SC dismisses request to omit observations against Chaudhry Nisar from Quetta carnage report

The Supreme Court on Tuesday released its written judgement in the 2016 Quetta carnage case, dismissing a request to omit observations against former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar from the Quetta inquiry commission’s report.

In September 2016, giving into calls for judicial intervention, the apex court had taken suo motu notice of the deadly suicide bombing at Quetta Civil Hospital, which had claimed 76 lives, a month earlier. Fifty-seven lawyers were killed in the carnage.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who presided over the three-member bench that heard the case, issued the five-page written judgement today.

The apex court dismissed Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf’s request to omit observations made against Nisar from the report compiled by the Justice Qazi Faiz Isa-led Quetta inquiry commission .

The inquiry commission’s report on the 2016 tragedy regretted a meeting that Nisar had held on Oct 21, 2016, with Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, the head of three banned organisations — Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, Millat-i-Islamia and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat — to listen to the latter’s demands.

According to the commission’s report, Nisar had been unable to fulfil his responsibilities as an interior minister.

“In the 3.5 years that he held the post of interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar only called one session of the National Counter Terrorism Authority’s (Nacta) executive committee,” the commission’s report had said.

The AG maintained that the observations against Nisar were “person specific” and “uncalled for”.

“The said findings of the commission are based upon observations of the commission and are not to be treated as findings of this court,” Justice Khosa wrote in the judgement, rejecting the attorney general’s request.

Implementing the inquiry commission’s recommendations

In the written judgement, Justice Khosa noted that Balochistan attorney general had stated before the court that the provincial government has taken measures in keeping with the inquiry commission’s recommendations.

Similarly, the judge added, Attorney General Ausaf told the court that the commission’s report served as a “source of guidance” for the federal government.

Justice Khosa added in the judgement that, according to the Attorney General Ausaf, Nacta had been made fully active and the recommendations of the Quetta inquiry commission were implemented.

“According to [Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf], some aspects of the recommendations made by the inquiry commission are being implemented immediately whereas the other areas are being attended to in all earnest,” Justice Khosa noted in the written judgement.

“[Ausaf] has submitted that some changes in the relevant legislation are being worked upon, the National Action Plan is being put into practice, a counter-narrative qua extremism is being developed and all out efforts are being made by the Government of Pakistan to remove the shortcomings highlighted in the report,” he added.

“We find that at this stage, most of the major issues arising out of the said incidents have seriously been attended to or solved by the Government of Balochistan as well as the Government of Pakistan after persistent nudging by this court,” reads the judgement.

“Indeed, the Quetta carnage was a national tragedy,” the judge wrote. “Due to the carnage, several other problems took root. In order to resolve those problems, the courts had to fulfil its responsibilities.”

Protecting the Hazara community

In his written order, the judge disposed of the application of a member of Hazara community, requesting to be made party to the suo motu case.

The judge wrote in the judgement that the federal government and the Balochistan government have already taken steps towards the protection of the community.

“We expect the federal and provincial governments to continue their efforts in that regard and to leave no stone unturned for securing their lives, legal rights and legitimate interests,” Justice Khosa added.

“This application is disposed of with this exception,” the judge said.


Aamir Khan’s ‘Secret Superstar’ looks to recreate success of ‘Dangal’ in China

Following the tremendous box-office success of Dangal in China, Secret Superstar, another Aamir Khan film, is set to hit Chinese mainland theaters on January 19.

While Indian films that screen in the Chinese mainland usually debut at least six months after their premiere on their home turf, Secret Superstar is coming out after just a three-month delay, indicating that the Chinese distributors of the film, China Film Group and Huaxia Film Distribution, has high hopes for its performance, reported Global Times.

Promotional material for Secret Superstar.

The film marks the directorial debut of Advait Chandan, Khan’s former manager, and stars Zaira Wasim in the lead role. Wasim will be a familiar face for Chinese audiences since she played a major role in Dangal – one of the daughters of Khan’s character. Secret Superstar sees Khan once again play a supportive role as he plays a washed-up singer with a notorious reputation that mentors Wasim, a young woman with musical talent who must deal with an oppressive father.

With a reported production budget of 150 million Indian rupees ($2.4 million), Secret Superstar was a commercial hit in India, grossing 830 million Indian rupees. Longing for another craze among Chinese audience, both the director and lead actress kicked off a mainland tour last week, and Khan is expected to join them in late January.

CPEC to transform Pakistan into regional economic hub, says PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday said that Pakistan will turn into a regional economic hub after completion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, adding that it would also bring prosperity to the entire region.

Talking to a delegation of International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations , headed by its President Babar Badat, PM highlighted the significance of CPEC, saying it has opened up new vistas of opportunities not only for Pakistan but for the entire region also, adding that the regional trade would benefit to the people of entire and connectivity after completion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

Abbasi further said that country’s road infrastructure would be utilized by the logistics companies for catering to the domestic requirements of a growing economy.

While lauding Pakistan’s initiatives to bring prosperity in the region, Babar Badat and his delegation said that FIATA is keen expand its footprints in Pakistan joining the project.

Sharapova happily back in old routine at Open

MELBOURNE: Maria Sharapova said Tuesday she was delighted to be back in the old routine after a trying 2017 as she sailed into the second round of the Australian Open.

It was the Russian star´s first match at Melbourne for two years, having tested positive for performance-enhancing meldonium in Australia in 2016 and only returning from a 15-month doping ban last April.

And she sealed a 6-1, 6-4 victory in style with an ace against Germany´s Tatjana Maria in an hour and 18 minutes.

“I felt like I have got a lot of things out of the way physically and emotionally and mentally last year,” said Sharapova, who only returned to Grand Slam action at the US Open, where she reached the last 16.

“(In 2017) there was a lot of firsts again for me, playing the first tournament, first Grand Slam, and just different feelings and what it would be routinely.

“But it felt pretty routine today, just really happy to be back here.”

On paper this should have been a close match. Sharapova, who is climbing her way back up the tennis ladder following her ban, is ranked 48th with her German opponent one place higher.

But the gulf in class and experience between Sharapova, who has won 36 singles titles, and the 30-year-old journeywoman yet to register a WTA title was evident from the opening exchanges.

The 2008 Australian Open champion hardly looked back after racing into a 2-0 lead, holding her own serve to love and then breaking the German three times with ease to take the first set 6-1 in 32 minutes.

“Look, I´ve got shivers,” said Sharapova, pointing to her arm when asked on court how much being back in Melbourne meant to her.

“I cherish these moments. I love it here,” she added.

“It´s been a couple of years and I wanted it to be really meaningful to me. But we know it´s only going to get tougher.”

– ´Nothing will be handed to me´ –

The German found her service range at the start of the second and briefly led 3-1 before the unseeded Russian cranked up the decibel meter and broke back with a flurry of forehand winners.

Sharapova broke again, closing out the win with a booming ace and a huge smile for the rapturous crowd on Margaret Court Arena.

Sharapova, one of the highest earners in women´s sport, she suffered a string of early defeats after her comeback but has been working her way back up the rankings since.

She broke through to win the Tianjin Open in October — her first title since 2015 — and enjoyed a run to the semi-final in Shenzhen to start the year.

But she was guarded when asked if her new found-confidence could take her to a second Australian Open crown.

“Look, I think confidence comes with time and with match play and putting yourself in situations where you´re able to take those opportunities,” she said.

“I know that nothing will be handed to me or anyone. You have to work for every point in a match. It´s too far to tell.

“I have expectations because of my previous results in my career But I´m also realistic, and the process of coming back takes time. I keep building and learning.”

She got back into the world´s top 50 just before the year´s first Grand Slam and next faces either 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia or American Varvara Lepchenko.

Nawaz calls change in Balochistan a cruel joke

ISLAMABAD: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday asked his rivals instead of launching anti-government movement they should wait for general elections that were only four to five months away.

Speaking to media outside the Accountability Court where he appeared to attend hearing of corruption reference against him, said timing of Tahirul Qadri’s return from Canada was meaningful.

“You will find answers of many question yourself if you think about the purpose of anti-government movement,” said he referring to the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s protest scheduled to be held on January 17 over Model Town Tragedy.

The Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Isnaf have also assured Qadri of their support.

He said the government has only a few months left, adding that he was unable to understand the purpose of the protests.

Asked to comment on change of government in Balochistan, the former prime minister called the recent political development in the province a cruel joke with the nation.

He said a person who bagged 500 votes in the election and almost got his surety bonds confiscated was made chief minister of the province.

Nawaz Sharif said he has convened a meeting that would also be attended by Baloch leadership to discuss the ongoing situation.