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Punjab govt terms family's killing in Sahiwal encounter 'collateral damage'

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat on Sunday termed the killings of three members of the same family in a Sahiwal police 'encounter' "collateral damage" — caused during security personnel's attempt to eliminate a suspected terrorist who along with his accomplices could cause large-scale destruction.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore alongside members of the cabinet, Basharat said the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials did not intend to "directly" harm deceased Khalil's family during Saturday's operation, but ended up killing them as collateral damage while targeting Zeeshan, a family friend and neighbour of Khalil who the minister said had alleged links with Daesh, a proscribed terrorist organisation.

In what law enforcers described as an encounter with terrorists, the elite Punjab police had on Saturday killed four people, including parents Khalil and Nabeela, their teenage daughter, and neighbour Zeeshan, sending shock waves across the country as one of the three surviving children who were witness to the episode denied the official version in a video that went viral on social media.

Basharat said that the team that took part in the operation had been taken into custody and its supervisor had been suspended.

A joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with probing the 'encounter' will present its findings to the Punjab government within three days, he said, adding that a first information report had been registered at the family's request.

The provincial law minister revealed that the Punjab home department had issued a notification for the creation of a "high-powered JIT" which will be headed by Additional IG Ijaz Hussain Shah.

He announced that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had approved a Rs20 million compensation for the family whose three members were killed during the alleged shootout between CTD personnel and suspected terrorists in Qadirabad.

He also announced that the Punjab government will bear the expenses for the education of the surviving children "till whatever stage they want to study", but also noted that financial support cannot be a replacement for such a huge loss.

The announcement came as the funeral prayers of the four deceased were offered on Sunday evening.

'Links to Daesh'

Raja Basharat told reporters that for some time Zeeshan had links to a "dangerous network" of Daesh — Arabic acronym for the militant Islamic State group — and was working with them. He claimed that this network was responsible for the murder of intelligence officials in Multan, the kidnapping of former premier Yousuf Raza Gillani's son, Ali Haider, and the murder of two police officials in Faisalabad.

Basharat revealed that in the murder of the ISI officers in Multan, a silver Honda City car was used which police and agencies were searching for. On January 13, the Honda City was spotted allegedly carrying terrorists to Sahiwal.

When footage from the Safe City cameras was looked at, it was discovered that Zeeshan's white Suzuki Alto was "also with the terrorists' car", the minister said.

He added that they would also share the video and pictures from the Safe City cameras which would show that Zeeshan's car "was also being used by the terrorists". CCTV footage from January 13 was later shown at the press conference in which a silver Honda City could be seen trailing behind a white Alto.

According to the minister, after tracing the car, surveillance footage between January 13 and 18 was reviewed and on January 18 it was "verified that Zeeshan was working with terrorists".

The same day (Jan 18), agency personnel reached Zeeshan's house and found terrorists present there along with explosive material, Basharat claimed.

He said since Zeeshan's house was located in a congested area, conducting an operation there was not feasible. He added that if an operation had been conducted there, many peoples' lives and houses would have been put in danger's way. It was therefore decided to wait for the suspected terrorists to leave in the car.

On January 19, the Safe City cameras spotted the white Alto in Manga area going from Sahiwal, Basharat said. Security agencies were informed of this development and because the car had gone outside Lahore, the CTD team was informed to stop the vehicle.

According to intelligence gathered at the time, the terrorists were "carrying explosives" and there was information that they were headed towards some congested area, Basharat said.

"When the car was stopped in Sahiwal, firing took place," the minister said, without elaborating. He added that the car's windows were "black" and people sitting on the back seat could not be seen. Zeeshan was driving the car himself, Basharat said.

He said the JIT formed has been tasked with determining "how and why the firing had taken place". Further action on the incident will be taken based on the JIT's report, he added.

CTD's stance

Quoting the stance of the CTD, the minister said Zeeshan had opened the fire first, but he noted that there was also the family's stance "which is why a determination of the incident is necessary".

He said the investigation team will determine why Khalil's family was travelling with Zeeshan and what relation Khalil had with Zeeshan.

Basharat claimed that two suicide jackets, eight hand grenades, two pistols and bullets were recovered from Zeeshan's car.

The JIT will also determine where Zeeshan was allegedly carrying these weapons and explosives and from whom he received them.

According to the minister, after news broke of the incident on Saturday afternoon, two terrorists present at Zeeshan's house saw the news on social media and fled the residence to go towards Gujranwala. He said agencies tracked these suspected terrorists and when CTD personnel surrounded them in Gujranwala, they "blew themselves up with suicide jackets".

He said if these terrorists had not been followed, they could have caused "very large-scale destruction in Punjab", adding that many threat alerts had been received on the matter.

"The elimination of these terrorists was necessary" which is why the ISI and CTD conducted this joint operation, Basharat said.

Recapping the chain of events that culminated in the deaths, Basharat said this operation was done on the basis of intelligence "because of which a lot of innocent citizens' lives have been saved".

He said Zeeshan was killed in Sahiwal on Saturday afternoon, and two other suspected terrorists, Abdur Rehman and Kashif, were killed in Gujranwala the same day at 11pm "which was a continuation of this same operation".

"Unfortunately because of the valuable loss of the Khalil family the credibility of this operation has been challenged," Basharat remarked, reading from a paper.

The minister assured that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Punjab chief minister felt the pain of the affected family and based on their orders, the family will be provided justice. "No sort of compromises will be made with anyone in this matter," he stressed.

"I believe that this is the credibility of the current government, that without any discrimination we have to fulfil the requisites of justice," he said, promising that those found responsible in the incident will be brought to justice.

In response to a question, he said the government will act on the observations of the JIT and clarified that the government "does not acknowledge any stance of the CTD"; it will acknowledge the stance of the JIT instead, he added.

Contradictions in official versions

Varying versions put forward at different stages following the incident cast doubts over the CTD's initial explanation.

The news broke when the CTD told the media that four suspects were killed in an encounter at the Sahiwal toll plaza near Qadirabad on the Lahore-Multan motorway at noon. The officials initially described the shooting as a daring attempt of the law enforcers to rescue a group of kidnapped children from their captors.

However, it was soon replaced by another explanation by the officials who said some dangerous terrorists with links to Daesh were travelling in the car which was intercepted by the police near the toll plaza.

The situation took a new twist when a minor son of the deceased parents, Umair, narrated the firing incident in a video that flashed on television screens in the afternoon.

The young boy’s account lent credence to the reports about the incident possibly being a case of mistaken identity.

He said the family was fired upon out of nowhere as they were travelling to Burewala from Lahore to attend the wedding of a paternal uncle of his.

“My father told them to take the money but spare us,” he said. The child denied that there were any weapons in the car.

Some witnesses quoted widely by TV channels corroborated the assertion that there had been no firing from those travelling in the ill-fated car. One witness said the elite police forced the vehicle to stop and fired at the car occupants from a close range.

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PM Khan to leave for Qatar today on 2-day visit

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday will leave for Qatar on a two-day visit at the invitation of the country's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, RadioPakistan reported.

The premier is expected to hold meetings with the Qatari emir and prime minister to discuss matters of mutual interest. According to RadioPakistan, the prime minister will also discuss the matter of exporting labour to Qatar.

In December last year, Qatar had opened a visa facilitation centre in Islamabad for swift processing of visas of members of the Pakistan workforce wishing to work in Qatar. Doha has also promised 100,000 jobs for Pakistani workers, and the government is in talks with the Qatari government to adjust skilled members of the labour force returning from Saudi Arabia.

Last week, the Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had also said that the prime minister "may request the Qatar government to provide a credit facility for LNG supplies and revise the prices" during his visit to Doha. Finance Minister Asad Umar and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have already visited Doha one after another in recent weeks and are understood to have put the matter on the table, according to Sarwar.

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3 gunned down in lawyer's chambers at Pakpattan court

Two murder suspects and a legal clerk were gunned down in a lawyer's chambers in a court in Pakpattan on Monday.

Four people were in the chambers of Advocate Shaukat Wattoo where hearing of a murder case was underway, police spokesman Muhammad Asif said.

Two brothers nominated in the murder case, Ibrahim and Ifrahim Malkana, had arrived for a hearing to secure interim bail. Asif said, adding that the brothers, along with a lawyer's clerk, were shot dead while one man was injured in the shooting and shifted to a hospital for treatment.

The incident sparked panic across the court premises, with people fleeing the building fearing an attack.

Police have imposed a curfew in the city and are searching for the shooters. Samples of blood and shells of bullets recovered from the crime scene have been sent to Lahore for forensic tests and bodies of the victims are being shifted to District Headquarters Hospital for a post-mortem examination, the spokesperson said.

A first information report will be filed when a complainant comes forward to lodge a case, police said.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar took notice of the incident and ordered a detailed report on the incident.

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Couple caught in crossfire between police, suspects in Karachi

KARACHI: A man and his pregnant wife were wounded in firing carried out by police during an encounter with suspects who had snatched an official rifle in the Korangi area on Sunday night.

According to Awami Colony police and hospital officials, two policemen riding a motorbike tried to stop two suspects also on a motorcycle in Korangi-5 near Model Park. The suspects stopped and snatched the official rifle from one of the policemen. They fled after abandoning the rifle at a short distance.

Take a look: How the system failed us

DIG East Amir Farooqi admitted that passers-by Adnan Arfeen, 32, and Saqiba Khan, 28, sustained bullet injuries in the firing carried out by police.

The injured were taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the hospital, said that the injured woman was pregnant and her condition was serious.

She said the woman had received bullet wounds in her chest and shoulder, while her husband sustained bullet wound in his head, but his condition was stable.

Police were investigating the case.

Meanwhile, Sindh IGP Dr Syed Kaleem Imam took notice of injuries to the couple in police firing and sought a detailed inquiry report from the Korangi SSP, said a police spokesperson.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019

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US withdrawal to drag neighbours back into Afghan war, warns report

WASHINGTON: The Taliban will lose interest in negotiating peace and Afghanistan’s neighbours will get even more involved in war if the United States withdrew its forces, a US report warns.

But a Republican senator, Rand Paul, said after a recent meeting with Donald Trump that the US president was ready to end America’s 17-year involvement in Afghanistan.

The report — co-authored by two former US special envoys for Afghanistan and two former defence officials — highlights the consequences of a possible withdrawal of half of the 14,000 US from Afghanistan that President Trump suggested last month.

The report — written for the RAND Corporation, a US think-tank that specialises in defence affairs — argues that Pakistan, Russia, Iran, India and Uzbekistan, have a history of backing various ethnic groups, such as the Pashtuns, Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara.

“These relationships will likely be reinforced as the central government’s financial base collapses, its writ weakens, and its cohesion erodes,” the report warns, adding that a US withdrawal will do both — undermine the Kabul government and weaken the Afghan economy.

“Pakistan has long tolerated and facilitated use of its territory by the Taliban. In the event of a precipitous US withdrawal, Pak­istan will likely become more open in its backing,” the report claims.

Pakistan has long rejected such claims as “negative speculations”, insisting instead that it no longer allows any terrorist group to use its territories for carrying out attacks inside Afghanistan.

The authors also note that since 2001, Russia and Iran have generally supported the Kabul government but, in recent years, they have also “provided limited aid to the Taliban as a hedge”.

They point out that the Taliban’s main goal in “recently energised” talks with the US “is a negotiated timetable for a US military withdrawal”. An early withdrawal, they argue, will cause the insurgents to “lose interest in negotiating peace with the United States”.

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and (right) Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah speak to media at the election commission’s offices on Sunday after they were registered as candidates for the presidential election to be held in July.—AFP
KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and (right) Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah speak to media at the election commission’s offices on Sunday after they were registered as candidates for the presidential election to be held in July.—AFP

The authors also underline US expectations from the talks: Taliban forswearing ties with extremist groups, denying such groups access to Afghan territory, and becoming part of a new Afghan political and security architecture that is agreed upon among Afghans.

“If Taliban leaders receive or come to expect a cost-free US withdrawal, they will have little incentive to bargain with the United States or with the US-backed Afghan government,” the authors warn.

The report also highlights other consequences of an early US withdrawal, such as: Other North Atlantic Treaty Organi­sation (Nato) forces also leave Afghanistan. The US and other international civilian presence is sharply reduced. External economic and security assistance diminishes. Power moves from the centre to the periphery. Responsibility for security increasingly devolves to regional militias and local warlords.

The Taliban extend their control over territory and population but encounters resistance. Afghanistan descends into a wider civil war.

Civilian deaths rise sharply and refugee flows increase. Extremist groups, including Al Qaeda and Daesh, gain additional scope to organise, recruit and initiate terrorist attacks against US regional and homeland targets.

Senator Paul, however, says that he returned with his White House meeting with President Trump with the impression that he believes “we’ve been at war too long and in too many places”.

In general, “the idea is that we’re going to do things differently. We’re not going to stay forever. The Afghans will have to step up”, he added.

The report’s authors include James Dobbins, a former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Jason H. Campbell, former country director for the US Secretary of Defence, Sean Mann, a former analyst for the US Special Operations Joint Task Force, Laurel E. Miller, an acting special representative from 2016 to 2017.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019

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Chinese firms concerned over Gwadar Master Plan approval delay

GWADAR: Chinese companies, which prepared the Gwadar Master Plan Smart City, have expressed concern over delay in its approval by the federal government.

Sources said that the Gwadar Master Plan Smart City was prepared by China Communication Construction Company Limited and Fourth Harbour Engineering Investigation at a cost of Rs521 million, including a Chinese grant of Rs425m and Rs91m provided by the government of Pakistan.

The sources said the companies had started work on the master plan in August 2017 and completed it in December 2018 and forwarded the plan to the federal government for approval, but it has not been approved so far.

“The plan is with the steering committee of the planning and development department,” a senior official told Dawn in Gwadar.

The governing body of the Gwadar Development Authority had already approved the plan.

“Chinese companies have expressed displeasure over the delay in approval of the plan by the steering committee of the planning and development department and warned the government of Pakistan will have to pay extra cost caused by the delay,” the official said.

He said the delay would also affect other projects.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019

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Fake accounts case referred to NAB Rawalpindi

ISLAMABAD: After three days of deliberations in the light of the Supreme Court’s orders, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal has referred the fake bank accounts and money laundering case to the bureau’s Rawalpindi office.

Now Rawalpindi NAB Director General Irfan Mangi, who was a member of the joint investigation team (JIT) in Panama Papers leak case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, will supervise the case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, other top leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and real estate tycoon Malik Riaz.

The Supreme Court in its judgement had directed the NAB to file a reference against the accused in the accountability court, Rawalpindi / Islamabad and not at Karachi.

“Investigation against Bilawal and Murad Ali Shah will continue but their names will be removed from ECL,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said.

The same officer who was part of JIT in Panama Papers case will supervise the matter against Zardari, Malik Riaz

Initially, the NAB starts an inquiry on a complaint and in case some credible evidences are found the inquiry is turned into an investigation and after that it is decided whether a reference should be filed in the accountability court or not.

In this specific case Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had said the NAB will not go for an inquiry but will start investigation on the basis of inquiry conducted by the JIT formed by the Supreme Court.

The JIT in its report has accused 172 people of having fake bank accounts and indulging in money laundering. They include PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz.

According to the Supreme Court’s order, over 170 accused including Asif Zardari, Faryal Talpur and Malik Riaz will continue to remain on the ECL. The court asked the anti-corruption watchdog to conclude its investigation within two months.

Those found guilty of corruption will have two options: either to face a reference or ask for a plea bargain.

While the JIT had recommended 16 references against the accused, it was up to NAB how it would treat them.

During the NAB investigation the accused will have to tell that how Bahria Town grew in Karachi and how state land was handed over to it.

The government has claimed that an inquiry into fake accounts had been started in 2015 by then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019

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Politicians welcome CJP’s call for dialogue

ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the country’s three main political parties have cautiously welcomed the call of new Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa for holding an “intra-institutional dialogue aimed at framing a charter of governance”, but also sought clarity on its details.

A number of senior leaders and office-bearers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), when contacted to seek their comments on the CJP’s proposal, said they could not speak on behalf of their respective parties since the issue had so far not been deliberated upon at the party level. While cautiously welcoming the CJP’s suggestion, they said that such an idea had been floated by various personalities and leaders in the past too, but no one took the initiative to materialise it.

Speaking at a full court reference held in honour of former CJP Mian Saqib Nisar last week, Justice Khosa had proposed an inter-institutional dialogue for developing what he called a charter of governance, saying that they had reached “a stage in our national life where we must take stock of the mistakes committed in the past and come up with a charter of governance to ensure that such mistakes are not repeated”.

“I would request the worthy president of Pakistan to convene a meeting and to chair the deliberations which should also be attended by top parliamentary leadership, the top judicial leadership and the top executive leadership, including the military and the intelligence agencies,” he had suggested.

“After bringing all major stakeholders in national governance to one table, efforts should be made to heal the wounds of the past, attend to the sore points and work out a practicable policy framework where every organ and institution of the state exercises its powers and performs its functions within its constitutionally defined limits,” Justice Khosa had proposed, adding that the sole purpose of the inter-institutional dialogue should be to bolster constitutionalism and rule of law, strengthen democracy and create an environment where the state and all its organs and institutions may be able to devote their wholehearted attention to the real issues of the citizens.

“CJP Khosa has uttered some very fine, laudable (and) inspiring words. However, we have heard such great words before also but later disappointed,” writes PPP secretary general Farhatullah Khan Babar on his official social media account on Twitter on Sunday.

“Welcome laudable words, applause after words translated into actions. Welcome expressions of pious intentions, applause only after actions,” he concludes.

It was former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani who had floated the idea of holding intra-institutional dialogue for the first time. Addressing a national seminar in Quetta in August 2017, he had underlined the need for developing a consensus on a framework under which all state institutions worked within the domain of the 1973 Constitution and offered them the platform of the Senate for dialogue on constitutional issues in this regard.

Later, while presiding over the Senate sittings, he had repeatedly stated that the Constitution had determined the parameters for all state institutions and they must work under these boundaries. According to Mr Rabbani, parliament is the weakest institution in the country as in the past it was not allowed to function by imposing martial law and using the notorious Article 58-2(b) and “now new tactics are being used to defang it”.

When contacted to seek his comments on the new CJP’s remarks, Mr Rabbani said he believed that instead of the president, the forum of parliament should be used for initiating such a dialogue among all state institutions. He explained that the Presidency had a “baggage” with it as in the past it had played a major role in the country’s politics and with the insertion of Article 58-2(b) in the Constitution, it had become the centre of politics. He recalled that there was a time when a term “troika” was used frequently for the president, prime minister and army chief.

Moreover, Mr Rabbani said, he was opposed to the idea of giving any role to the Presidency in the holding of such dialogue against the backdrop of an “ongoing campaign” to discredit parliament and introduce a presidential form of system in the country. The PPP stalwart said the complex problems being faced by the country could only be solved through intra-institutional dialogue.

Similarly, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb also welcomed the idea of holding intra-institutional dialogue, but said the “Constitution should be the driving force”.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while talking in a TV talk show recently, also called for a dialogue among all institutions to steer the country out of the present political mess.

On the other hand, Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz of the ruling PTI said the CJP’s remarks required some elaboration as presently all institutions were already on one page. However, he said that he personally thought that the country was still not running the way it should be.

He said that holding of a national dialogue was not a bad idea and the government was ready to take every step which would make the country progressive, democratic and prosperous. He endorsed the CJP’s views that the president should take the initiative of intra-institutional dialogue as the latter was a part of parliament.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019

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Rain turns Karachi weather pleasant

KARACHI: The weather in the city turned pleasant after many areas received light rain on Sunday evening.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department forecast more rain in the city on Monday (today).

A weatherman said that Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, University Road, Bahadurabad, I.I. Chundrigar Road, Burnes Road, Defence, Malir, Federal B Area and other parts of the city received light rain while it was drizzling in some other areas.

Met Office’s Karachi director Abdul Rasheed said that the weather would turn chillier in the city due to rain, as the current spell would also continue on Monday.

The minimum temperature recorded in the city on Sunday was 13 degrees centigrade. The weatherman said due to rain followed by strong winds the minimum temperature would drop to 11 degrees centigrade on Monday.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019

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PSO in dire straits as launch of Rs200bn bond delayed

ISLAMABAD: The delay in the launch of Rs200 billion Islamic bond to rescue the troubled energy sector has put the largest state-owned firm — Pakistan State Oil (PSO) — in dire straits with its receivables going beyond a record Rs364bn.

A senior petroleum ministry official said receivables from the power sector alone had touched Rs265bn as of Jan 18 because of primary circular debt. In addition, a second tier circular debt worth Rs51bn has built up against the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) due to non-payment of LNG supplies, affecting the entire gas sector.

Moreover, about Rs48bn are payable to the PSO by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the federal government on account of price differential claims and exchange rate loss.

The country’s largest fuel supplier has been pressing the petroleum and finance division for the release of at least Rs100bn to ensure smooth supplies of LNG and other petroleum products. About Rs43bn worth of letters of credit to foreign suppliers have become due, besides around Rs15bn to local refineries.

Finance ministry and consortium of six banks agreed to launch Sukuk Bond by mid-Jan to bail out power sector entities

“Instead of releasing funds as promised, the government is grilling PSO for ordering LNG cargoes during low tide season,” said an official, adding that Finance Minister Asad Umar had promised two weeks ago that the funds would reach the PSO in a week. “That still remains a dream after two weeks,” he said.

Sources said two factors had caused the delay in fund raising. First, the finance ministry was expecting the launch of Rs200bn worth of Islamic Sukuk Bond no later than Jan 10-15 based on a decision taken by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet early last month. This did not materialise due to last-minute differences over return on profit following recent hikes in the policy rate of the State Bank of Pakistan.

Second, the sources said, former SNGPL managing director Amjad Latif had given a commitment to arrange around Rs25bn with the approval of its board of directors through its own borrowing to scale down LNG payables to the PSO. But Mr Latif lost his job on the orders of the prime minister on the issue of gas shortage and the SNGPL did not take up the borrowing option for approval.

This coincided with refusal of the master of Qatargas’s ship carrying LNG to enter the channel because of inadequate draught amid low tide. The port authorities failed to convince the ship operators to enter Port Qasim for LNG unloading and re-gasification for a couple of days as the shipper declined to risk security of the ship in violation of standard operating procedures notwithstanding past precedents.

The finance ministry and a consortium of six banks had in December last year agreed to launch the Rs200bn Pakistan Musharqa Sukuk Bond by the middle of January to bail out power sector entities. The bond was aimed at providing funds to the Power Holding Private Limited (PHPL) — an asset-less, state-owned shell entity.

The government had agreed to create a special desk at the SBP for coordinating tasks with the banks participating in the transaction, mainly for maintaining accounts and ensuring seamless repayments. The consortium led by Meezan Islamic Bank comprised Bank Islami Pakistan, Faysal Bank Limited, MCB Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank and Al-Baraka Bank.

The financing will be declared statutory liquidity ratio eligible by the government and the SBP. The assets, belonging to a number of public sector power companies, will remain mortgaged in favour of the financiers and the bond will be backed by a government guarantee. It was agreed at the time that the bond will have a 10-year maturity at a rental return of a base rate plus a margin of 100 basis points and Takaful cost.

The base rate will be defined as six-month Karachi Interbank Offered Rate (Kibor) asking side prevailing on the base rate setting date, subject to a floor and cap.

The bond will entail half-yearly rental repayments from the date of drawdown and repayment will be made directly by the central bank on the basis of a budgetary allocation by the finance ministry, which will issue standing instructions to direct debit for return and maturity repayment at the SBP counter.

The funds will be used to service payables of the oil and gas sector that is beset with a circular debt of more than Rs1.3 trillion, including a fresh flow of about Rs700bn. The government has already built up syndicated term finance facilities of Rs607.03bn in the name of PHPL for funding repayment liabilities of distribution companies (Discos). The conventional banks are not ready to commit more funds to the sector. To deliver on this, the boards of directors of all Discos and generating companies had agreed to pledge the properties/assets in the trust for banks.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019

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Family members of man killed in Sahiwal 'encounter' end protest after talks with police

A compromise was reached between police officials and the protesting family members of Zeeshan Javaid, the man killed in Saturday's police 'encounter' in Sahiwal who the Punjab government alleges had links with Daesh, a proscribed terrorist organisation, DawnNewsTV reported.

Zeeshan's body, which was earlier lying on the road as his relatives protested on Sunday evening, was taken away by his family to be buried after talks were held between the police and the family members with assurances provided that justice will be served. The deceased was subsequently laid to rest.

Earlier in the day, following Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat's remarks regarding Zeeshan's association with Daesh, Zeeshan's younger brother, Ehtisham, had categorically denied the allegations and demanded that the law minister step down from his post.

Ehtisham, who is a member of Punjab police's elite Dolphin Force, demanded justice for his older brother who he said was completely innocent.

"They labelled my brother a terrorist to hide their own cruelty," Ehtisham had said while protesting on Lahore's Ferozpur road.

Relatives and friends of Zeeshan, including a sizable number of women, had gathered to protest at the Chungi Amar Saadhu area of Ferozpur road.

"If Zeeshan is a terrorist then all the residents of the area and the entire neighbourhood are terrorists," Ehtisham had said, adding that "until the law minister resigns, the body [of Zeeshan] will lie right here".

The body of Zeeshan Javaid surrounded by protesters. — DawnNewsTV
The body of Zeeshan Javaid surrounded by protesters. — DawnNewsTV

The protesters had also demanded that the chief justice look into the matter and form a judicial commission.

Meanwhile, the three others killed in the horrifying incident — Khalil, Nabila and their teenage daughter Areeba — were laid to rest at the Shehre Khamosha graveyard in Lahore.

Funeral prayers of the deceased were not attended by any government representatives, DawnNewsTV reported.

'At the wrong place at the wrong time'

Meanwhile, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar while addressing a news conference in Lahore earlier in the day said that incidents such as the Sahiwal 'encounter' take place all over the world.

"Whenever such an incident takes place, there is always a hue and cry: 'Is this the state of Madina (you had promised)? Is this Naya Pakistan?' Such incidents take place all over the world," he remarked.

"Punjab does not have the presence of Rangers ... it is the CTD who have alone tackled terrorism. When an incident occurs, instead of blaming the people responsible, we condemn the entire organisation," he said while appreciating the services the CTD has rendered to deal with "the menace of terrorism".

"Please do not condemn the intelligence agencies," he added.

"One thing is absolutely clear, the family members [of Khalil Ahmed] were innocent victims of the crime who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. But the intelligence agencies have irrefutable evidence regarding the car they were travelling in," the governor concluded.

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CPEC scope to be widened, says Bakhtiar

LAHORE: Pakistan has decided to widen the scope of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), says Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Khusro Bakhtiar.

Unveiling the CPEC’s new vision during a news conference here on Sunday, he said Pakistan and China had signed agreements for industrial, agriculture and socio-economic development projects under the CPEC.

Mr Bakhtiar said Pakistan would reinforce its economic growth and if everything went as per plans the country would jump from the low-income countries’ group to the middle-income countries’ group in the next three to five years.

He said the CPEC’s Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting in Beijing had agreed to expand the corridor project with industrial, agriculture and socio-economic developments, besides promoting the petrochemical chain, hydrocarbon sector, as well as maritime sector to tap potential.

He said that since China had $4,000 ­billion global trade, including $2,200 ­billion exports, Islamabad had urged Beijing to generate push factor by bringing its light engineering and manufacturing industry to Pakistan. “Pakistan will generate pull factor to expand manufacturing base that is shrinking for the past many years,” he added.

Planning minister says Pakistan will reinforce economic growth to get out of low income countries’ group

Lamenting that Pakistan’s exports were just around $25 billion, the planning minister asserted that his government would bring Pakistan out of the quagmire of ­economic challenges. He said the industrial cooperation with China would help relocate industry and operationalisation of four special economic zones (SEZs) in Rashakai, Dhabeji, Faisalabad and Islamabad.

He said that these four SEZs could help increase Pakistan’s exports by $6.5 billion and reduce imports by $3 billion while manufacturing the required items. “Pakistan’s trade deficit can be reduced by $9.5 billion in a matter of three years,” he said.

Asserting that Pakistan’s major challenge was to increase exports, he claimed that Pakistan imported less this year and its trade deficit decreased by 19 per cent.

Stating that agriculture constituted Pakistan’s 25pc of GDP, Mr Bakhtiar regretted the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government did not make agriculture a focus point in the the CPEC project. “The PTI government has signed Agriculture Framework agreement some five years after the launch of corridor project in 2013 and its first joint working group meeting has been scheduled for next month,” he said.

Explaining ground realities, Mr Bakhtiar said China was importing beef, mutton and chicken to the tune of $7 billion, but Pakistan showed zero exports. Similarly, China is also importing fisheries products, with a minimal share from Pakistan. “In agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors, we can gain benefit in short-term,” he said.

Regretting that the previous government had ignored Gwadar, he said the present government was finalising the Gwadar master plan. Saudi Arabia and the UAE had already shown their interests in investing around $7 billion in the petrochemical chain and hydrocarbon industry, he said, adding that coastal development would boost the country’s fisheries sector

$1bn Chinese grant

The planning minister said that China had agreed to give a grant of $1 billion for development of education, health, irrigation and less-developed areas.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was focusing on poverty alleviation and in this regard the government had planned six pilot projects. The Chinese model will be adopted for poverty alleviation in the country. “The prime minister has also constituted a Poverty Alleviation Coordina­tion Council to launch interventions and meet people’s basic needs,” he added.

He said Pakistan wanted to upgrade railways (ML-1) from Peshawar to Karachi, expedite work on western corridor and Quetta-Zhob connectivity. “Pakistan plans projects on a build-operate-transfer basis so that they become self-sustainable and viable,” he added.

In the power sector, he said the government would be focusing more on generating cheap electricity than going after expensive solutions.

In order to propel the pace of development and growth, he said the JCC had been proposed to meet twice, while working groups meet thrice a year. In order to remove secrecy regime, he said, the prime minister had finalised the constitution of a Business Advisory Council.

He said the south Punjab secretariat, having complete administrative and financial autonomy, would begin working before June 30. Asserting that the south Punjab province would be created on administrative grounds, he said the incumbent government would need support from the opposition parties to bring amendments to the Constitution.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019

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US senator Graham says he’ll ask Trump to meet Pakistan, Afghan leaders

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday that he will urge President Donald Trump to meet with the leadership of Pakistan and Afghanistan so that they can devise a plan to end Afghanistan’s 17-year war, the US’s longest military engagement.

Graham spoke at a news conference in Islamabad after meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has previously faced criticism for suggesting peace talks should include the Taliban.

“I think they will hit it off” if they meet as they have “similar personalities,” said Graham of the proposed meeting between Trump and Khan.

The senator praised Prime Minister Khan's vision to advocate for a political solution to the Afghan conflict.

Senator Lindsey Graham praised Prime Minister Imran Khan's vision to advocate for a political solution to the Afghan conflict. — Photo courtesy: PM Office
Senator Lindsey Graham praised Prime Minister Imran Khan's vision to advocate for a political solution to the Afghan conflict. — Photo courtesy: PM Office

The South Carolina Republican, who is close to President Donald Trump, conveyed his appreciation for Pakistan's positive role in the ongoing efforts to find a political settlement in Afghanistan, a press release issued by the Prime Minister's Office said.

Graham is one of the staunchest advocates of US military presence in Syria and Afghanistan.

During the meeting, the two discussed bilateral ties and reviewed the regional security situation as Graham lauded Khan's vision to improve the economy, eliminate corruption and create jobs for Pakistanis. The senator said that the premier's efforts to normalise relations with neighbouring countries were "noteworthy".

Talking to the senator, Prime Minister Khan reiterated the government's commitment to continue working with the US and other regional stakeholders to find a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

He highlighted the need for normalising relations with all neighbouring countries to "unleash the potential of regional cooperation".

The premier added that his economic team was constantly striving to evolve business-friendly policies for potential investors which could be benefitted by American companies.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with US Senator Lindsey Graham in Islamabad on Sunday. — Photo courtesy Dr Mohammad Faisal Twitter
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with US Senator Lindsey Graham in Islamabad on Sunday. — Photo courtesy Dr Mohammad Faisal Twitter

The two sides agreed to deepen bilateral economic ties, particularly in relation to trade and investment cooperation.

The Republican also called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier today. During the meeting, the two exchanged views on issues relating to bilateral cooperation, the situation in Afghanistan, as well as regional and international issues, Radio Pakistan reported.

Qureshi and Graham also reviewed various aspects of the bilateral relationship to increase cooperation in the economic and trade sectors, the report said.

Graham's visit to Islamabad comes shortly after US Spe­cial Envoy for Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad's visit to Pakistan during which he met Prime Minister Khan, Foreign Minister Qureshi as well as Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Khalilzad had said he awaited “concrete progress” on Afghan peace talks. His visit to Pakistan took place against the backdrop of a deadlock in talks between the US and Taliban over the initiation of a reconciliation process. The impasse has been caused by the Taliban’s refusal to talk to the Afghan government.

The US had initiated direct contacts with the Taliban in July last year, but the recent most meeting in Abu Dhabi last month was facilitated by Pakistan after President Trump requested Prime Minister Khan to help in the reconciliation process. Washington has, therefore, ramped up pressure on Islamabad to play its role in overcoming the gridlock and moving towards an intra-Afghan dialogue.

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PIA launches international flights from Sialkot International Airport

National flag-carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Sunday launched direct international passenger flights from Sialkot International Airport (SIAL) to Europe.

PIA and SIAL together hosted a launch ceremony at the airport with Minister for Aviation Mian Muhammad Soomro presiding over the event. As PIA flight PK-720 carrying 300 passengers from Paris via Barcelona touched down in Sialkot, it was accorded a water cannon salute by aviators and ground staff.

PIA flight PK-720 being given a water cannon salute. — Photo provided by author
PIA flight PK-720 being given a water cannon salute. — Photo provided by author

The passengers were given a warm welcome by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Youth Affairs Usman Dar, SIAL Chairman Nadeem Qureshi, Provincial Minister for Special Education Chaudhry Muhammad Ikhlaq, senior PIA officials and travel industry leaders.

Soomro then formally launched PIA's Europe-bound flights from SIAL, with PK-769 departing for Paris and Barcelona.

Senior PIA officials said that during the initial stage, PIA will run direct flights between Paris, Barcelona and Sialkot once a week, and the number of flights to other European countries will be increased soon.

Soomro, while addressing the participants of the ceremony, praised the spirit and struggle of Sialkot's business community, which established Asia's first-ever private sector airport, SIAL, on a self-help basis and then went on to establish a private airline, AirSial, also through their own means.

He said the government was making sincere efforts to ensure the provision of international standard and advanced aviation facilities for passengers at all airports across Pakistan.

Minister for Aviation Mian Muhammad Soomro pictured cutting the ribbon to mark the launch of PIA's flights to and from Europe. — Photo provided by author
Minister for Aviation Mian Muhammad Soomro pictured cutting the ribbon to mark the launch of PIA's flights to and from Europe. — Photo provided by author

The aviation minister also took the opportunity to give a nod to the city's exporters whom he termed as "the jewels of the nation's economy". He recognised their pivotal role in strengthening the economy and boosting exports, earning precious foreign exchange to the tune of US $2 billion annually.

SIAL Chairman Nadeem Anwar Qureshi said the success of the international airport had built trust and boosted the confidence of foreign airlines.

He said after the successful flight operation conducted by Saudi Arabia's private international airline, Saudi Gulf Airline, direct passenger flights between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would also be launched by the official airline, Saudi Arabian Airlines, very soon.

The chairman added that as many as 55 international passenger flights will take off to foreign destinations from SIAL, a number which will soon see an increase due to the growing number of passengers.

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PM Khan promises 'swift action' after JIT report on Sahiwal 'encounter'

A day after three members of a family were allegedly killed during a shootout between the Counter-Terrorism Department and suspected terrorists near Sahiwal, Prime Minister Imran Khan promised that "swift action" would be taken against those found responsible for wrongdoing.

In what law enforcers described as an encounter with terrorists, the elite Punjab police on Saturday killed four people, including parents and their teenage daughter, sending shock waves across the country as one of the three surviving children who were witness to the episode denied the official version in a video that went viral on social media.

Prime Minister Khan took to Twitter on Sunday to recognise the CTD's "great job in [the] fight against terrorism", but stated that "everyone must be accountable before the law".

"As soon as the joint investigation team report comes, swift action will be taken," he vowed. "The government's priority is protection of all its citizens."

He added: "Still shocked at seeing the traumatised children who saw their parents shot before their eyes. Any parent would be shocked as they would think of their own children in such a traumatic situation. These children will now be fully looked after by the state as its responsibility."

Sahiwal protest ends after FIR registered

Relatives of the victims, who held an over eight-hour-long sit-in protest in Sahiwal against the killings ─ along with the bodies of the deceased ─ ended the sit-in after a first information report was registered against unidentified CTD officials for the 'encounter' killings at the Yousufwala police station.

The FIR ─ which was filed on the complaint of the brother of deceased Khalil, Jalil ─ said that Khalil, a grocer in Lahore, left for Burewala with his family ─ wife Nabeela and four children ─ and friend Zeeshan to attend a wedding.

It said when they reached the tollplaza in Qadirabad, an Elite Force vehicle came up behind them. It alleged that the 'encounter' was premeditated and spread fear and panic in the area, and that action should be taken against those responsible.

Jalil had, while speaking to DawnNewsTV earlier, said that the police, instead of filing a case against the killing of his family members, filed an FIR containing sections pertaining to terrorism against the deceased.

He added: "They aren't filing an FIR for us," he had claimed, adding: "They said it must be filed in Lahore, but the incident happened in Sahiwal, so how can we file an FIR in Lahore?"

Read more: Victims’ relatives, neighbours in Lahore vent their spleen against CTD

"We will not remove their bodies [from the road] unless we get justice," he had asserted. "Whether it takes 10 days, 15 days, 20 days, a month or two months."

"Chief Minister Usman Buzdar's hospital visit was just eyewash. We are not satisfied with the steps taken," Jalil added.

CM Buzdar had ordered the arrest of the CTD officials involved in the 'encounter'. An unknown number of CTD personnel were taken into custody following his directives.

After the FIR was filed, the protesters ended their sit-in and the road was re-opened for traffic.

Relatives and locals block a main road in Lahore to protest the killings. ─ AP
Relatives and locals block a main road in Lahore to protest the killings. ─ AP

Relatives and residents are protesting in Lahore against the killing of the "innocent and unarmed civilians" by the CTD. The metro bus service has been suspended and Ferozepur Road has been closed to traffic due to the protest.

According to the protesters, the sit-in will continue until justice is served.

Sahiwal 'encounter'

Khalil, a resident of Kot Lakhpat, Lahore, his wife Nabeela, their 13-year-old daughter, and their neighbour, Zeeshan, were on their way to a wedding in Burewala when they were killed in firing on their car near the toll plaza on GT Road in the Qadirabad area.

Three children in the car survived. Khalil and Nabeela's minor son sustained a bullet injury while their two other daughters remained unhurt.

According to an initial medical examination, Khalil sustained 13 bullet wounds in his chest and head, his wife Nabeela sustained four, Zeeshan was found to have 10 bullet injuries; and Areeba, six bullets, hospital sources told DawnNewsTV.

CTD officials said those killed in the shooting were terrorists belonging to a proscribed militant organisation, Daesh. The CTD spokesperson identified one of them, Zeeshan, as an active member of the banned outfit, explaining that the terrorists used to travel with families to avoid police checking.

The CTD Sahiwal team was conducting a joint Intelligence-Based Operation on the basis of information from the CTD and a sensitive agency, the spokesperson said, adding that they had to retaliate when they came under fire from those in the car.

As the news flashed on TV screens, scores of relatives of the deceased family took to the streets, blocking traffic on the Lahore-Kasur road to protest the murder.

To ascertain facts, the prime minister ordered an immediate inquiry into the matter.

Later on Saturday evening, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar directed Inspector General of Punjab Police Amjad Javed Saleemi to ensure arrest of all the personnel involved in the killing of the four persons.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was also constituted under the supervision of Additional IG Police Syed Ijaz Shah to investigate the incident.

Varying explanations from CTD

Varying versions put forward at different stages following the incident cast doubts over the CTD explanation.

The news broke when the CTD told the media that four suspects were killed in an encounter at the Sahiwal toll plaza near Qadirabad on Lahore-Multan motorway at noon. The officials initially described the shooting as a daring attempt of the law enforcers to rescue a group of kidnapped children from their captors.

However, it was soon replaced by another explanation by the officials who said some dangerous terrorists with links to Daesh were travelling in the car which was intercepted by the police near the toll plaza.

The CTD officials said Zeeshan was an active member of the banned organisation. "It was in continuation of the operation conducted in Faisalabad on January 16," said the CTD spokesperson. He said the CTD was tracking the remaining Daesh-linked terrorists in the Red Book, namely Shahid Jabbar and Abdul Rehman.

On Saturday morning, he added, intelligence information was received that they were travelling towards Sahiwal with arms and explosives.

"Today, they were warned to surrender but they started firing," he had said, adding that the terrorists namely Shahid Jabbar, Abdul Rehman and their unidentified accomplice fled the scene on a motorcycle while resorting to firing.

Surviving child's account

The situation took a new twist when the injured minor son of the deceased parents narrated the firing incident in a video that flashed on television screens in the afternoon. It was actually an amateur video ─ one of probably many ─ that made it impossible for anyone to conceal facts about the deadly shooting.

The young boy’s was a horrific account that lent credence to the talk about it being possibly a case of mistaken identity.

He said the family was fired upon out of nowhere as they were travelling to Burewala from Lahore to attend the wedding of a paternal uncle of his.

“My father told them to take the money but spare us,” he said, but the plea had little effect on the law enforcers.

The child denied that there were any weapons in the car, and spoke of how he and his two younger sisters were temporarily left by the police at a petrol station, some kilometres from the crime scene, after the firing. The law enforcers returned some time later to take the three children to a nearby hospital.

Some witnesses quoted widely by TV channels corroborated the assertion that there had been no firing from those travelling in the ill-fated car. One witness said the elite police forced the vehicle to stop and fired at the car occupants from a close range.

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Missing persons start returning home in Balochistan

QUETTA / GWADAR: Around a dozen people missing for many years reached home over the past three days in different areas of Balochistan, including Kalat, Mashkay, Noshki, Gwadar and Pasni.

Official sources confirmed that after the assurance of Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani and Home Minister Zia Ahmed Langove to the leaders of the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) recently, the missing persons started reaching their homes.

VBMP Chairman Nasarullah Baloch and Vice Chairman Mama Qadeer Baloch had closed their protest camp and handed the provincial government a list of 110 missing persons to recover them within two months. The camp was established 10 years ago in Quetta.

According to reports, Mehran Khyiazai has returned after seven years of his disappearance, Abdul Karim Musazai from Saindak (three years), Haji Ghulam Dastagir Mohammad Hasni from Dalbandin (three years), Kabir Ahmed and Mohammad Ewaz Killi from Qadirabad Noshki (four years), Abdul Samad Langove and Mohammad Ibrahim Kalat, Khalid Naveed from Mashkay (eight months) and Khan Mohammad Bugti Kashangi from Noshki (six years).

The Voice of Baloch Missing Persons had recently given Balochistan government two months to recover 110 missing people

Zakir Dad and Abdul Sattar who hailed from the Surbandan area of Gwadar district have returned to their homes after four years and 18 months, respectively, while Asif Nazar of Pasni rejoined his family after eight years on Saturday.

The families of returning missing persons celebrated and distributed sweets. “Thank God our children have returned safely,” Akbar Dad, the father of Zakir, said.

Chief Minister Jam Kamal had promised the VBMP leaders that the provincial government would talk to all stakeholders and institutions for the recovery of missing people considering it his government’s responsibility.

Akhtar Mengal, president of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, had signed a six-point accord with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for extending his party’s support in the formation of its government at the Centre.

One of the six points was about the recovery of missing persons.

Mr Mengal had repeatedly demanded on the floor of the National Assembly to resolve the issue of missing persons.

He had said recently that his party had given support to the PTI government without joining it. He expressed dissatisfaction over the working relationship with the government as he said not a single point of his six points had been taken into consideration by the rulers.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019

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Parents, teenage daughter among 4 killed during CTD 'encounter' in Sahiwal; PM seeks report

Three family members — husband, wife and their teenage daughter — and their friend were killed in what the Punjab police officials called a shootout with "terrorists" near Sahiwal.

The couple's minor son sustained a bullet injury while two other daughters remained safe. The family was travelling in a car when the alleged encounter — which the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) officials later termed an 'intelligence-based operation' — took place on GT Road in Qadirabad area near Sahiwal.

According to CTD, the operation was conducted on information about the presence of suspected terrorists, provided by the department and an intelligence agency — the name of which was not specified.

Eyewitnesses, however, strongly refuted the CTD's version, telling DawnNewsTV that the three family members and their driver were shot dead in "cold blood by the police". They categorically stated that no weapon was recovered from the vehicle after the alleged shootout.

Editorial: Fake police encounters

According to the details provided by police, the CTD Sahiwal officials signalled a car and a motorcycle to stop near the Sahiwal Toll Plaza.

A view of the car the deceased were travelling in. —DawnNewsTV
A view of the car the deceased were travelling in. —DawnNewsTV

"The [alleged] terrorists retaliated by firing at the CTD officials following which a shootout ensued. Once the firing stopped, four people were found dead, reportedly as a result of firing by their own accomplices, while three terrorists had fled the scene," read the CTD statement.

As per the CTD statement, suspects identified as Shahid Jabbar and Abdul Rehman were travelling towards Sahiwal and were reportedly in possession of arms and explosives.

"They used to travel with families to avoid police checking. Today, they were warned to surrender but they resorted to firing," read the statement, adding that Shahid Jabbar, Abdul Rehman, and another unidentified suspect fled from the scene on a motorcycle. "Recoveries include suicide jackets, hand grenades, rifles, etc."

'Family killed in cold blood'

The details of the incident as narrated by the children in the car and eyewitnesses contradict the CTD's version of what happened.

A video of the crime scene, available with DawnNewsTV, shows the bodies lying in the bullet-riddled car after the firing incident.

In another video, also doing rounds on social media, eyewitnesses and people present at the hospital can be seen suggesting that police shot the family members in cold blood and following the incident, the CTD personnel initially abandoned the wounded children at the crime scene and left.

They alleged that it was only after some time that they returned to the crime scene and shifted the three injured children to a government-run hospital nearby.

The injured boy Umair, who appears to be around 10-years-old and can be seen with a gunshot wound in his leg, while speaking to the media identified the deceased as his parents, teenage sister and his father’s "friend" who was driving the car to Burewala.

In another video, a man who identified himself as an uncle of the children, said that several family members were going from Lahore to a village near Burewala in four vehicles to attend a wedding. He said he was travelling in another vehicle and lost contact with the deceased as their mobile phones were off.

He alleged that the CTD personnel tried to rob the victims as they were carrying cash, jewellery and other valuables, and then killed them.

The deceased were identified by relatives as residents of the Kot Lakhpat area in the suburbs of Lahore. They include grocery store owner Mohammad Khalil, 42, his wife Nabila, 38, their 13-year-old daughter Areeba and their friend, Zeeshan Javed, who was driving the car and police said he was on the country's wanted terrorist list.

Khalil is survived by his wounded son Umair and two daughters aged below five years.

A post-mortem examination of the deceased was carried out, DawnNewsTV reported. According to the doctors, the victims received bullet injuries in their heads, necks and stomach areas.

The bodies of the three family members have been handed over to their relatives.

Later in the day, family members of the victims and area residents resorted to protesting and blocked Ferozpur road in Lahore.

PM seeks report

Prime Minister Imran Khan contacted Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and sought a report in connection with the Sahiwal incident.

The prime minister also directed to hold a transparent and detailed inquiry into the incident to uncover the facts.

Later in the day, Buzdar ordered the arrest of the CTD officials involved in the tragic incident, DawnNewsTV reported.

Earlier, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said that the reality of the fatal incident would become clear only after investigation.

The CTD officials took action against the suspects on a tip-off from an alleged terrorist who had been arrested by the intelligence agencies in Karachi, the minister said.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the Punjab government would soon provide a detailed account of the incident. "The CTD officials say that the people killed in the incident were suspected terrorists," Chaudhry said.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Inspector General (IG) has announced the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the incident.

The provincial police chief said that DIG Zulfikar Hameed will head the JIT, which comprises officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence. The team has been asked to submit its report within three days.

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Turkish Maarif Foundation schools to reduce tuition fee by 20% without laying off teaching staff

After having formally taken control earlier this month over all educational institutions previously linked to Fethullah Gulen's organisation, the Turkish Maarif Foundation (TMF) announced on Sunday that in compliance with Supreme Court's orders, it will be reducing tuition fee by 20 per cent without laying off any teaching staff.

A press conference was held by Maarif Foundation's executive board member Mahmut Mustafa Özdil with the country director in Pakistan, Selahattin Batur, also present.

Özdil said that the foundation of a new educational system would be laid for the promotion of peace, justice, and development. He expressed the organisation's desire to provide opportunities to students to advance in life with a "clear mind, knowledge and understanding".

The management official further informed journalists that underprivileged and orphaned students who demonstrate extraordinary aptitude will be provided free-of-cost education and also given other facilities.

He said that following the Supreme Court's orders, TMF's teachers and students have access to numerous opportunities in Turkey.

Take a look: On the mysterious deportations of Turkish teachers

Also, according to higher education legislation in Turkey, all students of the TMF schools are exempted from tuition fees of state universities.

Özdil said teachers will be provided remuneration, advancement opportunities, and job security based on their skills and experience. He revealed that currently 1,000 teachers were working across 26 campuses.

He said there were many long and short duration training programmes — including a comprehensive three-month course — that teachers could avail to better equip themselves with the requisite knowledge for teaching.

Batur noted that Pakistan and Turkey have always stood together in difficult times and share ties "beyond politics".

The Supreme Court had instructed the government in late December last year to declare Gulen’s organisation a terrorist group and ordered handing over of the schools to the Maarif Foundation.

Turkey had established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 after a coup attempt. It was tasked with taking over the administration of overseas schools linked to Gulen’s organisation. It also establishes schools and educational centres internationally.

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Egyptian billionaire wants to build 100,000 units under Naya Pakistan Housing Programme: report

An Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has "expressed his will" to invest in 100,000 housing units in Pakistan under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme (NPHP), Arab News reported on Friday.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Tarek Hamdy, the chief executive officer of Elite Estates ─ a partnership between Ora Developers (owned by Sawiris) and Saif Holdings ─ said, "Naguib Sawiris has expressed his will to invest in 100,000 units of affordable housing to help prime minister (Imran Khan) in his vision toward Pakistan."

"We will use our experience and know-how to deliver this properly to the people of Pakistan," Hamdy added.

On October 10, 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the NPHP, announcing that 5 million affordable housing units for low-income segments of society would be constructed in five years under the project. Over 40 bidders and construction companies have already applied to provide land and construct housing units under NPHP.

However, Hamdy believes such an expansive project cannot be realise within such a short span of time.

"I think the plan is right but it has to be in stages, has to be in steps. It could be achievable obviously [...] may take few good years, maybe couple of decades to be achieved," he said.

According to Arab News, Ora Developers is already engaged in the construction of a multi-billion-dollar housing scheme named 'Eighteen' which was launched in 2017 in Islamabad along with local partners, Saif Group and Kohistan Builders.

The report added that Sawaris' first investment in Pakistan was in Mobilink.

Hamdy said that the developers wanted to "do more" and "invest more".

According to Arab News, Ora Developers owns a 60 per cent stake in the project in Islamabad which comprises "a five-star hotel, 1,068 housing units, 921 residential apartments, business parks, hospitals, schools and other educational facilities and 13 office buildings, and a golf course".

The net worth of the project is estimated at $2bn, and the developers have set their sights on Lahore, Karachi and Faisalabad as the sites for their next real estate projects.

"I think that our portfolio of real estate could come to $10 billion worth of investments in the next 5-10 years, including all the projects that we intent to do," Hamdy said.

He added that he was confident of delivering on the promise by 2021.

The latest data issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) shows that despite the government’s willingness to boost housing projects on a large scale, both the financing for housing and number of borrowers only showed modest growth in July-Sept FY19.

The outstanding housing finance inched up 1.8pc to Rs89.79 billion in the first quarter of 2018-19, from Rs88.18bn in same period last year.

Housing is an acute problem in the country with current estimates suggesting a shortage of 10 million units.

According to a previous study by the SBP on low-cost housing, the annual demand for new homes is approximately increasing by 0.7m a year while only about half that demand is currently being met.

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Blame game follows cancellation of women’s cycle rally

PESHAWAR: The organisers have begun playing the blame game following the cancellation of a bicycle rally for women and transgender persons over backlash from clerics, who called the event organised by three non-governmental organisations promotion of ‘vulgarity and obscenity’.

Accusing an organiser to have put lives of participants at stake by leaking the information about event and inciting the clergy’s hostile response, two organisations involved in the holding of the ‘Women on Wheels’ cycle rally in Peshawar say the event will happen soon.

The rally scheduled for Saturday (Jan 19) was cancelled Friday night when first Majlis Ulema Hayatabad condemned it in Friday sermon and other religio-political parties, including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Jamaat-i-Islami held protests to block the event declaring it the promotion of ‘vulgarity and obscenity”.

Two NGOs accuse another of leaking event details, third insists rally cancelled over reaction

The Pak Development Mission in collaboration with the Professional Development Organisation and Zmung Jwandun (ZJ) had planned the event in the Hayatabad Sports Complex and got the permission of the local administration for it.

The two main organisers issued a joint news release on Saturday starting the blame game over failure to hold the event. The PDO and PDM accused the ZJ of endangering the life of participants and the bicycle rally.

The release issued by the PDM and PDO said the provincial government had been very supportive but Wafa Wazir, founder of ZJ, leaked the rally’s information to the media though the three organisations had agreed not to disclose the event details for the safety of participants.

“Expecting backlash, three of us had agreed not to leak out any event information. The rally participants were selected, while their privacy was ensured through a WhatsApp group but it all was put at stake by Wafa Wazir through violation of the agreement,” said PDO head Eiman Jamil.

She, however, declared said the event would happen soon.

“Hopes are high. We are keeping our fingers crossed,” she said adding that the participants continued to take place in the event.

As the PDO and PDM announced to hold a news conference on Monday (Jan 21), Wafa Wazir of ZJ said she would speak to the media about the rally cancellation today (Sunday).

She said she didn’t want to endanger the lives of participants and cancelled the rally to ensure their safety and show respect to the local culture and traditions.

Ms Wafa said there were no direct threats to the event but when she saw adverse reaction on social media and decided to cancel the event.

“We had even asked women participants to wear shalwar qameez and cover face with veil,” she said adding that she wanted to show through the rally that peace has returned to Peshawar.

Ms Wafa said the event was not about women’s empowerment and instead, it was just for promoting softer image of Peshawar.

“We cancelled the rally for the sake of the safety of participants. The mindset would slowly change,” she said.

Rights activist Tahira Kaleem criticised organisers for cancelling the bicycle rally and said it seemed that the rally was a mismanaged event.

“The mismanagement of three organisations holding the rally gave space to the extremist mindset to push back the women seeking and working for social space for women,” she said.

Ms Tahira said the rally’s cancellation encouraged extremists to exert themselves and that the whole episode turned out to be counterproductive.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019

Click here to Read full Details Sources @

PM continues to attack opposition on Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Impervious to the opposition’s criticism over his long absence from the parliament and “running the affairs through social media,” Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday launched yet another attack on the opposition parties through his official account on Twitter over the issue of the Exit Control List (ECL).

“The majestic beauty and diversity of our land is unparalleled. Sadly, this beauty is not appreciated by our ruling elite which is why ECL is such a calamity for them,” he said in a series of tweets.

“The captivating grandeur of our land is why I would be happy just remaining confined here working for our people,” Mr Khan tweeted two days after he incurred the wrath of the opposition parties, particularly Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, over a similar tweet.

ECL is ‘calamity’ for those who fail to appreciate fascinating sights at home, says Imran

The prime minister also posted video clips of the snow-capped mountains and wildlife in the northern part of the country with his tweets. The video clips have been taken from some foreign documentaries about Baltoro glacier, the world’s biggest mountain glacier located in the Karakoram Range of Gilgit-Baltistan. The clips show rare wildlife like Markhor and snow leopard and a number of peaks, including the world’s second highest mountain K-2.

In a similar tweet, Mr Khan had indirectly criticised the PPP leaders on Thursday, the day the federal cabinet decided to remove the names of Mr Bhutto-Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah from the ECL.

“Why are some of our lawmakers so scared of ECL? Why are they so keen to go abroad? There is so much work to be done by politicians in and

for Pakistan — the land they claim to love but some cannot wait to take frequent trips abroad and lawmakers have Iqamas of residencies abroad,” he had tweeted.

In another tweet, the prime minister had said: “Can anyone explain this strange phenomenon to those of us who would be quite happy to remain in and work for Pakistan because we actually love Pakistan.”

And hours after these tweets, Mr Bhutto-Zardari while speaking on the floor of the National Assembly had responded that he wanted to reply the prime minister on his face but “perhaps, he has no courage (to come to the parliament)”.

The young PPP chairman said he did not care if his name remained on the ECL or not, freedom of movement “is not a favour, but a fundamental right.”

“Democratic governments should protect the fundamental rights of the people,” he said.

Later, a number of other opposition leaders, including PPP stalwart Syed Khursheed Shah, also severely criticised the prime minister for constantly ignoring the parliament and for, what they said, “trying to run the parliament and the country through Twitter and Facebook while sitting at his Banigala residence.”

The treasury members were unable to give a satisfactory response to the opposition’s criticism and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan had simply said that the prime minister would soon come to the house and respond to the questions of the members.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019

Click here to Read full Details Sources @

PML-Q to take up issues with Imran as differences deepen

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has decided to take up a host of issues with Prime Minister Imran Khan after Chief Minister Usman Buzdar failed to placate the Chaudhrys of Gujrat.

“There is a host of issues the PML-Q is having with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), particularly in Punjab. Our differences with the PTI have deepened as our party is being kept out of the consultative process. Now the time has come to take up the matter with PM Imran Khan to decide the future of the coalition,” PML-Q information secretary Kamil Ali Agha told Dawn on Saturday.

Chief Minister Buzdar on Friday night visited the residence of PML-Q leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi after the lone minister of the party, Hafiz Ammar Yasir, in the Punjab cabinet handed over his resignation to the PML-Q leadership citing “undue interference” in his mines and mineral ministry by the PTI.

Punjab CM fails to placate Chaudhrys of Gujrat

Mr Buzadr’s effort to resolve the resignation issue could not succeed as he failed to convince Mr Elahi to ask Mr Yasir to withdraw his resignation.

“We joined the coalition in the best interest of the country, but we are not being taken into confidence in decision making. Our lawmakers are facing problems in solution of problems of the people of their constituencies. Besides, the PTI had promised us two ministries each in Punjab and the Centre, but it has yet to honour its commitment,” Mr Agha said.

In the coalition “no importance” was being given to the PML-Q, he said. “We have remained in coalitions in the past but have never faced such discrimination,” he said.

The PML-Q leader also complained about CM Buzdar’s “callous attitude” towards the issues raised by PML-Q lawmakers. “Despite problems of PML-Q MPAs being brought to the knowledge of the chief minister, no remedial measures have been taken to address them during the last two months,” he said.

“Instead of pushing the PML-Q against the wall, the PTI leadership should come forward and resolve the matter before it’s too late,” Mr Agha said.

In his resignation note, PML-Q minister Yasir had pointed out “unwarranted interference, undue pressure and hurdles” in his ministry since he assumed the portfolio over four months ago. “Owing to undue pressure and hurdles, I can no longer perform my duty, therefore, I resign,” the minister had stated.

Cracks within the ruling coalition started appearing this week after Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s remarks about creating a forward bloc in the PML-Q that prompted a strong reaction from the party compelling him to apologise (to the Chaudhrys).

Both in Punjab and at the Centre, the PML-Q is an important ally with 10 MPAs and five MNAs, respectively. As the PTI is ruling, particularly in Punjab, with a thin majority, it may not afford to lose PML-Q support.

Earlier in the elections for the office of Punjab chief minister and president as well as Senate polls, the PML-Q leadership had reportedly made inroads in the opposition, particularly PML-Nawaz, and secured votes for the coalition candidates.

When contacted, the prime minister’s spokesman Nadeem Afzal Chan said that differences among the coalition partners were not unusual. “We [the PTI and PML-Q] will sit together and resolve the issues amicably,” he said, adding that there was no serious threat to the coalition.

Asked whether the prime minister had invited the Chaudhrys to discuss this matter with him, Mr Chan said: “Meetings between the prime minister and the PML-Q leadership have been held in the past and they can meet now as well to resolve the issues.”

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019

Click here to Read full Details Sources @

PTI reacts angrily to Muttahida’s threat of quitting federal coalition

HYDERABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Hyderabad chapter on Saturday strongly criticised the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) — the party’s coalition partner at the Centre — for “blackmailing” the federal government by threatening to quit it.

Speaking at a press conference at the local press club, PTI Hyderabad district president Dr Mustansar Billah, general secretary Faisal Mughal and other office-bearers including Nawab Khan and Mirza Aleem Baig reacted to MQM-P leaders’ speeches at its public meeting here a day earlier and said that they always “blackmailed” their coalition partners instead of serving people.

“They have been cheating the Urdu-speaking people of Karachi, Hyderabad and other urban areas of Sindh over the past 35 years,” Dr Billah alleged.

He said that the MQM-P today did have all powers they required to address people’s issues as they dominated the local government institutions in Karachi and Hyderabad but they appeared unwilling to provide any relief to the general public. He noted that stagnant sewage and heaps of garbage in streets and on roads in Hyderabad had made people’s lives miserable while an acute shortage of potable water also persisted in the city but the elected representatives of the MQM-P appeared indifferent.

MQM-P accused of victimising PTI’s Urdu-speaking voters

He said the MQM-P had been raising the slogan of getting the quota system abolished ever since it came into being but did not take any practical step in this regard despite sitting with different governments. He pointed out that even the slogan for the establishment of a university in Hyderabad also remained just a slogan.

“MQM-P leaders raise slogans of highlighting issues of the Urdu-speaking community only during electioneering but forget about it afterwards. Instead, they get their own problems resolved while enjoying powers, acquired in the name of the Urdu-speaking community’s rights which is really a shame,” the PTI leader said.

Dr Billah said that Prime Minister Imran Khan gave federal ministries to the MQM-P despite the fact that it had only six seats in the National Assembly. “Still, they are crying hoarse,” he added.

He also accused MQM-P leaders of victimising those Urdu-speaking people who had cast their vote for PTI in Karachi. “Their houses and business places are being demolished without any advance notice,” he claimed, and reminded the MQM-P that a vast majority of the community had already rejected it in the July 25 general elections. He said that PTI respected the Supreme Court order regarding removal of encroachments but advance notices must be served before bulldozing such structures.

The PTI leader rejected MQM-P’s warning that it might part ways with the federal coalition on the grounds that, according to the Muttahida, nothing was being delivered to the people of Karachi, Hyderabad and other urban centres.

“Sadly, MQM-P did nothing while remaining a close ally of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government and enjoying full powers for years in the past,” he said.

Dr Billah said MQM-P should have utilised the local government funds for addressing people’s civic issues instead of misusing them in the holding of the public meeting in Hyd­erabad.

He said PTI would establish a university in Hyderabad soon and would also resolve all issues being faced by the Urdu-speaking community.

“If the Urdu-speaking community voted for PTI in the next local government election, it would show to the MQM-P civic and other issues of the urban centres are addressed without any discrimination,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019

Click here to Read full Details Sources @

FBR fails to recover Rs170bn in fraud cases

ISLAMABAD: The tax department has managed to settle only 20 per cent of the total tax evasion and fraud cases involving billions of rupees during last year despite tall claims by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to expand tax net and ensure deterrence.

Directorate General Intelligence and Investigation-Inland Reve­nue, the country’s premier anti-tax evasion and anti-fiscal fraud (income tax, sales tax and federal excise duty) investigation department, has detected tax evasion worth Rs170 billion throughout the country.

The official data reveals that the department, during the last year, sent more than 580 reports involving thousands of cases of contraventions, investigations and red alerts to more than 21 tax offices across the country.

An FBR official, while speaking to Dawn, said the directorate is scheduled to brief Finance Minister Asad Umar on the status of the cases next week. However, officials at the board were reluctant to share status on the cases involving high net-worth individuals detected last year.

The data on these cases reveals that around 50,000 real estate transactions worth approximately Rs600bn (as per deputy commissioner rate) have been identified but the market value of the transactions is likely to be much higher than the stated figure.

Around 50,000 fraudulent transactions were detected in the real estate sector alone

Of these, around 7,500 transactions involved individuals who were absent from tax rolls.

Similarly, cases involving individuals, who were also not on the tax rolls, purchasing vehicles worth more than Rs10 million were also detected.

“The number of such individuals are in thousands in the federal capital alone”, the official said.

All case reports were referred to the FBR’s regional tax offices (RTOs) and large taxpayers units (LTUs) for implementation and recovery.

However, recovery was much higher in cases that were pursued directly by the directorate.

FBR official said it was the responsibility of the commissioners at RTOs and LTUs to pursue these ‘readymade cases’, adding that a lack of action shows the scale of mismanagement at field offices.

It was also noted that most of the investigations involving revenue recovery were not even pursued. For example, more than 2,780 cases of gift schemes involving billions of revenue from tax returns of just one year were also pending with regional officers.

Moreover, the directorate issued 291 red alerts of violation of four SROs during July 7, 2017 to Dec 12, 2018 involving an amount of Rs26.8bn of possible tax evasions. Of these, 36 red alerts were issued to LTU Karachi involving an amount of Rs13.3bn, followed by 25 red alerts to Lahore involving Rs7.2bn and six alerts were forwarded to RTO Peshawar involving Rs1.5bn.

The remaining alerts were issued to RTOs/LTUs in Karachi, Lahore, Islam­abad, Sahiwal, Rawalpindi, Multan, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, and Quetta.

The official said there is complete lack of coordination between the directorate, the RTOs and the LTUs that are charged with pursuing these cases while acknowledging that there are signs of improvement.

“I am positive that the trend of substantial growth in performance and achie­vement will continue in the coming years,” he said.

Another official at the board, however, said that there is also an element of corruption which is likely to delay pursuit of identified cases.

The investigations are focused on cases involving real estate, property developers, sugar, fertiliser, ghee/vegetable oil, commercial importers, wholesalers and distributors, steel, soap, chemicals, cosmetics, tobacco, educational institutions, hospitals, services, paper and paper board.

The Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation was created on Mar 25, 2011 to uncover cases involving tax evasion and fraud.

The department currently has seven directorate-level offices in Islama­bad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Karachi, Hyder­abad and Peshawar.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019

Click here to Read full Details Sources @

Punjab CM spokesperson’s Twitter account suspended

KARACHI: The Twitter account of Punjab chief minister’s spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill was suspended on Saturday by the micro-blogging site.

Upon visiting the handle @ShabazGill — followed by nearly 48,000 people — a notification ‘Account suspended’ appears. The error notification states the account has been suspended “for violating Twitter rules”.

According to Twitter’s website, accounts may be suspended for violation of rules. Common reasons for suspension include spam, account security at risk, and abusive tweets or behaviour. Twitter suspends accounts that are fake or because of spam content which introduces security risks for the platform and its users.

“If we suspect an account has been hacked or compromised, we may suspend it until it can be secured and restored to the account owner in order to reduce potentially malicious activity caused by the compromise,” Twitter explains on its website.

Another reason which can lead to suspension of accounts is if it has been reported to Twitter for violating its rules surrounding abuse. While the reason behind Dr Gill’s account suspension is unclear, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s official account requested the platform to look into the matter.

“@Twitter - Dr Shahbaz Gill - Official spokesperson of Chief Minister Punjab @UsmanAKBuzdar , his account has been suspended when there was NO violation of any Twitter policy or rules. Would request twitter to look into it and lift the suspension immediately. @verified,” it tweeted.

Mr Gill said his account had been hacked and the hackers also changed the associated email. “I am neither able to retrieve my account nor change its password,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019

Click here to Read full Details Sources @


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