NAB finds more ‘illegal transactions’ of Shehbaz’s sons

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday detected another $2.9 million alleged money laundering transactions of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s sons – Hamza and Salman.

“Hamza Shehbaz (opposition leader in Punjab Assembly) and Salman Shehbaz had laundered $2.9m through 18 persons, most of them never visited the United Kingdom,” an official source told Dawn on Thursday.

All the suspects involved in facilitating Shehbaz’s sons had no record in the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), thus NAB has termed them ‘ghost remitters’.

They have been identified as Faiz Rasool, Muhammad Saqib, Muhammad Shakoor, Pervaiz, Muhammd Kamal, Muhammad Sarwar, Muhammad Kashif, Anees Mughal, Faisal Rasool, Iftikhar, Nisar Ahmed, Bashir, Noor Alam, Muhammad Moosa, Younas, Umer Hussain, Mansoor and Anjum Ali.

Bureau to make fresh evidence part of reference

“Through the Usman Exchange Company this laundering of $2.9m through 177 transactions was made by Hamza and Salman,” he said, adding the NAB would make the new evidence part of the reference filed against the Shehbaz family.

According to a fresh NAB report, “Not only have the family members of Shehbaz Sharif accepted and utilised foreign remittances from ‘fake/ghost’ remitters all of them have duly acknowledged their receipts into their personal bank accounts in black and white. They signed the bank’s ‘Due Diligence Forms’ for inward remittances and also Form R required under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. These 177 fake foreign remittances in the name of fake foreign investment remitters coming from them either from business relations, cousins or friends for the purpose of investment in business.”

An accountability court last week had indicted Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz and eight other suspects in a Rs7 billion reference of money laundering and assets beyond means.

Denying the charges as false and fabricated, Mr Shehbaz said he had been victimised on political grounds. He said all the cases pending against him had been engineered by his political opponents.

As the suspects pleaded not guilty, the judge directed the NAB to present its witnesses on the next hearing for their evidence.

The reference mainly accused Shehbaz of being a beneficiary of the assets held in the name of his family members and benamidars, who had no sources to acquire such assets.

The reference said Shehbaz and his family failed to justify the sources of funds used for acquisition of assets.

Both Shehbaz and Hamza are in Kot Lakhpat jail on judicial remand. Salman is absconding in the UK.

Prince William ‘tentatively’ welcomes new probe into 1995 Diana interview

Prince William has “tentatively welcomed” an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding a BBC interview in 1995 with his mother, Princess Diana, royal officials said on Thursday.

William, who is second in line to the throne, said in a statement that the probe is “a step in the right direction”, He added that it “should help establish the truth behind the actions” that led to the interview as well as “subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time”.

The BBC announced Wednesday it has appointed a retired senior judge to lead an investigation into the 1995 interview after Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, made renewed complaints this month that journalist Martin Bashir used false documents and other dishonest tactics to convince Diana to agree to the interview.

The investigation will consider if the steps taken by the broadcaster and Bashir were appropriate, and whether those actions influenced Diana’s decision to give the interview. It will also look into how much the BBC knew about the “mocked-up bank statements” that Charles Spencer claimed Bashir produced, purporting to show payments made to staff working for Spencer and the royal family.

The 1995 interview, in which Diana famously said “there were three of us in this marriage” — referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles — was watched by millions of people and sent shockwaves through the monarchy.

Diana divorced from Charles in 1996 and died in a Paris car crash in 1997 as she was pursued by paparazzi. Charles married Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.

ISI, Rangers officials involved in Sindh IG incident removed: ISPR

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Tuesday said that officials of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, involved in the “Karachi incident” have been removed pending further departmental proceedings for acting “overzealously”.

In a statement, the military’s media affairs wing said that the court of inquiry constituted to redress the grievances of the Sindh inspector general, on the orders of Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, has been completed.

“The court of inquiry has established that on the night of Oct 18/Oct 19, officers from Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and ISI sector Headquarters Karachi were considerably seized with the fall out of the desecration of Mazar-e-Quaid.

“They were under increasing public pressure to ensure prompt action as per the law. Assessing the response of police authorities against this developing yet volatile situation to be slow and wanting, in a charged environment, the concerned officers decided to act, rather overzealously,” the ISPR statement said.

“They were indeed experienced enough to have acted more prudently and could have avoided creating an unwarranted situation that led to the misunderstanding between the two state institutions.

“Based on the recommendations of the court of inquiry, it has been decided to remove the concerned officers from their current assignments for further departmental proceedings and disposal at GHQ,” the statement added.

Last month, the ISPR said the Army chief had taken notice of and ordered an immediate inquiry into the “Karachi incident”.

At the time, the ISPR did not specify which incident it was referring to. However, the statement came minutes after PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called on Gen Bajwa and ISI Director General Faiz Hameed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of PML-N leader retired Capt Mohammad Safdar in Karachi.

On October 19, Safdar, who was staying at a Karachi hotel with his wife — PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz — was arrested for “violating the sanctity of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum” a day after the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had staged a rally in the city.

Following Safdar’s arrest, a purported voice message by PML-N leader and former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair was shared by a journalist in which Zubair alleged that the inspector general of police was kidnapped and forced to register the first information report against Maryam, her husband Safdar and 200 others for violating the sanctity of Quaid’s mausoleum.

In the audio clip circulating on Twitter, Zubair said that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah confirmed to him that police was pressured into making the arrest. “When they (police) refused to do that, Rangers kidnapped [the IGP],” Zubair had said.

Maryam had also alleged that the Sindh police chief was forcibly “taken to the sector commander’s office and asked to sign on the arrest orders”.

The Sindh chief minister had addressed a press conference later and said that a ministerial committee would investigate the mysterious “circumstances” that led to the early morning raid on Maryam’s hotel room and arrest of her husband, but defended the police action against Safdar once an FIR had been lodged against him.

However, the presser had failed to convince the police hierarchy that was in low morale following the episode and had applied for leaves en masse. Later, Sindh IGP Mushtaq Mahar had decided to defer his own leave for 10 days and ordered his officers to do the same after Gen Bajwa took notice of the incident, spoke to Bilawal over the phone and promised an immediate inquiry.

At the start of the month, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had said that the inquiry into the “alleged abduction” of the Sindh inspector general and additional inspector general, and the “storming of Maryam’s room” had not been made public despite Gen Bajwa’s “personal assurance”.

“Does this nation have the right to know the reasons for delay? The matter wasn’t so complicated to have taken more than few hours,” he had said on Twitter

Pandemic of covid 19 and vaccine

Research: Tauqee Riaz

Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A newly identified coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has caused a worldwide pandemic of respiratory illness, called COVID-19

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus that emerged in China in December 2019.

It appears that symptoms are showing up in people within 14 days of exposure to the virus.

COVID-19 symptoms include cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, headache, new fatigue, nausea or vomiting and congestion or runny nose. COVID-19 can be severe, and some cases have caused death.

The new coronavirus can be spread from person to person. It is diagnosed with a laboratory test.

 Prevention involves frequent hand-washing, coughing into the bend of your elbow, staying home when you are sick and wearing a cloth face covering if you can’t practice physical distancing. Researchers know that the new coronavirus is spread through droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets generally do not travel more than a few feet, and they fall to the ground (or onto surfaces) in a few seconds — this is why physical distancing is effective in preventing the spread.

COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan, a city in China, in December 2019. Although health officials are still tracing the exact source of this new coronavirus, early hypotheses thought it may be linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, China. Some people who visited the market developed viral pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus. A study that came out on Jan. 25, 2020, notes that the individual with the first reported case became ill on Dec. 1, 2019, and had no link to the seafood market. Investigations are ongoing as to how this virus originated and spread. 

As World Health Organization(WHO), the best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. 

WHO advisory to the world is to protect yourself and others from COVID-19

If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, Washing your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Check local advice where you live and work. Do it all!

Maintain at least a 1-metre distance between yourself and others to reduce your risk of infection when they cough, sneeze or speak. Maintain an even greater distance between yourself and others when indoors. The further away, the better. Washi your hands before you put your mask on, as well as before and after you take it off. Make sure it covers both your nose, mouth and chin. Wear a fabric mask unless you’re in a particular risk group. This is especially important when you can’t stay physically distanced, particularly in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor settings.

Don’t forget the basics of good hygiene, regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. This eliminates germs including viruses that may be on your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and infect you. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately into a closed bin and wash your hands. By following good ‘respiratory hygiene’, you protect the people around you from viruses, which cause colds, flu and COVID-19.Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently especially those which are regularly touched, such as door handles, faucets and phone screens.

Latest report in New York Time that Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective

Pfizer announced positive early results from its coronavirus vaccine trial, cementing the lead in a frenzied global race that has unfolded at record-breaking speed. The drug maker Pfizer announced on Monday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19, a promising development as the world has waited anxiously for any positive news about a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people.

Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with the German drug maker BioTech, released only sparse details from its clinical trial, based on the first formal review of the data by an outside panel of experts. Pfizer plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine later this month, after it has collected the recommended two months of safety data. By the end of the year it will have manufactured enough doses to immunize 15 million to 20 million people, company executives have said.

Pfizer believes it will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year, and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

If you want your life to get back to normal, then we need a vaccine.

Even now, the vast majority of people are still vulnerable to a coronavirus infection. It is only the restrictions on our lives that are preventing more people from dying.

But vaccines safely teach our bodies to fight the infection. This can either stop us catching coronavirus in the first place or at least make Covid less deadly.

The vaccine, alongside better treatments, is “the” exit strategy.

Biden camp considers legal action over agency’s delay in recognising transition

Reuters Report

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is considering legal action over a federal agency’s delay in recognising the Democrat’s victory over US President Donald Trump in last week’s election, a Biden official said on Monday.

The General Services Administration (GSA) normally recognises a presidential candidate when it becomes clear who has won an election so that a transition of power can begin.

That has not yet happened despite US television and news networks declaring Biden the winner on Saturday after he secured enough electoral votes to secure the presidency.

The law does not clearly spell out when the GSA must act, but Biden transition officials say their victory is clear and a delay is not justified, even as Trump refuses to concede defeat.

Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that there was widespread voting fraud and has filed a raft of lawsuits to challenge the results.

Election officials across the country say there has been no evidence of significant fraud, and legal experts say Trump’s efforts are unlikely to succeed.

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, appointed by Trump in 2017, has not yet determined that “a winner is clear,” a spokeswoman said. A source close to Murphy said she was a thorough professional who would take her time making a careful decision.

A Biden transition official told reporters on a call that it was time for the GSA’s administration to grant what is known as an ascertainment recognising the president-elect, and said the transition team would consider legal action if it was not granted.

“Legal action is certainly a possibility, but there are other options as well that we’re considering,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declining to outline other options.

The delay is costing the Biden team access to millions of dollars in federal funding and the ability to meet with officials at intelligence agencies and other departments.

The transition team needs to be recognised to access funds for salaries, consultants and travel, as well as access to classified information, the official said.

In addition, the team has no access to the State Department, which usually facilitates calls between foreign leaders and the president-elect, the official said.

A senior administration official said the agency did not approve the start of a formal transition process in 2000 for five weeks while Republican George W Bush and Democrat Al Gore battled over an election that came down to just hundreds of votes in Florida.