SC disapproves medical certificates submitted by Dr Asim Hussain

The Supreme Court on Thursday, while hearing a petition seeking exclusion of PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain’s name from the exit control list (ECL), expressed its dissatisfaction over the medical certificates submitted before the apex court regarding Dr Hussain’s health.

Commenting on the matter, Justice Aijaz Afzal said, “Nine medical boards were formed to examine Dr Asim Hussain’s health and every board has suggested a different illness.”

On this, the counsel for Dr Hussain, Barrister Latif Khosa, said that the former minister was suffering from a spinal problem which was apparently incurable in Pakistan. He further argued that other suspects of the case have already been allowed to travel abroad.

The court sought a reply from the interior ministry regarding the case. “We want to see whether the law is being properly followed or not while putting a person’s name on the ECL,” the apex court observed.

PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain, a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, had filed a petition in the apex court asking for the removal of his name from the ECL so that he may travel abroad for medical treatment.

The petition stated that Hussain was fighting “a number of health conditions” and highlighted the ‘urgency’ with which he needed medical care.

The former minister has reportedly been undergoing treatment for a cardiovascular ailment.

The petition, filed by Dr Hussain’s counsel, also pointed out that the PPP leader has already been granted bail by the Sindh High Court (SHC) and anti-terrorism courts.

During an earlier hearing in SHC, Dr Hussain’s counsel had told the bench that his client “may lose his life if he did not undergo a spinal surgery abroad”.

In March, the SHC had granted bail to the PPP leader in two corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

On the same day, an anti-terrorism court issued a release order for the former federal minister in a case relating to the alleged treatment of terrorists at Ziauddin Hospital, where the accused is the deputy managing director.

NAB had been pursuing Dr Hussain on charges that the former petroleum minister deprived the state exchequer of Rs462.5bn between 2010 and 2013 — Rs450bn through a fertiliser scam, Rs9.5bn through land fraud and Rs3bn through money laundering.

Dr Hussain was eventually released from prison on March 31 after 19 months in detention.

He had filed a request at the SHC for the removal of his name from the ECL. However, the plea was rejected on June 5.

Nielsen tries to quantify the Hulu, YouTube effect

Nielsen, the ratings service, announced Tuesday that it will begin to tabulate how many people get their live TV from Hulu and YouTube, an effort to provide a more accurate picture of how many people now watch broadcast networks by streaming them, rather than watching them on traditional TV.

Hulu and YouTube have not revealed how many people have subscribed for the live TV services that they launched in the spring as a counter to cable TV.

Subscribers can stream channels live on laptops, smartphones and elsewhere. They can also record shows digitally or watch them on demand. Both services cost nearly $40 a month.

Media companies base the amount they charge advertisers on the number of people who are watching at a particular time, and want to insure that online viewers are also counted as more people shift to using online streaming services.

IMF to launch new form of aid—with no money

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Wednesday it will launch a new tool to support governments in financial trouble — but one that involves no money — formalising a step it took last week for Greece.

Instead of providing cheap loans to member countries, the new IMF tool will serve as a good housekeeping seal of approval for a government’s reform program.

With that approval in hand governments would be more likely to be able to access other forms of financing from banks and bond markets, the IMF said in a statement.

“The new instrument is designed to help countries unlock financing from official and private donors and creditors,” the IMF said.

“It enables them to signal commitment to reforms and catalyse financing from other sources.” The IMF last week revived a rarely-used mechanism under which it approved a one-year loan to Greece but withheld the disbursement of funds until the country receives significant debt relief from its eurozone partners.

That had a similar effect as the new tool: allowing Greece to return to markets this week to issue three billion euros ($3.5bn) worth of five-year bonds, and removing a major roadblock in the negotiations with the euro area.

The IMF board this month approved the new non-financing Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI), which unlike traditional fund programs will not have any eligibility criteria, as long as the country is not delinquent in payments to the IMF.

Rather than providing loans in exchange for strict adherence to an agreed program of economic and financial reforms — with performance targets reviewed quarterly — the IMF will focus only on the government’s policy package.

But the IMF stressed that “policies supported under the instrument would be required to meet the same standard as those required under a standard IMF loan.” Fund staff would provide periodic reviews under the PCI, every six months or so, but the schedule would be flexible as would the duration of the program.

The IMF has always provided policy advice to member countries on a variety of topics including design of reforms for tax, pension or labor policies.

It also offers a program called a Flexible Credit Line which is similar to the PCI in that it provides an IMF stamp of approval on a country’s economic policies, but also makes available a line of credit that would only be tapped if the country faces dire circumstances beyond its control, like a severe drop in commodity prices or a global financial crisis.

Some economists have expressed concern, however, about the potential stigma associated with a country that goes to the IMF for financial assistance.

Arthur hopes World XI tour revives international cricket

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket team head coach Mickey Arthur said on Wednesday he hoped a proposed tour of the World XI to the South Asian country would bring the embattled nation a step closer to reviving international cricket.

Pakistan have not hosted international cricket — barring a limited-overs series against Zimbabwe in 2015 — since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.

And Monday’s blast in Lahore which killed 26 people has again cast doubts over the World XI tour planned for mid September this year.

However, Arthur said he regretted Pakistan’s isolation.

“The isolation is being very hard on Pakistan cricket,” Arthur told AFP. “The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is doing an unbelievable job in trying to resurrect international cricket. I just hope the World XI tour goes ahead and that will almost be the curtain raiser to, hopefully, get some international cricket back.”

Pakistan has been forced to play home matches in the UAE.

“Every international match we play as a unit we are playing effectively away from home, away our own conditions and that makes it doubly difficult,” he said.

“Look, I definitely think it affects all cricket. The first-class cricketers in Pakistan are not able to see their stars playing at home and are not able to lift their standards so it’s a vicious circle,” the coach added.

Arthur said Pakistan’s ICC Champions Trophy win in England last month will change impressions.

“I think Pakistan was always a destination where it was hard to come and win. I was the coach of the South African team which came here in 2007. We won the Test and ODI series and that was a massive win and achievement because not many sides had come and won in Pakistan.”

Imran Khan wants early verdict in Panama Papers case

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has “requested” the Supreme Court judges to announce the verdict in the Panama Papers case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family as early as possible so that the country could move forward.

“I, on behalf of the whole nation, request the SC judges that the whole country has come to a standstill while waiting for the verdict. I know you have done great work and you are to look into other things as well. But we all request you to decide early,” Mr Khan said at a news conference after presiding over a party meeting at his residence on Wednesday.

“I know there will be a lot of pressure on the judges. And I have no doubt about the pressure the Nawaz Sharif mafia will be putting on the judges,” he said, adding: “If they can offer Rs10 billion to a person like me… then imagine how much pressure will be there on the judges.”

Mr Khan alleged that taxpayers’ money was being used to “buy” people in order to save “a criminal prime minister”.

PTI chief fears ‘pressure’ on judges

Besides the PTI, the main petitioner, the demand that the court announce its verdict early has been echoed by other parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).

Accompanied by senior PTI leaders, Mr Khan drew the attention of the judges towards “the deteriorating economic conditions” in the country. “That’s why I request the honourable judges to announce the verdict early, if possible, so that we can move forward.”

The PTI chief lashed out at Prime Minister Sharif for visiting the Maldives at a time when the nation was in grief because of a terrorist attack in Lahore. He alleged that the prime minister had himself sought the invitation for the visit.

He also claimed that a number of countries had withdrawn invitations to Mr Sharif after coming to know that he had been facing “criminal” investigations.

Mr Khan said the Sindh Assembly had adopted a resolution seeking the prime minister’s resignation and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly would soon pass a similar resolution.

He said the lawyers were also demanding that the prime minister step down after the findings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which probed money laundering charges against his family in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks.

The PTI chief alleged that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was making attempts to malign him and his party’s leaders in a bid to hide its decades-long corruption.

He said that instead of defending themselves, Mr Sharif and his henchmen were trying to prove that every politician was corrupt.

Mr Khan also criticised a comparison between himself and the Sharifs, saying that he had brought money to the country whereas the ruling family had sent wealth abroad after committing corruption.

He said he had provided complete financial details and all money trails for the purchase of his London flat.

Replying to a question, Mr Khan said his disqualification would be a very little price to free Pakistan from “this corrupt mafia”.

Declaring that Mr Sharif would not be able to escape, the PTI chief announced that his party would arrange “historic celebrations in the streets of Islamabad once the prime minister is disqualified”.

‘Double standards’

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah accused the PTI chairman of adopting “double standards” while defending himself in his disqualification case in the Supreme Court.

Talking to reporters at the Parliament House, Mr Shah said Mr Khan should not “dictate” the SC.

He said it would also be a “double standard” if the SC disqualified one person and spared the other.

“It will be a double standard. If the SC cannot disqualify one person, then it cannot disqualify the other as well,” he said in reply to a question about Mr Khan’s position before the court that it was not a forum to disqualify parliamentarians.

JI chief Sirajul Haq, speaking at a workshop at his party’s headquarters in Mansoora through video link, also appealed to the court to announce its decision at the earliest and also lay down a system for the eradication of corruption.

Mr Haq said that after the prime minister, around 450 people named in the Panama Papers and those who had devoured billions of rupees should also be held accountable and every penny of the public recovered from them.

He said the JI also wanted the accountability of PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari and former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, besides political turncoats seeking refuge by shifting loyalties.

QWP chief Aftab Sherpao earlier made an appeal to the judges for an early verdict.