Kabul told to look inwards for Ghazni attack causes

ISLAMABAD: Amid a renewed war of words between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Friday rejected allegations that Ghazni attack was supported by elements from Pakistan and asked Kabul to look inwards for the causes.

“COAS reiterates that there is no support to any terrorist activity inside Afghanistan from Pakistan side,” the ISPR said in a statement, adding “Afghanistan needs to look inward as the problem resides inside Afghanistan”.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had earlier in the day asked Gen Bajwa to live up to his promise of addressing allegations of cross-border support for Taliban as he added his voice to those alleging role of Pakistani citizens in the Taliban attack on Ghazni city last week.

“Gen Bajwa, you signed a document with us and told me repeatedly in our conversations over the phone that when the elections (in Pakistan) are over you will pay attention to it. I need answers now….From where they came and why are they receiving treatment in your hospitals,” VoA quoted Mr Ghani as having said during a visit to Ghazni.

Last Friday, some 1,000 Taliban fighters stormed the city and retreated five days later. Afghan Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bah­rami and other officials had earlier said that external elements including Pakis­tanis had aided the Taliban.

Their claim was supported by ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak who through a tweet questioned what he claimed as the returning bodies of Pakistanis from war in Ghazni and the arrested Pakistani fighters.

Rejecting images circulating on social media of allegedly wounded fighters being carried across the border, the ISPR statement noted that “there are scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan in connection with various businesses/ labour who periodically fall victim to terrorism acts alongside their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan. Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate”.

“Moreover, different factions of TTP, hiding in many sanctuaries inside Afghanistan under Afghan identities on becoming injured/ dead are transported into Pakistan for medical help. Additionally, Afghan refugees and their relatives also resort to similar practices,” it further said.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office spokesman recalled that the monitoring team of the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee in its recent report lauded Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts and acknowledged that extensive counterterrorist operations had led to a reduction in terrorism in the country.

“This is not the first time that the monitoring team has acknowledged Pakistan’s counterterrorism gains. Earlier, in February 2018, the monitoring team in its 21st Report had also noted with appreciation that Pakistani military operations have denied space for ISIL (Daesh) to establish an organisational structure in the area,” the FO said.

The statement reiterated commitment to defeat terrorism and recalled that the successes against terrorism were possible due to “its unwavering resolve and indiscriminate counterterrorism efforts”.

Opposition demands parliamentary commission to probe polls ‘rigging’

• Shahbaz says last elections were worst in country’s history in terms of rigging

• Bilawal calls Imran ‘PM-select’, urges him to be premier of whole country and not a single political party

ISLAMABAD: Soon after Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan was elected 22nd prime minister of the country on Friday, the opposition demanded formation of a parliamentary commission to investigate alleged rigging in the July 25 general elections.

The opposition parties said they had come to parliament despite rejecting the election results just for the sake of supremacy of democracy and parliament, but warned the newly elected prime minister that they would continue their agitation inside and outside parliament if their demand was not met.

However, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) announced that it would support Imran Khan if he worked for the betterment of the people and the country.

Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif, who is believed to be the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, delivered his speech amid uproar by the ruling PTI and focused on allegations of rigging in last month’s polls.

He received a similar response from the PTI legislators as his party’s members earlier staged a protest and did not allow Imran Khan to smoothly address the house for the first time after becoming prime minister.

“Throughout the world, newspapers and outlets are raising accusations of rigging in the general elections,” Mr Sharif said, adding that this was the worst election in the country’s history in terms of rigging and the authorities must act against those responsible. “What kind of election was this?” he asked amidst loud chants echoing across the assembly hall.

He alleged that the Result Transmission System (RTS) had been forcefully shut down [on the night of July 25] so that presiding officers could not transfer the results of their polling stations promptly to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). “What kind of elections were these that the results were delayed for 48 hours?”

Alleging that 1.6 million votes were rejected, he questioned the discovery of ballot papers from gutters and streets across the country. Mr Sharif asked the ECP to submit a report before the house and said the clauses in the Elections Act 2017 that needed amendment must be amended so that no one could rob the sanctity of vote. He warned that the opposition parties would take to the streets if the parliamentary commission was not formed and justice was not done.

Reminding Imran Khan one of his promises he had made in his first address to the nation after the July 25 polls, Mr Sharif said: “Khan Sahib, you had said that if rigging in 2013 elections would be proven, Nawaz Sharif’s government should resign. We will not let you run from this. We will hold you accountable for stealing votes.”

Clarifying his party’s stance, he said: “We came here for the sake of democracy and to protect the democratic system. There had been movements in the past and we have always stood by this house. No matter what we do, we will not curse this parliament; we will not attack this parliament.”

The PML-N chief refused to conclude his speech in protest after his mike was switched off by the speaker so that PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari could also address the house.

Later, the PPP chairman mesmerised the house with his maiden speech on the floor of the house and urged Imran Khan to be the prime minister of the whole country and not a single political party. “Now you are the prime minister of those you have called donkeys, goats, sheep and corpses.”

In his measured and mature speech in English, Bhutto-Zardari said his party would support the new prime minister if he worked for the betterment of the people and the country. Although he said it was his honour to become a part of this house, the 29-year-old politician criticised the two biggest parties for creating a ruckus in parliament. He was the only speaker who remembered those who had lost their lives in terror attacks in Peshawar and Quetta in the run-up to the July 25 polls.

He said the PPP had its reservations over both the pre- and post-poll procedures, but still decided to be a part of the house to support the fragile democracy. “We would have been facing a constitutional crisis and we must assess what it cost for Khan Sahib to get here. We mainstreamed extremism, we compromised on our basic rights, we pitted one Pakistani against another,” he added.

Reminding Mr Khan his 100-day manifesto, the PPP chairman said: “Our prime minister-elect has promised a 100-day roadmap. I want to see how he creates 10 million jobs and ends poverty. I would like to ask Khan Sahib who said that he would rather commit suicide than go to the IMF and beg for alms what his plan will be to deal with the economic crisis.”

Talking about the country’s foreign policy, he said: “It is hurtful that Pakistan, which has sacrificed so much in the fight against violent extremism, is seen as a part of the problem and not as part of the solution.”

He urged Imran Khan to “end” the politics of criticism and blaming each other and said: “As prime minister, I hope Imran Khan will drop the hateful rhetoric. If he continues to fan the flames of hatred, he will have to go through us and he will find us opposing him at every step of the way. If the prime minister-elect makes constitutional supremacy and human development his priorities, we will stand by his side.”

Mr Bhutto-Zardari humorously called Imran Khan as prime minister-select instead of elect with reference to alleged rigging in the polls. “I congratulate the prime minister-select,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan: PTI chairman sworn in as 22nd premier of Pakistan

PM-elect Imran Khan on Saturday took oath as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan at a ceremony held at the President House.

Khan, who outvoted opposition and PML-N candidate Shahbaz Sharif in the PM’s election on Friday, was administered his oath by President Mamnoon Hussain.

After taking the oath as premier, Khan and First Lady Bushra Imran greeted various guests.

Imran Khan inspects a guard of honour at PM House. — DawnNewsTV
Imran Khan inspects a guard of honour at PM House. — DawnNewsTV

As the ceremony concluded, Khan proceeded to the Prime Minister’s Office, where he was presented a guard of honour.

The oath-taking ceremony, which was scheduled to begin at 9:30am, started a little after 10am.

Clad in a black sherwani, the prime minister-elect arrived at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Islamabad from his Banigala residence. His wife Bushra Imran had already arrived for the ceremony.

Guests are seen at the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV
Guests are seen at the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

The ceremony commenced with the national anthem, followed by recitation of verses from the Holy Quran.

High-profile guests including caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi were present at the ceremony.

COAS Gen Bajwa meets guests.

Other notable guests present at the Aiwan-e-Sadr included senior PTI leaders, former Indian cricket star Navjot Singh Sidhu, cricketer-turned-commentator Rameez Raja, legendary paceman Wasim Akram, newly elected Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, singers Salman Ahmed and Abrarul Haq, actor Javaid Sheikh and former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza.

The invited guests, which include politicians, cricketers and celebrities, were told to be at the venue at 9:15am. The event was scheduled to begin at 9:30am.

Imran Khan's wife, Bushra, attends the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV
Imran Khan’s wife, Bushra, attends the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

Khan, who famously captained the national cricket team to World Cup glory in 1992, has also invited some of his former teammates to witness his formal ascension to the top ministerial job in the country.

Indian cricket star Navjot Singh Sidhu at the ceremony. — DawnNewsTV

According to the programme outlined on the invitation cards, the ceremony will begin with the national anthem, following which the cabinet secretary will seek permission from the president to commence the ceremony.

Next up will be recitation (tilawat) of the Holy Quran, after which the oath will be administered and documents signed.

The guest have been asked to carry their NIC or accreditation cards but not to bring with them any handbags, purses, mobiles phones or any other electronic gadgetry.

The work begins

After the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the biggest parliamentary party in the wake of the July 25 polls, all 120 of the party’s parliamentary committee members rubber-stamped Khan’s candidacy for the post of the prime minister.

PTI vice-president Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks to a reporter after arriving for Imran Khan's oath-taking. — DawnNewsTV
PTI vice-president Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks to a reporter after arriving for Imran Khan’s oath-taking. — DawnNewsTV

The party formed enough alliances and recruited enough independents to gain the numbers required to get Khan elected as the PM in Friday’s parliamentary vote.

Khan and his party campaigned on promises to end widespread graft while building an “Islamic welfare state”.

“First of all, we will start strict accountability. I promise to my God that everyone who looted this country will be made accountable,” he said in his speech as PM-elect on Friday.

PTI candidates were also voted speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly this week, putting Khan in a strong position to carry forward his legislative agenda.

He will face myriad challenges including militant extremism, water shortages, and a booming population negating growth in the country, among others.

Most pressing is a looming economic crisis, with speculation that Pakistan will have to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

Khan will also have to contend with the same issue as many predecessors: how to maintain a power balance in civil-military relations.

PTI’s Asad Qaisar elected Speaker National Assembly

ISLAMABAD: Asad Qaisar of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been elected as 15thSpeaker of the National Assembly with 176 votes after a stiff competition with Pakistan People Party’s Khursheed Shah who got 146 votes.

Announcing the name of new speaker, outgoing NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq said a total of 330 votes were polled, of them eight were rejected.

He said Mr. Qaisar received 176 votes, while Mr. Shah bagged 146 votes. Moments later, he administered oath to the newly-elected NA speaker.

The newly-elected MNAs cast votes for their desired candidates through a secret ballot earlier during the voting.

Chairman Pof board lt.Gen Sadiq Ali presented souvenir to honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan Justice (R) Nasir ul mulk

Wah Cantt: Chairman Pof board lt Gen Sadiq Ali presented souvenir to the honorable Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan Justice (R) Nasir ul mulk during his visit to POF on 8th August 2018,Public Relation Officer POF Mr Zafar malik was also present.

HE PM Nasirul Mulk  lauded the role of Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) in fulfilling the country’s security needs and said that the defence industrial complex held a pivotal position in the wake of multifarious defence and security challenges the country was facing.

The prime minister made these remarks during a visit to the Pakistan Ordnance Factories, Wah Cantt.

Mr Mulk hailed the commitment and continued efforts of the workforce of POF whose labour and expertise he said had earned the organisation a reputable place in the region and beyond.

The prime minister was also briefed about commercial operations and corporate social responsibility services of the organisation in the field of education, health and environment protection.