ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan on Saturday approached the Supreme Court to challenge the coalition government's recent amendments to the National Accountability (NAB) Ordinance, contending that they will "virtually eliminate any white-collar crime committed by a public office holder".
The changes were criticised by Imran and his party, with the PTI chairman saying the move would destroy the country.
The bill, along with the one on election reforms, was passed by the National Assembly and Senate last month. After its approval from both houses, the president's assent was required for it to become law.
However, Alvi sent back the bills, following which the government convened a joint sitting of the NA and Senate, which approved them. Alvi again refused to sign them, terming them "regressive", and sent them back. But procedurally, 10 days after a joint sitting passes a bill, it is considered law even if the president refuses assent.
In the petition filed today, the ex-premier named the Federation of Pakistan through its secretary Law and Justice Division and the NAB through its chairman as respondents in the case. In his request, Imran requested the court to adjudicate upon a question of "great public importance with reference to the enforcement of fundamental rights of citizens under articles 9 (security of a person), 14 (inviolability of dignity of a man, etc), 19A (right to information), 24 (protection of property rights) and 25 (equality of citizens) of the Constitution.
NAB amendments The NAB (Second Amendment) Bill 2021 states that NAB's deputy chairman, to be appointed by the federal government, would become the acting chairman of the bureau following the completion of the tenure of the chairman.
The bill has also reduced the four-year term of the NAB chairman and the bureau's prosecutor general to three years. After approval of the law, NAB will not be able to act on federal, provincial or local tax matters. Moreover, the regulatory bodies functioning in the country have also been placed out of NAB's domain.
It says that "all pending inquiries, investigations, trials or proceedings under this ordinance, relating to persons or transactions … shall stand transferred to the concerned authorities, departments and courts under the respective laws."
It has also set a three-year term for the judges of the accountability courts. It will also make it binding upon the courts to decide a case within one year. Under the proposed law, it has been made binding upon NAB to ensure the availability of evidence against an accused prior to his or her arrest. According to one of the key amendments, the act "shall be deemed to have taken effect on and from the commencement of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999".
KARACHI: Unlike the 2018 general elections, the country’s military wants to stay away from providing security for upcoming polling exercises. But while their personnel will not be deployed inside polling stations, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has been assured of their availability as a ‘quick reaction force’ (QRF) in case a need arises during electioneering. This was revealed by ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan in an interaction with journalists after chairing a meeting regarding the upcoming by-election in Karachi’s NA-245, which had recently fallen vacant after death of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain. “The ECP chief has recently sent a letter to the army chief seeking deployment of army troops for security [of the electoral process],” he said. “However, it’s now a policy of the armed forces that they want to stay away from the polling stations. We can’t comment over that. But it’s our utmost desire that there should be more than just flag marches and QRF. That’s why the letter was sent to the army chief.” ECP official says military, paramilitary personnel will remain in third-tier of security ring, will be available for ‘quick response’
While he didn’t comment on how sustainable the policy would prove to be, Mr Khan was sure that the upcoming local government elections in Sindh and by-polls across the country were likely to be held under similar guidelines.
Regarding the upcoming local bodies elections in Sindh and the off-and-on by-elections in different parts of the country, the ECP secretary made it clear that troops would not be deployed at polling stations, though the paramilitary Rangers force would “stay close to the polling stations”.
When contacted, an ECP official confirmed that the armed forces had, in recent months, opted for positioning as the third tier of security for protective arrangements during recent elections — both the by-polls and local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Police authorities, backed by the paramilitary forces — Pakistan Rangers and the Frontier Constabulary — performed duties as part of the first and second tier.
In the 2018 elections, the ECP had granted broad judicial powers to the armed forces at polling stations in a rare move that had attracted serious criticism by the majority of political parties and human rights groups. At the time, about 371,000 troops were deployed across the country to control security arrangements; about three times the number deputed for the 2013 polls.
The ECP secretary’s thoughts came a day after the commission sought assistance from the armed forces to conduct by-polls in different national and provincial assembly constituencies of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as both phases of the local government polls in Sindh.
In a letter written to Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja stated that in view of the charged political atmosphere and the extreme political polarization in the country, deployment outside polling stations would be required for by-polls in four Punjab Assembly constituencies of Lahore (PP-158, PP-167, PP-168, PP-170), one KP assembly seat (PK-7), and one National Assembly constituency in Sindh (NA-245).
He also criticised comments from various political circles, including PTI chief Imran Khan, who had questioned the role and performance of the constitutional body. Claiming that all arrangements were in place for the first phase of local polls in Sindh, Mr Khan said that polling was scheduled to be held on June 26 in four divisions — Sukkur, Larkana, Shaheed Benazirabad and Mirpurkhas. The ECP mentioned that the Pakistan Rangers would have another task — in addition to providing security — on polling day. “The Pakistan Rangers, Sindh would also give security to election materials and supervise its due safe transportation,” he said. “We don’t see any hurdle on our part in Sindh local bodies elections. We have appealed to the people, parties and candidates to cooperate with us for peaceful elections, but if any individual or group creates a law and order situation, the law would take its course, which would lead to action in line with the set rules.”
He also claimed to have made progress in the action against those found involved in violence and mismanagement during the recent NA-240 by-polls in Karachi and said the ECP would make sure punishments were handed down to all those responsible for violence on June 16, which left one man dead and around a dozen injured.
KARACHI: As consumers struggle to cope with high food prices and utility bills, flour millers on Tuesday further increased prices of various varieties of flour by Rs6 per kg. The new rate of flour no. 2.5 has been fixed at Rs88 per kg which was Rs82 per kg last week and Rs78 per kg in the last week of May. Similarly, fine flour and maida (super fine flour) carry new rates of Rs91 per kg as compared to Rs85 per kg last week. These fine flour varieties were tagged at Rs81 in the third week of May.
A miller quoted the new rate of a 10 kg flour bag at Rs885, which was Rs785 a month back. A retailer said the price of chakki flour has risen to Rs100 from Rs90 a month ago. The branded 10 kg bags of Bake Parlour and Ashrafi fine flour sell at Rs950, while the five kg bag price hovers between Rs480 and Rs490. According to a flour miller in Karachi, makers have been demanding hassle-free movement of wheat to Karachi from growing areas in Sindh for over a month. The Sindh Food Department had set up check posts in the interior Sindh to curb the free movement of grain to Karachi. He attributed the price increase to a rise in the open market rates for 100 kg wheat flour bags—which are now selling for Rs7,800–8,000, up Rs7,200 from the third week of May—as well as rising transportation costs due to a Rs119 per litre increase in diesel rates in the last month. Karachi, being a non-wheat producing area, has been facing a wheat crisis since the start of the wheat procurement season. He said the millers in Karachi could not afford to sustain any delay in the arrival of grain from the interior Sindh. He added that the Sindh Food Department had only given millers hollow assurances about the restoration of free wheat movement to Karachi from interior Sindh but no practical steps had been taken. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Flour Millers Association (PFMA) had requested that the food department either completely stop wheat supply from Sindh areas to Karachi or ensure full availability of the grain. “This cat and mouse game by the food department may result in any untoward situation in the coming days, such as a stoppage of flour supply to the megacity. In this situation, the food department would be responsible,” the PFMA said. Last month, the association urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to allow free movement of wheat and wheat products to ensure availability of the basic food item at a reasonable price. “Flour mills also purchase wheat from the open market along with government agencies. There should be no ban on the purchase of wheat by millers,” PFMA stressed.
ISLAMABAD: In a bid to enhance the party’s presence on social media and build its narrative, PTI Chairman Imran Khan met famous Pakistani Tiktokers at his Banigala residence. The meeting has become the talk of the town on social media and a lot is being discussed about it. Among the TikTokers who met the PTI chairman was Malik Usman, who is one of the most followed celebrities on the app and is famous for making fun videos in his unique style.
Sharing details of his meeting with Imran Khan, Malik Usman said that their meeting with Imran Khan lasted just for 15 to 20 minutes. “It would be premature to say anything as to what was the purpose of this meeting TikTokers.” In this brief meeting, he said, everyone first introduced themselves and then they were given an opportunity to ask questions. “I think TikTok can be politically effective because not everyone has access to Twitter but TikTok is available to every common man and our videos reach everyone.”
ISLAMABAD: In a major step towards conduct of the first-ever digital census in the country, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) on Monday signed a contract that will enable the former to ensure population data collection and compilation with precision and accuracy within a minimum time frame.
Nadra will develop solution for the digital census across the country through android-based smart devices and IT system under the contract inked here at PBS headquarters.
With the new digital system, the PBS would provide census data to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a timely manner, thus facilitating delimitation of constituencies in a swift and accurate manner, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal told journalists after the attending the signing ceremony.
The Council of Common Interest (CCI) had earlier proposed that the upcoming census be conducted by adopting modern technologies and digital tools. As per recommendations of the council, the PBS approached Nadra to present a comprehensive technical proposal for carrying out the first ever-digital census in the country in 2022.
The minister expressed the hope that the system would also ensure transparency and accountability of enumerators and supervisors. Critical to democracy, economy Nadra chairman Tariq Malik said the decision to conduct the digital census reflects a consensus on a transparent census without any prejudice. Sharing features of the digital census app, Mr Malik said Nadra had devised an exclusive complete turnkey solution for carrying out digital census. The solution included development and deployment of android-based house listings and enumeration application synchronised with global positioning system (GPS) and geographical information system (GIS), data centre services, call centre services, establishment of technical support centres at each tehsil level along with online web portal for general public with other allied services, he said.
The Nadra chairman expressed the hope that the census app shall also have online and offline support with seamless data synchronisation feature. The system shall support PBS at all the three stages of census — pre-census stage, census stage and post-census stage, he added.
For the purpose, Nadra will also impart necessary training to PBS staff and field enumerators.
Under the agreement, Nadra will also extend data center services for centralised repository of census data along with digital imageries at the PBS. In addition, an exclusive web portal along with call centre services shall also be developed.
As per deal, a user-friendly web-based portal will have a self-enumeration feature so that the general public can register themselves in case of their non-availability at the time of census.
The Jaglot-Skardu road is blocked due to landsliding, near Maloopa village in Skardu’s Roundu valley. The road closures are hampering movement in the area, while authorities have warned tourists not to travel to Deosai or other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan as long as heavy rains are forecast for the region.
• NDMA issues alert for torrential rains causing landslides, urban flooding • FWO clearing Jaglot-Skardu road • Tourists advised against travelling at night, during rain • Over 100kmph winds recorded in Lahore
ISLAMABAD / GILGIT / PESHAWAR: As rain-triggered landslides have blocked a major road at multiple locations in the upper parts of the country between Gilgit and Skardu, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has warned the departments concerned to remain alert in the wake of a series of heavy rains in the country from Monday to Wednesday that may cause further landsliding and urban flooding. Also on Monday, intermittent rain continued to lash the upper parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to the latest advisory issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department, the series of torrential rains with winds and thundershowers, beginning in upper and central parts of the country from Monday, will continue till Wednesday. All provincial departments, National Highway Authority, Frontier Works Organisation and other institutions have been asked to remain alert and take precautionary measures.
The new rain spell might trigger landslides in vulnerable areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Galiyat, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and generate flash floods in the local nullahs in Rawalpindi/Islamabad, KP, Punjab, Kashmir, GB and northeast Balochistan where windstorms may damage dilapidated structures. The NDMA has also advised those residing in low-lying areas to immediately report any emergency situation. “[The weather pattern] may cause urban flooding in Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Lahore during the forecast period,” the Met Office warned, advising travellers and tourists to remain extra cautious during the forecast period and avoid unnecessary travel. The Met Office also expected the monsoon to set in during the last week of June. The monsoon rainfall is expected to be above normal over Punjab and Sindh, and slightly above normal over the remaining parts of the country. The first phase of monsoon (July 1 to mid-Aug) is expected to be wet as compared to the last phase (mid-Aug to end-Sept).
Skardu road blockades Over the last 24 hours, Skardu Deputy Commissioner Kareem Dad Chughtai has been tweeting pictures of landslide-induced blockade of the Jaglot-Skardu road at multiple points. On Monday, he said the 160-kilometre patch that connected Gilgit and Skardu, and was a major link with the Karakoram Highway, was blocked at Chamachu, Maloppa, Tormik and other areas of Skardu following torrential rains. He further said the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) was working to clear the road, and advised tourists against taking the route until it was cleared. He especially urged people not to travel at night until Thursday and in the rain during the day. Further issuing a travel advisory for tourists flocking to the region for summer vacation, Mr Chughtai tweeted that heavy rains continued in Deosai plains and tourists were advised against travelling from Skardu to Astore and vice versa during rains. “Night travel via Deosai is prohibited for tonight.” Meanwhile, scattered rain across GB lowered the mercury levels, and hilly areas received snowfall. Rain-induced flooding also damaged houses and roads in the Ghanche district. Several tourists visiting the region faced difficulties after the Jaglot-Skardu road blockade as well as the sudden change in weather pattern. According to the Met Office, rain-thundershower is expected in GB and other parts of the country. Earlier on Friday, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had issued an alert to its GB chapter and other district disaster management authorities to stay vigilant in the wake of a looming risk of a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) amid the prevailing weather conditions.
Rain in KP On the other hand, intermittent rain continued to lash the upper parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Monday; however, no casualties were reported, officials said. The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said the flow of rivers was normal, however, a GLOF was reported in the remote Ishperu Gol area of Terich village of Upper Chitral that damaged a 50kV micro-hydel power station in the area. The PDMA also said that over the past 24 hours, the Kalkot Daba Road in Upper Dir as well as the Swat-Shangal main road at Machar area of Alpuri of Shangla district had been blocked due to land-sliding, but were later cleared. Meanwhile, the Lahore airport area witnessed winds in excess of 100 kilometres per hour, as the gale reached speeds of up to 55 knots, the Met Office in Lahore said on Monday night.