First police station starts operations in South Waziristan’s Wana town

   15 June 2019

The first police station in South Waziristan’s Wana town has started operations in the area, Director of Public Relations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Shahzada Farooq Kokab told DawnNews TV on Saturday.

The police station has been established in a fort that was vacated by the Frontier Corps, he said.

Kokab said that the police station is “fully functional” and patrolling in the area has begun. More recruits are being trained to ensure that the law and order situation remains under control, he said and added that the first batch of the bomb disposal unit personnel has completed its training in the Khyber district.

North Waziristan District Police Officer (DPO) Shafiullah Gandapur said that the facility of filling first information reports has been made available at the station and a patrolling plan for the area has been laid out. The required staff and vehicles have also been arranged.

Before the merger of erstwhile Fata with KP, the region was ruled by the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and law and order was maintained by the centuries old Khasadar force. After the law was repealed and tribal areas were merged with the province, police started performing duties in the seven tribal districts and the government is making attempts to bring the entire region under the fold of the country’s laws.

The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been making efforts to integrate and develop tribal areas since the merger of erstwhile Fata with the province last year.

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Sindh Assembly passes Police Order bill again as desired by governor, civil society

   14 June 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Thursday reconsidered and passed The Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act, 1861, and Revival of the Police Order 2002) Amendment Bill 2019 after it was returned by the governor seeking certain explanations and making recommendations to be incorporated in it.

The Sindh Assembly had initially passed the bill on May 18 amid controversy with the opposition and had sent it to the governor for his assent. The Sindh governor returned it with the basic objection that the said law was “outrightly inconsistent with the original Police Order 2002”.

Besides, the governor’s summary referred to the superior courts that laid down certain parameters on the issue of operational autonomy of the police department, procedure for posting of the inspector general of police, security of tenure of the IGP, transfer and posting authority in the police and framing of rules for tenures and postings of police officers.

IGP’s term could be shortened either by the federal or the provincial government by consulting the other

Before the law, with amendments made by the government, was presented by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the law had thoroughly been reviewed after the governor returned it to the government and many amendments had been made as were suggested by the opposition parties, civil society and other stakeholders, including the IGP Sindh.

He said the repatriation of an IGP was sorted out again and his term could be shortened either by the federal or the provincial government by consulting the other in compelling circumstances.

Besides, he said issues such as transfers and postings had also been sorted out, adding that his government had no aspiration to control or dominate the police; instead, the new law was aimed at making the police efficient, responsive, responsible and accountable in addition to their character as an independent body.

He said the law would accord the government its due power of oversight of the police force to ensure that it did not act with impunity.

He said the bill provided establishment of safety commissions at provincial and district levels and “I assure the house that no individual having any political leaning would be made part of those commissions”.

Mr Shah said the provincial public safety commission would be established within a month after the bill was formally promulgated.

He said with the reviewed law, the IGP’s office had further been strengthened.

Before the law was formally presented clause-by-clause for consideration, Grand Democratic Alliance’s Shaharyar Mahar and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Mohammad Hussain demanded that it should again be referred to the select committee for a further review. The demand, however, was rejected.

As minister Chawla started moving the bill in the house, members of the MQM-P and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf walked out.

However, members of the GDA, along with those belonging to the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, remained in the house.

GDA’s Mahar and Arif Jatoi sought certain amendments to the document. A couple of them were rejected by the house while the remaining amendments were withdrawn as the chief minister assured them that those were already incorporated in the reviewed law.

However, when Speaker Siraj Durrani put the bill before the house, some GDA members chanted ‘no’, yet, the chair said the bill was passed unanimously, adding that the ‘no’ chant was raised in a lighter mood by a few opposition members.

After the passage of the bill, CM Shah said the bill had set a precedent as no other piece of legislation had been consulted as thoroughly with all stakeholders as that. He thanked the members of the GDA, TLP and MMA for being a part of the democratic process.

Peace in Karachi
Mr Shah said it was the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s “political will” that brought peace to Karachi and the rest of Sindh. He said it was unimaginable in 2007 to travel in parts of upper Sindh without convoys protected by police contingents. However, the situation had changed drastically during those past 11 years.

He said a recent surge in crime was due to impaired government oversight over the police and divisions that had been created by certain quarters.

He said the government had taken care of all guidelines and directives of the court in formulating the new bill.

He lamented that the two major opposition parties walked out of the house without any reason.

Governor criticised
Mr Shah’s tone turned bitter when he said the governor of Sindh was “violating the Constitution”. He said the Constitution was clear about the role of the governor and the latter was bound to act as desired by the provincial government.

“But this governor is hindering all this without reason and violating the Constitution. There should be a mechanism in the law to impeach a governor for violating the Constitution as we have for the president,” said Mr Shah.

He referred to the current assembly session, which was requisitioned by the government two days before the date set for presenting the provincial budget. He said the governor was not acting as per the government’s call to summon the session, which was clearly against the right of the provincial government, which had been given to it in the Constitution.

He was also critical of certain statements by Governor Imran Ismail, particularly the ones about the takeover of three major hospitals of Sindh by the federal government.

“You have taken over our hospitals, yet, your federal government has not allocated a penny for them in the current budget, but we will allocate a hefty amount for them.”

He said his party leadership and the government could not be frightened by the Centre’s intimidating actions.

“But we don’t believe in victimisation of political opponents.”

Consumer courts
Earlier, Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said the government had made all required arrangements for the consumer courts as judges for such courts in all the 29 districts had also been appointed by the Sindh High Court. However, he said as not all districts had chambers of commerce, the provisions for establishing consumer councils required to be amended.

Ophthalmology bill
The Sindh Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the house and was referred to the standing committee.

A resolution moved by MMA’s Abdul Rasheed was passed unanimously in which he had demanded that the federal government subsidise the essential kitchen items keeping in view the skyrocketing prices.

Mr Mahar said the chief minister should take cognizance of the rampant killings in Shikarpur district, where 16 people, including six women, had been murdered in the past 28 days.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019

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Sindh pays Rs339m to victims’ families for getting 37 prisoners freed

   09 June 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh government has paid more than Rs330 million to win the freedom of 37 prisoners who had completed their sentences but were languishing in different jails across the province because of their inability to pay Diyat, Daman or Arsh — different kinds of compensation — which were imposed by the courts.

The first initiative of its kind has brought relief to many families, according to jail sources and officials.

They said the Sindh government had paid a total amount of Rs339.57 million as Diyat, Daman or Arsh money to families of the victims who were killed or badly wounded or suffered losses in different incidents or in deliberate attacks by suspects who were later caught, prosecuted and convicted by courts.

After completing their jail terms, the sources said, they were unable to pay the compensation amount to victims’ families.

“The provincial government identified and gathered data of those convicts who were compelled to stay in jails for long despite serving their terms,” said a source. “It was found that 10 inmates in Karachi’s central prison, four in its Malir, 13 in Hyderabad, five in Sukkur, four in Larkana and one in Sanghar prison have completed their sentences, but have not been set free because they have not paid compensation to the victims’ families.”

The data, they added, showed that all the 37 inmates belonged to poor families and could not afford to pay the compensation amount spelt out in their sentences.

Most of them had no criminal record and were caught after fatal traffic accidents or violent reaction over petty disputes, the source said.

“This situation required the Sindh government’s intervention,” said Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, the minister for prisons. “We took this initiative for these [37] individuals as the amount of compensation imposed by the courts cannot be shared by any individual or philanthropist. It was a huge sum and all those inmates were poor without any history of criminal activity.

“So the Sindh government paid the sum [Rs339.57 million] as Diyat, Daman and Arsh to families of the victims for 37 inmates and helped set them free.”

The Sindh government’s move has attracted praise from legal experts and activists associated with welfare of jail inmates. They suggested a permanent fund to help out those convicts who were not “hardened criminals”, but landed in jail for minor offences or traffic accidents and then languished in prisons because they were unable to pay compensation.

“Such initiatives are seen in countries which are called welfare states,” said Haider Ali Haider, a high court lawyer who helps inmates of Malir prison in securing legal assistance, payment of fines and to ensure speedy trials.

“Diyat, Daman and Arsh are punishments provided in Section 53 of Pakistan Penal Code. They all define compensation payable to heirs of a victim by an offender due to bloodshed or any loss he or she has incurred.

“Generally the amount is huge and sometimes in millions which any poor man cannot even imagine to pay. So in that case they don’t have any other option but to spend more years in the prison.”

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2019

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Money-laundering, terror-financing: FATF acknowledges Pak performance

   09 June 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Joint Group (JG) of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has acknowledged Pakistan’s performance on some key areas to comply with the action plan in order to combat money-laundering and terror-financing but also identified some weak points where further improvement is required in months ahead.

The JG of FATF has shared its mixed report with Pakistani authorities on the compliance report submitted by Islamabad during last month (May 2019) meeting held at China on key points out of total 27 action plans till its deadline.

The JG of FATF pointed out requirement on Pakistani law enforcing agencies (LEAs) such as FIA, CTD and Nacta to deliver on assigned objectives to fight money-laundering and terror-financing. Some cases proved in court of law and penalised on account of terror-financing but more such instances would be required to display for proving seriousness on this front.

Out of 27 action plans, the FATF has reported 18 as incomplete and demanded actionable steps against eight proscribed outfits. They have written in their report that Pakistan will have to do more till September 2019 when FATF Action Plan is concluded and overall assessment will be done.

Pakistani authorities argued that it seemed that some parts of the report were written by Indian officials because Islamabad had taken all required actions but overall report was not so much appreciative of overall steps taken by Pakistan. However, overall the report had not recommended any negative action against Pakistan.

Furthermore, the State Bank of Pakistan and Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan will have to reply back on queries raised by JG of FATF in their latest report. “With effective response Pakistan can be put off the grey list”, said one of the top officials dealing with FATF while talking to The News here on Saturday.

Pakistan has received JG of FATF report on Friday evening and its major findings have been shared with Adviser to PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh with the expectation that its contents would be shared with the premier as well anytime.

“We cannot fall into blacklist unless someone moves a proposal to put us into further downgrading position in the upcoming FATF plenary meeting scheduled to be held in USA in third week of the ongoing month.

Any proposal at FATF is adopted on the basis of consensus so it is important to raise support of three to four votes out of total 36 member countries of FATF in case of any such recommendation to block any move aimed at slipping Islamabad into category of blacklist,” top official sources confirmed to The News here on Saturday.

Pakistan is required to continue its journey for implementing its National Action Plan (NAP) as it is aimed at improving Pakistan’s image and not only FATF requirements.

The global community has recognised Pakistan’s progress and now there is a need to build on our achievements in months ahead. “We are hopeful that FATF members will also acknowledge our performance”, added the official sources.

The real issue will be handling Indian lobbies at upcoming FATF meeting as there are some risks that need to be handled properly by launching vigorous diplomatic campaign to win support for Pakistan at upcoming meeting scheduled to be held in USA.

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FBR authorised to get information from banks

   08 June 2019

ISLAMABAD: The first batch of withholding data from all banks will be made available to the FBR in the third week of ongoing month that will be used into databank developed with the help of Nadra to broaden the narrowed tax base.

The databank developed with the help of National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) possessed all kinds of data about potential non-filers but it had a missing links of banks data into it. The FBR was now confident that the data of withholding deductions would be shared by the banks with the FBR from June 18, 2019, helping the tax machinery to launch pilot project from July 1, 2019 for broadening of tax base.

When the FBR wrote lettersto all banks for sharing minutes of meeting held with them they also sent out official communication to the SBP for information to the regulator. The SBP in its reply told the FBR that the central bank did not possess data of customers but under the law of the land the banks could provide the same directly.

When top official of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) was contacted for comments on Friday, he said that the FBR was empowered to get data from the banks under income tax law. “Whatever is allowed under the law, the banks will share data with the FBR,” he added. The SBP, he said, did not have depositors’ data so the FBR could get it directly from the banks under the relevant provision of Income Tax Law.

The FBR official said that the SBP is fully assisting the FBR for securing the data from commercial banks. The SBP itself does not have data of account holders and no such information has been asked by the FBR from the regulator. The commercial banks have their depositors’ data and withholding details and it is expected that it will be shared with the FBR within a couple of weeks.

The section 165A of Income Tax Ordinance enables the FBR to get the data from the banks. The section 165A of Income Tax Ordinance 2001 states that notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force including but not limited to the Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962 (LVII of 1962), the Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992 (XII of 1992), the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 (VII of 1947) and the regulations made under the State Bank of Pakistan Act, 1956 (XXXIII of 1956), if any, on the subject every banking company shall make arrangements to provide to the Board in the prescribed form and manner,— (a) online access to its central database containing details of its account holders and all transactions made in their accounts; (b) a list containing particulars of deposits aggregating rupees one million or more made during the preceding calendar month; (c) a list of payments made by any person against bills raised in respect of a credit card issued to that person, aggregating to rupees one hundred thousand or more during the preceding calendar month; (d) a consolidated list of loans written off exceeding rupees one million during a calendar year; and (e) a copy of each currency transactions report and suspicious transactions report generated and submitted by it to the Financial Monitoring Unit under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 (VII of 2010).

(2) Each banking company shall also make arrangements to nominate a senior officer at the head office to coordinate with the Board for provision of any information and documents in addition to those listed in sub-section (1), as may be required by the Board. (3) The banking companies and their officers shall not be liable to any civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings against them for furnishing information required under this Ordinance. (5) Subject to section 216, all information received under this section shall be used only for tax purposes and kept confidential.

Independent tax experts argued that the FBR would have to build up its capacity to effectively utilise data for broadening of tax base. First of all, the banks and FBR will have to develop software that must have capability to talk to each other through connectivity. Secondly this IT enabled data should chip into the software to fill the missing links that could be converted into such databank having ability to bring non-filers without creating harassment.

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First police station starts operations in South Waziristan’s Wana town

  16.1  15 June 2019

The first police station in South Waziristan’s Wana town has started operations in the area, Director of Public Relations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Shahzada Farooq Kokab told DawnNews TV on Saturday.

The police station has been established in a fort that was vacated by the Frontier Corps, he said.

Kokab said that the police station is “fully functional” and patrolling in the area has begun. More recruits are being trained to ensure that the law and order situation remains under control, he said and added that the first batch of the bomb disposal unit personnel has completed its training in the Khyber district.

North Waziristan District Police Officer (DPO) Shafiullah Gandapur said that the facility of filling first information reports has been made available at the station and a patrolling plan for the area has been laid out. The required staff and vehicles have also been arranged.

Before the merger of erstwhile Fata with KP, the region was ruled by the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and law and order was maintained by the centuries old Khasadar force. After the law was repealed and tribal areas were merged with the province, police started performing duties in the seven tribal districts and the government is making attempts to bring the entire region under the fold of the country’s laws.

The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been making efforts to integrate and develop tribal areas since the merger of erstwhile Fata with the province last year.

Read More

Sindh Assembly passes Police Order bill again as desired by governor, civil society

  16.1  14 June 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Thursday reconsidered and passed The Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act, 1861, and Revival of the Police Order 2002) Amendment Bill 2019 after it was returned by the governor seeking certain explanations and making recommendations to be incorporated in it.

The Sindh Assembly had initially passed the bill on May 18 amid controversy with the opposition and had sent it to the governor for his assent. The Sindh governor returned it with the basic objection that the said law was “outrightly inconsistent with the original Police Order 2002”.

Besides, the governor’s summary referred to the superior courts that laid down certain parameters on the issue of operational autonomy of the police department, procedure for posting of the inspector general of police, security of tenure of the IGP, transfer and posting authority in the police and framing of rules for tenures and postings of police officers.

IGP’s term could be shortened either by the federal or the provincial government by consulting the other

Before the law, with amendments made by the government, was presented by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the law had thoroughly been reviewed after the governor returned it to the government and many amendments had been made as were suggested by the opposition parties, civil society and other stakeholders, including the IGP Sindh.

He said the repatriation of an IGP was sorted out again and his term could be shortened either by the federal or the provincial government by consulting the other in compelling circumstances.

Besides, he said issues such as transfers and postings had also been sorted out, adding that his government had no aspiration to control or dominate the police; instead, the new law was aimed at making the police efficient, responsive, responsible and accountable in addition to their character as an independent body.

He said the law would accord the government its due power of oversight of the police force to ensure that it did not act with impunity.

He said the bill provided establishment of safety commissions at provincial and district levels and “I assure the house that no individual having any political leaning would be made part of those commissions”.

Mr Shah said the provincial public safety commission would be established within a month after the bill was formally promulgated.

He said with the reviewed law, the IGP’s office had further been strengthened.

Before the law was formally presented clause-by-clause for consideration, Grand Democratic Alliance’s Shaharyar Mahar and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Mohammad Hussain demanded that it should again be referred to the select committee for a further review. The demand, however, was rejected.

As minister Chawla started moving the bill in the house, members of the MQM-P and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf walked out.

However, members of the GDA, along with those belonging to the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, remained in the house.

GDA’s Mahar and Arif Jatoi sought certain amendments to the document. A couple of them were rejected by the house while the remaining amendments were withdrawn as the chief minister assured them that those were already incorporated in the reviewed law.

However, when Speaker Siraj Durrani put the bill before the house, some GDA members chanted ‘no’, yet, the chair said the bill was passed unanimously, adding that the ‘no’ chant was raised in a lighter mood by a few opposition members.

After the passage of the bill, CM Shah said the bill had set a precedent as no other piece of legislation had been consulted as thoroughly with all stakeholders as that. He thanked the members of the GDA, TLP and MMA for being a part of the democratic process.

Peace in Karachi
Mr Shah said it was the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s “political will” that brought peace to Karachi and the rest of Sindh. He said it was unimaginable in 2007 to travel in parts of upper Sindh without convoys protected by police contingents. However, the situation had changed drastically during those past 11 years.

He said a recent surge in crime was due to impaired government oversight over the police and divisions that had been created by certain quarters.

He said the government had taken care of all guidelines and directives of the court in formulating the new bill.

He lamented that the two major opposition parties walked out of the house without any reason.

Governor criticised
Mr Shah’s tone turned bitter when he said the governor of Sindh was “violating the Constitution”. He said the Constitution was clear about the role of the governor and the latter was bound to act as desired by the provincial government.

“But this governor is hindering all this without reason and violating the Constitution. There should be a mechanism in the law to impeach a governor for violating the Constitution as we have for the president,” said Mr Shah.

He referred to the current assembly session, which was requisitioned by the government two days before the date set for presenting the provincial budget. He said the governor was not acting as per the government’s call to summon the session, which was clearly against the right of the provincial government, which had been given to it in the Constitution.

He was also critical of certain statements by Governor Imran Ismail, particularly the ones about the takeover of three major hospitals of Sindh by the federal government.

“You have taken over our hospitals, yet, your federal government has not allocated a penny for them in the current budget, but we will allocate a hefty amount for them.”

He said his party leadership and the government could not be frightened by the Centre’s intimidating actions.

“But we don’t believe in victimisation of political opponents.”

Consumer courts
Earlier, Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said the government had made all required arrangements for the consumer courts as judges for such courts in all the 29 districts had also been appointed by the Sindh High Court. However, he said as not all districts had chambers of commerce, the provisions for establishing consumer councils required to be amended.

Ophthalmology bill
The Sindh Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the house and was referred to the standing committee.

A resolution moved by MMA’s Abdul Rasheed was passed unanimously in which he had demanded that the federal government subsidise the essential kitchen items keeping in view the skyrocketing prices.

Mr Mahar said the chief minister should take cognizance of the rampant killings in Shikarpur district, where 16 people, including six women, had been murdered in the past 28 days.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019

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Sindh IGP told to screen out officials having patchy service record

  16.1  03 June 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed the inspector general of police to screen out all police officials with patchy service records and initiate departmental proceedings against them.

A two-judge bench comprising Justices Aziz-ur-Rehman and Adnan-ul-Karim Memon asked the provincial police chief to complete such proceedings within a reasonable time in accordance with the dicta laid down in an identical case by the Supreme Court.

The court directed the office to communicate the copies of its order to the Sindh chief secretary and the IGP for information and compliance.

The directives were contained in a judgement recently passed on a petition filed by Shaukat Hayat Awan, a former sub-inspector of the Counter-Terrorism Department, challenging his removal from service on charges of misconduct.

Impleading the Additional IG, Karachi and others as respondents, the petitioner, through his counsel Muhammad Khalid, submitted that the he was issued a show-cause notice on the basis of which the SSP-West conducted an inquiry against him on a misconduct charge.

The SHC dismissed as not maintainable the petition of a former policeman against dismissal from service

He submitted that the show-cause notice stated that the petitioner and other police officials were allegedly involved in the cases of kidnapping for ransom and other heinous crimes.

The counsel submitted that the petitioner was falsely implicated in the departmental proceedings and was awarded the major penalty of dismissal from service by an unauthorised officer — SSP CTD Operation-II Junaid Ahmed Shaikh — vide order dated March 21, 2016 as the officer found his explanation as unsatisfactory.

The petitioner filed a departmental appeal before the Additional IG CTD, which was decided in his favour on Nov 6, 2017 with a direction for initiating fresh departmental proceedings against him by his parent department, i.e. Karachi Range, the counsel said.

It was further submitted that an inquiry conducted by the SSP-West concluded that a kidnapping for ransom case was registered against the petitioner and other police officials, but the prosecution had not provide the allegations against the accused police officials that they kidnapped anyone for ransom.

It was further recommended that while the parallel cases regarding illegal harassment, detaining and taking money from citizens had been considered by the SSP Investigation-I, therefore, one of the major punishment of forfeiture of approved service was suggested to be awarded to the SI Awan and further order that he may not be again posted in the CTD, the counsel informed the court.

Advocate Khalid argued that his client had been vexed twice for the same allegation, which was a violation of Article 13 of the Constitution.

He added that the petitioner was entitled to a fair opportunity in terms of the show-cause notice to clear his position in terms of Article 10-A of the Constitution. He added that the petitioner had been exonerated of charges by the court of law as well as departmental proceedings.

Provincial law officer Abdul Jalil Zubedi opposed the submissions of the petitioner’s counsel and submitted that after giving a proper opportunity of hearing the petitioner was found guilty of misconduct and major penalty of dismissal from service was awarded to him.

He stated that the petition was not maintainable and pleaded the court to dismiss it.

“Prima-facie, the penalty of dismissal from service of a police officer attracts only for the gravest acts of misconduct or as the cumulative effect of continued misconduct proving incorrigibility and complete unfitness for police service that whether such police officer is fit to continue in the police service,” the bench remarked in the judgement.

The order said: “It is the prime duty of the superior officers in the police hierarchy to ensure discipline within the police force, which is a public service and also to keep a strict check on the conduct of such police officers.

“A constant watchful-eye on the police officer is need of the day and if the competent authority reaches the conclusion that the police officer has indulged in acts of misconduct, which prove incorrigibility and render complete unfitness of such police personnel in the service, then the competent authority should award the penalty of dismissal from service.”

The bench noted that the scope of Police Rule 16.2 was wide and the object behind it was to discipline the force and to ensure that police officers in uniform will not behave in a manner which entails patronising crime or other social evils.

The judges observed that the scheme behind this Rule was to ensure that the police officials in discharge of their duties shall act in a manner which should restore confidence in the public at large.

“It is well settled law now that if a police official with such patchy record is allowed to continue in service, it would not only damage the image of police force, but will also encourage social evils in the society which the police force is required to eliminate,” the order said.

The bench dismissed the petition as not maintainable.

However, the court said that the petitioner may seek appropriate remedy subject to the conditions enumerated under the law.

“Before parting with this order, we direct the Inspector General of Police, Sindh to screen out all those police officials who have patchy records in their dossiers and initiate departmental proceedings against them under the law and the same proceedings be completed within a reasonable time strictly in accordance with the dicta laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Additional Inspector General of Police Karachi & another v. Muhammad Ismail Lashari & another [2017 PLC (CS) 279],” the order stated.

“Let a copy of this order be communicated to the Chief Secretary, Sindh and Inspector General of Police, Sindh for information and compliance,” it added.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2019

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Pakistan on journey to peace and stability, says Bajwa

  16.1  24 May 2019

QUETTA: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Thursday that Pakistan was going through an evolutionary process of its journey to enduring peace and stability after withstanding challenges in the recent past.

Addressing student officers and faculty of Staff Course 2018/19 at Command and Staff College here, he said the process was slow, but on a positive trajectory.

“We need to stay steadfast and carry forward the efforts towards set national objectives,” he asserted.

Acknowledging and hailing contributions and performance of young officers in the counterterrorism operations as well as during recent stand-off along the eastern border, the army chief appreciated the officers for their professional pursuits to meet and prevail over future challenges of national security.

The commander of Southern Command was also present on the occasion.

During his recent engagements, Gen Bajwa has expressed his confidence that Pakistan has withstood challenges and it is now on a journey to peace and stability.

During his visit to forward posts along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the Dawatoi area of North Waziristan tribal district last week, he said the country was not anymore facing the challenges it had in the recent past.

“There are still challenges facing Pakistan but not as much as we have passed through in recent past. To continue the journey towards ultimate success we need to stay patient, determined and united,” he said on the occasion.

On that occasion too, the army chief referred to the stand-off along the country’s eastern border, saying that the army continued to maintain required state of alertness and preparedness on the eastern border.

The army chief said on the occasion that Pakistan would continue to play its positive role towards the success of the Afghan reconciliation process and peace in the region, but the country would also stay ready for any unforeseen eventuality.

Chairing the 220th Corps Commanders’ Conference last month, Gen Bajwa also said that Pakistan was on a positive trajectory.

“Having achieved successes against terrorism, Pakistan is on a positive trajectory of becoming a state where prerogative of use of weapons rests with the state alone and socio-economic development is taking preeminence,” he was quoted to have said during the conference.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2019

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Balochistan notifies Levies-police merger

  16.1  19 May 2019

QUETTA: The Balochistan government has formally merged the Levies force with the police department in three districts of the province despite opposition’s misgivings.

It was announced through a notification on Saturday.

The official notification issued by the Home and Tribal Affairs department states, it was “pleased to declare the revenue limits of districts of Quetta, Lasbela and Gwadar as “A-Area” with the meaning of aforesaid sections, for the purpose of territorial jurisdiction of Balochistan police with immediate effect and until further orders”.

The Balochistan cabinet had made the decision last month in view of the security situation in these three districts, especially in Gwadar where China was implementing development projects initiated under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Measure comes in order to provide security to CPEC projects

The opposition parties in Balochistan had rejected the provincial cabinet’s decision articulated their views in a press conference in early May. Former chief minister Aslam Khan Raisani said that Levies force had been performing well in the rural areas and the decision to merge it with the police would not be favourable for the federation. Sana Baloch of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal and Nasarullah Zerey of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party also opposed the merger.

This is the second time the Levies force has been merged with the police department in Balochistan. Previously in 2005 under the Police Ordinance, 2002, the entire province was converted into A-Area and the Levies force was merged into the police department. The federal government back then had provided Rs8 billion for the conversion of B-Area into A-Area in Balochistan.

In 2008 the Levies force was restored as a separate entity from the police during Raisani’s tenure.

Mir Liaquat Ali Shahwani, spokesman for the Balochistan government, defended the decision, saying it was the right of the government to take such decisions in the larger interests of the province. “Levies merger with police was taken in view of the security situation,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2019

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Levies-police merger in Balochistan opposed

  16.1  05 May 2019

QUETTA: The opposition parties in Balochistan have rejected the provincial cabinet’s decision about merger of Levies force with police in Quetta, Gwadar and Lasbela districts.

Speaking at a press conference along with former chief minister Aslam Raisani and other opposition leaders here on Saturday, Leader of the Opposition in the Balochistan Assembly Advocate Malik Sikandar Khan claimed that a huge amount of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) would lapse due to incompetency of the provincial government.

They criticised adjournment of the current session of the provincial assembly without completing the agenda of opposition parties.

Opposition parties criticise withdrawal of security provided to Maulana Fazl

The opposition leaders said they wanted to move resolutions on Saindak, Reko Diq and on some other important issues in the assembly, but the session was adjourned.

Sana Baloch of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal and Nasarullah Zerey of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, who also attended the press conference, opposed the merger of Levies force with the police.

Malik Sikandar said that a comprehensive resolution about powers of Levies force had already been approved by the Balochistan Assembly unanimously.

Interestingly, the resolution was also tabled by the treasury benches.

He said the government did not take interest in running the agenda of the assembly. “The opposition’s resolution could not be moved in the previous session of the assembly due to lack of interest by the treasury benches,” the opposition members said. They said Deputy Speaker Babar Mus­a­khail had given a ruling during the previous assembly session to reinstall all transformers of tube-wells. “Now we have been waiting see how that ruling is treated.”

They said that Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani had earlier claimed that Levies force would be strengthened, but now his cabinet had decided to merge it with the police.

Aslam Raisani said that Levies force had been performing well in the rural areas and the decision to merge it with the police would not be favourable for the federation.

He criticised the federal government for withdrawing security from Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He said the Maulana had already survived three suicide attacks.

Nasarullah Zerey claimed that Levies personnel had been attacked under a well-planned conspiracy and its basic purpose seemed to be to get this force merged with police.

Sana Baloch opposed the merger of Levies force with the police. He said the PSDP for the next financial year should be prepared in consultation with the opposition parties and in view of the Balochistan High Court’s verdict.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2019

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Over 900 policemen have lost their lives in Balochistan since 2009, says IG

  16.1  01 May 2019

QUETTA: Since 2009, 911 police officials across Balochistan have been killed while combating terrorists which include two DIGs, two SSPs, one ASP, 19 DSPs, 23 inspectors, 75 sub-inspectors, 54 ASIs, 164 head constables, 552 constables and 79 class four employees of the police department.

These figures were given by Balochistan Inspector General of Police Mohsin Hassan Butt on Tuesday while talking to the media during his visit to under-construction police stations in the provincial capital.

“Balochistan police have rendered great sacrifices to protect the lives of the people and restore peace to the province. They have never bowed down against terror,” he said.

The Balochistan police chief visited Civil Lines police station which was under construction where the officials concerned informed him that nearly 70 per cent work on the station had been completed.

He visited another police station in Gwalmandi which was also near completion and was told that some of the staff members have already shifted their official belongings to their new workplace.

He also told the media that Balochistan’s first women police station was also under construction at a cost of Rs50 million. “Due to traditional and tribal taboos women cannot visit police stations to lodge their complaints. With the opening of the first women police station, most legal and social issues of women will be resolved,” he said. “The completion of a police station for women will also provide jobs for females,” he added.

Replying to a question, he said funds had been received for five more new police stations and their construction would be started soon.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2019

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PHC seeks record of 90 military court convicts

  16.1  20 March 2019

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday directed the defence ministry to produce on May 25 the records of around 90 petitions of the people convicted by military courts, mostly awarded death sentences for militancy.

It warned that cases would be decided if the records weren’t produced.

Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan fixed May 28 for next hearing into the petitions, observing that the last chance was given to the government for the production of the records.

Warns cases to be decided one way or the other if order not followed

The petitions are filed by close relatives of the convicts.

The court has already granted interim relief to the convicts and stayed their executions on different dates.

Several lawyers appeared for the petitioners and contended that for the last many months, the court had been seeking records from respondents, including defence ministry, but the latter were reluctant to comply with the orders.

They said over six months had passed since the hearing into some cases began but the records hadn’t been produced yet.

Additional attorney general Manzoor Khalil and a representative of the defence ministry requested the bench to give them more time for producing the sought-after records.

They said the country had been facing a war-like situation with the security forces countering attempts of aggression by the enemy.

The bench observed that the warlike situation had been there for around a month but scores of those cases had been pending for over six months.

The bench warned officials that if they didn’t produce records, the petitions would be decided one way or the other.

It observed that the last chance would be given to the respondents and the officials should suggest any suitable date for the production of records.

The officials said they would be able to produce the records in May as currently, the security situation was tense in the country.

Most petitioners have claimed that the convicts concerned were taken into custody by the security forces many years ago and were kept incommunicado thereafter.

They also claimed to have learned about convictions through media reports.

BAIL GRANTED: An anti-terrorism court granted bail to a man charged by the counter terrorism department with facilitating two suicide bombings in Peshawar.

One of the bombings targeting an election rally of the Awami National Party in 2013 had killed 15 people and injured 50 others, including former federal minister Haji Ghulam Bilour, while the other targeting a police patrol in 2014 left a sub-inspector dead in the jurisdiction of Bana Mari police station.

Judge Mr Tariq Yousafzai accepted two bail petitions of suspect Shahid Khan, a resident of Wakho Pull area in Peshawar.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2019

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Committee of parliamentary leaders to oversee NAP implementation: Chaudhry

  16.1  08 March 2019

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Thursday that a committee comprising parliamentary leaders would oversee the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP).

“The committee of the parliamentary leaders would be headed by either the prime minister or foreign minister,” Chaudhry told reporters outside the National Assembly.

Earlier, the Ministry of Interior said law enforcement agencies had taken 121 people into preventive detention as of today in compliance with NAP.

In a notification, the Interior Ministry said the provincial governments have taken over the management and administrative control of 182 madaris, 34 schools/ colleges as part of NAP.

Provincial governments have also taken over five hospitals, 163 dispensaries, 184 ambulances and eight offices, the notification added.

The operation against proscribed organisations is an ongoing process and continues under National Action Plan 2014. Interior Ministry is actively working in coordination with provincial governments and law enforcing agencies, it further read.

The federal government on Tuesday took as many as 44 members affiliated with proscribed organisations, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar’s brother, Mufti Abdul Rauf, and son, Hammad Azhar, into “preventive detention” under NAP.

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PM Khan ‘reaffirms commitment’ to ensuring a secure, enabling environment for women

  16.1  08 March 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his message on International Women’s Day, being celebrated across the globe on Friday, reaffirmed his government’s commitment to providing women a safe environment so that they could contribute to the country’s development.

“We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring women a secure and enabling environment to play their rightful role in our nation’s development,” said the prime minister.

He also paid tribute to Fatima Jinnah “who stood steadfastly beside the Quaid in his struggle for Pakistan”.

The second ‘Aurat March’ will be held today in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and other cities to mark International Women’s Day, which is celebrated by the global community every year on March 8.

PPP’s Senator Sherry Rehman, referring to the march, called to attention a number of issues women face, saying: “I march because women don’t get the same pay or opportunities as men. Because I’m done keeping quiet about sexist jokes, about snide remarks and an unspoken collusion to keep women out of decision-making. I march for my less fortunate sisters who suffer daily indignities.”

In another tweet, she said: “I march because I don’t accept violence against women. I march against harassment at the workplace. I march because public spaces are domains where I too have the right to have my voice heard. I march because we still have a long way to go.”

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded “the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country”.

“The women of Pakistan have come a long way off but a lot needs to be accomplished and soon,” he said, adding that the government under the PML-N “introduced massive reforms for women empowerment”.

Finance Minister Asad Umar also shared a message on Women’s Day: “Pakistan cannot be the prosperous and peaceful country we want it to be unless women, who are more than half the country, are given the chance to live their lives to their full potential.”

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Corps Commanders Conference discusses geostrategic situation, NAP implementation

  16.1  07 March 2019

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday chaired the 219th Corps Commanders’ Conference in Rawalpindi at the General Headquarters, and reviewed the region’s geostrategic environment as well as the situation arising due to strained Pakistan-India relations.

According to a press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing, the meeting “expressed strong will, resolve and determination to defend the motherland against any misadventure or aggression”.

The forum, as per the ISPR statement, “expressed concerns on increased Indian atrocities in Indian occupied Kashmir post-Pulwama incident and continued deliberate targeting of civilians along the Line of Control by Indian occupation forces”.

“Continuity of such brutalities are only fuelling the fire and need to be stopped in the interest of regional peace which also merits world’s attention,” concluded the forum, which also “discussed the progress of National Action Plan 2014 (NAP)”.

Read: Nationwide crackdown on banned outfits intensifies

Army chief Bajwa “appreciated the morale and performance of the forces, support from the nation and above all the blessings of Almighty Allah”.

Furthermore, he directed the forces to remain in a “continued state of vigilance and alertness so as to be prepared for response to any threat”.

The COAS issued directives “to further the efforts in line with the decisions of the government to accelerate the implementation of NAP while rendering full assistance to other state institutions”.

“Pakistan is on the positive trajectory of peace, stability and progress. No one can make us budge through use or threat of use of force. Similarly, policy and the right of use of force shall remain the prerogative of the state alone”, the Army chief concluded.

COAS Bajwa’s comments on NAP’s implementation come a day after the federal government intensified the ongoing crackdown on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Jamaatud Dawah (JuD), Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and other banned outfits, arresting of more than 100 activists and taking over nearly 200 seminaries besides hundreds of other facilities and assets associated with them across the country.

The operation against the proscribed orga­nisations would continue till “achievement of objectives” under the National Action Plan (NAP) of 2014, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi had declared in a tweet, adding that efforts were being made to accelerate progress on NAP.

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Trump ends requirement that CIA report drone strike casualties

  16.1  07 March 2019

United States President Donald Trump revoked a policy on Wednesday that required the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to account for civilian deaths from drone strikes.

The move reversed a two-year-old order by his predecessor Barack Obama, who came under pressure for greater transparency after sharply increasing the use of drones for targeted attacks in military and counter-terrorism operations.

It could give the CIA greater latitude to conduct strikes as Trump increasingly relies on the spy agency, rather than the military, for lethal drone operations.

Rights groups immediately criticised the move, saying it reverses a hard-fought effort for transparency and accountability in drone strikes, which became central to US strategy in the wake of the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attack on the United States.

“The Trump Administration’s action is an unnecessary and dangerous step backwards on transparency and accountability for the use of lethal force, and the civilian casualties they cause,” said Rita Siemion of Human Rights First.

Trump’s action rescinded the July 1, 2016 order by Obama requiring the US director of national intelligence to report annually the number of strikes taken against “terrorist targets” outside of active war zones, and give an assessment of combatant and civilian deaths that resulted.

Trump’s move though applied only to strikes by non-defence department agencies — the CIA — in effect. It did not overturn requirements set by Congress for the Pentagon to account for civilian casualties in its operations.

Activists say the move could make the CIA even less accountable than in the past.

The agency took the lead role in drone strikes in post-9/11 counter-terror activities, targeting Al-Qaeda and other extremists especially in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, with frequent reports of significant “collateral” civilian deaths.

Under pressure to rein in the scores of strikes annually, in 2016 Obama ordered tighter procedures for managing the strikes and reducing civilian casualties.

Around the same time he forced the CIA to slash its drone activities and put the military more in charge of them. But after Trump took office in January 2017, the CIA’s drone attacks resumed, according to reports.

Its role could grow as US forces reduce their presence in Syria and Afghanistan.

Shannon Green, director of programs at the Center for Civilians in Conflict, called Trump’s order on Wednesday “a blow to transparency”.

“While public reporting on the use of lethal force by all agencies is crucial, ensuring that all agencies are accountable for preventing civilian casualties and then responding to claims of harm is perhaps even more important,” she said.

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Govt plans decisive crackdown on militant outfits

  16.1  04 March 2019

ISLAMABAD: A decisive crackdown on extremist and militant organisations in the country looks imminent.

“The action would soon be visible as things progress,” a source told a group of journalists at a background briefing on Sunday.

The imminence of an action against extremist groups was confirmed by Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry while talking in DawnNews programme Do Raaye. He said the government had taken a firm decision that there would be a stern action against all militant groups. This, he said, was in accordance with the political consensus contained in the National Action Plan (NAP).

The information minister refused to give any timeline for the operation against militant groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), accused of masterminding the Pulwama attack that triggered the latest crisis with India and took both nuclear-armed rivals close to war, and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). Mr Chaudhry said the timeline was something for the security forces to decide.

The National Security Committee had in its Feb 21 meeting “decided to accelerate action against proscribed organisations” and ordered re-imposition of ban on JuD and FIF. Prime Minister Imran Khan had on that occasion, while emphasising eradication of “militancy and extremism” from society, said the state could not be allowed to “become hostage to extremists”.

Pakistan to review stance on listing of Masood Azhar by UNSC as terrorist

The source categorically denied that the action was in response to Indian pressure after the Pulwama incident and said the decision had been taken much before the Feb 14 attack on Indian security forces in Pulwama, although it became public later. The dossier given by India on the Pulwama attack, he maintained, contained nothing except an iteration of its narrative on alleged Pakistan-based groups.

“We are taking action in our national interest. We have to correct the course. We cannot leave this mess for our next generation,” the source said, adding that the “existing political consensus within the country was an opportunity to take Pakistan on the positive track”.

He said the action would help deal with the issues arising out of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) listing. Pakistan, despite making significant progress on the initial concerns of FATF, came under renewed pressure at the Paris plenary last month.

The source said at the briefing that there could be law enforcement actions against JeM, JuD and FIF. However, it was clear from the conversation that Pakistan would also review its stance on the issue of listing of JeM leader Masood Azhar by the United Nations Security Council. “No individual is more important than Pakistan,” he said while responding to a question. “Pakistan won’t make it a matter of ego,” he said in response to another. “We won’t test our friends either,” he said in reference to China that has been maintaining a technical hold on Azhar’s listing by the UNSC.

The United States, Britain and France — three permanent members of the UNSC with veto power — have again, after Pulwama, moved the Security Council for designation of Azhar as a global terrorist.

When asked why Pakistan had in the past failed in acting against the proscribed groups, the source said the elements of NAP relating to military had been implemented, but those pertaining of civilians lagged behind because of lack of “capacity, capability and will”. He pointed to compulsions of certain political leaders as one reason, but said no one could be absolved of responsibility.

“It was decided in NAP in 2014 that there would action against proscribed groups. That required strategic shift and such changes take time,” he emphasised, observing that time had now come to decisively against these groups.

Talking about the latest confrontation with India in which ‘a strategic pause’ in hostilities was obvious on Sunday, he said it was in the interest of Pakistan to ‘exit’ from the face-off at this stage when it had attained “moral, diplomatic and military ascendancy” over India. However, India’s case was different, he argued, saying that it might be a tough decision for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to de-escalate at this stage because of the political cost. “That’s why they are taking time. Now that the strategic pause is there, they would have gone back to re-evaluate their options.”

Inter-Services Public Relations in its update on the LoC situation on Sunday reported calm after heavy exchanges over the past few days following use of air power by the two countries. “After heavy exchange of fire on night 1st/2nd March there is relative calm along LoC with intermittent fire during last night in Neza Pir, Jandrot and Baghsar sectors,” it said.

PM Modi, the source said, needed a face saving, but “Pakistan would not give one at the cost of its esteem and integrity”. He, however, stressed that Pakistan would at the same time not do anything provocative. Pakistan’s game plan, he said, was based on “rationality” and not “weakness” because any further escalation could lead to disastrous consequences.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2019

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Complaint cells inaugurated in Gilgit, Diamer to monitor extremist, anti-state content

  16.1  25 February 2019

Implementation of a decision to open 10 review and complaints cells in all the districts of Gilgit Baltistan to monitor extremist and anti-state content is underway.

Sanaullah Abbasi, the inspector general of police (IGP) for Gilgit-Baltistan, has initially inaugurated centres in Gilgit and Diamer.

The IGP, in a chat with media personnel, said that so far 200 accounts, through which radical content and anti-state material was shared, have been shut down.

Abbasi said that further cells in the eight remaining districts will be inaugurated soon.

It is pertinent to mention here that GB police has submitted a report to the interior ministry regarding the 250 cases registered in 2018 regarding the proliferation of extremist and anti-state content.

Meanwhile, an IT centre already exists at the police headquarters for the monitoring of content posted on social media.

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KP government eyes control of Levies force

  16.1  23 February 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has drafted a bill to bring over 15,000 Federal Levies Force operating in seven tribal districts and six sub-divisions of defunct Fata under its control.

“This Act may be called the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Levies Force Transition Act, 2019,” says an official document.

The bill will be introduced in the provincial assembly after the cabinet’s approval.

The Levies force in seven merged districts and six sub-divisions, previously called Frontier Regions (FRs), currently functions under the Federal Levies Forces Regulation, 2012.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the Force shall have the same duties and functions as those specified in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Act, 2017,” says the draft.

Unlike the KP police, the Levies force will work under the home department, which is contrary to the recent decisions of the provincial government and the apex committee.

“The superintendence, control and administration over the Force shall vest in the government. And the Government shall exercise superintendence, control and administration over the Force through Home and Tribal Affairs Department. The supervision of the Force shall vest in the director general and operational control of the Force shall vest in the commandant,” the bill said.

Bill for the purpose to be tabled in PA after cabinet’s nod

The proposed law said the force would consist of a director general to be appointed by the government and such number of other officers/officials as might be prescribed, including but not limited to the commandant.

“Provided that both the director general and the commandant shall be officers of the KP police and the district police officer shall be assigned the additional charge of the position of the commandant of the Levies force in the same district.”

Defining the powers of the Levies force, the draft said notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the force would have all the powers conferred on police by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, as exercised by the provincial police under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Act, 2017, for the performance of their duties and functions.

It added that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the force would have the same duties and functions as those specified in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Act, 2017.

The current strength of the Federal Levies Force in defunct Fata is 15,673 against the 16,053 sanctioned posts. In addition, 15,673 personnel of the centuries old Khasadar force are performing their duties along with Levies men. Before the merger of tribal districts with the province, the secretary (law and order) was serving director general of Levies force, too.

Officials said the Khassadar force had become a ‘liability’ for the government after Fata’s merger with the province.

They said the government would work out mechanism for the regularisation of the Khassadar force.

The government has planned the recruitment of 6,000 police personnel for merged tribal districts. In the first phase, the police department has proposed the creation of 393 posts of police personnel for seven districts and six sub-divisions.

The department has proposed the creation of a total of 39 posts for each tribal district including one post of senior superintendent of police (SSP) and two assistant superintendent of police/deputy superintendent of police.

Similarly, 20 posts of personnel have been proposed for each sub-division. Official of the rank of ASP or DSP will command the force in each sub-division.

Sources said the proposed strength of the police force for the merged areas requires Rs 176.433 million and personnel will be deployed from the provincial police.

The bill is meant to provide for the maintenance of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Levies force and to enable its transition to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police. The existing federal regulation will be called the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Levies Force Act, 2019, after passage of the bill from the assembly.

The Levies force is being made a provincial subject in line with the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through the 25th Constitutional Amendment in May 2018.

The bill says it is necessary to bring the Levies force governed by the Federal Levies Force Regulation, 2012, under the control of the provincial government.

The draft said the force would consist of a director general to be appointed by the government and such number of other officers/officials as may be prescribed, including but not limited to the commandant, provided that both the director general and the commandant would be officers of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police, and district police officer would be assigned the additional charge of the position of the Levies force’s commandant in the same district. Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, members of the Force may be absorbed in the provincial police subject to the procedure as prescribed.

Until their absorption in the police, members of the force will be governed by their existing terms and conditions of service under the Federal Levies Force (Service) Rules, 2012.

The provisions of this Act will be enforced notwithstanding anything repugnant or contrary contained in any other law for the time being in force, said the bill.

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NSC orders acceleration of anti-terrorism ops; reinstates ban on JuD, charity arm FIF

  16.1  21 February 2019

The National Security Committee convened at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday for a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, during which the nation’s top decision-makers discussed the geo-strategic and national security environment in light of the Pulwama incident and its aftermath.

Among key outcomes of the meeting was an order to accelerate anti-terrorism operations in the country to re-establish the state’s writ, and the reinstatement of a ban on the Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and its charity arm, the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF).

JuD, FIF banned
In February last year, former president Mamnoon Hussain had promulgated an ordinance amending the Anti-Terrorism Act with regards to proscription of terrorist individuals and organisations to include entities listed by the UN Security Council. The move had resulted in the declaration of JuD and FIF as proscribed groups.

However, the two Hafiz Saeed-linked organisations had slipped off the national list of proscribed organisations after the presidential ordinance lapsed.

This time, the two organisations have been notified as proscribed organisations by the PTI-led government itself, through the Ministry of Interior.

Before the government’s official ban, the two organisations had been under watch by the Ministry of Interior under Section 11-D-(1), read with Schedule-II of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Pulwama under discussion
The members of the meeting noted and established that “the state of Pakistan is not involved in any way, means or form in the said incident” and that it was “conceived, planned and executed indigenously”.

The statement asserted that Pakistan had made a sincere offer to investigate the incident and stands ready to enter into dialogue on the issue of terrorism and other disputed matters.

“We expect India to positively respond to the offers,” it added.

It further stated that Pakistan “shall take action against anyone found using our soil [for terrorism]”.

However, it called on the need for India to undertake “deep introspection to realise why [the] people of Indian-occupied Kashmir have lost [the] fear of death”.

Also read: ‘Pulwama attack reaction to state terrorism in India-held Kashmir’

“The violence by Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir is highly counterproductive. The global community needs to play its part in resolving the long pending Kashmir issue in accordance with UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiris,” the statement stressed, urging action on the part of the international community.

Simultaneously, the NSC also gave formal authorisation to the armed forces “to respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure by India”.

Re-establishing state’s monopoly over violence
The statement also quoted the prime minister as saying that “this is a new Pakistan and we are determined to demonstrate to our people that the State is capable of protecting them and believes that monopoly of violence stays with State”.

“This will not come with commitment alone. We recognise that terrorism and extremism are top issues in the region and the whole region including Pakistan have suffered,” the press release stated.

It went on to highlight that Pakistan has endured casualties surpassing 70,000 in number, besides heavy losses to the national exchequer.

“That is why the National Action Plan conceived and issued in 2014, outlined concrete sequenced measures with consensus of all political parties and institutions of Pakistan,” it further stated.

Editorial: Pulwama attack

Moving on to a broader discussion on terrorism, the PM Office statement underscored the need “to move to ensure that militancy and extremism are routed from the society and the State never becomes hostage to extremists”.

The prime minister subsequently directed the interior ministry and security institutions to “immediately accelerate actions on ground” to ensure this.

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Tribal districts to get prisons, prosecution directorates, public safety bodies

  16.1  20 February 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has approved a proposal to extend the directorates of prisons, prosecution, reclamation and probation, and public safety commissions to merged districts at a cost of Rs794 million under a short-term plan.

The documents available with Dawn show that Chief Minister Mahmood Khan approved the proposal moved by the home and tribal affairs department on Feb 7.

The directorates in question operate under the home and tribal affairs department.

The documents show that the home department had chalked out long and short-term plans to establish these departments in the merged department.

The long-term plan, which includes the development of infrastructure of district jails in seven merged districts, will cost Rs16.82 billion, while the short-term plan needs Rs794 million.

Home dept says Rs794m immediately required for the purpose

The breakdown of the required funds shows that under the long-term plan, the largest chunk of funds amounting to Rs15.5 billion will be required for the extension of the inspector general of prisons to tribal districts.

Under the same head, the infrastructure needs of district jails alone will require whopping Rs11.4 billion funds, while repair and renovation of the existing 15 lockups will cost around Rs668 million and creation of 2,177 posts around Rs475 million.

Similarly, the directorate of prosecution will need Rs1.2 billion, directorate of reclamation Rs15.1 million and public safety commission Rs20 million.

The summary of the home department noted that long-term plan, which was about creation of new posts, recruitment and development of infrastructure, would take considerable time for successful execution.

It added that for the long-term plan, availability of funds would also be an issue and therefore, immediate action should be initiated on the short-term plan.

The summary said the funds amounting to Rs794 million would be required immediately. Of this amount Rs668 million would be spent on repair/renovation of existing prison facilities in the merged districts while Rs126 million for operational charges of prosecution services.

The finance department opined that budgetary requirements for the creation of new positions and establishment of new positions shall become a responsibility of the provincial government from next financial year.

It added that the federal government had agreed to on more than one occasion to provide funds for the additional human resources requirements as well infrastructure needs; however, there is no written commitment as such.

The department said the provincial government would receive additional funds to meet the emerging needs in merged districts.

“It is advised that home department should phase out recruitment process in such a manner those financial liabilities (salaries and operational costs) should only accrue in the month of July 2019 and at the same time recruitment should be phased out in manner so that personnel are deployed once the infrastructure is completed,” it said.

The department said the home department should proceed with the short term plan and at the same time start working on long term plan. “Finance department agrees to provide requisite funds from the funds received from the federal government for merged districts,” it added.

Meanwhile, the KP government on Tuesday notified the chief minister’s advisory committee on merged districts.

The committee will have the chief minister as head and lawmakers from merged districts as members.

The committee ToRs said the chief minister would consult MNAs and senators from merged districts on the preparation of annual development programme, preparation of 10 years development programme, and issues pertaining to merger and mainstreaming of those areas, and reconstruction and rehabilitation of displaced persons.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Bill against child marriage divides parties in NA

  16.2  01 May 2019

ISLAMABAD: A day after the passage of a bill seeking to set minimum age for marriage at 18 in the Senate, a similar legislation was introduced in the National Assembly on Tuesday, but only after an intense discussion which exposed cracks within various parties on the issue.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri referred the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to the committee concerned after the house allowed its mover Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to table it with a majority 72-50 vote.

The National Assembly also witnessed introduction of 10 other bills, including two constitutional amendment bills seeking creation of a new Hazara province, on the private member’s day.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari, who came to the house after the Asr prayer break, was seen conversing with the PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique, who is currently under custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with a housing society scam and attending the session after issuance of his production order by the speaker. The two arch-rivals of the past remained busy discussing some important matter for some time without caring for the proceedings.

PML-N members submit bills seeking creation of Hazara province

Earlier, a heated discussion took place on the child marriage bill which exposed a division even within the federal cabinet. Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan strongly opposed the bill and termed it un-Islamic, whereas Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari argued in support of it and asked the deputy speaker to refer it to the committee.

The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was the only party whose members voted in support of the bill in unison as the members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also gave a divided vote.

Read: How Pakistan is failing its child brides

The Senate had already on Monday passed the bill moved by the PPP’s Sherry Rehman amid a noisy protest by the members of religious parties. The PTI had abstained from voting.

The religious affairs minister and the minister of state for parliamentary affairs, who had also opposed the bill in the Senate, called for referring the bill to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), instead of the committee.

The parliamentary affairs minister said the CII had already rejected similar bills in the past terming it against the basic tenets of Islam. He said they would not let any anti-Islam bill passed from the house. He pointed out that a minority member had moved the bill which was against the basic teachings of Islam. He declared that he would oppose the bill even at the cost of his cabinet position, adding that even the whole house could not pass any legislation which was against the teachings of Quran and Sunnah.

Dr Shireen Mazari almost presented the same arguments which PPP’s Sherry Rehman had given in the Senate a day earlier during the discussion on her bill.

Dr Mazari said a number of Islamic countries, including the UAE, Turkey, Egypt and Bangladesh, had already enforced similar laws restraining the marriages before the age of 18. Besides this, she said, the Al-Azhar University of Egypt had also issued a decree in this regard.

Shahida Akhtar Ali of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam opposed the bill whereas Shaista Pervez of the PML-N spoke in favour of it.

However, at the time of voting, a number of male members of the PML-N were seen sitting in their seats whereas the women members stood up in support of the proposed legislation.

Hazara province
The PML-N members submitted two separate constitution amendment bills seeking creation of a new Hazara province.

Last week, the PML-N members had managed to introduce the bill for creation of South Punjab and Bahawalpur provinces.

The bills for Hazara province were moved by Ali Khan Jadoon and former deputy speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi. Both the bills of similar nature were referred to the committee after the government did not oppose the move.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2019

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Senate sees off religious parties’ opposition to pass bill against child marriage

  16.2  29 April 2019

The Senate on Monday passed the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which proposes that the legal minimum age of marriage in the country be set at 18.

The bill was presented by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman, who told the House that according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, around 21 per cent Pakistanis got married before turning 18.

She also pointed out that Muslim countries including Oman, Turkey and United Arab Emirates have already set 18 as the minimum age of entering marriage.

Rehman also apprised the upper house of the fatal threat that underage marriages pose to mothers. “One woman dies in childbirth every 20 minutes,” she said, adding that the reason for these deaths were early pregnancies.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) Senator Ghafoor Haideri opposed the bill, saying that complicated pregnancies were not tied to age but poor healthcare. He argued that Islam allows marriage after puberty and recommended that the bill be sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) before being discussed in the Senate.

“We are not promoting western culture, this is wrong,” Rehman countered, saying that the bill stated that any person younger than 18 should be considered a child and be prohibited to enter marriage.

Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad seconded Haideri’s suggestion to send the bill to CII, saying that setting an age limit for marriage would be “against the Shariat”.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said that “there is no age limit for marriage in Islam”, reminding the House that a similar bill had once already been deemed “against the Sharia” by the CII .

To this, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said that referring the bill to the CII would be “akin to sending it into cold storage”.

Rehman, meanwhile, pointed out that the bill had been endorsed unanimously by the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights. Haideri, however, raised objections over the committee, saying that his party had not been extended an invitation to join.

Subsequently, the bill was passed by the Senate and now awaits a debate in the National Assembly.

The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which aims to “curb the menace of child marriage prevalent in the country and save women from exploitation”, underage marriage can lead to imprisonment of up to three years, a fine of at least Rs100,000 or both.

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Ministry launches National Child Labour survey ‘in camera’

  16.2  26 March 2019

ISLAMABAD: Despite inviting the press to cover the launch of the National Child Labour Survey, the Ministry of Human Rights refused to let journalists enter the venue on Monday, instead launching the survey ‘in camera’.

When journalists reached the venue, organisers said private media would not be allowed to attend the launch because would be attended by President Dr Arif Alvi.

The ministry’s public relations officer, who had invited the media, said he was powerless to accommodate them.

The ministry later issued a statement in which it said the ministry and Unicef have launched a National Child Labour Survey in Pakistan.

Journalists invited to cover launch stopped from entering venue

It said Dr Alvi was invited to the launch as chief guest, and speakers included Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights Lal Chand, Human Rights Secretary Rabiya Javeri Agha, Statistics Secretary Shaista Sohail, Department for International Developmenthead Joanna Reid, Unicef Country Representative Aida Girma and International Labour Organisation Country Director Ingrid Christensen.

The statement added that the event aimed to recognise and appreciate the efforts of the federal and provincial governments towards preventing and eliminating economic exploitation, and to share progress on the child labour survey across the country.

The event also launched the data collection process for a survey of child labour in Pakistan.

According to the statement, Dr Mazari said at the launch that the government was committed to improving child rights and glorifying the international convention on child labour.

“It is our priority to ensure the endowment of education and health to the children across the country. Beyond rhetoric we have to take the pragmatic steps to eliminate the child labour and to improve their living standards, our Constitution grantees to provide the fundamental rights to the children,” she said.

Dr Mazari said pragmatic steps are being taken in this regard, and the government is committed to ensuring basic and health and education facilities are provided to children with a focus on preventing all kinds of child abuse.

She said the purpose of the survey is to collect data on child labour in order to obtain empirical data, which will help address real issues and devise a comprehensive policy.

She added that child labour is unacceptable in any democratic and progressive society.

In order to succeed, we need to ensure the fundamental rights of children with a special focus on their education and health, she said.

Dr Mazari also expressed concerns over domestic workers, noting incidents of abuse against them. She said the ministry would bring legislation to protect the rights of domestic workers.

She added that in addition to implementing existing laws and devising new legislation, it is equally important to raise awareness among the public of their rights. She said the human rights ministry is running campaigns related to women’s right to inheritance and child abuse awareness, and has launched a free helpline to provide victims with legal assistance.

She also said that the ministry is working on child protection bureaus and a child protection commission, which will be established soon.

Federal and provincial government representatives, as well as representatives from Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, international organisations and civil society attended the launch.

The themes for the survey are ‘Moving from Data to Policy – Global Practices’ and ‘Child Labour Survey Data Usage for Policy Development and Implementation’.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2019

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Bills moved in NA on child marriage, forced conversion

  16.2  27 March 2019

ISLAMABAD: Amid the ongoing controversy over the alleged kidnapping of two Hindu girls and their forced conversion to Islam, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani on Tuesday submitted two bills in the National Assembly secretariat seeking enhancement of the punishment for those involved in such crimes and for making child marriage a cognisable offence.

Besides the two bills titled Child Marriage Restraint Act (Amendment) Bill 2019 and the Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Act 2019, Dr Vankwani also submitted to the NA Secretariat a resolution with the support of minority lawmakers from all major political parties condemning such incidents.

The five-point resolution called for immediate passage of the bill against forced conversions, which had been unanimously passed by the Sindh Assembly in 2016 and then reverted due to pressure of extremist elements, from all the legislatures.

One of the bills proposes five years to life imprisonment for a person who forcibly converts another person

Besides Dr Vankwani, PTI legislators Lal Malhi and Shunila Ruth, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker Dr Darshan and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Ramesh Lal signed the resolution.

Through the resolution, the lawmakers demanded strict action against the culprits including controversial religious figures such as “Mian Mithu Bharchoondi and Pir Ayub Jan Sirhindi” for their alleged role in forced conversions. “All those who are preaching hate under the cover of religion must be handled like banned religious organisations,” the resolution said.

Talking to the media outside Parliament House, Dr Vankwani, who is also patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, said unfortunately the practice of child marriage was common in all parts of Pakistan, particularly in poverty-hit areas. He said the bills were intended to serve as a deterrent and to remove the existing gender disparity in age.

He said he had moved the bills in line with a PHC resolution that condemned the recent alleged kidnapping and forced conversion of two Hindu sisters, Reena and Raveena, and kidnapping of another Hindu girl, Shania, from Mirpurkhas. The resolution said: “The Senate functional committee on human rights has already unanimously approved the draft bill to amend the Child Marriage Restraint Act, raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 years and also by Sindh Assembly. The bill must be passed in National Assembly on an urgent basis, and implemented throughout the country in letter and spirit.”

One of the two bills seeking protection of minorities called for sensitisation of government officials, police officials and members of judicial service on the issue. It also suggested setting up of specific courts to hear cases of forced conversions and shelter homes for victims.

The bill stated: “Any minor who claims to have changed their religion before attaining maturity shall not be deemed to have changed their religion and no action shall be taken against him or her for any such claim or action made by the minor.”

The bill proposed imprisonment of either description for a minimum of five years and maximum of life imprisonment and a fine to be paid to the victim by a person who forcibly converts another person. “This shall include any persons who have provided the logistical support and any other essential services etc for the marriage ceremony,” it explained.

“Any person who is an abettor to a forced conversion shall be liable to imprisonment of either description for a minimum of five years and a fine to be paid to the victim,” it suggested.

Also proposing a mechanism for addressing such complaints, the bill stated: “The court shall fix the first date of hearing, which shall not exceed seven days from the date of the receipt of the petition by the court.” It added that any case of forced conversion before the court should be disposed off within a period of 90 days and any adjournment given during the hearing of the petition be granted for reasons to be recorded in writing by the court. It also suggested in-camera trial of the cases.

The other bill titled “the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 2019” suggested that those involved in child marriage cases be given “rigorous” imprisonment instead of “simple imprisonment”.

It suggested enhancement of the punishment from one month to three years, besides an increase in the fine from Rs1,000 to Rs200,000.

The statement of objects and reasons attached to the bills described “poverty and illiteracy” as the factors for the prevalence of child marriages. It stated that a child, according to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, is any person under the age of 18. “Unfortunately, the practice of child marriage is common in all parts of Pakistan, particularly in the poor areas but the act of solemnising child marriage is not cognisable and the police cannot take action against the offenders.”

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2019

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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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Sindh pays Rs339m to victims’ families for getting 37 prisoners freed

  16.3  09 June 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh government has paid more than Rs330 million to win the freedom of 37 prisoners who had completed their sentences but were languishing in different jails across the province because of their inability to pay Diyat, Daman or Arsh — different kinds of compensation — which were imposed by the courts.

The first initiative of its kind has brought relief to many families, according to jail sources and officials.

They said the Sindh government had paid a total amount of Rs339.57 million as Diyat, Daman or Arsh money to families of the victims who were killed or badly wounded or suffered losses in different incidents or in deliberate attacks by suspects who were later caught, prosecuted and convicted by courts.

After completing their jail terms, the sources said, they were unable to pay the compensation amount to victims’ families.

“The provincial government identified and gathered data of those convicts who were compelled to stay in jails for long despite serving their terms,” said a source. “It was found that 10 inmates in Karachi’s central prison, four in its Malir, 13 in Hyderabad, five in Sukkur, four in Larkana and one in Sanghar prison have completed their sentences, but have not been set free because they have not paid compensation to the victims’ families.”

The data, they added, showed that all the 37 inmates belonged to poor families and could not afford to pay the compensation amount spelt out in their sentences.

Most of them had no criminal record and were caught after fatal traffic accidents or violent reaction over petty disputes, the source said.

“This situation required the Sindh government’s intervention,” said Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, the minister for prisons. “We took this initiative for these [37] individuals as the amount of compensation imposed by the courts cannot be shared by any individual or philanthropist. It was a huge sum and all those inmates were poor without any history of criminal activity.

“So the Sindh government paid the sum [Rs339.57 million] as Diyat, Daman and Arsh to families of the victims for 37 inmates and helped set them free.”

The Sindh government’s move has attracted praise from legal experts and activists associated with welfare of jail inmates. They suggested a permanent fund to help out those convicts who were not “hardened criminals”, but landed in jail for minor offences or traffic accidents and then languished in prisons because they were unable to pay compensation.

“Such initiatives are seen in countries which are called welfare states,” said Haider Ali Haider, a high court lawyer who helps inmates of Malir prison in securing legal assistance, payment of fines and to ensure speedy trials.

“Diyat, Daman and Arsh are punishments provided in Section 53 of Pakistan Penal Code. They all define compensation payable to heirs of a victim by an offender due to bloodshed or any loss he or she has incurred.

“Generally the amount is huge and sometimes in millions which any poor man cannot even imagine to pay. So in that case they don’t have any other option but to spend more years in the prison.”

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2019

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SC orders inquiry against three Sindh High Court judges over 3-year delay in deciding bail plea

  16.3  27 May 2019

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered an inquiry against three Sindh High Court judges who were unable to decide an application for pre-arrest bail filed by a murder suspect despite the passage of three years.

In what was the first case heard by the top court via e-Court, a system based on video-link connectivity, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa also approved the pre-arrest bail application of suspect Noor Mohammad.

The court was informed during the hearing that a murder case was registered against Mohammad at Shahdadpur police station in 2014. The suspect had subsequently approached the Hyderabad circuit bench of the SHC for his pre-arrest bail in 2016.

Chief Justice Khosa observed that as per the statements of eyewitnesses, the murder was committed by unidentified persons and the suspects nominated in the case were not involved in the killing.

Also, he remarked, the local police “displayed mala fide intent while investigating the case”. Justice Khosa noted that two other suspects in the case have already been granted bail.

While granting the bail plea filed by Mohammad, the chief justice ordered the registrar of the Supreme Judicial Council to conduct an inquiry into the delay in deciding the bail application.

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SC makes history by hearing case at Karachi registry via e-Court system

  16.3  27 May 2019

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday, for the first time in the judicial history of Pakistan, began hearing cases via e-Court — a system based on video-link connectivity, the apex court announced in a press release.

“Today, a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel formally initiated the proceedings of cases through the e-Court system at principal seat Islamabad and the SC Karachi registry,” read the press release.

Editorial: An inhumane justice system

“The advocates of Karachi, whose cases were fixed for hearing at the SC Karachi registry, argued their cases through a video-link and the bench at principal seat heard and decided the cases.”

The chief justice, while hearing the first case through the technology, remarked that a big milestone had been achieved in the judicial history of Pakistan.

“The facility will benefit lawyers and litigants to save them time and money,” the apex court said.

Jurists are of the view that by enhancing access to the apex court’s principal seat, the e-Court facility will discourage adjournments and encourage the legal fraternity to plead their cases without delays.

It will also provide convenience to lawyers as they will be able to pursue their cases while remaining in the cities where the court’s branch registries are situated. It will also benefit the litigants as they will not have to travel all the way to Islamabad to take part in court proceedings.

This, in turn, will help improve disposal of cases and reduce the backlog. The system will be cost-effective and improve accessibility, the jurists said.

Chief Justice Khosa, at his swearing-in ceremony in January, introduced the agenda for his tenure: “To attend to the causes that contribute towards delay in disposition of cases at all levels of the judicial hierarchy.”

Read more: Complete text of address by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa at full court reference for CJP Nisar

During his speech, he had stressed upon the need to make “structural and systemic changes so as to minimise litigation, eliminate unnecessary delays and rationalise the workload”, and redesigning and restructuring of the judicial system as a whole.

He has on multiple occasions called for discouraging frequent adjournments and frivolous litigation, and disposing off pending cases in a timely manner.

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514 prisoners freed after govt pays their fine

  16.3  27 May 2019

LAHORE: Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is said to have arranged Rs38.2 million through donations from affluent people to pay fine and diyat for 657 poor prisoners and release them before Eid.

The process of releasing the prisoners, after paying fine and diyat, has begun and so far 514 prisoners have been released. The remaining 143 will be freed before Eid.

The chief minister said the Punjab government was working for the welfare of prisoners along with other segments of society. He said he had personally visited prisons across Punjab in order to assess the actual situation so that welfare steps could be taken according to ground realities.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2019

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In a first, SC to use e-Court system

  16.3  24 May 2019

ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the judicial history of the country, the Supreme Court of Pakistan will on Monday put into use the e-Court system under which its registries in the provinces would be connected through the latest technology to its principal seat in the federal capital.

According to a statement issued on Thursday by the apex court’s public relations wing, the system would facilitate speedy disposal of outstanding legal matters pertaining to organisations and individuals in the provinces.

The facility would initially be utilised to connect the court’s principal seat in Islamabad and the Supreme Court Branch Registry, Karachi, said the statement.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa would start hearing cases through this facility on Monday.

As per the statement, the advocates in Karachi whose cases are fixed before Bench No 1 at the court’s principal seat may argue their cases in a courtroom at the court’s Karachi registry, which has been connected to Courtroom No 1 in Islamabad.

The cases would be heard and decided by the three-member bench in Islamabad through the use of e-Court, the statement said.

The court’s statement said: “Supreme Court of Pakistan will start e-Court system from next week on Monday, i.e. 27.05.2019. It is for the first time in the judicial history of Pakistan that courts will be connected through application of latest video-link connectivity.”

The system would benefit the lawyers as well as the litigants and make the judicial system more responsive to the needs of the people approaching courts to redress their grievances, added the statement.

Jurists are generally of the view that by enhancing access to the apex court’s principal seat, the e-Court facility would discourage adjournments and encourage legal fraternity to plead their cases without delays.

It would also provide convenience to the advocates as they would be able to pursue their cases while staying in the cities where the court’s branch registries are situated. It would also benefit the litigants as they would not have to travel all the way to Islamabad to take part in court proceedings.

This in turn would help improve disposal of cases and reduce backlog. The system would be cost-effective and would improve accessibility, added the jurists.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2019

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Sindh Assembly revives Musharraf-era Police Order amid opposition walkout

  16.3  19 May 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Saturday revived the Police Order, 2002 by repealing the colonial-era Police Act, 1861, prompting a walkout by the three major opposition parties that were part of a select committee to examine the draft law.

Among several other structural changes, establishment of public safety commissions at district and provincial levels are said to be the most significant part of the new law.

The Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act, 1861 and Revival of Police Order, 2002) Amendment Act, 2019, was moved in the house with five of the 15 members of the select committee refusing to sign it.

The Police Order, 2002 was first enforced by the former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Opposition abstains from voting

Eight members from the treasury benches, including committee’s convener Ismail Rahu, and two representatives from smaller opposition parties — the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan — had duly signed the draft.

Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and his parliamentary party leader Haleem Adil Shaikh, Khwaja Izharul Hasan and Mohammad Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Shaharyar Mahar of the Grand Democratic Alliance did not sign the document.

However, when the draft law was moved in the house, the members of the PTI, MQM-P and GDA began protesting against what they called the “improper” way it had been written without properly listening to the opposition members.

The parliamentary leaders and other members of those opposition parties gathered close in front of the speaker’s rostrum and began shouting slogans.

Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani said the same members’ conduct brought “humiliation” to the provincial legislature. “They don’t come here for the betterment of the people of Sindh, but only to spoil the time of this august house,” he remarked.

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla began reading the bill clause by clause as the opposition members kept chanting slogans.

After a while, they walked out of the house while the three members of the MMA and the TLP stayed in the house.

The bill was later passed unanimously in the absence of the opposition.

Later, GDA’s Mahar came and sat for a while before his party colleagues came. Later, a number of members of the PTI and MQM-P also returned.

The house was informed that the Police Order 2002 was revived as it stood on July 13, 2011 with amendments “to define the role of police, its duties and responsibilities and in the public interest”.

After passage of the bill, Mr Rahu appreciated the opposition for their inputs in the new law. GDA’s Mahar said he wanted to congratulate the house for restoring a law which was the brainchild of a dictator. He said the opposition was busy in writing its vote of dissent, but the government moved it without waiting for the opposition’s input.

Sindh govt can sack IGP before completion of term

“The law will give operational and administrative autonomy to the police while simultaneously establishing a mechanism for oversight on powers, assignments and function of police by the government and public safety commissions and for redressal of public complaints,” the house was told.

In the new law, the tenure of the inspector general of police will be three years; and the provincial government “may repatriate, or the federal government may, on its own accord recall, an IGP”.

Also, the provincial public safety commission would recommend to the government for repatriation of IGP before completion of tenure of three years for “unsatisfactory performance of duties”.

The provincial safety commission’s recommendation for the IGP’s repatriation should not be before given a proper hearing to the person holding the top post.

Among the duties of police, it could apprehend a person on legal grounds but it is bound to inform about the arrest to a person of the detainee’s choice.

Police can “enter and inspect without a warrant on reliable information any public place, shop or gaming-house where alcoholic drinks or narcotics are sold or weapons are legally stored and other public places of resort of loose and disorderly characters”.

Public safety bodies to be set up across province

According to the new law, a Provincial Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission would be established for oversight of the police department and redressing public complaints against it.

The commission would be composed of 12 members and ex-officio chairperson. Half of its members would be nominated by the speaker of the provincial assembly from amongst its members — four from the treasury and two from the opposition. Such members, however, should not be members of the standing committee of the Sindh Assembly on home affairs.

The other half, with at least two women, would comprise of independent members who will be appointed by the government on the recommendation of the selection panel. Home minister would be chairperson of the commission.

The selection panel for independent panel would be headed by the chief secretary while one member each would be nominated by the chief minister and the leader of the opposition.

Among other functions ie oversight of the department and formulation of future strategies for better policing, it will also coordinate with and guide such commissions running at district levels.

Similarly, district public safety and police complaints commission would be established. Chairperson of a district commission would be elected by the members among themselves for three years.

The district commission would approve an annual district policing plan prepared by the senior superintendent of police, while entertaining public complaints would be among its key functions.

444 kids among 550 tested HIV positive in Larkana alone PTI’s Shaikh spoke over the burning issue vis-à-vis incidence of HIV in the province.

Health Minister Azra Pechuho said tests of 15 children of Larkana who had earlier been confirmed as patients of HIV showed that five of them were HIV positive while another three returned negative signs. One of those children had died while the whereabouts of the remaining children could not be found.

She said some 16,169 people were screened for HIV in the affected area of Larkana districts of whom 550 were found HIV positive. They included 444 children (newborn to 15 years) and 106 adults. Most children were aged between two to five years, she added.

Speaker Durrani later prorogued the session, which is arguably the longest in its history, which began on Jan 9 and continued for more than four months.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2019

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572 Pakistani prisoners to be repatriated after being released by the UAE

  16.3  17 May 2019

The United Arab Emirates announced that 572 Pakistani prisoners have been released as part of a pardon from UAE President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan during the month of Ramazan, Gulf News quoted the Foreign Office as saying on Friday.

According to the news outlet, around 262 Pakistani prisoners will be released from the prisons of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain prison, 177 from Dubai, 52 from Sharjah, 16 from Fujairah and 65 from Ajman.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal, in his weekly briefing, said that the Pakistani authorities were in touch with the UAE government to ensure that the process of repatriation is carried out smoothly.

“To expedite the release and deportation of prisoners, Pakistan is constantly in touch with the local authorities and is extending all necessary assistance, including the issuance of outpasses, passports and air tickets, where required,” he said.

According to Dr Faisal, the UAE president had ordered the release of 3,005 prisoners — who are languishing in different jails of the country — out of which 572 are Pakistani.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a statement, thanked the UAE and said that the country “values this gesture of the UAE government”, Radio Pakistan reported.

Out of total 8.8 million overseas Pakistanis, 11,803 are languishing in foreign jails, according to data available with the foreign ministry. There are some 2,937 Pakistanis jailed in Saudi Arabia, 1,842 in Greece, 582 in India, 177 in Afghanistan, 242 in China, 188 in Iran, and 226 in Malaysia.

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NA plans to debate status of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails

  16.3  12 May 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Nati­onal Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs will next week take up a number of important issues, including the progress on the implementation of the promise made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman regarding the release of Pakistani prisoners from jails in Saudi Arabia.

According to the agenda issued by the National Assembly Secretariat for the two-day meeting of the committee starting from May 14, the members will also discuss the status of Pakistani prisoners languishing in jails of other countries and legal support being provided to them by the Foreign Office.

The opposition parties have been expressing concern over delay in the release of over 2,100 Pakistani prisoners as promised by the Saudi crown prince during his visit to Pakistan in February and some of the members raised the issue on the floor of the National Assembly as well.

Read: Delay in release of Pakistanis from Saudi jails concerns opposition

The Saudi crown prince had ordered the immediate release of over 2,100 Pakistani prisoners a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed him to the Prime Minister’s House and made a “special request” for him to look into the hardships of Pakistani labourers working in the Kingdom, and to “look upon them as your own people”.

Last month, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz had stated that the process of releasing Pakistani prisoners from Saudi jails was under way and the nation might receive “good news” in the holy month of Ramazan.

During the current session of the National Assembly, PML-N MNA from Bahawalpur Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada had expressed his concerns over the delay in the release of the prisoners and claimed that he could give examples of Pakistanis in Saudi prisons who had completed their terms but still remained behind bars.

Parliamentary Secretary for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Deve­lopment Javaria Zafar Aheer had told the house that her office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were working together and the release of Pakistani prisoners was “under way”. She had informed the house that a total of 3,400 Pakistanis were imprisoned in jails in Saudi Arabia.

Responding to a question from MNA Syed Agha Rafiullah about the number of Pakistanis imprisoned in India and the steps the government is taking for their release, the foreign affairs minister in a written reply had stated that there were 585 prisoners — 375 civilians and 210 fishermen — detained in Indian jails.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2019

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Concerns raised over revival of Police Order without adding key court verdicts

  16.3  12 May 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh government is in the process of reviving the Police Order, 2002 apparently without incorporating the judgements of the superior judiciary in a bid to take back powers of transfer and posting of senior police officers, it emerged on Saturday.

Many sources believed that the Sindh government was going to revive the Police Order, 2002 to avoid framing rules in compliance with the judgements of the superior courts.

An official told Dawn that the new law will give the chief minister power to transfer and post senior police officers and this move was aimed at evading the judgements of the Sindh High Court and Supreme Court.

The Police Order, 2002 was promulgated in all the provinces on Aug 14, 2002. However, on July 13, 2011 the Sindh Assembly repealed that law and revived the colonial-era Police Act of 1861.

Former Inspector General of Balochistan Police Tariq Khosa told Dawn that the Sindh government’s decision to revive the Police Order, 2002 was a “step in the right direction and in accordance with the January 2019 decision of the Supreme Court about police legislation being on the Concurrent List”.

‘Postings and transfers should not be based on whims and politics’

He, however, suggested that the Sindh government must follow it up by implementing the SHC and SC decisions about administrative and operational autonomy of the police command. “The government exercises superintendence over police, which is to be in accordance with law and not through arbitrary control of police through postings and transfers based on whims and politics.”

Mr Khosa, who was a member of the SC-formed body on police reforms, believed that the Police Order, 2002 “requires de-politicisation, accountability, autonomy, specialisation and community service”.

He hoped that the chief minister of Sindh and his cabinet will show “sagacity and wisdom” in implementing the letter and spirit of the law if they want the rule of law in Sindh.

18 months on, rules made by Khowaja not yet notified

Official sources familiar with the apex court’s ruling recalled that the SHC in what is now known as the A.D. Khowaja case had called for establishing the autonomy of command and independence of operation of the police force governed by the Police Act, 1861.

The court also upheld “tenure posting” of PSP senior cadre posts and declared that transfers and postings on all senior cadre posts shall be made by the order of the IGP “pursuant to transparent rules framed under Section 12 of the Police Act, 1861 framed in consultation with the provincial government”.

Subsequently, as per directions of the apex court, the IGP drafted the rules and submitted them to the government for notifying the same. However, the provincial government had been allegedly delaying the notification of the proposed rules for last 18 months and now intended to revive the Police Order, 2002.

The sources recalled that the Supreme Court while dismissing the appeals of the Sindh government against the SHC judgement had ruled that Sindh shall be entitled to make new laws “conforming with the modern needs and also keeping in view the observations made in the impugned judgment”.

Later, the Sindh government had filed a review petition in the SC, which was still pending.

The official opined that in view of the judgment of superior courts, it was evident that any legislation pertaining to police law cannot contradict the basic parameters of autonomy of command and independent operations of police.

Moreover, the operational and administration autonomy of police is to be exercised by the IGP including the powers of transfer/posting of senior officers.

‘Manipulated legislation’

“The true journey of police reforms has just begun and if the vested interests succeed in getting control of this department that too through a ‘manipulated legislation’ aimed at evading the judgements of the superior courts, it will be a bad omen for all the citizens and their quest for rule of law in the province,” said an official.

“If Police Order is to be revived, its articles in contradiction with the said judgements must be amended to make those compatible with the spirit of the judgements and to bring legislation within the parameters of the observations made in the judgements as ordered by the SC in its judgment,” suggested the official.

“The revival of Police Order, 2002 does not absolve the provincial government of its responsibility to frame transfer, posting rules as ordered by the apex court,” believed the official. “If the provincial government does not notify the transfer, posting rules it will be committing contempt of court.”

A senior official, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that by bypassing the verdicts of the apex court, the Sindh government intended to revive the Police Order which would likely increase political interference.

But, senior lawyer and former advocate general of Sindh Barrister Zamir Ghumro did not agree with the contention of such police officers.

He pointed out that the plea in the Karamat Ali case in the SHC by police was that Police Order, 2002 was a “good law and it may be declared legal”.

Barrister Ghumro recalled that the SHC had declared that it was the prerogative of the provincial assembly to enact a police law. He said as the Supreme Court dismissed the Sindh government’s appeal against the SHC order, “now the SHC judgement is in the field, so the provincial Assembly can enact new law or revive the Police Order, 2002”, as it was in the legislative domain of the elected representatives.

Another official believed that after the apex court’s rulings in favour of the operational autonomy of police, “undue interference” of the chief minister and his ministers in administrative domain of the Sindh police was “eliminated”.

“The government and the home department’s bureaucracy have been upset and they have been trying to regain their authority to control and use the police department for their political and personal motives.”

The officials said that the discipline of the police force and its internal accountability improved considerably when the officers started looking up to their professional commanders rather than political heavyweights.

“Reversing this trend will be a terrible mistake which the people of the province cannot afford,” they said.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2019

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CJP approves release of funds to IHC, judicial academies

  16.3  30 April 2019

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khan Khosa on Monday approved the release of funds from the Access to Justice Development Fund (AJDF) to the Islamabad High Court and federal and provincial judicial academies.

According to a press release issued on Monday, a meeting of the governing body of the AJDF was held at the Supreme Court building. The meeting was chaired by CJP Asif Saeed Khosa.

The chief justices and judges of all high courts, the law and justice secretary, additional finance secretary and the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) secretary attended the meeting.

According to the statement, LJCP secretary Dr Mohammad Raheem Awan briefed the meeting on the Access to Justice Development Fund, its mandate, functioning and the status of funds released to the high courts for specific purposes.

The CJP appreciated the role of the fund in capacity building and infrastructural development of the sub-ordinate judiciary throughout the country.

He reiterated that the under-resourced judiciary would be strengthened and supported through the AJDF for important infrastructural development, automation and other projects for sub-ordinate courts that were otherwise not provided in the regular budget.

The LJCP chairman stressed the need for timely and effective utilisation of the funds released to respective high courts.

Chief Justice Khosa asked the LJCP secretariat to explore the possibility of providing funds for the establishment of centre of excellence at the Federal Judicial Academy and research centres in district and sessions courts.

The LJCP secretary presented the complete status of funds released to the respective high courts up to the financial year 2017-18 and briefed the meeting on future allocation that was unanimously approved by the committee.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2019

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Money-laundering, terror-financing: FATF acknowledges Pak performance

  16.4  09 June 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Joint Group (JG) of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has acknowledged Pakistan’s performance on some key areas to comply with the action plan in order to combat money-laundering and terror-financing but also identified some weak points where further improvement is required in months ahead.

The JG of FATF has shared its mixed report with Pakistani authorities on the compliance report submitted by Islamabad during last month (May 2019) meeting held at China on key points out of total 27 action plans till its deadline.

The JG of FATF pointed out requirement on Pakistani law enforcing agencies (LEAs) such as FIA, CTD and Nacta to deliver on assigned objectives to fight money-laundering and terror-financing. Some cases proved in court of law and penalised on account of terror-financing but more such instances would be required to display for proving seriousness on this front.

Out of 27 action plans, the FATF has reported 18 as incomplete and demanded actionable steps against eight proscribed outfits. They have written in their report that Pakistan will have to do more till September 2019 when FATF Action Plan is concluded and overall assessment will be done.

Pakistani authorities argued that it seemed that some parts of the report were written by Indian officials because Islamabad had taken all required actions but overall report was not so much appreciative of overall steps taken by Pakistan. However, overall the report had not recommended any negative action against Pakistan.

Furthermore, the State Bank of Pakistan and Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan will have to reply back on queries raised by JG of FATF in their latest report. “With effective response Pakistan can be put off the grey list”, said one of the top officials dealing with FATF while talking to The News here on Saturday.

Pakistan has received JG of FATF report on Friday evening and its major findings have been shared with Adviser to PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh with the expectation that its contents would be shared with the premier as well anytime.

“We cannot fall into blacklist unless someone moves a proposal to put us into further downgrading position in the upcoming FATF plenary meeting scheduled to be held in USA in third week of the ongoing month.

Any proposal at FATF is adopted on the basis of consensus so it is important to raise support of three to four votes out of total 36 member countries of FATF in case of any such recommendation to block any move aimed at slipping Islamabad into category of blacklist,” top official sources confirmed to The News here on Saturday.

Pakistan is required to continue its journey for implementing its National Action Plan (NAP) as it is aimed at improving Pakistan’s image and not only FATF requirements.

The global community has recognised Pakistan’s progress and now there is a need to build on our achievements in months ahead. “We are hopeful that FATF members will also acknowledge our performance”, added the official sources.

The real issue will be handling Indian lobbies at upcoming FATF meeting as there are some risks that need to be handled properly by launching vigorous diplomatic campaign to win support for Pakistan at upcoming meeting scheduled to be held in USA.

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FBR authorised to get information from banks

  16.4  08 June 2019

ISLAMABAD: The first batch of withholding data from all banks will be made available to the FBR in the third week of ongoing month that will be used into databank developed with the help of Nadra to broaden the narrowed tax base.

The databank developed with the help of National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) possessed all kinds of data about potential non-filers but it had a missing links of banks data into it. The FBR was now confident that the data of withholding deductions would be shared by the banks with the FBR from June 18, 2019, helping the tax machinery to launch pilot project from July 1, 2019 for broadening of tax base.

When the FBR wrote lettersto all banks for sharing minutes of meeting held with them they also sent out official communication to the SBP for information to the regulator. The SBP in its reply told the FBR that the central bank did not possess data of customers but under the law of the land the banks could provide the same directly.

When top official of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) was contacted for comments on Friday, he said that the FBR was empowered to get data from the banks under income tax law. “Whatever is allowed under the law, the banks will share data with the FBR,” he added. The SBP, he said, did not have depositors’ data so the FBR could get it directly from the banks under the relevant provision of Income Tax Law.

The FBR official said that the SBP is fully assisting the FBR for securing the data from commercial banks. The SBP itself does not have data of account holders and no such information has been asked by the FBR from the regulator. The commercial banks have their depositors’ data and withholding details and it is expected that it will be shared with the FBR within a couple of weeks.

The section 165A of Income Tax Ordinance enables the FBR to get the data from the banks. The section 165A of Income Tax Ordinance 2001 states that notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force including but not limited to the Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962 (LVII of 1962), the Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992 (XII of 1992), the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 (VII of 1947) and the regulations made under the State Bank of Pakistan Act, 1956 (XXXIII of 1956), if any, on the subject every banking company shall make arrangements to provide to the Board in the prescribed form and manner,— (a) online access to its central database containing details of its account holders and all transactions made in their accounts; (b) a list containing particulars of deposits aggregating rupees one million or more made during the preceding calendar month; (c) a list of payments made by any person against bills raised in respect of a credit card issued to that person, aggregating to rupees one hundred thousand or more during the preceding calendar month; (d) a consolidated list of loans written off exceeding rupees one million during a calendar year; and (e) a copy of each currency transactions report and suspicious transactions report generated and submitted by it to the Financial Monitoring Unit under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 (VII of 2010).

(2) Each banking company shall also make arrangements to nominate a senior officer at the head office to coordinate with the Board for provision of any information and documents in addition to those listed in sub-section (1), as may be required by the Board. (3) The banking companies and their officers shall not be liable to any civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings against them for furnishing information required under this Ordinance. (5) Subject to section 216, all information received under this section shall be used only for tax purposes and kept confidential.

Independent tax experts argued that the FBR would have to build up its capacity to effectively utilise data for broadening of tax base. First of all, the banks and FBR will have to develop software that must have capability to talk to each other through connectivity. Secondly this IT enabled data should chip into the software to fill the missing links that could be converted into such databank having ability to bring non-filers without creating harassment.

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Pakistan’s Financial Monitoring Unit signs deal with UK to counter money laundering, terror financing

  16.4  30 May 2019

The Pakistani and British governments on Thursday signed an agreement to enhance financial intelligence sharing in order to counter money laundering and terror financing.

A delegation headed by FMU Director General Mansoor Siddiqui signed the agreement with the United Kingdom’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) while on a visit to the UK.

A press release issued on the occasion stated that the FMU in Pakistan and the FIU in the UK had signed an MoU for the establishment of a channel facilitating the efficient exchange of financial intelligence.

The delegation held meetings with British law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and discussed how to enhance coordination between the FIU and LEAs. The team also familiarised itself with the workings of the FIU, the press release stated.

As a result of the visit, LEAs on both sides will now have the opportunity to exchange information and carry out more effective investigations.

The FMU has already signed MoUs with Turkey, Sri Lanka, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, while agreements with China, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Malawi are being finalised and are expected to be signed soon.

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Pakistan needs diplomatic push to exit FATF grey list

  16.4  20 May 2019

ISLAMABAD: Apart from technical compliance, Pakistan needs to launch an aggressive diplomatic effort over the next four weeks to secure enough support and votes to exit the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — the global watchdog on anti-money laundering (AML) and combating financing terror (CFT).

A senior government official told Dawn that the coming FATF Plenary and Working Group meetings in Orlando, Florida, scheduled for June 16-21, would be crucial for Pakistan to get rid of the grey list or fall into the black list having serious economic reper­cussions. The Orlando plenary will actually set the stage for Pakistan’s future even though a formal announcement would come out at the next FATF plenary due in Paris on October 18-23, he said.

Pakistan was now fully compliant with the related United Nations resolutions, said the official who was part of the Pakistani delegation to ‘Face-to-Face meeting’ of the Asia-Pacific Group, a regional affiliate of the FATF, in Guangzhou, China last week.

Read: Asia-Pacific Group raises questions over efforts against terror financing

Next month’s meetings of global watchdog will be crucial

Pakistan has taken aggressive steps over the last two months in terms of regulatory and monitoring mechanism to meet the FATF requirements and its legal system is generally up to the mark, except some amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) 2010 pending before the National Assembly’s standing committee on finance and revenue.

“We believe we have generally delivered on the technical side i.e. legal and administrative action, regulations, monitoring, enforcement and inter-agency and stakeholder coordination and now require more of the diplomatic push to counter the adversaries,” said the official.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was expected be given a briefing on the Guangzhou meeting and on the way forward on Monday. He said it was expected Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi would now coordinate with stakeholders on a strategy to reach out to the world capitals in difficult diplomatic environment where the US-India grouping has greater influence and non-aligned members of the FATF prefer to abstain than siding with Pakistan.

Sources said Pakistan required about 15-16 votes to move out of the grey list and a minimum of three votes to avoid falling into the blacklist. The FATF currently comprises 36 members with voting powers and two regional organisations, representing most of the major financial centres in all parts of the globe.

The FATF plenary had formally placed Pakistan in the grey list in June 2018 due to ‘strategic deficiencies’ in its AML/CFT regime after the country could not secure a minimum of three votes as its friends had their own political targets to secure in the global watchdog.

China is set to secure FATF presidency next year while Saudi Arabia representing the Gulf Cooperation Council is to become a full FATF member. Turkey was the only member that stood by Pakistan despite a strong adverse campaign launched by the US, UK, India and Europe.

The official said the Pakistani delegation led by the finance secretary presented a robust case before the APG panel on the country’s progress on the 10-point action plan committed with the global watchdog despite tough questioning from some participants. The APG appeared generally appreciative of the progress made by Islamabad, he said, adding that it was not the session to draw conclusions or expect judgments from.

The official said Pakistan submitted a progress report at the Guangzhou meeting and had to respond to questions from the APG members to clarify certain things. The APG would now submit its findings, based on Pakistan’s report and question-answer session, to the FATF in its June 16-21 Plenary and Working Group meetings in the United States.

Pakistan briefed the APG in China about its recent actions against currency smuggling and proscribed organisations, tightening of financial and corporate sector systems and operational effectiveness. This included arrests of key operatives of proscribed organisations, treating the outfits as high risk entities, putting more such organisations and their affiliates on the list of banned outfits, blocking their accounts and financial flows and taking control of their assets. The delegation reported that Pakistan had either complied with or was very close to accomplishing the milestones under the FATF action plan.

The government has recently revised its national risk assessment of the corporate sector, strengthened customs procedures on borders and inland movement of funds and assets and put nine more entities on the list of proscribed organisations. Internal control of the banking and non-banking financial institutions, insurance companies and stock exchanges has been strengthened to curb the possibility of money laundering and terror financing. The account opening is now subject to additional checks and scrutiny and existing accounts are being biometrically verified.

Pakistan has recently created a specialised directorate of Cross Border Currency Movement (CBCM) to maintain a database of currency seizures and suspicious transactions. All the model customs formations are required to report each currency seizure on a fortnightly basis. These reports are then shared with the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) and the Federal Board of Revenue on a monthly basis or when called for. The CBCM has to maintain and update database of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) and share information with law enforcement agencies, the FMU and FBR on a real time basis.

Read: Customs introduces policy to curb terror financing

Also, the Data and Risk Analysis Cell has been created to conduct regular analysis of data pertaining to currency seizures, currency declarations, banking transactions and benami acc­ounts, etc, and continuously update mea­sures to combat money laundering.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2019

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Customs introduces policy to curb terror financing

  16.4  12 May 2019

ISLAMABAD: Ahead of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review in June, Pakistan Customs has introduced a string of policy measures to counter terrorism financing through transfers with the help of cash carriers and develop profiles of currency traffickers.

These measures include drastic changes in the procedures and better enforcement to curb smuggling, particularly currency smuggling, through entry/exit points of the country. One of the major initiatives is the establishment of the directorate of cross-border currency movement mainly responsible for developing a national-level profile of currency traffickers.

On Friday, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) asked customs investigating officers to conduct an initial probe into currency smuggling cases related to any trans-national terrorist network or United Nations-designated entities and individuals. The Customs department has arrested 144 people in currency smuggling cases in the last five years, more than 30 of them during the current year.

Procedures changed, enforcement improved to curb currency smuggling

The Customs investigation officers were asked to consult the list of proscribed individuals available on the website of the interior ministry to ascertain whether any accused had been enlisted as a proscribed person.

Read: 11 groups banned for having links with JuD, others

These and other directives were issued to Customs officers to determine whether those involved in currency trafficking had any link with terrorist organisations or not.

The officers were further directed to identify the end use of cash smuggling proceeds and investigate travel history of the arrested persons to ascertain whether the money being generated through cash smuggling was used by proscribed entities and individuals. In case, any link is found with terror financing, the information will be shared with the Customs intelligence directorate and other law enforcement agencies.

One of the FATF’s major recommendations for the Pakistan Customs is to effectively deal with currency smuggling, a source of trade-based money laundering and terror financing, particularly at entry and exit points of the country and to install a system for tracking the money trail.

On the enforcement side, Pakistan Customs has seized currency worth Rs440.6 million between July 2018 and April 19 2019 as against Rs153.07m seized over the corresponding period of last year. It shows that since July 2018, the enforcement drive has produced desired results in the wake of effective enforcement of measures to curb smuggling.

In the last five years, the total amount of currency confiscated stood at Rs911m in 118 cases. In the prosecution of arrested 144 people, 65 were convicted and 19 acquitted by the court. The court imposed Rs18.01m fine in these cases. “We have arrested several currency smugglers recently,” a senior customs official told Dawn.

To further investigate the cases, 15 cases have been sent to customs departments of foreign countries with which the Pakistan Customs has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for sharing information. “We have written to them to share with us about the profile of currency smugglers,” the official said.

Under the MoU, the Customs departments will share the profile of the arrested currency smugglers in their home country.

For enhancing international cooperation in controlling smuggling, the Pakistan Customs has so far signed 22 MoUs/agreements with foreign governments/customs administrations for mutual cooperation in customs matters. Under these agreements, requests for mutual legal assistance have been sent to foreign counterparts for identification of linkages in currency seizures.

On the enforcement side, the customs official said, the Currency Declaration System had been put in place at 24 airports where every outgoing and incoming passenger would have to declare the cash they possessed on voluntarily basis.

“We are going to make it mandatory for passengers to declare currency from July 1,” the official said. “This will give us further help to keep on monitoring and then targeting the criminal activity.”

Pakistan Customs has also linked its system with those of the Emirates Airlines and Pakistan International Airlines through a software called Global Traveller Assessment System at Karachi and Islamabad. The system helps in passenger data screening and analysis for enhancing global security. “We will extend this system to other airlines in near future,” the official said.

Ongoing initiatives of the Pakistan Customs include further re-structuring of enforcement formations on the basis of ground demands, introduction of the Advance Passenger Information System at the international airports and establishment of the National Targeting Centre, which will serve as an integrated database of all law enforcement agencies working against smuggling.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2019

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KP govt plans to regulate charities

  16.4  17 April 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government introduced a bill in the assembly here on Tuesday proposing wide-ranging powers for a commission to regulate the affairs of charities, including NGOs, madressahs and other organisations.

Under the proposed law, the charity commission to be notified by the government has powers to suspend or cancel the registration of a charity, while trustees will maintain the accurate accounting records, including all transactions of a charity.

Senior minister Atif Khan presented the bill in the session, which was chaired by Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan.

Bill says re-registration of charity organisations mandatory; assembly lauds bravery of forces in Hayatabad operation

The bill says, “the commission shall undertake a periodic evaluation of the charities to review the performance of the charity trustees. Section 25 (2) of the bills says that the accounting records shall mention all the transactions of the charity and shall also reflect on the financial position of the charity.”

The accounting records will contain, ‘entries pertaining to all sums of money received and expanded by the charity each day, preparation of annual statement of accounts and matters in respect of which the receipt and expenditure takes place.’

The bill says the re-registration of the already registered charity organisations is mandatory.

They include all organisations registered under the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961, Societies Registration Act, 1860, Companies Act, 2017, as public or private trusts for charitable purposes.

The madressahs and NGOs functioning in the province register themselves under the Society Act, and Companies and Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies Ordinance.

The bill says the proposed will consist of not less than three and not more than five commissioners including chairperson. The term of the commissioner will be two years. One of the commissioners will be appointed the chairperson of the five-member body.

Section 7 of the bill says the commission may call for any record, data or information about a charity, a charity trustee, the beneficiaries, recipients, promoters and may seek verification of the financial records from financial institutions and may utilize the services of a law enforcing agency for the purpose.

The assembly also passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Youth Development Commission Bill, 2019.

Earlier, the opposition while condemning the encounter between the law-enforcement agencies and a group of terrorists in Hayatabad Town questioned the efficiency of the intelligence agencies.

The house offered fateha for martyred police official and lauded the bravery of security forces in the operation.

The PTI government didn’t give a statement on the incident and rather tried to disrupt the proceedings by identifying a lack of quorum.

When the opposition lawmakers began debate on the operation, the ruling party’s MPA, Jehandad Khan, drew the chair’s attention towards a lack of quorum.

The lawmaker’s move irritated Pakistan Peoples Party member Nighat Orakzai, who shouted: “curse on you, curse on you.”

Mr Jehandad left the house immediately.

Ms Orakzai said the MPA intentionally pointed out a lack of quorum to block debate on the important matter.

The chair, however, disregarded Mr Jehandad’s point and gave floor to the opposition to continue discussion.

The PPP member said a son of the soil sacrificed his life in the operation, while the ruling party’s MPAs attempted to stop discussion.

She said thousands of personnel had been martyred in the war against terrorism.

Inayatullah Khan of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal said police were clueless about the people, who had rented a house in a planned town like Hayatabad.

He said under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Restriction of Rented Buildings (Security) Act, 2014, landlords, lessees and property dealers were bound to submit all relevant information to the relevant police stations within seven days of tenancy.

Mr Inayatullah said the police could easily collect accurate information about the tenant, lessee and property dealer before the residential quarters were rented.

He said police should maintain the data of tenants and lessees to avoid such incidents in future.

Awami National Party MPA Khushdil Khan Advocate said the presence of terrorists in a planned town questioned the role of intelligence agencies.

He said the government should seek explanation from intelligence outfits about it.

He said a judge of the Peshawar High Court was attacked in Hayatabad, while several incidents of terrorism had happened in the town despite the presence of several intelligence agencies.

ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak said the Hayatabad operation lasted 14 hours but the chief minister and his cabinet members were absent from the scene. He said the government should share the incident’s details with lawmakers.

Mr Babak said the law-enforcement agencies patrolling the border had all resources, including budges, logistic and training, couldn’t bust terrorist networks.

“Incident in Hayatabad is a failure of the intelligence agencies,” he said, adding that sensitive agencies had engaged themselves in political maneuverings.

Mr Babak said extortionists had become active in Peshawar.

The opposition began debate on share of the province Public Sector Development Programme. The sitting was adjourned until April 23 when the opposition staged a walkout.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2019

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MoU signed on anti-terror financing coordination

  16.4  10 April 2019

ISLAMABAD: In a significant move towards effectively checking terror financing, the National Counter Terrorism Autho­rity (Nacta) has organised the signing of a multilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) among over a dozen relevant institutions and departments.

Those who signed the multilateral MoU included the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investiga­tion Agency, Federal Board of Revenue, Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) of the State Bank of Pakistan, Anti-Narcotics Force, intelligence agencies and the provincial counter terrorism departments.

Read: Strengthening Nacta

The signing ceremony of the MoU was chaired by Khaliq Dad Lak, national coordinator of Nacta, during the 14th meeting of the National Task Force on Combating Financial Terrorism (CFT) at Nacta headquarters in Islamabad.

The main objectives of the MoU are to enhance inter-agency cooperation, coordination and exchange of information to facilitate timely and effective detection, analysis and probe of cases, transactions and activities relating to money laundering, terrorism financing and predicate offences. The MoU will facilitate the sharing of financial intelligence amongst the FMU, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and intelligence agencies.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Lak urged the LEAs to investigate all predicate crimes from terror financing perspective and seek guidance from standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by Nacta and internally develop their own SOPs to mitigate the risk of terror financing.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2019

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Govt decides to amend anti-money laundering law with stricter punishments

  16.4  14 March 2019

A high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday decided to amend the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act, 2010, with stricter punishments to be imposed in an effort to bring individuals involved in money laundering to book.

The meeting discussed the legal and administrative steps taken for prevention of money laundering and the achievements so far in that regard.

Law Minister Farogh Naseem briefed the meeting about the amendments made in the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act (FERA), 1947, AML Act, 2010, and the ATA, 1997, to make money laundering laws more effective.

As per the amendment proposed for the AML Act, the punishment for money laundering crimes will be increased to up to 10 years’ imprisonment while the fine will be increased to Rs5 million.

It was also decided that relevant clauses of the AML Act will be included in the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.

It was proposed that FERA 1947 should be amended to increase the punishment for an offence under the law from two years’ imprisonment to five years. Through the proposed amendment, offences under FERA will be made cognizable and non-bailable. The trial of such will be completed between six months and one year.

The director general of the Federal Investigation Agency briefed the prime minister about his agency’s performance in money laundering-related cases between November 2018 and February 2019.

The meeting was informed that the FIA registered 131 cases under FERA and AML Act in which Rs423.30 million were confiscated and 198 people arrested.

The gathering was also briefed about the action taken on information regarding suspicious transactions and on complaints concerning cryptocurrency. Investigations are being carried out as part of cryptocurrency inquiries involving about Rs540 million, the meeting was told.

‘Visible decrease in Hawala and Hundi’
The prime minister was briefed about the progress regarding the elimination of ‘benami’ accounts, properties held by Pakistanis in the UAE and money laundering cases.

FIA officials told the meeting that as a result of strict measures taken by the agency, there was a visible decrease in Hawala and Hundi cases and currently there was a difference of just 15 paisas in dollar rates of open market and interbank.

The prime minister was also told that there was a 12 per cent improvement in foreign remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis between July and February this fiscal.

The chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue briefed the prime minister about actions taken regarding money laundering and properties held by Pakistanis abroad. He said that the customs and inland revenue intelligence would be made powerful and effective under the anti-money laundering law.

The meeting was informed that under the currency declaration system, a total of 11,335 declarations were made at 24 points which amount to nearly $171.3 million.

Meanwhile, customs officials informed the government that currency and other commodities worth Rs314 million were confiscated from November 2018 to February 2019. They said this amount was just Rs61 million during the same period last year, and so it witnessed an increase of 415pc.

Customs received 335 reports of suspicious transactions, following which inquiries were started against 510 people and Rs6,600 million have been recovered so far.

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Benami Act rules notified

  16.4  14 March 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Wednesday announced the provision of Benami Act to confiscate whole properties, expensive vehicles and bank accounts registered with fictitious individuals will come into effect retrospectively from Feb 1, 2017.

Top tax officials of the FBR briefed the media two-days after the notification of the rules that benami properties can only prosecuted under the new law since its implementation. The law which was passed in February 2017 was delayed owing to finalization of rules for its implementation.

FBR Member Inland Revenue (IR) Policy Dr Hamid Ateeq Sarwar said under the law maximum powers are given to the tax officers from attachment of property for 90 days to holding of records and search of premises. He said the attachment can be extended for another term.

He said that benami holder would be awarded penalty of one year minimum and seven years imprisonment, whereas the person providing wrong information to this effect would be awarded 6 months minimum and five years maximum.

Taxmen get sweeping powers of confiscation

The member said that FBR will work as prosecuting agency and will collect the information about benami transactions. He said three jurisdictions were notified with commissioner based in Karachi who will deal with the cases of benami transactions in Sindh and Baluchistan, while a Lahore-based commissioner of income tax will have jurisdiction of areas in South Punjab up to Faisalabad.

The commissioner at Regional Tax Office Islamabad will cover the areas from Gujranwala to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The adjudication authority will be established at Islamabad. He said the chairman of the authority can be officers in services or retired. This will not be in control of FBR. However, the panel of the authority will be sent to federal government by the FBR.

The cases will be then referred to the federal tribunal by either party. The federal tribunal will be established by the government with a current judge of a high court as chairman, along with accountant member who will be an income tax officer of BPS21 and another member will be a retired district and session judge.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2019

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Government implements Benami Act

  16.4  12 March 2019

ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday implemented the much awaited Benami Act – in line with its efforts to document the economy – allowing tax officials to confiscate whole properties, expensive vehicles and bank accounts registered with fictitious individuals.

The confiscation will involve all kinds of immovable and movable assets registered with fictitious individuals in order to avoid taxes. The implementation of the law will now come into effect after a delay of more than two years.

The term ‘benami’ refers to the practice of holding property/assets in the name of one person for the benefit of another. However, benami is often aimed at concealing ownership of assets acquired through illegal means, defrauding creditors, and/or evading payments of government fees, charges or taxes.

Under the rules, the government has also announced hefty cash rewards for the whistle-blowers of the benami movable and immovable assets.

The legislation was made through an act of parliament in Jan 2017 – Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017 – but was put on the back burner owing to delay in finalisation of rules. On Monday, the FBR has notified the rules through a notification SRO326 of 2019.

Talking to Dawn, FBR Member Inland Revenue (IR) Policy Dr Hamid Ateeq Sarwar said that in the first phase three approving authority will be established in three cities (Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi) with clear jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of these authorities will be notified in a day or two, the official added.

Under the Act, the commissioner of income tax will exercise the powers and perform the function of authority. Initially, the officers designated will investigate the available data to identify benami assets. “We will provide these offices data of property transactions and mapping of plazas in the first phase,” the tax officer said.

In the first instance, the officer will issue a notice for attachment of the benami assets for a period of 90 days. During this period, the tax officer will investigate the case to make an FIR following identification of benami property or bank accounts etc. The FIR will then be referred to the adjudicating authority.

“The law is meant for creating deterrence, not to generate revenue,” Mr Sarwar said. Asked whether government will provide amnesty to individuals who registered their assets in fictitious person’s name before the enactment of law, he said he was unaware of any such decision at the moment.

The government has also announced cash awards for whistleblowers in detection of benami property. Three slabs of cash award have been notified. However, the amount of rewards will be sanctioned after confiscation of the benami property.

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After chasing 400 foreign bank accounts for five months, FBR recovers $1.2m from one case

  16.5  15 March 2019

ISLAMABAD: Out of the 400 offshore bank accounts of Pakistanis involving an amount of over $1 million each, the Federal Board of Revenue has managed to recover tax in one instance only — a mere Rs170 million ($1.22m) — in the past five months.

Following the Panama Leaks cases, the FBR only managed to raise a tax demand of Rs6.5 billion so far.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, led by its chairman MNA Faiz Ullah, on Thursday was briefed about the poor tax recovery situation at the FBR in foreign assets cases.

The news of low recovery from offshore accounts did not go well with the committee members who expressed serious concern over FBR’s performance.

Data received on more than 152,000 bank accounts from 28 jurisdictions

Chairman FBR Jehanzeb Khan informed the committee that the actual information of bank accounts was with banks. Passing the responsibility to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), he said, “The central bank being a regulator would be in a better position to explain to the committee.”

The committee decided that representatives of SBP, FBR, Federal Investigation Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the National Accountability Bureau may be invited for a briefing in a committee meeting on the matter.

Information regarding 152,518 bank accounts of Pakistani residents has been received from foreign jurisdictions, the FBR chairman said. He added that received data has been analysed from taxation point of view and the FBR is currently processing of overseas properties owned by Pakistanis in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Kingdom (UK).

Also read: SC slams FBR over slow progress in foreign assets case

Briefing the committee, Chief International Taxes FBR Ashfaq Ahmad said the authority is investigating 400 major foreign bank accounts cases, each having an amount of over $1m purportedly owned by Pakistani nationals abroad. The data was received from 28 jurisdictions.

“We are trying to approach them and issuing notices to them,” he said, adding that in the next phase FBR will probe foreign bank accounts cases involving less than $1m.

The committee was also briefed on data received about properties UAE and the UK. Mr Ahmad said the FBR has evidences of only 5,000 data of property cases in UAE. However, he said owners of properties in certain cases also availed the last amnesty scheme.

The chief said the authority is also seeking information from the UAE authorities regarding passport numbers and property details of Pakistanis having offshore properties. However, the UAE tax authorities are taking time to share information with Pakistan, he added.

The FBR has also received information about 525 properties under a MoU with the UK. FBR is now analysing these properties to identify untaxed or undeclared properties. No details were shared regarding recovery in the UK property cases.

To fast track process of recovery of taxes, FBR chairman informed the committee that the authority has introduced the concept of provisional assessment of offshore assets under the recently passed Finance Act 2019. FBR will be fair with the taxpayers during this whole process, he stressed.

Mr Khan further said the banks have started regularly providing information to the FBR under section 165A (furnishing of information by banks) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001. So far, he said the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation Inland Revenue has detected 8,000 benami transactions from this data.

Noting that the process has been going on for the last two years but no tangible outcome is visible, PML-N MNA Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha said FBR should share the plan to overcome challenges in taxation of offshore assts.

MNA Qaiser Sheikh said that 70 per cent of the country’s economy is not documented.

The committee was briefed that specific information of individuals received from other tax jurisdictions under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) arrangement is confidential. “The OECD is monitoring the whole process of exchange of information. Under the confidentiality clause, the individuals’ specific information cannot be shared with the committee,” Mr Ahmad said.

‘Own’ money issue

The issue of own money being charged to consumers was also discussed on the occasion.

Briefing the committee, representatives of Honda and Toyota said they have paid around Rs2bn to consumers in the last one year in cases of later delivery of vehicles.

However, Ministry of Industries and Production representatives informed the committee that complaints have been received about late delivery of vehicles and the ministry is considering various options to curb this practice.

The FBR informed the committee that a Karachi-based dealer booked 10,000 vehicles under his name during the last five years. On this, the chairman of the committee inquired whether any notice was issued by the tax authorities to that person.

The automakers representatives testified before the committee that they have enhanced auto manufacturing capacity to bridge the demand and supply gap and deliver vehicles within a month after booking.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019

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After chasing 400 foreign bank accounts for five months, FBR recovers $1.2m from one case

  16.5  15 March 2019

ISLAMABAD: Out of the 400 offshore bank accounts of Pakistanis involving an amount of over $1 million each, the Federal Board of Revenue has managed to recover tax in one instance only — a mere Rs170 million ($1.22m) — in the past five months.

Following the Panama Leaks cases, the FBR only managed to raise a tax demand of Rs6.5 billion so far.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, led by its chairman MNA Faiz Ullah, on Thursday was briefed about the poor tax recovery situation at the FBR in foreign assets cases.

The news of low recovery from offshore accounts did not go well with the committee members who expressed serious concern over FBR’s performance.

 
Data received on more than 152,000 bank accounts from 28 jurisdictions

Chairman FBR Jehanzeb Khan informed the committee that the actual information of bank accounts was with banks. Passing the responsibility to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), he said, “The central bank being a regulator would be in a better position to explain to the committee.”

The committee decided that representatives of SBP, FBR, Federal Investigation Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the National Accountability Bureau may be invited for a briefing in a committee meeting on the matter.

Information regarding 152,518 bank accounts of Pakistani residents has been received from foreign jurisdictions, the FBR chairman said. He added that received data has been analysed from taxation point of view and the FBR is currently processing of overseas properties owned by Pakistanis in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Kingdom (UK).

Also read: SC slams FBR over slow progress in foreign assets case

Briefing the committee, Chief International Taxes FBR Ashfaq Ahmad said the authority is investigating 400 major foreign bank accounts cases, each having an amount of over $1m purportedly owned by Pakistani nationals abroad. The data was received from 28 jurisdictions.

“We are trying to approach them and issuing notices to them,” he said, adding that in the next phase FBR will probe foreign bank accounts cases involving less than $1m.

The committee was also briefed on data received about properties UAE and the UK. Mr Ahmad said the FBR has evidences of only 5,000 data of property cases in UAE. However, he said owners of properties in certain cases also availed the last amnesty scheme.

The chief said the authority is also seeking information from the UAE authorities regarding passport numbers and property details of Pakistanis having offshore properties. However, the UAE tax authorities are taking time to share information with Pakistan, he added.

The FBR has also received information about 525 properties under a MoU with the UK. FBR is now analysing these properties to identify untaxed or undeclared properties. No details were shared regarding recovery in the UK property cases.

To fast track process of recovery of taxes, FBR chairman informed the committee that the authority has introduced the concept of provisional assessment of offshore assets under the recently passed Finance Act 2019. FBR will be fair with the taxpayers during this whole process, he stressed.

Mr Khan further said the banks have started regularly providing information to the FBR under section 165A (furnishing of information by banks) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001. So far, he said the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation Inland Revenue has detected 8,000 benami transactions from this data.

Noting that the process has been going on for the last two years but no tangible outcome is visible, PML-N MNA Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha said FBR should share the plan to overcome challenges in taxation of offshore assts.

MNA Qaiser Sheikh said that 70 per cent of the country’s economy is not documented.

The committee was briefed that specific information of individuals received from other tax jurisdictions under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) arrangement is confidential. “The OECD is monitoring the whole process of exchange of information. Under the confidentiality clause, the individuals’ specific information cannot be shared with the committee,” Mr Ahmad said.

‘Own’ money issue

The issue of own money being charged to consumers was also discussed on the occasion.

Briefing the committee, representatives of Honda and Toyota said they have paid around Rs2bn to consumers in the last one year in cases of later delivery of vehicles.

However, Ministry of Industries and Production representatives informed the committee that complaints have been received about late delivery of vehicles and the ministry is considering various options to curb this practice.

The FBR informed the committee that a Karachi-based dealer booked 10,000 vehicles under his name during the last five years. On this, the chairman of the committee inquired whether any notice was issued by the tax authorities to that person.

The automakers representatives testified before the committee that they have enhanced auto manufacturing capacity to bridge the demand and supply gap and deliver vehicles within a month after booking.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019

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Recovered Rs 303.767 billion till Jan 31, 2019: Chairman NAB

  16.5  08 March 2019

ISLAMABAD: Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal Friday said that the anti-graft watchdog has filed 3,484 corruption references in various accountability courts, besides depositing Rs 303.767 billion in the national exchequer after recovering from the corrupt elements till Jan 31, 2019.

In a statement, he said NAB has so far received 419,398 corruption complaints, out of which conducting complaint verifications of 13,722 were approved. NAB had also accorded approval for conducting 8,881 inquiries, 4,219 investigations.

He said NAB has filed 105 mega corruption references from out of 179 cases, besides conducting inquiries of 15 cases, while 19 cases were at investigation stage, which are being pursued in accordance with law. Whereas 40 cases have been disposed of.

Chairman said the Bureau has so far received 419,398 corruption applications , out of which the bureau approved conducting 13,722 complaint verifications were conducted, 8,881 inquiries, 4,219 investigations.

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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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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

27.4K
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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Police to allow transgender recruits in Sindh

  16.7  25 April 2019

KARACHI: Transgender people in Sindh will be able to serve as regular duty police officers, the police chief said, adding that it was time to offer more opportunities to a group relegated to menial jobs in government.

After years of sometimes brutal persecution, transgender people in Pakistan gained recognition in 2009 when the Supreme Court granted them special status with rights equal to other citizens.

While discrimination still persists, the move to allow transgender police recruits would be a significant step for the community, activists say.

“We will make them part of Sindh police,” Syed Kaleem Imam, Inspector General of the Sindh, police told Reuters in Karachi.

“They are good God-gifted people. Citizens like us. We should stand by them,” said Mr Imam, who as a junior officer became aware of the discrimination against the community.

As in India and Bangladesh, transgender people in the country have faced widespread discrimination for decades. Many live in secluded communities, earning a living as dancers or forced into sex work or begging.

A 2017 census counted 10,418 transgender people in the country of 207 million, but rights group Charity Trans Action Pakistan estimates there are at least 500,000.

‘Trans-friendly’

In a major step forward in 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that transgender people could receive national identity cards as a “third sex” and in 2017, the government issued its first passport with a transgender category.

While some transgender people have achieved celebrity as news anchors or fashion models, entry into the police force would be a major development for the community.

“Police behaviour and their complaint mechanism is not trans-friendly. I will try to make police trans-friendly and educate colleagues when I join the police,” said Shahzadi Rai, a 29-year-old transgender activist who hopes to join the force.

“When we go to lodge any report at the police station, their behaviour and questions hurt us. They don’t ask questions about the case, but about our gender,” Rai said.

Zehrish Khan, a programme manager at Gender Interactive Alliance, a transgender rights group, said the community had always sought inclusion and was now seeing the fruits of the 2009 Supreme Court ruling.

“If we are inducted into the police, we’ll show we can work harder compared to men and women,” Khan told Reuters.

It could be months before the first transgender police officers are hired, Mr Imam said, but they will have the same opportunities as other recruits and perform regular duties in the field.

“We will give them space, facilitate them so that they can come into the mainstream,” the police chief said.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2019

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Women’s quota in police jobs to be doubled, says Sindh IG

  16.7  09 March 2019

HYDERABAD: Sindh Inspector General Dr Syed Kaleem Imam has said that women quota in police jobs will be increased from five to 10 per cent and newcomers will be appointed as ASIs so that they start their professional career “with dignity”.

Speaking at a programme held in the Police Ground here on Friday to mark the International Women’s Day and later speaking to reporters, the IG said that the Sindh police were committed to change the ‘thana culture’. The department was striving hard for a progressive law on the pattern of the Police Order-2002 which was worked out after due deliberations.

“We have decided to assign major and principal roles to women officers so that they can work comfortably,” he said.

IG Imam said that it’s time for de-centralisation and specialisation; that’s why the concept of regional police officer (RPO) was introduced. The posts of “mini-IGs” [additional IGs] were created to take care of three ranges of Hyderabad and two of Sukkur region. “All works and appeals will be handled by these additional IGs locally and they will be referring cases to the IG for ultimate policy and strategy framework,” he explained.

“You will soon hear in days to come that a progressive law has been framed,” he said.

Regarding the event, the IG said that the Sindh police expressed solidarity with women by observing International Women’s Day. He said that a shuttle service, day-care centres and other upgraded facilities were being ensured for policewomen, adding that they would be posted in districts on important positions to enable them to work at a par with their male counterparts.

Hyderabad SSP Sarfaraz Nawaz Shaikh spoke highly of the official in-charge of local Madadgar, Sakina Bhatti. He acknowledged that policewomen in this police range put in their full potential. He indicated that they were taking care of the women protection and complaint cells.

Jamshoro SSP Tauqir Naeem said this region had a rich history as far as women’s struggle was concerned. “We cannot remain in a state of denial in this world of globalisation,” he said.

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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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NA committee asks NCHR to suggest changes in law on electronic crimes

  16.10  21 May 2019

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights has requested the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) to give suggestions to amend the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016 to pre-empt misuse of the law.

The request was made on Monday after the committee heard a journalist, Shahzeb Jillani, who recounted his ordeal after registration of a case by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over a tweet.

“Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are mother of all human rights. I apologise on behalf of all institutions which violated your rights and we appreciate the court for quashing the FIR,” Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, chair­person of the standing committee, said after hearing the journalist.

Earlier, Mr Jillani said he had been a journalist for the last 25 years and had returned to Pakistan a few years ago. He said an FIR was registered against him after he went to Thar to file a report about the coal project.

“As most of the electronic media and newspapers have been silenced, sometimes I use social media to express my views. I had tweeted that even Mohammad Khan Junejo (who served as prime minister from 1985 to 1988) had the courage to resist.

‘‘So initially efforts were made to lodge a complaint with the Pakistan Electro­nic Media Regulatory Authority, but later a case was registered under Peca on charges of cyber terrorism, hate speech and defamation,” he said.

He claimed that a plan was made to arrest him just after registration of a case, but it could not be carried out as he was in Thar. Later he managed to get bail from the court.

“During the hearing, the complainant failed to prove cyber terrorism and hate speech due to which they were dropped. When a hearing started regarding defamation, the court quashed the FIR as there was no proof,” Shahzeb Jillani said.

Read: Case against journalist Shahzeb Jillani quashed due to lack of evidence

“People whom I knew for long turned their backs on me. But on the other hand, some others like poet Haris Khaleeq and rights activist Fareeha Aziz came forward to support me,” he added.

Fareeha Aziz, co-founder of Research and Advocacy Group Bolo Bhi, said civil society had expressed reservations over the Peca bill while it was being discussed in the parliamentary committee.

She suggested making the FIA accountable for arrests made in cases registered under Peca.

Shireen Mazari, the federal Minister for Human Rights, said the European Union’s experts had examined the law and expressed their satisfaction. However, she agreed with the speakers who said the law had its flaws.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the committee would review the law in consultation with the Ministry of Human Rights. He also sought comments from the NCHR for reviewing the law.

Rao Anwar

During a discussion on the issue of missing persons, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said “people like Rao Anwar” were making opponents of the government disappear without trace.

One of the members quipped he (Mr Bilawal) should recall who had said “Rao Anwar is a brave child” — an allusion to Asif Zardari’s remarks about the retired police officer.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said a clarification was issued over the statement, but others who “owned him” (Mr Anwar) had not clarified at all. He said the FIA chief would be asked to attend the next meeting and explain Shahzeb Jillani’s case.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2019

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NCHR nominates focal persons in police stations

  16.10  27 April 2019

ISLAMABAD: The National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) has appointed focal persons in police departments to report on crimes against journalists.

Chairman NCHR retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan, during an event held at NCHR, said the contribution of journalists for humanity was tremendous.

The event was part of a series of workshops organised under Unesco’s multi-donor programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, implemented in collaboration with the NCHR.

“Journalists are the voice of people and NCHR is always there to provide the support to them. Freedom of expression and safety of journalist must be safeguarded in Pakistan,” Mr Chowhan said.

Former senator Farthatullah Babar said most important right is freedom of expression.

“You cannot demand any other right if you don’t have right to freedom of expression. Journalists are the frontline human rights defenders. They need special protection through special law,” he said.

Member NCHR Chaudhry Mohammad Shafique announced the nomination of focal persons in all provincial and federal police departments to collect data on crimes against journalists.

“We have also taken up the issue of compensation to journalists who died in the line of duty in Balochistan. Home department ensured to provide full support in this regard.

“NCHR will also be initiating the process of establishing federal and provincial level working group on freedom of expression and safety of journalist,” he said.

Mr Shafique said that media is the fourth pillar of the state besides legislature, judiciary and the executive.

While acknowledging the importance of media, he said in Pakistan journalists are facing immense pressure and they often risk their lives in the line of duty.

Unfortunately Pakistan doesn’t have any statistics available on the assassinations of journalists therefore it becomes very difficult to legislate in the absence of data, adding that the NCHR is a statutory body and they are mandated to raise human rights issues at global level.

Peace and Justice Network Executive Director Raza Ali stressed upon the need for improving Pakistan’s indicators on safety of journalists. However he said the assassination of journalists is not directly linked with freedom of expression.

Unesco Representative Vibeke Jensen said: “I commend the NCHR Pakistan for emerging as a strong ally for promoting fundamental freedoms, and for bringing relevant duty bearers on board.”

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2019

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Press freedom under serious threat from govts worldwide: IPI

  16.10  02 May 2019

KARACHI: Governments are increasingly clamping down on press freedom as new laws are being enacted to curtail media independence around the world, while 55 journalists were killed since May last year, according to the International Press Institute (IPI).

In a press statement issued on Wednesday, Barbara Trionfi, executive director of the Vienna-based IPI — a global network of editors, journalists and media executives — sounded alarm on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2019. “Press freedom globally is under intense and growing pressure, as illiberal-minded governments seek to shut down critical voices and, in many cases, deliberately erode the credibility of independent media,” she said.

“We are witnessing a dangerous combination of tried-and-true methods of attacking the press — including arbitrary jailing and physical attacks that end in impunity — as well as a new wave of rhetoric and smear campaigns to portray the media and journalism as an enemy of the people so as to undercut the press’s watchdog role,” Ms Trionfi said, adding: “We need a robust response to these developments from governments and international institutions that continue to value fundamental rights; this is not a time to sit on the sidelines.”

In Bangladesh, the statement said, journalists could face up to life imprisonment for violating the country’s new Digital Security Act. Egypt, which has jailed scores of journalists, including IPI member Mahmoud Hussein of Al Jazeera, passed a media regulation law last October that made it prohibitively expensive for online newspapers to get registered and allowed the government to shut them down. The digital media law purportedly enacted in July to prevent spread of fake news is now being used by the Egyptian government to silence independent media.

The IPI said the Tanzanian government was using the Media Services Act and other laws to ban newspapers and suspend radio broadcasters.

With 139 journalists in prison, many more were sentenced to jail terms and scores of others being prosecuted for doing their work, it regretted.

According to the IPI, Turkey remained the world’s top jailer of journalists. The country’s crackdown on independent media widened in 2018 with the arrest of 46 more reporters, mostly on spurious terrorism-related charges.

In Hungary, independent media are increasingly encircled by a state media machine and are being starved of advertisement revenue.

In Pakistan, where critical media were subject to vicious smear campaigns, the IPI said the government had stopped state advertising in the influential daily Dawn and targeted individual journalists, such as IPI World Press Freedom Hero Cyril Almeida, who faces treason charges for his coverage of militancy.

In the United States, the Department of Justice is contemplating changes in the guidelines to make it easier for prosecutors to obtain journalists’ records, while the US criminal indictment against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has raised concerns around broader implications for press freedom.

In the United Kingdom, the IPI said, journalists had opposed the government’s move to enact new legislation that would allow police to access their data.

On the one hand, governments were attempting to curtail press freedom and, on the other, journalists around the world are being killed with impunity. Since May 2018, as many as 55 journalists had lost their lives — at least 18 of whom were targeted for their work, the statement noted.

Besides killings, it added, in the past year journalists had faced an increasing number of physical attacks and arrests while carrying out their work. At least 79 journalists were arrested in Sudan between December and February while covering protests against the now-ousted regime of Omar al-Bashir.

More than 45 journalists were attacked and arrested in Venezuela covering the civil unrest against the Nicolas Maduro government and this number is continuing to increase.

According to data collected by the IPI, some 70 cases of arrests of journalists globally were reported in the first quarter of this year.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2019

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Sumsam Bokhari takes oath, succeeds Fayyaz Chohan as Punjab information minister

  16.10  06 March 2019

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Syed Sumsam Ali Bokhari on Wednesday was sworn in as Punjab’s new information minister, a day after his predecessor Fayyazul Hassan Chohan was forced to resign from the position over his derogatory remarks directed against the Hindu community.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar administered the oath to Bokhari in a ceremony held at the Governor House in Lahore. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also attended the ceremony.

Bokhari, who joined PTI in 2015, was elected to the Punjab Assembly from PP-201 (Sahiwal-VI) constituency in last year’s general elections.

Bokhari’s succeeds Chohan, who was forced to relinquish his ministry on Tuesday amid intense criticism on social media and from his fellow party leaders over his derogatory remarks directed against the Hindu community.

The chief minister’s spokesperson had initially told DawnNewsTV that Chohan had resigned, however, PTI later clarified that the firebrand leader was in fact “removed”, adding that “bashing someone’s faith should not be a part of any narrative.”

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Journalists’ protection bill to be tabled in NA: minister

  16.10  25 February 2019

KARACHI: Federal In­­for­ma­tion and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that his ministry is planning to present a bill in the National Assembly for protection of journalists.

The new legislation will be similar to the one enacted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

This was stated by Mr Chaudhry at the awards ceremony organised by the Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) in collaboration with the Centre for Communication Progra­mmes Pakistan, Palladium Pakistan and the Sukh Initiative at the Institute of Business Administration’s city campus on Tuesday.

The information minister spoke at length about the reforms he was trying to bring about at the ministry.

He announced that the information ministry was trying to work on the development of a media technology school in Pakistan and a journalist protection act, simi­lar to the legislation in KP.

He added that he was working on providing health insurance to working journalists and was committed to safeguarding interests of journalists in Pakistan. “The future is of ideas, where only superior ideas will win and they can only be generated through constructive debate and dialogue,” he added.

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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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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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Differently-abled persons to be provided health coverage, free assistive devices: Dr Nishtar

  16.b  08 June 2019

Chairperson of the Ehsas programme Dr Sania Nishtar on Saturday briefed the media about the measures that the government plans to implement in order to facilitate differently-abled people across the country.

Under the Ehsas programme, which was launched in March this year, the government will provide Sehat Insaf cards to differently-abled people who are registered with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) so that they can get free medical treatment from hospitals that are registered under the health cards, Nishtar announced.

Furthermore, government hospitals have been directed to issue certificates to differently-abled people as per United Nations classifications so that free assistive devices, such as canes, wheelchairs etc., can be provided accordingly.

Read: I am disabled and do not get up every day to inspire people

The government will provide free white canes to the visually-impaired and wheelchairs to those paralysed from the waist down, she said. The government will also provide free hearing aids to people with hearing impairment under the Tahaffuz programme, which will be launched in September, Nishtar added.

Nishtar, who was appointed as special assistant to the prime minister on social protection and poverty alleviation last month, said that according to an estimate, around five million people in Pakistan face some form of disability.

Apart from the provision of medical facilities, the government will also ensure that government institutions abide by the constitutional requirement to allocate two per cent job quota for differently-abled persons. Nishtar regretted that the requirement was not fulfilled and said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has “taken strong notice” of the matter.

The government will also reserve 1pc quota for differently-abled people in the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme as well as in government housing societies in different cities, the Ehsas programme chairperson revealed.

As part of the Ehsas initiative, the government will also establish centres in 20 underdeveloped districts in order to assist people who require artificial limbs due to loss of arms or legs.

Nishtar said that the government has allocated funds, constituted committees and initiated the consultation process with institutions and provincial governments, but added that the implementation of the planned measures will take some time.

She also revealed that the Planning Commission of Pakistan had issued a directive to all ministries and instructed them to make sure that the PC-I forms — which contain details of any project pertaining to infrastructure, production or social sectors — are “disability sensitive”.

“This is just the beginning,” Nishtar said of the government efforts. “We will focus on how this programme can be expanded and improved. Most importantly, [we will focus on] how we can ensure that there is no corruption or leakages [in this programme].”

Before coming to power, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had promised to provide medical facilities, jobs and housing to differently-abled people.

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Bank accounts promise to Afghan refugees in Pakistan comes true

  16.b  05 June 2019

KARACHI: When Meherullah turned 18, he wanted to have his own bank account, ATM card and a cheque book. However, when he approached a bank he was told that it would not be possible as he was an Afghan refugee.

Last month, the 26-year-old carpet dealer finally used an ATM card for the first time.

Like millions of Afghan refugees who have been residing in Pakistan for decades, Meherullah and his family were unable to open a bank account for years. However, back in February the federal government took some steps to change this. After reviewing progress made by different government departments to curb money laundering, Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he had issued instructions that Afghan refugees who were registered could open bank accounts and participate in the formal economy of the country.

A few days later, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) issued a statement claiming that Proof of Registration (PoR) cards would be accepted by banks as a valid identity document in order to open an account. It added that the biometric verification service for Afghan refugees holding PoR cards would work similar to the CNIC biometric verification system. All the refugees needed to attach with their forms were utility bills, and in some cases a reference or rent deed.

The SBP spokesperson, Abid Qamar, said that this was the first time banking services would be offered to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. “This will also help us keep a record of transactions,” he added.

However, there is a downside.

In October 2018, a notification issued by the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions said that PoR cards would only be valid till June 30. This means that if the PoR’s validity is not extended, these newly opened accounts might get blocked.

“They usually extend the date a few days before the deadline … that’s how it has always been done,” said a refugee who has lived in Karachi for years.

Meherullah and his brother said that all they had to give along with their bank form and PoR was a utility bill, “which I can now pay for by myself”, he added.

Talking about his family’s move to Pakistan, the young man said that his father moved here with nothing. “He worked his way up and now has three carpet shops in Sohrab Goth,” he said, adding that none of the shops, however, were in his father’s name.

“The business and shops are in the name of a friend who has a Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC). Till April, this friend of my father’s used to do all our transactions. Now that I have my own bank account I can do this myself but this man’s name is still on our deed because while the PoR allows us to open an account, it does not give us the right to own property or even a car.”

Keeping track

For many Afghan refugees, this has been a life-altering decision.

Sixty-five-year-old Gul Ahmed came to Karachi during the influx of Afghan refugees in the 1970s.

“I would often always ask friends or relatives who had a Pakistani identity card to help me and my family with financial transactions or bills. There was never a record of any transactions which made things difficult for us in terms of business,” he said while speaking to Dawn at the United Nation’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) office in Karachi.

Waheeda, a young girl who moved to Pakistan in the 1990s with her family, said that having a bank account has been a great relief for her and her sister.

“I used to study at a university in Karachi and it was always such a hassle to get the pay order made. I would have to ask friends or acquaintances to help me out every term. Then when I started working, it somehow didn’t make sense that instead of depositing my salary in an account like everyone else, I would receive mine in cash. This was also problematic given Karachi’s law and order situation. I once got mugged and lost Rs20,000 — my salary for the month,” she explained.

According to UNHCR spokesperson Qaiser Khan Afridi, Pakistan has generously hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades and should be applauded for this decision to allow Afghan refugees to open bank accounts.

“This is indeed an important step in support of Afghan refugees who will formally contribute and boost the local economy. Opening bank accounts will allow refugees’ and their extended family members who live abroad to send remittances through formal banking channels, which will help increase the foreign exchange reserves in Pakistan,” he said.

“The UNHCR will continue to work closely with the Pakistani government for the betterment of Afghan refugees,” he added.

Pakistan hosts around 1.4 million Afghan refugees with 63,000 Afghan refugees in Sindh, mostly in Karachi, who have PoR cards.

“Some 4.4 million refugees have gone back to Afghanistan under the UNHCR-supported voluntary repatriation programme. The government’s cabinet had extended the stay of Afghan refugees until June 30 and asked the authorities concerned to devise a comprehensive policy,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2019

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Reforms in tribal districts will not affect local traditions, culture: PM Imran

  16.b  18 May 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that the culture and traditions of tribal areas will not be affected by the proposed reforms that are to be introduced in the region following the merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In a meeting with a group of tribal elders at the Governor House in Peshawar, the premier assured that the issues of the people from tribal regions would be resolved in accordance with their customs.

It is pertinent to mention here that the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) region had become a part of KP in May 2018 after the then president had signed the 25th Constitutional Amendment Bill into law.

The prime minister today said that the alternate dispute resolution system had worked in KP over the past five years and promised that the same would be implemented in the newly merged tribal areas as well.

He further said that the local bodies system implemented in KP was closer to the system followed by the tribal regions, where every area governs its own matters.

In the newly amended Local Government Act, 2013, villages will receive funds directly and people will be empowered at grassroots level, the prime minister said.

He further said that the people of tribal areas will get more representation in the national and provincial assembles, thanks to the 26th Constitution Amendment Bill, which has been approved by the lower house and now awaits the same in Senate.

The premier acknowledged that the residents of tribal areas had faced numerous challenges in the past years due to militancy and highlighted their “sacrifices for the country during the war against terrorism”.

KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Governor Shah Farman were also present during the meeting. The prime minister held separate meetings with other KP lawmakers as well.

The premier also attended a fundraising event for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre at Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar.

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Stakeholders find weaknesses in government disability rights bill

  16.b  10 May 2019

ISLAMABAD: Stakeholders have identified weaknesses in the ICT Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill before a parliamentary committee on human rights considers it next week, and have urged the committee to seek insight from people living with disabilities.

At a press conference on Thursday, stakeholders also demanded representation for people living with disabilities in the local government, saying that is the only way their problems would be addressed.

The ICT Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was drafted by the Ministry of Human Rights and tabled by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari. If passed, it will be implemented in the capital.

Human rights parliamentary committee, which will take up bill next week, urged to seek insight from people living with disabilities

Former senator Farhatullah Babar noted that disabilities are not always permanent. He said they can affect anyone at any time and should be anyone’s issue.

“Unfortunately, because of society’s attitude, problems for people living with disabilities have been increasing. Although some legislation has been made in the provinces, a bill has now been moved for legislating in the centre. I suggest that the parliamentary committee invite the concerned people, because only that is how their issues can be addressed,” Mr Babar said.

He added that people living with disabilities need to be empowered politically by giving them representation in political institutions such as the local government.

“There is no political will to address the issues of people living with disabilities. Political parties only talk about facilitating people living with disabilities to cast votes. Although people living with disabilities are ignored in society, women with disabilities suffer more. I suggest they should be linked to the Benazir Income Support Programme,” he said.

He added that Pakistan’s parliament was the first to say that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) would be implemented, as all the goals are the requirement of the country.

“The performance of the local government should be linked with the achievement of SDGs. Moreover, the bill on disabilities is weak because it speaks about physical disability. There is also mental disability and autism, which should be included in the bill,” he said.

Rights activist Amjad Nazeer said it was unfortunate that people living with disabilities are suffering in developing countries across the globe.

“It is unfortunate that even the National Press Club is not accessible to people living with disabilities. During the elections, 95pc of polling booths were not accessible to people living with disabilities,” he said.

Waheed Shah, another activist, said people living with disabilities should be included in policymaking because they are ingored by the government.

“In the 1998 census, the government claimed that there were over 2pc people living with disabilities but according to the World Health Organisation there are around 13pc people living with disabilities in Pakistan,” he said.

Potohar Mental Health Association Chief Executive Zulqurnain Asghar said that although political parties talk about people living with disabilities, they hardly address their issues.

He also told Dawn that the language used in the bill is gender-blind. Apart from the section on reproductive rights, he said, the bill uses the word ‘him’ and makes no mention of women even though women are also included in people living with disabilities.

“We don’t want charity, we want our rights and government should ensure that we should be treated as equal citizens,” Mr Asghar said.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2019

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Bilawal unanimously elected chairman of NA Standing Committee for Human Rights

  16.b  05 March 2019

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday was elected as the chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee for Human Rights.

In a tweet, the son of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari thanked lawmakers from across party lines who had “unanimously” elected him as the chairperson of the committee.

“Human rights are the foundation stone of any democracy. We must ensure every Pakistani[‘s] human rights,” he added.

On February 5, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser had constituted the 36 standing committees of the lower house. Bilawal was nominated as a member of the Standing Committee for Human Rights, while his father Zardari was not included in any of the bodies.

Speaking to reporters after an in-camera meeting of the committee today, Bilawal said he was proud that he had been given the important responsibility.

He said the PPP has complete faith in the parliament and wants to strengthen the parliament and the committee system.

The PPP chairman noted that party chairpersons don’t usually take up committee chairmanships, however, his mother, the late Benazir Bhutto, had broken this precedent and became the chairman of the foreign relations committee, despite being in the opposition.

“Democracy cannot function without human rights. If we cannot guarantee human rights then we cannot guarantee any other thing; we cannot guarantee the freedom of expression, we cannot guarantee access to healthcare, we cannot guarantee access to education, we cannot guarantee the rule of law, we cannot guarantee justice,” Bilawal stressed.

He believed that the “canvas of human rights is very expansive”.

“The borders of human rights know no limits, they cross all party lines, they cross all borders, they cross all issues.”

The PPP chairman regretted the manner in which human rights are being violated in Indian-occupied Kashmir and noted that within India itself, injustice is being carried out against the Muslim and Dalit communities.

He said that when he went abroad and raised his voice for Kashmir, he was questioned about the future of human rights in Pakistan. To this, Bilawal said until Pakistan does not shift to a “human rights-based society” , the country’s democracy will not be strengthened and there will not be social justice.

This is what Bilawal said would be the committee’s agenda and he would take it forward along with other parties.

In response to a question regarding whether the missing persons issue would be raised by the committee, he said they would take up “every human rights issue” and noted that this was also an issue for Pakistan.

He said they will take input from all parties before announcing the committee’s agenda.

When asked by a journalist what advice he would give to his son after being appointed the commitee chairman, Zardari responded: “He does not need any advice.”

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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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