Senate panel not satisfied with police answers on Sahiwal killings

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior was on Friday not satisfied with the answers provided by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Amjad Javed Saleemi to questions regarding the alleged extra-judicial killings of four people, including three of a family, in Sahiwal by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD).

The parliamentary panel met with Senator Rehman Malik in the chair.

Home Secretary Fazeel Asghar told members of the committee that the driver of the car, Zeeshan Javed, was a terrorist. He said Zeeshan was the main target and that a photograph of the car was taken before the operation which showed two people sitting in the front seats of the car. He said the rear of the car was not clear in the picture due to the luggage.

IGP Punjab urges MPs to wait for JIT report

Only 14 of the 42 questions asked by the committee were answered in writing by the Punjab police, who avoided answering the trickier questions till the finalisation of the investigation by the joint investigation team (JIT).

The IGP said CTD had played a significant role in breaking terrorist networks as there has been a significant decrease in terrorism incidents after the formation of the force in 2015.

However, he said, the Sahiwal incident “has broken our backbone” and that everyone should wait till the finalisation of the JIT report.

The police’s record, presented before the committee, shows that no criminal case was registered against the passengers in the car, including Zeeshan, who was described as a terrorist by the home secretary.

The committee chairman said it needs to be made clear if Zeeshan Javed was radicalised and if so, evidence of his involvement in terrorism, if he was ever arrested for such acts and if he was ever tried for them or put under notice.

CTD informed the committee that the status of Zeeshan Javed is under investigation.

During the course of the meeting, while sharing details of successful raids conducted by CTD against terrorists in the past, the IGP became emotional and angry.

“This is not a joke; don’t take it as a joke. This is a serious issue,” he told Senator Kalsoom Parveen, whom he thought was not serious during his briefing on one such incident.

After the committee meeting, the senator told media persons she will file a privilege motion against the IGP for ridiculing her.

The meeting had started with a condemnation of the Sahiwal incident in which four people -two men, a woman and a teenage girl – were killed last week and prayers were offered for the victims.

The committee chairman said conspiracy cannot be ruled out in the incident as the initial investigation shows it can be personal animosity or a conspiracy to undermine institutions.

He said an inquiry should be conducted into whether some CTD individuals were used in the plan and that it should be ensured that the nation is not confused by such an anti-Pakistan move.

The IG said the JIT has been asked to collect evidence to prove claims of Zeeshan being a terrorist. He said the remaining questions asked by the committee will be answered after the investigation is completed.

Interior Secretary retired Maj Azam Suleman Khan said the JIT should be given time to complete its investigation as it is examining evidence collected by the police.

Senator Malik directed the IGP that the investigation should be fair and impartial and that CTD officials must be treated like ordinary accused persons during the investigation.

The committee also discussed the welfare plan for children who survived the incident.

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi said he has no faith in the JIT as the police cannot conduct a fair investigation as it is party to the case.

#Dawn Courtesy

Another medical board constituted to examine Nawaz

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Friday constituted a third special medical board to examine former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

“On the recommendations of the medical board of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) for evaluation of the health condition of National Accountability Bureau convicted prisoner Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, a special medical board is constituted for examination and management of the prisoner,” says a notification of the Punjab Home Department issued here.

This medical board comprises Dr Hamid Sharif Khan and Dr Mohammad Talha bin Nazir, assistant professors in the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology; Professor Dr Shahid Hameed and Dr Sajjad Ahmad of the PIC; Brigadier Abdul Hameed Siddique, classified cardiologist of the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology, and Brigadier Azmat Hayat, classified electrophysiologist of the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology and National Institute of Heart Diseases, Rawalpindi.

Punjab minister rejects Sharifs’ worries about ex-PM’s health, claims reports of 10 of his 11 medical tests are normal

Earlier, two special medical boards of the Allama Iqbal Medical College/Jinnah Hospital, Lahore, and the PIC, Lahore, examined Mr Sharif, 69, in Kot Lakhpat jail last week.

The AIMC/Jinnah Hospital board had recommended that Mr Sharif should be shifted to hospital for “optimal treatment”.

The board said: “Given uncontrolled BP, stage 3 CKD with estimated GFR of 50 ml/min, borderline raised troponin T level with significant history of ischemic heart disease and suboptimal care, Nawaz Sharif will benefit from hospitalisation so that optimal management and cardiac assessment can be initiated,” it said.

The board said Mr Sharif with past medical history of hypertension, T2 diabetes mellitus, ischemic heart disease and CABGH, kidney stone disease complained about post nasal drip, bilateral arm, shoulder pain and some dyspnoea on exertion.

“On physical examination he was found to have BP 200/110 mm Hg. Morning blood pressure medicines were not taken and BP decreased to 160/90 mm Hg after tablet concor and dozar were given, heart rate 64 /min oxygen saturation of 98 per cent with clear chest, normal cardiac, abdominal examination and no pitting edema on lower extremities.”

Mr Sharif is serving a seven-year imprisonment awarded to him in the Al-Azizia Steels Mills case.

VIP protocol

Meanwhile, while rejecting the claims of the Sharif family that Nawaz Sharif is facing serious health problems in Kot Lakhpat jail, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan claims that results of 10 out of 11 medical tests conducted recently of the former prime minister have turned out to be normal.

“The House of Sharif must stop telling lies [about Nawaz Sharif’s health] as reports of 10 out of total medical tests conducted on him recently reveal that his condition is normal,” the minister told reporters outside the Punjab Assembly building on Friday.

He said he had in his possession Mr Sharif’s medical reports which showed his health condition as quite normal, adding that he wasn’t making the claim on the basis of hearsay.

He told a questioner that despite being ‘high-profile convict’ the VIP protocol Mr Sharif was enjoying in jail might not have been extended even to former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

“The PML-N told lies before the Supreme Court as well as the masses. They’re telling lies everywhere. Mian Sahib is extended full protocol, while he also avails the facility of home-cooked food.”

Rejecting the claims of Maryam Nawaz and the PML-N media cell regarding the facilities being given to the former prime minister, the minister said a friend told him that Mr Sharif was even once provided his favourite food brought in from London. There were no restrictions of any kind on the former prime minister, he added.

In reply to a question, Mr Chohan said the Punjab government had no reservations if a judicial commission was formed on the Sahiwal tragedy.

The government report on Sahiwal Tragedy submitted to PM Imran Khan: sources

ISLAMABAD:  The Punjab government on Wednesday submitted its report on Sahiwal tragedy to Prime Minister Imran Khan, in which four people were killed by the counter-terrorism department (CTD).

According to sources, the steps taken by the provincial government after the incident was also mentioned in the report.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the provincial government to submit recommendations for reforms in Punjab Police Department and measures to stop a repeat of such incidents in future, according to the sources.

The CTD officials were held responsible for the horrendous incident in which a couple and their teenage daughter were killed along with the fourth person who is being termed a terrorism suspect by the law enforcement agencies.

The report declares other three deceased as innocent, sources said.

The report said that the government has made large-scale transfers in the counter-terrorism department (CTD) after the Sahiwal incident.

Three top-ranking officers of CTD have been transferred, while two other suspended, the report present to the prime minister said.

According to sources, the cases against responsible officials will be submitted in an anti-terrorism court.

The Punjab government in a notification on Tuesday made CTD chief Additional Inspector General (AIG) Roy Tahir as the officer on special duty (OSD).

While Rao Sardar was given additional charge of AIG CTD and the services of DIG Babar Sarfraz and Azhar Hameed were handed over to the federal government.

Humayun Bashir Tarar was appointed as DIG CTD, Ahmad Ishaq Jahangir was given additional charge of DIG operations Punjab. However, DIG Zulfiqar Hameed was given additional charge of AIG operations.

Kashmir Solidarity Day to be observed on 5th of next month: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says “Kashmir Solidarity Day” will be observed on 5th of the next month in a befitting manner to highlight the Kashmir issue and express solidarity with the people of Occupied Kashmir.

This he said during a meeting with a four-member delegation of Kashmiri leaders in Islamabad on Wednesday.

He said Pakistan will continue its political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri brethren in achieving their right to self-determination and will not let the sacrifices of the armless Kashmiris specially the innocent women and children to go in vain.

The Foreign Minister said the human rights situation in Occupied Kashmir is further deteriorating with unabated use of force by India against civilians.

He, however, said that Pakistan will continue to raise the Kashmir issue at the International fora, exposing the Indian atrocities.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan’s viewpoint on Kashmir issue has also been vindicated by the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner’s Report and other international reports on the matter.

The Minister said Pakistan also reiterated its demand to the UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés during her recent visit to Islamabad that Jammu and Kashmir issue must be resolved under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions

The delegation thanked the foreign minister for raising the Kashmir issue at all the international forums including the United Nations to draw the attention of world nations towards this important issue.

Government to present ‘mini-budget’ shortly in National Assembly

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government will announce a package of measures to shore up strained public finances in a “mini-budget” on Wednesday that comes only months after the government presented its last finance plan in September.

The “mini-budget” will be presented in the National Assembly by Finance Minister Asad Umar shortly.

Measures are expected to include higher taxes on luxury items, mobile phones, and large cars as well as cuts in import duty for some machinery and raw materials imports to try to boost local industry and help exporters.

But the main thrust of the package will be on creating better conditions for investment in an economy struggling from severe pressure on its public finances and facing a balance of payments crisis with foreign exchange reserves sufficient to cover less than two months of imports.

“This is not just about taxation measures, it is about encouraging investment, whether in the stock exchange, industry, financial sector or other,” said Khaqan Hassan Najeeb, a senior adviser at the finance ministry.

With economic growth expected to slow this year to 4 percent, from 5.8 percent in 2018, a yawning current account deficit, and a fiscal deficit set to hit 6.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2019, according to IMF estimates, Pakistan needs to get control of its public finances.

“On the fiscal side, there’s more to be done. They really need to find ways to bring the fiscal deficit down,” said Raza Jafri, executive director of research at Intermarket Securities.

Since coming to power in August, much of the government’s focus has been in staving off a balance of payments crisis and it has opened talks with the International Monetary Fund, although there has been no agreement so far on the terms of what would be Pakistan’s 13th IMF bailout since the 1980s.

Finance Minister Umar Asad, who was quoted earlier this month as saying there was no immediate need for an IMF package, arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday from a visit to Qatar with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The visit was aimed at securing agreement to cut the price of liquefied natural gas from Qatar and secure a credit facility to defer payments on gas imports, part of a broader drive to secure financing from sources other than the IMF.

An accord with Qatar would follow similar arrangements with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which have offered deals to defer payment for oil imports in addition to billions of dollars in loans.

High imports of capital goods, many related to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) development project — part of China’s mammoth Belt and Road Initiative — as well as strong demand for consumer goods and energy costs have driven a wider current account deficit.

But despite a sharp devaluation of the Pakistani rupee, which has lost about 25 percent of its value over the past year, and a steep drop in oil prices over the past three months, exports have been slow to pick up.