Election inquiry commission decides to open polling bags
ISLAMABAD: The judicial commission probing alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections has decided to open polling bags for obtaining the complete record regarding the use of ballot papers.
Form 15 is the ballot paper account prepared by the presiding officer that carries statistics about the number of ballot papers entrusted to him, and those taken out from the ballot boxes and counted, besides the number of tendered, challenged and spoilt ballots.
The three-judge commission headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk on Wednesday held an in-camera meeting with counsels of major parties to discuss the option of opening polling bags for obtaining copies of Form-XV.
After deliberations, the commission passed an order to obtain copies of Form 15 from the bags retained at the Treasuries on behalf of the ECP.
“All political parties agree that the task be assigned to the District Judges of the respective districts. They shall obtain copies of Form-XV, pertaining to the National Assembly and Provincial Assembly constituencies falling within their districts. In case a constituency spreads over more than one district the senior of the District Judges in the concerned districts shall perform the task,” states the order.
Judicial officers shall be duly assisted by the respective district election commissioners and its staff in the process, adds the order.
“For the said purpose ‘white’, ‘khaki’ and ‘blue’ bags containing the election material may be opened and no other bag be touched. Photostat copies of Form-XV for all polling stations be prepared and duly certified by the District Judges.”
The commission has asked the district court judges that the Forms for each constituency shall be packed in separate packets and sent to the commission.
“In case Form-XV for any polling station is found missing or any seal of the aforementioned bags found broken, it be noted and reported accordingly.”
For tribal areas, the commission has given this task to the respective political agent in whose territorial jurisdiction a constituency falls, who shall be duly assisted by the agency election commissioner concerned.
‘India allocated $50b to sabotage Economic Corridor’
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PLM-N) leader Abdul Qadir Baloch on Wednesday claimed that India had allocated 500 million dollars to sabotage 'Pak-China Economic Corridor'.
Speaking in Geo News program, the Federal Minister and PML-N leader Baloch said India is in pain as a result of peace achieved by Pakistan with the help of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
"If India has an army of 1.5 million soldiers then Pakistan also has 0.6 million troops", the federal minister said.
He lauded the resolve and valor of Pakistan Army.
Earlier, Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said Taliban are waging India's proxy war in Pakistan, as the Indian's main intelligence agency-RAW-has established connivance with the terrorists inside the country, according to local media.
In his statement, the federal minister said India's unwarranted interference inside Pakistan is not a secret any more.
Pointing out a nexus between Indian intelligence agencies and terrorists operating in Pakistan, Asif claimed that the sabouteurs who are unrestrictedly abetted by India are stoking chaos and insurgency in Balochistan.
LG elections in K-P will bring ‘real change’: Imran
MARDAN: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said on Wednesday that his dream of ‘Naya Pakistan’ will turn into a reality from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, as the local government system in the province will bring ‘real change’.
“We will bring a system which has never been introduced in Pakistan before. People will be empowered at village-level and the people will take their decisions themselves,” said Imran while addressing a party rally in Mardan as part of the forthcoming local bodies polls on May 30 in the province.
The PTI chief said that through local governments, local representatives will get development funds rather than MNAs and MPAs.
“They will not have to go after the ministers but it will be otherwise. This is revolution,” he said. “Decisions of Mardan will be taken in Mardan and not in Peshawar.”
He argued that local representatives will decide on the building local schools, hospitals and cricket grounds.
“We have to do things, which were never ever done before done in Pakistan.”
Taking a jibe at the Awami National Party (ANP), Imran said, “You were in government for five years, why didn’t you hold local government elections?”
Citing examples of Switzerland and other countries of Europe, Imran said he was inspired by the West, and developed the local bodies system himself.
“Switzerland is a country with cows and mountains only but the people are prosperous because they are independent,” said Imran. “They themselves manage their schools, hospitals and dispensaries.”
He thanked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for allowing him to campaign for his party in the spirit of true democracy.
Imran said the people in K-P will elect 45,000 representatives from all over the province as compared to Punjab, which although comprises 60% of Pakistan’s population, will only elect about 35,000 representatives.
He said all parties had come together against the PTI but he will emerge victorious.
“Do not worry your captain will defeat everyone.”
He said the police in K-P was an exemplary force for the entire Pakistan as compared to Punjab.
“Punjab Police serves Raiwind and the Sharif family.”
Hitting out at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Imran said change comes through investing in your people and not building Metro Buses and underpasses.
FIRs lodged against 52 suspects of Gujranwala protest
GUJRANWALA: Police have lodged two first information reports (FIR) against 52 individuals allegedly involved in the May 25 lawyers’ protests following the Daska shootings - where two lawyers were shot dead.
The FIRs were registered at the Civil Lines police station naming eight individuals - including Advocate Imran Muneer Saghir, who was charged for vandalising an elite forces’ vehicle with a brick - while 44 accused remain unnamed.
The individuals have been charged under Sections 6 and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act for public protests, causing damage to public property, stoning of police vehicles, use of force against police officials and seizing police arms.
Police spokesperson Gulraiz Khan said no FIRs have been lodged specifically against lawyers, while Station House Officer Civil Lines added that both FIRs have been sealed.
Sporadic violent protests erupted in several cities of Punjab after two lawyers, including the president of the local bar association, were shot dead on Monday.
Daska police station SHO inspector Shahzad Warraich allegedly fired at the lawyers who were protesting outside the Daska Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) office on Kutchehry road against its record keeper for allegedly misbehaving with a lawyer, Amir Shahzad Bajwa.
The bullets fired by police hit three lawyers — Rana Abbas, Irfan Chohan and Zohaib Sahi — and a passerby.
Rana Abbas died at the Daska hospital and Irfan Chohan lost his life while he was being taken to Lahore’s Mayo Hospital.
The Punjab Bar Council called for May 27 and 28 to be observed as strikes to condemn the Daska shootings.
Three cops killed
KARACHI: At least three policemen, including a sub-inspector and two constables, were killed and another wounded early on Wednesday when unidentified attackers opened fire on a police mobile van in Karachi’s Bhangoria Goth area, a shanty-town in the limits of the Azizabad police.
The assailants managed to escape from the scene after the attack.
Security and rescue teams reached the spot. Security personnel cordoned off the area as a probe into the incident went underway.
The director-general of Rangers, Major General Bilal Akbar, also visited the attack site.
Sindh cancels 0.6m arms licences
Karachi: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah taking policy decision in the cabinet meeting has cancelled 595,146 arms licences because the licensees failed to verify their licences from the concerned offices.
This decision he took while presiding over the cabinet meeting here at CM House Wednesday.
Home Secretary Mukhtiar Soomro briefing the cabinet said that there are 1057,456 arms licences in the province for which verification process was started. So far the government has received 462,310 license verification applications, of them 56,891 licenses have been verified while Nadra 184,750 licenses are pending with NADRA and 272,510 licenses are pending with concerned deputy commissioners.
The chief minister said that the figures presented by the home secretary shows that 559,146 licensees who have not applied for verification. The cutoff date for verification was May 19, 2015 and it has passed now. “Therefore, I hereby decide to cancel their licenses from this day,” he said.
He said that Pakistan Rangers in their 457 operations arrested 293 culprits of banned Organisation and recovered 350 weapons and 15092 ammunitions. On this the chief minister appreciated the efforts of Pakistan Rangers.
The Home Secretary said that Pakistan Rangers was also participating in Ghotki operation being carried out against dacoits. “The police and Rangers have arrested 23 suspects,” The chief minister directed the Home secretary to coordinate with Police and Rangers to clear the katcha area of Ghotki, Sukkur and Kandhkot-Kashmore of dacoits.
PM chairs meeting to review Zarb-i-Azb, NAP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level meeting at Prime Minister House here Wednesday.
Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar, DG Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Bajwa, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif and other senior civil and military officials were among those attending the meeting.
The meeting reviewed progress on operation Zarb-i-Azb and discussed matters relating to the return of Temporarily Dislocated Persons (TDPs).
The meeting also reviewed progress on National Action Plan and discussed measures for its effective implementation.
Military operation Zarb-i-Azb was launched by the Pakistan Army on June 15 following a brazen militant attack on Karachi’s international airport and failure of peace talks between the government and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) negotiators.
More than a million people have fled the offensive in North Waziristan, which is aimed at wiping out longstanding militant strongholds in the area, which borders Afghanistan.
PHC dismisses women voters’ plea challenging PK-95 by-poll results
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday dismissed a writ-petition that sought annulment of the results of the PK-95 by-election on the plea that women voters were not allowed to cast votes in the election.
The petition was filed by 12 female voters of the constituency through their counsel Shahab Khattak and was heard on Wednesday by a two member bench of the PHC comprising Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.
The Election Commission of Pakistan, Provincial Election Commissioner, returning and district returning officers, and the winning and losing candidates were named respondents by the petitioners.
The petitioners were of the view that females were not allowed to cast their votes following a consultation between local and political leaders and their parties.
In the short verdict the bench rejected the writ-petition terming the application non-maintainable.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Miankhel asked the petitioners whether they had been prevented from voting by returning officers or presiding officers, and whether there had been any proof of the ECP or other institutions preventing women from voting.
The petitioners were unable to provide proof that they had been prevented from voting.
The election in PK-95 was held on May 7, 2015 after the seat was vacated by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq who was recently elected to the Senate.
JI candidate Izazul Mulk, who was also backed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf won the by-election for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly from the constituency.
There are 127,096 registered voters in the PK-95 constituency of Lower Dir and 53,000 of the registered voters are women.
However, a tribal jirga barred the women from voting at the Khazana Polling Station in Dir during the current elections. The decision by the jirga resulted in a low turnout of women across the constituency.
Parrikar’s statement proves India pursues policy of state-sponsored terrorism: Senate body
ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Defence strongly condemned Indian defence minister’s recent statement claiming New Delhi would use terrorism to counter terrorism from other countries.
“The Senate Defence Committee in its meeting strongly condemns the provocative and irresponsible statement of the defence minister of India which in reality is tantamount to confession of the government of India pursuing a policy of state sponsored terrorism,” the resolution read.
The Indian minister’s controversial statement and its likely implications were discussed during a meeting presided over by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed at the Parliament on Wednesday.
Terming the Indian defence minister’s statement ‘provocative and irresponsible’ in a unanimous resolution, the committee asked the government to take up the issue with the United Nations Security Council.
The resolution said such an admission that India actually aids and abets terrorism has serious implications for all of India’s neighbours, particularly Pakistan, which being the biggest victim of terrorism in the region, is engaged in a national struggle to combat and crush terrorism.
“Terrorism is the number one threat to our national security and a struggle against which the people of Pakistan, particularly soldiers and civilians, continue to pay a heavy price,” it added.
In light of this public admission by the defence minister of India, the Senate Defence Committee urged the government to take up this issue with the international community, particularly the UNSC, OIC and the European Union.
“Such a dangerous approach by India, whereby it considers terrorism as an instrument of state policy, is a serious threat to peace, security, stability and good-neighborly relations in South Asia and undermines the global war against terrorism and extremism.”
The committee also decided to look into the prospects of Indian spy agency RAW’s hand in destabilizing Pakistan. Further, it agreed that by taking up important issues, the committee has graduated from regular briefings to real oversight.
Further, it was unanimously decided that apart from fulfilling the constitutional obligation of parliamentary oversight, the role of Defence committee is also to promote civil-military harmony.
The committee also adopted its work plan from June 2015 to January 2016 and also decided to hold public hearings on the role of FATA in defence and national security, implementation of National Action Plan and impact of changing regional scenario on Pakistan’s defence and national security.
Visits to CMH to see the soldiers injured in Zarb-e-Azb, laying wreaths at recipients of Nishan-e-Haider on defence day, holding seminar on the completion of 50 years after the 1965 war and media seminars to interact with defence reporters are also a part of the future work plan of the committee.
FIR registered against Axact CEO, six others in fake degree scam
KARACHI: A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against seven individuals including Axact director and CEO Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh as well as a UAE-based company, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) sources said on Wednesday.
According to FIA sources, FIR (7/2015) was registered through Saeed Memon — the assistant director of FIA’s corporate crime circle — on behalf of the state. The individuals named in the FIR were subsequently arrested and are in FIA remand until June 7.
The FIR was registered under Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the accused have been booked under sections 420, 468, 471, 472, 473, 474, 477-A, 109 and 34.
Special laws were also invoked against the accused under sections 36 and 37 sections of the Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002 and section 3/4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2010.
Apart from Shaikh, others accused were identified as MS/Axact FZLLC — a UAE company which holds a major chunk of shares — and Waqas Atiq, Zeeshan Anwar, Zeeshan Ahmed, Haris Siddiqi, Farhan Kamal, Umair Hamid.
According to contents of the FIR, Shaikh holds one per cent shares along with his wife Ayesha Shoaib Shaikh. However, the UAE company FZLLC holds 599,998 shares.
According to FIA sources, this information was received from the Security Exchange Company of Pakistan (SECP).
The sources familiar with content of the FIR told that Shaikh is a paid CEO as well as the director of Axact and his wife is also a paid director as per form 29 and form-A provided by SECP to the FIA for legal assistance.
In the early hours of Wednesday, Axact CEO and centre of a massive fake degree fraud, Shoaib Ahmad Shaikh was taken into custody from his office.
In the presence of officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as well as police, Shaikh was taken away in a white vehicle.
The arrest came after an FIA raid on the Axact office on Khayaban-e-Ittehad, where officials said a large number of university degrees and student identification cards were recovered.
Shaikh had earlier requested the Sindh High Court to grant him protective bail against a ‘potential arrest’ in the fake degrees probe currently being undertaken by the FIA. However, his request was dismissed Monday, as the bench did not find any merit in his application.
The FIA has decided to file a case against Shaikh. According to FIA officials, Shaikh would formally be arrested after registration of a first information report (FIR).
Last week, action against Axact kicked off after Interior Minister Ch Nisar ordered an inquiry into the story published by The New York Times that claimed the company was issuing fake degrees as part of a massive, global scam.
The minister in his directive also said that the FIA was to determine whether the contents of the NYT story were true and whether the company was involved in any illegal business which may bring a “bad name” to Pakistan.
Kashmir issue highlighted at OIC FMs meeting in Kuwait
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Ministers of Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) on Wednesday highlighting Kashmir issue emphasised the need for its peaceful solution.
According to reports from Kuwait the OIC Secretary General, Iyad Ameen Madani, in his opening statement at the 42nd Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), in Kuwait Wednesday, made special reference to the need for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute, adding that its final disposition, evolved through a sustainable dialogue, should be in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Later, the meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir was chaired by Special Envoy of the OIC Secretary General on Jammu and Kashmir, Ambassador Abdur Rehman Abdullah Alim.
The meeting was attended by Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security and Foreign Affairs; Elmar Mamadyarov, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan; Ambassador Muhammad Ahmed Tayyab of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador of Turkey; and Ambassador Dr Oumarou Amadou Sonrhai of Niger. Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Ghulam Muhammad Safi also attended the meeting as the true representatives of the Kashmiri people. - APP
Balochistan govt extends policing powers of FC for three months
QUETTA: Balochistan government has extended the policing powers of Frontier Corps for the next three months, sources told DawnNews.
Home department sources revealed that Balochistan Chief Minister Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch approved the extension in policing powers given to FC — which were set to expire on Wednesday.
FC has been given the extension in its policing powers in the aftermath of the rise in incidents of targeted killings in Quetta.
Earlier, two people were gunned down while another was injured when armed assailants opened fire at them in the Mecongi Road area of Quetta.
Police sources told DawnNews that armed men opened fire on three people of the Hazara community, killing two persons on the spot and injuring another. It was an incident of targeted killing, they added.
The injured person was rushed to Combined Military Hospital for medical treatment where he was reported to be in serious condition, police said.
Panic prevailed in the city in the aftermath of the incident.
Shopkeepers pulled down shutters as shops on Mecongi road, Liaquat Bazar, Sattar road and other areas of the city were immediately closed after the attack.
Police and FC personnel reached troubled areas of the city and tightened security to avert any untoward incident. This incident occurred two days after the gunmen had killed four persons in Quetta.
During last four days, nine people have been killed in various acts of targeted killings in the city.