report was not amendable.

The bench directed the SSP concerned to entrust the investigation of the case, lodged by the applicant, to any other officer to conduct a probe, record further statement of the victim and others, if any, and file a report before the competent court in accordance with the law.

It observed that as per the judgement in the Nasrullah case, a report under A-class was not the final or legal disposal of a criminal case as the investigation was continued till the crime was solved and guilt or innocence was determined by the court.

It said that the responsibilities of police and of the magistrates, who otherwise were ultimate authority and have the supervisory jurisdiction, did not come to an end by filing such papers alone.

Referring to a recent judgement of the Supreme Court, the bench stated that no investigation can be said to have been completed unless the culprits were identified. A report under A-class will never be an admission of completion of the investigation and, therefore, no question regarding legal disposal of such cases was raised, it added.

“The attitude of police to believe about disposal of cases under A-class was not only illegal but also against the spirit of investigation while active awareness of magistrates in dealing with such reports was also found to be not in accordance with [supervisory] role,” it added.

The bench further observed that as per the judgement in the Nasrullah case, the magistrate was bound to call the investigating officer and the victim with regard to the progress in the A-class cases fortnightly, but the magistrate in the present case failed to follow these directions while the district and sessions judge concerned also seemed to have not pursued the guidelines.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2018

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Sindh govt’s proposed anti-harassment law to also protect transgender community

  16.1  18 December 2018

KARACHI: The Sindh government has drafted a bill to criminalise workplace harassment after complaints from women have shown federal laws are not being implemented.

This bill goes beyond the language of the federal government’s 2010 legislation by using more inclusive language around gender – the bill protects the rights of all genders including transgender individuals.

“It is not merely for women’s rights. All employees irrespective of his/her gender facing harassment at the workplace can lodge a complaint. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, we have given equal rights to transgender people,” Minister for Women Development, Shehla Raza told The Express Tribune.

Raza says the 2010 Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act has failed to meet the needs of women.

“Widespread complaints from working women about harassment are pouring in. After the 18th Amendment, federal laws are ineffective, hence we are going to make our own law to create a safe environment for all genders.” She added, “We will take equal action if a woman harasses a man”.

According to the Sindh Harassment and Workplace Bill 2018, those found guilty will face charges including removal or dismissal from service.

However, a copy of the bill available with The Express Tribune shows it uses much of the same language as the 2010 Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, adding provisions that it applies to men and transgender individuals.

The law defines harassment as a “request for sexual favour, sexually demeaning attitude, creating an offensive environment, offering job, promotion, wage increase, training opportunity and transfer from one location to other etc.”

A senior official in the Sindh government said the bill was presented in the last cabinet meeting and its formalisation was deferred to the provincial women development cell.

“We have almost finalised the rules too. The people who gaze at their co-workers with staring eyes will also be punished,” the Secretary for Women Development Baqaullah Unar said.

According to Unar, the bill will soon be sent to the law department for vetting and will then presented in the provincial assembly. After the bill is passed, governmental and non-governmental organizations will have to constitute inquiry committees to look into complaints. Once an inquiry is begun, it will be finalised within thirty days and sent to the competent authorities to take action.

“The competent authority can give minor or major punishment including stoppage of promotion, increment, time-scale, reduction to a lower post, compulsory retirement, removal from service and dismissal from service,” reads the bill.

The bill also includes a provision for the appointment of an ombudsperson, who may be a retired high court judge, and can recruit staff across the province to implement the law. In addition to complaints being lodged with an individual’s organisation’s committee, they can be lodged with the ombudsman.

The efforts of women activists who have lobbied for effective legislation on the issue proved fruitful.

Women’s rights activist Raheema Panhwar said the federal law “has been ineffective as hardly any organisation has followed it or made a committee to probe into any such thing”.

Panhwar also referred to infamous harassment cases in Sindh University Jamshoro and Benazirabad and claimed the “government claims that 300 committees have been formed in public and private organisations, but these are all white lies”.

She added women will breathe a sigh of relief with the implementation of this new law.

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Sindh govt issues Rs220m for modern forensic lab at Karachi varsity

  16.1  17 December 2018

KARACHI: The Sindh government has issued Rs220 million to establish a modern DNA and Serology forensic laboratory at the University of Karachi.

The amount was issued to Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) to set up the state of the art lab at the Jamil-ur-Rahman Center for Genome Research of PCMD.

The ICCBS has prepared a comprehensive execution plan for the project, Prof Dr Muhammad Iqbal Chaudhary, the ICCBS director said on Monday while speaking at a press conference held at the LEJ National Science Information Centre.
Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan and Dr Shakil Ahmed were also present on the occasion.

“We are committed to establish this laboratory at par international standards. It will be mandatory for the staff to qualify international proficiency tests before analysing samples from the cases,” said Prof Chaudhry.

He reminded the reporters that an MoU regarding “Strengthening of Forensic DNA and Serology facility in Sindh” was signed between Karachi university and the provincial government on October 1 this year. He said that the agreement will be in effect for a period of three years from the date of execution and may be extended by mutual agreement in writing by both parties.

Prof Chaudhry further said that the ICCBS had already advertised posts and selected qualified and experienced staff for this important project. One forensic scientist and two research officers have already joined, and are preparing SOPs and protocols, he said, adding that the hired staff is being trained to bring them at par to international standards.

He said that the forensic lab will have a capacity to handle 50 cases in routine while in any untoward situation, extra cases would be divided among other national research facilities.

Tender for the purchase of equipment for the Forensic DNA and Serology Laboratory has already been advertised, he mentioned, adding that after fulfilling the requirements of SPPRA, purchase orders will be issued to the successful bidders.

The process of procurement, installation, calibrations and validation runs will take at least six months, he maintained. Prof Chaudhry also mentioned that during a recent meeting Justice Faisal Arab had reviewed progress of the project and asked all parties to complete the execution at the earliest.

The government, according to the MoU, jhas declared the ICCBS as drug and food testing laboratory, while Dr Shakil Ahmed has been declared as its focal person, he said.

Prof Iqbal Choudhary also appreciated the leadership and efforts of provincial minister Dr Azra Pechuho, the additional chief secretary health and other officials for the setting up a modern laboratory that will play a key role in modernising the justice system in Sindh.

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Police chiefs in Punjab told to learn how to operate IT systems

  16.1  17 December 2018

RAWALPINDI: The inspector general of police (IGP) Punjab has given senior police officers two weeks to learn how to operate the 17 IT software programs introduced in the police department to improve service delivery.

In a directive to all divisional and district police officers, the IGP expressed concern over the lack of interest by senior police officials in improving service delivery by using IT systems and asked them to make themselves familiar with the IT systems installed in the police department or their commanding positions will be taken from them.

Speaking during a meeting on crime and new IT systems introduced to improve service delivery on Thursday, the IGP said districts were not using the IT systems, especially the police record management system and the complaint management system.

He said that since regional, city and district police officers are not familiar with these systems, they will not be well used.

The IGP said a practical test on the IT systems will be conducted in two weeks and made it clear that any divisional or district police chief who does not know how to operate the systems will be removed from their post.

The systems installed include the Human Resource Management System, Police Record Management System, CRO Automation, Crime Mapping, Criminal Record Management System, Driving License Management System, Anti-Vehicle Lifting System, Digital Beat Book, Integrated Khidmat Markaz and Khidmat Centres, Automated Complaint Management System, Front Desk, Police Financial Management and Monitoring System, Police Procurement and Inventory Management System and Resource Management Centres.

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Cooperation, intelligence sharing between Afghanistan, Pakistan vital for defeating terrorism: FM

  16.1  15 December 2018

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, during a meeting with his Afghan and Chinese counterparts Salahuddin Rabbani and Wang Yi on Saturday, reiterated Pakistan’s stance that peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved through dialogue.

The foreign minister is in Kabul on a day-long official trip to attend the second round of the trilateral ministerial dialogue between Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. He is heading a Pakistani delegation that also includes Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and other high-ranking officials of the Foreign Office.

“Since the beginning [of the Afghan conflict], Pakistan has advocated for dialogue instead of military action to achieve peace. Today the world is agreeing with our stance,” the foreign minister said during the meeting, adding that as a neighbour, Pakistan had “suffered most due to the Afghan situation”.

The dialogue aims to pave way for a solution to the Afghan crisis through political means since peace in Afghanistan is vital for regional growth and development, he said.

In order to defeat terrorism, Qureshi said, there is a need for increased cooperation and intelligence exchange between the neighbours.

“A bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan is of extreme importance to our government,” he said.

Furthermore, the trio of delegations discussed the importance of China and Pakistan’s “technical assistance in different sectors” for Afghanistan’s progress. Qureshi said that “mega projects” like the construction of a motorway connecting Peshawar and Kabul and a railway network between Quetta and Kandahar can strengthen trade relations between the three countries.

The foreign minister insisted that cooperation between Pakistan, Afghanistan and China was vital for a “prosperous, stable and peaceful future of the region”.

After the meeting, the foreign ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation over curbing terrorism.

One of the three sessions of the daylong foreign ministers’ dialogue was dedicated to security. The other two sessions focused on the political settlement of the Afghan conflict and regional cooperation.

They are also scheduled to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani today.

The first ministerial meeting held in Beijing in Dece­mber last year had helped Islamabad and Kabul make progress on the establishment of ‘Afghanistan-Pakis­tan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS)’, which then became the new framework for steering the bilateral relations.

China aims to create ‘favourable environment’ between Pakistan and Afghanistan
Qureshi’s Chinese counterpart, Yi, in a joint press conference held after the meeting between the foreign ministers, said that China “aims to help create a favourable environment between Pakistan and Afghanistan”.

Yi highlighted the close relationship between China and Pakistan, saying that both countries were “all-weather friends and important strategic partners”.

He further said that “as a friend of both countries, China is making every effort to build confidence between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

The Chinese foreign minister declared that China will assist both countries in the provision of clean drinking water and building infrastructure, including the construction of a rail network to connect Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Addressing the Afghan crisis, Yi said: “In order to further the process of reconciliation, [Afghan] Taliban will have to be ushered to the dialogue table.” The Chinese foreign minister further said that war was not a solution to any problem.

“We urge the [Afghan] Taliban to take advantage of this chance for peace and hold negotiations,” Yi said.

Qureshi thanked China for its role in “bringing Afghanistan and Pakistan closer”. He added that the ball was now in Afghanistan’s court as it has to decide which route they wished to take in order to achieve peace.

Answering reporters’ questions on the occasion, Afghan foreign minister claimed that Afghanistan’s people had borne many difficulties and regretted that violence in his country was increasing.

Rabbani also addressed the dwindling relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and said: “Pakistan has always said that it supports Afghanistan. It is time that practical steps are taken in this regard.”

After the trilateral ministerial dialogue session, Qureshi held a separate meeting with his Afghan counterpart where both officials discussed matters of mutual interest. Rabbani also thanked Qureshi for taking part in the joint peace effort.

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Military courts have three months to decide 185 cases, NA told

  16.1  14 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: Military authorities have to decide 185 terrorism-related cases over the next three months as the two-year term of military courts will expire in March.

In a written reply to a question raised by MNA Mohsin Dawar, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak informed the National Assembly on Wednesday that since the launch of the military operation Zarb-i-Azb the interior ministry had referred a total of 717 cases of terrorism to the military courts.

Of the total cases, 185 are still under process and they have to be decided before March next year when the two-year term of the courts will expire.

It is yet to be decided whether the military courts will be given another extension similar to 2017 when they were extended for two years.

Giving details of the cases decided by military courts, the minister said that a total of 478 cases had been decided, which meant that the conviction rate of the cases was more than 60 per cent.

He said that a total of 284 convicts had been awarded death sentences and 56 of them had already been executed.

Similarly, he said, 192 convicts had been awarded rigorous imprisonment, two accused acquitted and 54 cases dropped due to technical reasons.

The defence minister did not reply to a question seeking names of the terrorists killed or arrested during the operation Zarb-i-Azb, adding that he would obtain details of the insurgents killed or arrested during the military operation from the interior ministry.

The military courts were allowed to try civilians accused of acts of terrorism in January 2015 soon after a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on Dec 16, 2014.

The gory incident left more than 144 schoolchildren, teachers and other staff members of the Army Public School, Peshawar, dead. The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the massacre.

The courts were given a two-year constitutional cover as both houses of parliament had adopted the 21st constitution amendment with the inclusion of a sunset clause despite fears among lawmakers that tribunals might not ensure due process of law to suspects and might undermine democracy.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2018

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Street criminals in Karachi to be jailed for up to 7 years: CM Shah

  16.1  15 December 2018

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, while chairing the 23rd session of the apex committee in Karachi, vowed to end the rampant street crime in the port city, for which he claimed legal reforms are being considered.

As part of amendments to the law, the chief minister said, the cases of streets crimes would be heard by special magistrates under Section 30 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC), adding that those convicted will be handed prison sentences ranging from three to seven years.

“We need to end the menace of street crime,” CM Shah said, adding that all law enforcement agencies were working together on the issue.

The 23rd meeting of the apex committee was attended by Karachi corps commander, Sindh chief secretary, director general (DG) Rangers, Sindh inspector general of police and other officials.

Furthermore, the apex committee was apprised that Sindh Police and Rangers have conducted a security audit of the entire province.

CM Shah issued instructions to fix the weaknesses identified during the security audits.

During the meeting, the implementation of the decisions taken in the previous session were also reviewed.

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Interior ministry to unveil a new version of NAP

  16.1  28 November 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Minis­try of Inte­rior plans to unveil a new version of the National Action Plan (NAP) and restructure the National Counter Terrorism Authori­ty (Nacta) to effectively tackle internal threats to security, Dawn has learnt.

According to a document outlining the ministry’s performance during 100 days of the PTI government and its future plans, the NAP-2 is aimed at bridging the gaps in the first version rolled out in January 2015 — days after a deadly attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar sent shockwaves across the nation.

The NAP comprised policy initiatives aimed at wiping out terrorist outfits across the country, integrating security efforts of the federal and provincial governments by engaging all the stakeholders, dismantling terrorist networks and ensuring deterrence by utilising available capabilities and resources of security organisations to overcome internal threats to state security.

The upcoming version of the NAP is a brainchild of Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi.

According to the document, the interior ministry plans to create a cyber security organisation to effectively counter the growing threat of cybercrimes.

It envisages restructuring Nacta to make it more functional, building capacity of civil armed forces, upgrading the safe city project and taking steps to curb currency smuggling from airports and borders.

The ministry is also set to introduce an online passport application facility for overseas Pakistanis and launch e-passports and evening executive passport offices in major cities.

The document revealed that the passport application software had been changed and would prioritise applications of senior citizens (65 years or more) from Tuesday (Nov 27).

It said that prisoner ex­change treaties with the United Kingdom, Saudi Ara­bia and China were also on the cards. The document mentioned banning 18 international non-governmental organisations — under the initiative of online registration system introduced by the previous government.

About action against illegal money transfers, it said an amount of Rs73 million had been recovered and 55 accused arrested. It said that 37 cases had been registered out of which 26 were under investigation and eight under trial.

It said that out of the 12 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) received, three cases were under trial and 26 cases under the Anti-money Laundering Act 2010 had been registered — all of which were under investigation — and 34 arrests were made.

The 100-day agenda delivery expectation from the ministry included assessment of need for a national security organisation, assess­ment of NAP implementation and supply of clean drinking water to the Islamabad Capital Territory.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2018

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Sindh govt given two-week deadline to build forensic lab

  16.1  25 November 2018

Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Saturday set a two-week deadline for the Sindh government to establish a forensic laboratory in the province after berating its representatives for not having done so already.

“The time granted [for the formation of the lab] was one year but a year and a half has passed,” the chief justice observed while chairing a high-level meeting also attended by provincial home and health secretaries, JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemi Jamali and officials from the University of Karachi.

“Why haven’t you established the lab?” Justice Gulzar asked the government representatives. “Do you have any excuse for the delay?”

The judge remarked that “no one is realising the problems that the lack of a forensic lab is creating”.

The Sindh government officials claimed that the lab has not been established yet due to delays with the release of funds. However, they assured that the funds have now been released.

“Any further delay in the establishment of the lab will not be tolerated,” the chief justice warned.

On Oct 21, Barrister Murtaza Wahab, the adviser to the chief minister of Sindh on information, law and anti-corruption, had said that the Sindh government would establish a state-of-the-art forensic laboratory and that the feasibility and technical report in this regard had already been made.

The barrister further said that the demarcation of land and allocation of funds had already been complete for the lab, which he said would be built in Malir.

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Nacta inks accord with HEC to combat on-campus terrorism, extremism

  16.1  26 October 2018

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for having effective collaboration on prevention and awareness to combat “on-campus” extremism and terrorism.

The MoU was signed by Nacta National Coordinator Khaliq Dad Lak and HEC Executive Director retired Lt Gen Muhammad Asghar.

The scope of the MoU was to establish a sustained and effective collaboration and partnership in order to combat extremism and terrorism in the country through joint research and collaboration.

Both the organisations will consolidate existing research work in the areas of counter-extremism and counter-terrorism, which will help in promoting research culture in the public sector as well as improving the policy-making process.

Another main objective of the MoU was to enhance awareness and prevention against extremist ideologies and mindset and to provide education on the topics of counter-extremism and counter-terrorism through participatory approach of the HEC and to increase awareness programmes.

Nacta will provide the basic themes and sub-topics while HEC will undertake the research through its affiliated universities. Both the parties will take measures to consolidate research work in the areas of counter-extremism and counter-terrorism.

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Criminal record verification system digitised in KP

  16.1  06 October 2018

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police have introduced Criminal Record Verification System (CRVS) to put an effective end to terrorism and other heinous crimes across the province.

A statement issued here on Friday said the move had enhanced the police efficiency to a great extent in connection with the verification which ultimately led to better interrogation and investigation.

It said under the system, computerised data about all criminals had been provided to all police stations available through CRVS.

Record of proclaimed offenders is available on phone through an SIM service to all police stations, checkposts and snap checking points.

The KP police along with digitisation of FIRs have issued 276 special SIMs to all district police through which millions of people have so far been checked and in the process 1,819 proclaimed offenders arrested.

The statement said under the system all data had been converted to digital format and all concerned officials had access to it through one click.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2018

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FIA to open 15 new cyber-crime reporting centres

  16.1  02 October 2018

The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday issued a notification allowing the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to establish 15 new cyber-crime reporting centres across the country.

The decision has been taken in accordance with Section 51 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, which grants the government powers to take all the necessary measures for the prevention of cyber-crime.

The notification also mentioned the extent of jurisdiction each newly formed centre will have across various districts.

The centres will be established “in line with the government’s efforts to prevent cyber-crime”, an interior ministry official said.

Earlier this year, as part of an FIA initiative, reporting a cyber-crime incident was made easy for internet users when the FIA’s Sindh chapter launched a web portal for the registration of complaintsrelated to cyber-crime, becoming the first province to take such an initiative.

Sindh FIA director Dr Amir Ahmed Sheikh had announced the launch of the portal (www.fiacybercrimesindh.com.pk) and urged women and youngsters in particular to report cybercrime or harassment on the website.

He said the website launched by the FIA’s Sindh chapter was designed keeping in mind a user-friendly approach and had the capacity to register complaints in Urdu, English or Sindhi.

The FIA officials, he said, after receiving the complaint over the web portal would contact the complainant within 48 hours and in case of urgency, he or she could be approached “within the next few minutes” as well.

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PM Imran Khan seeks report to make Nacta potent

  16.1  25 September 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday called for revisiting the role of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) to make it a truly proactive organization, in view of the new ground realities, and directed a review of its functioning in a week’s time.

Chairing the first-ever meeting of the Board of Governors here at the Prime Minister Office, the prime minister constituted a committee for reviewing the role and functioning of the organization and called for formulating its well-defined mandate.

The meeting was attended by Ministers for Defence, Finance, Law, Chief Ministers of the four provinces and Gilgit Baltistan, Prime Minister AJK, MoS Interior, DG-ISI, Secretary Interior, National Coordinator NACTA, Chief Secretaries and IGs of Police and senior officials.

The national coordinator NACTA briefed the meeting about the mandate and the role of the organization since its establishment as a premier body for policy formulation and implementation of national terrorism and counter violent extremism strategy.

The meeting also reviewed, in detail, the progress on implementation status of the 20-points National Action Plan.

The prime minister said Pakistan has come a long way in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

He said in this struggle Pakistan has offered the highest sacrifice of lives of thousands of civilians and security personnel.

Lauding the services and contributions of the armed forces, intelligence agencies, police, law enforcement and security agencies, the Prime Minister said improved security situation today was the result of combined efforts of all stakeholders.

Imran Khan deplored the fact that not even a single meeting of the Board of Governors of NACTA could be convened since its inception, and said this negligence by the previous government led to lack of focus in improving functioning of an important organization.

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IG Imam orders preparation of proposals for Sindh Police reforms

  16.1  20 September 2018

Inspector General of Police Sindh Dr Syed Kaleem Imam on Thursday established a committee to prepare draft proposals for the reformation of the Sindh police system along the lines of the Police Act of 2002.

This decision was taken in a high level meeting chaired by the provincial police chief and attended by senior officials at the Central Police Office.

“The meeting decided to set up a body to prepare a draft for the police system based on the Police Act 2002,” said a brief statement issued after the meeting.

IG Imam also directed police officers to prepare recommendations to introduce an “alternate dispute resolution mechanism in the Sindh police on the pattern of Khyber Pakhunkhwa police and Islamabad police.”

Administrative affairs of the Central Police Office (CPO) and other departmental matters also came under deliberation, and the IG issued necessary directions in these matters, the police spokesperson said.

The IG also issued directions to ensure the installation of a biometric entry system at the CPO within the next 10 days.

It was also decided in the meeting that suggestions would be sought from the Sindh government to increase driving license fee and ticket challans.

In his first address to the nation, Prime Minister Imran Khan had mentioned a desire to introduce police reforms in other provinces modelled around the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa police model.

“We need to fix our police,” Khan had said in his maiden speech. “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police is our biggest success. We won the election because of how good our police had become.”

“We do not have the power to do so in Sindh, but we will work with the Sindh government as well to do what we can,” PM Khan had mentioned in his address.

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Gen Bajwa sanctions death sentences for 15 ‘hardcore terrorists’

  16.1  16 August 2018

Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has sanctioned death sentences for 15 “hardcore terrorists”, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a press release on Thursday.

The convicted militants, the military’s media wing said, were involved in terrorism activities, including “attacks on armed forces and law enforcement agencies, destruction of educational institutions and killing of innocent civilians”.

Collectively, the terrorists were found guilty of killing 45 people, including four civilians and 41 security personnel and injuring 103 others, it added.

The ISPR further said that arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession, and that they all confessed to being part of proscribed organisations.

The details of the convicts sentenced to death as provided by the ISPR are as follows:

Khiwal Muhammad s/o Babo Rahman

According to the press statement, Muhammad was involved in attacking the armed forces, which resulted in the deaths of Captain Bilal Kamran, Havildar Yousaf Khan and four other soldiers, while also injuring 39.

Saddamullah s/o Sher Nawab Khan

He was involved in attacking security forces which resulted in the death of Havildar Ghulam Yasin, Havildar Syed Ali Ahmed Shah, Havildar Muhammad Ali and 14 other soldiers, while also injuring 39.

Izhar s/o Bakhat Buland, Jan Bacha s/o Bacha Rawan, Sharafat Ali s/o Muhammad Amin and Habibullah s/o Ghulam Ahad

The convicts were involved in the killing of civilians, including Sirajuddin and Shah Nazar, and the destruction of an educational institution.

They were also involved in attacking armed forces which resulted in the deaths of Naib Subedar Muhammad Hanif, Havildars Muhammad Ilyas, Muhammad Naseer, Muhammad Qayyum and five soldiers, and injuries to 12 others.

They were also found in possession of firearms and explosives.

Saidullah s/o Awal Jan, Zar Muhammad s/o Sakhi Mar Jan and Alif Khan s/o Sardar Khan

They were involved in attacking security forces which resulted in the death of Naib Subedar Gul Tayaz and another soldier, while also injuring two others. They were also found in possession of firearms and explosives.

Mujahid S/O Yar Wali

He was involved in the destruction of Government Boys and Girls Primary Schools, Sheikhmal Khel, Khyber Agency. He was also involved in causing the death of a soldier and injuries to two others.

Tariq Ali s/o Bawar Shah

He was involved in attacking law enforcement agencies, resulting in the death of Sub-Inspector Umer Khayam along with three police officials and injuries to six others. He was also found in possession of firearms.

Israr Ahmed s/o Taj Muhammad

He was involved in the killing of police Constable Ijaz Ahmed, a civilian Zarmina and injuries to two others. He was also found in possession of firearms.

Kaleemullah s/o Hayatullah

He was involved in the killing a civilian, Jibraheel. He was also found guilty of attacking the armed forces, which resulted in injuries to a soldier. He was also found in possession of firearms.

Muhammad Rehman s/o Sher Ramzan

He was found guilty of slaughtering a civilian Naik Ahmed Wafa. He also kidnapped two soldiers for ransom.

Fayazullah s/o Muhammad Nawaz Khan

He was involved in attacking the armed forces, which resulted in the death of Sepoy Shahzad Pervez.

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Kohistan killings

  16.1  03 August 2018

THAT it has taken seven long years and two fact-finding missions before an FIR has been filed in the suspected ‘honour’ killing of five girls in Kohistan, speaks volumes.

The case came to light in 2011 when reports emerged that an online video of a young man dancing before a group of teenage girls had led to murder.

The mixed gathering had taken place in a village located in an extremely conservative part of KP. In the eyes of the locals, the youngsters had violated tribal norms and brought dishonour upon them.

Reportedly, five girls in the audience, as well as the man who was dancing and his two brothers, were later murdered on a jirga’s orders.

While the fact-finding missions were unable to definitively establish whether the murders had taken place, circumstantial and empirical evidence strongly suggested that was the case.

Moreover, Afzal Kohistani, a brother of the male victims, had been alleging the same, and the FIR was registered on his petition to the Supreme Court.

The delays in the resolution of a matter involving such mediaeval barbarity illustrate how law enforcement’s indifference to crimes of ‘honour’ can stand in the way of justice.

In a social milieu where not much remains hidden within the community, the local police could have solved the case had they expended a little effort.

Instead, Afzal Kohistani himself, for much of the intervening period, had to live in hiding because of threats to his life.

The remoteness of the location also made it more difficult for human rights activists to ascertain the truth.

In fact, if not for the video — which by being available on the net for all to see possibly compounded the youngsters’ ‘crime’ — the truth may never have come out.

While improvements to the honour killing law are important, they cannot compensate for a primitive mindset.

The justice system needs to send a very strong message to those who commit crimes of ‘honour’ and those who neglect their duty to investigate them.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2018

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Senate human rights body approves bill for raising marriageable age to 18

  16.2  30 January 2019

The Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday approved a draft bill looking to raise the minimum age for marriage in the country to 18 years.

The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018 looks to increase the minimum age by which women can marry to 18. Currently, the legal age for marriage for women in the country is 16 years, while that for men is 18 years.

During the session today, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said the proposed bill would be presented in the parliament next month.

This bill had earlier been presented in the Senate by PPP lawmaker Sherry Rehman, but was forwarded to the human rights committee by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani for further debate.

“This bill has been presented in order to stop child marriage. A similar legislation was already adopted by the Sindh Assembly. This bill, however, will also apply on Islamabad,” Senator Rehman said.

“Eighteen years should be declared the age of adulthood in the country and the world ‘child’ should be clarified,” she said, noting that 21 per cent of child deaths in the country are caused by childhood marriages.

The senator also told the committee that Pakistan holds the second position on the list of countries with the highest child marriage rates.

According to Senator Rehman, the age for marriage all over the world is 18 years; people under that age are considered children.

Dr Mazari told the meeting that her party, the ruling PTI, seconds the bill. Committee chairman Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said the fact that all parties approve of the bill is welcomed.

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112 most wanted human traffickers identified in FIA’s 2018 Red Book

  16.2  15 January 2019

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday issued a list of most wanted human traffickers for the year 2018 which, for the first time, has four female entrants.

The ‘Red Book of Most Wanted Human Smuggler/Traffickers’ saw the number of human traffickers go up from 101 in 2017 to 112 in 2018.

Of the 112 individuals identified in the 2018 Red Book, more than half (58) are from Punjab, 34 from Islamabad, 15 from Sindh, three from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two from Balochistan.

The agency, for the first time, has added a quartet of women to its annual red book, accusing them of defrauding people through human trafficking.

The FIA said that 12 of the wanted traffickers have fled abroad, adding that it is taking assistance from the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) to apprehend them.

According to the latest Global Report on ‘Trafficking in Persons’, the number of human trafficking victims around the world is on the rise as armed groups and terrorists traffick women and children to generate funds and recruit personnel.

In Pakistan, the parliament has approved two new laws — The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2018 and The Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Act 2018 — to safeguard the rights of victims of human trafficking and address the needs of smuggled migrants.

In June 2018, the legislation and other efforts to curb human trafficking saw the United States move Pakistan from its watch list to another group of countries that have taken significant steps to curb human trafficking.

US upgrades Pakistan on ‘human trafficking index’
Human trafficking on the rise in world: UN report
Senate passes ordinance to tackle human trafficking

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21pc girls in Pakistan become victim of child marriage, WHO reports

  16.2  12 January 2019

A recent report issued by World Health Organisation (WHO) has shed light on the issue of child marriages in Pakistan saying such practice is most common in rural areas. It further said that more than 140 million underage girls are likely to get married between 2011 to 2020.

According to the WHO report titled ‘Demographics of child marriages in Pakistan’, child marriage remains a serious concern in Pakistan, with 21 per cent of girls getting married before reaching the age of 18, especially in the rural areas.

Formal marriage or informal union before age 18 occurs throughout the world, it added. However, being forced into marriage before one was able to give consent violates the basic human rights of boys and girls, the report said.

It further said that the percentage of child marriage remained high in Sindh, with 72 per cent girls and 25 per cent boys becoming victims to this menace, however, the highest number of girl child marriages were recorded in the tribal areas of Pakistan, with 99 per cent girls married under this unlawful traditional practice.

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Over 500 child sexual abuse cases surfaced in Islamabad in last 5 years, police tell Senate committee

  16.2  7 January 2019

A Senate committee on Monday was informed that 300 cases of child sexual abuse were registered in Islamabad over the last five years, while another 260 cases went unregistered.

Cases of child abuse have been on the rise in Pakistan. A Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) official earlier told Dawn that 3,445 cases of child abuse had been reported last year, according to data collected by non-gove­rnmental organisations.

A report compiled by NGO Sahil claims that instances of child abuse rose 32 per cent to in the first six months of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017. Sahil also claims that more than 11 children under the age of 18 fall prey to sexual abuse every day.

Nuzhat Sadiq, the convener of the Senate special committee on the issue of increasing incidents of child abuse, raised concerns Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari’s absence from the meeting.

“The surge in cases of child sexual abuse is a very important matter. The human rights minister did not attend the last session either,” Sadiq noted, adding: “This is very non-serious of her.”

Ministry of Human Rights representatives told the Senate committee that Mazari “is at PM House” and were unsure whether she would be able to attend the session.

Read: 17,862 child sexual abuse cases reported in last five years, NA told

Capital police officials, while briefing the committee on incidents of violence against children, said that two girls who had been abducted from Islamabad in 2016 remain missing.

Furthermore, the police officials said the force had kept over 1,400 street children off the streets at safe shelters, but they had soon returned to begging on the streets.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed wondered why underage offenders are not “kept at juvenile centres even though such a facility exists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”.

The Jamaat-i-Islami senator said that children who are not in school are at risk, pointing out that “the government itself says that 25 million children” are out of school.

The Senate special committee during a me­eting on October 16 had showed dissatisfaction over lack of a mechanism to have an official database about incidents of child sexual abuse. Sadiq had directed the ministry to formulate a line of action and brief it on the issue during its next meeting.

Human Rights Ministry officials told the committee that more than 80 laws for child protection exist and that measures are being taken to tackle child abuse cases.

The officials complained about the provinces’ lack of cooperation with the Centre on the issue, saying that letters had written to the provinces but not even one responded.

After the passage of the 18th Amendment, it is the provincial government’s responsibility to draft a child protection policy. However, no policy document exists.

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LHC orders Punjab govt to ban employment of children under the age of 15 as domestic help

  16.2  20 December 2018

The Lahore High Court on Thursday ordered the Punjab government to ban the employment of children under the age of 15 as domestic workers, and take legislative measures on the issue.

“The rights of domestic workers have been violated ever since Pakistan came into being,” the court remarked before directing the provincial lawmakers to regulate the wage structure and working hours of domestic help.

The high court was hearing a March 2018 petition moved by Advocate Sheraz Zaka questioning failure of the then provincial government to implement the rights of domestic workers.

The petitioner stated that in 2015 the Lahore High Court had already instructed the government to legislate on the rights of domestic workers but its orders were not implemented.

The court today ruled in the case after the incumbent Punjab government furnished a draft of Domestic Workers Bill 2018.

The state prosecutor told the court that as part of the proposed bill, domestic workers’ shifts will be limited to eight hours, whereas special courts and committees will be formed to resolve their problems.

The court, upon learning that the proposed draft plans to proscribe the employment of under-15 children as domestic help, expressed its satisfaction and deemed it a positive measure.

In March, after taking up the said petition, the high court had constituted a commission comprising the labour department secretary, a representative from Unicef and three lawyers to ensure that the provincial government takes legislative measures to protect fundamental rights of domestic workers.

Justice Jawad Hassan had at the time observed that domestic workers were being subjected to long hours of work and were also being harassed by their employers as recently several incidents surfaced involving torture of underage domestic workers.

The judge had further observed that if wages of workers in industrial establishments could be notified under Minimum Wages Act 1969, the wages of domestic workers should also be notified.

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Pakistan calls for protection of children in conflict areas

  16.2  13 October 2018

Pakistan said at the United Nations that the highest priority must be accorded to protecting children especially those living in conflict areas and under foreign occupation, says a press release received here today from New York.

Speaking in the debate in the General Assembly’s Third Committee on the ‘Promotion and protection of the rights of children’, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi reminded the international community of the plight of children in Palestine and Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir who continue to be caught in a ‘vortex of violence’ and are exposed to unimaginable horrors every day.

She stressed the need to reach out to those “who suffer disproportionality from war, economic upheaval, poverty and climate change”.

Conflicts, said Ambassador Lodhi, violate every conceivable right of children, and the trauma arising from targeted attacks, sexual violence, forced conscription mar them for the rest of their lives.

“Ensuring adequate physical and mental health, education, food, clothing and shelter, and provision of a future free from malnutrition for all children was a collective commitment of the international community”, she said.

Underscoring the priority given by Pakistan to protecting and promoting the rights of children, Ambassador Lodhi said that investing in children was considered a key to development and prosperity by her country.

This was also evidenced by the fact the Pakistan was one of the earliest signatories of the Convention on Rights of the Child and its optional protocols and had also ratified all core ILO conventions on child labour, she added.

 The Pakistani envoy also described the recent policy measures taken in Pakistan to promote the rights of children and said that new legislation was adopted to protect children from abuse, maltreatment, exploitation, neglect and mental violence.

She also highlighted the work of the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development, which she said, was working closely with UNICEF to assess and promote child rights across the country.

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CII to give its view on crucial bill next month

  16.2  17 August 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2017, which was referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior last year for further deliberation is expected to face further delay.

The bill is pending with the CII since October 2017 and the council was expected to give its view this month. However, the recommendations will face another month’s delay and is expected to be shared next month.

It is pertinent to mention here that Senator Sehar Kamran moved this bill, who proposed an amendment of increasing the legal age of marriage from 16 to 18 years. Meanwhile, considering the sensitive nature of the issue, it was recommended to the CII for review and suggestion last year.

CII chief Dr Qibla Ayaz told The Express Tribune that the director general of CII research wing is in process of compiling a detailed research report on this issue. “Due to the sensitivity of the issue, the CII needs some time to come up with some concrete and logical recommendations according to Islam and Sunnah on the required legal age of child for marriages in Pakistan,” he said.

He said that it is expected that the research work on the issue will be completed by the end of this month and the research report will be presented before the committee constituted by the Council earlier this year under the chairmanship of Justice Raza Khan for further review.

“Once the report is reviewed by the committee it will be tabled before the council members to share their views and suggestions on the subject matter,” added Dr Ayaz.

He said that the reason behind this delay is the sensitivity of the issue. “The DG research wing is putting all his efforts in gathering required information, ages set by other Islamic countries and references from the Holy Quran and the sayings of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) on this issue,” maintained Dr Ayaz.

After considering the detailed research report, the Council members would be in a position to give their suggestions after a discussion on the age issue.

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Official data since January 2018: No conviction in 141 child rape cases reported in Lahore so far

  16.2  10 August 2018

LAHORE: Minor children — both girls and boys — are falling prey to paedophiles in the provincial capital as the incidents of child sexual abuse continue to surface here and most of such criminals escape conviction because of poor investigation by police and flawed prosecution.

Such crimes are on the rise despite Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar taking suo motu notice of Kasur rape cases.

The alarmingly high official figures of cases of sexual assault on minors in Lahore show that such crimes have not been a priority for the police high-ups.

Details of these show that minors are mostly targeted by paedophiles in playgrounds, streets, markets and shops in congested localities.

A majority of them, they say, suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and other psychological issues. Many victims prefer to spend life in isolation, avoiding contact with relatives, friends and class fellows, the experts say. Some of the victims themselves become abusers when they grow up, they add.

According to official data, total 77 cases of rape of minor girls were reported in the provincial capital from January 2018 to the first week of August this year.

Most of such cases surfaced in the Cantonment Division of the city, where 31 minor girls were subjected to rape, followed by Model Town and city divisions where 16 and 12 cases were reported, respectively.

Similarly, 11 such cases were lodged in Saddar, five in Civil Lines and two cases in Iqbal Town division, the data showed.

Out of the total 77 cases, the police quashed eight because of “lack of evidence”, while the remaining were pending in courts.

The situation is also equally abysmal in the cases where the minor boys were subjected to criminal assault.

According to the police data, total 79 boys suffered sexual assault in various parts of the city during the same period. In most of the cases, the boys were abducted when they were playing in the street or going to local shops in residential areas.

Most of these cases (25) were again reported in the Cantonment Division, followed by Saddar (20) and Model Town (17).

Other divisions where these cases were reported include Iqbal Town (eight), City (six) and Civil Lines (three). The data showed that eight out of the total 79 cases were quashed by police owing to “lack of evidence” or other reasons.

Shockingly, none of the suspects in both categories (boys, girls) of these cases have so far been convicted. The official figures reveal that in all the 141 cases the accused secured bail from courts.

On the other hand, police sources say that since most of the victims belong to poor families, many cases of child sex abuse go unreported in the city.

They say that in many cases the police concerned are reluctant to lodge FIRs to avoid criticism by the media, civil society and authorities concerned.

Operations DIG Shahzad Akbar says he believes in zero tolerance for the offenders targeting minor children for sexual satisfaction.

“I regard them as animals, and the protection of the innocent souls (children) is my prime responsibility,” he says.

He says a proposal is being considered to establish a special cell to deal with this heinous crime in the provincial capital in order to bring such criminals in the dock for exemplary punishments.

The city police will also come up with more plans to eliminate paedophiles, Mr Akbar says.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018

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Zainab murder convict handed death penalty for rape, murder of 3 other girls

  16.2  05 August 2018

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday handed Imran Ali — who is currently incarcerated and on death-row for the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Amin — the death penalty on 12 more counts for the rape and murder of three other girls.

Ali, a resident of Kasur, was involved in at least nine incidents of rape-cum-murder of minors, including Zainab, which he had confessed to during her murder investigation.

The verdicts for the cases of all three minor girls were announced today by special administrative judge Sheikh Sajjad Ahmed of the ATC after listening to the final arguments presented by the counsels.

In all three cases, Ali was found guilty under sections 364-A (kidnapping or abducting a person under the age of fourteen), 376 (3) (rape of minor), 302-B (punishment for qatl-i-amd) of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7(a) (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997.

The first information reports of all three cases were registered in different months of 2017. The ages of the three victims were five, seven and eight.

Zainab’s rape and murder earlier this year had sparked outrage and protests across the country after the six-year-old, who went missing on January 4, was found dead in a trash heap in Kasur on January 9.

Her case was the twelfth such incident to occur within a 10 kilometre radius in the city over a 12-month period.

The heinous nature of the crime had seen immediate riots break out in Kasur — in which two people were killed — while #JusticeforZainab became a rallying cry for an end to violence against children.

The Punjab government had declared the arrest of Ali, the prime suspect, on January 23.

On June 12, the Supreme Court rejected Ali’s appeal against the death sentence handed to him for the rape and murder of Zainab, noting that the petitioner had admitted committing similar offences with eight other minor victims and “in that backdrop, he did not deserve any sympathy in the matter of his sentences”.

Imran had filed the appeal challenging the death sentence handed to him in February, claiming his trial was not fair. He still has the right to seek clemency from President Mamnoon Hussain.

For more live updates, follow Dawn.com’s official news Instagram account@dawn.today

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Petition in LHC seeks public execution of Zainab’s murderer

  16.2  23 Jun 2018

The father of Zainab Amin, a six-year-old child whose rape and murder by Imran Ali in January 2018 had sparked national outrage, has filed a petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) demanding that his daughter’s killer be hanged publicly.

The petition states that a public execution will “give [a] clear message of deterrence to everybody” and that “the murderer of Zainab should be given exemplary punishment so as to avoid any such tragedy in the future.”

The petition further says that according to Article 22 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), the government can carry out public executions if it is likely to create a deterrent effect.

Zainab, whose body was recovered from a trash heap in Kasur, had been kidnapped, raped and killed earlier this year. The incident had spawned the #JusticeForZainab campaign online and also resulted in an increased debate on and media reporting of child abuse cases.

On February 17, the accused Imran was found guilty by an Anti-Terrorism Court and was subsequently awarded four counts of the death penalty, one life term, a seven-year jail term and Rs4.1 million in fines.

In the aftermath of the verdict, a debate had taken place in the Senate and the Council of Islamic Ideology on whether public execution could be justified in certain cases. The lawmakers had eventually opposed the idea.

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Judges review SC’s performance in full court meeting in Islamabad

  16.3  06 February 2019

A full court meeting under Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa’s stewardship was held at the Supreme Court in Islamabad on Wednesday to review the court’s performance in terms of dispensation of justice and disposal of cases.

The meeting’s attendees, in a joint declaration, noted that during 2018 the apex court received 6,407 petitions and decided 6,342 cases, whereas 40,535 cases are still pending.

The judges in attendance expressed their satisfaction over the institution’s performance, its disposal rate and discussed different strategies, ways and means to bring improvements in case management.

They underlined the need to categorise the cases in order to diminish the backlog of cases and to make efforts to improve the dispensation of justice.

The full court recommended that special benches should be constituted to deal with different categories of cases, adjournments should be discouraged, appeals should be fixed in chronological order and reviews must be fixed in the next week subject to the availability of judges.

The judges also agreed that video link connectivity between the Supreme Court and its branch registries should be created to facilitate lawyers in presenting their arguments.

At the onset of the meeting, the judges congratulated the chief justice for assuming the highest judicial office.

Justice Khosa, in reciprocation, thanked his fellow judges and appreciated their commitment for the dispensation of justice to the public.

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KP police introduce ‘Raabta’ SMS system to facilitate complainants, keep track of case progress

  16.3  04 February 2019

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police on Sunday night introduced an SMS-based system to facilitate complainants of heinous crimes, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) announced on Twitter.

The Raabta system will facilitate the tracing of progress in cases and allow complainants to remain in contact with the Investigation Officer (IO) tasked with probing their case, the PTI said, quoting Peshawar Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Qazi Jamil.

Once a first information report is registered in any police station in the province, the complainant will receive a text message containing the serial number of the FIR, the sections of law that it has been lodged under, and the name and contact number of the IO.

The IO will also be sent an SMS with the name and contact number of the complainant so that they can contact and coordinate with the latter. Once the IO has contacted the complainant, they will apprise their senior officers of developments in the investigation.

Additionally, as the FIR is filed, senior police officials including the CCPO, senior superintendents of police and deputy superintendents of police, will also receive the case details.

“[The] purpose [of the new system] is to facilitate [the] complainant so that he/she knows that his/her case is registered and contact [has been] established,” the PTI tweeted. “It will prevent complainant trouble to get FIR details and botheration to trace case.”

The PTI added that the aim of Raabta is to facilitate complainants and make the IO accessible to them. “Moreover, all supervisory officers will get details and they will ask the IO for updates and will also ask the complainant for his feedback etc.”

More features will be added to the new system, the PTI said.

The move is part of the PTI’s agenda to introduce police reforms in KP in order to improve the law and order situation in the province. The PTI in its manifesto promised to make public outreach to police easier. The promise is part is the party’s plan to depoliticise and strengthen policing.

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Senate committee to consider abolition of special courts

  16.3  23 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee has decided to consider abolishing special courts and merging them with normal courts to avoid controversies.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Special Committee on Law Reforms that was presided over by its convener Farooq H. Naek and held in the Parliament House on Tuesday.

It was attended by senators Rana Maqbool Ahmed and Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, former senator Chaudhry Muhammad Anwer Bhinder, senior lawyer Raja Inam Amin Minhas and retired Justice Mohammad Raza Khan.

The committee approved its terms of reference and decided to hold its formal meeting in the first week of February. The agenda items to be taken up at its next meeting include considering the tiers of the court system and abolishing the special courts and merging them with ordinary courts.

Advocate Minhas referred to the recent remarks of Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and said that special courts — like accountability, anti-terrorism and narcotics courts — should be abolished or placed in the sessions divisions to avoid controversies over their jurisdiction.

The committee decided to write a letter to the Ministry of Law and Justice, seeking a report on the work carried out with regard to law reforms in the country within seven days. It asked the ministry to send an officer concerned to brief the Senate committee on the matter at its next meeting.

The committee will also write letters to other relevant departments and organisations in this regard, including the Pakistan Bar Council and provincial bar councils, Law and Justice Commission, National Commission for Women Rights, National Commission of Child Abuse and National Commission for Human Rights.

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NA body recommends bill for increasing IHC judges

  16.3  19th January 2019

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Friday submitted its report to the lower house on a bill seeking an increase in the number of judges in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Submitted by committee chairman Riaz Fatyana, the report recommended that the bill be passed despite the disagreement of the opposition parties.

The Islamabad High Court (Amendment) Bill 2018, which seeks an increase in the number of IHC judges from seven to 10 including a chief justice, had been introduced in the National Assembly by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan on Dec 21 last year.

When the bill was taken up by the standing committee in its two meetings, opposition members opposed the move, saying that the reason given by the government for increasing the number of judges was “insufficient”.

Established under the IHC Act, 2010, the high court had become functional in Jan 2011.

The bill’s statement of objects and reasons says that “the existing sanctioned strength of the judges of the IHC is six plus one chief justice as per section 3(1) of the aforesaid act.

Opposition members disagree, say govt’s reason for doing so is ‘insufficient’

“As intimated by the IHC, the present strength of judges compared to number of pending cases is not sufficient, besides the institution of fresh cases which is increasing every year. It is, therefore, necessary to increase the strength of the judges of the IHC from seven to 10 judges, including the chief justice to overcome the difficulties of litigant public qua early disposal of long pending cases.”

The report on the bill also contains two ‘notes of dissent’ signed by seven opposition members belonging to PML-N, PPP and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).

This shows that the 21-member committee has passed the bill with a 12-7 vote.

The opposition members have objected to the reason mentioned in the bill that the present strength of judges compared to number of cases pending is not sufficient.

“If this was the case then there was pendency in other courts as well. In the absence of judges to pending cases ratios compared with other high courts, the rationale could not be justified by the data given,” says one of the dissenting notes.

The opposition members had complained in the committee meetings that the law ministry had provided “inadequate information” to them regarding the pendency of the cases.

They claim that in one of the meetings “it was agreed unanimously that additional information in particular the details of pendency of cases in other courts would be provided in the next meeting for the committee to compare this with courts and hence assess the need in the light of the information provided.”

However, they allege that in the meeting held on Jan 15, “no additional information was provided by the ministry in the absence of which we are unable to make an informed decision.”

“We would also observe here that the failure to provide timely and adequate information by the Ministry of Law and Justice indicates not only their incompetence but also unwillingness to share information. We are concerned about the lack of transparency in this regard,” say the opposition members in their dissenting note.

“It was only in the meeting, on questioning, that we learnt that out of the seven existing positions of judges, only four were filled and three were vacant,” they say.

The committee asked why additional seats were required when there were already three vacant seats and sought details on this matter as well.

The opposition members claim that in the meeting they had recommended that if the number of seats were being increased, IHC being that first court of appeals for the federal government must include judges from the provincial courts by law so as to federalise the constitution of court.

“However, the ministry did not agree on this important recommendation,” the opposition members regret, stating that as “the ministry was unable to give any date to justify its own rational and further was not open to our suggestions to include judges from other provincial benches, we are left with no other option but to oppose the bill.”

PTI has simple majority in the National Assembly but will have to seek the opposition’s support to pass the bill in Senate.

The dissenting note carries the signatures of Syed Naveed Qamar, Dr Nafeesa Shah, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Rana Sanaullah, Usman Ibrahim, Syed Hussain Tariq and Aliya Kamran.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019

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Law and Justice Commission set to issue police reforms report today

  16.3  14 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Police Reforms Committee (PRC) constituted by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has emphasised the need to redress public complaints against police as highest priority.

The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, chaired by CJP Nisar, is going to launch the PRC report today (Monday). The committee was working on three broad areas of its terms of reference (ToRs), including model police law, accountability and operational matters and legislative reforms.

The first question that came before the PRC was the constitutionality of police law in Pakistan. A brief survey of constitutional aspects of police law in the country was carried out. The record shows that since 1947, the federal nature and the role of federation in dispensing criminal justice has been constitutionally protected, according to the executive summary of the PRC report available with The Express Tribune.
Behavioural change key to better policing: CCPO

The summary says after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the propensity of the provincial governments to control police led to multiplicity of provincial police laws without appreciating the jurisprudence expounded by the Supreme Court and without taking into account the importance of fair and effective enforcement of fundamental rights of the people as guaranteed in the Constitution.

At the moment, the four provinces have introduced separate police laws in disregard to Articles 142 and 143 of the Constitution, it says.

Also the PRC, after examining the Police Order 2002, has ensured it provides the requisite uniformity and standardisation of its institutional structures. The PRC believes there are some areas that need compatibility with latest constitutional and legal developments.

The second thematic area identified in the ToRs is accountability and operational matters, which is further itemised into internal and external accountability, improving the quality of investigations, revamping of urban policing organisational structure, alternate dispute resolution (ADR) and diagnosing weak areas in the anti-terrorism legal regime in Pakistan.

Behind bars: Police arrest ‘wanted’ robber during raid

In so far as the accountability mechanisms are concerned, the PRC is of the view that public complaints against the police require to be addressed as the highest priority if meaningful reforms in the criminal justice system are to be achieved.

The PRC says there is a need to have an internal accountability mechanism at the central police office to deal with complaints against the department. Punjab has established a Discipline and Inspections Branch headed by an officer of the rank of additional IGP.

Conversely, for external accountability mechanisms, the PRC recommends establishment of Police Complaints Authorities as provided in the Police Order, 2002 (Articles 103-108). These authorities will deal with complaints of neglect, excess or misconduct against police officers.

The complaints of ordinary nature may be referred to the heads of police concerned. However, complaints of serious nature, like death, rape or serious injury to any person in police custody may be referred to the chief justice of high court for inquiry through a district and sessions judge (D&SJ).

The PRC is of the view that the investigation side needs major up-gradation to win public confidence. In this regard the committee recommends organisational revamping and giving investigation its due place within operations. As investigation is not a key priority area for rank and file in the police organisations, the whole unit needs to be geared towards according due priority to this vital responsibility.

Poor quality of investigation being also a major concern of the judiciary needs urgent remedial measures. In order to bring about a substantial qualitative improvement in the state of affairs relating to investigation, the PRC recommends introduction of the concept of investigation teams and appointment of best officers as investigators.

Taking into consideration the principles contained in the Alternate Dispute Resolution Act, 2017, the PRC is of the view the police can play an effective role in settlement of disputes in petty criminal cases, and therefore, the act may either be extended to the whole country or the provinces may legislate their own laws on the same lines.

The third thematic area relates to policing-related amendments in laws like CrPC, evidence law, ATA etc., the PRC has recommended appropriate changes therein.

The PRC has also pointed out that a relationship between the law making and available budget or resources is missing. Excessive legislation was introduced without allocating resources for implementation. Resultantly, there are more new laws with no resources, hence eroding the trust of citizens in the government’s ability to deliver on rights and the constitutional dispensation.

Furthermore, the committee believes that work on improving services is a continuing effort that needs persistent institutional ownership as well as trust by the courts and the public at large. The PRC shall be looking forward to assist the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its effort to implement the fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan.

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Justice Nisar suspends execution of mentally ill prisoner Khizar Hayat

  16.3  12 January 2019

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Saturday took notice of media reports regarding the scheduled execution of Khizer Hayat, a mentally ill prisoner on death row, and announced to suspend his sentence till further orders.

Moreover, the chief justice also fixed the matter for hearing on Monday [January 14], read a statement issued by the Supreme Court.

Earlier in the day, Hayat’s mother Iqbal Bano had moved the court calling for the suspension of his death sentence on the grounds of mental illness.

On Friday, a district and sessions judge in Lahore had scheduled the execution of Hayat — a death-row prisoner diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia — for January 15 at the central jail in Kot Lakhpat.

The request filed by Hayat’s mother, which was submitted before the court’s human rights cell, was reviewed by Chief Justice Nisar. The petition called for the Supreme Court’s attention to the fact that a mentally ill prisoner was being sentenced to death.

It has stated that the judgment passed by Lahore High Court “is not in accordance with law and the Prison Rules”.

The petition has also argued that the court has “mixed the conviction with execution and thereby has dismissed the writ petition on wrong premises”.

It further argued that neither the medical history of the petitioner’s son has been taken into account and nor have the medical board’s reports been considered which establish the prisoner’s ailment.

The petition notes that “the extensive jail medical records establishing the mental ailment of the condemned prisoner are sufficient to withhold the execution of death sentence till the time the condemned prisoner is fully recovered from the ailment”.

Moreover, the petition has also stated: “There is no way that Khizar Hayat’s execution can be carried out in a manner that complies with Pakistan’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Convention against Torture.”

Hayat was sentenced to death in 2003 over the shooting of a fellow police officer. He has spent nearly 15 years on death row. He was first diagnosed as a schizophrenic in 2008 by jail medical authorities. In 2010, the jail medical officer recommended that Hayat needed specialised treatment and should be shifted to the psychiatric facility. However, this was never done.

In 2017, the Lahore High Court had stayed the execution of Hayat.

On Monday, a two-member bench comprising Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Justice Sardar Tariq Masoof will hear the case.

Hayat’s mother, in a letter, requested the chief justice to visit Kot Lakhpat jail’s ward for mentally ill prisoners and investigate what medicines were being given to her son.

She pleaded that his medical records be investigated “to determine why his treatment was not being done properly and why his condition was worsening day by day”.

“I read in Dawn that a prisoner named Khizar Hayat has been sentenced to be hanged,” the chief justice remarked, inquiring from the Punjab attorney general which jail Hayat was serving his sentence in. The official replied it was Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.

Justice Nisar asked that it be immediately ascertained if Hayat has been diagnosed as mentally ill and sought a report today.

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CJP defends judicial activism, says judiciary is ‘guardian of fundamental rights of people’

  16.3  31 December 2018

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday defended the apex court’s judicial activism, explaining that the judiciary is the “guardian of the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan” by the law and thus “duty bound to ensure that the rights of the people are protected”.

The chief justice, during his speech at a graduation ceremony for medical students at the Islamia University Bahawalpur’s historic Abbasia campus, discussed the areas the top court paid special attention to during his time in the office, which is set to conclude in January 2019.

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UK, Pakistan sign prisoner swap treaty

  16.3  27 December 2018

British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and Interior Secretary Azam Suleman Khan on Thursday signed the UK-Pakistan Prisoner Transfer Agreement.

The agreement means prisoners of both the countries will serve their sentences in their home country. Drew called it an “important step” for both countries.

https://twitter.com/TomDrewUK/status/1078213758474956801/photo/1

State Minister for the Interior Shehryar Afridi and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shazad Akbar were also present.

The federal cabinet approved the treaty on swapping prisoners with England in the beginning of November.

In September British Home Secretary visited Pakistan and discussed the agreement under an initiative titled “UK-Pakistan Justice and Accountability Partnership”. Under the partnership, a joint fund on the recovery of stolen assets would also be set up.

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NA approves motion for formation of Standing Committee on Law and PAC

  16.3  20 December 2018

The National Assembly on Thursday approved a motion for the formation of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Standing Committee on Law.

The motion was presented by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan.

Members of the committee include: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif, Syed Naveed Qamar, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Hina Rabbani Khar, Ayaz Sadiq, Malik Aamir Dogar, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Rana Tanveer, Iqbal Muhammad Ali, Riaz Fatyana as well as other political leaders.

On Dec 13, after months of political wrangling, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan had decided not to oppose Shahbaz Sharif if he insisted on heading the PAC.

The development was a major breakthrough as the impasse between the government and opposition parties over the PAC chairmanship had hampered legislative proceedings since the PTI assumed power in August.

Members of the Law and Justice committee notified today include: Khawaja Saad Rafique, Nafisa Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar, Shahbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah, Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk, Riaz Fatyana, Kishwar Zehra as well as other political leaders.

According to Radio Pakistan, members of the concerned committees will elect their respective chairmen and the speaker of the NA has the authority to make any changes in the committee members.

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Formation of Legal Aid and Justice Authority to facilitate the poor in criminal cases

  16.3  15 December 2018

LEGAL AID AND JUSTICE AUTHORITY:

A copy of the draft of Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill 2018 says that its purpose is to establish the Legal Aid and Justice Authority to provide legal, financial or other assistance and access to justice to the poor and vulnerable segments of the society in criminal cases.

According to the draft, those who are unable to afford legal representation or pay for bail amounts or penalties/fines in criminal cases, except those charged with heinous offences, will be able to apply for legal aid. Women, children and transgender persons will be given preference with respect to “sexual gender-based violent offences (SGBV)”, it adds.

The Aid and Justice Authority Bill 2018 also said that the authority will have a board to administer it with a representation of the federation and all the provinces. It will mainly consist the federal minister for human rights, attorney general of Pakistan and advocate generals of each province, secretaries of human rights, finance, law and justice, Pakistan Bar Council vice chairman, and one prominent female social worker, the proposal reads.

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Money laundering to be made non-bailable offence

  16.4  23 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: The government is set to introduce on Wednesday (today) key amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act 2010 and the Federal Investigation Act (FIA) 1974 as part of the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill 2019 to comply with the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

According to Dawn sources, Finance Minister Asad Umar will brief the federal cabinet on the supplementary finance bill, explaining the reasons and targets of reform packages for various sectors of the economy including small and medium enterprises, agriculture, industry, housing, stock market and exports.

Take a look: Pakistan deserves international support, not a place on the FATF grey-list

The sources added that various changes to laws and regulations had been under discussion for months to address shortcomings related to terror financing and money laundering, but did not materialise for various reasons. Now the government has found an easier legal course in the form of a money bill 2018-19.

Many laws being amended through finance bill to meet FATF requirements

Most of the changes would be made in the FIA of 1974, AML Act 2010, and the related tax laws to facilitate inter-agency coordination and investigations. The amendments, which had been finalised by a committee led by the finance minister, refer to all related agencies working on matters relating to FATF that put Pakistan on the grey list last year for not ‘doing enough’ to meet UN resolutions against organisations purportedly involved in terror financing and money laundering.

These sources said that money laundering would be defined as an offence for which bail would not be available, and a crime punishable under various clauses of a series of laws. The punishment for those involved in the illegal transfer of funds is being enhanced under the new money bill to three to 10 years, from the existing maximum imprisonment clause of a two-year term.

The fine, an official explained, was also being increased from Rs5 million to Rs50m for a director of an exchange company found involved in money laundering, hundi or hawala business. Likewise, the properties of such persons would also be attached as case property for six months instead of the 90 days under the existing laws.

Further, a new section in the proposed money bill would also extend the jurisdiction of FIA to the whole of Pakistan, including new tribal districts recently merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in accordance with the provisions of Article 247 of the Constitution. Some changes are to be made to the Foreign Exchange Regulation Action of 1947 to improve the powers of the State Bank of Pakistan and limit the transportation of foreign exchange and local currency within and outside the country.

Under another proposed section, various tribunals dealing with money laundering, tax laws and hundi and hawala, etc, will be required to complete their business in six months’ proceedings in cases referring to illegal financial transactions, including the sale, purchase and transmission of money and other instruments, including minerals. The FIA will be given permission to seek information regarding financial transactions from banks under a well-defined mechanism that does not allow low-grade FIA staff to misuse power or information.

At a review meeting in Sydney, Australia, earlier this month, FATF had generally shown satisfaction over Islamabad’s efforts and its roadmap against money laundering and terror financing. Pakistan had assured FATF of compliance with steps planned in the next review, scheduled in Paris on February 17-18. Another onsite inspection of Pakistan’s performance will be due in May.

During the May and September meetings later this year, regulators and law enforcement agencies will be expected to demonstrate results in the form of investigation, prosecutions, convictions, supervisory actions, sanctions with resulting impacts on compliance by financial institutions, implementing cross-border currency and border controls, and the enforcement of a regulatory regime at the borders.

In June last year, Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with FATF to strengthen its anti-money laundering regime and to address its strategic counterterrorism financing-related deficiencies by implementing a 10-point action plan. The successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification will lead FATF to remove Pakistan from its grey list or else move into the black list by September 2019. In August last year, Pakistan was found deficient on anti-money laundering/counterterror financing laws and mechanisms.

The authorities are required to upgrade agencies and their human resources to be able to handle foreign requests to block terror financing and freeze illegal and targeted assets. By the end of September next year, Pakistan has to comply with the action plan it committed to with FATF in June.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2019

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FBR detects over Rs14bn sales tax evasion

  16.4  19th January 2019

ISLAMABAD: The FBR’s Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation (DG I&I) has detected 6,186 cases involving sales tax evasion amounting to Rs14.5 billion in the past two months, Dawn has learnt from official sources.

The cases were detected in an investigation initiated since November 12, 2018 for all returns with negative carry forward amount of sales tax.

On October 29, 2018, the government restored powers of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) DG I&I to carry out criminal prosecution against sales tax evaders after a delay of 15 months.

The statutory regulatory order (SRO) 116, which allowed DG I&I to conduct investigation into sales tax evasion, was declared illegal in a Lahore High Court (LHC) judgment in July 2017.

A senior tax official told Dawn that these cases were just the tip of an iceberg. “More breakthroughs are expected in some other high profile cases involving billions of sales tax evasion,” the official said. “We have extended the scope of investigation into some specific sectors,” he added.

The newly appointed chairman FBR Jehanzeb Khan has tasked DG I&I to speed up investigation into sales tax evasion.

As per the investigation of DG I&I, a pattern of negative balance pertaining to unadjusted credit available for the purpose of refunds was detected from analysis of sales tax returns.

Further analysis revealed that taxpayers have illegally enhanced their carry forward amount which resulted in short payment of sales tax in subsequent tax periods.

The official said data was sent to the concerned large taxpayers units (LTUs) and regional tax officers (RTOs) across the country for recovery of sales tax from the identified 6,161 cases.

As per the findings, 798 cases involving an amount of Rs2.25bn were detected in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Of these, so far the Islamabad-based directorate of DG I&I has recovered an amount of Rs388 million in 43 cases. Moreover, six cases were detected which only exists on paper involved in a tax evasion of Rs45m.

The directorate has recommended these cases for blacklisting. 43 cases were selected on the basis of its value which was more than Rs5m. The remaining cases were sent to LTU Islamabad, RTO Islamabad and Rawalpindi, respectively.

According to the official, it was expected that in other cities such cases can be detected which only exists on the paper. “We may identify such cases in the next few weeks,” the official said.

City-wise break up shows that Karachi has emerged with 2,310 cases involving an amount of Rs7.27bn, followed by 1,988 cases in Lahore with an amount of Rs2.44bn.

Other cities where such cases were detected include Peshawar with 278 cases involving an amount of Rs1.45bn, Faisalabad with 209 cases involving an amount of Rs123.7m, 66 cases in Quetta with an amount of Rs144.8m, in Hyderabad 64 cases involving an amount of Rs97.2m, and Sargodha with 43 cases with amount of Rs62.03m, respectively.

In Gujranwala 158 cases were detected involving an amount of Rs185.85m, Sialkot 75 cases Rs43.68m, Sukkur 17 cases with an amount of Rs16.2m, Multan 107 cases of Rs341.7m, Bahawalpur 19 cases with an amount of Rs16.4m and Sahiwal 35 cases involving an amount of Rs34.3m, respectively.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019

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Indian officials try to create problems for Pakistani team at FATF meeting

  16.4  12 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: While the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has expressed satisfaction over Pakistan’s efforts as well as plans against money laundering, India continues to raise questions about terror financing.

“The proceedings went well and almost all the FATF members appreciated measures taken by Pakistan and actions planned by it,” sources told Dawn after the conclusion of a three-day conference in Sydney, Australia.

The sources said that India kept asking questions about the measures Pakistan had taken against Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and other such organisations. It dem­anded that the steps be made public.

The Pakistani delegation explained that all the actions recommended by the FATF had been taken and a compliance report submitted to its headquarters.

The delegation also made it clear that it would be the Pakistan government’s decision whether or not to publicise actions taken against banned organisations and would not succumb to desires of any specific member.

Most other members seem satisfied with Islamabad’s efforts against money laundering, terror financing

Pakistani officials also made it clear that they would not respond to verbal questions from adversaries but would be ready to provide comprehensive responses if written queries were submitted.

The sources said the Indian delegates then filed a total of 28 questions with the FATF, which were shared with the Pakistani delegation.

Pakistan assured the FATF that responses to the questions would be provided in the next review meeting scheduled to be held in Paris on Feb 17-18. All the questions raised by the Indian delegates pertained to actions taken to block terror financing.

The sources said that Pakistan also told the FATF that there was no need for amendments to anti-money laundering laws and the Paris-based financial watchdog accepted Pakistan’s view.

While the action plan presented by Pakistan was accepted by the FATF as reasonable, the country would now follow up with implementation through strengthening of agencies and processes to combat money laundering and terror financing under international obligations.

The Pakistani delegation was led by Finance Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan and comprised representatives of the State Bank of Pakistan, National Counter Terrorism Authority, Federal Investigation Agency, Federal Board of Revenue and Financial Monitoring Unit.

An official claimed that the FATF had highlighted a few matters that were doable by May this year, but progress would need to be registered by February this year. A broader examination of the full compliance with international commitments will take place at another meeting in May, possibly in Sri Lanka or Australia.

Officials said the FATF had gone through the report dispatched by Pakistan last week before the review meetings with the Pakistani delegation involving questions and answers about the performance so far and the way forward. They said the FATF team appeared convinced over the steps and measures taken by the authorities to combat terror financing and money laundering in line with the UN resolutions.

The Pakistani delegation explained the implementation status of plans for various government agencies. Its report identified Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran borders as key routes for terror financing and money laundering and reported that a total of 4,643 suspected transactions had been identified and blocked since 2015, including 3,677 suspected transaction reports and 966 financial intelligence reports.

A total of 1,167 transactions were seized last year alone, including 975 STRs and 210 financial intelligence reports.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2019

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Pakistan delegation departs for FATF meeting with action plan

  16.4  5 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday dispatched a Terror Financing Risk Assessment Report electronically to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) followed by a 12-member team to explain the action plan that the government intends to follow to come into compliance with international obligations and secure an exit from the grey list of the Paris-based watchdog.

A senior government official told Dawn that the high-level delegation led by Secretary Finance Arif Ahmed Khan left for Sydney, Australia to attend a three-day meeting of the FATF. The delegation comprised representatives of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Financial Monitoring Unit.

The official said the delegation will address questions and observations of the FATF on the basis of risk assessment report already transmitted to the global anti-terror financing watchdog. The report highlights the implementation status of plans for various agencies of the government on the FATF’s recommendations.

Islamabad’s report identifies Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran borders as key routes for terror financing and money laundering

It said a total of 4,643 suspected transactions relating to terror financing and money laundering had been identified and blocked since 2015, including 3,677 suspected transaction reports and 966 financial intelligence reports. A total of 1,167 transactions were captured during 2018 alone, including 975 STRs and 210 financial intelligence reports.

The report identified some key routes of the terror financing and money laundering, saying Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran borders were two key routes of such flows.

To address the challenge, checking and security systems at Pak-Afghan border had been strengthened with improved technology and vigilance while security had also been beefed up at Pak-Iran border.

The report said that the long coastal belt was also a source of smuggling and security was being tightened through law enforcement agencies, including through marine and coast guards. It said Afghan Transit Trade was also a source of such unregistered financial flows. All these channels were also being misused by foreign agencies to support terror-related activities.

The tools being used for financial transaction for terrorism included donations, cash smuggling, natural resources, drugs, non-governmental organisations and foreign agencies. The report said the FBR identified about 1,185 illegal transactions since 2015, followed by 1,049 by the SBP and about 1,295 by the FIA.

An official said that no amendment to the law was required for further proscription of organisations. The Foreign Office has given new guidelines, for regulators and law enforcement agencies, so once MOFAP will issue an SRO, the relevant agencies and regulators will move for swift action on that basis.

During the May and September meetings later this year, regulators and law enforcement agencies will be expected to demonstrate results in the form of investigations, prosecutions, convictions, supervisory actions, sanctions with resulting impacts on compliance by financial institutions, implementing cross-border currency and border controls and enforcement of regulatory regime at the borders. NACTA will be expected to enhance coordination with LEAs and CTDs coupled with effective implementation on UNSCR Sanctions.

In June 2018, Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorism financing-related deficiencies by implementing a 10-point action plan to accomplish these objectives. The successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by the APG will lead the FATF to clear Pakistan out of its grey list or else move into the black list by September 2019. In August, the APG as part of the pre-site mutual evaluation identified a series of deficiencies in Pakistan’s anti-money laundering/counter-terror financing laws and mechanisms.

The authorities are required to upgrade agencies and their human resources to be able to handle foreign requests to block terror financing and freeze illegal and targeted assets. By the end of September next year, Pakistan has to comply with the action plan it had committed with the FATF in June to get out of the grey list or else fall into the black list. Over the next nine months, i.e. till September 2019, the government will complete the investigation into the widest range of terror financing activities, including appeals and calls for donations and collection of funds, besides their movements and uses. The outcome will be published at least twice before September next year.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2019

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Security personnel among 10 held for issuing fake arms licences

  16.4  3 January 2019

KARACHI: Police on Wednesday claimed to have arrested 10 men, including dealers and security personnel, for their alleged involvement in issuance of fake arms licences and weapons in the city and other parts of the country.

DIG-CIA Arif Hanif told a press conference that those arrested included five arms dealers, personnel of police, FC and government officials.

He said police got a report that a gang was involved in issuance of fake arms licences to criminals in the city. He said that as part of their strategy to trace and bust the gang, the law enforcers also got issued fake arms licences from the same people.

10 online fraudsters also arrested

“This gang had prepared thousands of fake arms licences, which were provided in Fata, Peshawar, Balochistan and other parts of the country,” he said. “This is a highly professional gang, which works underground for a considerable period of time.”

The DIG said that police constable Saeed Nawaz was also held and he told the police that he used to get details/documents of buyers from arms dealers and provided the same to the office superintendent concerned.

He said that they were also probing that how fake arms licences were verified from the National Database and Registration Authority.

The police also seized a US-made weapon brought here from Afghanistan from the custody of the held suspects.

SSP-CIA Fida Hussain Janwari told Dawn that there were at least 20 members in that gang.

The 10 held suspects were booked under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, as police considered them as “facilitators” of terrorists.

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FATF actions plan: Report identifies primary sources of terror funding

  16.4  19 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: There are half a dozen primary sources of terror financing, having roots both in Pakistan and across the borders, says a Terrorism Financing Risk Assessment report that the government approved on Tuesday.

The report also says hostile agencies are fueling terrorism in Pakistan by providing funding to sub-national terrorist groups. It identifies foreign funding, drug trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, robbery and bank heists as primary sources of funding in Pakistan.

The report has been prepared as part of implementation on 27-point action plan that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) handed over to Pakistan as a prerequisite to exit from its grey list.
It was presented in a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) on Anti Money Laundering, which is chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar. “After detailed deliberations on various aspects of the assessment report, the NEC approved the same subject to addressing certain observations in respect of key policy and legislative areas,” said a handout issued by Finance Ministry.

The report will now be presented in a face-to-face meeting of the Asia Pacific Joint Group that will meet early next week in Australia. The Asia Pacific Group will then present Pakistan’s case in the FATF meeting, taking place in February 2019.

The FATF has given Pakistan nine-month deadline to implement the action plan. Out of these 27 actions, Pakistan is required to deliver on 10 points by January 2019. The authorities insist that it has met most of the actions, although some actions remain pending.

Pakistan believes that it has been made victim of international politics. The government’s positive role in bringing the Taliban and the US to the negotiating table may help ease international pressure on it.

It is the first comprehensive risk assessment report that has been jointly prepared by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The report has identified sources of terror financing and given recommendations for plugging these loopholes.

The role of the law enforcement agencies was critical to implement these recommendations, particularly to curb the sources of terror financing, the sources said. During next six months Pakistan will implement these recommendations by adopting the risk-based approach.

The report has listed the role of foreign intelligence agencies, particularly belonging to Pakistan’s two eastern and western neighbours, in fueling terrorism in Pakistan. These hostile agencies are involved in sabotage activities in Balochistan and Sindh.

Pakistani intelligence agencies have already captured an Indian spy. In order to minimise the infiltration of the terrorists, Pakistan has already started fencing its borders with Afghanistan,

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) made a detailed presentation on the terrorist financing risk assessment, said the Finance Ministry. The NEC also approved the Risk Assessment Report on cash smuggling prepared by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)-Customs.

The terror financing through crypto currency is also one of the areas and the State Band of Pakistan (SBP) has already barred the financial institutions in dealing with crypto currency. However, Pakistan needs to give it a legal cover.

The Law Minister Farogh Naseem briefed the NEC about progress on the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) framework agreements. The FIA informed the meeting about actions that it has taken to curb hawala business and action against bit-coin currency dealers.

The Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) presented an analysis on suspicious transaction reports filed by the financial sector in the last three years and the law enforcement actions against taken money laundering and terror financing on the basis of such reports, said the Finance Ministry.

The NEC advised the authorities concerned to enhance enforcement actions and adopt a result oriented approach, the ministry added. The NEC chairman advised all departmental heads to regularly monitor timely implementation of the FATF Action Plan.

The need for a coordinated effort with the provinces was also highlighted.

The meeting was attended by foreign minister, law minister, minister of state for interior, SBP governor, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) chairman, the FIA director general, Nacta director general, FBR Customs director general, FMU director general and other senior officials.

The SECP has also notified changes in the Intermediaries (Registration) Regulations, 2017 aimed at implementing the FATF requirements. The Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, places compliance obligations on the company service providers (intermediaries) to conduct customer due diligence and report suspicious transactions to Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU).

The amended regulations will require compliance by the intermediaries with the AML/CFT regime. So far, 193 intermediaries have been registered with the SECP under the Companies Act, 2017.

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27 actionable plans: FATF sets another tight deadline for Pakistan

  16.4  26 November 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will have to comply with 27 actionable plans of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by December 15, including sharing evidence for effective implementation against eight mentioned prescribed entities and their affiliates by tracing and freezing their assets.

The FATF has placed this condition to comply with the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1267 and 1373 and Pakistan will have to implement it by May 2019. In case of noncompliance and having no progress, Pakistan could be placed into blacklist or kept into existing grey list for another year anytime during January to September 2019 with far-reaching consequences.

The FATF is scheduled to meet in Sydney from January 5 to 7, 2019 to review the progress report on 670 observations raised by the Asia Pacific Group (APG) — a regional body of FATF — for showing concerns over unsatisfactory report.

The recently-held APG mission has also given a deadline of mid of next month to dispatch compliance report, which will be taken up by the FATF in coming January’s first week meeting at Sydney.

Pakistan’s progress report and APG’s response during October 2018 visit reads out that the regional body of FATF known as APG asked Pakistan to share an explanation of which law enforcing agencies/security intelligence agencies hold information on 1,267 and 1,373 designated persons and entities and their affiliates including Daesh, Al-Qaeda, Falahe-e-Insaniat (FIF), Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Haqqani Network (HQN) and persons affiliated with Taliban. Alone on this one major outcome, the APG team raised 18 observations and sought a detailed response from the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) by December 15, 2018.

The Pakistani side in its written reply told the APG both moveable and immoveable assets of JuD and FIF as well as their welfare services had been seized. In this regard, Punjab, the largest province of the country, has seized 190 assets belonging to JuD and FIF which includes 82 madrasas/marakaz, 70 hospitals/dispensaries, 25 educational institutions, and 13 office centers.

The KP has seized five madrassas and eight masajid seized by the Auqaf Department and two offices sealed in Peshawar related to JuD and FIF. One dispensary in Haripur, and one office, one madrassa, one dispensary and one hospital along with ambulance were sealed by the police in Manshera, one vehicle of FIF and three offices of JuD were sealed in Abbottabad, one office of JuD and one dispensary were sealed by the police in Dera Ismail Khan.

The medical facilities and ambulances services of FIF were seized and handed over to the Pakistan Red Crescent Society. The educational institutions were controlled and managed by the respective provincial governments.

The government appointed administrators for overseeing operations of the institutions taken over by the government. All identified bank accounts of entities/individuals listed under UNSRC 1267, UNSCR-1373 read with UNSC (Pakistan) Act 1948 and entities/individuals prescribed under Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 have been frozen.

Details in this regard show that overall 122 banks accounts have been frozen under UNSCR 1267 having deposits of around Rs1 billion approximately $9.5 million since 2001. In pursuance of UN Resolution 1373, the Ministry of Interior has prescribed 66 organizations/entities under ATA 1997.

An amount of Rs3.6 million has been frozen in respect of eight accounts of prescribed organizations. Overall, the Nacta circulated a list of prescribed individuals under Schedule 4 of ATA 1997. The banks have reported freezing of 4470 bank accounts amounting to around Rs43.2 million.

The APG showed dissatisfaction with the performance report and asked Pakistan to furnish a reply on 18 points including sharing details of inter-agency activities to identify persons and entities acting on behalf of or at the direction designated persons or entities. The APG also sought details of teams/cases which are actively tracing and freezing their assets both moveable and immoveable. What results have been obtained and also provide to each provincial police agency.

What enforcement actions have been taken by LEAs (law enforcing agencies) to prevent the raising and moving of funds as well as any activities designated to evade effective implementation?

What is the procedure for LEAs to enforce prohibitions (UN Act SROs) that forbid the raising and moving of funds? Please provide an explanation of process to go from detection to enforcement of UN Act SRO provisions. Pls do the same for the ATA prohibition on providing funds to prescribed entities/persons.

What do LEAs have to demonstrate to prove “willful” provision of funds/assets to designated person or entities? What is the standard of proof? Which ministry/agency is responsible for sanctioning in cases where it can be shown that there was contravention of the prohibition in the UN Act SRO?

What checks are in place to ensure freezing of all assets? How do the authorities identify persons or entities acting on behalf of or at the direction of designated persons or entities? What actions have the authorities taken to ensure there is no evasion?

Who is controlling the ambulances and medical facilities? Pakistan Government or Red Crescent Society? Has an MoU been finalized and signed with the Red Crescent Society? Whether the staff and management of the seized assets are still the same? Please provide the copies of order by virtue of which the assets of FIF have been handed over to Red Crescent Society after seizure?

Are you able to evidence information about the assets and other economic resources identified listed persons and entities in other provinces since June 2018? Please provide information about the legal status of JuD, FIF (registered legal person or legal arrangement or so on) and what consequential action has been taken by SEC and other registering authorities since listing under UNSCR 1267?

What action is taken against persons on behalf of JuD and FIF who have been identified since the freezing and taking over of assets/ What has happened to the properties seized of JuD and FIF?

When contacted, spokesman for the Ministry of Finance Sunday replied that the government had not yet taken decision on the composition of delegation for attending the next FATF meeting in Australia.

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SBP launches crackdown against criminal activities

  16.4  25 November 2018

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has begun a crackdown against criminals working in the formal payment system at financial institutions including conventional and branchless banking systems to mitigate the risk of terror financing and money laundering.

“It is imperative that any person(s) linked to any criminal activities or affiliated to any terrorist organisation shall not become part of financial institutions as well as Payment System Operators and Payment Service Providers (PSOs/PSPs),” the central bank emphasised in a notification issued on Saturday.

The central bank has asked 25 questions from all the people serving in any capacity in the payment system to check whether they have any criminal record, are they beneficiaries or have conflict of interest in the payment system.
The questions include whether they have remained associated with a banned organisation, faced any criminal charges, held dual nationalities, defaulted on tax payments, served at exchange companies and/or possessed membership of the stock market. These individuals have to answer the questions in yes or no. If any answer comes in the affirmative, then the respondents will have to give details in writing.

Earlier, the authorities discovered numerous fake bank accounts which were suspected of having been used for money laundering amounting to billions of rupees. The authorities have taken into custody a couple of people allegedly associated with the fake accounts.

“The State Bank of Pakistan, from time to time, has been issuing instructions to strengthen the FPT (Fit and Proper Test) criteria in view of the potential risks arising from money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing,” the central bank said. “Any person subject to FPT shall become disqualified if he/she is found to be designated/proscribed or associated directly or indirectly with designated/ proscribed entities/persons under the United Nations Security Council resolution or Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.”

The new instructions from the SBP came after recent warning from the Asia Pacific Group (APG), a subsidiary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), that Pakistan did not fully comply with 33 out of 40 regulations for improving the payment system.

First five questions out of 25

Have you ever been convicted/involved in any fraud/forgery, financial crime, etc in Pakistan or elsewhere, are subject to any pending proceedings leading to any conviction?

Are you a dual national? If yes, please specify the nationality other than Pakistani.

Have you ever been associated with any illegal activity concerning banking business, deposit-taking, financial dealing and other business?

Have you ever been subject to any adverse findings or any settlement in civil/ criminal proceedings particularly with regard to investments, financial/business, misconduct, fraud, formation or management of a corporate body, etc by the SBP, other regulators, professional bodies or government bodies/agencies?

Have you ever contravened any of the requirements and standards of the regulatory system or the equivalent standards or requirements of other regulatory authorities?

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Monitoring NGOs’ working to be a tough task for SECP: experts

  16.4  23 November 2018

ISLAMABAD: As the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is set to take a decision on Pakistan’s efforts against terror financing in September 2019 to de-list the country from its grey list, experts believe that it would be a daunting task for the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakis­tan (SECP) to monitor thousands of NGOs registered with provinces as these organisations have allegedly been used for terror financing.

Speaking at a workshop on anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations here on Thursday, they highlighted that the FATF recommendations were of global standards for countering terror financing.

The SECP cancelled registration of 3,000 NGOs and non-profit organisations (NPOs) during 2017-18 as their accounts ware suspected to be misused for money laundering.

But the SECP has no jurisdiction to regulate or monitor around 15,000 NPOs registered under provincial laws across the country.

The FATF requires Pakistan to implement its recommendation for countering terror financing.

Khalida Habib, head of SECP’s anti-money laundering and international relations departments, said that the commission’s obligations under FATF action plan included identifying and assessing terror financing risks, in relevant sectors, geographic locations, channels and products, in consultation with other stakeholders and departments.

She said: “SECP’s AML regime is aimed at protecting financial system and the economy from the threats of money laundering and terror financing.”

She recalled that the FATF had observed deficiencies in Pakistan’s implementation of AML/CFT regime in February and in June the country was placed on FATF’s grey list for the strategic deficiencies.

“However Pakistan committed to implementing the action plan and the non-implementation of action plan may result in blacklisting of the country,” she said, adding Pakistan gave high-level political commitment to implement the action plan as agreed with FATF to address the notified deficiencies. She said the FATF would monitor progress against the agreed upon action plan that would be completed by September 2019.

She said that two parallel FATF monitoring processes were currently under way, the first was Pakistan’s mutual evaluation by Asia Pacific Group-against FATF 40 recommendations and the second was FATF Action Plan – 27 Actions.

The FATF Action Plan – 27 Actions has identified four key areas of concerns, which are deficiencies in the supervision AML/CFT regime by both the financial institution and the NPOs.

The other deficiencies were cross-border illicit movement of currency by terrorist groups, progress on terrorism financing investigation and prosecution by the law enforcement and effective implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on suspicious financing.

Waseem Ahmad Khan, additional director of SECP’s corporatisation and compliance department, briefed on the commissions regulatory framework for beneficial ownership.

He said that the SECP had issued a circular that required companies having legal persons as members or shareholders to take reasonable measures to obtain and maintain up-to-date information relating to their ultimate beneficial owners in a register of ultimate beneficial ownership.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2018

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Agreements signed with 10 countries to bring ‘looted money’ back: PM’s special assistant

  16.4  22 November 2018

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shehzad Akbar has said that the government has signed agreements with 10 countries to bring “the looted money of the nation” back, Radio Pakistan reported on Thursday.

Akbar, while speaking to a private news channel, said that the government has gathered important information about the money and that the details about the Rs700 billion “looted public money” will be shared with the nation through media in due time.

He said that the government will continue the due process of accountability and that a legal process is underway to “bring back the looted money stashed away abroad”.

The prime minister’s special assistant also said that the government will protect the interests of overseas Pakistanis and the business community will be facilitated for boosting economic activities in the country.

A day earlier, while addressing overseas Pakistanis in Malaysia, Prime Minister Imran Khan had also spoken about the efforts being made to facilitate expats in contributing to the country’s economy.

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Senior NAB official defends plea bargain provision

  16.5  30 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: Defending the controversial provision of plea bargain in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, a senior official of the National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) has said that it is the only law in the country for the swift recovery of plundered wealth.

“A plea bargain is the quickest way for the recovery of looted wealth and its return to victims of white-collar crimes,” NAB Rawal­pindi’s Director General Irfan Naeem Mangi said while addressing the third Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corrup­tion Summit, 2019, organised by an Islamabad-based NGO, Corporate Resear­ch and Investigations, at a local hotel here on Tuesday.

Mr Mangi is the head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) currently investigating the fake bank accounts case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, other leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and property tycoon Malik Riaz. He was also a member of the JIT formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the Panama Papers case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

“It is a thorny issue and everyone criticises the plea bargain provision without understanding it,” the NAB official said.

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He said a plea bargain was usually availed by those accused who did not want to go to jail, but ready to return the looted money. “People have a wrong perception about the plea bargain provision as they do not know that those availing it are considered guilty and they do not hold public office and operate bank accounts for 10 years,” he added.

Backing the plea bargain provision in the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, Mr Mangi criticised the country’s judicial system and said: “You are well aware that our legal process may take five to 10 years in finalising a case and victims of white-collar crimes cannot get their money back till disposal of their cases.”

In reply to a question, he claimed that none of the NAB officials had got benefit in the plea bargain deals.

The NAB director general apprised the audience through slides show how corruption affects common people in their daily life. He referred to a case of wheat embezzlement in Sehwan and showed decaying heaps of wheat bags in a godown. He said poor people in the area were starving and the owner of the godown did not provide them even a partly amount of wheat.

Answering a question about money laundering committed by some dual nationality holder Pakista­nis and difficulties faced by NAB while getting information about them from any other state, Mr Mangi said although Pakistan had signed mutual legal assistance deals with many countries, it was quite difficult to get such information from other countries.

He said there were some corruption cases in which women were also involved.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2019

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Pakistan makes slight improvement in Corruption Perceptions Index 2018

  16.5  29 January 2019

Pakistan has made a slight improvement in the ‘Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2018’ released by the Transparency International on Tuesday, with score of 33 out of 100 — one point better than the one in 2017. The country’s ranking of 117 out of 180 countries, however, remains as it was in 2017.

On the release of the 2018 Index, Chairman of Transparency International Pakistan, Sohail Muzaffar, said that Pakistan has to act seriously to control “rampant corruption” in the country. The economic condition in the country cannot improve till this menace is tackled, he said.

“Foreign businesses check the ease of doing business before taking the decision to start working with a country. Pakistan will need to improve its ranking in the various International surveys to attract foreign investments which is necessary for it to improve its GDP growth rate,” Muzaffar said.

He added that exemplary punishments should be given to all those involved in corruption. Anti-corruption laws should be strengthened and agencies governed by these laws should be able to easily prosecute the corrupt.

The 2018 CPI reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world.

“With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe — often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies — we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights,” said Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International. “Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption.”

More than two-thirds of countries have a score below 50, with an average score of only 43.

Since 2012, only 20 countries have significantly improved their scores, including Argentina and Côte D’Ivoire, and 16 have significantly declined, including, Australia, Chile and Malta.

Denmark and New Zealand top the index with 88 and 87 points, respectively. Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria are at the bottom of the index, with 10, 13 and 13 points, respectively.

The highest scoring region is Western Europe and the European Union, with an average score of 66, while the lowest scoring regions are sub-Saharan Africa, with the average score 32, while Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the average score of 35.

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Senators question legal status of black list

  16.5  15th January 2019

ISLAMABAD: Senators on Monday raised questions over the legal status of the ‘black list’ used to bar individuals from travelling abroad.

During a meeting of the Senate’s Standing Commit­tee on Law and Justice, senators belonging to the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) asked under which law the names of people were placed on the black list.

Senators Raza Rabbani and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar of the PPP and Musaddik Masood Malik and Ayesha Raza Farooq of the PML-N asked as to where the instructions for putting people’s names on the black list came from and under which law the steps were taken.

Mr Khokhar said that during a meeting of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights the interior ministry said there was no law except for the Exit Con­trol Act under which an embargo on fundamental rights could be clamped.

The government is applying a new 30-day temporary travel restriction against those wanted by the state, to bypass the earlier long and tedious process of the Exit Control List.

The meeting was informed that the Federal Investiga­tion Agency (FIA) can now place a temporary ban on an individual for a month under a provisional nationality identification list that is prepared on the orders of courts.

Chairman of the committee Javed Abbasi decided to seek a detailed briefing on the issue from the relevant officials, including the interior secretary, the FIA director general and the director general immigration and passports, to know under which authority the ban has been placed, where the ins­tructions for putting people’s names on the black list came from and how many people have so far been blacklisted.

The meeting decided that the interior minister, human rights minister, human rights secretary and Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights would also attend the meeting.

The committee then discussed the proposed legislation for providing simple mechanism to address the miseries of citizens in obtaining succession certificates and other related matters, including the proposal to declare family registration certificate prepared by Nadra as succession certificate and subsequent filing of any objections with the courts of law.

Mr Abbasi later deferred the matter till the next meeting, saying that the procedures should be simplified and concerns of the members be addressed.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2019

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Justice Khosa recommends bail facility in NAB law

  16.5  15 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who will be sworn in as the chief justice of Pakistan on January 18, has underlined for the second time in two months incorporation in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of bail facility to the accused persons, arraigned by the anti-graft watchdog. “The concept of bail should be introduced in NAO so that we [superior courts] should not have to use their constitutional powers [to deal with such bail matters],” Justice Khosa remarked on Monday while being part of a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

The panel heard and dismissed the appeal of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), seeking cancellation of the bails of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam granted by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the judgment of an accountability court of Islamabad in the London apartments’ reference. Justice Khosa’s observation may infuse a sense of urgency in the government to amend the NAO without further delay so that the NAB accused persons can apply for bail to the accountability courts instead of approaching high courts.

In mid-November last year, Justice Khosa, who had authored the judgment of the three-member bench led by the chief justice, had suggested that in the changed scenario, the legislature may, if so advised, consider amending the NAO appropriately so as to enable an accused person to apply for bail before the relevant accountability court in the first instance.

He also wrote that the intention behind introduction of Section 9(b) of the NAO, which ousts the jurisdiction of the superior courts regarding grant of bail, already stood neutralised due to opening of the door for bail through exercise of constitutional jurisdiction of a high court. Resultantly, the judge noted, the entire burden is being shouldered by the high courts, which is an unnecessary drain on their precious time. He said that the high courts and the Supreme Court had always felt difficulty in adjusting the requirements of “without lawful authority” and “of no legal effect” relevant to a writ of certiorari [Article 199(1)(a)(ii) of the Constitution] with the requirements of bail provided in Section 497 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Another amendment recommended by Justice Khosa in the same verdict related to revision of the unrealistic timeframe [thirty days] for conclusion of a trial as specified in Section 16(a). It has never happened that an accountability court decided a reference within thirty days.

Another three-judge bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, has stated that if the appropriate amendment [to change the voluntary return (VR) clause] is not done by February this year, the court will give its ruling and it has jurisdiction to strike down any law, violating the Constitution. The panel heard a case for interpretation of Section 25-A of the NAO, which empowers the NAB chairman to accept VR from an accused, who is even permitted to continue his job without departmental proceedings.

Justice Azmat Saeed said a crime cannot end through an administrative order and cannot be abolished on approval of VR. He said that the NAB writes letters to the accused persons regarding VRs after initiating inquiries.

During its talks with the opposition parties, the government has shown keenness to make the three amendments in the NAO relating to the provision of bail facility to the accused, revision of the unreasonable time period of trial by an accountability court and VR. The other side has agreed to these changes but wants more amendments like drastic reduction in the physical remand period, separation of the prosecutor general’s office from that of the NAB chairman, dilution of the powers of the NAB chief by forming a three-member committee also including the directors general of law and finance etc. However, the government is hesitant to provide to the opposition a package of amendments.

Legal experts say the Parliament and government have no option but to enact the amendments suggested by the Supreme Court. “Such recommendations and suggestions can’t be taken lightly,” said one of them. A number of rounds of talks have been held between the senior representatives of the government and opposition to reach an agreement on the amendments in the NAO and other laws, but a consensus is still not in sight. “We are still waiting for the complete package,” former Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who is a key negotiator of the opposition, told The News.

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NAB chief defends 90-day remand, plea bargain

  16.5  2 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: National Accoun­t­ability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal on Tuesday defended laws relating to physical remand of accused and plea bargain.

Speaking at a function held to distribute recovered money among the victims of different scams at the Rawalpindi NAB, Justice Iqbal said the provisions of NAB laws had not been declared ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘illegal’ even by the Supreme Court during their thorough study in the Asfandyar Wali case.

Regarding criticism of physical remand of the accused for 90 days, he said: “NAB cannot complete its investigation in 15 days.”

Rejects criticism, saying investigation cannot be completed in 15 days

The NAB chief said he had a great respect for parliament and always abided by its directives, but it was illogical to force the bureau to go for a 15-day remand.

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“It [corruption] is not a crime like robbery, dacoity or murder in which police arrest the accused, record their confessional statements, visit the crime scene and present the challan before a court,” he said.

Justice Iqbal said: “NAB deals with the white-collar crime in which money is transferred from Lahore [for example] to the US via Islamabad and Dubai and property is purchased through this money in the US or it is deposited in banks there.”

He said it had become difficult to get information about an accused and his/her assets from foreign countries because they had their own laws and policies.

Supporting the provision of plea bargain in the NAB Ordinance, 1999, Justice Iqbal claimed that no other anti-graft agency could collect that amount of money which NAB had recovered through plea bargain.

He said the Rawalpindi NAB had always played a prominent role in contributing towards the overall performance of the bureau.

Justice Iqbal distributed Rs748 million among the victims of three housing societies — Shaheen Foun­dation, Tele Town Housing Socie­ties and Chargia Housing Society, Wah.

He said that because of NAB’s proactive strategy and excellent perform­ance for eradication of corruption from the country, the Corruption Perception Index of Pakistan had continuously decreased. Organisations like Pildat, Mishal, Gillani and Gallop Survey, Transparency International and World Economic Forum had acknowledged NAB’s performance, he added.

“Our success as the country’s biggest apex anti-corruption agency inspires us to redouble our efforts in performance of our national duty with more professionalism, dedication and commitment to eradicate the menace of corruption from our beloved motherland in all its forms and manifestations,” he added.

He said NAB’s conviction rate was more than 70 per cent and it had recovered Rs297 billion since its inception from corrupt elements. “Today 1,210 corruption references are under trial involving Rs900 billion,” he said.

The NAB chief said the bureau was the only organisation in the world with whom China had signed a memorandum of understanding to streamline cooperation in the field of anti-corruption and to oversee projects being undertaken under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

NAB has established its first forensic science lab which has facilities of digital forensics, questioning documents and analysing fingerprints.

He said that the bureau had introduced a new system of Combine Inve­stigation Team (CIT) in order to benefit from the experience and collective wisdom of senior supervisory officers.

“A system of CIT comprising a director, additional director, investigation officer and a senior legal counsel has been put in place. This will not only lend quality to the work but also ensure that no single individual can influence the proceedings. The results of CIT are very encouraging,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Rawal­pi­n­di NAB director general Irfan Naeem Mangi said 7,841 complaints were rece­ived last year and more than 7,000 of them were disposed of.

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2019

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Senate panel passes ECL amendment bill 2018

  16.5  31 December 2018

The Exit Control List amendment bill, 2018, was passed with a simple majority by the Senate Standing Committee for Interior on Monday.

Senator Rehman Malik presided the session of the standing committee, during which Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Raza Rabbani presented the ECL amendment bill 2018. The interior ministry opposed the bill, however, it was approved by the standing committee with a majority.

The bill will be sent to the parliament and if passed by both the upper and lower house it will be forwarded to the president for approval.

According to the bill, the federal government needs to provide solid reasons to place someone’s name on the ECL and in case of an appeal, the federal government will be responsible to submit a reply within 15 days. If the government doesn’t submit a reply, the decision to place the name on the ECL will be considered void.

Raza Rabbani also presented recommendations which stated that the person whose name is being placed on the ECL should be notified 24 hours in advance and that the interior secretary will not have the authority to place the name on the ECL.

“Granting approval authority to any public office holder is illegal. The approval authority of the ECL should rest with the federal cabinet,” the bill stated.

Senator Rehman Malik stated that “we won’t let anyone meddle in the ECL,” adding that names will not be placed on the list out of an individual’s will, but rather in accordance with the law.

“One person is left out of the list, while another is placed on it. Why weren’t those people placed on the list against whom the National Accountability Bureau has initiated inquiries,” he said adding that they will not allow ECL to be misused, and an infringement of individual’s basic rights.

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KP Ehtesab Commission dissolved, cases transferred to ACE

  16.5  28 December 2018

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission was dissolved after the provincial assembly repealed the Ehtesab Commission Act, 2014, on Friday amid desk-thumping by MPAs of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

The bill says that on coming into force of this Act, all inquiries, investigations and references initiated by the defunct commission shall be transferred to Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE). Regular employees of the body and Ehtesab courts shall be given an option to continue their services as surplus employees or accept the golden handshake, offered by the government as per its policy.

The services of contractual employees of the commission shall stand terminated while assets and liabilities of the now defunct body shall be deemed to be assets and liabilities of the government.

Contractual employees of body stand terminated as PA repeals law

Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal MPA Malik Zafar Azam walked out of the house when his amendments were not accommodated in the bill while Awami National Party MPA Salahuddin withdrew his amendments after the treasury benches opposed the same.

The bill was passed with majority.

The Ehtesab commission established in 2014 was a brainchild of PTI chairman Imran Khan, who wanted speedy and even handed accountability of corrupt elements in the province. But the commission failed to convict a single person during the last three years despite spending over Rs800 million of taxpayers’ money.

“Regrettably, PTI was taking credit when the commission was constituted and now the party’s MPAs are thumping desks to celebrate its dissolution,” remarked ANP MPA Sardar Hussain Babak. He said that the ruling party had misused powers by creating accountability commission in the province at the cost taxpayers’ money.

The House passed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Continuation of Laws in Erstwhile Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata) Bill, 2018. Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal MPAs from Malakand division boycotted the bill, while other parties of the opposition abstained from the legislation.

The bill was introduced in the provincial assembly on December 12 to give legal protection to all laws and regulations, including Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011, in former Pata, which was merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the wake of 25th Amendment in the Constitution in May last.

MMA MPA Inayatullah Khan, before boycotting the sitting, asked the government to constitute committee to study previous regulations, laws, notifications and other legal documents before the amendment. He asked the government to give time frame in the bill for the continuation of existing regulations and laws promulgated in Malakand during the last few decades.

“If Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011 is so viable and effective, then why it was not introduced in Peshawar,” argued Mr Khan, adding that the bill did not carry details of laws and regulations. Other opposition members also opposed the bill and urged treasury to provide list of the regulations and laws, which were being continued.

Law Minister Sultan Mohammad Khan attempted to persuade opposition to withdraw its amendments and insisted that the government had no bad intention behind continuation of laws and regulations. He said that omission of Article 247 from the Constitution created vacuum in the area. He said that government had no intention to extend federal and provincial taxes to Malakand.

During question hour, the ruling party was on defensive when ANP lawmaker Sardar Hussain Babak challenged the government to request National Accountability Bureau to probe Kendal Dam project or refer it to the House committee.

He said that cost of the project had increased from Rs817.719 million to Rs2.33 billion. He alleged that he knew people, who allegedly received kickbacks in the project. The federal government-funded project executed in Swabi in 2014.

“The government should accept my challenge and ask NAB to probe this project,” said Mr Babak.

Ministers Sultan Mohammad and Shaukat Ali Yousafzai asked opposition member to go to NAB with all documents. “PTI is against corruption and the MPA should approach NAB instead of challenging the government,” said Mr Yousafzai.

The government’s contention was that cost of the project was increased after detailed design of the dam. In a written reply, the irrigation department said that command area of the dam had increased from 5,000 acres to 13,200 acres after detailed design. The question was admitted for detailed discussion.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA Sardar Aurngzeb Nalotha asked the government to arrest culprits involved in the rape and murder of three-year-old girl in Abbottabad and register case under anti-terrorism law. He also appealed to chief justice of Supreme Court to take suo moto notice of the barbaric incident.

The House also admitted two identical adjournment motions regarding Bus Rapid Transit project for detailed discussion.

Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani read order of the governor to prorogue the session.

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Parliament asked to amend NAB voluntary return law by February

  16.5  21 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked parliament to amend the accountability law allowing voluntary return of plundered money by February next year or else the court would pass an appropriate order in this regard.

An SC bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that it was tantamount to confession of offence if an accused person voluntary returned part of ill-gotten money and that it could not undo the crime.

The apex court was hearing a suo motu case about voluntary return.

An amicus curie in the case, Farooq H. Naek, said that a parliamentary committee was working to overhaul the National Accountability Ordinance and suggested that instead of the court, parliament might be allowed to make an amendment to the law.

Justice Saeed said that the court could strike down the voluntary return law since it was an admission of committing of an offence, adding that there was no room in the law to waive criminal liability through an executive order.

In case of failure, Supreme Court may pass an appropriate order

The court made it clear that in case there was no amendment to repeal voluntary return by the first week of February 2019, the court might pass an order in this regard.

Voluntary return is an option under which an accused returns plundered money during investigation before the filing of a corruption reference in an accountability court. In case of a trial, plea bargain option is used for this purpose.

Last year, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had said that the apex court would review plea bargain powers of the National Accountability Bureau chairman.

The chief justice had observed that the discretionary powers of the NAB chairman regarding plea bargain could not be unlimited.

He had asked if a person who had committed fraud against the state and then returned (plundered) money, what punishment was there for him.

The chief justice had asked the bureau’s prosecutor why NAB did not decide the matter in prescribed time period while filing a reference.

Justice Nisar had said the court would see whether plea bargain was right or wrong.

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Bill to establish whistleblower protection commission drafted as per PM Imran’s instructions

  16.5  15 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is all set to introduce new anti-corruption laws, for the establishment of Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission and Legal Aid and Justice Authority, as the Ministry of Law and Justice has drafted new bills following the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to well-placed sources, the ruling party is hopeful to grab support of major political parties in the parliament on the proposed anti-graft laws after conceding the chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif.

They said that the Ministry of Law and Justice has drafted new bills, as per the instructions of PM Imran, which will be presented in the parliament for approval soon.

The introduction of the proposed laws will help in ending corruption from the federal and provincial ministries, divisions, autonomous bodies, the sources said, adding that the establishment of the proposed Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission will help in taking direct action against the corrupt government officials.

Also, a central Mutual Legal Assistance Authority will be established to end money laundering and to retrieve looted wealth from abroad while a Legal Aid and Justice Authority will also be formed, sources said.

WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION COMMISSION:

A copy of the draft of the Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission Bill 2018 disclosed that under the proposed statute, a whistleblower will be able to provide information to an independent commission regarding any corrupt practice.

The commission, after assessing the information, would forward the same to the NAB, FIA (in complaints regarding money laundering), SECP (pertaining to public listed companies), and provincial anti-corruption departments.

Similarly, the commission will become the complainant before these authorities while keeping the identity of the whistleblower confidential to afford protection for them. Likewise, the confidentiality of the whistleblower is a step in the direction towards witness protection and the identities will not be disclosed unless the whistleblower itself desires to go public.

In case any recovery is affected in view of the information provided by the whistleblowers, he/she would get 20% of the recovered amount, the draft suggests, and adds that in case of more than one whistleblower, 20% reward amount will be shared equitably apportioned between them in terms of the level of contribution.

Moreover, under the new law, the whistleblower will be offered protection from dismissal or removal from office, disciplinary proceedings, threat, intimidation, etc. Anonymous whistleblower information will not be entertained, the draft proposed.

The commission will have all the powers under the Civil Procedure Code and the Criminal Procedure Code with a view to obtaining information from any office, authority, department or person. In case of submission of false information, the informant will be visited with imprisonment of two years or fine up to two lac rupees, or both.

In view of the new statute, the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2017 legislated by the previous government may be repealed because under the 2017 act, the information could only be provided to the head of the particular department or institution and it would be left to his sole discretion so as to proceed with any complaint or otherwise. Under the KP statute with regard to a whistleblower, the law is only applicable to ongoing investigations.

Members of the whistleblower commission will be appointed by the government. The eligibility criteria for the appointment of members is given in the section 4 (4) of the new statute, which reads, “No person shall be recommended for appointment as a Member unless that person is known for his integrity, expertise, eminence and experience for not less than ten years in any relevant field including industry, commerce, economics, finance, law, accountancy, public administration, or service of Pakistan.”

The federal government will also appoint a chairman of the new commission.

MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE:

According to draft of Mutual Legal Assistance Bill, 2018, the new statute — which was being debated for the last nine years — will regulate the procedure for rendering and soliciting MLA in criminal matters by Pakistan.

The main reason for the foreign government not complying with Pakistan’s requests for asset or foreign asset recovery has been the non-availability of MLA law, the proposal says, adding that there are statutes such as the NAB Ordinance, FBR laws, Extradition Act, the SECP statute, the AML dispensation, PECA and the Anti-Narcotics laws which partly provides for the same.

It argues that the main complaint of the foreign governments is that there is no central authority which processes MLA requests made by foreign governments. The lack of a central MLA authority is also one of the objections in FATF regime, it says.

The draft further said that through the new statute, the federal government will appoint the interior secretary or any other officer of the government in the central MLA authority in view of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and United Nations Conventions Against Transnational Organised Crime.

Similarly, once the MLA law is passed, it will facilitate the stolen asset recovery from abroad and address one of the FATF objections, the proposal suggests and adds that the central MLA authority under the new statute will be focused with regard to sending and soliciting MLA requests.

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Law ministry proposes change in MLA regime

  16.5  29 November 2018

ISLAMABAD: The ministry of law and justice has proposed drastic changes in the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) regime and empowered the interior secretary to send MLA requests to — and receive from — foreign countries.

The change in the regime was part of the 100-day agenda of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

According to the law ministry’s proposal: “Through the new statute, the federal government will appoint the interior secretary or any other officer of the government as the Central MLA Authority in keeping with the United Nations Conven­tion Against Corruption (UNCAC) and United Nat­ions Conventions Against Tra­nsnational Organised Crime.”

It clarified that the MLA regimes already available under the existing statutes should be kept intact, but the Central MLA Authority under the new statute would be focused with regard to sending and soliciting MLA requests.

The main reason for foreign governments not complying with Pakistan’s requests for asset or foreign asset recovery has been the non-availability of MLA law, the law ministry’s proposal said.

There are statutes such as the NAB Ordinance, FBR laws, Extradition Act, the SECP statute, the AML dispensation, PECA and the Anti-Narcotics laws which partly provide for MLA. However, the main complaint of the foreign governments is that there is no central authority which processes MLA requests made by foreign governments.

“The law ministry is hopeful that once the MLA law is passed it shall facilitate the stolen asset recovery from abroad and shall also remove one of the FATF objections,” the proposal read.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2018

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Pakistan Citizen’s Portal app clinches 2nd spot at World Government Summit

  16.6  13 February 2019

The Pakistan Citizens’ Portal app, which was launched in October last year by Prime Minister Imran Khan, was declared the second best government mobile application in the world at the World Government Summit, the premier announced in a tweet on Wednesday.

About 4,646 mobile applications of different categories were submitted by 87 countries in the competition held in Dubai at the WGS earlier this week. Indonesia came out on top while the United States stood at the third spot.

The citizen’s portal app was developed by a team in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa “free of cost” in a “record time of 45 days”, the prime minister said.

“This is the first time any government-owned mobile application [has] reached this level in Pakistan.”

So far, around 250,000 out of 420,000 complaints that were registered through the app have been resolved with 55 per cent ‘satisfactory’ feedback from the public, according to statistics posted by Prime Minister Khan.

The application has a 4.5 rating on Google Play and a 3.5 rating on Apple Store.

The World Government Summit is a non-profit organisation, that holds an annual event in Dubai. According to its website, the World Government Summit is a “global platform dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide”. The organisation aims to “set the agenda for the next generation of governments” to tackle both global and local challenges with the help of technological innovations.

The event held by the World Government Summit serves as “knowledge exchange platform” by bringing together governments and private entrepreneurs. Leaders, entrepreneurs and experts from over 150 countries are invited every year.

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PTI govt to sign performance contract with 11 ministries

  16.6  31 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: The PTI-led government is all set to revive an old plan for signing performance contract with 11 ministries in a bid to improve governance structure and service delivery, a minister said on Wednesday.

The idea of signing performance contract was floated by the last PML-N led regime but they could not implement it under their five-year rule. Now, the PTI government has been making plans to implement this idea with the hope that it would help improve governance and upscale the performance of civil servants.

Despite making tall claims, the PTI regime has been unable to implement civil service reforms, as a summary tabled by a committee led by Dr Ishrat Hussain proved to be a bone of contention on security of tenure for civil servants. A ministerial committee was also formed, but nothing substantial came out of it.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform and Statistics Division Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar said the government was devising a strategy to foster innovations and reforms in public sector entities to make them more efficient and productive.

He further said that major focus has been given to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 12th five year plan to achieve all the targets. The federal minister said this while talking to UNDP Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne, who called on him in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Appreciating the support of UNDP for governance reforms and attainment of SDGs, the minister said that improving governance indicators and service delivery were among the main agenda of the present government.

The purpose behind these reforms was to bring in e-governance, and to enhance capacity of ministries on technical issues and existing human resources to improve the performance and output of government institutions, the minister added.

Bakhtyar highlighted that initially 11 ministries were identified, which would be offered to sign performance contracts for enhancement of output and service delivery. The minister also appreciated UNDP support for capacity building and providing technical expertise in various sectors as well as for URAAN project to improve governance.

Talking about SDGs, the minister said the government’s socio-economic agenda was aligned with the SDGs, and that efforts were underway to frame a comprehensive strategy to achieve all the targets. He apprised that he would go to New York in July this year to present Pakistan’s first report on Voluntary National Review (VNR) of SDGs. However, sources said the Planning Commission proposed signing of performance contract of 11 selected ministries under the civil service reforms.

During the PML-N’s tenure, a summary was forwarded to the former premier and proposed allocation of Rs1 billion at initial stage with selection of three ministries for granting awards and incentives to its employees, but it had never seen approval and implementation.

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Crossed 100,000 mark of resolved complaints by ‘Pakistan Citizen Portal’, claims PM Imran Khan

  16.6  31 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that today, we have crossed 100,000 mark of resolved complaints by Pakistan Citizen Portal App.

Imran Khan took to Twitter saying, “This marks the highest and fastest grievance redressel in our history: that too within short span of 60 days only.”

He urged the fellow citizens to use Pakistan Citizen’s Portal” App for effective complaints’ response.

Imran Khan

@ImranKhanPTI
Today, we crossed 100,000 mark of resolved complaints by Pakistan Citizen Portal App. This marks the highest & fastest grievance redressel in our history: that too within short span of 60 days only. I urge my fellow citizens to use @PakistanPMDU for effective complaints’ response

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10:59 PM – Dec 31, 2018
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On October 28, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched ‘Pakistan Citizen Portal’ with an aim to timely address problems of the people and get their feedback.

PM Khan termed his government’s innovative programme a medium for ‘a quantum change’ by enabling the citizens to have a say in the government affairs through registration of their complaints/suggestions, highlighting the functioning of all its ministries, departments and offices.

Addressing the launching ceremony of the Pakistan Citizens’ Portal (PCP) here at the PM Office, the prime minister said it was one of the manifestations of “Naya Pakistan” in which the people would get a sense to own the government.

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Federal ombudsperson launches Complaint Management Information System

  16.6  20 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: Federal Ombudsman Syed Tahir Shahbaz has inaugurated an instant complaints resolution mechanism through the integrated Complaint Management Information System (CMIS) in federal departments and agencies to redress public grievances.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, he said the system operates in 118 federal ministries and departments where complaints are resolved within 60 days. He added that the organisation received complaints from the general public against 120 federal departments.

The Ombudsman’s Secretariat had already established the CMIS under which every agency or department had nominated a focal person designated as Grievance Liaison Officer for entertaining and resolving complaints relating to his department within 30 days.
He said people were filing more complaints about some ministries and therefore the ombudsman faced difficulties to handle the high number of applications. He added that the new system aims at helping resolve this issue.

If a ministry takes more than 30 days to resolve a complaint, it would automatically shift to the portal of the Federal Ombudsman and be resolved within the following 30 days. He said the relevant officers of these departments would be provided training.

Initially complaints of 19 departments are being linked to the system, while the remaining departments and ministries will be linked later. He said that the complainant does not need to hire a lawyer to get the complaint addressed in 60 days.

He said it was a collective responsibility to address maladministration, increase efficiency and bring transparency in the operation of the government machinery. He also appreciated the federal agencies for willingly participating in the newly introduced integrated system.

He shared that it was the foremost duty of a government functionary to serve the public and satisfy the citizens. Shahbaz said that delay in resolving issues leads to corruption, therefore, every agency should establish an in-house accountability system. (With additional input from APP)

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Govt to amend law to depoliticise bureaucracy

  16.6  25 November 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to amend rules under the Civil Servants Act to post the civil servants on probation basis in a bid to discourage their loyalties with political parties.

After coming to power, the PTI faced a tough time from the civil bureaucracy especially in Punjab loyal to the former ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The new government faced problems even in transfers and postings of civil bureaucracy.

Through amendment in the rules under Civil Servants Act, 1973, the Task Force on Civil Service has proposed to post top bureaucracy for three years.
Initially, the top bureaucrats will be posted for six months on probation basis and this period will be extended based on their performance. The cabinet has formed a sub body to refine these proposals.

The cabinet in a recent meeting was informed that strengthening institutions of governance and de-politicising the civil service are among high priority areas for the government.

One of the key instruments for depoliticising the civil service is ensuring security of posting tenure. Arbitrary, punitive and whimsical transfers cultivate personal loyalties instead of a culture of performance and accountability.

Important policy initiatives of the government and projects often remain unimplemented within the stipulated time or within the projected cost because of lack of continuity in the tenure of key civil servants.

The Task Force on Civil Service in its meeting held on September 27 agreed in principle that the proposal regarding tenure security would be presented for consideration of the cabinet immediately for future appointments. Careful screening of candidates would be carried out before appointments and postings.

The cabinet was briefed that the existing policy is that the normal tenure of an officer on the same post is three years. Posting of an officer on the same post beyond the normal tenure will require concurrence of the competent authority in each case.

The Supreme Court in a case had also reaffirmed the principles of law that protect an officer from premature transfer. The process of selection on key posts was also recommended to be further refined by way of using separate selection committees to propose a panel of candidates after initial screening.

For the selection of a federal secretary, establishment secretary and secretary to prime minister, it would examine the dossier of eligible candidates, scrutinise their suitability for the post and recommend a panel of three candidates against each vacancy for final selection by the PM. Once an officer has been selected, he should remain on probation for 6months to enable performance monitoring.

On the successful completion of this period, the tenure security may be ensured barring exceptional circumstances arising out of disciplinary and integrity or performance issues which should be recorded in writing.

Another proposal was that the appointment authority may for reasons to be recorded in writing extend the probation period under the sub rule (5) for another six months based on performance, discipline or integrity of civil servant.

If no order is issued under sub rule (6), the period of probation shall be deemed to have been terminated. In case an order is issued, the officer may be posted from his present posting prior to completion of tenure. The normal period of an officer on one post has been proposed for three years. Posting of an officer on same post beyond three years will require approval appointing authority.

The cabinet discussed ways and means to provide a sense of security to the civil servants in terms of tenure in office but also appreciated the need for building their professional quality to ultimately ensure improvement in public service delivery mechanism of the government.

The cabinet decided to constitute a sub-committee headed by adviser to the PM on establishment and comprising minister for education, minister for defence, minister for planning, railways minister and adviser to the PM on institutional reforms to revisit the proposals with a view to refine them.

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PM launches Pakistan Citizens’ Portal to address public complaints

  16.6  28 October 2018

In a historic first, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday launched the Pakistan Citizens’ Portal (PCP) to address public complaints.

PCP is a complete grievance redressal system, which is connected with all the government departments, while the Prime Minister Office will monitor the entire procedure, Radio Pakistan reported.

People can lodge complaint through a smartphone app, website, e-mail or Facebook. A complaint can also be registered through a toll free number. Government departments will also hold khuli kecthahris (open courts) to receive people’s complaints. All complaints will be resolved in a given timeframe and a transparent manner to the satisfaction of the complainant.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony in Islamabad on Sunday, the prime minister said Pakistan has immense potential and with hard work it can be steered out of crises.

He said ‘Naya Pakistan’ will be created when people start owning the system and have confidence in the government.

PM Khan said indigenous development of the portal app is appreciable and it reflects that old colonial mindset has been replaced with accountability for all including government, politicians and public servants.

He said the “Pakistan Citizens’ Portal” will enable the government to understand the performance of ministries and departments. Secondly, future policies will be made after getting the public response and feedback. The premier said it will also give a better voice to overseas Pakistanis.

The accountability culture

“Our policy is to improve the ease of doing business to attract foreign investment in the country which will help the economy,” said the prime minister, adding that he will get report on weekly basis to check the performance of various government departments.

The prime minister said the reward and punishment system in public sector will also become easier with this system and promotions of government servants will be judged on the basis of their performance. He said the PCP is a step forward towards E-governance, improving governance, and attracting foreign investments in Pakistan.

Earlier, a detailed briefing was given regarding the PCP, according to which the portal is a voice of the people. It will help resolve issues confronting disabled, overseas Pakistanis, women, minorities, investors, and politicians.

The portal will function under PM’s Performance Delivery Unit (PMDU). Key areas of PMDU include facilitation to Pakistani citizens, overseas Pakistanis and foreigners, facilitation and coordination for parliamentarians, and the prime minister’s directives/Task Management System.

‘No strings attached to $6b Saudi package’

In response to a question, Prime Minister Imran said the $6 billion package given to the country by Saudi Arabia does not have any terms or conditions attached to it.

“There was a disconnect between elected representatives and voters in the past, with politicians thinking the public is only there to serve them and not the other way around,” the premier remarked.

“Finally the government will be held accountable by citizens,” he added.

“This new system rolled out by this government shall serve as an example for others to follow,” the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief said.

PM Imran said that nation has the needed resources in abundance with the only hindrance being corruption which is being clamped down.

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NAB inks deal with China for CPEC transparency

  16.6  25 September 2018

ISLAMABAD: Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said that Pakistan and China have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work jointly for ensuring transparency in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

He said that NAB is playing a vital role in recovering looted money from culprits adding that since October 2017, the organisation has recovered billions of rupees.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the NAB chairman said the bureau is absolutely committed to eradicating corruption with iron hands.

“Due to its continued efforts, NAB has recovered Rs297 billion from corrupt elements and deposited it in the national exchequer which is a record achievement, said Iqbal adding that the anti-corruption watchdog is a role model not only for the country but also for the entire SAARC region.

He said that Pakistan is the only country in Asia whose corruption perception index is persistently on declining trend. The performance of NAB has been lauded by SAARC countries and NAB has been unanimously elected as head of SAARC Anti-Corruption Forum which is a great achievement.

The NAB chief further said a grading system has been started to review annual performance of its officers. Under grading system, performance of NAB Headquarters and NAB’s regional bureaus is scrutinised on monthly, quarterly; midterm and annual basis and all regional bureaus are informed about their merits and demerits to overcome their shortcomings.

“I have decided to listen to people’s grievances on last Thursday of each month,” announced the NAB chief, adding that a complaint cell has also been set up at each regional office.

He also said that concept of combined investigation team (CIT) has been implemented in NAB for effective working in order to prevent any influence on investigating officers.

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Move to cut development funds by over Rs250bn

  16.6  08 September 2018

ISLAMABAD: While protecting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other strategic development projects, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government is working on scaling down federal development programme to about Rs775 billion from Rs1,030bn set in the budget 2018-19.

This would provide about Rs250-255bn or 25 per cent saving to the government, a senior official told Dawn. In the first 65 days of the current financial year, the Planning Commission has released Rs35bn for the development projects, about 75pc lower than Rs135bn in the same period last year.

A part of the saving would be used to increase allocations to the water sector projects on top priority and the remaining would be set aside for deficit financing, the official said. An amount of Rs80bn has been allocated for the water sector in the budget which was being felt insufficient in view of emerging challenges in the sector.

The official said the most of the non-development projects included by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the Public Sector Development Programme 2018-19 would face major the cut.

On the other hand, the new government is expected to include some of its own priority projects in the development programme.

The official said the Planning Commission had completed the process of sectoral presentations and briefings to Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar on Friday and dedicated teams were now working on crystallising the readjustment in the PSDP during the weekend.

The official said the Planning Commission would hold a meeting with the finance minister in a couple of days so that a comprehensive position could be presented to the prime minister next week to help him in decision making and redefining development goals.

Giving an example of non-development projects, the official said the previous government had made an allocation of Rs10bn under a youth initiative to provide laptops etc to the young while another Rs5bn was earmarked for gas schemes.

Likewise, many schemes were included in the PSDP on the basis of announcements made by the previous prime ministers during their visits to different cities and districts, on political basis. Such projects would be moved out of the PSDP.

Replying to a question, the official said it would not be a problem for the new government to slash PSDP size in view of very slow disbursements so far during the year owing a caretaker government in the office which kept releasing funds for strategic projects but did not allow funds for unnecessary projects.

He said the core development projects were given Rs23bn in the first 65 days of the current year as of Sept 7, showing about 67pc slow progress when compared to Rs70bn during the same period last year. Total +disbursements this year stood at Rs35bn as of Sept 7 compared to Rs135bn of the same period last year.

Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiar on Friday reviewed the progress of some of the CPEC projects and told the participants of the meeting that robust development of Gwadar under the CPEC was a top priority of the new government with a special focus on rapid industrialisation in the strategically located port city.

The meeting that also reviewed Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan was attended by the secretary of planning, project director of the CPEC and officials from the government of Balochistan and Chinese companies.

Mr Bakhtiar said the government could not afford to wait any longer as the economy did not have the luxury of time. “Industrialisation in this port city is a low hanging fruit, considering its prospect of international connectivity and suitable cost of transportation”, he said.

“We need to structure the Gwadar Industrial Zone with incentives that yield high rate of return,” he said while emphasising on an industrialisation model that should have an inclusive nature vis-a-vis private sector.

The minister said development of Gwadar was a short-term target, but the area had a big potential to become a unit for export and get best out of blue economy.

He said Gwadar would be transformed into a transhipment hub to explore opportunities of blue economy as all prerequisites were in place there, but it was important to include provision of water, energy, road and railway connectivity as top priority.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2018

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Punjab agriculture dept launches e-procurement system

  16.6  05 July 2018

LAHORE: The agriculture department launched its e-procurement system here on Tuesday for, what the officials say, ensuring 100pc compliance with Punjab Procurement Regularity Authority (PPRA) rules, making monitoring and evaluation more effective while drastically cutting the time required for the procedure.

Sheikh Afzaal Raza, the department’s procurement adviser who developed the Procurement Management Information System (PMIS), says the capacity gaps and poor understanding of the PPRA rules have been leading to non-compliance, audit objections and allegations of misappropriation on the part of procuring entities. The PMIS dashboard, templates and controlled data flow would eliminate these complaints and improve monitoring and evaluation of the procurement process, he adds, claiming the user-friendly information and communications technology tool will cut at least 60 work hours consumed in the procurement documentation procedure to less than 30 minutes.

Agriculture Secretary Wasif Khurshid hopes the PMIS will improve financial planning, performance, fairness, transparency, accountability and service delivery in public procurement, making it fully compliant with provincial rules and reducing procurement cycle time and associated administrative costs.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2018

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Hindu woman appointed civil judge

  16.7  29 January 2019

HYDERABAD: Suman Kumari has become the country’s first Hindu woman to have been appointed a civil judge after passing an examination for induction of judicial officers.

Ms Kumari, who hails from Qambar-Shahdadkot, will serve in her native district.

Suman Kumari passed her LL.B. examination from Hyderabad and did her masters in law from Karachi’s Szabist University. She then worked for Advocate Rasheed A. Razvi’s firm.

Suman Kumari fears that her community would not appreciate her decision to become a lawyer, but “I am confident my family will stand by me come what may”.

She is a fan of singers Lata Mangeshkar and Atif Aslam.

According to Dr Pawan Kumar Bodan, her father, Suman wants to provide free legal assistance to the poor in Qambar-Shahdadkot. “Suman has opted for a challenging profession, but I am sure she will go places through hard work and honesty,” the father said. Dr Bodan is an eye specialist while Suman’s elder sister is a software engineer and another sister is a chartered accountant.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2019

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KP CM announces to increase job quota for special persons to 4 per cent

  16.7  05 December 2018

PESHAWAR: Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan Monday announced to increase job quota for special persons from 2 per cent to 4 per cent besides clearing the Special People’s Act from the Provincial assembly soon.

“The special people deserve special focus and PTI government is taking practical initiatives to bring these people to the main-stream of the society”, he added.

Chief Minister expressed these views in a function marking the International Disabled Day at Nishtar Hall Peshawar.

He said that ever-since assuming power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013, the provincial government had been relentlessly working on its agenda of change, the focus of which is to introduce a culture of good governance in the province.

Mahmood Khan said that the special people, being a sensitive part of the society, will be given their rights.

Their look after was a collective responsibility for the society and responsible societies shoulder their shares of the burden, he remarked.

The enactment of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 through the Provincial Assembly was one major initiative of the government in this regard.

The RTI law besides promoting transparency and accountability in the function of government departments has also provideda fundamental right to the citizens as enshrined in article 19-A of the Constitution.

He said till now 12,526 citizens filed RTI requests with different public bodies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 11,491 citizens received the desired information.

Mahmood Khan said special people were also a vital part of the society, the provincial government will now particularly focus on expanding the social safety net duly focusing on the disabled persons.

He told in line with the 100-day agenda, the Social Welfare department is given mandate to look after the interests of the disabled.

He said that he will also ask RTI Commission to arrange special awareness seminars for the disabled in all districts of the province so that they are able to know and receive their rights using the KP RTI law.

The CM said through an inclusive system, the disabled will get respect rather than charity and the true potential of the disabled will be trapped he asserted.

He said that Social Welfare department will introduce an MIS system, so that the government has a complete picture of the disabled living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which will help the government in preparing realistic plan for the welfare of the disabled.

On the occasion the CM congratulated RTI Commission for organizing the event and giving a chance to him to be with special people on the International Day of person with disabilities.

He assured the disabled persons that provincial government will go all out to provide relief to them.

He further said the provincial government has recently taken a major initiative for preparing shelter houses for the poor and destitute in a few districts of the province.

This will be further extended on need basis, he added.

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Hazara division gets its first female muharrar

  16.7  06 September 2018

PESHAWAR: In a first for the Hazara Division, the Abbottabad police have hired a female muharrar (diarist).

The muharrar, who has been posted at the City Police Station, is the first woman appointed in the entire division. 

Lady head-constable Gulnaz had joined the police force back in 2008 and began her career as a constable. She topped her batch during her training at the Hangu Training College in 2012.

In April 2014, she was promoted to the head-constable in Abbottabad’s Women Police Station.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, District Police Officer Abass Majeed Marwat said that, “She was first interviewed by SP Sonia Shamroz Khan in which she performed satisfactorily, after which she was appointed as the first-ever lady muharrar in  the entire division.”

Marwat added that Gulnaz’s appointment would help women in the city feel more comfortable when facing any difficulty in registering cases.

In May 2018, Marwat had also appointed the first-ever female muharrar of the province in Kohat.

After that many female muharrars have been posted across the province.

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Justice Tahira Safdar sworn in as first woman chief justice of a Pakistani high court

  16.7  01 September 2018

Justice Tahira Safdar was sworn in on Saturday as the first woman Balochistan High Court chief justice.

Safdar, who is the first woman to ever take the position of a high court chief justice in Pakistan, was sworn in at a ceremony held at the Governor House in Balochistan. Senior judges and lawyers were present during the ceremony.

She made history in 1982 when she became the first woman civil judge in Balochistan.

She received her basic education from the Cantonment Public School, Quetta, and went on to complete her bachelor’s degree from the Government Girls College, Quetta.

Justice Safdar later earned a master’s degree in Urdu literature from the University of Balochistan, as well as a degree in law from the University Law College, Quetta, in 1980.

After attaining success in a competitive examination held by the Balochistan Public Service Commission, she was appointed as a senior civil judge on June 29, 1987. She was made additional district and sessions judge on Feb 27, 1991.

On March 1, 1996, she was promoted to district and sessions judge. She also worked as a presiding officer in the Labour Court.

She was appointed a member of the Balochistan Services Tribunal on Oct 22, 1998, and worked in that capacity till she was appointed chairperson of the Balochistan Services Tribunal on July 10, 2009.

While working as chairperson, Justice Tahira Safdar was elevated to the position of additional judge of the high court on Sept 7, 2009, and confirmed as a BHC judge on May 11, 2011.

She is currently a member of the three-judge special court conducting the trial of former president Pervez Musharraf for committing treason by proclaiming a state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.

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In a first, SC allows overseas Pakistanis to vote in upcoming by-polls

  16.7  18 August 2018

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court on Friday permitted Pakistanis residing abroad to cast their votes in the upcoming by-polls.

“Many congratulations to overseas Pakistanis today,” said Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, noting that it would be the first time that expat Pakistanis will be voting in a local election.

If the pilot project of overseas Pakistanis voting in the by-elections ends successfully, it will lead to the court granting expats the right to vote in the general elections.

The by-polls will be arranged to fill seats vacated by lawmakers who contested and won more than one seat in the July 25 elections, or for other reasons.

Justice Nisar directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to cooperate with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and ensure proper arrangements in order to make the pilot project a success.

The court ordered that results obtained from i-voting (internet voting) by overseas Pakistanis will be included in the final results of the by-polls.

However, the i-voting results will also be stored separately and will be taken out from the final count in case a conflict arises, the CJP ordered.

“The right to vote of overseas Pakistanis has been accepted,” Justice Nisar remarked, adding that it was now up to the ECP to implement the verdict and fulfil its duty of holding the elections.

“The pilot project should be completed according to ECP regulations and operation plan,” he ordered, adding: “[We] are grateful to the ECP and Nadra for building the pilot project.”

The top judge ordered Nadra to cooperate with ECP to make the electoral process of the pilot project fool-proof.

Apparently dispelling the impression that the i-voting project would be an informal exercise, the CJP emphasised: “[That this is being done on] an experimental basis does not mean that its results should be ignored.”

The SC had in June put off the case relating to the grant of right of vote to 7.9 million overseas Pakistanis until after the July 25 general elections when it was informed that the idea could not be materialised due to paucity of time and need for multiple tests of the specially designed software.

A task force comprising IT experts constituted by the ECP to examine the possibility of introducing internet voting facility for overseas Pakistanis had warned earlier this week that the system is likely to be attacked by foreign governments and intelligence agencies.

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Yousuf Saleem sworn in as Pakistan’s first visually impaired judge

  16.7  26 Jun 2018

LAHORE: Yousuf Saleem – a visually impaired lawyer from Lahore – has taken oath as a civil judge for the first time in the country’s history on Tuesday.

Saleem, who had topped 6,500 candidates in a written examination of civil judges conducted by the Lahore High Court last year, was among 21 civil judges who were sworn in by the LHC chief justice today.

He was shortlisted for the post after Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu of a petition he had filed after being turned down by the high court’s selection committee in April. Taking notice of the appeal, Justice Nisar had directed the selection committee to conduct a fresh interview of the candidate.

The 25-year-old topped his law examination and received a gold medal from the University of Punjab in 2017.

Justice Nisar observed that a visually-impaired person can hold the post of a judge if he meets all other qualifications.

A press statement by the apex court said that it “appears that in this case his fundamental rights under Articles 9, 14 and 25 of the Constitution, the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), ratified by Pakistan in year 2011, the 3% quota under the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981, and the jurisprudence developed by the Lahore High Court in PLD 2017 Lahore 406 and PLD 2017 Lahore 1 were not considered by the Lahore High Court.”

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In a historic first, Punjab to appoint woman advocate general

  16.7  28 May 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government has decided to appoint Asma Hamid as the new Advocate General of the province. She will be the first woman to hold this constitutional post ever in the history of this office.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif approved on Monday a summary regarding her appointment as advocate general replacing Shakilur Rehman.

Asma Hamid holds a post-graduate degree in constitutional law from the United States’ prestigious Harvard University. She was appointed as an Assistant Advocate General in January, 2014 and as Additional Advocate General in March, 2015. She has also assumed responsibilities as Acting Advocate General in charge of the office on two previous occasions.

Being a Supreme Court advocate, Hamid has successfully represented Punjab in several thousand cases in the Lahore High Court and the apex court. Her representation of the state in the Distilleries case had won billions of rupees in tax revenue.

She has devoted her efforts to save the state’s land in thousands of cases to date. Most notably, in Province of Punjab vs Syed Ghazanfar Ali Shah, she won the case in the Supreme Court, securing 117 acres of forest land in Sheikhupura in favour of the province from illegal occupants.

In 2017, her proactive efforts to regulate the cement industry bore fruit when the Punjab government placed a ban on further establishment and enlargement of the industry without permission from a cabinet committee.

In the same case, cement plants have also now to cease their use of groundwater in Chakwal within six months and to maintain the level of holy water in the sacred pool of the Hindu pilgrimage site at Katas Raj, ensuring the freedom to practice religion.

In the Supreme Court, she assisted the court in several human rights cases as well as matters in which suo motu action has been taken by the court, including the Zainab rape and murder case in Kasur, and silicosis prevention case among others.

Hamid has also advised the chief minister on various issues ranging from Energy, Property, Environment, Media, Tax, State and Evacuee Property, Service, Contract and other laws.

Notification pertaining to her appointment is expected to be issued tonight.

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President of UN General Assembly to visit Pakistan this month

  16.8  12 January 2019

UNITED NATIONS: The president of the UN General Assembly will visit Pakistan from Jan 18 to 22 at the invitation of the government, according to the spokesperson for the UNGA president.

This will be the first official visit to the Asia-Pacific region by the president of the UN General Assembly since María Fernanda Espinosa assumed office in September.

A statement said that she is “looking forward to strengthening the ties between Pakistan and the UN, promoting multilateralism and continuing my work with Pakistan on the priorities for the 73rd session of the GA”.

She will meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, as well as representatives of the UN and of civil society and women’s organisations.

Ms Espinosa’s delegation includes her Chef de Cabinet, Senior Adviser, a communications specialist, a coordination officer and her personal assistant.

Travel costs are being covered by Pakistan and by the regular budget of the UNGA’s Office, according to the statement.

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Pakistan elected to head UN convention on conventional weapons

  16.8  27 November 2018

Pakistan’s strong credentials in multilateral diplomacy were endorsed on Monday after the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva was elected as chairperson of the Meeting of High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

The election reflects a recognition by the international community of Pakistan’s contribution to international security and arms control, said a statement released on November 26.
Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva Ambassador Farrukh Amil, was elected as the chairperson on November 23.

The unanimous decision was taken by all states parties to the convention by consensus.

“The Convention and its five protocols deal with prohibitions and restrictions of certain conventional weapons, balancing humanitarian concerns with their military utility. In the framework of the convention, states parties are also considering a number of new and contemporary issues such as lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS).”

The convention was signed in 1981 and aims to restrict the use of certain conventional weapons which are deemed to be excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effects. The convention covers landmines, booby traps, incendiary weapons, blinding laser weapons and other weapons.

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Pakistan informs UN of initiative to counter defamation of religions

  16.8  22 November 2018

Pakistan informed the United Nations (UN) on Thursday of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative for an international campaign against defamation of religions.

Speaking at the Eighth Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, said the premier had made a major announcement to counter Islamophobia and incitement to hatred being witnessed in some parts of the world.
“Hate narratives are spreading in several parts of the world; Islamophobia is on the rise and diversity is being seen not as a source of enrichment but as a threat, and politics of fear seem to be replacing politics of hope,” she asserted.

In the face of such troubling trends, the Pakistani envoy said, the role of bridge builders and peacemakers becomes even more pivotal.

She also stressed the importance of countering Islamophobia and incitement to violence and hatred that is being witnessed in some parts of the western world by the negative depiction of Muslims.

The government of Pakistan, she added, was committed to actively engage in efforts to promote tolerance and understanding and “believed in sincere and open dialogue to promote international cooperation, global peace and security”.

Ambassador Lodhi also called for greater respect for each other’s religious beliefs, symbols and revered personalities.

Reiterating Pakistan’s firm belief that universal values of peace, tolerance, egalitarianism and respect for humanity, were shared by all religions and cultures, Ambassador Lodhi stressed that “this common heritage should enable the world to draw strength from its diversity rather than allowing it to be used as justification to accentuate differences”.

“Together we need to encourage states to take steps to create an environment of religious tolerance, inclusiveness and respect”, she added.

“The complex task of peace-building,” she argued, “can only be accomplished when we collectively build on a common vision of a peaceful world and adopt an inclusive approach to promote better understanding”.

Ambassador Lodhi also underscored that the Alliance of Civilizations, a political initiative launched by late Secretary-General Kofi Annan to build mutual respect and understanding among people of different cultural and religious identities, had the potential to engage faith leaders to join this collective endeavor to promote tolerance and understanding.

Warning against the wave of ‘inward-looking’ nationalism and the rise of illiberalism, Ambassador Lodhi remarked that the ideals of peaceful coexistence were coming under stress.

“Multilateralism,” she observed, “is under assault while purveyors of unilateralism are asserting themselves ever more vigorously in some democracies”.

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Pakistan pushes for steps to prevent weaponization of outer space

  16.8  26 October 2018

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has called for preventing the weaponization of outer-space to ensure that it is explored and used for the benefit of all countries.

“While our dependence on outer space applications is on the rise, the risk of its weaponization is also growing,” Pakistan”s delegate Usman Jadoon told the General Assembly”s Disarmament and International Security Committee.

“We need to evolve universal and equitable regulations that can guarantee the exclusively peaceful nature of outer space, before it turns into a new realm of conflict and arms race,” he said during a debate on Outer Space matters.

Outer space, the Pakistani delegate added, was “our common heritage”.

At the same time, Jadoon said the dominance in that realm currently enjoyed by certain countries due to their technological edge could not last forever, as other States were catching up fast.

Developing countries would neither carry the burden of non-proliferation, nor would they accept any discriminatory restrictions that hampered their peaceful pursuits in outer space.

While guidelines on the prevention of an arms race in outer space prohibits the placement of weapons there, silence persists on ballistic systems and other assets, the Pakistan delegate said.

The Chinese” Russian draft treaty, he said, provides a concrete basis for substantive negotiations and would end the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament (CD).

Valuable informal discussions on preventing a celestial arms race, in subsidiary bodies of the Conference on Disarmament and in the Group of Governmental Experts, demonstrate that differing positions can be resolved.

Concerning transparency and confidenc building measures, he said Pakistan”s voluntary measures are not a replacement for legally binding instruments, including a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

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Pakistan won’t sign up for regression in the name of UNSC reform: FM

  16.8  26 September 2018

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that Pakistan supported a comprehensive reform of the United Nations Security Council to make it a more democratic, representative, transparent and accountable body.

“We don’t want to sign up for regression in the name of reform,” he said while addressing the ministerial meeting of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) on Security Council reform on the sidelines of the 73rd UNGA session in New York. “Bad reform is no reform,” he remarked.

In recent years there have been discussions and specific proposals to expand the Security Council. One of the contenders is India. However, there has been no breakthrough so far given lack of consensus on the issue.

The Security Council has currently five permanent members — the US, China, Russia, Britain and France.

Pakistan has been a strong opponent of a group of countries campaigning for permanent seats on the Security Council. Pakistan has termed the attempts contrary to principles of the 21st century of achieving democratic representation through periodic elections.

India, Brazil, Germany and Japan are the countries demanding permanent membership of the 15-member body for the past 20 years.

In today’s meeting, the foreign minister said the principled position of UfC accommodates interests of all member states — small, medium and large. “The Security Council reform cannot become an instrument to further narrow self-serving interests of a few who seek permanent seats at the expense of the wider UN membership,” he added.

Qureshi said the Security Council reform has strategic importance for member states and underpins vital national interests. The reform process must reflect all views and perspectives to achieve the wisest possible support

The UfC meeting, held at the Italian Mission, has served as a useful opportunity for an annual high-level review of the reform process, and to chart a progressive way forward.

The foreign minister said an inclusive and transparent process within the framework of Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) is essential to this end.  “Anything less would be counter-productive, for the membership knows all too well that any divisive or non-consensual approaches with a view to artificially pace the process have only served to accentuate existing differences instead of bridging gaps in respective positions,” he added.

Expressing satisfaction at the constructive role played by the UfC during the 72nd session of the General Assembly, the meeting undertook to broaden existing efforts with a view to gain further traction and support.

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Imran Khan pledges citizenship to Afghan and Bangladeshi refugees

  16.9  17 September 2018

Karachi, Pakistan – Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged to implement existing Pakistani laws that would grant citizenship to all Afghan and Bangladeshi refugees who were born on Pakistani soil, a major departure from previous policy.

Pakistan is home to more than 1.39 million registered Afghan refugees, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), many of whom have been resident in the country for more than 30 years.

There are also more than 200,000 ethnic Bangladeshis in Pakistan, most of whom live in the southern city of Karachi. Many of them were stranded in the city after the war in 1971 when Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, gained independence.

WATCH

Are Afghan refugees in Pakistan a security threat?

Afghan refugees, meanwhile, have poured into Pakistan from its western neighbour for decades, first fleeing the Soviet invasion in the 1970s, and then the civil war that ensued.

Since 2001, a fresh influx of refugees followed the US invasion of Afghanistan, and the subsequent Taliban war to take back the country.

“These poor migrants from Bangladesh, they have been here for more than 40 years, their children are grown now … we will give them passports and ID cards, as well as those Afghans whose children have been raised here, who were born here, we will also give them [citizenship],” said Khan in Karachi on Sunday.

“This happens in every country in the world, why is it that here we are inflicting such an injustice on these people?”

The announcement is a marked departure from the policy followed by previous governments, and could see the prime minister face confrontation with the country’s powerful military, which has often blamed Afghan refugees for violence in Pakistan.

Pakistani law allows citizenship for all those born in the country, with the exception of children of foreign diplomats, “enemy aliens” and those who migrated away from territories that became Pakistan after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

The legal status of Afghan refugees resident in Pakistan expires on September 30, although it is widely expected to be extended by the government, as has been done numerous times in the past.

Repatriation of refugees

The UNHCR welcomed the development, but said it was awaiting specifics on how Khan’s government intended to move forward.

“UNHCR welcomes the statement on Afghan children born in Pakistan,” spokesperson Dan McNorton told Al Jazeera. “We look forward to working closely with the government of Pakistan on this issue in the coming weeks.”

The Afghan government did not immediately comment.

Since 2014, Pakistan has been actively encouraging the repatriation of Afghan refugees, with the numbers of refugees returning spiking during that year.

Rights groups say Pakistani authorities have carried out a sustained campaign of intimidation and harassment of refugees since a 2014 attack on a Peshawar school killed more than 140 people, an attack that Pakistan blames groups based in Afghanistan for.

The rate of repatriation dropped last year, as violence spiked and the Afghan Taliban stepped up their attacks on civilian targets across the country.

This year, at least 9,821 Afghan refugees have repatriated to their homeland, according to UNHCR data. Birth rates among the refugee community, however, are high, and at least 14,682 Afghan refugee births were also recorded during the same period, the data shows.

Tense relations

Relations between the two neighbours have remained tense for years, with Afghanistan blaming Pakistan for hosting the Afghan Taliban leadership and its allies, a claim that Pakistan denies.

Pakistan claims Afghanistan has not acted against the Pakistan Taliban, which it claims is based in eastern Afghanistan.

On Saturday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi led a high-level delegation on a visit to Kabul, with both sides pledging their commitment to a new comprehensive dialogue framework.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

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LHC, IHC moved for recovery of ‘missing’ persons

  16.10  03 February 2019

ISLAMABAD: A 70-year-old woman on Saturday filed a petition before the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC), seeking recovery of her ‘missing’ son who had been taken away allegedly by officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department of police along with some personnel in plain clothes last year.

Yekha Khan, widow of Mian Gul Amber who passed away 10 years ago, in her petition said her son Sultan Zameen was the family’s sole breadwinner.

She said she had been struggling for his recovery since March last year and managed to get CCTV footage of the alleged abduction of her son. The footage showed CTD officials along with some personnel in plain clothes taking her son into custody.

Since then, Zameen is in the category of ‘missing persons’.

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Take a look: Missing persons start returning home in Balochistan

Referring to the recent incident of Sahiwal where CTD officials allegedly killed a teenage girl and her parents suspecting them to be terrorists, the petitioner requested the court to direct the state agencies to work within their constitutional limits.

Citing Sahiwal tragedy, separate petitions filed by parents express apprehension about life of their sons

The petition has been filed through seven ex-servicemen including retired brigadier Wasaf Khan Niazi, retired lieutenant colonel Inamur Rahim, Rana Abdul Qayyum, Dr Mohmmad Usman, Dr Shahzad Iqbal, Mohammad Waheed Akhtar and Attaur Rehman.

It cited the defence and interior secretaries, inspector general of Punjab police, Rawalpindi district police officer and Taxila police station house officer as respondents.

The petitioner claimed that her son, who had been working as a salesman at Pak Autos near Al-Abbas Hospital, main G.T. Road, Taxila for the past four years, was at the shop on March 22, 2018 when personnel of security agencies in black uniform along with three to four personnel in plain clothes arrived there at around 8am. A nearby closed-circuit television camera recorded the abduction of her son. She said the persons who abducted him were identifiable in the footage.

The petitioner also submitted the footage of the alleged abduction before the court along with the petition.

She had lodged the First Information Report (FIR) under Section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Taxila police station to this effect but despite repeated complaints and reminders no action was taken to recover her son.

According to the petitioner, her son was a law-abiding citizen and was enjoying good reputation with his employer and colleagues. He is married and father of six children and his youngest child is one and a half years old. He is the sole breadwinner of the family and was getting the monthly salary of Rs20,000 from the employer. As no case was ever registered against him, he was detained unconstitutionally, illegally, unlawfully and without due process of law, the petitioner said.

The petitioner further said that security agencies were being governed under Article 245 of the Constitution. Therefore, she said, any powers exercised beyond the scope of the article would be ultra vires to the Constitution.

Son’s release from CTF custody sought

A similar petition was filed before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking release of Junaid Ijaz who had been allegedly picked up by the Counter Terrorism Force (CTF) of police from Barakhau.

The CTF in Islamabad is similar to the CTD of Punjab police.

The petitioner, Ijaz Ahmed, expressed apprehensions that the CTF might fabricate a false case against his son, Junaid, and kill him as the CTD personnel had done in Sahiwal. The petitioner requested the court to direct the CTF to produce his son before the court.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah will hear this petition on Monday.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2019

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Missing persons cases to be tried in civil courts

  16.10  30 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: The government took a landmark decision on Tuesday under which those involved in kidnapping citizens will be tried under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

The decision was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting on human rights at the PM Office (PMO).

A press release issued by the PMO said the government had decided to amend the PPC in order to criminalise any attempt by an individual or organisation to make someone disappear by force.

“After the decision, those involved in abducting citizens will be tried in civil courts,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told media after the meeting.

Meeting chaired by prime minister decides that enforced disappearance to be criminalised through amendments to Pakistan Penal Code

The issue of missing persons and enforced disappearance had been a challenging task for previous governments as the list of missing persons continued to swell.

People living in conflict-ridden tribal areas, Balochistan and Karachi have been complaining about enforced disappearances.

The Pakistan Peoples Party has taken a firm stand on the issue and raised it time and again. It is believed that missing persons have been picked by intelligence agencies and, thus, they have not been allowed to defend themselves in a court of law.

On July 12 last year the Islamabad High Court (IHC) defined the concept of enforced disappearance and declared that individuals involved in abducting and detaining citizens at unknown locations might be charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The 47-page judgement, authored by Justice Athar Minallah (now chief justice of the IHC) in the case of a missing IT expert who was kidnapped from his home in F-10, Islamabad, introduced strict consequences for officials involved in enforced disappearances.

The IHC also ruled that certain government functionaries were responsible for the criminal justice system’s failure to recover Mr Mehmood and fined them. It expressed displeasure with intelligence agencies – the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau – and directed the federal government to bear monthly expenses of the missing individual’s family.

According to the Missing Persons Commission, it has disposed of 3,492 out of 5,608 cases up to Nov 30. The commission received 5,507 cases up to Oct 31 and 111 more up to November last year.

Bonded labour

The prime minister also directed authorities concerned to eliminate bonded labour in the country and said steps must be taken to educate children of poor families.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi, and the PM’s Adviser on Commerce Razzak Dawood.

The prime minister directed the authorities to remove discriminatory signboards from clubs (Islamabad Club, Gymkhana etc) and other public places restricting the entry of maids, Aayas and domestic servants.

“Bureau of Statistics should conduct a countrywide survey on child labour and subsequently formulate a comprehensive strategy to extricate such children from poverty and take measures for their education,” the prime minister said.

He was also briefed on progress made towards end to torture, restricting death penalty, combating domestic violence and other human rights-related issues. On this the prime minister said: “Ensuring and safeguarding human rights is a major plank of our religion and enshrined in our constitution.”

He said the government was committed to protecting human rights and promote rights of minorities and marginalised sections of society.

The prime minister chaired a separate meeting of the Task Force on Technology-Driven Knowledge Economy. It was attended by Finance Minister Asad Umer, Planning Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, IT Minister Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Commerce Adviser Razzak Dawood, Professor Dr Attaur Rehman, Dr Tariq Binori, representatives of business community and industrialists and federal secretaries of ministries concerned.

The prime minister was briefed on ways and means to promote technology-driven economy with enhanced allocations to higher education, technical skill development of human resource and promotion of digitalisation and artificial intelligence education and skills.

Prime Minister Khan said the government was focusing on the shift towards technology to transform economy and make the best use of the nation’s human resource.

Dr Rehman made a presentation on transformation to a technology-driven economy.

Meanwhile, Senior Research Manager, IBM, Kenya, Dr Charity Wayua called on the prime minister on Tuesday. They exchanged views on improving ease of doing business while Dr Wayua shared Kenya’s experience in improving ease of doing business.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2019

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Issue of missing persons to be resolved: Balochistan CM

  16.10  29 January 2019

KARACHI: Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani has said there is a need to improve the system for development and his government has been working with the federal government for the overall progress in the province.

Talking to journalists after laying a floral wreath and offering Fateha at the Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum on Sunday, the chief minister said his government was taking measures for the recovery of missing persons. The issue had been haunting Balochistan for a long time and his government was cooperating with the families of missing persons, he added.

Mr Alyani said his priority was to immediately solve problems being faced by the people of Balochistan and that was why the provincial government was working with the Centre for development of the province in which the CPEC was one of the links towards collective development.

Alyani says a mechanism is being evolved to bring Balochistan on a par with developed areas of the country

In reply to a question, he said Saudi Arabia would soon set up an oil refinery in Balochistan. He said a mechanism was being evolved to resolve all outstanding issues and bring Balochistan on a par with other developed areas of the country.

The chief minister said that in order to provide better health facilities to people, 16 to 18 trauma centres were being set up in Balochistan and measures were being taken to improve the conditions of district hospitals. Soon rescue service 1122 would be launched in Balochistan, he said, adding that assistance had also been provided to the people affected by drought in the province.

Meanwhile, Balochistan Information Minister Mir Zahoor Buledi, told the media during his visit to the Karachi Press Club that the province had been deprived of its due share in the 7th National Finance Commission Award, but in the 8th NFC Award, “we will fully defend our share”.

He said the Balochistan Awami Party-led coalition government was taking measures to improve health and education departments in the province.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2019

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Will ensure recovery of missing persons while following state laws: Balochistan home minister

  16.10  31 December 2018

Balochistan Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs Ziaullah Langove on Sunday vowed to make “every effort possible” for the safe recovery of missing persons of the province.

Talking to reporters after meeting family members of missing persons at a protest camp in Quetta, Langove said the people of Balochistan had become victims of “politics” and that the same would no longer happen in the future.

“We will try to remedy the grievances of our people,” he promised, but added in the same breath that the figures of missing persons circulating in the country are “contradictory”.

“It can take us some time to reach the facts,” said Langove, who was appointed as the home minister on Tuesday. He earlier served as the minister for forests and wildlife.

He vowed to ensure the recovery of missing persons while acting “according to the state laws and Constitution” and urged the relatives of such people to “leave politics” and support him in his efforts.

The minister said that Balochistan was currently in a “state of war” and the province and Baloch people had suffered immensely due to the unrest.

“Political personalities have played with the emotions of missing persons’ relatives,” he said, adding that the government would try to resolve the issue by addressing concerns on “both sides”.

He also cautioned that the state had the right to investigate people who “do not accept the country’s law and Constitution”.

Nasrullah Baloch, chairman of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, said they had provided a list of 110 missing persons to the provincial government.

“[We] are not doing any politics in the name of missing persons,” he said, in an apparent response to Langove.

“Our objective is the recovery of our loved ones.”

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Policy guidelines of NCHR for the protection of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) launched

  16.10  10 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: On International Human Rights Day 10th December, 2018 National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) chairman Justice (R) Ali Nawaz Chowhan has launched NCHR Policy Guidelines for the protection of Human Rights defenders (HRDs) and reaffirms that the primary responsibility for the protection of HRDs rests with the State, which must respect, protect and take all steps to enforce human rights and constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.

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Journalists in tribal districts continue to face threats

  16.10  10 December 2018

PESHAWAR: The hall echoed with applause of anxious parents while distinguished students were getting photographed on the stage with the chief guest giving away prizes.

Students with distinguished positions would wave their hands to the parents from the stage and get appreciation in thundering applause.

Then a girl’s name is announced, a woman at back row of seats stands and cries out in Pashto, “Bahadra bachai mae da (My brave girl).” She was the widow of slain Journalist Hayat Ullah Shaheed, who was kidnapped from Ex-Fata district of North Waziristan, tortured and later killed by unidentified people.
The widow is now left alone taking care of their seven children.

Hayat Ullah was among those journalists of the soil, who paid the highest price for expressing their freedom of expression, their lives.

Journalism a dangerous profession in Pakistan

At least 71 journalists and media workers have lost their lives since 2001 while pursuing their duties in Pakistan. A recently published report on the state of media stated.

In total, some 163 cases of direct attacks on media took place in Pakistan only in 2009 including murders, assaults, kidnappings, explicit threats, censorship cases and attacks on media properties and establishments, Punjab bore the brunt of these attacks with 54 cases and NWFP a close behind with 52. Islamabad was the third biggest victim of attacks on media with 28 cases. In those cases against media workers, only two cases have the murderers been convicted by the courts.

The worst kind of targeting of the media workers were recorded in Ex-Fata districts. Tribal journalists were abducted by non-state actors, tortured and released only on the surety of the local elders.

Most of the cases were not reported in media. The security threat was such that the political administration had locked up the North Waziristan Press Club and opened on assurances and protest from the journalist community.

Even the watchman of the Ex-Khyber agency Press Club was seriously injured when the building of the press club was blown up with IEDs. In recent pass, the security agencies had warned the Bajaur Press Club president of security threats. The club had asked the Khyber tribal district administration for protection.

Who care for families of the fallen?

Whenever a media person is killed, the government issues formal condolence messages, there is a rush of dignitaries at the deceased’s homes where ministers make ritual announcements of compensation packages worth hundreds and thousands of rupees for the martyred journalists along with promises of free education facilities for the children of the victim.

These promises don’t go beyond the next day’s news.

The families of the slain journalists end up pleading for the money announced by competent authorities at his burial ceremonies, leading tribal journalist, Zahid Wazir said.

Malik Mumtaz a journalist from North Waziristan was shot dead in Miranmshah in February 2013. The then president Asif Ali Zardari had promised a RS1 million compensation to the deceased’s family, but till date they have not received a single rupee from the announced package.

The case of Hayat Ullah is different, his family was initially supported by the Canadian journalist who he worked for, and then by the former president of Peshawar Press club, both men refused to disclose their names. Presently, another top journalist of Pakistan was supporting Hayat’s two children.

Not every martyred journalist gets such support. Haroon Khan of Swabi was shot dead in October 2017. The local Taliban had claimed killing Haroon. However, his widow had to take refuge with her two children at her parents’ home. They never got any compensation from the government.

Threats still exist

A non-governmental organization “Freedom Network” in its report stated that threat level has increased. In the last five years 26 journalists were killed in Pakistan, only 16 cases went to courts, trial of only six cases was completed and only one conviction was awarded but no one was punished, said Iqbal Khattak of Freedom Network.

“If the threat sources are not jailed and penalised, they will continue to create havoc in the days to come for Journalist community” Zahid Wazir.

But generally the environment is growing unsecured each day past, media practitioners going to press from state institution as well non-state actors in the country.

Displacement

Half of the journalists from tribal areas have moved out of the area.

They are reporting from distance for the respective media outlets for which they work for. The media houses allow their reporters in tribal district to get news on telephone from local sources instead of being on the ground like professionals in any other area where there is no threat to life and limb, said Abuzar Afridi a journalist from the Khyber district.

Most of the reporters and media persons from tribal districts of Khyber, North and South Waziristan, Kurram and Orakzai have been displaced due to pressure from both sides.

“Abdul Azam was shot four times in front of my home, while Mehbob was blown in the blast at Karhano Market and Nasrullah has lost his breath in front of PA house Peshawar Saddar six years ago,” Afridi said recalling the colleagues he had lost to terrorism.

Beside militants, narcotics mafia also attacked them if they report on the issues, therefore most of the tribal journalists are either living in provincial capital Peshawar or Islamabad, he said. Government needs to formulate a policy for the protection of media workers from militants as well as the state institutions, and provide them a safe working environment.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2018.

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Panel on enforced disappearances gets 318 complaints since August

  16.10  02 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: The commission of inquiry on enforced disappearances has received 318 complaints from across the country over the past four months, it has been learnt.

According to the commission’s statistics, it disposed of 226 old cases during this time.

As per the data of cases from March 2011 [when the commission was established], the commission has received 5,369 complaints related to enforced disappearances out of which it has disposed of over 3,600 cases, while whereabouts of 2,000 persons could not be ascertained by the commission during the course of inquiry.

Since Auguest 2018, the commission has received 318 complaints. Of these cases, 59 complaints were reported to it in August, 74 in September, 84 in October and 101 in November. In a sharp contrast, 35 persons were reported missing in November 2015 and 45 complaints of enforced disappearance were lodged in November 2016. The figures surged in November last year when the commission recieved 104 cases of missing persons.

Earlier this year, the commission received 80 complaints in January, 116 in February, 125 in March, 162 in April, 86 in May, 36 in June while 77 cases of enforced disappearance were reported in July.

An official of the commission said that they had disposed of 55 cases in November. He said number of complaints being disposed of varied every month owing to the nature of the cases.

The chairperson of the Defence of Human Rights, Amna Masood Janjua, expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the commission, saying the forum had failed to recover the missing persons. According to her, after receipt of a complaint, the commission holds the inquiry and it disposes of the case when officials of intelligence agencies tell them that the person in question is in their custody. “The disposed of cases are actually dead or interned in tribal territory, with very few releases,” she claimed.

Recently, the superior judiciary took serious notice of the missing persons cases and imposed fine on the authorities concerned.

The chief justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC), Justice Athar Minallah, in a judgement in July observed that enforced disappearance is an act of terrorism.

The 47-page judgement passed in the case of a missing IT expert — who was picked up from his home in Sector F-10 — introduced strict penal consequences for officials involved in enforced disappearances. The court ordered the petitioner to be paid Rs117,500 a month, or such amount as may be determined pursuant to verification.

Last month, IHC’s Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani while disposing of a petition imposed a Rs2 million fine on the interior and defence secretaries and ordered the accountant general to deduct the salaries of the officials concerned till the recovery of a missing person.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2018

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Federal information commission to ensure implementation of Right to Information Act: Chaudhry

  16.10  26 November 2018

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Monday formally notified the Federal Information Commission with an aim to expedite the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act across the country.

Speaking to the media in Islamabad, Chaudhry said that if departments failed to provide information sought from them under the law, citizens can approach the commission, which will ensure that the requested data is released within a month. If the information is not released within 20 days, the citizens can take the matter to a civil court.

Chaudhry said that the Act will particularly benefit journalists, as they will be able to confirm information from government officials and also keeps tabs on ongoing developments on the governance front.

The implementation of the Act will also be useful for citizens who come forward with evidence of corruption, as they will be able to check if the government is acting upon the information provided, the minister said.

The information minister said RTI laws were already being implemented in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI was in power. Though he did not comment over implementation in Sindh and Balochistan, Chaudhry claimed that “systems that are in place [in those provinces] are being hindered”.

He also took a jibe at the opposition, repeating the government’s stance on its refusal to appoint the opposition leader as the Public Accounts Committee’s chairman.

“We only say that they (the opposition) let us audit the projects initiated by Nawaz Sharif, and then the PPP or PML-N can audit projects initiated by us. In their attempt to hinder this system, they insist that the younger brother [Shahbaz Sharif] should audit the projects initiated by his older brother,” he said, terming the demand “unethical”.

100 days
Chaudhry also touched upon the government’s performance in its first 100 days. The information minister claimed that “there is no precedent” of the number of initiatives taken up by PTI in the past 100 days.

“There are six themes and 34 initiatives that we have taken and we have done a lot of work on them as well. You will see on the 29th,” he said.

“The Right to Information Act in itself is a huge contribution,” he added. Chaudhry also pointed out that a project to build a university for media sciences was underway.

“It is not a joke to plan a university, but we did it in 100 days,” he claimed.

Chaudhry also revealed that the information ministry had decided to merge Radio Pakistan and PTV under a single body. Associated Press of Pakistan will be converted into a “digital service” so it can compete with international news agencies like Reuters, the information minister revealed.

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Cases of missing persons on the rise in society, observes SHC

  16.10  09 November 2018

HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad circuit bench of the Sindh High Court on Thursday observed that cases of missing persons were on the increase in society and once someone went missing no clue was found to his whereabouts.

Justices Abdul Maalik Gaddi and Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui made the observation while hearing a petition filed by Suleman Bhand seeking recovery of his brother Abdul Ghafoor Bhand who had been missing for the past two years.

The court fixed hearing of the case for Dec 4 at 11am with directives to Hyderabad Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Naeem Ahmed Shaikh to step up efforts for recovering the missing person and exempted the officer from personal attendance.

The DIG assured the bench that he would direct all SHOs concerned that henceforth if any person disappeared in their jurisdiction, stern action would be taken against them.

Dadu deputy superintendent of police (DSP) submitted details of criminal record of the petitioner Suleman and his relatives which was made part of the court record. The court noted that the joint interrogation team probing the case had held five sessions so far but no clue to the missing person’s whereabouts had been found yet.

The DIG informed the court that the JIT’s sixth session was chaired by Dadu SSP and its report was filed by additional advocate general Sindh which was made part of the record.

About the allegation that DSP Rasool Bux had demanded Rs200,000 from the petitioner, the DIG sought two weeks’ time to get to the bottom of the charge. The court granted him time and the DIG assured that he would make his best efforts to recover the missing person and produce him before the court.

The JIT report recommended that the DIG should constitute a special team comprising senior police officers to investigate the case (FIR No. 16/2016) lodged by the petitioner at B-Section police station, Dadu. Another FIR (49/16) lodged by Ali Asghar, another brother of the missing person, accused some suspects of abducting Ghafoor.

The report said that Suleman stated that DSP Rasool Bux Siyal, then DSP Dadu, had demanded Rs200,000 for the release of Ghafoor and refused to release him when the family failed to pay.

Suleman said in the petition that his brother Ghafoor, a cattle trader, had gone missing on Jan 7, 2016, when he was carrying Rs250,000, a golden chain and ring.

According to Dadu DSP’s report, 11 cases were filed against Ghafoor from 2000 to 2014, 14 cases were lodged against Suleman from 1989 to 2015, 26 cases were registered against Suleman’s son, Farooq from 2010 to 2015 and eight cases were lodged against Ghafoor’s son, Abdul Qadir in 2013.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018

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‘PM advised to sign convention against enforced disappearances’

  16.10  06 November 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Human Rights has suggested that the prime minister sign the International Convention against Enforced Disappearances, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said on Monday.

She also said that the PTI was committed to ending enforced disappearances.

“Country-wide legislation takes a lot of time as bills get stuck in different ministries. So for quick redress, we should sign the convention with reservations over three clauses which do not suit Pakistan,” she said at a meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights.

Although she did not reveal what these three clauses are, it has been suggested during various parliamentary committees to express reservations over section 26 of the convention, which empowers a United Nations body to conduct raids in countries and make surprise visits to check missing persons.

Truth and reconciliation commission should be established, work will continue on domestic enforced disappearances bill, minister says

Dr Marazi added that “we can ratify the convention later”, but signing the convention would send the message to the people and the international community “that we are serious about it”.

She said families were suffering while their loved ones had been missing for years, so a truth and reconciliation commission should also be established.

She said Prime Minister Imran Khan also wishes to address the issue, as he spoke about it while in opposition.

The minister said that they would simultaneously continue working on the domestic bill and “with the passage of time we will pass a comprehensive domestic bill regarding enforced disappearances”.

There is a long list of missing persons, which has even been tabled in parliament, Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini from the Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) said during the meeting.

“The people of Balochistan have confidence in Justice Kamal Mansoor’s report. However, they have reservations over the reports of Justice Noor Mohammad Meskanzai and Justice Javed Iqbal on enforced disappearances.

“Retired Justice Iqbal says that the majority of missing persons are out of the country and others are in feudals’ jails. According to him, only 3pc of missing persons are in internment centres. If this is correct, why are the relatives of missing persons running after politicians and wasting their time,” he asked.

Senator Jamaldini said that under the National Action Plan (NAP), missing persons are to be produced in court within 10 days of their arrest. However, this could not be implemented.

“Relatives are waiting for their loved ones, and they have every right to know if those missing persons are alive or not. Moreover, the committee should record the statements of those who have been recovered,” he added.

Committee chair Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar from the PPP said enforced disappearance is a burning issue. The National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) had drafted a bill on enforced disappearances which was rejected by the government, he added.

There is currently no law regarding enforced disappearance in Pakistan, and a law should be made at the earliest, he said.

“While we were in government we tried to sign the International Convention against Enforced Disappearance, but failed. It could not be signed during the PML-N government and may not be signed during the PTI government. So serious efforts should be made for domestic legislation along with the signing of the convention,” he said.

The committee has decided to hold its next meeting solely on the missing persons issue and associated legislation.

Piera briefs senators

The committee was also given a comprehensive briefing by the chairman of the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority regarding steps taken against undue fee increases by private schools.

Senators were told the matter was deliberated on at length by the NCHR and a committee has been constituted under the federal ombudsman by the Supreme Court as well to report on the matter.

The committee decided to defer the matter until the end of the month so the report may be discussed.

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Top human rights body wants to inspect NAB detention centres

  16.a  25 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: The chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan, has taken suo motu notice of death of Mian Javed, former chief executive officer of the Lahore sub-campus of the Sargodha University, in jail custody.

The NCHR has told the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) high-ups to allow a team of the commission to inspect places of detention of NAB.

Mr Javed had been in jail on judicial remand in connection with the university’s illegal campuses case since October. Last week, he complained of chest pain and was shifted to the Services Hospital, Lahore, for treatment but could not survive.

According to a statement issued by the NCHR, the deceased was under investigation by NAB’s Lahore office.

Owing to the gravity of the incident, the commission took the suo motu notice of the matter under the NCHR Act, 2012.

The commission, while showing displeasure over the incident, has asked top NAB officials to send a comprehensive report to the office on or before Dec 31, for necessary action under Section 9 of the NCHR Act, 2012.

“The commission also invoked jurisdiction under the provisions of Section 9c of the NCHR Act, 2012, and sought inspection of NAB’s places of detention.

As pictures of the deceased in chains went viral on social and mainstream media, the commission asked NAB high-ups to allow NCHR team to inspect places of detention of NAB as soon as possible and a date and time be fixed for this purpose because that is the mandate of NCHR to protect and promote human rights,” the NCHR said.

“The commission does not want to intervene in proceedings of any of the institutions, but for the purpose of protection of human rights, the commission is exercising its jurisdiction which is so granted under the NCHR Act, 2012,” it stated.

The Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif, recently claimed that he had been kept in a room where it was not possible to tell whether it was day or night.

Former vice chancellor of Punjab University Prof Mujahid Kamran, in an interview, had also alleged that there were CCTV cameras in washrooms of NAB’s lockup.

However, NAB has denied such allegations.

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Dr Shireen Mazari delivers sharp rebuke to Human Rights Watch for ‘selective oversight’

  16.a  28 August 2018

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Tuesday issued an acerbic rebuke to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) for writing to Prime Minister Imran Khan and asking him to address “serious human rights challenges” faced by Pakistan.

In a letter made public on Monday, HRW Asia Director Brad Adams had asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to make human rights a “key focus” of his government.

The letter urged the government to begin by reversing “abusive laws and policies” and demonstrating “genuine commitment to the rule of law and equal justice”.

The HRW wants the government to focus on six key areas: “These are freedom of expression and attacks on civil society; freedom of religion and belief; violence against women and girls; access to education; restoring moratorium on death penalty; and terrorism and counter-terrorism abuses.”

In response to the letter, Dr Mazari stated that “the prime minister and the government are committed to ensuring the human rights guaranteed to all Pakistani citizens under the Constitution.”

“[…] We are well aware of the need to effectively enforce the laws regarding the enforcement of the human rights of all our citizens as well as the need to bring our national laws in alignment with our international legal commitments through the international treaties we have ratified. Our government is committed to ensuring the fulfillment of all our international obligations,” the minister wrote.

The human rights minister said the government, therefore, does “not need to be informed or reminded of our human rights agenda.”

She went on to ask that since the HRW claims to monitor human rights violations in over 90 countries, “I hope that would include the massive human rights violations being carried out as a matter of state policy by India in Indian Occupied Kashmir and by Israel in Palestine.”

“I may have missed your monitoring reports on these, so would appreciate if you could refresh my memory,” she retorted.

She added that she hoped the HRW will also take up the matter of human rights violations “by some European states against their Muslim citizens in the form of curtailing their rights to practice their religion freely and in the form of abuse of Islam and its Prophet [Muhammad] (Peace be upon him), in direct contravention of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

The human rights minister also said that she would like to be informed on how the NGO is “ensuring the rights of Muslim citizens to have their mosques and be able to dress and practice their religion freely and without ridicule in European states”, which have seen an upsurge of xenophobia in recent years.

Dr Mazari signed off by saying that the government would always welcome positive suggestions, but “an NGO’s institutional credibility will rest on its commitment to ensure human rights across the globe and not just in selective states.”

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Ministry identified 31,901 cases of human rights violation

  16.a  02 Jun 2018

Islamabad : The Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) identified total 31,901 cases of human rights violation through print and electronic media monitoring during last five years and received 123,823 calls on its helpline from February 2015 to May 2018. All eligible cases were taken up with the relevant departments for their redressal.

 

The details were shared by the Minister for Human Rights Mumtaz Tarar on his last day as a Federal Minister at a press conference organised on Thursday. The federal minister, who has recently recovered from serious heart issue and was under treatment in Intensive Care Unit of Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology till May 29, addressed the press conference which was organised to share the achievements of the Ministry of Human Rights during last five years.

About the legislative initiatives taken by the ministry, the federal minister mentioned 10 laws passed in last five years to protect the human right. These laws include Criminal Law (offences relating to Rape) Act, 2016, Criminal Law (offences relating to Honour Killing) Act, 2016, Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Child Protection), promulgation of National Commission on the Rights of the Child Act, 2017, Hindu Marriage Act, 2017, Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, National Commission on the Status of Women (Amendment) Act, 2018, Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Act, 2018, The ICT Child Protection Act, 2018 and The Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018.

Among policy and planning initiatives, he said that the ministry worked on formulation and implementation of Action Plan for Human Rights, National Policy Framework for promotion and protection of human rights and Provincial Human Rights Policies besides designing and execution of Men Engage Model Program.

“The Government of Pakistan is committed to ensure human rights of all citizens as envisaged under the Constitution as well as international commitments by adopting all possible measures to ensure protection and promotion of such rights,” said Mumtaz Tarrar while speaking at the press conference.

About institutional mechanisms developed and strengthened in last five years, he said that the Ministry established National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) with a broad mandate and powers to take suo-moto actions. The Ministry of Human Rights notified the NCHR Complaint Rules, 2015 and total 1491cases were registered in NCHR from May 2015 to May 2018.

He said that establishment of National Institute of Human Rights at the cost of Rs58 million for capacity building, training, research and development has been approved; whereas Rs100 (M) Endowment Fund for Free Legal Aid for Poor Victims of Human Rights Violations, was also created. He also mentioned National Task Force (NTF) and Provincial Task Forces (PTFs) as success stories of MoHR.

He said that for awareness raising and capacity building, the ministry organized 80 seminars, launched public awareness campaigns in print and electronic media and developed and distributed information and education material among all sections of the society.

He said that the ministry organized first International Human Rights Conference which was held from Feb 19 to 21, 2018. The conference was attended by more than 350 national and international delegates from twenty countries.

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NCHR concerned over burgeoning rights violations in Balochistan

  16.a  27 May 2018

QUETTA: The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has shown severe concerns over the recent terrorist attacks in Quetta and water shortage in major cities of Balochistan, stressing upon the need of immediate measures to resolve all these issues.

NCHR provincial member Fazila Aliani presided over a court hearing session in the commission’s regional office from May 21 to 25 in the Balochistan capital.

Senior Consultant Mian Waqar Ahmed and other members of the committee also attended the session and reviewed current law and order situation of the province including recent coal mine collapse incidents.

“The Commission discussed enforced disappearances, target killing of Hazara community, decreasing water level, and terrorism incidents and showed concern over human rights violations in Balochistan,” a communiqué issued by the NCHR read.

The committee also said the provincial government is determined to resolve all these issues and protect human rights in Balochistan.

During her five-day long visit, Aliani also met local coal mine labour unions and officials of the mine and mineral department regarding two coal mine incidents in Balochistan, in which 23 miners were killed following methane gas explosion in Marwar and Surr Range.

She expressed concerns for the loss of miners, who were trapped and died in Mawar and Surr Range coal mine fields and prayed for quick recovery of the injured miners.

At least 23 coal mine workers were killed and eight injured after two coal mines in Marwar and Surr Range collapsed due to methane gas explosion on May 5.

According to mining organisations, the owners and local contractors are deliberately endangering lives of coal miners as they are not willing to adopt safety measure in private coal mine fields.

Balochistan is notorious for coal mine incidents as hundreds of coal miners have been killed due to mine explosion in various coal mine fields.

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Ministry’s bill for rights of disabled persons criticised for lack of inclusivity

  16.b  06 February 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Human Rights tabled a draft bill for the rights of persons with disabilities a few weeks ago in parliament.

Though the bill tabled by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari has been hailed as a good step by activists, many have voiced concerns regarding the language used in the bill and have said the draft law is not inclusive enough.

The ICT Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018 outlaws discrimination on the basis of disability and calls for equal treatment of all.

It says freedom of movement will be ensured for everyone and that an environment will be created so that persons with disabilities can live with freedom, self-control, choice and self-determination in everyday life.

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It says quality mobility aids and assistive technology will be provided at affordable prices. No person or institution will be able to discriminate against persons with disabilities and no person with disabilities will be subjected to research against their will.

Draft law uses male pronouns, focuses on specific types of disabilities, critic says

The government will ensure special seats in all means of transport for disabled persons and allot parking spaces exclusively for disabled persons.

The bill says persons with disabilities will be offered equal rights to access to educational institutions, special education institutions will be established and the government will provide free education to persons with disabilities.

“No person, institution, organisation or entity, whether public or private, shall discriminate against a person on the ground of disability in the matters of employment, promotion, career development and enjoying fruits of his employment,” it states.

The draft suggests the establishment of an Islamabad Capital Territory Disability Fund in which federal and provincial grants and donations will be deposited.

It says that as party to the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Pakistan is obligated to promote the full realisation of rights and freedoms for persons with disabilities by taking appropriate legislative, administrative and policy measures.

Potohar Mental Health Association Chief Executive Zulqarnain Asghar told Dawn it was better to table a bill than promulgate a presidential ordinance.

“However, the language used in the draft bill is gender blind. Throughout the bill, apart from when it talks about reproductive rights, the word ‘him’ has been used and there is no mention of women. We request the ministry and parliamentary committee to amend the language used in the bill,” he said.

He said that according to the feedback collected by his association, the bill mainly focuses on physical disabilities and other types of disabilities such as blindness, hearing impairment and intellectual disabilities are excluded from the bill.

“Accountability mechanisms are very weak or absent in various sections of the bill. In the present draft, the political rights of persons living with disabilities are very vague. The allocation of seats for disabled persons in national and provincial assemblies and the local government system is not included in the bill,” he said.

Mr Asghar added that the allocation of budgets and resources for persons living with disabilities, especially women, is not clear in the draft law.

All legislations and policies must reflect the needs of disabled persons, he said, adding that seats should be reserved for disabled persons in parliament.

“Though the bill suggests establishing an endowment fund, we demand that a percentage of the GDP be allocated for persons with disabilities so their issues can be addressed,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2019

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Depts told to address EU concerns about GSP

  16.b  27 January 2019

LAHORE: Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar on Saturday asked all the departments concerned to properly address concerns of a mission of European Union (EU) over implementation of the GSP Plus conventions in Pakistan.

Presiding over a meeting he said it was important for Pakistan’s economy to fulfil the GSP Plus requirements. In the larger national interest, enforcement of the relevant laws must be ensured in the province, besides informing the federal government about the progress in this regard so that concerns of the European Union could be addressed, according to a handout issued here.

The human rights and minority affairs secretary said Punjab was continuously framing laws with regard to the implementation of international conventions. The federal and provincial governments were taking steps for actively implementing 27 conventions of GSP Plus but the European Union had expressed concerns on implementation of seven conventions.

The meeting reviewed steps being taken to protect human and women rights, and to eliminate child labour in the province.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2019

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Human rights ministry seeks provinces’ data for disability policies, database

  16.b  23 January 2019

ISLAMABAD: Measures are being taken to ensure the rights of people with disabilities, the minister for human rights said at the second meeting of the national committee constituted to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) on Tuesday.

Dr Shireen Mazari said at the meeting that her office was committed to ensuring the rights of every citizen in accordance with the Constitution and international commitments.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the federal and provincial governments, Azad Kashmir and GB, as well as departments working on disability and data collection. Participants were briefed on the UNCRPD, as well as the Incheon strategy and the action plan for the strategy’s indicators.

Bill to protect rights of disabled people sent to standing committee

The Incheon strategy provides the Asia-Pacific region and the world with the first set of regionally agreed disability-inclusive development goals.

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It was developed after more than two years of consultations with government and civil society stakeholders, and comprises 10 goals, 27 targets and 62 indicators.

Dr Mazari said that further collaboration and coordination is needed with the relevant stakeholders to collect data on people with physical and mental disability. She asked the relevant representatives to share updated survey-based information and data on people with disabilities to prepare policies and an action plan for the protection and promotion of people with physical and mental disability.

Participants were informed that the ministry is preparing a survey-based database and information on people with disabilities.

The committee reviewed the action plan in pursuance with the UNCRPD and Incheon strategy and other international commitments pertaining to disability to seek concurrence with stakeholders in the proposed plan.

The meeting aimed to seek the concurrence of provincial governments with regard to relevant indicators of the Incheon strategy. The implementation status of decisions made at the first meeting was also reviewed.

Committee members examined progress made by the departments of federal special education and provincial special education as well as social welfare in line with the UNCRPD to inform the ministry of existing gaps and measures to be taken.

It was decided that the Ministry of Human Rights would arrange federal-level workshops for the consideration of recommendations of the provincial governments to implement the UNCRPD, the Incheon strategy and other required information.

Provincial governments will also notify similar committees in their respective provinces and appoint focal persons to effectively implement international commitments, the meeting decided, and will consider rights-based legislation where required.

All the relevant departments have been asked to put forward their future courses of action to finalise the action plan.

Representatives from the provinces, AJK and GB also told the committee about measures taken by their respective governments to raise the status of people with disabilities.

The committee was also told that the human rights ministry is collaborating with the Statistics Division to prepare reliable and comparable statistical data on the number of people with disabilities. Provincial representatives have been asked to share updated information in this regard.

It was decided that future committee meetings will be arranged in all the provinces.

Disability rights bill

A government bill for the protection of the rights of people with disabilities has been sent to the relevant National Assembly standing committee for consideration.

The bill binds the government to ensure jobs for people with disabilities at the federal, provincial and district level, as well as full concessions in admission feeds and up to 75pc off in government educational institutions, as well as providing special national identity card services at home.

The government will also ensure free treatment for disabled people in federal, provincial, district headquarters and social security hospitals and dispensaries, and a 60pc concession in private hospitals.

The bill also proposes permanent jobs for contractual employees with disabilities in government offices and zero tolerance towards individuals who misbehave or mishandle people with disabilities.

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Special persons jobs, driving licences: Centre, provinces asked to find ways for implementation

  16.b  7 January 2019

LAHORE: The federal and all provincial governments have been asked to work out ways to implement the prime minister’s desire of fixing two percent job quota for special persons in all government departments and issuing driving licences to the deaf.

The directions received from the federal government in Punjab have been conveyed to the departments concerned for response within a fortnight.

The officials said the federal and all the provincial governments were conducting the exercise. The scheme, if implemented, would greatly benefit special persons all over the country, they said.

The letter from the federal government says the employment quota is calculated against the posts being advertised/fixed at a particular point of time. As this practice is leading to negligible appointments against the quota, there is a need to work it (quota) out against the total posts of every department.

The letter also expresses the prime minister’s desire of issuing driving licenses to the people with hearing loss as per international practices, providing free wheelchairs to persons with physical handicaps and white canes to the visually impaired and giving health cards to all the special persons.

All the departments concerned have been asked to work out modalities and steps needed to be taken to devise an implementation mechanism, says an official.

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HR ministry drafted 9 laws in last 3 months

  16.b  10 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Human Rights (HR) has drafted nine laws related to the protection of children from abuse, the rights of minorities, protection against torture and improving legal aid and access to justice over the last three months.

In a statement released on the eve of Human Rights Day on Dec 10, Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari said that in addition to new legislation, the ministry has also concluded three policies and research studies on crucial matters.

“Research studies have been carried out on women’s right to inheritance, street children, as well as the harmonisation of domestic laws with international commitments. Policy against Gender Based Violence, Women Empowerment Policy and Policy on Child Abuse have also been concluded,” she said. Dr Mazari said the ministry is also redressing human rights violations through its helpline, and calls have risen from 4,000 a month to 15,500 a month after the new government took office.

Human Rights Day is observed to commemorate the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first global enunciation of the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of every human being. Pakistan became one of the declaration’s earliest signatories, in 1948.

Dr Mazari said that as a founding member of the Human Rights Council Pakistan has worked for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country, adding that the words of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah were the guiding principle of their policy: “We are equal citizens of one state.”

“The ministry recognizes the importance of awareness campaigns to make every citizen aware of her/his rights. A number of awareness campaigns are already ongoing, including on women’s rights to inheritance,” she said.

“Our ministry has also taken up the issue of the violation of human rights by the Indian state in Indian Occupied Kashmir on all international forums.

“We are also raising the issue of the increasing targeting of the human rights of Muslims in Europe which includes a large Pakistani diaspora. At home, as part of our commitment to democracy and rule of law, we are also seeking to bring closure on the issue of enforced disappearances,” Dr Mazari said in the statement.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2018

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CII seeks enhanced punishment for misuse of fatwas

  16.b  28 November 2018

SLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) demanded on Tuesday that the government enhance punishments for those misusing their powers to issue religious decrees (fatwas).

Presiding over a meeting of the CII, its chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz said the council had prepared a comprehensive document — Paigham-i-Pakistan — in January this year that had been acknowledged by senior clergymen belonging to all four mainstream schools of thoughts in the country.

The document signed by 1,829 religious scholars declares several actions un-Islamic — including suicide attacks against the state, spreading sectarianism and anarchy in the name of religion and issuing a call to jihad without the consent of the state.

Government seeks council’s guidance for making Pakistan an Islamic welfare state

“The responsibility to implement recommendations of the CII is with the government and we want severe punishments for those clerics who misuse their powers and issue fatwas declaring Muslims non-believer or non-Muslim and pronounce them liable to be killed as per Sharia law,” Dr Ayaz said, adding: “All such decrees have been rejected by the council.”

The CII suspended its agenda regarding triple talaq [divorce] in one sitting to discuss a request by the government for devising an implementation framework to replicate the ‘State of Madina’ in Pakistan.

The request was forwarded by Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Noorul Haq Qadri and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan who arrived in the meeting hall at around 11am and remained there for more than two hours. The ministers conveyed a message of Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking the CII’s guidance for making Pakistan an Islamic welfare state on the pattern of that established by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Madina.

The ministers also invited the CII members to participate in the opening of the Kartarpur border crossing scheduled for Wednesday (today). The members were informed that the prime minister would soon attend a meeting of the council and discuss the proposed framework after it was finalised.

The council was scheduled to take up the issue of announcing triple talaq at one go, but suspended the agenda due to the presence of the two ministers and continued to discuss the government request for devising the implementation framework after the ministers left the meeting.

Although matters discussed between the cabinet members and the Islamic scholars were not shared with the media, a CII member told Dawn that the issues being faced by the council had been conveyed to the ministers.

The ministers were told that the general impression during tenures of the previous two governments was that the CII was only an “obligatory burden”.

Ali Mohammad Khan sought the council’s support for eliminating religious extremism from the country and suggested that there should be regular interactions between Islamic scholars and legislators.

Later talking to the media, the religious affairs minister said the government wanted to eradicate interest-based economy in the country. “The government wants to eliminate this menace, but during the time we want to encourage non-interest-based banking in the country,” Dr Qadri said.

The CII will take up the issue of triple talaq at its next meeting.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2018

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Mufti Rafi Usmani’s open letter : Allah’s law flawless, witnesses and adjudicators can err

  16.b  11 November 2018

KARACHI: Religious scholar Mufti Rafi Usmani has said Aasia Bibi’s departure from Pakistan before the Supreme Court verdict on the review petition will result in a mayhem across the country.

In an open letter to the nation on Saturday, the scholar cautioned the people of Pakistan against becoming emotional to the extent that they resort to unlawful actions.

Referring to the immense love and respect for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the hearts of the people, the scholar said Islamic faith is not complete without love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It says Pakistan is passing through a turbulent time when various crises are rising one after another, and the current issue of blasphemy has created a wave of extreme anger among the faithful because they cannot compromise over love for Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

The love for Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is the corner stone of the faith and every Muslim would sacrifice everything for that.

According to Mufti Usmani, the Supreme Court has thoroughly examined the evidence before acquitting Asia Bibi. The apex court based its judgment on the available evidence and also cited various religious references in the judgment, he said, adding the SC judgment has raised some issues that are worthy of consideration by the Ulema and experts of Islamic Jurisprudence. A thief’s hands cannot be cut off without going through all the several strict conditions and restrictions attached to the law in Islam.

There is a critical decree in the Islamic Jurisprudence to save the person from the ultimate punishment or “Hadd” where the circumstances allow that concession. Dilating further, he said a mere suspicion of theft does not qualify for the extreme punishment of cutting the hands. He said the value of the stolen property and the place it is stolen from and most critically a clear, unambiguous and non contradictory evidence by two people is pivotal to reach a judgment. He said the Sharia Law consider the case and its circumstances of the crime very minutely and allows benefit of doubt to the criminal where possible. While quoting principles of Islamic Jurisprudence and citing various conditions and circumstance of the law for theft, the letter says every thief cannot be awarded the extreme punishment.

Mufti Taqi Usmani said during Gen Zia’s tenure, when the Hadd Law was being drafted it was suggested to adopt extreme care so mockery is not made out of the Islamic Laws. The Shariat or the Islamic Jurisprudence upholds the principle of benefit of doubt that goes to the accused. The Supreme Court, Mufti Usmani says has very elaborately discussed the strength of evidence and the contradictions of the witnesses both in the light of the Islamic Laws and those of the country. They have also concluded that there is a reason to give benefit of doubt to the accused based on the quality of evidence. He maintained that Allah’s law was flawless. But, he added, adjudicators and witnesses are fallible, and any error by witnesses can create doubts about the evidence of crime. Therefore, according to Islamic jurisprudence, benefit of doubt would go the accused, causing release or reduction in punishment.

Mufti Usmani said he does not doubt the love the honourable judges have for the Holy Prophet (PBUH). They have expressed their love for the Prophet (PBUH) by expressing their readiness to sacrifice their lives for his honour, he added.

Mufti Usmani said the Shariat forbids against any extreme act to enforce the Islamic Jurisprudence besides it also warns against miscarriage of justice. Considering judges’ fallibility, it is reasonable that the Supreme Court’s larger bench considers the review petition minutely. The verdict of the bench considering the review petition would be final and has to be accepted wholeheartedly in accordance with Shariah.

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No innocent person be harmed over blasphemy issue, says Alvi

  16.b  09 November 2018

MULTAN: President Arif Alvi has said all the Muslims were ready to scarify their lives for the honor of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), however no innocent person should be harmed over the blasphemy issue.

Addressing the participants of a one-day Sufi conference organised by the Bahauddin Zakariya University’s Islamic Studies Department here on Thursday, the president said Islam propagates protection of rights and the message should be highlighted.

“People should get their rights, and the facilities of justice, education, health, employment and housing should be provided to all the people in Naya Pakistan,” he said.

Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said there was a need to follow the teachings of saints to improve the country’s image.

He said the PTI government wanted the seminaries’ students to have skill-oriented education to enable them to play a role in the country’s development.

He said the Ulema’s recommendations should be sought to fight extremism.

“The academia from various universities should also be contacted for the same purpose,” he suggested.

Later, talking to the media, the foreign minister said his recent visit to China was fruitful and meetings with the top Chinese leadership were encouraging.

He said the next phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was discussed at length with the Chinese leadership. He said a review petition had been filed against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by Supreme Court.

“According to my information, Aasia Bibi has not been sent abroad. However, the ministry concerned could provide accurate information in this regard,” he said.

He said without considering any internal or external pressure, the legal aspects of Aasia’s case should be focused.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018

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Pakistan yet to implement GSP Plus conventions: EU envoy

  16.b  18 October 2018

LAHORE: A European Union (EU) Commission on Trade delegation is arriving in Pakistan on Thursday (today) to directly check all stakeholders’ compliance with the EU conditions on Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), collecting basic data vital for continuation of the duty-free exports facility to Pakistan.

This was stated by European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Jean-Francois Cautain in an interview with Dawn here.

Since Jan 1, 2014, Pakistan has been benefitting from tariff preferences (mostly zero duties on two-thirds of all product categories) under the GSP Plus arrangement. In order to maintain the facility, Pakistan has to continue ratification of and effectively implement 27 core international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance.

“Pakistan is yet to implement all the 27 international conventions it has had ratified and signed. The implementation is necessary for the continuation of the great facility. So far, the glass is half full and half empty,” Mr Cautain said.

“The implementation in these areas has been partial. For example, Punjab has made laws on child rights, but we want their full enforcement. We are witnessing a tendency to restrict freedom of expression in Pakistan for the past one year. They are promising legislation on torture but are not moving ahead.” he said.

Replying to a question, he said nearly 60 per cent of Pakistan’s population was under 30 years of age, adding that if educated, they could make Pakistan a prosperous country. He also said that 20 to 24 million children in Pakistan were out of school. “You should start quality education from the primary level. Technical vocational training must be a major part of education to provide the required human resource to Pakistan,” he added.

When asked about the EU’s view of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the ambassador said the EU was all for connectivity. But the connectivity should be sustainable and two-way trade, he added.

Mr Cautain said democracy should continue in Pakistan. The past 10 years of democratic rule proved that democracy was taking roots in Pakistan. “It is good but it takes time to see a true democratic set-up. Yours is not perfect, and you will have to fight for it,” he said.

He also said the EU was watching the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government with interest. “We have noticed the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He wants to fight poverty and corruption, desires regional and political stability, and good governance.”

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CJP warns against forcible conversion of Kalash tribe

  16.b  17 October 2018

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Wednesday expressed displeasure and urged against the forceful conversion of Kalash community members, reported Express News.

“They should not be forced to convert. It is a matter of basic rights.”

The chief justice was presiding over a case pertaining to illegal encroachments on land belonging to the community in Chitral. The community had earlier submitted a petition stating that a man, Maqsoodul Mulk, was trying to snatch their property.

During the hearing, the additional advocate general informed the apex court that a lower trial court had ruled in favour of the minority but the decision had been challenged in the provincial high court.

The top judge also remarked that the community’s land should not be encroached upon, citing the decreasing population of the community and urged the government to ensure that the Kalash community enjoyed full freedom and rights in Chitral. “They should not be forced to convert. It is a matter of basic rights.”

Pakistan’s smallest religious minority, the Kalash speak their own language and celebrate their religion through music and dance.

The top court adjourned the hearing until October 31.

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