Noisy lawyers’ convention lends support to defiant Nawaz

“I have been fighting for Pakistan’s democracy and the case of its people in the courts,” former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Friday as he addressed an increasingly noisy lawyer’s convention at Aiwan-i-Iqbal in Lahore. The former premier, who was finding it difficult to speak due to a throat ailment, was frequently drowned out by lawyers shouting slogans in support of him. There were general signs of rowdiness in the crowd, with some loyalists taking to standing on top of tables to display their support for Sharif. Lauding the members of the legal fraternity for their struggle against dictatorship, the former premier recalled that “in the movement [against Pervez Musharraf], lawyers had been at the forefront.” “[Allama] Iqbal, a lawyer, presented Pakistan’s vision. Mohammad Ali Jinnah was also a lawyer,” the former premier remarked in a bid to strike a chord with the gathering.

“You people ran a movement and sacrificed your lives so that the country may be free of dictators,” Sharif said. “Your movement against dictatorship served all the people of the country, not just a small group,” he added. “Today, lawyers again have a responsibility to play a part in the fight for justice in this country,” Nawaz said. The deposed prime minister told the gathering that he had presented himself for an investigation by the courts as soon as the Panama Papers were leaked in 2016, even though his name “was not in the papers.” “No one responded to my offer [to present myself for accountability] for several months. And then they came up with a number of justifications for prolonging this process,” he said. “One verdict was given on April 20, the other was given on July 28. And you know the technicalities of the verdict better than me,” he said. The former premier went on to question aspects of the July 28 verdict of the Panamagate case, which called for his disqualification under Article 62 of the Constitution. Calling the Supreme Court-ordered investigation against him and members of his family “suspicious,” he questioned why a joint investigation team was constituted and why intelligence agencies were given a role in the investigation when there has been “no precedent of such agencies being involved in matters other than those of national security.” “Can judges be added to a smaller bench once they have given their verdict already?” Nawaz also asked. “Can the National Accountability Bureau be given special instructions?” “I did my part and stepped down from the prime minsiter’s seat,” Nawaz said. “But I have not accepted it and neither has the nation.” “I am not concerned about the effect the verdict will have on me. I care about the precedent that will be set in the country,” he said. “The verdict will remembered as unjust,” he said. “Verdicts like these have negative effects on the justice system.” He also said he had been made “victim of such cases before.” “First a president removed me, and then a dictator,” he said. “Now a court has removed me.” He told the gathered lawyers he especially regretted that he had been removed by the judicial system this time. “The people of Pakistan have given numerous sacrifices for the judicial system and they expect justice to be carried out,” he remarked. Nawaz also stressed that while dictators have ruled the country for an average of eight years each, elected prime ministers have only been allowed two years on average. “What does that say about our country?” he asked. “The sanctity of votes needs to be protected,” he added, referring to his recently announced ‘mission’ to “restore the people’s mandate”. “My fight it not about me, it about reviving the sanctity of the vote,” Nawaz said, calling on the lawyers to stand with him. “My mission is to shut down the means through which democracies are derailed and elected leaders are sent home,” he said.

PFA seals various restaurants, shops for sale of substandard, prohibited items

The Punjab Food Authority sealed several restaurants, shops and canteen for sale of substandard food commodities and prohibited items in various cities of Punjab on Friday.

The PFA team headed by Director Operations PFA, Rafia Haider, raided two restaurants at Mall Road and Sadar Road in Lahore. The raiding team sealed both restaurants over presence of expired items, poor hygienic condition in their kitchens and serving substandard food to the customers. The kitchen staff was found engaged in smoking while doing routine work.

The PFA sealed three general stores in Rawalpindi for selling outdated food commodities.

In Gujranwala, the PFA sealed canteen of a private school over presence of prohibited energy drinks.

In yet another action in Gujranwala, three shops were sealed after recovery of 3000 packets ‘gutka’.

Will support parliament for investigation into Raymond Davis incident: Khawaja Asif

Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Friday said that he would support an investigation into the release of US spy Raymond Allen Davis if the parliament asks for it, terming the whole incident a matter of embarrassment for the entire nation.

The minister was replying to a point-of-order raised by Senator Hafiz Hamdullah of Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) during Friday’s Senate session regarding the alleged involvement of former president Asif Zardari, former envoy Hussain Haqqani and former ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha in the Davis incident.

The JUI-F senator said Davis — in his book — raised doubts over the sanctity of the state institutions, including the parliament, military, and the presidency, but neither the government nor any other institution has clarified its stance on the matter.

The foreign minister replied that he was willing to initiate a probe into the release of Davis if the parliament gives a go-ahead for the same

“Many state institutions have been accused of facilitating the release of Davis; I think it was not institutions but individuals who might have done so for personal benefits,” said Asif.

He added that it was the Pakistan government — not the US government — which paid for the release of Davis.

It [release of Davis] is a matter of embarrassment for us all; nothing will come out from debating this issue, the foreign minister maintained.

“As long as the authority does not rest with the parliament, such incidents will keep happening,” he concluded.

Davis was a contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) when he shot two men in Lahore on Jan 27, 2011. A car coming to rescue Davis killed a third man, Ibadur Rahman, in a hit-and-run while speeding on the wrong side of the road.

On March 16, 2011, Davis was released after the families of the two killed men were paid $2.4 million as blood money. Judges then acquitted him on all charges and Davis immediately returned to the United States.

In his memoir, titled The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic CrisisDavis highlights the role that former CIA director Leon Panetta and ISI’s former director general Ahmed Shuja Pasha allegedly played in securing his release. He also briefly mentions former Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani.

Mayor questions Sindh govt’s plan to lift offal from only two Karachi districts

KARACHI: Expressing concern over the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board’s (SSWMB) plan to lift sacrificial animals’ offal from only two districts during Eidul Azha, City Mayor Wasim Akhtar has raised the question as to who would lift the waste from the rest of the metropolis.

Speaking to journalists at the KMC head office on Thursday after chairing a meeting held in connection with the offal collection plan, he said that while the SSWMB, as its name suggested, was for the entire province, it had given contract for lifting the entrails from only two districts.

He said that while the SSWMB was being provided full budget, it had given contract to lift offal from two districts only while the rest of the metropolis had been abandoned.

However, he assured citizens that although the SSWMB had abandoned them, their elected representatives in the local bodies, despite having insufficient resources, would serve them and would ensure that all animals’ waste was collected and disposed of in a scientific manner during the Eid days.

He said that last year over 1.7 million animals had been sacrificed and this year, with an increase of between 10 to 15 per cent, nearly two million animals were expected to be sacrificed.

He said that offal collection points had been designated in different districts/towns and trenches had been dug in different districts to bury the entrails.

He said that municipal staffers would be used for collecting guts and wherever required additional staffers and equipment/machinery would also be hired for quick lifting and disposal of offal.

The mayor urged city councillors to be vigilant during Eid and monitor the situation in their respective areas and ensure that the staffers were working efficiently and the waste was being lifted in time.

He also urged the people not to throw animal guts in drains, sewers, etc, which would choke them.

He said such practices caused drains and gutters to overflow resulting in inundation of low-lying areas creating hardships for residents.

He said that complaints regarding offal collection could also be lodged at telephone number 1339.

Earlier, the mayor chaired the meeting that was attended by municipal commissioner Nawaz Nasim, DMC Central chief Rehan Hashmi, DMC East chief Moeed Anwer, Korangi district chief Nayyer Raza, Izhar Khan, Ghulam Farid, Aslam Afridi and others.

Opposition demands policy statement on US president’s remarks

ISLAMABAD: Despite there being no love lost between the ruling party and the opposition, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Thursday demanded that the government immediately announce a policy statement on US President Donald Trump’s allegations that militants enjoyed ‘safe havens’ inside the country.

Even though his party has rejected any possibility of a dialogue with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on political issues, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah urged the government to summon a joint session of parliament.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Mr Shah said the government should take all political parties into confidence and formulate a unanimous strategy on how to deal with the situation arising after Trump’s speech.

“The government and the opposition should devise a policy to safeguard the honour and respect of the country,” he said.

He said the threatening stance of the US president was not only a problem for the government and the opposition, but was also a source of concern for the 220 million people of the country.

“Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should come up with concrete steps in this regard,” he said, hours before the PM hinted at the possibility of summoning a joint session of parliament to discuss Trump’s speech.

The two main opposition parties — PPP and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) – have already submitted separate adjournment motions to the National Assembly secretariat, demanding that a special session of the house be convened to give a befitting response to the US administration.

On Thursday, similar resolutions were also submitted before the Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincial assemblies by the PPP and PTI, respectively.

“The US president has not only undermined Pakistan’s numerous contributions and sacrifices in the war against terror, but has also threatened the country of dire consequences in case of failure to adhere to this dictation,” the PPP’s adjournment motion said.

Similarly, the PTI motion urged the NA to discuss the issue, saying: “The speech of the US President Donald Trump on Aug 20, in which he has accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and asked Pakistan to ‘do more’ totally ignoring that no country in the world has done more than Pakistan to counter the menace of terrorism.”