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Pakistan makes strong demarche to India on the worsening situation in (IIOJK) since its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019

The Indian Charge d’Affaires (Cd’A) in Islamabad was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today and conveyed Government of Pakistan’s unequivocal rejection of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK), which breached international law, UN Charter and the 4th Geneva Convention as well as several resolutions of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. A strong protest was registered over the series of illegitimate measures taken by Indian order to unilaterally alter the internationally recognized disputed status of the territory and to accentuate its brutal military occupation.

It was noted that even after the passage of three years since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019, there is no let-up in the strong-armed military siege of the occupied territory and the humanitarian and human rights situation continues to exacerbate. Extrajudicial killings, detentions and arrests, fake cases and bogus trials under the ambit of draconian laws and a compromised judicial system have become a norm in the IIOJK.

Pakistan’s categorical rejection of the report of the so-called “Delimitation Commission” was also reiterated. It was underscored that India cannot unilaterally alter the demographic composition of IIOJK under the garb of fake electoral reforms.

The Cd’A was reminded of Pakistan’s consistent demand that the Government of India must reverse its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019; immediately lift its inhuman military siege in IIOJK; stop its illegal measures to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory; cease extra-judicial killings of Kashmiri youth in fake encounters and cordon-and-search operations; release the illegally detained Kashmiri youth and political leadership; annul Hurriyat leader Mr. Yasin Malik’s fallacious life-sentence under fictitious charges and withdraw all other fabricated cases that have been mischievously spun around him; withdraw over 900,000 occupation troops from IIOJK; and let Kashmiris exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through a fair and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

Pakistan also once again calls upon the international community, international human rights organizations and particularly the United Nations and its human rights machinery to take cognizance of the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in IIOJK, hold India accountable for its reprehensible conduct, 

and ensure a just resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Al Qaeda leader Zawahiri killed in US drone strike in Afghanistan: Biden

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a US strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, American President Joe Biden said on Monday.

Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $25 million bounty on his head, helped coordinate the Sept 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the United States carried out a drone strike in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday morning at 6:18am local time.

“Now justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “We never back down.”

US intelligence determined with “high confidence” that the man killed was Zawahiri, a senior administration official told reporters. No other casualties occurred.

“Zawahiri continued to pose an active threat to US persons, interests and national security,” the official said on a conference call. “His death deals a significant blow to al Qaeda and will degrade the group’s ability to operate.”

There were rumors of Zawahiri’s death several times in recent years, and he was long reported to have been in poor health.

His death raises questions about whether Zawahiri received sanctuary from the Taliban following their takeover of Kabul in August 2021. The official said senior Taliban officials were aware of his presence in the city.

The drone attack is the first known US strike inside Afghanistan since US troops and diplomats left the country in August 2021.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that a strike took place and strongly condemned it, calling it a violation of “international principles.”

The senior US official said finding Zawahiri was the result of persistent counterterrorism work. The United States identified this year that Zawahiri’s wife, daughter and her children had relocated to a safe house in Kabul, then identified that Zawahiri was there as well, the official said.

“Once Zawahiri arrived at the location, we are not aware of him ever leaving the safe house,” the official said. He was identified multiple times on the balcony, where he was ultimately struck. He continued to produce videos from the house and some may be released after his death, the official said.

In the last few weeks, Biden convened officials to scrutinise the intelligence. He was updated throughout May and June and was briefed on July 1 on a proposed operation by intelligence leaders. On July 25, he received an updated report and authorised the strike once an opportunity was available.

A loud explosion echoed through Kabul early Sunday morning.

“A house was hit by a rocket in Sherpoor. There were no casualties as the house was empty,” Abdul Nafi Takor, spokesman of the interior ministry, said earlier.

One Taliban source, requesting anonymity, said there had been reports of at least one drone flying over Kabul that morning.

With other senior al Qaeda members, Zawahiri is believed to have plotted the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole naval vessel in Yemen which killed 17 US sailors and injured more than 30 others, the Rewards for Justice website said.

He was indicted in the United States for his role in the August 7, 1998, bombi

Donald Trump hints at 2024 run for president

WASHINGTON: Former US president Donald Trump returned to the US capital this week and delivered a speech that’s being interpreted as his first for the 2024 election campaign.

“As Trump speaks in Washington, his allies prepare for a second term,” The Washington Post reported. “Trump supporters are already working on a government-in-waiting if he wins re-election in 2024.”

Mr Trump, who left Washington in January 2021, without attending his successor Joe Biden’s inauguration, stayed away from the US capital till this week. He returned on Tuesday to speak at a think-tank — the American First Policy Institute — that he founded.

CNN, which strongly opposed Mr Trump during his first term, noted that the speech showed “his 2024 campaign would take the country down a dark and dangerous road”.

“I always say I ran the first time and I won, then I ran a second time and I did much better,” AFP quoted Trump as saying. “We may just have to do it again. We have to straighten out our country.”

The Guardian noted that Mr Trump “stopped short of outright declaring his candidacy,” but he did say that it would be his “very great honour” to run again, and that if he didn’t “our nation is doomed”.

The Post reported that in his “dystopian speech,” Mr Trump encouraged “tough, nasty and mean” responses to violent crime and the forcible relocation of homeless people to quickly-built tent cities in the suburbs.

Another Washington news source, Politico, hinted at the possibility of “a Biden-Trump rematch” in 2024 but noted that “neither side wants to move first”. Mr Trump said if he ran, he would not do so for personal gratification. “I’m not doing this for me because I had a very luxurious life. I had a very simple life. I do it because I love our country,” he said.

Pakistan condemns Indian attempts to politicize 44th Chess Olympiad being held in Chennai, India

Pakistan was invited by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to participate in the 44th Chess Olympiad scheduled to be held in Chennai, India, from 28 July to 10 August 2022. A Pakistani contingent was already training for this event.

Regrettably, India has chosen to politicize this prestigious international sporting event by passing the torch relay of this event through the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). The torch relay passed through Srinagar on 21 June 2022.

By passing the torch relay through IIOJK, in utter disregard of the globally acknowledged “disputed” status of the territory, India has committed a travesty that the international community cannot accept under any circumstances. India must know that by such provocative and indefensible actions, it can neither seek nor claim international legitimacy for its unjustifiable, illegal and tyrannical occupation of IIOJK continuing for over 7 decades.

As is well-known, Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognized “disputed” territory between Pakistan and India. The IIOJK has been under forcible and illegal occupation of India since 1947 and this dispute has remained on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council for more than seven decades. India is responsible for widespread atrocities and egregious human rights violations in IIOJK. Since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019, Indian occupation forces have extra-judicially killed more than 650 innocent Kashmiris. More ominously, India has been seeking to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory in flagrant violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions, international law, and the 4th Geneva Convention.

Pakistan condemns India’s mischievous attempt to mix politics with sports. As a protest, Pakistan has decided not to participate in the 44th Chess Olympiad and will also raise the matter with the International Chess Federation at the highest level.

Pakistan also strongly urges the international community to call upon India to end its gross and systematic violations of human rights in IIOJK, revoke its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019, and free all political prisoners including the true Kashmiri leaders.

Party head will also have to listen to parliamentary party’s opinion: CJP

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, while hearing a petition related to the recently held Punjab chief minister’s re-election, remarked on Monday that the party head “will also have to listen to the parliamentary party’s opinion”.

He made the remarks during the hearing of a petition filed by PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi challenging Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari’s decision in the chief minister’s re-election last week, which led to Hamza Shehbaz’s victory.

During the re-election, Mazari had decided against counting the votes of 10 PML-Q lawmakers, which were cast in Elahi’s favour, citing a letter written by PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in which he had instructed them to vote for Hamza instead.

A three-member bench, comprising Justices Bandial, Ijazul Ahsan and Munib Akhtar are hearing the petition. During the previous hearing on Saturday, they had allowed Hamza — who was re-elected on July 22 — to remain “trustee” chief minister till Monday (today).

There was a flurry of activity even before today’s hearing began as the coalition government reiterated its demand for the formation of a full court bench to hear cases related to hear the case related to the Punjab chief minister’s election.

At the same time, an Islamabad police official said only leaders of respondent parties would be allowed to enter the court premises with the permission of the SC administration.

He added that lists of leaders had been provided by political parties in this regard. “No rally, procession or gathering will be allowed in the Red Zone, including around the Supreme Court.”

Former SCBA chief asks for full bench

At the outset of the hearing, the bench called former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Latif Afridi to the rostrum.

The chief justice observed that several former SCBA presidents were present in the courtroom. The ongoing case was directly related to the SC’s interpretation of Article 63-A, he remarked.

Afridi said the country’s current political situation was “very complicated”.

“Our former presidents held a meeting. The SCBA’s petition for review [of the Article 63-A interpretation] is pending adjudication,” he informed the court.

Meanwhile, Afridi pointed out that cases challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to de-seat lawmakers over defection were also being heard.

A full-court bench should be formed to avoid a constitutional crisis, he requested the court. “The crises are deepening. The entire system is at stake.”

He requested the SC to form a full-court bench to hear all the cases together.

The deputy speaker’s lawyer, Irfan Qadir, also requested the court to constitute a full bench. At this, the CJP asked him the grounds on which a full court bench should be constituted.

Qadir requested the bench to read paragraphs one and two of its decision on the presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A, stating that everything would then be clarified.

“We aren’t here to fight,” he added.

‘Difference between political party and parliamentary party’

Article 63-A could not be read individually, Qadir argued. “The party head issues instructions to [members of] a political party.

“Political parties have an important role in parliamentary democracy. The democratic system can be endangered due to the weakness of political parties,” he continued.

Qadir termed defection from party policy a “cancer”.

Justice Ahsan observed that only the members who were part of the assembly were included in the parliamentary party. “There is a difference between political party and parliamentary party,” he remarked.

The judge questioned whether the same person could issue a declaration as well as instructions to the parliamentary party.

He remarked that the Constitution was clear regarding the declaration of defection.

Hamza’s lawyer, Mansoor Awan, informed the court that he had already submitted his client’s statement.

The chief justice asked which part of the SC verdict the deputy speaker referred to in his ruling. “Where is the paragraph on which the deputy speaker relied upon?”

Justice Ahsan also asked the same question to which Hamza’s lawyer replied that as per the SC’s verdict, votes cast against party policy would be rejected.

Justice Ahsan then asked if the party leader could also be the head of the parliamentary party.

Awan told the court that the deputy speaker’s ruling had relied on paragraph three of the SC verdict.

‘Parliamentary party’s authority’

Justice Akhtar observed that Article 63-A had been made part of the Constitution through the 14th Amendment and asked the counsel to present his legal arguments regarding the party head.

Awan responded that the 18th Amendment had further elaborated on Article 63-A. “According to the verdict of [former] justice Sheikh Azmat’s eight-member bench, all the decisions are taken by the party leader,” he said.

However, Justice Akhtar said that there were two rules to cast votes in accordance with the party policy. “Prior to the 18th Amendment, Article 63-A used to refer to the party head’s instruction.

“After the amendment, the party leader was replaced by the parliamentary party,” he observed.

The judge stated that there was ambiguity about the powers of the parliamentary party and the party chief prior to the amendment. “Following the amendment, according to Article 63-A, the parliamentary party was given the authority to issue directions,” Justice Akhtar observed.

Justice Akhtar observed there were rules to declare that a decision was against the Constitution.

Hamza’s lawyer contended that the court’s ruling on Article 63-A was contradictory to its previous decisions and reiterated that a full-court bench should be constituted.

“If a five-member bench feels that the previous decision of the court was incorrect, then a full bench can decide,” Awan said.

‘Party head’s dictatorship’

The chief justice recalled that a senior parliamentarian had informed the court during the hearing on the presidential reference that the party head could also be a ‘dictator’ which is why his role had been reduced and powers given to the parliamentary party instead.

“There are hereditary parties in Pakistan. How can a leader residing abroad issue instructions?” he asked.

Separately, Justice Ahsan observed that the Constitution empowers parliamentary representatives. The parliamentary party decides who to vote for in the assembly, he added.

“We protected the assembly members from the party head’s dictatorship in the presidential reference. Several members complained about the party head’s dictatorship,” Justice Bandial remarked.

“The party head will also have to listen to the opinion of the parliamentary party.”

Awan pointed out that the heads of four political parties were not part of the parliamentary party. “JUI-F is named after its head. Maulana Fazlur Rehman (its chief) is not part of the parliamentary party.

“The party head is answerable to the public, not the parliamentary party head,” he argued.

Justice Ahsan remarked that the party head’s role is very important. “It is the party head who decides to send the declaration against defecting members. The parliamentary party will give instructions on who to vote for and the reference is sent by the party head.”

He further remarked that a political party in essence is the same as its parliamentary party. “Those who are elected to the assembly by the public are the ones with the mandate.”

Justice Ahsan referred to the United Kingdom’s system, in which he said the party head had no role in the parliament.

‘Deputy speaker exceeded court’s interpretation’

Justice Ahsan remarked that the deputy speaker, while accepting the court’s decision as correct, referred to it in his ruling.

The deputy speaker’s lawyer, Irfan Qadir, said Mazari had referred to the verdict to the extent of rejecting the votes.

“This means that to the extent that the votes were rejected, the court’s decision was recognised,” the judge noted, adding that the court’s question was limited to whether the deputy speaker’s interpretation of the verdict was correct.

He also observed that the deputy speaker had “exceeded” the court’s interpretation in his ruling.

ECP verdict

Awan recalled that the ECP had accepted PTI chief Imran Khan’s instructions during the previous election.

Justice Ahsan questioned what connection the electoral body had to the case. However, the chief justice asked Awan to read out the ECP’s verdict.

Awan recalled that during the first election, Imran had issued directives to PTI members to vote for Elahi. When they had not done so, the ECP had de-seated them for not following Imran’s instructions, he told the court.

The counsel also presented a copy of Imran’s directives to the court.

Justice Ahsan remarked that there was a difference in the cases related to the previous election and the recent one. “The position of the MPAs in the ECP was that they had not received any party instructions,” he observed.

But, the judge continued, in the present case, the MPAs were saying that the parliamentary party had decided to vote for Elahi and no one had raised any objection.

The facts in this case and the one related to dissident MPAs were different, Justice Ahsan remarked, reiterating that the dissident lawmakers had said that they did not receive any directives or showcause notices.

“But the issue here is different,” he said. “All the 10 members cast their votes. No one voted for the other side. None of the 10 members said that the parliamentary meeting was not held.”

In the last hearing on Saturday, the court had summoned the deputy speaker but his lawyer had come in his place. The SC had also issued notices to Hamza, Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf, Punjab Advocate General Shahzad Shaukat and the province’s chief secretary.

It ruled that Hamza should work as per the Constitution and law during the time period. “As the chief minister, Hamza Shehbaz will not use his powers for political gains,” it stressed.

Separately, at one point during the hearing, Justice Bandial remarked that prime facie, the deputy speaker’s ruling was against the apex court’s verdict in the Article 63-A reference.

Hamza’s statement

Separately, Hamza’s lawyers submitted a concise statement on his behalf today, which noted that the votes of PML-Q MPAs in Elahi’s favour were disregarded on the basis of party president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s letter.

It also referred to the previous chief minister’s election, held on April 16, in which the PTI had issued similar instructions to its lawmakers. The 25 lawmakers, who had not voted in line with the party’s instructions, had been disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and their appeals were pending adjudication, it added.

“This honourable court has held that the party head enjoys a central and decisive role within the party, in the electoral process and in the parliament through parliamentary party which he directly controls and superintends … he has the direct power, influence and control over how the party shall act and function within and outside parliament.”

The statement said that the PTI’s instructions ahead of the first chief minister’s election, which were upheld by the ECP, and the SC’s judgement had formed the basis for the deputy speaker’s ruling.

The Supreme Court had not yet determined the validity of the ECP’s decision, which, combined with Article 63-A (related to disqualification of lawmakers over defection), “justified” the deputy speaker’s ruling, it said.

The statement further noted that if the apex court sets aside the ECP’s decision to disqualify the 25 MPAs, “the effect of that would be the declaration of defection given by party head of PTI dated 18.04.2022 would also be set at naught.

“As a consequence, the 25 votes would not stand excluded from the votes polled to [Hamza] in the first poll held on 16.04.2022. Resultantly, [Hamza], who had received 197 votes (more than 186 required in the first poll i.e. majority of total membership of the provincial assembly of Punjab), would be the duly elected chief minister, Punjab and the consequent second poll dated 22.07.2022 would be disregarded.”

The statement requested the court to constitute a full bench to hear together Elahi’s petition, the petition seeking a review of the SC’s interpretation of Article 63-A and appeals against the ECP’s decisions.

It also requested the court to dismiss Elahi’s petition.

PML-Q, PPP and JUI-F file petitions

Earlier today, the PPP, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and PML-Q filed separate petitions requesting the apex court to allow them to become parties in the case.

A petition filed on behalf of the PML-Q and its head Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain stated that instructions had been issued to all MPAs to vote in Hamza’s favour and a letter in this regard had also been sent to the deputy speaker.

Contrary to the orders, the MPAs had cast votes in Elahi’s favour which were disregarded by the deputy speaker, it noted.

“The petitioner (Elahi) has filed the instant petition challenging the ruling of the deputy speaker Punjab Assembly but has, for reasons best known to him, not impleaded the interveners who are the most important and necessary parties.”

In its petition, the JUI-F stated that the SC’s decision to summon Deputy Speaker Mazari “which was unprecedented and demeaning” to the office he holds.

“To curtail the powers of a constitutional office of chief minister through an interim order and that too without a constitutional or legal backing, will set a bad precedent for the constitutional courts and further deteriorate harmony among institutions.”

The petition also requested the apex court to constitute a full bench to hear the petition.

Separately, the PPP stated in its petition that since seven of its MPAs had voted for Hamza in the re-election, the party would be affected by the court’s decision on the petition and thus, should be allowed to become a respondent in the case.

“Refusing to hear the applicant would be oppressive to judicial conscience and would cause a perpetuity of injustice which would not be tolerated by a just judicial system.”

The election

During the election on Friday, Mazari rejected all 10 votes cast by the PML-Q on the pretext that they had violated the orders of their party chief, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, citing a letter he received from the patriarch which said he was asking his party lawmakers to back Hamza.

After counting the polled votes, the deputy speaker announced that Elahi bagged 186 votes, while Hamza could get 179 votes. However, he refrained from declaring Elahi the chief minister.

Instead, he indicated that as party chief, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s instructions to PML-Q members to vote for Hamza instead of Elahi held greater sway.

The deputy speaker then announced that Hamza had won the election of chief minister, since the 10 deducted votes reduced Elahi’s tally to 176, while Hamza remained on top with 179.

Elahi’s plea

In his petition, Elahi has requested the court to hold the deputy speaker’s ruling leading to Hamza’s re-election as “bogus and false”.

“Hamza Shehbaz may kindly be declared disqualified as the Punjab chief minister/ member of the provincial assembly,” the petition read.

It requested the court to declare the deputy speaker’s decision to discard the votes of 10 PML-Q lawmakers on grounds of Article 63-A of the Constitution as “unconstitutional”.

Instead, the petition said, the court may declare Elahi the “lawful returned candidate” and the PML-Q leader be allowed to take oath as the Punjab chief minister.

The petition further stated that Hamza should be restrained from taking the oath as the chief minister. It is pertinent to mention that Hamza had already been administered the oath of office by Punjab Governor Baleeghur Rehman earlier on Friday.