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LHC orders Punjab govt to decide on Lakhvi’s detention in 5 days

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday ordered the Punjab government to make a decision regarding the detention of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, main accused in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, within five days.

Lakhvi filed the petition to seek a direction for the Punjab home secretary to decide his detention matter in the light of an order passed by Islamabad High Court. ─ AFP/File

Lakhvi had submitted an application in the LHC with two pleas — one which challenged his detention and the other regarding contempt of court against the federal and provincial governments. He had adopted the stance that his detention was illegal and in contempt of Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

The application also said that the Punjab home secretary should be bound to end his detention.

The petition sought the court’s direction for the Punjab home secretary to decide the matter of Lakhvi’s detention in the light of an order, earlier passed by IHC.

Last week, the judge had dismissed a similar petition of Lakhvi, directing him to file a representation before the Okara district coordination officer (DCO).

The IHC had set aside third-time detention of Lakhvi and ordered the authorities to release him immediately. However, before his release, the Okara DCO on March 14 had issued a fresh detention order against Lakhvi.

Justice Mahmood Maqbool Bajwa presided over today’s hearing and dismissed Lakhvi’s plea regarding contempt of court by the federal and provincial governments.

The court also ordered the Punjab home secretary to make a decision in relation to Lakhvi’s detention in five days’ time.

Lakhvi, a central leader of Jamatud Dawa, is accused of being mastermind of the Mumbai attacks that killed at least 166 people in 2008.

Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday summoned interior secretary and district coordination officer (DCO) Okara in a contempt of court petition filed by Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi against his 30 days detention orders under maintenance of public order (MPO).

The same bench had set aside his detention on March 13, directing the government “to immediately release the petitioner (Lakhvi), if he is not required in any other case”.

The same day on March 13, DCO Okara had issued his detention orders for further 30 days under the MPO.

Counsel for Lakhvi, Raja Rizwan Abbasi advocate, argued before the court that the IHC bench had declared his client’s detention order by district magistrate Islamabad as illegal. But the DCO Okara issued his detention order which is a contempt of court.

The IHC bench directed the respondents to submit their reply by April 14 and adjourned the hearing.

Saudi Arabia, allies launch air strikes against Houthis in Yemen

WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia said Thursday that five Muslim countries including Egypt and Pakistan want to participate in the Gulf-led military coalition against Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen.

5513724ef2725Together with Jordan, Morocco and Sudan, they have “expressed desire to participate in the operation” against the rebels, which the kingdom dubbed “Firmness Storm”, Saudi SPA state news agency said.

Saudi Arabia and four other Gulf states, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, announced earlier a decision to “answer the call of President Hadi to protect Yemen and his people from the aggression of the (Shia) Houthi militia.“

The Kingdom and its allies launched air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters, who have tightened their grip in southern city of Aden where the country’s president had taken refuge, the Saudi envoy to Washington said on Wednesday.

The kingdom’s ambassador to the United States announced from Washington that a coalition of 10 countries, including the five Gulf monarchies, had been set up to protect the Yemeni government.

He declined to give any information on Hadi’s whereabouts, but said the president, who has fled his residence, was still running the government along with members of his Cabinet.

Jubeir said Iranian-backed Houthi Shia militants were now in control of the Yemeni air force and of the country’s ballistic weapons.

“This is a very dangerous situation and we must do everything we can, to protect the people of Yemen and protect the legitimate government of Yemen,” Jubeir told a news conference at the embassy.

He told reporters that Saudi Arabia had consulted with the United States but that Washington was not participating in the military operation.

A US official who asked not be named told Reuters that the United States was providing support to Saudi Arabia as it carries out its operation, but gave no details.

Jubeir said the operation, which was launched at 2300 GMT on Wednesday in response to a request for assistance by Hadi, was not limited to one particular city or region.

“We have air assets from a number of countries in the kingdom and we have military assets that are on their way to the kingdom to participate in these operations,” Jubeir said.

Jubeir did not name any of the countries involved in the “10-strong coalition” but said it included Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Arab allies.

Ayyan’s lawyers submit documents of property deal

RAWALPINDI: Investigators in the Ayyan Ali money laundering case will be visiting Bahria Town office in Rawalpindi to verify her claim that the money found in her possession was earned through the sale of five residential plots.

5513a61c2d628A source close to the investigation team revealed that the model submitted records of sale of five files for residential plots, jointly owned by her brother and her to the customs investigators on Wednesday.

Ayyan Ali’s lawyer submitted documents detailing the deal, according to which a person named Mumtaz had bought the plots from the siblings, on behalf of Najeeb Haroon, a Dubai-based businessman. According to a source, Mr Haroon is said to have close links with a former federal minister.

The documents submitted include stamp papers and details of the deal written on a piece of paper with an estate agency’s letterhead. The model claimed that she had received payment for the plots she sold in US dollars, paid in cash. The deal amounts to $506,800.

According to sources, the investigators would be visiting Bahria Town’s Rawalpindi office in Phase 7 on Thursday to verify her claims of selling the plots.

The investigators believe that the challan in Ayyan’s case would be completed before her team of lawyers submitted her bail application, expected to be moved in the first week of April.

When Ayyan Ali was caught at Benazir Bhutto International Airport, attempting to take over $500,000 in cash with her to Dubai, she told the investigators that documents detailing her assets would be submitted to them by her lawyers.

Last Thursday, she told a customs team that she came to Islamabad to finalise the property deal and stayed for a night. She also told the team that she does not want to see her father who abandoned her when she was in high school.

She also claimed that someone who is jealous of her success may be behind this recent fiasco.

Meanwhile, despite repeated attempts, investigators have been unable to get their hands on her phone records. Both her phones were blocked as soon as she was caught by customs staff.

Like other prisoners at Adiala Jail, Ayyan can buy things such as bottled water, juices, biscuits and sweets from the jail canteen. However, prisoners are not allowed to keep cash and so a prison bank account called P.P Account has been opened for her.

PM Nawaz meets with DG Rangers and Corps Commander Karachi

KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a meeting Wednesday with Director General (DG) Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar and Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar during his visit to Karachi.

5512939f8aac4During the meeting at Pakistan Air Force’s Faisal Base, the premier was also briefed on the ongoing targeted operation in the metropolis.

The DG Rangers and Karachi Corps Commander also briefed the premier on the city’s law and order situation.

The premier was also apprised over the ongoing targeted operation in the metropolis and the investigation carried out after the recent raid and arrests at Nine Zero.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah was also present in the meeting.

The Karachi operation will be brought to an eventual conclusion and peace will be restored in the city, PM Nawaz said.

Karachi operation not against any political party: PM Nawaz

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while addressing an awards distribution ceremony of the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) on Wednesday, said that the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi is not directed at any political party but only “criminals”.

His statement comes in the wake of the raid earlier this month by Rangers on the Nine Zero headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi’s Azizabad neighbourhood.

The raid, an unprecedented move by law enforcement agencies, drew heavy criticism from MQM leadership who alleged that such search operations were akin to “terrorism”.

The premier shed light on the government’s accomplishments in its fight against terrorism by terming the ongoing military operation against terrorists as “successful”.

PM Nawaz said that the government is on its way to eliminating terrorism from the country and that ongoing operations have destroyed militant networks and forced them to flee.

The premier reiterated his stance that the operation in Karachi was started with the consensus of all political parties. He further said that the operation in Sindh is not against any specific political party, but is targeting “criminals”.

He said that due to the operation, many crimes such as target killing, extortion and kidnapping for ransom have been curbed in Karachi. A peaceful Karachi is crucial to the economic progress of the country, the prime minister said.

He added that the 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) is being implemented successfully in all provinces of Pakistan.

The premier further said that the country has suffered the loss of a great number of lives and billions to its economy due to the fight against terror, hence the government will not stop until the fight reaches its logical conclusion.

He added that the government is striving to not only steer the country out of energy crisis but provide cheap electricity to the citizens and industries.

He said economic revival is a major challenge which cannot be overcome without overcoming the shortage of energy. He said that is why the Government is focusing on overcoming energy shortage and initiated different projects for this purpose.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar said the government is playing a role of facilitator and providing an enabling environment to the business community for economic progress of the country, Radio Pakistan reported.

He said today’s Pakistan is better than it was in May 2013 before the present government’s tenure and will further improve in the next three years.

Dar further said that all economic indicators are showing a positive trend. He said inflation is at the lowest level in thirteen years, GDP growth is at its highest level in six years and foreign exchange reserves have crossed $16 billion.

The premier later congratulated and distributed awards among the companies for their outstanding performance at the KSE.

The ceremony was also attended by Governor Sindh Ishratul Ibad, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Chairman KSE and Governor State Bank Ashraf Mahmood Wathra.

Move to bring back Altaf from UK under study, says Nisar

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan revealed on Tuesday that the government was examining legal possibilities of getting MQM chief Altaf Hussain extradited, and said that a decision on the matter might be reached over the next few days.

551226dc72b8cHe was answering a question on whether the government was in touch with Interpol over the possibility of bringing Altaf Hussain back to Pakistan.

The minister confirmed that he had discussed the FIR registered against Mr Hussain over threats to Rangers personnel, allegedly hurled during an interview with a private TV channel, with British High Commissioner Philip Barton, adding that this was not a secret.

He told reporters that he had asked the high commissioner what British law said about threats made by individuals residing in British territory, but denied handing over any documents to Mr Barton, who is currently in the UK.

The minister said that the MQM should continue as a political entity, since it had a large number of patriotic voters. Asked to comment on the complicated nature of the government’s relationship with the Muttahida, he said that the operation in Karachi had nothing to do with that party and that the action aimed to end crime in the city.

He recalled that security agencies had been given a specific mandate in Sept 2013 by all political parties. He said that MQM leader Farooq Sattar had proposed on Aug 27 that Karachi be handed over to the army, adding that the very next day he (Nisar) had promised action by civil armed forces on Muttahida’s request.

Replying to another question, he said the option to impose governor’s rule in Sindh was not on the table. The minister initially refused to comment on reports that Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad was on his way out and governor’s rule would be imposed in Sindh. “How can I comment on something that is not on the table,” he remarked after a brief pause.

Minister denies plan to impose governor’s rule in Sindh

He rejected the accusation that the execution of Saulat Mirza – convicted for killing former KESC managing director Shahid Hamid – had been put off to push the MQM against the wall.

He said that initially the execution was delayed for 72 hours at the request of Balochistan government. Alluding towards Saulat Mirza’s mysterious interview where he admitted to killing Mr Hamid on the orders of Altaf Hussain, the minister said that security agencies thought the statement should be investigated further.

He said a summary proposing a three-month delay in the date of his execution was sent to the president through the prime minister. “We have received a communication from the Prime Minister’s Office, asking about the next execution date and today we responded to it, informing that it is April 1.”

The interior minister said it was the discretion of the president to approve a delay and brushed aside an impression that the law had been broken in trying to put off the execution.

Asked how the interview of a death row prisoner had been obtained and where and when it was carried out, the minister said that an inquiry to this effect was currently under way.

He denied that names of MQM leaders had been placed on the Exit Control List in the light of Saulat Mirza’s statement and said that a new ECL policy would be introduced next week, setting a maximum limit of three years for a name to remain on the list.

The minister also said that the provinces had so far sent 50 terrorism cases for trial by military courts. He said that nine military courts had far been set up and an open and transparent system was in place to decide what case should go to the military courts.

He also said that reports about Mullah Fazlullah’s death in Tirah Valley were not confirmed.