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.

Federal cabinet approves, economic reforms package, mini-budget suggestions

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved the economic reforms package and recommendations for mini-budget which will likely be revealed today in the National Assembly session, sources said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan met senior leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) at his chambers in the Parliament House on Wednesday.

The premier chaired a special session of the federal cabinet to approve the mini-budget and export promotion package.

During the session, Finance Minister Asad Umar briefed the cabinet members on the mini-budget and export promotion package.

After the cabinet meeting, the prime minister summoned a PTI parliamentary party meeting, according to sources. The mini-budget and export promotion package will be presented before the National Assembly after the meetings.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend today’s NA session upon CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak’s green signal, sources further said.

Pakistan to present ‘mini-budget’ today amid balance of payments squeeze

The government was set to present the mini-budget on 21st   January; however, it was delayed till today as PM Imran Khan was on a two-day tour to Qatar.

“The mini-budget we will take measures to lower consumption and increase investment,”, Finance Minister Umar Asad had added. “The Finance Bill will highlight the benefits of investment and ease of doing business.”

Recommendation to hospitalize Nawaz was concealed, says Maryam

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz tweeted on Wednesday that the recommendation by government constituted boards of her father former prime minister Nawaz Sharif needing to be hospitalized was concealed and overlooked.

“What is shocking is that authorities sat on the reports compiled by government constituted boards and the recommendation that he needs to be hospitalized was conveniently concealed and overlooked.”

Nawaz Sharif who has been imprisoned at Kot Lakhpat jail since December 2018 following his conviction in a corruption reference in line with the Supreme Court’s July 2017 verdict, underwent a medical examination at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology on Tuesday and it was found that his heart is larger than normal.

A few days earlier, a team of doctors had examined Nawaz at the Kot Lakhpat jail. Nawaz’s blood samples had been sent to Jinnah Hospital and it was advised that he be taken to PIC for cardiac tests.