Posts Tagged ‘Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’

Pakistan to hold general election in July amid deteriorating civilian-military ties

May 27, 2018

Pakistan’s president has set July 25 as the date for the general election, state media say. The vote will be a test of popularity for former PM Sharif, who challenged the military’s dominance in the political sphere.

Supporters of Former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif during a rally in Lahore (picture-alliance/AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

The polling for the National Assembly (lower house of parliament) and provincial assemblies will be held on the same day – July 25, 2018 – state-run Radio Pakistan announced Saturday.

Earlier this week, the Election Commission of Pakistan proposed to President Mamnoon Hussain that the 2018 general elections be held between July 25 and 27.

The incumbent government’s five-year constitutional term ends on May 31.

Zahid Gishkori, an Islamabad-based journalist, told DW that “all speculations and rumors about a delay in general election have been proven incorrect.”

“The elections will strengthen democracy in Pakistan,” he said.

Read more:

Pakistan: Will general elections be held on time?

US watches Pakistan’s democratic transition with caution

Poor civilian-military relations

But the growing rift between ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan’s powerful army has cast a dark pall over the upcoming elections.

Earlier this month, Sharif’s statement on the involvement of Pakistan in the 2008 terror attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai strained the already poor civilian-military relations in the South Asian country even further. Despite widespread criticism, Sharif has stuck to his guns and refused to retract his contentious remarks.

The comments put the former PM in the crosshairs of pro-military politicians and television commentators, with most of them calling for Sharif to be charged with treason.

The issue reveals the serious friction and deep-seated distrust between those that support the Muslim-majority country’s democratically elected civilian government and others that side with the army.

But the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Group, PML-N) is hopeful that its rift with the military won’t affect its performance in the July 25 vote.

“PML-N will emerge as a majority party [in the upcoming election] and form the next government, given that elections are held in a fair, free and transparent manner,” Senator Asif Kirmani, told DW.

But many in Pakistan believe the military would not like Sharif’s party to emerge victorious in the next election.

“It is very good news for all Pakistanis and democrats that elections will be held in July,” I. A. Rehman, a prominent human rights activist, told DW. “But now a huge responsibility has been assigned to the election commission to organize free and fair elections, which is pivotal for true democracy,” he added.

Read more:

Pakistan Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal injured in gun attack

Pakistan court disqualifies Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for breaking election laws

Ruling from the shadows

In 2013, for the first time in its history, the country witnessed a smooth transition of power from one civilian government to another. This triggered hopes that the country had managed to put an end to its military coup-filled past, and was on track to becoming a true democracy.

But the manner in which Sharif was recently expelled from his premiership sparked suspicion that the army was behind his ouster. Sharif, who has been Pakistan’s prime minister three times, had to step down ostensibly because his family was implicated in a corruption case. However, many believe he has been targeted because of his willingness to lock horns with the army, and assert civilian authority over the military.

In addition to losing his position as premier, Sharif has been barred from leading his party and also from contesting any election ever. Their attempt to banish Sharif from Pakistani politics, some observers say, shows the institutional power of the nation’s military, indicating how the generals no longer need to undertake a coup d’etat and impose martial law in order to exercise power. Instead, they have mastered the art of ruling the country from the shadows.

Read more: Opinion: Pakistan needs ex-PM Sharif’s political role now more than ever

Against this backdrop, experts point out that there are fears over whether the upcoming elections will be free and fair. “If the elections are not free and fair then it would not be accepted as an election because it should be transparent,” said PML-N’s Zafar ul Haq.

The elections will be crucial in determining Pakistan’s future trajectory, as the country finds itself confronting a challenging security landscape. The United States, under President Donald Trump, has also been tough on Islamabad, expressing its frustration over Pakistan’s failure to target terrorist networks in the region.

Seeking China’s support

At the start of this year, Washington also decided to suspend security assistance to Islamabad. This has pushed Pakistan to increasingly turn toward China for much-needed financial and diplomatic support.

China, on the other hand, has been Pakistan’s close regional ally for decades and has invested heavily in the country in recent years. Currently, Beijing is spearheading a nearly $60 billion (€50 billion) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of its gigantic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China also wants to minimize India’s influence in the region by supporting Pakistan, a policy that analysts don’t think will drastically change in the near future.

However, experts argue that economic prosperity requires political stability. And increased political tensions mean more political instability, which would increase interference from the military establishment in political and election-related matters, Senator Akram Dashti told DW.

“The army would not leave any stone unturned to keep Sharif out. In short, the military establishment does not accept the supremacy of the civilian political parties in Pakistan because they want to call the shots in the country,” said Dashti.



Pakistan: PM announces three-month pay as gift for federal govt employees as elections are announced — Vote buying?

May 27, 2018

In a rare move, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has approved a special parting gift, equivalent of three-month salaries, for employees of the federal government at public expense.

The special ‘honorarium’ is estimated to cost Rs25-30 billion, provided it remains limited to federal government employees. The amount could rise up to Rs75bn if the special benefit is later extended to armed forces personnel, an official explained.

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Prime Minister ShahidKhaqanAbbasi

Responding to a question, he disagreed that the move could be termed pre-poll rigging, and elaborated that the elections would be held under a caretaker government through judicial officers, so federal government employees had no reason to be partial to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The notification issued by the prime minister’s office did not mention employees of the armed forces. It said that the prime minister, who is also chairperson of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, was “pleased to order that all employees of the federal government shall be given honorarium equivalent to three basic pays for financial year 2017-18. No exception shall be allowed for payment in excess of the ceiling in any case”.

Honorarium is estimated to cost exchequer Rs25-30 billion

The prime minister decided to set a precedent for future governments to allow such amounts to be doled out from the public kitty, but expressed hope that it would be based on some principles. He further “desired that for the financial year 2018-19 onwards a policy may be formulated by the new elected government after Elections 2018”, said a notification issued by PM’s Secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad.

This is the first time such a major decision has been taken by a prime minister, ever since the Supreme Court of Pakistan, two years ago, restricted the powers of the prime minister and members of the cabinet in financial matters, unless collectively approved by the federal cabinet.

A senior government official said personnel of the armed forces, and employees of provincial governments, public sector organisations and financial institutions would also harbour expectation of the financial benefit allowed to federal government employees. The combined financial impact on federal and provincial governments could go well beyond Rs150bn in that case, he warned.

The prime minister’s move comes at a time when the fiscal deficit has already been estimated by the Ministry of Finance to exceed 5.5 per cent of the GDP for the current fiscal year, compared to 4.1pc set in the budget last year.

Federal Minister for Finance Dr Miftah Ismail was not available for comment, but a senior government official said this was the first time a government had allowed a special financial benefit to all government employees without discrimination.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2018

Peace and Freedom Note: We noticed that the PM of Malaysia Najib Razak gave a lot of money away during the election campaign in Malaysia but he did not get re-elected….


Pakistan’s President Announces General Elections for July 25

National Assembly, provincial lawmakers will face voters — Hussain formally signs document approving date for election

Pakistan’s president on Saturday approved the prime minister’s plan to hold general elections on July 25, according to reports from the Lahore-based newspaper the Nation and Agence France Presse.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who became prime minister in August, had previously said on May 14 that elections would be held that month, but hadn’t specified a date. The Election Commission of Pakistan had proposed holding the vote between July 25 and July 27.

All 342 members of the country’s National Assembly will face voters, which they last did in 2013.

Pakistan’s National Assembly is the lower chamber of its Parliament, which also has a Senate. Senators are chosen by provincial legislators, who’ll also face the country’s more than 100 million voters that day.

Abbasi, a member of the governing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, became prime minister after his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, was forced to resign when Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified him on corruption charges.

President Mamnoon Hussain, also a member of the PML-N, formally signed the document setting the date of the election on Saturday.


Pakistan passes law to align tribal region with rest of country — Part of ending safe havens for Afghan Taliban

May 26, 2018

By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s parliament on Thursday passed legislation to merge the country’s tribal regions along the Afghan border with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a key step to ending the region’s much-criticized colonial era governance system.

While security in the restive region has improved, for years Islamist militants including the Taliban and al Qaeda have used Waziristan and its surrounding tribal areas to train and launch attacks in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, in part because the region has no government writ.

As a result, the region is central to efforts by Washington, Islamabad and others to combat militants.

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The semi-autonomous region consists of seven big district and six towns known as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and has been governed for over 150 years by colonial era tribal laws.

Rights groups have long argued that residents of FATA to have the same laws as the rest of Pakistan, pointing out that the use of collective punishment and other colonial-era laws against local people tramples basic rights.

“The law this parliament passed today will, God willing, bring positive results,” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said after the 372 member house adopted the amendment with a 229 votes majority supported by ruling and opposition parties.

He said the region will be governed with rights equal to other parts of the country.

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The reform bill was delayed for years mainly due to political wrangling but has long been demanded by the local population.

Abbasi said local elections in the region would be held this year to kick start a political process and said future governments will spend 100 billion rupees ($865 million) a year for a decade on development.

Over the past decade Pakistan’s military has launched several operations in FATA, displacing many people now forced to live in camps in districts just outside the tribal regions.

(Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Matthew Mpoke Bigg)


Pakistan: Nawaz comes under fire in Senate for Mumbai attack remarks — Sharif’s remarks are “treasonous”

May 15, 2018

Several senators on both sides of the aisle on Monday fired a broadside at former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for his recent statement about the Mumbai attacks, with some going as far as demanding that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo be tried under treason laws.

The discussion on a motion on the country’s political situation turned into diatribe against Mr Sharif who, many senators claimed, had made an irresponsible remark that could prove damaging for the country. They demanded that he apologise to the nation and retract his statement. Some of the senators even demanded that the PML-N leader be tried for high treason; that his name be placed on the Exit Control List, and a thorough investigation to determine the reasons behind the statement made by a thrice-elected prime minister.

Several senators belonging to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl — an ally of the ruling PML-N — also condemned Mr Sharif’s statement, saying he had endorsed the “enemy’s” narrative. Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri also proposed a probe to determine why the former PM had made the statement.

Journalists run for shelter as the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai burns under fire from terrorists cooped inside.Journalists run for shelter as the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai burns under fire from terrorists cooped inside.(Photo: Reuters)

The senators pointed out that while Mr Sharif was determined to stick to his words, his younger brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had claimed that the remarks had been distorted and presented in a misleading manner. They also criticised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for what they called acting as an advocate for Nawaz Sharif.

Non-state actors were hired by India, says Rehman Malik

They said the former PM had insinuated that the non-state actors who had carried out the attacks in Mumbai were sponsored by the state of Pakistan. They said going so far in a bid to escape accountability was highly condemnable.

Former interior minister Rehman Malik said there was no doubt that the 2008 Mumbai attacks had been carried out by non-state actors in Pakistan who had been hired by India. He claimed that the attackers had travelled in a boat and stayed with a woman, who was an operative for Indian intelligence agency RAW. This was why investigators from Pakistan were not allowed access to suspect Ajmal Kasab, he claimed, because they knew that the drama they had staged themselves would be exposed. He advised Mr Sharif to retract his statement.

Senator Nauman Wazir read out the definition of “treason”, and requested the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of Mr Sharif’s “treasonous” remarks.

Senator Faisal Javed suggested that the former prime minister’s name should be placed on the ECL and a probe be launched into his sons’ businesses in India.

Senator Shibli Faraz of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said the PML-N lawmakers had also condemned their leader’s remarks in their private conversations.

No one from the treasury benches was available to wind up the discussion, so Monday’s session was wound up without a response from the government’s side.

Earlier taking part in the discussion on the political situation, Senator Javed Abbasi of the PML-N said there was a threat to democratic institutions, adding that the Constitution had defined the role of the judiciary, executive and legislature and Pakistan’s salvation lay in strict adherence to the system.

He warned against targeting a political party and blocking its way, noting that everyone should have an equal opportunity of taking part in the upcoming electoral exercise.

He said that free and fair polls should take place on time. He referred to the rumours of an extended term of the interim government and said the prime minister and the leader of the opposition should decide the name of the caretaker prime minister without delay, and not leave the matter for others to meddle in.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2018


Pakistan’s Electricity Shortage: Loadshedding returned many parts to darkness as the nation’s power grid couldn’t cope

May 2, 2018

ISLAMABAD: While the federal government has already announced it has overcome electricity shortage, power loadshedding returned with a bang on Tuesday when the mercury rose to 49 degrees centigrade in some parts of the country and transmission system and power plants tripped amid falling fuel stocks.

For the power shortfall, which exceeded 5,000 megawatts, the energy ministry’s power division looking after the national grid and distribution system attributed the revival of power outages to unavailability of Balloki, Bhikki, Haveli Bahadur Shah power plants, four nuclear plants, Neelum-Jhelum and other hydropower stations.

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Is the age of having no electricity for hours at a time is back in Pakistan?.— Photo by Adil Siddiqui

Updated May 02, 2018

Officials in the petroleum division of the ministry of energy said it was just the beginning as furnace oil stocks were at a very low level and the oil shipments due to the belated permission given by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi might not arrive before May 3.

“Even arrival of ships alone is not enough,” said a senior petroleum division official. He said the entire supply chain from berthing to product offloading, pumping to the pipeline or tankers, and its transportation to power houses required between three and 15 days, depending on the location of the power plants in Karachi or Lahore.

“It would, therefore, require a seamless coordination among the operational entities — PSO, port authorities, transport operators, power plant operators and the two divisions concerned — to work day and night” to complete the process, he added.

Furnace oil shipments to arrive in next two weeks due to delayed permission by PM for import

“The margin of error is zero this time,” the official said, adding that any delay would cost the PML-N government high before the upcoming general elections as it had already announced it had overcome power shortage.

While the officials said the overall shortfall excee­ded 5,000MW, informed sources said the power cuts to the consumers hovered between 7,000MW and 8,000MW including transformational, transmission and distribution losses as well as non-withdrawal of power by distribution companies. The network operators had to resort to forced loadshedding to avoid system collapse.

As a result, consumers in category-1 (feeders having less than 10 per cent loss areas) also suffered four- to six-hour-long power cuts though they are out of the approved load management policy of the government.

The power division auth­orities claimed the situation was almost under control but warned that the next 36 hours could be critical.

On Tuesday evening, the power division directed the distribution companies to limit their power withdrawals within approved quota and ensure that category-1 feeders, comprising 61 per cent of service areas, suffer the least and park maximum shortage in high-loss areas. Such areas, therefore, suffered prolonged power cuts ranging between 12 and 14 hours a day.

The petroleum division officials said the fuel stock at the Hubco plant was less than three days of consumption while Bin Qasim plant of K-Electric had five-day stocks. The situation in Punjab was not well either.

They said all the six ships transporting a total of 420,000 tonnes of fuel would arrive between May 3 and 14.

“Power production will fall drastically ahead of the holy month of Ramazan if the supply chain is not managed effectively,” said a senior petroleum division official.

He added that the countrywide stocks had been depleting fast since the time when an urgent tender was floated in the early April 2018 by PSO following instructions of the economic coordination committee of the cabinet.

“The stock available for use with power generation companies across the country is depleting fast while the situation with Karachi-based power generation units is critical with furnace oil stock available only for consumption only less than a week,” the official said.

Only a few days ago, the government directed the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to float a tender to urgently order furnace oil cargo. The government had decided in January to ban the import of furnace oil.

PSO’s total receivables on Tuesday stood at Rs312 billion, including Rs261 billion payable by power sector, Rs26 billion by gas companies for LNG and Rs26 billion by PIA and the government.

Power plants trip

A power division spokesman said the 220kV National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) high-transmission circuits such as 220kV Daudkhel, 220kV Bannu, 220kV Ludewala and the four Chashma Nuclear Power Plants of 1,200MW tripped at 1:30am on Tuesday. In a written statement, the spokesman said supply to these power plants (C-I, C-II, C-III and C-IV) had been restored by mid-day and 220kV NTDC lines energized. However, the restoration of generation from these plants would take time as a definite protocol had to be followed, the statement said.

The spokesman also said the RLNG-based power plants — Havelli Bahadar Shah, Bhikki and Balloki (with a total generation capacity of 3,600MW) — were in a testing phase with no power generation from these plants currently available. The hydropower generation was also low due to the low water release from reservoirs. Besides, he added, the new Neelum-Jehlum power plants, too, were in testing phase.

The power division spokesman described the situation of the national grid as “temporary due to unavoidable situation”. He said the consumers would be provided relief as soon as any plant would start generation. He appealed to the consumers to adopt energy conservation practices.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2018

Pakistan: Supreme Court seeks data of people who sent money abroad

April 27, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to provide it with details of foreign currency transactions of $50,000 or more by Pakistani nationals who quietly siphoned off foreign currency to other countries over the past year.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, gave SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa one week to submit details of all transactions involving tranches of $50,000 or more, along with particulars of the individuals who made the transactions.

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Dawn (Pakistan)

The court had taken up the case regarding illegal transfer of money from Pakistan to other countries on a suo motu notice after learning that several Pakistanis continued to maintain bank accounts abroad, without disclosing them to the authorities or paying taxes in accordance with the law.

The court noted that foreign currency was being siphoned off, without payment of taxes, through illegal channels. This money, the court concluded, either represented ill-gotten gains or kickbacks from public contracts. The court added that this created gross disproportion, inequality and disparity in society, which warped economic activity and growth, and constituted plunder and theft of national wealth.

SBP asked to provide details of transactions worth $50,000 or more over the past year

On Thursday, when the SBP governor told the apex court that Section 5(3) of the Protection of Economic Reforms Act 1992 provided protection to account holders from sharing personal information with the public, the court ordered the central bank to furnish the information to it in a sealed envelope.

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Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar

During the proceedings Chief Justice Nisar regretted the depreciation of Pakistani currency and said the US-Pak currency parity was Rs118 to a dollar at present.

On April 5, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi unveiled the Economic Reforms Package  (ERP) — another ‘one-time’ amnesty scheme, which many believe will help criminal elements whiten undeclared assets at home and abroad. Under the package income tax has also been reduced for existing taxpayers and issuance of dollar-denominated bonds has been allowed.

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Prime Minister ShahidKhaqanAbbasi

Under the scheme the government intends to offer amnesty to those who have not been paying taxes to become taxpayers and whiten their assets — both local and foreign.

On March 26, the court constituted a 12-member committee and tasked it with tracing and encouraging Pakistani nationals to declare their assets abroad.

The SBP governor highlighted the need to scrutinise existing rules and agreements to consider how the money might have been sent abroad.

The court wondered whether or not the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) could ask taxpayers about their foreign accounts. The SBP governor replied that every taxpayer was obligated to disclose their foreign assets and accounts in income tax returns. If they failed to disclose these details, the authorities could not ask them for information about their foreign accounts.

A former minister and one of the petitioners in the case, Mohammad Ali Durrani, regretted that usually a country’s economy was supposed to improve and get stronger if a money launderer was nabbed; however, the opposite was true for Pakistan. He said the economy registered a negative effect when the chief justice spoke about arresting financial offenders.

While hearing a case about non-performing loans worth billions of rupees, as well as the ones that are written off by commercial banks, the apex court observed that loans that were waived off on political grounds would be recovered.

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The court also warned that it would forfeit the assets of those who failed to return the loans. The court said a summary of all such loans should be submitted within a week’s time.

During the hearing one of the petitioners, Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party, alleged that former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto, Mohammad Khan Junejo, Yousuf Raza Gillani and others had gotten loans worth Rs518 billion waived off during their tenures. Similarly, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and his brother had gotten loans worth Rs120bn written off.

The court recalled a report prepared by a three-person commission constituted to probe bank loan write-offs worth billions of rupees between 1971 and 2009.

The commission report, which was spread over more than 2,200 pages, had suggested that Rs87bn worth of loans had been waived off in the past four decades, a major chunk of which (Rs84.62bn) was waived off between 1992 and 2009, while Rs2.3bn worth of loans were written off from 1971 to 1991.

The suo motu case was initiated by the top court in 2008 on news reports that the central bank had quietly allowed commercial banks to write off non-performing loans (NPLs) under a scheme introduced by former dictator retired General Pervez Musharraf.

Instead of launching an effective campaign for the recovery of NPLs, the SBP issued an incentive scheme for banks/DFIs in October 2002 to waive off the loans of organisations showing “losses” for three years.

In their voluminous report, the commission regretted that they examined 740 cases but, despite their best efforts the banks and DFIs did not provide information regarding loans sanctioned on “other than business considerations”. The report added that either bankers were afraid of politicians or the civil/military bureaucracy, or were privy to sanctioning loans or factually the quantum of such loans was not high.

Of the 740 cases it examined, the commission stated, a comparatively small number was directly related to well-known politicians and civil or military bureaucrats. Though there were some prominent names of people who had availed write-off concessions, the number and quantum was not large enough.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2018

King of Jordan arrives in Islamabad

February 8, 2018

In this file photo, Jordan’s King Abdullah meets with members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the US Capitol in Washington, Feb. 3, 2015. (REUTERS)
ISLAMABAD: King of Jordan Abdullah II has arrived in Islamabad, on Thursday, on a two day official visit to Pakistan.
He is visiting Islamabad on the invitation of President Mamnoon Hussain.
King Abdullah II is leading a high-level delegation, including senior officials.
During his stay in Pakistani capital, the King of Jordan will hold talks with President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
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Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbas
“Bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest will be discussed,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Pakistani authorities say that the visit would provide an opportunity to explore ways and means to further strengthen cooperation in diverse areas of mutual interest, particularly expanding bilateral trade and enhance investments in Pakistan.
“Pakistan and Jordan enjoy extremely close and brotherly relations. They share common perceptions on regional and international issues and matters concerning the Muslim Ummah,” the ministry of foreign affairs statement reads.
“The visit of His Majesty King Abdullah II is expected to give a new impetus to the existing fraternal bonds between the two brotherly countries,” the statement added.

Pakistan moving towards instability: Nawaz Sharif

December 15, 2017

Geo News

LONDON: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said the country is moving towards instability and the current circumstances in Pakistan are not satisfactory.

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Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz added that the country, which was progressing well, is now moving towards instability after the July 28 decision.

“I said it during my rally in Quetta too, such decisions become the reason for anarchy in a country,” said the former prime minister.

Nawaz is in London after the court had exempted him for a short duration from appearing in the hearings held for the NAB references registered against him.

Nawaz said his government has worked hard during the last four years to improve the country and the circumstances of the masses.

However, he said, terrorism which was under control during his leadership is again rearing its head in the country.

“CPEC projects have slowed down, projects are not progressing at the speed as they were during our tenure,” elaborated Nawaz further and added that the stock exchange, which was hovering around 54,000 points, has now dropped down to around 37,000 points.

“These are all economic indicators. Political instability effects the country.”

Nawaz also expressed his dismay at the current circumstances.

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Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

Earlier today, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif arrived at Hasan Nawaz’s office in London to meet party leader and former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, Shehbaz’s son Salman, and other members of the family were also present at the meeting.

Abbasi said the government would complete its tenure and elections would be held on time.

“The government will complete its tenure and elections will be held on time,” said the prime minister, reiterating the government’s stance.

The prime minister also said that the merger of FATA with KP is part of the agenda and some reservations raised are being allayed.

The PML-N leaders also met former premier Shaukat Aziz at his London residence yesterday to offer their condolences on the demise of his son.

According to credible sources privy to developments in PML-N, Nawaz has also recently met former finance minister Ishaq Dar in London. The meeting was held at the residence of Nawaz’s son, Hasan Nawaz, wherein the present situation of the country came under discussion, sources said.

US defense chief lands in Pakistan as ties between allies fray — Expected to urge Pakistan to eliminate militant safe havens, fight war against Islamist terrorists

December 4, 2017

© AFP/File | Mattis says he’s ready to listen during his trip to Pakistan


ISLAMABAD (AFP) – US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Pakistan Monday as Washington pressures its wayward ally to eliminate militant safe havens, days after Pakistani authorities freed an alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.Mattis landed at an air force base in the garrison city of Rawalpindi bordering Islamabad, according to a pool report, before heading to the US embassy.

During the brief stopover in the capital, he is set to hold talks with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the powerful military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

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General Qamar Javed Bajwa

Mattis’s first visit to the country as defense secretary of defense comes as the US pushes its longtime ally to do more to combat insurgents who allegedly use bases in Pakistan’s tribal belt to target NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Relations suffered a further blow after a Pakistani court ordered the release of firebrand cleric Hafiz Saeed in late November, prompting a furious response from the White House.

Saeed heads the UN-listed terrorist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa and has a $10 million US bounty on his head. He had been under house arrest but was released after a court in Lahore said officials had not provided any evidence of his role in the days-long assault on India’s capital which killed more than 160 people.

The decision to release Saeed coincided with the beleaguered government’s capitulation to Islamist protesters holding a sit-in in the Pakistani capital.

The deal, which the military helped broker, saw the federal law minister resign over blasphemy allegations.

It sent shockwaves through the country, sparking fears that the military was doing little to keep extremism in check after supporting the demands of a small group of hardliners.

President Donald Trump first signalled that the US was reassessing its fractious relations with Pakistan during a televised speech in August, launching a blistering attack on Islamabad for harbouring “agents of chaos”.

The remarks triggered a series of high-level diplomatic meetings in the US and Pakistan, but Islamabad has given few signs of concessions to Washington.

Pakistan has consistently rejected claims it supports Taliban-allied forces, insisting it maintains contacts with insurgents only as a means to bring them to the table for peace talks.

Pakistan, which has long harboured fears of encirclement by arch-rival India, has also bristled at Trump’s calls for an increased Indian role in rebuilding Afghanistan.

Last week the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said Islamabad had not carried out the “clear” demands made by Washington.

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General John Nicholson

“We have not seen those changes implemented yet,” he told reporters.

But en route to Pakistan Mattis told reporters he would not use pressure as a tactic and insisted he would do “some listening”.

When asked if he would “prod” Islamabad to take more action, he replied: “That’s not the way I deal with issues. I believe that we work hard on finding the common ground, and then we work together, so that’s the approach I want to take.”

Pakistan Rejects China Dam Aid; Stuns China’s One Belt One Road Planners

November 16, 2017

File photo used for representational purpose

In a jolt to OBOR, Pakistan rejects China dam aid

Saibal Dasgupta | TNN | Updated: Nov 16, 2017, 11:33 IST

Pakistan has turned down China’s offer of assistance for the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam
Islamabad is learnt to have asked China to take the project out of the CPEC
The project is located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which is claimed by India
File photo used for representational purposeFile photo used for representational purpose

BEIJING: Pakistan has turned down China’s offer of assistance for the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam+ , according to a leading Pakistan daily.

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Diamer-Bhasha Dam under construction

Moreover, Islamabad is learnt to have asked China to take the project out of the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and allow it to build the dam on its own. The project is located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is claimed by India.

The Asian Development Bank had earlier refused+ to finance the project because it was to come up in a disputed territory. Express Tribune cited a top official saying Pakistan would prefer to self-finance the project instead of accepting extremely tough conditions set by Chinese companies.

Sources in Pakistan said international lenders were linking serious conditions with the provision of funding, and the project cost had reached $14 billion against the original estimates of $5 billion.

Express Tribune quoted chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Muzammil Hussain as saying, “Chinese conditions for financing the Diamer-Bhasha Dam were not doable and against our interests.”


Hussain said this while briefing the public accounts committee (PAC) of parliament, and added that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has approved a plan to finance the dam from the country’s own resources.

The report caused huge surprise to knowledgeable sources in Beijing, some of whom were in denial and said Pakistan was unlikely to spring a nasty surprise without first consulting Chinese authorities.

A Beijing-based Chinese expert said Pakistan would not risk turning down Beijing’s offer because it would impact the CPEC as a whole.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a gravity dam, in the preliminary stages of construction, on the River Indus in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

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