Cabinet’s proposed restructuring of CDA needs legal cover, interior ministry tells IHC

The Islamabad High Court heard a petition against the decision of the Cabinet to reorganize the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in which a written reply from the parties could not be submitted to the court.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the Islamabad High Court heard the case.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani in his remarks said that a brief decision on the reconstitution of CDA would be issued today.

Additional Secretary Home, Additional Secretary Cabinet, Member Admin CDA appeared in the court.

Kashif Ali Malik Advocate appeared in the court on behalf of CDA Labor Union.

The federal government, CDA and MCI could not submit a written reply to the court during today’s hearing, on which the apex court gave the parties more time to file their reply.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani asked what the federal government wants to do with the proposed plan.

The Additional Home Secretary informed him that the proposed plan is still only an advisory, the plan will be formulated and sent to the federal cabinet and then the cabinet will decide.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani inquired whether any department was going to a ministry or whether it was a plan now.

The Additional Secretary Home Affairs said that no such decision has been taken so far with regard to CDA.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani said that without amending the law, CDA departments could not be run under any ministry.

Ge said, it seems that the cabinet is not satisfied with the recent performance of CDA.

The CDA member admin told the court that no work has been done on this letter so far and we have not received it yet.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani said that this is just a dream, while the petition was filed very quickly.

Islamabad High Court adjourned the case till July 17.


Former JI emir Syed Munawar Hasan passes away in Karachi

Former Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Syed Munawar Hasan passed away on Friday at a hospital in Karachi where he was under treatment for the past few days.

Hasan was born in Delhi in August 1941, a fortnight before Abul A’ala Maududi launched the JI. In the late 1950s, after aligning himself with the National Students Federation, he crossed over to Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba.

Elected emir in 2009 with around 70pc votes for the first term, Munawar Hasan started losing his popularity within the party after JI’s poor showing in the 2013 general elections. He served as the fourth JI chief from 2009 to 2014.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif offered his condolences to the deceased’s family and to party workers.

“His services to Pakistan and commitment to Islam were unwavering. May Allah rest his soul in peace!”

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari prayed for the deceased’s family and offered his condolences.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also offered his condolences. “I spent a lot of time with Syed Munawar Hasan. He was a man with a happy disposition. He made valuable contributions to politics,” he said.

Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that Hasan was a strong voice for Muslims all across the world

Afghan envoy meets army chief, PPP chairman

ISLAMABAD: With progress on the much-anticipated intra-Afghan talks again being impeded by familiar challenges, Afghanistan’s envoy to Pakistan Atif Mashal on Thursday reached out to Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa for a discussion on the peace process.

“Today I met with Pakistan COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa and discussed follow up of matters arising from his recent Kabul visit, Afghan peace process, upcoming APAPPS meeting, strengthening bilateral relations and the current situation in the region,” Mr Mashal tweeted after the meeting.

Gen Bajwa had on June 9 visited Kabul for assuring the Afghan leadership about Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace process. His visit had taken place in the midst of progress towards the initiation of the intra-Afghan dialogue, which had raised hopes about the prospects of ending the 19-year-long conflict in Afghanistan.

However, lately the exchange of prisoners between Afghan government and the Taliban has once again slowed down. Kabul is still to release another about 1,250 of the agreed 5,000 insurgent fighters, while Taliban is to set free about 400 of the 1,000 captured Afghan security personnel.

Prisoner swap between the two sides has been taking place under the Doha agreement that was signed by the US and the insurgent group in February and is a prerequisite for the start of intra-Afghan talks.

Prisoner exchange between Afghan government and the Taliban has slowed down again

The release of prisoners is a major issue that has been delaying the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, which were originally scheduled for March 10. Pakistan had facilitated the signing of the agreement.

Meanwhile, there has also been a sharp spike in violence in Afghanistan.

Chief of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah has warned that increased violence would damage the peace process.

“Where does it get us? If the current level of violence continues… and then the people leave Kabul [for Doha] in order to start talks [with the Taliban], but with the news of hundreds of people being killed recently, including civilians, that will not be a good environment for the start of negotiations,” Abdullah was quoted by VOA as having said.

The Afghan envoy later met Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at his residence in Islamabad, according to a statement by the political party.

The two, the PPP said, “discussed matters of mutual interests and exchanged thoughts on strengthening bilateral relationship between both countries”.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that the PPP always believed that a democratic, stable and peaceful Afghanistan was vital for peace and harmony in the region.

He called for greater cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan for peace, development and stability.

Etihad Airways suspends flights from Pakistan

RAWALPINDI: Etihad Airways on Thursday suspended its flight operations from Pakistan, a day after several passengers who had travelled to Hong Kong by another airliner tested positive for Covid-19.

Etihad Airways is the third airline of the UAE after Fly Dubai and Emirates to have temporarily suspended its flight operation for outbound passengers.

An official of Etihad Airways, who did­n’t give his name, told Dawn that the outbound flights of Etihad Airways had been suspended till July 1. He didn’t give any reason for the suspension of flight operations from Pakistan, but hinted that the suspension of outbound flights might be exte­nded. However, he added, inbound flights would continue to operate for Pakistan.

Etihad Airways resumed its two weekly flights from Karachi and Lahore on June 13 after a gap of 55 days and was planning to operate flights from Islamabad. The airline earlier suspended flights to Pakistan on March 21 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, refuting reports of suspension of its passenger services, a spokesman from Qatar Airways told Dawn that the airline’s operations to and from Pakistan are continuing.

Suspension of Etihad flight operations till July 1 won’t affect inbound flights

Earlier, Fly Dubai had suspended its flight operations for Pakistan till August 1 due to the spread of coronavirus. A senior official of Fly Dubai said special flights to repatriate UAE nationals were still operating from Pakistan.

Just a day ago, Emirates, which had been operating flights from Pakistan to Dubai, had temporarily suspended passenger service from the country until next week. However, Emirates will continue to operate repatriation flights into Pakistan as per announced schedule and continue to operate cargo services. A spokesman for the airline said: “Following the announcement of positive Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong relating to certain passengers who travelled on out flights, Emirates has taken the decision to temporarily suspend passenger services from Pakistan.”

Correction: This story had earlier erroneously reported that Qatar Airways had also suspended its flight operations to Pakistan. The error is regretted.

Speaker suspends proposal for cuts in NA, Senate budgets

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government on Thursday faced embarrassment when for the first time in the country’s history the speaker of the National Assembly suspended one of the budgetary proposals, terming it “unconstitutional”.

Speaker Asad Qaiser gave the ruling amidst desk-thumping by the opposition as well as some of the treasury members after three different ministers, including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, refused to withdraw the proposal to cut the budgetary allocations for the National Assembly and the Senate despite his repeated requests.

The issue was first raised by PTI lawmaker from Mianwali Amjid Ali Khan and then by Syed Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) while discussing the recommendations of the Senate after conclusion of the general debate on the federal budget.

The Senate through its recommendations had asked the government to restore the original budget of the Senate passed by its finance committee. The senators had declared the cut of Rs170 million in the Senate budget as “unconstitutional”.ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

Mr Qamar and Mr Khan endorsed the Senate recommendation and drew the attention of the speaker towards the similar cut to the budget of the National Assembly.

Ruling given after ministers’ refusal to withdraw suggestion

Quoting Article 88(1) of the Constitution, Mr Qamar said the government and the finance minister had actually interfered in the powers of the speaker by cutting the budget of the two houses of parliament.

Article 88(1) of the Constitution states that “the expenditure of the National Assembly and the Senate within authorised appropriations shall be controlled by the National Assembly or, as the case may be, the Senate acting on the advice of its Finance Committee.”

The MNA said the finance committee had become a constitutional committee and the executive could in no way override its decisions.

Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar, who had presented the budget, was speechless when the speaker repeatedly asked him to explain under what law he had announced cuts in the budgets of the two houses of parliament.

At this point, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan and Foreign Minister Qureshi requested the chair to defer the matter, saying the government would agree to whatever the finance committee would recommend.

However, on the insistence of the two MNAs, the speaker asked Mr Azhar to withdraw the proposal, but he once again sought time.

The speaker then finally issued the ruling leaving the ministers red-faced.

“I want to bring it on record that he (the minister) had no powers to do it and he has exceeded his powers. And I suspend it,” the speaker announced.

Mr Qureshi took the floor again, only to say that “we bow before your ruling”.

Earlier in the day, the MQM lawmakers staged a walkout over prolonged power outages in Karachi and Hyderabad.

The issue of budget cuts was first raised in the Senate by Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif of the MQM, who said the government had no jurisdiction to slash the budget of Senate. Later, Javed Abbasi of the PML-N termed the move an attempt against supremacy of parliament and referred to Article 81 of the Constitution, which deals with expenditure charged upon federal consolidated fund. He said the article specifically mentions the administrative expenses, including the salary of the staff of the two houses of parliament.

Meanwhile, PPP’s Senator Raza Rabbani hailed the speaker’s ruling, saying the federal government had violated the Constitution by cutting the budget of the Senate.

“This reflects the scant respect they have for parliament and the Constitution. What can you expect when the budget is prepared over two telephone calls with staffers of the IMF?” Mr Rabbani said in a statement.

He said the international donors had contempt for democratic institutions in Pakistan and with “their lackeys” in key positions they did not miss any opportunity to weaken federalism, the democratic process and Constitution.