Category Archives: ISLAMABAD

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.


CCI may restore magistracy system

ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: The Council of Common Interests, which is to meet on Wednesday, is expected to restore the Executive Magistracy System in the country, abolished during military rule of retired General Pervez Musharraf, through an amendment in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.

5508d5f0a6a37The federal government has been advocating restoration of the magistracy system to control the prices of essential commodities and almost all provincial governments have agreed during consultative meetings to support the proposal.

The meeting, to be presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and attended by all the provincial chief ministers (except Balochistan), has been convened after a gap of about 10 months even though the constitution requires the CCI to meet at least once in 90 days. The CCI also comprises three nominees of the prime minister, usually federal ministers.

A proposal by the ministry of petroleum and natural resources for re-regulation and price fixation of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by the government will also come up before the CCI. The LPG pricing was deregulated more than a decade ago, but its pricing had become a political issue because of skyrocketing increases by marketing companies and dealers. The petroleum ministry is now introducing Liquefied Petroleum Gas Production and Distribution Policy, 2014, to fix its pricing in the public sector.

The sources said the CCI was also expected to take up allocation of water for Islamabad and Rawalpindi from Indus River. Some provinces, particularly Sindh, had been opposing the allocation of water from Indus River for Rawalpindi and Islamabad out of combined pool and wanted its deduction from Punjab’s share.

The council is expected to consider an inquiry into corruption allegations in the Kacchi canal project and a request of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seeking monetary compensation for its water being used by Sindh and Punjab out of the water apportionment accord share because of lack of infrastructure in its territory. Sindh and Punjab have refused to pay for the inability of KP and Balochistan to use their share of water.

The meeting will consider purchase of up to 20 per cent of the right shares of the Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Oil and Gas Development Company Limited and Sui Southern Gas Company at their face value under the Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan.

The CCI will ponder over permanent absorption of federal employees transferred to provincial governments in the wake of 18th Amendment, many of whom have been unable to get their salaries and promotions over the years.

The council will be presented the Public Debt Management and Supervision Policy under which the federal government keeps a watch on contracting of foreign debt by the provinces, besides taking up the Pakistan Energy Efficiency & Energy Conserv­ation Bill, 2014, and Nepra’s annual report for 2012-13.

The CCI will consider the Pakistan Oil (Refining, Blending, Transportation, Storage and Marketing) Rules for action against violators of mandatory stocks by the refineries and oil marketing companies, particularly in the wake of recent petrol shortage in the country.

The ministry of petroleum and natural resources has brought up for CCI’s consideration the Shale Gas Interim Framework for the pilot projects to offer lucrative incentives for first three shale gas discoveries, requiring comparatively higher investments.

The meeting will also consider a bill for establishment of the Pakistan Halal Authority and a summary for amendment in the petroleum policy 2009 and 2012 and model petroleum concession agreement.

CENSUS: The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has recommended to the CCI that all provincial share of resources be allocated on the basis of 1998 census for the next 30 years.

The PBS has floated the proposal on the eve of the CCI meeting to freeze the population ratio of 1998 census to determine share of the provinces of seats of the National Assembly and distribution of shares among provinces under the new National Finance Commission award.

Although it is mandatory to conduct the census every decade, it has not been held for almost 17 years.

A summary submitted to the CCI secretariat shows that the PBS has proposed that the population census may be conducted in one go – the first three days for house listing operation and the following 15 days for main count.

The PBS said that the census may be held with 100 per cent support of armed forces, at man-to-man level as was done in 1998. “No other nationwide activity should be undertaken at least six months before and after the census operation.”

It proposed that the house listing carried out in April-May 2011 may be discarded. Rs13.330 billion may be allocated for conducting the census, the summary said.

According to officials of the ministry of finance and Nadra, the PBS proposals might be opposed by the provinces, especially Sindh and Balochistan.

An official in the finance ministry told Media that the PBS has ruled out the expansion or growth in three small provinces by suggesting freezing of resource distribution mechanism. “The proposal submitted by the PBS is the outcome of cut and paste policy of external models without considering the local context,” he said.

Official sources said that the CCI would discuss a draft policy aimed at giving incentives to motivate the private sector to generate electricity.

The meeting will discuss an amendment to the Indus River System Authority Act, 1992, seeking powers for Irsa to devise a mechanism for giving compensation to any province having a complaint that some other federating unit has stolen its water.

The amendment has been suggested by Balochistan, which accuses Sindh of stealing its water.

At present, the act authorises the authority to resolve only water disputes among the provinces.

The sources said that all other provinces were against the proposal because, according to them, the amendment would open a Pandora’s Box.

The issue of the provincial higher education commissions raised by Sindh is also on the agenda.

The sources said that like Punjab, Sindh had enacted a law to establish its own higher education commission under the 18th Amendment. But the law undermined the federal higher education commission and even repealed the law governing the federal body.

They said that this was unconstitutional and was expected to be opposed by the federal and all other provincial governments.

Prime Minister calls for CCI meeting after 9 month gap

ISLAMABAD: Amid concerns that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had not convened for over nine months, Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif has called a meeting of the CCI tomorrow at the PM office in Islamabad.

5507e09366f6cA spokesperson to the PM told NNP that the meeting would be chaired by the prime minister himself, and would be attended by the chief ministers of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan.

Additionally, chief secretaries and federal ministers who are members of the council would also be in attendance.

The meeting is expected to touch upon many issues of national interest. CCI meetings typically tackle a long agenda and are regarded as the highest decision-making forum in the government.

The discussion of controversial decisions such as the allocation of natural resources and the provincial budget is often reserved for council meetings as opposed to cabinet meetings.

Chief ministers at the CCI are expected to tackle the rationing of electricity and gas by province, and the census.

Earlier this week, members of the PPP, Syed Naveed Qamar, Shazia Marri, Dr Azra Fazal, Nafisa Shah and Belum Hasnain stated in a call-attention notice that the non-convening of the CCI meeting for nine months was “causing grave concern amongst the public”.

The PPP workers criticised the government for the delay in convening the CCI meeting, and accused the rulers of violating Article 153 of the Constitution.

Under sub-clause 3 of Article 153, the Council of Common Interests is required to meet at least once in three months. This provision was inserted in the constitution by means of the 18th Amendment.

The opposition wanted the CCI to take up a number of important national issues including the national census, privatisation of state institutions, and the change of route of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor.

Now, there is a fresh meeting reportedly scheduled for this week and perhaps, with the matter being taken up in parliament, it will finally be held.

Just a sample of the more than one dozen items on this week’s agenda further underlines the CCI’s relevance and importance. The population and housing census is to be discussed, as is the permanent absorption by the provincial governments of federal government employees transferred under the 18th Amendment.

In addition, amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code; the Indus River System Act, 1992 (which deals with water distribution between the provinces); and the federal petroleum policy are to be discussed.

Each one of those agenda items could consume an entire meeting by itself. Now, owing to the tardiness and neglect of the federal government, they are all on the agenda of the same meeting.

The neglect of the CCI also underlines a wider problem: the PML-N government’s almost total lack of interest in institution building and preference for ad hoc, extra-parliamentary and extra-institutional decision-making.

Mob lynching is ‘worst kind of terrorism’, says Nisar

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has reiterated his strong condemnation of the mob that brutally killed two men in the aftermath of the deadly church bombings in Lahore’s Youhanabad area, saying that the lynching witnessed on Sunday is “the worst form of terrorism”.

5507f8f3a3170Nisar, speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday, invoked the example of earlier attacks on imambargahs and mosques, and said that a violent mob reaction like that in Youhanabad was not witnessed in those incidents.

“A similar incident occurred right in the heart of Paris where a synagogue was attacked,” Nisar added, “But the minority Jews did not react violently in the French capital.”

While he acknowledged that minorities have been targeted in the country for the last 14 years, he added that heartrending incidents across the world do not trigger violent reactions like in Lahore.

Outline of Chaudhry Nisar’s address in Parliament:

  • Those involved in Youhanabad lynching will be punished
  • Not possible to secure every mosque, imambargah in the country
  • Shafqat Hussain case should not be politicised
  • Call for country to become an open, liberal, independent and democratic society

“Shias were attacked in Shikarpur and Quetta but no reaction was witnessed like the one in Lahore — what message did the burning of two men send to the world?” he said, adding that the burning of the two men and damage to government installations is the “worst form of terrorism”.

He added that the mob was promoting the agenda of terrorists. “The intention of the terrorists is to spread sectarian strife. Naeem was an innocent citizen,” Nisar said, referring to one of the deceased men who has been identified by his family.

Nisar expressed appreciation for the efforts of senior Christian leaders of Lahore to defuse the situation, but warned that strict action would be taken against those who lynched and burnt the two men. “The incident is a cause of humiliation for our country, police, courts and government.”

“We have recorded the faces of many culprits courtesy of the media, we shall take action against each and every one of them.”

He highlighted that the dead include “seven Muslims as well”, although he soon added, “I am giving this statement only to clarify the records since the death of one person, be it Muslim or Christian, is tantamount to the death of all humanity.”

‘Impossible to secure all places of worship’

Nisar admitted that it was not possible for authorities to secure each mosque and place of worship in the country.

He said police did not have enough manpower to depute three to four personnel at every place of worship let alone schools.

“We cannot shutdown our markets, schools or places of worship. This is what the terrorists want. We have to become an open, liberal, independent and democratic society,” said the federal interior minister adding that, “We have limitations, but there has been improvement.”

He also appealed for focus to be shifted on the improvement which has taken place in the country rather than on individual incidents.

Nisar said that the country is in a state of war and the nation will have to unite and remain prepared for any threat.

He appreciated the efforts of the parliament in maintaining unison in the country and said that through the combined efforts of the nation the terrorists will be sent to hell.

‘Do not politicise Shafqat Hussain case’

Earlier, the federal interior minister spoke about the issue pertaining to the execution of a condemned prisoner, Shafqat Hussain, who is said to have been juvenile at the time of committing the crime and appealed that the case should not be politicised.

“I respect the reaction to the issue but have to ask why the issue was not raised in and outside the courts when the ATC had handed down the punishment in 2004 or when the appeal was presented in a high court in 2006 and in the apex court in 2007,” Nisar said.

He further asked as to why had anyone not questioned the rejection of the convict’s appeal by the then president of Pakistan in 2012.

The federal interior minister said that the government had forwarded the proposal of conducting a DNA test of the prisoner and added that, “The Sindh government has written to us today that the DNA test of the convict cannot be conducted since it would negate all previous legal proceedings.”

He said that if the PPP or any other party wants a stay on the execution then they should also advise a way to prove that the age of the convict recorded in the official documents is incorrect.

Nisar reminded that any action in this regard would have to be taken within the next 36 hours as that is the deadline to the execution.

He also said that, “The rights of the aggrieved party have to be considered as well, as the victim was a seven-year-old boy from Karachi, as well as a Pakistani.”