Reports of fighter jets, naval ships sent to Yemen are incorrect: FO
Chinese ship to bring back 200
Pakistanis from Aden, PM told
Pakistani delegation arrives in S. Arabia for talks over Yemen crisis
ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday dismissed reports that fighter jets and naval ships were taking part in the military action in Yemen against Houthi rebels.
"These reports were speculative, misleading and incorrect," said foreign office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam in a statement.
On Monday, some international media outlets including Reuters claimed that Pakistan had decided to send troops, PAF fighter jets and naval ships to Saudi Arabia.
Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was informed that a Chinese ship would be reaching Aden on Wednesday to evacuate 200 Pakistanis stranded from the city.
The premier was told that the evacuees will either be dropped at Djibouti or Moqalla, where about 100 Pakistanis are already residing, depending on the on-ground conditions of the area and the route that the Chinese ship is planning on taking.
Pakistan's own naval ship that was dispatched on the directions of the prime minister, would reach Yemen on April 2 and bring the stranded people back to the country.
Further, Nawaz was also informed that there are about 75 Pakistanis still residing in Sanaa, who would either be airlifted or taken to Moqalla.
A high-level Pakistani delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday to hold talks over the ongoing crisis in Yemen.
The delegation was received by Saudi Defence Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and Ambassador Manzoor ul Haq, a spokesman for the Pakistan embassy in Riyadh told DawnNews.
Senior officials from the foreign office (FO) and three armed forces personnel were also part of the delegation that departed Islamabad for Riyadh through a special aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif sought guidance from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before departure to the Saudi capital and held a brief meeting with members of his delegation at Chaklala Airbase.
Formal proposal for constitution of NFC forwarded to President
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has forwarded a proposal to the President of Pakistan through the Prime Minister for the constitution of the 9th National Finance Commission (NFC).
The matter of the proposal was pending as Government of Sindh was deliberating on the name of the candidate, according to a press release issued by the Finance Ministry here Tuesday.
The Sindh Government has now decided to nominate Saleem H. Mandviwala as its member. The other provinces have already nominated their members two months ago.
Besides Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar and four provincial Finance Ministers, the other members are Ms. Ayesha Ghous Pasha from Punjab, professor M. Ibrahim Khan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Qaisar Bengali from Balochistan.
According to the provisions of Article 160 of the Constitution, which states "the President shall constitute a National Finance Commission consisting of the Minister of Finance of the Federal Government, the Ministers of Finance of the Provincial Governments, and such other persons as may be appointed by the President after consultation with the Governors of the Provinces," the Constitution of the NFC has been proposed.
The first meeting of the Commission will be held as soon as its constitution is approved by the President. - APP
Benazir assassination case
Mark Siegel refuses to record statement in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: Citing security reasons, US author Mark Siegel refused to appear in person to record a statement against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case, Express News reported Tuesday.
Former prime minister Benazir was assassinated outside Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007 and according to Siegel, Musharraf had threatened Benazir with "dire consequences" if she returned home before the 2008 election.
Along with five other prosecution witnesses, Siegel was summoned on January 5 by an anti-terrorism court to record statements in the high-profile assassination case.
Though he refused to record his statement in Pakistan Tuesday, Siegel said he can do so via a video link.
Siegel, a key prosecution witness who had known Benazir since 1984, claims that Benazir had received a telephone call from Musharraf in his (Siegel) presence and told her that he would not be responsible for her security if she returned before the election. He alleges that Musharraf knew of the assassination plot and had personally ordered the destruction of evidence.
PTI leader’s convoy attacked in Karachi
KARACHI: Unidentified men wielding bats and bricks attacked the convoy of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf founding member Imran Ismail near Jinnah Ground in Azizabad area.
TV footage showed men attacking the convoy and smashing the windows of a white land cruiser with cricket bats as it drove off. The windows of another car were also smashed and jeering people were seen kicking the vehicles.
While addressing a press conference, Ismail said "MQM activists manhandled and injured PTI workers, they also smashed the windows of our vehicles. PTI will lodge an FIR against the people responsible for this vandalism."
Ismail was in Azizabad - known as the bastion of Muttahida Qaumi Movement - to announce the party's intent to hold a rally at Jinnah Ground in Azizabad on April 19.
He said, "It is perceived as Altaf Hussain's house and there could be some trouble, but we want to say we have absolutely no fear ... We want to have a rally there."
The central PTI leader said it was a matter of principle for the party to hold a rally at Jinnah Ground. He said that a request had already been filed with the Deputy Commissioner for permission.
Ismail said that the PTI was going to contend for the seat without forming alliances. "We are in talks with other parties but we are not looking to form an alliance."
"Previously, the Jamaat-e-Islami used to claim that it [Azizabad] was theirs and said 'no one apart from us can win'. They were defeated by the MQM. No one rules forever. MQM will hopefully be defeated by the PTI."
He appeared to be optimistic about the party's chances for success, saying "You think that our influence has been diffused - I feel our influence has increased. I am fighting elections on this basis. Did you see the result for Kashmir? All the parties on one side, PTI on one side - and we still got a seat. We will show you the same thing today."
Ismail's announcement of a possible rally comes ahead of a bye-election for NA-246 - a constituency left vacant last month when MQM MNA Nabeel Gabol resigned from his seat. The MQM has nominated former Hyderabad nazim Kanwar Naveed Jamil as their candidate for for the NA-246 constituency.
The PTI has fielded Ismail as its candidate to contest in the election scheduled to be held on April 23. Ismail is a founding member of the party and is said to be close to its chairman Imran Khan. He often represents the party at talk shows and was a present on stage with Khan during the Islamabad protests last year.
Imran Khan Tuesday denounced the incident in Jinnah Ground, saying he condemns the acts of what he called the goons of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain.
"Altaf Hussain is afraid of his imminent defeat (in the upcoming by polls in NA-246 Karachi)," Khan said in a statement.
"MQM cannot dampen our resolve with such moves," Khan asserted, saying his party would go ahead and set the people of Karachi free from the 'terrorism of MQM'.
MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi on Tuesday said PTI workers tore up posters of Altaf Hussain as well as desecrated the yaadgar-e-shuhada.
Defence committee told
Govt endorses summary to get 8 submarines from China
ISLAMABAD: Naval officials informed the Standing Committee on Defence Monday that the federal government has endorsed a summary to get eight submarines from China.
Pakistan's military has long been a major importer of defence equipment, particularly from key ally China.
After the Cold War ended Pakistan began to deepen defence and economic ties with China.
The committee was informed that Secretary of the Economic Affairs division Muhammad Saleem Sethi would be leaving for China today where the issue is expected to come under discussion.
The officials also said that the national security committee will give the final nod to go ahead with the plan to get eight submarines from China.
"Other proposals are under consideration as well. The Pakistan navy is also in touch with Germany, Britain and France to purchase used submarines," officials informed the committee.
Keeping in view the level of threat and the present status of submarines, naval officials said Pakistan needed the latest submarines.
The naval officials also revealed that France had refused to provide submarines to Pakistan.
They said there seemed to be various reasons behind France's refusal to sell submarines to Pakistan - including an issue of technology transfer. On the other hand, they said France was selling its submarines to India.
The naval officials rejected some committee members' concerns that Chinese technology was not of satisfactory quality. They said there was no such issue at hand as JF-17 has proven to be a world class military jet.
The officials informed the standing committee that Pakistan's defence relations with Russia were also improving.
On the other hand, there appeared to be a divide among committee members whether Pakistan should send troops to Saudi Arabia.
Defence Secretary Lieutenant General (retd) Alam Khattak said that the Pakistan Army would abide by the government's decision on whether to send troops to Saudi Arabia to partake in a military campaign in Yemen.
This was the first time that the defence secretary spelled out the official stance of the Pakistan Army on sending troops to Saudi Arabia to partake in a military campaign in Yemen.
His brief comment came in response to a volley of questions by committee members as to whether military troops would be sent to the Saudi kingdom.
Chairman Sheikh Rohail Asghar maintained that the Pakistan Army should chase terrorists regardless of their location but women members belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) had a different point of view.
Repatriation of stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh
SC rejects plea
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday plea regarding repatriation of at least 300,000 stranded Pakistanis (mostly Biharis) from Bangladesh on grounds of having no locus standi.
The three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar resumed the petition that was filed by the Stranded Pakistanis General Repatriation Committee of Bangladesh six years ago, through its president Abdul Jabbar Khan. The petition sought repatriation of Pakistanis who are living in subhuman conditions in a number of camps across Bangladesh.
The court ruled that the petitioner has no locus standi as the organisation is unregistered and the counsel for petitioner, Rashidul Haq Qazi, failed to satisfy with his arguments if is registered.
The plea was dismissed by the Supreme Court saying that as per government policies, these residents of Bangladesh are not essentially Pakistanis.
On March 30, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the remaining 'stranded Pakistanis' in Bangladesh are not the responsibility of Pakistan as the country has already repatriated a large number of non-Bengalis.
The foreign office in its report claimed that large number of Biharis stranded in Bangladesh do not want to be repatriated to Pakistan. "There is a difference of opinion on their repatriation to Pakistan or otherwise. There are a large number of Biharis in Bangladesh who do not want to be repatriated to Pakistan," added the report.
Repatriation of displaced families to NWA starts
BANNU: The repatriation of temporarily displaced persons (TDPs) began to North Wazirstan Agency here on Tuesday as 121 dislocated families left for their hometowns in a caravan of vehicles and passenger pickups here on Tuesday.
They displaced families were saw off by Director General Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) Akramullah Khan, Political Agent North Waziristan Agency, Commissioner Bannu and senior civil and military officers.
Director, FDMA, Irfan Khan Khilji told APP that the TDPs have started return journey to Shameri area of Spinwam tehsil of Mir Ali sub division of North Waziristan Agency Tuesday in a caravan of vehicles.
He said the Government officials saw off the displaced families at Bakhakhel relief camp. The TDPs are coming in large number at Bakakhel relief camp located at Frontier Region Kohat for registration for onward journey to North Waziristan.
He said each family would be provided Rs 25,000 to meet initial requirements and Rs 10,000 for transportation through ATM.
The FDMA Spokesman told APP that 44 returning families who were verified by NADRA were provided 121 Registration Facilitation Cards (FRCs) and 44 ATMs cards on this occasion. - APP
LB polls in Cantt areas to be on party basis: ECP
ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has on Tuesday said that local body elections in cantonment areas will be held on party basis.
It maintained that any candidate applying for an election symbol belonging to a political party will be asked to furnish party ticket.
According to ECP, the institution is ready to hold the local body elections in cantonments on party basis. ECP officials told that only those candidates will be allowed to contest the elections on party basis who have submitted their nomination papers. NNI
Grooms face terror charges over wedding fireworks
KARACHI: Two newly-wed brothers in Karachi could be facing long prison sentences after police arrested them on terrorism charges for letting off firecrackers during their joint wedding ceremony.
It is a longstanding, and dangerous, custom at weddings in Pakistan to set off fireworks and fire weapons in the air in celebration, but police in Karachi said this time the happy couples went too far.
Police officer Abbas Golarchi, who booked the grooms along with three other people, told AFP on Tuesday they were charged under the explosives provisions of anti-terrorism legislation.
"Very powerful crackers were being used during the marriage ceremony creating fear among the neighbourhood, a densely populated area of the city," Abbas Golarchi said.
Golarchi said the charges are non-bailable and the five arrested are in police custody awaiting a remand hearing expected on Wednesday.
If found guilty they could face long prison sentences or even the death sentence, though this is unlikely as no-one was harmed during the joint wedding celebration.
Rights campaigners say the country's anti-terrorism legislation and anti-terrorism courts are frequently misused to prosecute cases that have nothing to do with militancy.
More generally, police are often criticised for their heavy-handed approach.
In April last year, police in Lahore booked a nine-month-old boy on an attempted murder charge after his family members allegedly threw bricks at officers trying to collect an unpaid bill. - AFP
Govt increases petrol prices by Rs4
ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday announced increase in the prices of petrol and high speed diesel (HSD) with effect from April 1, keeping those of kerosene oil, high octane blending component (HOBC) and light diesel oil unchanged.
Federal Minister for Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar made the announcement in this regard after approval from the Prime Minister, said a ministry statement here.
The price of petrol has been increased by Rs4 to Rs74.29 per litre and high speed diesel by Rs3 to Rs83.61 per litr.
The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had proposed an increase of Rs4 for petrol, Rs6.25 for HSD, Rs7.66 for HOBC and Rs1.56 for kerosene oil.
However, the government in order to facilitate the people, decided not to increase the prices of HOBC, kerosene oil and LDO, said the statement, adding that the adjustment in their prices had been made through adjustment in sales tax rate and/or adjustment in petroleum development levy rate. - APP
Nepra announces cut in power tariff rates
ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on Tuesday notified a Rs1.23 per unit decrease in electricity rates for consumers of K-Electric and a Rs2.08 per unit slash in the rates for consumers of all other distribution companies (Discos).
The fuel adjustments worth Rs13 billion would be passed on to consumers during the billing month of April 2015 out of which Rs1 billion would be received by K-Electric users and Rs12 billion would be passed on to users of all other Discos.
The rate-cut would not apply on those users who consume less than 50 units of electricity per month.
Fuel worth Rs55.75 billion was spent for the generation of 6.8 billion units of electricity consumed by the users of all Discos apart from those of K-Electric.
The actual fuel cost for January 2015 was determined at Rs9.27 per unit against corresponding determined fuel charges of 11.36 per unit.
It was reported that the highest share of furnace oil-based plants at 45.4 per cent in total power supply was generated at Rs10.26 per unit while 9.42pc generation came from high speed diesel with an average cost of Rs15 per unit, followed by 23.3pc generation from natural gas amounted to Rs4.2 per unit. Only 13pc generation came from hydropower with zero fuel cost while fuel cost of 5.65pc generation from nuclear power cost came at Rs1.17 per unit.
K-Electric had sold 1.06 billion units of electricity to consumers during the month of December 2014.
Under the automatic fuel adjustment formula Nepra is required to determine the difference of fuel cost every month and directly pass it on to consumers.
Zardari orders removal of barriers outside Bilawal House
KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has given orders to remove barriers and barricades outside Bilawal House despite security threats.
PPP Vice-Chairman Sherry Rehman said "necessary directives have been issued to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah in this regard."
"Despite security threats, we are removing the barriers in front of Bilawal House, Karachi, on the directives of Asif Ali Zardari," she added.
Zardari's statement comes following an operation launched by Rangers, which is backed by police and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, to remove security barriers and barricades mainly in Karachi's central district.
The road outside Bilawal House was barricaded and blocked for public use after it was accorded the status of former president Asif Zardari's camp office from 2008 to 2013.
Rangers had "appealed" to Karachi citizens last week to remove barriers from their neighbourhoods within three days.
Sindh government had officially requested Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, not to remove security barriers and barricades from the residences of former presidents in wake of security threats.