Daily "Layalpur Post"

Eco-friendly Ravi Urban project to generate $40 billion revenue: PM

SHEIKHUPURA, August 25, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the Ravi River Urban Project, besides its environmental benefits, was expected to generate $40 billion revenue for the country. “The project will not only prove beneficial for Lahore, but for the entire country in addressing the environmental and financial problems,” he said at the launch of the country’s first-ever ‘Smart Forest’ near Sheikhupura under the Ravi Urban project. The prime minister said the project would stop the sewage water seep into Punjab’s River Ravi, which ultimately flowed up to the River Indus passing through Sindh.

Under the Ravi Urban project, he said, around 10 million trees would be planted besides construction of three barrages at the river. Filtration plants will ensure provision of clean water to public, he added. He asked Chief Minister Punjan Sardar Usman Buzdar to remain undeterred amidst challenges and work towards timely completion of the project. Imran Khan termed water scarcity, deforestation and glacier melting biggest challenge for the country, which was among the ten most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

He said massive forestation was vital to save the country for the coming generations. “If we want to hand over a green and clean Pakistan to our next generation, plantation is the foremost solution,” he said. The prime minister regretted deforestation in the country over the time, terming it disastrous in terms of climate change. He recalled that Lahore, once used to be called as City of Gardens, had turned into a polluted place with pollutants touching the hazardous levels. “Therefore, the Ravi project is not only important for Lahore but for the entire country,” he stressed.

The prime minister, who earlier inaugurated the Smart Forest, said the growth of every plant would be monitored in collaboration with the tech giant Huawei. He said sensors would keep a vigil on ruthless cutting of trees and expressed confidence that the project would be replicated in other parts of the country. He mentioned that in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, one billion trees had been planted and highlighted the ongoing countrywide campaign of planting ten billion trees to make the country green.

Earlier, the prime minister planted a sapling in the forest, which is first of its kind being equipped with technology sensors and surveillance systems. Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and senior officials of the Punjab government were present. The Rakh Jhok Forest is a project of Ravi Urban Development Authority covering 24,000 kanals of land. Technology giant Huawei will be the smart partner in the project.

Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) a symbol of resilience, perseverance: President

ISLAMABAD, August 19, 2021 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi has said the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) is a symbol of determination and perseverance, and urged the nation to rise above hatred, malice and sectarianism in line with his teachings. “We have to prepare ourselves for all kinds of sacrifices by becoming a metaphor of determination and stability for our religion, nation and country,” the president said in his message on Youm-e-Ashur, in remembrance of the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain. President Alvi said following such pathway leads to the success in the world and the hereafter.

He said Ashura has a special place in the hearts of Muslim Ummah among several historic events. On this day, he said, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) along with his family and other devoted companions had sacrificed their lives while fighting the forces of tyranny and oppression. He said the immortal sacrifices had revived the spirit of Islam and even today, such character was a source of inspiration for the believers in the moments of trial and tribulation. President Alvi said the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain was a great lesson for the Muslim Ummah.

He said the best way to pay homage to Hazrat Imam Hussain was to pledge about conforming to the lives in accordance with his teachings. During the fourth wave of COVID-19, he said, the nation must observe precautions especially during the gatherings and processions of Ashura. He urged the public to adopt precautionary measures and SOPs issued by the government and also get vaccinated for their own protection. He prayed to Allah Almighty to grant everyone the strength to follow the example of Hazrat Imam Hussain and protect the country and the entire world from coronavirus.

Voters’ data to be synced with technology to check poll fraud: PM

ISLAMABAD, August 13, 2021 (APP, LPP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said for the first time in the country’s history, the government would synchronize technology and data to eliminate any chances of fraud in general elections. “We will hold the ‘21st century’ election with necessary technological arrangements in-place to ensure transparent and fair election,” he said, at the launch of various initiatives of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), here at its headquarters. The newly inaugurated projects included launch of Alien Registration Card, Pak COVID-19 Mobile Vaccination Pass, national certification and renewal campaign, setting up of 66 Nadra Registration Centres across the country and inauguration of 90 mobile registration vans.

The prime minister said to end fake registration of voters, technology would be synced with data. “The results based on the free and transparent exercise would be acceptable to all,” he added. On the launch of Alien Registration Card and work permit for foreigners, he said the step would bring the segment into social and financial mainstream. He mentioned that over three million registered Afghan refugees would also benefit from the facility, which would help them run their businesses in a legalized manner. Imran Khan said it was the government’s responsibility to facilitate the masses in every possible way. The prime minister also inaugurated a latest system based on Artificial Intelligence to curb fake identity cards. The system has been designed within a short span of time by newly appointed NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik that would also help detect foreigners in the database.

Under the new system, the head of the family will be able to know or verify the details of his family members by simply sending an SMS and inform NADRA in case of any addition or deletion. Earlier on his arrival at the NADRA headquarters, the prime minister on the occasion reviewed the specially-designed mobile registration van, fully-equipped to provide services of NADRA to the people in remote areas of the country. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Minister for State for Information Farrukh Habib were present. Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik briefed the prime minister about the different facilities including data collection, fingerprint and photo scanning, that will be provided to the people who are unable to visit the NADRA centres.

The Alien Registration Card and work permit will enable the foreigners and their families run businesses, get admission in private educational institutions, private employment, mobile SIMs, utility connections, open bank accounts, register vehicle and other sale purchases. The holders of the card will also be protected from legal action under Foreign Act. The mobile application COVID-19 Pass will immediately verify the document by organizations or the Pakistanis traveling within Pakistan and abroad. By scanning the QR code on vaccination certificate, one can easily know the validity of document which would show the owner name, passport number and other details.

3 alleged terrorists killed in Lahore

LAHORE, August 8, 2021 (LPP): The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab has Sunday claimed to have shot down three alleged terrorists, planning attacks on sensitive installations and departments, amid a shootout in an intelligence-based operation, ARY News reported. The information-based coordinated raid was conducted by the Lahore CTD branch in the Ferozewala area where the three alleged terrorists rented a house, said the department’s spokesperson.

The three deceased terrorism suspects are Ehsan Ullah, Naimat Ullah and Abdul Salam and were shot dead during an operation conducted after a coordinated information and intelligence gathering, the department said. More details on the operation and the associations of these alleged terrorists and their connections have yet to be divulged. In a separate case yesterday from Sindh, a former leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Fatima Musafir alias Waderi, was gunned down in Karachi the last night.

Police said the firing incident took place in New Karachi’s Khamiso Goth. Unidentified armed men on a motorcycle opened fire at her near her residence and sped away. She died on the spot. Her body was shifted to a nearby medical facility for medico-legal formalities. On getting information, a police team reached the crime scene and cordoned it off to collect evidence. Fatima served as the president of the PPP’s PS-123 Woman Circle.

Pakistan:Federal Cabinet seeks to revamp PARC

ISLAMABAD (Zafar Bhutta), August 7, 2021: In the wake of Minister for National Food Security and Research’s admission regarding the deteriorating performance of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), the cabinet has directed the food ministry to submit a plan to revamp the research institute. Sources told The Express Tribune that cabinet members questioned the performance of PARC while considering a summary. They also raised questions on the reconstitution of PARC board of governors.

The minister for national food security & research agreed that the working of research institutes had deteriorated and there was a dire need to evaluate their capacities through international experts. He highlighted that out of the 3,800 employees at PARC only 300 were scientists. The cabinet directed that a plan for revamping PARC be presented to it within four weeks.

The affairs of PARC as a research institute have been very inadequate as the cotton crop witnessed a historic decline in production during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s tenure. The main reason for the decline in cotton crop was the lack of research in the area of seed. The farmers have not been able to get valuable seeds for a long time. However, the employees of PARC continued to receive higher salaries and hefty packages.

PARC witnessed further crisis when the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government appointed 269 employees illegally. Despite a court verdict, PARC continued to pay salaries to these employees due to pressure of the food ministry. The food ministry had submitted panels for members of PARC board of governors from different provinces. Sindh was the only province that had nominated all farmers in a panel, while in the Punjab nomination there were no eminent farmers.

The National Food Security & Research Division apprised the cabinet that PARC is an apex organisation working under PARC Ordinance 1981 with the mandate to promote and coordinate agricultural research in the country. As per clause 6 (1), chapter-IV of ibid ordinance, overall control, direction and superintendence of affairs of the council vest in the board of governors and clause 11, chapter-IV defines the term of office for non-official members.

The three-year tenure of the PARC board had expired and the chairman proposed the following revised composition of the board, which comprised 15 members, for a period of three years. The federal ministry proposed the name of Ministry of National Food Security and Research secretary for president. The proposed official members include the ministry secretary, PARC chairman, finance ministry secretary, government representative not below the rank of additional secretary, and Planning Commission member.

The food ministry also proposed four names to act as whole-time members, which included officials from areas of plant sciences, natural resources, animal sciences, social sciences and finance. The food ministry also proposed a panel of non-official members and pleaded to approve one of the candidates from each province. Punjab proposed a panel of three candidates, which included Rabia Sultan, a progressive farmer from Lahore, PARC former chairman Amir Muhammed and FAO Islamabad Project Coordinator Muhammad Afzal.

Sindh also suggested a panel of three candidates, comprising Imdad Ali Nizamani, a farmer from Tando Allahyar, Ghulam Qasim Jiskani from Khairpur and Agha Zulfiqar Durrani, a progressive farmer from Hyderabad. Balochistan recommended three candidates; Abdul Salam Baloch, Abdul Nasir Kasi and Hakim Ali Jamali. The three candidates recommended by Khyber-Pakthunkhwa were Fida Muhammad Abbasi, Noor Jehan and Said Khan Khalil. Gilgit-Baltistan suggested names of Izhar Hunzai, Inyatullah Shumali and Ghulam Abbas for the panel.

The approval of the cabinet was solicited to the proposal. The cabinet considered the summary titled ‘Reconstitution of PARC Board of Governors’ submitted by the National Food Security & Research Division, and directed the sponsoring division to submit the panel of non-official members to the Prime Minister’s Office in light of the cabinet decision conveyed vide in a letter on March 16, 2018. The Cabinet further directed the sponsoring division to present, to the cabinet, a comprehensive plan to revamp PARC, within four weeks.

President launches digitalization of state media organizations

ISLAMABAD, August 7, 2021 (APP, LPP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday launched digitalization of the state media organizations; including the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Pakistan Television, Radio Pakistan at a ceremony held here at the Pakistan-China Friendship Center. The Digital Transformation of State Media (DTSM) project, initiated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting also included Directorate of Electronic Media and Publication (DEMP) as well as the advertisements of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and Pemra.

The ceremony was attended by First Lady Begum Samina Alvi, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaisar, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, senator Faisal Javed, parliamentarians, mediapersons, authorities of the ministry of information and state media outlets.

Under the project the APP Digital would be fully operationalised and be expanded, the PTV News would go High Definition (HD), Pakistan Radio would start podcasts and the National Media University would be established with focus on art, design, animations, digital journalism, while the DMW would focus on strengthening Digital Media presence of the State of Pakistan.

The digitalization of the news and other services would provide much improved users’ experience, boost speed of news distribution and reach. The digitalisation of the Information Ministry got a boost on the personal initiatives of Federal Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain. The project is part of the National Digital Information Platform (NDIP), aunched today, keeping in view the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan for a Digital Pakistan.

President Dr Arif Alvi also handed over award of ISO 9001:2015 and 27001:2013 certifications to Managing Director of Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) Mobashir Hasan in recognition of the organization’s improved quality standards of management at par with the international level. Under the certification, the APP stands transformed from conventional to a dynamic digitalized mass media service, and aims at setting new trends and lead as a key source of digitally accessible news and factual public information.

Under the digitalization, the APP plans to expand its reach by providing customized news feed and digital content for its subscribers and the public. The APP would also acquire latest computers, video editing and transmission equipment and servers for efficient news distribution and maintaining of its digital archives.

PM inaugurates Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital’s Phase-III Project

PESHAWAR, August 06, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday inaugurated the newly completed Phase-III Project, including the state-of the art operation theaters, here at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. The prime minister was briefed in detail about the project initiated to provide modern healthcare facilities to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Imran Khan also planted a sapling in the city in connection with the ongoing monsoon plantation campaign continued across the country.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on the occasion apprised the prime minister about the overall monsoon plantation campaign in the country, including KP. He also highlighted the achievements made during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Government through its flagship 10-billion-trees- afforestation-project. KP Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan were also present on the occasion. The prime minister on his arrival was received by the KP governor and chief minister, and senior government officials.

Kashmiris on both sides of LoC to observe Black Day tomorrow

ISLAMABAD, August 4, 2021 (APP): Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), in Pakistan and all over the world will observe Black Day on tomorrow (August 5), to convey a strong message to India and the international community that they reject New Delhi’s illegal actions taken on that day in 2019.

According to Kashmir Media Service, the day will be marked by complete shutdown, civil curfew and blackout between 8:00pm to 8:30pm as part of the beginning of Ashra-e-Muzahamat, 10-Day Resistance, calendar released by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference in Srinagar.

A march towards Lal Chowk will also be conducted on August 5. Black flags will be displayed while special prayers will be offered in the evening on each day of the Ashra-e-Muzahamat. The Kashmiris will pay tribute to Shaheed-e-Azeemat Shaikh Abdul Aziz and other martyrs on their martyrdom anniversary on August 11. On August 14, the Pakistan’s Independence Day, special prayer meetings will be held for the peace and prosperity of Pakistan.

As per the protest calendar, India’s Independence Day on August 15 will be observed as Black Day. Black flags will be hoisted while protest rallies be organized against the widespread killings, custodial disappearances, arbitrary detentions, molestation of women and vandalizing of residential houses by Indian forces in the occupied territory.

All Hurriyat leaders and organizations including Shabbir Ahmad Dar, Bilal Ahmad Siddiqui, Yasmeen Raja, Hilal Ahmad War, Muhammad Iqbal Mir, Ghulam Nabi Wasim, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Jammu Kashmir National Front, Jammu and Kashmir Social and Justice League and Democratic Justice Party in their statements supported the call for shutdown.

Senior APHC leader Shabbir Ahmad Shah in a message from New Delhi’s Tihar jail said India cannot distort historical facts on Kashmir through its military might. He said, the people of Jammu and Kashmir never accepted India’s illegal occupation and are fighting for freedom of their homeland from the Indian yoke for the past over seven decades.

PM says corrupt junta always ruined societies, countries

ISLAMABAD, August 1, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan onSunday said that a corrupt society could not make progress whereas those countries made economic strides that had eliminated this curse from their societies. The prime minister said there was rule of law in the prosperous countries. “Corruption at the low level did not bankrupt a country, it has always been the ruling elite that ruined the countries through their teeming corruption,” he added. He said in order to save their skins, the corrupt junta would first weaken the anti-graft bodies, resulting in the destruction of a country.

The UN secretary general formed a fact-finding panel as to why the poor countries were mired in poverty, he said, adding, the panel submitted a report indicating that about 1000 billion dollars were being siphoned off from the poor countries to the rich countries through money laundering tactics by the powerful and corrupt ruling elite. The prime minister was responding to public queries in a live Tv programme, “Aapka Wazir-e- Azam Aap kai sath.” The prime minister further termed the government’s efforts against corruption and for the rule of law as ‘the biggest Jihad’.

He said there would be no two separate sets of laws for the powerful and for the poor. The prime minister asked the people to fully cooperate with the government in this regard as they wanted to make the people free from the clutches of injustices. “We want the country to stand on its feet. It should not seek loans or beg for assistance, and should not take part in the other’s war in return for money,” he added. The prime minister said they wanted the nation to become self-reliant. “It is the fight for the future of Pakistan and fight for the rule of law. We are striving for the rule of law for the future of our generations,” he stressed.

The prime minister said the powerful corrupt elements wanted NRO and wanted deal as the one extended by Musharraf. Such elements had been blackmailing that otherwise, they would pull down the government. The prime minister referred to chaotic situation in South Africa where authorities took action over Zuma’s corruption, their former ruler. He opined that in the Western democracy, an accused could not resist accountability. The prime minister responding to a question, further referred to British rule of Indo-Pak, as they took away about 24 GDP of Mughal empire with them swelling their coffins.

The two families had accumulated pelf through corruption. For the first time in the country’s history, NAB had arrested the powerful people, he added. He said that the first principle in the Riasat-e-Madina was the rule of law where even the Caliphs were answerable to ordinary people. The prime minister said in the initial stages, Muslims faced hardships in Madina, but later they achieved remarkable successes and became the world leaders. He said his government was striving to introduce such a system of public welfare and rule of law in the country.

In the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Gilgit Baltistan, they had given health cards facility to each family. Each family was entitled to one million rupees free of cost medical treatment. The prime minister termed it a revolution, ‘the biggest step ever taken in the country’s history’. Moreover, he said the government was mulling to expand the network of Panahgah (shelter homes). Currently, 22 panahgah were catering to the needs of labourers and daily workers whereas 11 more would be established soon. The prime minister said even in countries like US, homeless people didn’t have such facilities and they were forced to live under open sky.

Besides, the prime minister said, 12 buses were plying in poor areas and providing free meals to people and hinted that number of such trucks would be increased in the near future. Another biggest step, the prime minister said that Kamyab Pakistan programme would be launched in this month to facilitate about 40 per cent poor families of the society. Each member of the family would be imparted technical education, besides these poor families would get health cards facility, interest-free loans and micro finance for house construction.

The prime minister also regretted that the past rulers had ruined government entities like PTV, WAPDA and others through nepotism and political inductions. The result of political inductions added to ballooning of pension bill as the budget allocated for different entities went to payment of pensions. So the institutions could not work for the achievement of the purpose for which they had been created, he observed. The prime minister referred to Pakistan Steel Mills which was closed after running into huge losses due to corruption, mismanagement and political inductions by the previous rulers.

The prime minister said that his government would review such scenario. To a question, regarding promotion of sports activities, the prime minister said he had been familiar with the sports as he could have ‘triple PhD’ in this arena but regretted that he could not focus on sports as the government was busy in addressing other burning  economic issues. He said once country’s hockey and cricket teams were among the world’s top teams. In the squash, Pakistan produced two giants, Jehangir Khan and Jan Shair Khan who dominated the arena for long.

But the subsequent corrupt rulers shamelessly looted and plundered resources and destroyed the institutions. In sports, they placed their blue eyed in different departments, he opined. “On the other hand, different countries make their sports more competitive with innovative training and new techniques and they have professionals at the helms of affairs,” he added. He referred to New Zealand, a country with 4 or 5 million population that defeated one of the most populous country India in the world cup test series.

The prime minister expressed the resolve to fully focus on promotion of sports in the country by bringing professionals at the top. However, he added that the rotten system would take some time. He stressed that playgrounds should be constructed at the union council level to nurture the young talent. To a question, the prime minister said that according to the latest global report, Pakistan was ranked as the cheapest country to live in. He said globally, petrol prices were increased by 47 per cent but in Pakistan, these were increased by 11 per cent. The petrol was the cheapest in Pakistan when compared its prices in all the fuel importing countries.

The prime minister said that they were trying to bring down prices of commodities. He said the salaried class faced difficulties and realizing their issues, the government had increased their salaries. He assured that with increase in revenues, the government would further support the salaried class and facilitate farmers. He said famers had earned Rs11 billion recently from their yield and such an income had never been experienced by the famers’ community. The prime minister further observed that industries in the country were making profits with boom in the construction industry. He also requested the industrialists to increase wages of their workers.

Replying to a query, he said that soon they would be providing direct subsidy to the poor segments of society on the basis of data collected through Ehsaas programme. The prime minister, responding to anther telephonic call, urged that every individual should plant at least one sapling in this monsoon season during the government’s massive Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project (10BTTP). Unfortunately, he said country’s forests had been destroyed and nobody thought of the future generations. “Pakistan is blessed with huge resources and with twelve different climatic zones,” he said, adding, the people did not pay attention to proper usage of water and rivers and planning of cities.

The prime minister said the previous rulers had the sole interest of securing the power and lacked long term planning in this regard. He said 10BTTP was launched for the future of coming generations. The prime minister further said that he had ordered for master plans of different mega cities. Islamabad was the only planned city in Pakistan, but its master plan had been violated so frequently that resulted in its mushroom growth as witnessed during the period from 2010 to 2020, he added. The prime minister expressed the confidence that master plans for every city would stem their unplanned expansion. Dubai and New York cities had witnessed horizontal growth, he added.

He said that new Ravi city was planned as modern city with a water lake forest. In Karachi, development of Bundal island, was another project but the Sindh government was not cooperating though it would bring huge benefits to people in the province and the provincial government, he opined. About opposition’s allegations over AJK elections, the prime minister said he was the first captain in the cricket world who launched campaign for the introduction of neutral umpires and the latest technology. Expressing his wonder, the prime minister said the PML-N government in AJK had all the resources, polling staffs and the election commission of its choice, but its prime minister was levelling allegations of rigging while sitting at his office. Similar, allegations were hurled after result of Sialkot bye-election.

The prime minister said his government was the first one in the country’s history that was insisting upon usage of electronic voting machines to ensure transparency and end the ensuing controversies after polling results. He said they were making efforts to set the electoral system right. The use of EVM would end such like controversies. For about one year, the prime minister said, they had been persuading the opposition to sit and get the electoral system reformed but they were neither listening to nor inclined to give positive suggestions. He also suggested that media and bars elections might be conducted with the help of electronic voting machines.

The prime minister cited the holding of US presidential elections in which former president Donald Trump contested results, but could not prove his claims due to use of electronic voting machines. To another question, the prime minister said that ample power was generated in the country but due to conditions of old transmission lines, power pressure could not be increased as experienced by authorities in Peshawar. The prime minister said in the past, no new dams were constructed in the country, adding ten dams would be constructed during the ten years including two major ones Dasu and Bhasha dams to overcome the power shortage and meet the requirement of the ever-increasing population.

He said China had 5,000 huge dams, out of total 80,000 dams. Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Industries Hamad Azhar, informed that June and July were considered as peak season, but they generated 26000 MW power this year contrary to usual capacity of 24000 MW. He further said that loadshedding in the country was brought to zero and in the next summer season, they would overcome all the issues and would be able to maintain power supply to the industry even in the peak season. To a question, Hamad said that taxes on vehicles had been reduced as the manufacturers also notified the relevant reduction.

He said demand for vehicles was very high which accelerated their production. Public demand for new vehicles indicated the economic prosperity in the country, he added. About voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, the prime minister said that they were the greatest assets of Pakistan who served the country with their remittances. He said the government wanted to further facilitate them as it was in the interest of Pakistan. The prime minister said that the government was determined to give voting rights to about 9 million overseas Pakistanis with E-voting or postal ballots.

Minister for Industries further supplemented that State Bank of Pakistan would soon launch new schemes for digital money transfers to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis. He said they had launched massive crackdown on illegal means of money transfers. The prime minister also expressed the hope that PIA would soon resume its flight operations to the European countries. He said that he would also take up the issue of opening of banking facilities (like NBP) in the Scandinavian countries to facilitate Pakistani business community there.

To another question, the prime minister said those rulers had fears of free media who had done any corruption or any other wrong doing. He said that freedom of expression and independent media were great blessing as a free media played the role of a watchdog. But what concerned him, he said was the propaganda and fake news fed by enemies of the country and spread by local media people. Such fake news were unearthed by the EU DisinfoLab, he added. About Noor Muqadam’s case, the prime minister said that it was a horrible incident that shocked everyone.

He assured the caller that the culprit would be dealt in accordance with law no matter how powerful he might be. The prime minister said that he also personally followed the case of Afghan ambassador’s daughter in the manner as he would have pursued his own daughter’s case, adding Afghans were their brothers.

COVID-19 SOPs imperative to prevent 4th wave of virus: Alvi

KARACHI, (APP):President Dr. Arif Alvi Saturday expressed grave concern over violations of COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) throughout the country and said that the compliance of the guidelines was immensely important to prevent the fourth wave of the coronavirus and reduce its negative effects. The President said while chairing a meeting on the COVID-19 situation and development projects in Sindh province, at Sindh Governor’s House here. Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar were also attended the meeting.

President Dr. Arif Alvi said that the guidelines of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) were not followed on the occasion of Namaz-e-Eid at Faisal mosque Islamabad and the COVID-19 SOPs were being ignored. He also advised the people that they should vaccinate themselves against coronavirus as soon as possible and also strictly observe the NCOC guidelines to stop further spread of coronavirus. The President urged for the need to play a role by the people in these testing times and take precautionary measures against coronavirus during their gatherings.

He said that Sindh Governor Imran Ismail should convene a meeting of Ulema and scholars before the holy month of Muharram-ul-Haram to ensure observance of COVID-19 SOPs during gatherings including religious congregations. President Dr. Arif Alvi said that the Federal Government is pursuing a sustainable development agenda for Sindh. The President also stressed the need to ensure the participation of the people of Sindh for achieving the goals of social development and sustainable management of resources for poverty alleviation.

The President highly appreciated the efforts of the Federal Government for development schemes for Karachi and other districts of Sindh province. Federal Minister for Planning and Development and Special Initiatives Asad Omar also gave a detailed briefing on the situation of the fourth wave of coronavirus in the country.
Asad Omar said that there are clear signs of the beginning of the fourth wave of coronavirus in the country. The Federal Minister said that the number of coronavirus cases is on the rise due to poor compliance of COVID-19 SOPs and also the arrival of Delta variant of the coronavirus in the country.

He said that the government is pursuing a two-pronged strategy to prevent the spread of coronavirus. He said that the NCOC guidelines to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 will be strictly enforced in big cities, especially at the tourists’ destinations. People are being encouraged to wear face masks, avoid crowded places, and get vaccinated against the coronavirus, Asad Omar added.

AJK’s poverty alleviation at top of PTI agenda: PM

 TARAR KHAL, AJK, (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the prime focus of his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) would be the uplift of underprivileged people by providing them amenities of education, health and subsidized food. Addressing a large public gathering ahead of the election of AJK Legislative Assembly, the prime minister said PTI had on its agenda several development projects aimed at poverty alleviation in AJK.

Imran Khan’s rally pulled a large crowd with people from all walks of life including the local party workers and others from adjoining areas gathered in the AJK city of Tarar Khal. The prime minister vowed to launch special programmes for low-income class in AJK after his party won the upcoming election. He said for the 40 percent of poor population, the ration cards for food items on subsidized rates would be introduced. He said a software for the said facility would be launched by December, a database of which had already been prepared.

He mentioned that poor in AJK would get basic food items including flour, pulses, edible oil and sugar on cheaper rates. Under the Kamyab Pakistan programme, he said, of the 40 percent low-income people, each member of the family would be given technical education and interest-free loans to help them earn their livelihood. Imran Khan said the government of PTI would also introduce a Health Card scheme for the people in AJK with Rs one million health insurance per household.

Imran Khan said some political parties had already crying foul about rigging in upcoming AJK elections despite the fact that for last one year, he had been inviting their cooperation on electoral reforms to ensure transparency through electronic voting machines. He said those raising hue and cry on rigging were in fact were afraid of their defeat in elections. “To Pakistan Muslim League-N, I tell that it is your government in AJK, your administration and the Election commission of your choice. So how can we doing rigging?” he said.

The prime minister said the valley of Kashmir was blessed with natural beauty, with an immense potential to attract local and international tourists. He said the PTI government aimed at realizing the true potential of AJK in terms of tourism and encourage the related economic activity in the area. The prime minister rejected the impression that PTI was focusing on making Azad Kashmir a province of Pakistan. Instead, he said, the PTI strongly believed in the United Nations Security Council resolutions under which the people of Jammu and Kashmir were given right to choose whether they wanted to accede to Pakistan or India.

“InshaAllah, I am confident that the sacrifices of Kashmiri people will not go in vain and the day is not far when a referendum in Kashmir will be held to give them right to decide about their fate,” he added. Imran Khan said he always advocated the case of Kashmir at all international forums and vowed to continue highlighting the plight of Kashmiri people in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He said in the past, both the Pakistan Muslim League’s leader Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party chief Asif Ali Zardari never pleaded the case of Kashmir at the international arena.

He pointed out that Nawaz Sharif, according to Indian journalist Barkha Dutt, held secret meetings with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in Nepal against the army of Pakistan. Also, Nawaz Sharif invited Modi, who was involved in firing pellet gunshots at Kashmiris, to his family marriage ceremonies, but did not bother to meet the Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders in India. Imran Khan paid tribute to the detained Kashmiri leaders Ali Geelani and Yasin Malik, saying that the entire Pakistani nation stood with them in their just struggle to the right to self-determination.

Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur speaking on the occasion said the candidates of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf would defeat other contestants giving a message that the people rejected the looters and exploiters. PTI’s candidate for AJK Legislative Assembly Sardar Tanveer Ilyas said the people of Poonch looked towards Imran Khan as the leader who could ensure them development and prosperity.

Sardar Faheem Akhtar Rabbani, PTI’s ticketholder for the AJK election said the party after winning election would focus on providing the people of Kashmir the facilities in the fields of education, health and tourism. He also mentioned that PTI would provide scholarships to deserving students to mainstream them in the journey of AJK’s development.

PM directs for expeditious completion of ERRA’s ongoing projects

ISLAMABAD, Jul 10, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday directed the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) to complete the ongoing projects on fast-track basis to facilitate the people. The prime minister was chairing a meeting to review ERRA’s ongoing reconstruction and development projects, PM office media wing said in a press release.

The prime minister was apprised that since its inception in 2006, ERRA had so far completed 75 percent of its total development portfolios of 14,704 projects, whereas 14 percent were currently under construction. These under construction projects included 885 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 1,214 projects in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan’s eco-friendly roadmap to save future generations from climate change: PM

ISLAMABAD, July 8, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said the government was working to set out an eco-friendly roadmap for Pakistan to save its future generations from the negative effects of climate change and global warming. “We will devise sustainable policies on environmental protection to materialize the vision of a Clean and Green Pakistan,” the prime minister said in his address at the launch of the first locally-made electric motorbike (e-bike), here at the lawns of the Prime Minister House.

The launch of e-bike was part of the government’s five-year Pakistan Electric Vehicles Policy 2020-2025 approved last year and envisaged targeting a robust electric vehicle market with a 30 percent and 90 percent share in passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks by 2030 and 2040, respectively. PM Imran Khan said the governments of economically strong countries always worked on long-term policies, rather than those making decisions based on an election-to-election strategy to gain votes and promote mafias.

“We have to take action today to resolve the upcoming challenges,” he said, adding that deforestation and pollution were the manmade problems that were leading to horrendous effects on human lives. He recalled that Lahore and Peshawar, once known as the Cities of Gardens, were witnessing high levels of airborne toxins which could severely affect the health of a person by reducing his average age by 11 years.

Pakistan “absolutely not” to allow any bases for action in Afghanistan: PM imran Khan

ISLAMABAD, Jun 19, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan has categorically said that Pakistan would “absolutely not” allow any bases and use of its territory for any sort of action inside Afghanistan. “Absolutely Not. There is no way we are going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not,” the prime minister told “Axios on HBO” in an interview.

In an excerpt of the interview shared on Axios website to be aired on Sunday, the interviewer Jonathan Swan questions, “Would you allow the American government to have CIA here in Pakistan to conduct cross border counter terrorism missions against Al-Qaeda ISIS or the Taliban? Stunned over his clear-cut response of “absolutely not,” the interviewer interrupts the prime minister asking “seriously” to reconfirm his words.

Axios on HBO” is a documentary-news program that combines the reporting of Axios journalists with the expertise of HBO filmmakers to explore the collision of tech, media, business, and politics. The series has featured interviews with former US President Donald Trump, Sundar Pichai, Elon Musk, Mary Barra, now US President Joe Biden, Andrew Yang and Kamala Harris, among others.

Recently, in his address at Senate, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi ruled out the possibility of providing its military bases to the United States for counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. He rejected as unfounded the reports to this effect and made it clear that the government would never provide military bases to the US, nor would allow drone attacks inside Pakistan.

In a cabinet briefing, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain also ruled out the possibility of any airbase of the United States in Pakistan saying as all such facilities were under Pakistan’s own use. He said it was the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government which ended ‘drone surveillance’ facility given to the US in the past. “All the airbases are under the use of Pakistan. Right now, no negotiations in this regard are underway as Pakistan cannot give any airbase [to any country],” he said.

PM Imran telephones Palestinian president, condemns Israeli atrocities

Prime Minster Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi on Thursday reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support for the rights of Palestinian people and their legitimate struggle.

ISLAMABAD, May 14, 2021 (LLP): Prime Minster Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi on Thursday reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support for the rights of Palestinian people and their legitimate struggle. PM Imran held a telephonic conversation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the ongoing situation in Palestine. He reassured President Abbas of Pakistan’s efforts in mobilising the international community against flagrant violations of human rights and international law. “He reaffirmed Pakistani leadership’s complete support during this time of crisis,” the PM Office said in a statement.

President Abbas welcomed Pakistan’s support and appreciated Pakistani leadership’s response and its statements condemning Israel’s attacks in Gaza and Al-Aqsa Mosque. He briefed the prime minister on the most recent developments and exchanged views on future actions. The prime minister strongly condemned the attacks on innocent worshippers in Al-Aqsa mosque and lethal air strikes by Israel in Gaza, resulting in the death of so many civilians, including children. The two leaders agreed to continue to closely engage on the ongoing situation.

Separately, President Alvi while strongly condemning Israel’s violence and illegal actions, assured his Palestinian counterpart of Pakistan’s efforts in mobilising the international community for the Palestinian cause and raising voice for the Palestinian people. In a letter addressed to the Palestinian president on Thursday, Alvi said that Israel’s violent acts were against humanitarian norms, human rights and international law. “I reassure you of our efforts in mobilising the international community for the Palestinian cause and to continue raising voice for the Palestinian people,” the president said.

He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s abiding support for a just settlement of the Palestine issue in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and for the establishment of an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state, with pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds-Al- Sharif as its capital. During last few days, Israeli forces had attacked worshippers in Al-Aqsa mosque with guns and fire, followed by lethal attacks on Gaza resulting in deaths of innocent Palestinians including over a dozen children and scores of others injured.

The president, in his letter, conveyed the deep sadness and concern over the series of violent attacks perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces against innocent worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramazan. “Your Pakistani brothers and sisters, including myself share your pain and distress caused by Israel’s indiscriminate killing of innocent Palestinians, including children in Gaza. We express our profound sympathies and condolences for the victims of these attacks and pray for speedy recovery of the injured,” the president further wrote.

Terrorists will never be allowed to disturb hard-earned peace:

Gen Qamar

ISLAMABAD: Terrorists would never be allowed to disturb the hard-earned peace in tribal districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Bajwa

ISLAMABAD, May 14, 2021 (LPP):Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on Friday said that terrorists would never be allowed to disturb the hard-earned peace in tribal districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. The army chief expressed these views on the second day of Eidul Fitr as he spent the day with troops deployed on the western border in Timergara Lower Dir. Gen Qamar was briefed on the security situation and measures being undertaken to ensure effective management of the Pak-Afghan international border, according to the military's media wing. While interacting with troops, the COAS appreciated their vigilance, preparedness and high state of morale. He said that terrorists would never be allowed to disturb the hard-earned peace in these areas.

"Pakistan Army and LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies) will do whatever it takes till the job is fully accomplished," he remarked. He also paid rich tributes to the martyrs who have rendered supreme sacrifices for the defence of the country. The COAS lauded the troops for their contribution in aid of civil administration to control the Covid-19 pandemic and directed strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and precautions in this regard. Earlier on arrival, the army chief was received by Corps Commander Lieutenant General Nauman Mahmood. Earlier today, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that the nation is proud of its armed forces. Paying tributes to the services of the troops in a tweet on Friday, he said they stay awake at nights so that the people could sleep.

Fawad said General Qamar spent Eid with troops on the Line of Control (LoC). The rest of the army leadership was also present with the troops. He said from soldiers to generals in the army, they are like a close-knit family. “It’s time to end this human tragedy and resolve Kashmir issue as per aspirations of people of J&K and UN resolutions,” he was quoted by military’s media wing, the ISPR, as saying while addressing on Thursday the frontline troops deployed along the LoC. Speaking on the occasion, the army chief hailed morale of the troops, as well as their devotion and operational preparedness. “Security, safety and wellbeing of people of Pakistan is our responsibility... Pakistan army will do everything to live up to expectations of our nation,” Gen Qamar stressed.

Remodeling lives out of mosques as per Sunnah direly needed: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said practicing the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) in everyday life was need of the hour to bring a positive reformation in the society.

ISLAMABAD, April 15, 2021(APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said practicing the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) in everyday life was need of the hour to bring a positive reformation in the society. “Remodeling our lives out of mosques and connecting with the way of life of the ‘greatest personality’ (PBUH) in entire universe is extremely important for the society at present,” the prime minister said in his address at the launch of Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Scholarships for talented and deserving students. Imran Khan said the government aimed at promoting the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and encourage people to imbibe His glorious teachings that presented a complete code of life and a guiding beacon for all.

“It is sad that we disconnected with the real teachings of the One, whom even the non-Muslims thinkers regard as the most influential person,’ he said. He said the Prophet (PBUH) emphasized on seeking knowledge, for both men and women, and mentioned that launch of scholarships under his name ‘Rehmatul-lil-Alameen’ (Blessing for all worlds) was in line with the importance He gave to education. He quoted an excerpt from the life of the Prophet (PBUH) where He set a condition for release of captives to teach 10 persons against the common practice of demanding sum of money.

The prime minister said rule of law, social justice and education were the most important ingredients of a welfare State, without which, a nation could not succeed and prosper. He said the Rehmatal-lil-Alameen Scholarship programme was being launched nationwide by the Higher Education Commission at federal level to provide students from low-income families the access to education. He said a budget of Rs 27.93 billion had been approved for the programme to be utilized over the next five years, which would be implemented in 129 public sector universities across the country. He made it clear that the scholarship would be awarded to all and without discrimination of any religion or faith.

Imran Khan said the government would spend Rs 5.5 billion annually on overall award  of 70,000 scholarships. Under the Rehmatul-lil-Alameen programme, he said, the federal government would spend Rs 28 billion for 350,000 scholars while Punjab and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa would allocate Rs 1 billion for 15,000 scholarships each. The prime minister lauded the two provincial governments for implementing Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Scholarship programme. Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said the Scholarship programme would be available for all Pakistani students across the country, including provinces and Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

He mentioned that fifty percent quota had been allocated for women while two percent reserved for persons with disabilities. He said 14,000 scholarships would be awarded at inter-mediate level and 655 for the under-graduate students. Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar in a video message said 50 percent scholarship would be given to the needy while the rest of 50 percent would be awarded on merit, with allocation of 60 and 40 percent for science and humanities, respectively. He said the scholarship would also be available for children of government servants up to the grade 4. Out of total of Rs 26.7 million allocated for overall scholarships, the Punjab government will reserve Rs 2.6 million for Rehmatul-lil-Alameen programme.Chief Minister Khyber Pukhtunkhwa in a video message spoke about the implementation of the programme in his province, saying that KP would ensure transparency and merit in award of scholarships.

Deep fissures in PDM lead to postponement of Long March

LAHORE: Simmering differences in the unnatural eleven-party alliance PDM on Tuesday erupted, leading to the postponement of the much-touted long march against the government and exposed the deep fissures running underneath.

LAHORE, March 16, 2021 (APP, LPP): Simmering differences in the unnatural eleven-party alliance PDM on Tuesday erupted, leading to the postponement of the much-touted long march against the government and exposed the deep fissures running underneath. A six-hour-long meeting of the alliance at the PML-N Secretariat concluded after its failure to agree on the decision of tendering resignations from the parliament, before the start of the oft-delayed Long March, owing to major differences between the Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan Peoples Party.

Maulana Fazalur Rehman, the leader of JUI-F and President of the PDM announced that nine out of eleven parties were in favour of resignations from the parliament before the start of the march. However, he said the Pakistan Peoples Party had “reservations” over the matter and wanted to take up the issue in its meeting of the Central Executive Committee. “We have given them the chance and we will wait for their decision. Until then, the March 26 long march be considered postponed,” Maulana Fazalur Rehman said and left the press conference, despite being asked by Maryam to respond to questions.

A visibly shaken Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Vice President of the PMLN said she cannot endanger her father’s life by asking him to return. “No one has the right to ask him to be here,” she said and added that she wanted her father to live. Mohammad Nawaz Sharif who was undergoing a sentence was allowed by the PTI government to travel to London for “urgent medical treatment” in November 2019, however, since then he neither had any treatment there nor returned to the country, despite a surety bond by his brother Shahbaz Sharif. He has since been declared an absconder.

Earlier Asif Ali Zardari in his virtual address to the meeting had asked the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan and said that he has to understand that to lead the march, all the leadership might have to end up in jail. Sources said Zardari said that his party would hand over the resignations when Nawaz Sharif returns. Zardari earlier at a public speech in Garhi Khuda Bux had sent a cryptic message to the PDM alliance – “listen to us … learn from us”, advice not taken by the PDM leadership, which wanted to micromanage the campaign to oust the sitting PTI government.

The PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said her party has millions of followers and no one wants to put the life of Nawaz Sharif in danger. She said her party would continue to seek his advice and guidance and follow his vision. Former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said his party has asked for time from the PDM to ponder over the demand for tendering resignations and added that in the last CEC the party had decided to follow the parliamentary way. The announcement by the PDM, touted by the PTI leadership as a public dissolution of the alliance, was hailed by the ruling party and allies.

Asad Umar in a tweet said Peoples Party was unwilling to resign from posts, Maulana unwilling for a long march without resignations, and Mian sahib unwilling to return led to the end of the movement. Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the PDM stands shattered as its “revolutionary” long march stands postponed. “The opposition parties while striving for their petty interests, ended up fighting each other,” he said in a tweet. According to Senator Faisal Javed Khan “it’s all curtains for PDM.” Earlier during the press conference when a similar question was put to Maryam Nawaz Sharif, she said “PDM is standing in front of you … we are also standing with each other and will cooperate.”

A video that viral soon after the comments of Asif Ali Zardari in the meeting showed reporters in London seeking reaction of Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, however, in his usual style he brushed aside the question and said he saw Zardari’s remarks, as the reporters saw it. There have been serious differences in the PDM alliance for quite some time, particularly over the issue of resignations and the Pakistan Peoples Party, which has its provincial government in Sindh, had categorically rejected the idea.

New differences emerged during the Senate polls, where both the major parties eyed each other with inherent suspicions leading to lots of blame game,  over who stabbed the other in the back. According to political analysts, PPP believed that the PML-N faction led by Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Maulana Fazalur Rehman, were on a suicide mission, as they have nothing to lose, but for the PPP, it still has around the half term in power, albeit in Sindh alone. The party also did well in by-polls and Senate elections.

FBR’s Track & Trace system crucial to check mass tax evasion: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday terming FBR’s automated Track & Trace system crucial to check mass tax evasion directed the Law Minister to “convince the Sindh High Court that the non-imposition of the automated system would incur loss of billions to the country”.

ISLAMABAD, March 16, 2021 ( APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday terming FBR’s automated Track & Trace system crucial to check mass tax evasion directed the Law Minister to Chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet here, the Prime Minister asked Barrister Farogh Naseem to “convince the Sindh High Court that the non-imposition of the automated system would incur loss of billions to the country”.

The Sindh High Court issued a stay order on FBR’s proposed tax mechanism, for which the Prime Minister mentioned that FBR had given assurance to roll out the system by June. He said FBR had been making efforts for last 15 years to implement the Track & Trace (T&T) System, however regretted that the move was “sabotaged” every time. Imran Khan said big sector of economy including tobacco, cement and sugar were witnessing mass tax evasion, adding that sugar industry alone did not pay the tax of Rs 400 billion in five years.

In tobacco industry, he said, only 19 percent of the tax was paid by two big companies while the 40 percent was being evaded resulting in loss of billions to the country. He said tax evasion led to imposition of indirect taxes by the government which inflated the prices of commodities of everyday use. The FBR’s Track & Trace system aims at providing minimum human interface, preventing leakage of revenue, under-reporting sales of specified goods and to ensure proper payment of duty and taxes.

On Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), the Prime Minister said the system was important to ensure transparency in general polls and check corrupt practice of vote-purchase. He termed provision of online voting for overseas Pakistan a priority of his government and stressed an effective strategy for its implementation. The Prime Minister sought progress reports in every cabinet meeting on the matters of installation of EVM and voting process for overseas Pakistanis.The federal cabinet discussed several development projects on the agenda.

Olive cultivation best investment for forex gains, food security: PM

NOWSHERA: The country had immense potential in the cultivation of olive trees owing to suitable topography and climate from north to south.

NOWSHERA, March 15, 2021(APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said largescale olive cultivation would prove the best investment for Pakistan in terms of earning valuable foreign exchange and ensuring food security. Addressing at the launch of a countrywide olive cultivation drive starting from the Nowshera district, the Prime Minister said the country had immense potential in the cultivation of olive trees owing to suitable topography and climate from north to south.

He mentioned that water-scarce areas such as Suleiman Mountains near Waziristan, Balochistan’s plains and Punjab’s diverse terrain offered an environment for low-irrigation olive farming. Prime Minister Imran Khan terming food security a big challenge for the country said the olive fruit produced edible oil of high nutritional value, which could also be used to meet local demands besides its export. He said Pakistan had more potential than Spain, the leading olive producer in the world, and could explore the possibilities with an effective strategy of olive cultivation. He said the country was blessed with 12 climatic zones and a diverse landscape and stressed the need to promote planting a variety of crops and fruit.

Imran Khan said olive was also mentioned in the Holy Quran several times that enhanced the relevance and significance of the ‘wonder fruit’. He said the olive cultivation project would generate employment opportunities for the locals, both short and long-term, due to the long life of the plant. The Prime Minister said olive cultivation was being carried out under the Ten Billion Tsunami Tree project, adding that plantation of other local fruits would be also be included in the programme. He said that Pakistan was among the 10 most vulnerable countries on the verge of receiving high effects of climate change.

He said to save future generations from climate change, the plantation was the key step and also to reduce rising pollution levels in big cities of the country. He mentioned the already launched Miyawaki Japanese technique at several sites in Lahore and Islamabad with an objective to get dense greenery at a faster than usual pace. He asked the head of the Forest Department to use a similar plantation method in Peshawar as the city touched alarming levels of pollution. The Prime Minister lauded the efforts of Governor Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Shah Farman for materializing the Ten Billion Tree Project across the province. Earlier, Imran Khan planted a sapling of olive at the model plantation site of Amangarh in Nowshera, where the cultivation of around 7,200 olive plants will be carried out.

The Prime Minister visited the cultivation area, where he was given a briefing about the potential of olive plantation on the occasion. Governor Khyber Pukhtunkhwa  Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam and senior officials were present.According to official details, the expected economic return of four million grafted olive plants in the sixth year will be around Rs 10.8 billion annually with a total income of Rs 54 billion after 10 years. The olive oil production on the sixth year will be approximately 7.2 million litres with average fruit production per plant at 15 kg.

Environment policies of PTI recognised globally: Prime Minister

Pakistan was investing in green space and had attracted $ 180 million in funding and it was working towards the creation of 15 new national parks: Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD, Mar 14، 2021 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday said environment policies of Pakistan Tehreek i Insaf were being recognised globally. In a tweet on social media platform Twitter, he said especially the government’s green recovery programme from the Covid 19 pandemic and the climate action plan were being appreciated by the world. According to World Economic Forum (WEF), in three ways Pakistan was building a greener future.

Pakistan had pledged to source 60 percent of energy from renewables by 2030. It had cancelled coal projects replacing them with hydroelectric power. It had created more than 85000 green jobs from plant care to protection of forests. Pakistan was training 5000 young people to be nature guardians. Pakistan was investing in green space and had attracted $ 180 million in funding and it was working towards the creation of 15 new national parks.

It was also launching a $ 500 million green Eurobond and will soon provide a monetary valuation of its green space making its worth clear and easier to protect. As a pandemic devastated the globe and climate change threatened our way of life, our relationship with nature demanded a rethink. One million animal and plant species worldwide were at risk of extinction. Investing in a nature positive economy could generate 395 million jobs by 2030, the WEF says.

PM orders feasibility on e-voting to ensure transparency in next polls

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said electronic voting was essential to ensure transparency in next general election and directed the authorities concerned to prepare a feasibility report of the process on priority.

ISLAMABAD, March 9، 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said electronic voting was essential to ensure transparency in next general election and directed the authorities concerned to prepare a feasibility report of the process on priority. Chairing the meeting of federal cabinet here, the Prime Minister said all necessary actions would be taken to end corruption in elections as witnessed in the recent Senate polls. “We want next general election to be fair and transparent and thus want to initiate the e-voting process well ahead of time,” he said.

The Prime Minister also directed to workout the details for purchase of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), adding that he would also get regular updates on the progress of project. He said introduction of online voting for overseas Pakistanis was also on priority. Imran Khan said the Senate elections exposed that how political leaders used money to buy votes. He said politicians including Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif through money-laundering transferred the national wealth to their bank accounts abroad.

He mentioned a report of Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) which revealed that that $1 trillion was taken out each year from the poor countries to developed States. Presently, he said, $7 trillion of the stolen assets was parked in these safe havens causing irreparable loss of developing countries such as Pakistan. The Prime Minister said money-laundering severely weakened a country’s institutions. He said in past tenures, the ruling parties launched the projects with mega kickbacks and resultantly the common man paid the price in shape of inflation and heavy loans.

“Such politicians normalize corruption in a society, bribe media houses and removes checks and balances to ease their money-laundering chain,” he said. He said a society which set such standards of corruption had an ethical downfall, adding that ‘a nation gets destroyed when it loses the ability to ensure socio-economic justice’.

Government’s institutional reforms process progressing smoothly

ISLAMABAD: Institutional reforms and streamlining functioning of the government departments and organizations to enhance efficiency and making them cost effective had been a gigantic task for respective governments.

ISLAMABAD, Mar 07, 2021 (APP): Institutional reforms and streamlining functioning of the government departments and organizations to enhance efficiency and making them cost effective had been a gigantic task for respective governments. Although the previous governments made tall claims about enhancing efficiency of the government departments and state-owned enterprises. But every passing day witnessed deterioration in dispensation and financial non-viability of key departments like Pakistan Railways, Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan Steel besides many other small enterprises.

The present government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan also took the challenge to reforms these departments and organization to make them financially viable and enhance their performance. A seasoned expert and economist, Dr Ishrat Hussain, a well-known reformist, was appointed as Advisor to the Prime Minister for executing this task.This time the issue is being addressed in a phased manner as stated by Dr Ishrat Hussain talking to APP with hopes to derive desired results of putting the institutions on right path to make them contribute in national building.

“Institutional reforms have been divided into four parts. First to reorganize federal institutions by abandoning unnecessary institutions and merging those performing the same job,” Dr Ishrat Hussain said. “There were 441 government departments with many set up without any future planning. We have reorganized and reduced these institutions to 342 either by merging, shutting down or privatizing.” Secondly, the Advisor said the government is reorganizing, reviving, and restructuring the key institutions such as Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steels Mills and other State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

“We are to make these institutions profitable either keeping under the government or putting on Public Private Partnership mode like the PSM,” he added. Ishrat Hussain mentioned to civil service reforms as third area and said, major reforms have been finalized and some are implemented as well. “In my view, the weakest aspect of the country’s civil service was performance evaluation and promotion policy as we don’t differentiate between a good performer and a bad performer.” In new performance policy, he said, instead of depending merely on Annual Confidential Report (ACR) of employees, a system of key performance indicators has been introduced. “The promotion would now be on the basis of performance, training and competence and not the seniority alone.”

Dr Ishrat Hussain said when the promotion rules were implemented, somebody challenged it in the court which decided that rules were established purely on merit and there was nothing wrong with them. Under the civil service reforms, he stated, the federal services posts are being downsized from 640,000 to 570,000 as 70,000 vacant posts in Basic Pay Scales 1 to 16 were being scrapped and the savings made would be used for increasing salaries of the civil servants. Similarly reformatting of the Central Superior Services (CSS) is also under consideration, he said. ”After implementation of the reforms package, professionals would have greater prospects of advancement. We are proposing National Executive Service for the top tier, composed of generalists and specialists.”

He said the CSS examination should be revamped asking the candidates to appear in subjects of interest pertaining to the service they want to join. “The candidates must choose their area of interest before taking the nationwide competitive examination.” Fourthly, he said the reforms are being made in business processes by replacing the old filing system with the electronic based office work (E-Office). “All material would be available on website and people would not need to physically visit offices in most cases.” All these four basic reforms were at various stages of execution and the process would expedite during days ahead. We are making decisions and execute simultaneously. In July 2019, reorganization of the federal government departments was approved and an implementation committee is ensuring execution of the decisions.”

Executive Director Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Dr Abid Qayyum Suleri said institutional reforms are not about amending laws and policies only but behavioral management. “It is very important to make the reforms successful. We do not need simple amendments in laws but to change the decades old mindset.” He said Pakistan is a country where there is not dearth of policies and rules, but what is lacking is their implementation and execution. “We have to focus changing global trends and move towards emerging and modern focused style of working.” Commending Advisor to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain’s efforts in making reform successful, Dr Abid said instead of introducing reforms at once and at the stroke of a pen, the Advisor is introducing reforms in phases.

“It is good omen that reforms are being done in phases instead of through single stroke of pen.” He said a number of departments are non-functional and under the reforms the total number has been reduced from 450 to 350. “We need to end the overlapping tasking of the institutions.” Likewise, about civil services reforms, Dr Abid Qayyum Suleri said, the work is being done in this regard in bits and pieces which is a good sign as such reforms require slow and steady implementation process. He said reforms mean ‘a change in behaviors and management style’ and for the purpose there is need get input from the groups feeling threatened from reforms, otherwise reforms would not have desired results.

Preparedness in hybrid warfare need of hour: President

President Dr Arif Alvi addresses at the certificate award ceremony of AERON workshop at the PAF Headquarters.

ISLAMABAD, March 2, 2021(APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday said to effectively counter enemy’s attacks, a proactive approach towards hybrid warfare was equally important besides the conventional preparedness of armed forces. The President expressed these views while addressing at the certificate award ceremony of AERON 2021 Workshop on Aerospace and National Security, held here at Pakistan Airforce (PAF) Headquarters.

The first-ever AERON workshop with 36 participants including parliamentarians, civil servants and journalists focused on contemporary challenges, strategic autonomy and economic independence. President Alvi said with global transformation in combat tactics, a strategy based on technical advancement was vital to address national security challenges. He mentioned that a paradigm shift in warfare had increased the threats of use of virus bombs and digital attacks on information network that required a constant vigil and alertness.

He pointed that intellectual powers, including companies like Google and Facebook, had gained influence even on States, world parliaments and the United Nations. President Alvi said the kaleidoscope of world politics was ever-changing with new security alliances in the making and emphasized on preparedness by the country at all levels. He said Pakistan was ready to counter any nefarious designs by its enemies with its armed forces well prepared to defend the country’s frontiers. He said Pakistan had emerged as the most resilient nation after rendering immense sacrifices in the war against terrorism.

The President lauded the readiness of Pakistan Air Force which had always proved itself second to none while protecting the aerospace borders of the country. He recalled that the valour demonstrated by the PAF falcons in countering the enemy’s airstrike at Balakot in 2019 made the nation proud. Dr Alvi quoted a few poetic verses of national poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal that gave the nation an inspiration to remain steadfast and determined by shunning despondency. Commandant Air War College Institute Air Vice Marshal Zulfiqar Qureshi said PAF was ready to deal with national security challenges, may it traditional or non-traditional.

He mentioned that the capacity of aerospace power was whole of a national effort including economic stability and strong industrial base. Later, President Alvi awarded certificates to the participants of the workshop held on February 22-March 2. Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan presented a memento to President Alvi.

President for smart cities for improved governance

ISLAMABAD: President Dr. Arif Alvi on Monday stressed the transforming of existing cities into smart cities to improve the governance as well as well-being of the people.

ISLAMABAD, Mar 1، 2021(APP): President Dr. Arif Alvi on Monday stressed the transforming of existing cities into smart cities to improve the governance as well as well-being of the people. Chairing a meeting on Smart Cities Programme at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the emphasized the need to deploy smart technologies in all cities of the country, ensuring safety, security and overall optimum quality of life for all citizens.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhary Fawad Hussain, Secretary Science & Technology Arshad Mehmood, Chairman Higher Education Commission Dr. Tariq Banuri and other IT experts from NUST and COMSATS. President Alvi underscored that it was essential to utilize artificial intelligence and other related technologies to introduce data-driven algorithms into governance, education, energy, industry, infrastructure, healthcare, mobility and other aspects that directly contributed to improve the lives of the citizens.

He said the digital revolution was offering an unprecedented window of opportunity to improve the lives of millions of urban residents and deliver more efficient, sustainable and inclusive urban services to the citizens. A detailed presentation by the Ministry of Science and Technology highlighted the advantages of Smart Cities Technologies that provided smart solutions to governance, healthcare, infrastructure, crime control, transportation, waste management, cyber security and mobility.

The Ministry informed that a team of experts had been constituted to lead the smart cities initiatives. The meeting was briefed about the key products of National Centres which had been established by Higher Education Commission to focus on research and development in the specialized domains. The products, prepared by the National Centres, will help in efficiently managing transport, detecting crimes and investigating cyber crimes. It was also apprised that the Government of Nigeria had lauded the efforts of National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) for providing state-of-the-art counter-terrorism equipment.

Never take Pakistan lightly: President cautions India

President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday cautioned India not to take Pakistan lightly as the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was second to none having proven its efficiency by shooting down an Indian aircraft in Balakot area on February 27, 2019.

SHORKOT, Feb 25، 2021(APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday cautioned India not to take Pakistan lightly as the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was second to none having proven its efficiency by shooting down an Indian aircraft in Balakot area on February 27, 2019. “My head lifted with pride as to how you performed, and how you reacted and shot down an Indian aircraft inside Pakistan. Pakistan Air Force is tested. Pakistan Air Force has performed. Pakistan Air Force has created heroes,” the president said addressing the 50th anniversary of Mirage and Colour Awards here at the PAF Base Rafique.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan was also present in the ceremony, which marked the distribution of awards among air force veterans for their services for the motherland’s defence. The president said having faced tremendous difficulties, Pakistan during the last several years, had learned how to remain united. He said Pakistan was the only country to manufacture aircraft and fly those, besides having a distinction of eliminating terrorism which many other countries, including the super powers, could not do.

Pakistan, he said, remained successful against terrorism because of its valiant armed forces and the sacrifices of its around 100,000 citizens. President Alvi said India remained a belligerent state despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer for peace. Indian in fact was falling into the pitfalls Pakistan had climbed over. However, Pakistan would never be happy over the instability of India as any such situation also impacted the neighbours. Dr Arif Alvi paid gratitude to the Air Chief for the remarkably contribution of PAF to the nation’s defense despite that fact that the country had a belligerent neighbour with more resources than Pakistan.

The president recalled the remarkable contribution of the PAF as an organization and lauded its workforce, who had “shown light” in many sectors. He said the PAF produced heroes like M M Alam, and also recalled the professional competence and honesty of Air Marshal Asghar Khan. He disagreed with the notion about the failure of Asghar Khan in politics and said for him, he stood successful for portraying morality. He said the PAF had told the world that they were the masters of their destiny and also exhibited their competence to defend the nation. He said in true compliance with the Quaid-e-Azam’s words, the PAF had proved to be second to none by adhering to his golden principles of ‘faith, unity and discipline’.

He said the Quaid-e-Azam had been a strong proponent of Hindu-Muslim unity and similarly, Imran Khan also called for peace in the region. He reiterated that Pakistan desired the resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council guaranteeing right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir. The actions like isolating 14% of its minorities were feared to take India to internal instability, he added. The president said keeping in view the changing conditions, the PAF would have to enhance its capability to come up to the modern day needs.

He congratulated Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan for leading an organization, which had performed “so well”, which the government would also recognize at the annual investiture ceremony scheduled on March 23. The president said with all indicators, including economy and anti-corruption efforts, Pakistan was set to emerge as a great nation within a decade. He said the future competition was all about intellectual game and emphasized to achieve excellence in artificial intelligence and computing. He said even during COVID-19, Pakistan survived just because of the discipline it had showed and the efforts to serve the poor people hit by the pandemic.

PM Imran Khan, Sri Lanka President hold oneone meeting in Colombo

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Feb 24, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan and President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa held a one-on-one meeting at Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.

The two leaders discussed the significance of Pak-Sri Lankan relations with a history of friendship and cooperation in diverse fields.
The two sides also exchanged views on bilateral, regional and international importance.

PM reiterates resolve to uphold transparency in democratic system


PESHAWAR, Feb 23, 2021(APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday reiterated his resolve to uphold transparency in the democratic system as his politics was aimed at serving the masses and working for the betterment of coming generations. He was talking to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet ministers and PTI’s members of provincial assembly here at the Governor House. KP Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan were also present on the occasion.

The prime minister said the political philosophy of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was to serve the masses and work for the betterment of their future. Unfortunately, he said, some people joined politics to make money rather to serve the people. “Now they have become an example,” he remarked. The prime minister said when a nation lost morality, it was destined to doom.

He said Pakistan, despite bestowed by Allah Almighty with every blessing lacked behind because its rulers instead of serving the masses used power to steal [public] money. The PTI’s members of assembly fully endorsed the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

First Lady for eliminating breast cancer through awareness, ending taboos

First Lady Samin Alvi Sunday called for massive awareness for self-examination and early diagnosis besides ending allied taboos for country’s deliverance from the deadly disease.

ISLAMABAD, Feb 21، 2021 (APP): With alarming statistics of annual 90,000 breast cancer cases in Pakistan, First Lady Samin Alvi Sunday called for massive awareness for self-examination and early diagnosis besides ending allied taboos for country’s deliverance from the deadly disease. Addressing First Ladies Golf Match held jointly by Shifa International Hospital and Shifa Foundation at Margalla Green Golf Course here as part of the breast cancer awareness, the first lady urged the women to act as an ambassador for the cause to guide the women. She told the audience that with the early diagnosis of the disease the mortality ratio could be brought down considerably and what all it needed was awareness on self-examination and early diagnosis.

She lauded around 70 lady golfers coming different cities for the noble cause and said they should reach out to the village women as well as guide their housemaids on the disease. The first lady repeatedly emphasized the self-examination by women and even men every month and timely diagnosis and treatment without adhering to the taboos, considering it just a disease. She said having known the alarming increase in breast cancer cases, she thought of prolonged awareness drive, other than October when Pink Ribbon campaign is organized for the awareness on the disease. Citing high prevalence of breast cancer in Pakistan, she said not only the aged women, even the young girls of 20 were also being diagnosed breast cancer which necessitated the frequent reminder for the women for self-examination.

Samin Alvi said the women who were diagnosed early and underwent treatment had been living a normal life even for more than 25 years. She thanked print and electronic media and the institutions of the armed forces for dedicating their time and services respectively for awareness on the disease as, she said, the whole society, not a single individual, could rid the country of the disease. She also appreciated some NGOs and hospitals for introducing a shuttle service for the rural women desiring to get their check up in the cities. She said the frequent messaging and awareness had helped address the taboos to some extent as, unlike the past, the disease was now discussed openly. Moreover, the government was also in the process of establishing a call center to guide the women who felt shy to visit the hospital.

Earlier, the First Lady also distributed trophies among the excelling players as well as the management of the awareness match. Chief Executive Officer Shifa International Hospital Dr. Manzoor H. Qazi said that breast cancer was the most common cancer in Pakistan as one in nine women was at risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. He said a woman is diagnosed of breast cancer every six minute and dies every 12 minute. He said Shifa Foundation and Shifa Int. Hospital have been supporting underprivileged women communities by providing breast cancer screening, diagnostic, and treatment facilities.

Chief Operating Officer, Shifa International Hospital Taimoor Shah said that the objective of the ladies’ golf match was to empower women in the fight against cancer and encourage them to get screened for breast cancer. Medical Director at Shifa International Hospital Dr. Zeeshan Bin Ishtiaque highlighted the importance of breast cancer awareness in order to educate the masses because taboos associated with regular screening and breast examination lead to delayed diagnosis so women might ignore the initial abnormality, which could otherwise be cured. Matches were played in five different categories. The golfers were dressed in pink to create awareness about breast cancer. Free Mammography Coupons were offered to the participants of the golf match to highlight the importance of screening for detection of breast cancer at an early phase.

France not to entrench discrimination against Muslims into laws:


ISLAMABAD: President Dr. Arif Alvi on Saturday urged the political leadership of France “not to entrench discriminatory attitude against Muslims into laws” and warned that such steps would lead to serious repercussions in the shape of hatred and conflict.

ISLAMABAD, Feb 20، 2021(APP): President Dr. Arif Alvi on Saturday urged the political leadership of France “not to entrench discriminatory attitude against Muslims into laws” and warned that such steps would lead to serious repercussions in the shape of hatred and conflict. “You [France] need to bring people together and not to stamp a religion in a certain manner to create disharmony and bias,” he said at an international conference on religious freedom and minorities’ rights. The President’s statement came in reference to the bill passed by the French parliament’s lower house on Tuesday with an overwhelming majority that would strengthen oversight of mosques, in an act of discrimination against Muslims.

Hosted by the Presidency, the event was attended by Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, Parliamentary Secretary Shunila Ruth, and European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara. Besides, Member of the US Democratic Central State Committee Ayesha Khan and Implementation of Minority Rights Forum (IMRF) Chairman Samuel Pyara also addressed the moot attended by representatives of the minority communities and international organizations, religious scholars, and bishops. President Alvi said the French legislation was not in line with the United Nations Charter and contradicted the spirit of social harmony that Europe previously instilled in its society.

“Let there not be a retrogressive step for situations which arise out of animosity and for situations which are carried forward by the people who do not know about the real Islam,” he said. Dr. Alvi said the damage might not be evident at present, but would ultimately end up in a terrible scenario of hatred and hostility. “To label the entire religion in a different manner and to start taking precautions against the entire community sparks the fact that if not now, it will have very bad repercussions in the next 10 years,” he said. He said the West was being communicated by the government of Pakistan that blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] in the name of freedom of expression and religion was considered by entire Muslims Ummah an insult to the revered personality.

He mentioned that laws existed in the West about the protection of certain ideas such as the Holocaust, the violation of which created disharmony. “Similarly, the laws [about Islam’s Prophet] should make sure that this does not happen,” he added. The President emphasized that the world instead needed to divert energies on addressing other serious challenges such as climate change, poverty, hegemony, and exploitation. He said humanity needed to rise above its vested interests and live up to the ideals of mosque and church as no Prophet, whether Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] or Jesus Christ gave a message about animosity, instead, they spoke about peace among people.

President Alvi said the government believed in an emerging Pakistan with peace and harmony among people with all religions, faiths, and colors merged into the ideals of peace and prosperity. “In Pakistan, we believe today, there is the morality behind every decision. At the same time, it is in our self-interest that the people of Pakistan must be together and, in all laws, and everything we do, we must ensure that we will promptly fight incidents raising differences”۔ The President said there could be accidents and incidents attempting to create disharmony but the nation would fight those “very promptly”, adding that it was a continuous struggle to maintain peace.

Dr. Alvi said the reconstitution of Minorities’ Rights Commission to protect the worship places of religious minorities was a positive step by the government. “Pakistan is entering a new era with lessons learned that we cannot live with divisions among our own people,” he said. He mentioned the plight of religious minorities in neighbouring India, where particularly Muslims faced discriminatory treatment. Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said the country’s religion of majority population and the Constitution guaranteed protection of rights of minorities.

In line with the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, he said, Pakistan as its State and government policy never avoided safeguarding the rights of minorities. He stressed that individual nefarious acts must not be associated with Islam. He said the government was drafting legislation against the forced religious conversions. EU Ambassador Androulla Kaminara said the EU would continue to partner with Pakistan in promoting development and religious harmony under the EU-Pak Strategic Engagement 2019. She emphasized that schools and universities could promote religious tolerance, adding that EU in Pakistan would collaborate for a positive change in the lives of people.

Parliamentary Secretary for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Shunila Ruth the government was making efforts towards the reconstruction of society by inculcating elements of peace and tolerance. Imam Badshahi Mosque Lahore, Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad said the presence of Imams, Bishops, Priests and other figures including Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is, and Kailash at the platform of President House gave a positive vibe about the country’s spirit of inter-faith harmony. Member of Democratic Central State Committee Baltimore County MD USA Ayesha Khan lauded the government of Pakistan’s steps to ensure the rights of minorities through its Constitution.

Earlier, during the first session of the conference, the government officials and representatives of different religions exchanged views on the need for interfaith harmony. Attorney General of Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan said Pakistan was taking measures for the uplift of minorities and had signed several treaties in this regard. He said the dark period of 1977-88 resulted in religious discord and animosity in the country, however, the government was committed to safeguarding the rights of minorities as equal citizens.

Dr Joseph Paul Knight, a scholar from the USA said Quaid’s speech of August 11, 1947, provided a categorical guideline for the nation to respect minorities and protect their worship places. Herman Robourgh, a religious education scholar at Australia’s Interfaith Thought School, Pir Muhammad Shafaat Rasool from Markaz-e-Bilal Lahore, MPA (Sindh) Nand Kumar, MPA Wazir Zada (KP), and Chief Organizer Implementation Minorities Rights Samuel Piyara addressed the event.

Pakistan, IMF reach Staff-Level agreement on pending reviews under EFF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Pakistan reached a staff-level agreement on second to fifth reviews of country’s reform program under IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

ISLAMABAD, Feb 16, 2021(APP):The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Pakistan reached a staff-level agreement on second to fifth reviews of country’s reform program under IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF). “IMF staff and the Pakistani authorities have reached an agreement on a package of measures to complete second to fifth reviews of the authorities’ reform program supported by the IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF),” said an IMF press statement issued Tuesday. The statement was issued after the IMF team, led by Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, concluded virtual discussions with the Pakistani authorities and reached a staff-level agreement on the second to fifth reviews of the authorities’ reform program supported by the IMF 39-month Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement for the amount of SDR 4,268 million (about US$6 billion).

This agreement is subject to the approval of the IMF’s Executive Board, the statement said adding the reviews’ completion would release around US$500 million. Ramirez Rigo in the statement said that the policies and reforms implemented by the Pakistani authorities prior to the COVID-19 shock had started to reduce economic imbalances and set the conditions for improving economic performance. Most of the targets under the EFF-supported program were on track to be met. However, the pandemic disrupted these improvements and required a shift in authorities’ priorities towards saving lives and supporting households and businesses.

To a large extent, the authorities’ response was enabled by the fiscal and monetary policy gains attained in the first nine months of FY2020. Aside from health containment measures, this included a temporary fiscal stimulus, a large expansion of the social safety net, monetary policy support and targeted financial initiatives. These were supported by sizeable emergency financing from the international community, including from the Fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). “As result of the authorities’ actions, the COVID-19 first wave started to abate over the 2020 summer and the impact on the economy was significantly reduced. The external current account improved, due to stronger-than-expected remittances, import compression, and a mild export recovery,” the statement added.

It said that the high-frequency economic data also started to point to a recovery and added hat considering these improvements, the economy was projected to expand by 1.5 percent in FY2021 from the -0.4 percent in FY2020. Still, with the COVID-19 second wave still unfolding around the world, the outlook is subject to a high level of uncertainty and downside risks. “The Covid-19 shock has required a careful recalibration of the macroeconomic policy mix, the reforms calendar, and the EFF review schedule. Against this background, the authorities have formulated a package of measures that strikes an appropriate balance between supporting the economy, ensuring debt sustainability, and advancing structural reforms,” it said.

The fiscal strategy remains anchored by the sustainable primary deficit of FY2021 budget and allows for higher-than-expected COVID-related and social spending to minimize the short-term impact on growth and the most vulnerable. The targets are supported by careful spending management and revenue measures, including reforms of corporate taxation to make it fairer and more transparent. The power sector’s strategy aims at financial viability, through management improvements, cost reductions, and adjustments in tariffs and subsidies calibrated to attenuate social and sectoral impacts.

“The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)’s monetary and exchange rate policies have served Pakistan well and were critical in helping to navigate the COVID-19 shock. The strengthened international reserves’ position since the start of the program—with gross reserves almost doubling to USD 13 billion until January 2021 and net international reserves (NIR) increasing by over USD 9 billion until December 2020—and the shock absorption displayed by the market-based exchange rate, allowed the SBP’s to pre-emptively proceed to a large easing of monetary policy, and a sizeable expansion of refinancing facilities,” it added.

According to the statement, the banking system remained healthy, but it would be important for the SBP to continue to remain vigilant and prevent possible financial stability stress as the temporary support is phased out. International reserves are set to improve further reflecting current account developments, the EFF resumption, and international partners’ support. “The authorities are moving steadfastly on a number of other important reforms, including on strengthening regulatory agencies’ legal frameworks (NEPRA and OGRA Acts), consolidating SBP’s autonomy (SBP Act), and improving state owned enterprises (SOE) management (SOE Law),” it observed.

In addition, they have conducted a triage of SOE, and are moving forward with the audits of contracts awarded for COVID-19 related spending. They continue to enhance the effectiveness of their anti-monetary laundering/counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework and progress in completing their action plan with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). “The IMF team would like to thank the Pakistani authorities for the constructive and candid discussions,” the statement concluded.

Pakistan’s blue economy strategy to ensure responsible use of ocean resources: President

A group photo of President Dr Arif Alvi, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Amjad Khan Niazi and President Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan during the 9th International Maritime Conference (IMC-21) organized by the National Institute of Maritime Affairs. APP

KARACHI, Feb 13, 2021 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday said Pakistan besides defending its maritime borders would adopt a responsible strategy on blue economy for sustainable use of ocean resources in the benefit of mankind. Addressing here at the inaugural session of 9th International Maritime Conference, the President said Pakistan was transforming into a geo-economic hub and taking effective steps on blue economy for improved livelihoods while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem. The Conference titled ‘Development of Blue Economy under a secure and sustainable environment’ aimed at analyzing various facets of ocean economy, and achieving common goals of maritime prosperity and security in the region.

The delegates from over 35 navies of the world gathered at the platform to discuss the opportunities provided under blue economy and suggest solutions based on emerging technology and innovations. President Alvi emphasized the interest of mankind in renewable energy, fisheries, food security, transport, tourism and climate change, which he said, demanded an international cooperation to avoid exploitation of oceans. He expressed satisfaction that Pakistan was heading towards a sustainable blue economy by giving importance to food security related to oceans. He said 90 percent depletion of fish stock in the coastal areas of Pakistan was not recoverable and mentioned that similar was the case with the rest of the world.

“For blue economy to thrive, the world needs to bring an end to irresponsible exploitation of oceans,” he said. The President stressed the need for ‘inverted pyramid’ with a serious paradigm shift required in the thinking of mankind to stop exploitation of waters. “As an international community, we need a discipline to avert the threat to nature by reducing our footprint,” he told the gathering comprising representatives from world navies and international experts on oceans. President Alvi said Pakistan would ensure its defence, but at the same time would promote morality based on cooperation among human kind. The President said in a journey from geo-strategic to geo-economic hub, Pakistan offered the shortest trade route for Central Asia and China.

“Whether blue or brown economy, all depends upon peaceful cooperation which should lead to the common prosperity of the globe,” he said. He said, “Hegemonic designs in any way hinder international cooperation. Ocean has the volume to be explored, but only in a responsible way.” President Alvi assured unstinted cooperation of the government to the Pakistan Navy for pursuing the goals of regional peace and security.

Naval Chief Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi said Pakistan’s coastal areas were rich in biodiversity and offered immense scope for a blue economy. He said China’s win-win strategy of China Pakistan Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative was mutually beneficial for both countries and also for the entire region.

President for change of attitude towards unnecessary use, prescription of antibiotics

ISLAMABAD, Feb 10, 2021(APP,LPP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday called for introducing massive changes in the present practice of frequent use of anti-microbial agents in human, animal and environmental sectors. He said that the unnecessary use of antibiotics posed serious health challenges requiring the change of attitude by medical practitioners and society as a whole. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had further highlighted the issue of rising antibiotic resistance, he added.

The President expressed these views during the meeting with a delegation of Fleming Fund Grant, led by British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. He said that Pakistan was currently struggling to deal with several drug-resistant epidemics. The President informed that the government of Pakistan including all provincial health and livestock departments were committed to play their role in global disease control program and stood by global community in the effort to reduce anti-microbial resistance (AMR) burden.

The delegation gave a presentation to highlight the contribution and support made by the Fleming Fund, in strengthening Pakistan’s health system’s capacities through Improved Integrated Disease Surveillance Programs. The delegation briefed that AMR posed a grave threat to human lives as 10 million people could die every year globally from drug-resistant infections with 90% of these deaths to be occurring in Africa and Asia. The delegation apprised that the Fleming Fund had conducted assessments of 25 national and provincial laboratories in Pakistan to strengthen their microbiology capacities.

The delegation further briefed that the Fleming Fund had been working extensively to improve provincial level capacities in monitoring and managing AMR, including anti-microbial usage. The President appreciated the efforts and financial support worth £9 million provided by the Fleming Fund to Pakistan to address the threat of AMR.

Pakistan’s great tourism potential can be capitalized for revenue, employment generation: PM

ISLAMABAD, Feb 8, 2021(APP,LPP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that Pakistan had great potential for tourism which could be capitalized for revenue generation, employment and promoting heritage.Taking note of the increasing domestic tourism, he emphasized that planning and feasibility on scientific grounds was essential before development of tourist sites in the country. He also underscored the importance of preserving local heritage and environmental protection for tourist sites.

The prime minister expressed these views while chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Tourism here. The meeting was attended by Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan, Special Assistant to PM and Chairman National Tourism Coordination Board Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Advisor to CM Punjab on Tourism Asif Mehmood, Secretary Cabinet, Chief Secretaries of Punjab,  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Managing Director Pakistan Tourism, Development Corporation (PTDC), and senior officials.
Chief Secretaries Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan joined via video link.

The prime minister was briefed regarding planning and feasibilities conducted for the development of new tourist sites in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. The sites were located in Salt Range, Potohar Plateau, Districts Swat and Murree and near Gawadar. He directed that bye-laws and regulations must be notified before starting physical development work on tourist sites to ensure cleanliness, environmental protection and prevent illegal land encroachment.

The meeting was told that anti-encroachment drive continues throughout the country. The prime minister directed that anti-encroachment drive should continue without any discrimination as there was no one above law.

PM seeks Ulema’s cooperation to develop Pakistan on Riasat-e-Madinah model

ISLAMABAD, Feb 8، 2021(APP،LPP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday, while seeking Uelma’s support to develop Pakistan on the model of Riasat-e-Madinah, urged them to inculcate people its golden principles including unity, truth and cleanliness. “Imran Khan can do nothing alone unless, we all put in collective efforts,” the prime minister said addressing a conference on “Contribution of Ulema from Pakistan’s Creation to Stability” held by Pir Naqibur Rehman of Eid Gah Sharif and his son Hassan Haseebur Rehman.

The event was attended by Religious Affairs Minister Pir Nurul Haq Qadri, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Senator Faisal Javed and religious scholars from across the country. The prime minister said as the government was pursuing the goal of Madina-like welfare state, it was the responsibility of Ulema to apprise people of the principles of that ideal state. He said the people may be informed about the guiding principles which had empowered a backward society to defeat the biggest empires of the time within 15 to 20 years.

The prime minister said in its mission, the government was facing difficulty to sensitize people for differentiating between good and bad as lack of this attribute could lead to downfall of any nation. He pointed out that some eight to nine TV anchors recently moved the court to seek permission for airing the speech of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif who had been convicted for stealing billions of public money. “Had it happened in any western country, such an individual would not even be acceptable in any gathering, what to talk of appearing on television channels,” he remarked.

He said the society would change when an SHO or Patwari was afraid of societal embarrassment on account of taking bribe. Calling for campaign to propagate corruption as an evil, the prime minister said said the religious scholars should also make it part of their sermons. The prime minister said as the Ulema had a huge following and say in the society, they should also promote the habits of cleanliness and truth for being the great Islamic values and teaching of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

He said through his prudence, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had united a divided society, which should also be replicated by the Ulema to bring harmony in the country. He said being rich with numerous resources, Pakistan could emerge as a strong country with a united nation. Imran Khan said the religious scholars had fully supported Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his mission of Pakistan’s creation. He said unfortunately, the country had deviated from an ideal Pakistan as dreamed by Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

Speaking on Islamophobia, the prime minister said the issue deteriorated owing to the lack of reaction from the Muslim leaders to the blasphemous acts in the Western society. Following publication of his book, he said, Salman Rushdie made a propaganda against the Muslims under the garb of freedom of expression. Later, the West linked extremism and terrorism, even the suicide bombing with Islam, though according to facts, the Tamils and Japanese had committed suicide attacks first in the history but no one linked the practice with their religions, he added.

He said the Western society dealt with the religion very casually and did not know what kind of reverence the Muslims showed to their Holy Prophet. He assured the gathering to continue raising the issue of Islamophobia at every international forum to make the West understand that it hurt the sentiments of Muslim as criticism on holocaust did to them. He had written letters to the Muslim world leaders to urge them for a united stance on the issue. The prime minister said the Muslims living in the Western states faced utmost difficulty owing to Islamophibia.

Terming rule of law as the basic principle of State of Madina, the prime minister said the third world countries were suffering for having discriminatory laws for the poor and the rich. The leaders from the third world countries laundered around $1,000 billion annually, he added. Reiterating his stance of no NRO to the opposition leaders, he said how it was possible to let the people involved in petty crimes rot in jail and give an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) to the looters of billions. The prime minister committed to give the religious scholars “good news” as a speaker criticized the amendment in Auqaf law in Punjab.

The Religious Affairs Minister while appreciating the role of scholars since creation of Pakistan, said the government was on its course to develop Pakistan on the pattern of Madina State. The government’s initiatives like Shelter Homes, Langar Khana and Sehat Cards were in pursuance of the very principles, he added. He also appreciated the government’s decision to introduce Seerat-un-Nabi subject in classes 6 to 12 would help the youth to know about the golden history of Islam and Holy Prophet’s teachings.

Custodian of Eidgah Sharif Hassaan Haseebur Rehman said Imran Khan was the first prime minister to contest the case of Islamophobia and Namoos-e-Risalat at international forums like the United Nations and OIC. He said the religious scholars would continue extending all-out support to the government in its mission of replicating Riasat-e-Madina. Sahibzada Akram Shah appreciated the government’s policies and vision of Risasat-e-Madina, particularly Imran Khan’s bold stance on the issues of Islamophobia. He urged the government to withdraw the recent amendments by Punjab government in Auqaf laws what he viewed would undermine the functioning of shrines and seminaries.

Pakistan nation stands firm in solidarity with Kashmir: Maryam Nawaz

LAHORE, Feb 5, 2021 (LPP): Pakistan Muslim League Vice President (PMLVP) Maryam Nawaz said on Friday that the whole nation stands united and firm in solidarity of Kashmir to pay homage to long historical sacrifices of people of Kashmir, apart from all political and ideological differences. On the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day, Maryam Nawaz promulgated, in an address to a meeting of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) her father’s message of acknowledging and spreading love for the people of Kashmir

"There may be political differences, but when it comes to national interests, the Pakistani nation is united," she said. Maryam Nawaz said that we pay tribute to the services Kashmir has rendered in facing India barbarities for so long. She said that people of Kashmir also also question Imran Khan's rule. She also added that the police of Azad Kashmir has been directed not to let any opposition party worker take part Kashmir Solidarity rally of PTI taking place today.

Moreover Maryam said that the first 23 seats of the sitting arragment for the rally were allocated to PTI workers just, and further added that the fake Prime Minister is afraid of general public for being accountable. 

Kashmiris to continue freedom struggle despite increased Indian repression: AJK PM

MIRPUR (AJK), Feb 05, 2021(APP, LPP): Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan on Friday said India had intensified the reign of terror in occupied valley to suppress the Kashmiris freedom movement for their right to self determination. He was addressing the AJK Legislative Assembly special session held in connection with the Kashmir Solidarity Day in Muzaffarabad, which was also addressed by President Dr Arif Alvi

The AJK PM said around a one million occupying Indian troops were engaged in suppressing the freedom movement with the use of brute force while all the Hurriyat leadership was put behind the bar. The Kashmiri people were under military siege with no access to the internet and media, he added. Raja Farooq said India was bent upon to change the demography of the held state.

About 3,382,334 Indian citizens, including retired soldiers, had so far been issued state domicile and if the same situation were allowed to continue then after three years, the IIOJK’s demography would be completely changed, he added. He said Pakistan was the ultimate destination of Kashmiri people as their commitment with Pakistan was based on spiritual relation.

The AJK PM urged the Pakistan government to strongly project the Kashmir issue at international level to apprise the world community about the atrocities being committed by the Indian forces in the IIOJK. Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Muhammad Yasin, Parliamentary Leader of the Muslim Conference Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, Jamat-e-Islami’s Abdul Rasheed Turabi and Sardar Hussain Ibrahim also addressed the session.

For Pakistan, ‘Kashmir is matter of principle, not of territory’: President

MUZAFFARABAD (AJK), Feb 5, 2021(APP,LPP): President Dr. Arif Alvi on Friday said the resolution of the Kashmir dispute as per the pledges of the United Nations was the “only option” to ensure peace in South Asia and asked New Delhi to stop unabated acts of genocide and demographic changes in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

“Pakistan has a clear message for India; Our relations cannot be improved without the resolution of Kashmir issue in accordance with the resolutions of UN Security Council,” the President said in his address at the special session of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly on Kashmir Solidarity Day. President AJK Sardar Masood Khan, PM Raja Farooq Haider, and members of the Legislative Assembly attended the session held in the capital of Azad Kashmir.

President Alvi expressed Pakistan’s strong commitment to the rights of Kashmiris and mentioned that the undeterred stance on Kashmir remained the same for the last 73 years, no matter what the government in place. “This [Kashmir] is not a matter of territory, but the matter of principle,” he said, adding that Pakistan wanted to take the Kashmir dispute towards its logical end, but only in line with UNSC resolutions.

He mentioned that UNSC in its several resolutions had emphasized holding a free and fair plebiscite in Kashmir with a pledge made with Kashmiris to decide about their destiny in the shape of self-determination. President Alvi said Pakistan had always raised its voice against the atrocities faced by Kashmiris and also for the rights of Muslims living under difficult conditions in India.

He said both the government and the opposition in Pakistan, setting aside their political differences, always held the same stance on Kashmir. “The ultimate direction in this regard is based on national unity.” He vowed that any further steps with regard to Kashmir would be made in consultation with the stakeholders, particularly the people of Kashmir.

The president said Pakistan at times asked India to hold discussions on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir. He, however, regretted that no positive response was received. He recalled the offer of Prime Minister Imran Khan that Pakistan was ready to take two steps forward if India came to the negotiation table and showed intent to resolve the longstanding issue.

He urged India to open its occupied territory for the international observers and media and let them monitor the ongoing worsening situation of human rights. He said the Kashmiri people had to face the horrendous acts of brutality by Indian security like the pellet gun attacks that left hundreds; including women and children, blind for a lifetime.

The Indian oppression, he said, was on rise in the IIOJK as its forces were subjecting the youth to torture, illegal detentions, and fake encounters. “These are the same indicators as of Hitler’s era, where the life was made miserable for an ethnic community by setting up genocide camps and inflicting upon them economic hardships,” he added.

President Alvi said India was involved in carrying out terrorist activities inside Pakistan and also waged a continuous fake media war as recently exposed through the findings of EU DisInfo Lab. He said the nefarious designs of the incumbent Indian government pursuing the Hindutva ideology were revealed as it used Pulwama attack for electoral victory.

He mentioned that India also failed to achieve its target in the airstrike in Pakistan’s Balakot area and warned that such a belligerent attitude could lead to a dangerous situation between the two nuclear-armed states. “Pakistan has always given peace a chance, however, India is repeatedly making mistakes through acts of irresponsible aggression,” he said.

Comprised of the ‘artificial unity of different states’, he said, India “must not take any risk of hostility towards its neighbors”. The President said Pakistan would continue to extend political, diplomatic, and moral support to Kashmiris in their right to self-determination. “Pakistan will always stand with Kashmiris and will never let leave them alone in their fight against oppression,” he said.

President Alvi said India was committing a crime by changing the demographics of IIOJK as it revoked Article 370 and 35-A of its Constitution. The President said Kashmiris would not inch back from their struggle and would also never forget the horrors committed by Indian security forces in the shape of killings and gang rape of women.

He said Pakistan would continue to highlight the stories of oppression and cruelty in IIOJK at international forums, which India was trying to hide by putting a curb on internet and broadband communication. “We have to show the visual evidence of Indian atrocities to the world to wake up their conscience,” he said, calling upon the United Nations and other watchdogs to take notice of the humanitarian crisis in IIOJK.

President Alvi said India was involved in carrying out terrorist activities inside Pakistan and also waged a continuous fake media war as recently exposed through the findings of EU DisInfo Lab. He said the nefarious designs of the incumbent Indian government pursuing the Hindutva ideology were revealed as it used Pulwama attack for electoral victory.

He mentioned that India also failed to achieve its target in the airstrike in Pakistan’s Balakot area and warned that such a belligerent attitude could lead to a dangerous situation between the two nuclear-armed states. “Pakistan has always given peace a chance, however, India is repeatedly making mistakes through acts of irresponsible aggression,” he said.

Comprised of the ‘artificial unity of different states’, he said, India “must not take any risk of hostility towards its neighbors”. The President said Pakistan would continue to extend political, diplomatic, and moral support to Kashmiris in their right to self-determination. “Pakistan will always stand with Kashmiris and will never let leave them alone in their fight against oppression,” he said.

Solidarity Day observed across Pakistan with renewed commitment to support Kashmiris’ just cause

ISLAMABAD, Feb 5, 2021(APP,LPP): The entire nation came out on Friday to observe the Kashmir Solidarity Day with renewed commitment to support the just struggle of Kashmiris for their inalienable right to self-determination enshrined in the relevant resolutions of United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

With a renewed pledge, the Pakistani nation and the government reaffirmed that they would continue to extend their moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris in their difficult times. People from different walks of life, including politicians, doctors, lawyers, social activists, students and others held rallies and demonstrations, and formed human chains across the country to infuse new spirit in the Kashmiris, who were fighting for their freedom.

All the Pakistani missions abroad also organized seminars and photo exhibitions to draw the world’s attention towards the worst form of subjugation and human rights violations, committed by India in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK). Posters highlighting the plight of besieged Kashmiris were displayed across the country including airports, railways stations and national highways.

The Solidarity Day also remained a top trend on social media as thousands of the users of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram paid tributes to the Kashmiris’ struggle. President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet members visited the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to express solidarity with the Kashmir brethren on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day. Addressing the AJK Legislative Assembly, President Alvi said the resolution of Kashmir dispute as per the pledges of United Nations was the “only option” to ensure peace in South Asia.

Mentioning that India had illegally inhabited its 3.3 million civilians in Kashmir to change the demography of highly populated Muslim area, he asked New Delhi to stop unabated acts of genocide and demographic changes in the IIJOK. Prime Minister Imran Khan told a huge gathering at Kotli (AJK) that India could never win over the resolute Kashmiri people by using force as implementation of the UNSC resolutions guaranteeing right to self-determination to them, was the only solution.

“The world history tells that no army could ever win over a population. When a nation stood united, it defeated even the powerful armies. The United States, a super power could not win in Vietnam… No super power could win in Afghanistan… France could not win over population in Algeria,” he remarked. Reiterating his commitment to raise the Kashmiris’ voice across the world as “Ambassador of Kashmir”, the prime minister said instead of suppressing the Kashmiri people, Narendra Modi’s Hindutva ideology would destroy the Indian society.

He thanked the people of Kotli for warm reception and said he was there to remind the world community of their unfulfilled commitment of granting self-determination right to the Kashmiri people enshrined in the UNSC resolutions. Paying salute to Kashmiris for their valiant struggle, braving gravest atrocities, human rights violations and lockdown in IIOJK under Indian occupation forces, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa said it was the time to end the human tragedy and resolve the Kashmir issue as per aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and the UN resolutions.

Talking to the media, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan expressed confidence that the IIOJK would be free one day. The world community should become an effective voice of innocent Kashmiris, who had been braving the worst Indian brutalities for their just right to self-determination, he added. Sardar Massod said India had virtually turned the entire occupied valley into an open prison and the whole world had now started realizing the gravity of human rights situation in IIOJK.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi asked the international observers and foreign media to visit both parts of Kashmir for getting first hand information about normalcy at the Pakistan side and the worsening human rights situation in the IIOJK. He made those remarks while addressing to the Kashmir Solidarity rally here in the Federal Capital. Meanwhile, Shah Mahmood Qureshi approached the UNSC President and the UN Secretary General to apprise them of India’s continuing gross and systematic violations of human rights in the IIOJK.

The foreign minister, in his letter addressed to the UNSC President and the UN Secretary General, underscored that all unilateral and illegal measures taken by India in the occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir in violation of international law, including relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the 4th Geneva Convention, such as changes in the demographic structure, usurpation of land and farcical “elections”, were null and void.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz, in his message on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day, said Pakistan would continue to stand with their Kashmiri brethren struggling against the Indian atrocities, military attacks, oppression and cruelty in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, in his message, urged the United Nations to honour its pledge to hold a free and impartial plebiscite in Kashmir.

Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Chairman Shehryar Khan Afridi called upon the world community, US President Joe Biden and the United Nations Secretary General to put pressure on India’s Hindutva regime for releasing Kashmiri leaders detained post abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A on August 5, 2019. Chief ministers of Punjab and Gilgit Baltistan Sardar Usman Buzdar and Barrister Khalid Khurshid, in a meeting, condemned Indian brutalities in the IIOJK and expressed complete solidarity with the oppressed Kashmiris.

Addressing a rally at Karachi, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said the Indian government, to suppress people of Kashmir, had not only amended their constitution to deny the historical rights of people of the valley, but had turned the valley into a no-go-area where no person was allowed to enter for witnessing the plight of the people. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan told a rally in Peshawar that independence was a fundamental right of the Kashmiris and the Pakistan nation stood side by side with them in their just struggle for independence from the Indian yoke.

Addressing a ceremony at the Balochistan Assembly to mark the Kashmir Day, Chief Minister Jam Kamal said silence kept by the major powers on Indian atrocities and blatant human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir was a tragedy of history. Like rest of the country, rallies, meetings and processions were also held in Gilgit-Baltistan. The main rally was taken out from Shahi Polo Ground Gilgit, which culminated near Itehad Chowk Gilgit.

On the occasion, GB’s Senior Minister Col (R) Obaidullah Baig urged the United Nations and the international community to play a positive and decisive role in stopping Indian atrocities against the oppressed people of Kashmir.


Masood accuses India of misguiding world about ground realities in IIOJK

MIRPUR (AJK), Feb 05, 2021(APP.LPP): Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan on Friday said India was misguiding the European governments and the US administration as well as decision-making institutions that Delhi was fighting against terrorists in occupied Kashmir. “The reality is somewhat different and India in fact is crushing defenceless, weak and unarmed Kashmiri people, and depriving them of their homeland, businesses and livelihood and engaged in the genocide of the inhabitants of the disputed territory,” he stressed.

He was addressing the Kashmir Solidarity Conference organized Faheem Kiani President Tehrik e Kashmir by through video link, which was also participated and addressed by more than 40-plus UK members of Parliament (MPs) and leaders of the Kashmiri community living in Britain, according to AJK President Office.

The UK MPs, who spoke on occasion and expressed solidarity with the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, were included, Robbie Moore MP, Gill Furniss MP Tony Lloyd MP, Steve Baker MP, Nadia Whittome MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Richard Burgon MP, Stephen Timms MP, Sarah Owen MP, Rachel Hopkins MP, Paul Bristow MP,

James Daly MP, Kate Hollern MP, Andrew Gwynne MP, Sara Britcliffe MP, Afzal Khan MP, Alison Thewliss MP, Rebecca Longbailey MP, Imran Hussain MP, John Spellar MP, Shabana Mahmood MP, Tahir Ali MP, Sam Tarry MP, Lillian Greenwood MP. Phil Bennion Former MEP, Liam Byrne MP, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP, Lord Wajid Khan, Debbie Abraham MP, Hilary Benn MP, Paul Blomfield MP and Cheryl Gillan MP.

The AJK president exhorted them to use their influence, and convey to the governments of the Western countries that if they failed to block the Indian military adventurism, the rule of law and the world order would no longer be in place in the world. Tragically, he maintained that India was committing the crimes against humanity, and at the same time, it wanted that the world should not speak about its guilt. Such attitude of India should not be acceptable to the world at all.

The AJK president expressed gratitude to the UK and the European parliaments, media and the civil society for supporting the Kashmir cause, but he also complained that the powerful governments of those countries were silent over the Indian repression and the worst violations of human rights as well as the genocide of Kashmiri people at the hands of the Indian Army, and are thus showing negligence towards their international obligations.

“Their silence is encouraging India to trample human rights in Kashmir,” he added. He asserted that the UK MPs must not support the Kashmiri people mere to seek votes from the Kashmiri community in their constituencies but they should support the Kashmiri people because they were being deprived of their civil liberties and rights.

Sardar Masood Khan suggested that economic sanctions should be imposed on India for committing crimes against humanity in occupied Kashmir, and the Western countries should avoid making an investment in India until and unless it is ready to grant the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people.

He prevailed upon the UN Security Council, the UN secretary-general and the UN Human Rights Commission to immediately take notice of the situation prevailing occupied Kashmir as it is posing a serious threat to peace and security of not only the region but the entire world. He reminded that both Pakistan and India are nuclear states, and the Indian brutalities are bringing both the countries close to a nuclear clash.

President Tehrik Kashmir and host of the Solidarity Faheem Kiani in his welcome address thanked, especially the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the British Parliamentarians for attending this Kashmir Solidarity Conference and expressing solidarity with the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir who living in the most militarized area in the world under brutal Indian occupation, Subjugation and oppression for last 73 years.

He said that you all know what the Indian Army is doing to Kashmiris in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army has killed thousands of Kashmiris and is using rape as a weapon of war in Kashmir. Kashmir, that needs your attention. He said we have seen genocidal fascists emerge throughout history like Hitler, Mussolini and many others. In places like Rwanda and the Balkans, we have seen firsthand what happens when the world turns a blind eye. It is imperative that MPs play their role in preventing a repeat of history before it is too late.

A delegation of All Parties Hurriyat Conference headed by Ishtiaq Hamid also called on President Arif Alvi. Talking to the delegation, the Pakistan president declared the APHC leaders as heroes and said they can narrate the true story of the Kashmiris’ plight. and more effectively advocate the international community about the Kashmir cause. The Hurriyat leadership thanked the president Pakistan for coming to Azad Kashmir and expressing solidarity with the oppressed Kashmiri people. They said the words of President of Pakistan have emboldened the whole population of IIOJK.

Innovation-cum-technology fastest way to emerge as knowledge economy: President

ISLAMABAD, Feb5, 2021(APP, LPP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday said the fastest way for Pakistan to emerge as a strong knowledge economy was through promotion of innovative entrepreneurship based on information technology. “Innovation and emerging technologies together can open up new vistas of development and prosperity for Pakistan,” the President said at the inauguration of National Idea Bank, here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. The National Idea Bank – a collaboration among academia, government, and industry – is aimed at addressing indigenous problems using technology and innovations in business and governance models.

President Alvi said in the world of digitalization, Pakistan needed to establish a mechanism comprising thinkers and practitioners to identify innovative ideas for different organizations. He expressed confidence that National Ideas Bank as a knowledge-intensive system would contribute to rapid pace of development compared with the conventional brick and mortar setups. He said innovative ideas could resolve an industry problem or a social challenge in a more effective and efficient way.

The President said every knowledge-based product starts with an idea to improve quality of life on planet, may it the historic ideas of Galileo, Archimedes or Newton that concluded to theories and well-established facts. He mentioned his strong interest in information technology, recalling his early years’ love for ‘mathematical games’ columns published in Scientific American magazine. The President lauded the efforts of Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications and Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology Karachi for establishing the setup to accept ideas by the people on a regular pitch schedule.

He also expressed satisfaction over growth of IT-related exports during last six months, terming it an important step in attaining rapid development. Minister for IT Syed Amin ul Haque said the credit for the idea of National Identity Bank belonged to President Arif Alvi with the process patronized by IT ministry, hosted by Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology, and funded by the incubation platform, Idealist.com. He said under Prime Minister’s vision of Digital Pakistan, the IT Ministry was taking steps in right direction and mentioned projects in progress including local manufacturing of smart phones and launch of e-parliament system with electronic tablets to replace file system by June.

Founder Idealist Hassan Syed said with 49 types of emerging technologies world over, there existed huge opportunity for Pakistan to create social and commercial value of products through innovation. He said under the National Ideas Bank, a panel of independent and experienced judges with both technology and business experience would select a number of winning ideas in national interest to be supported by the partnering organizations.

He said the panel of judges would be formed on March 23, while the ideas would be showcased on August 14, the country’s Independence Day. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of IT and Telecom and Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology was signed in October to collaborate actively in collecting and supporting innovative ideas.

President for promotion of IT, digital communication to meet country’s needs, serve world

ISLAMABAD, February 2, 2021(APP, LPP): President Dr Arif Alvi Monday while citing huge potential of young population, called for promotion of information technology and digital communication to meet country’s needs as well as strengthen the economy. Addressing a virtually held inaugural session of 51st Asia Pacific Advanced Network organized by Higher Education Commission, the president said digital communication had always been vital but its importance had been multiplied during the COVID-19 era.

The president appreciated the HEC and other collaborating partners for holding the event attended by around 500 global participants and said the introduction and absorption of IT was inevitable for Pakistan as well as the world. He said Pakistan had adopted two-pronged approach by investing in human capital and technology as the country formulated a comprehensive liberalization policy in 2003 for telecommunication sector.

He said the HEC had also done a tremendous work for being responsible to give directions to the universities and colleges. He said effective communication and effective disbursement of knowledge to all repositories of knowledge had always been important but it had become more important today. The president recalled that even back in 2006, in his address in China, he had called for promotion of distance learning for being an easier and less expensive method of teaching.

The president said Pakistan had more than 300,000 English speaking IT professionals having no language barrier. There are 13 software technology parks for encouragement of IT investment with the government giving incentives in the sector. He said around 20,000 IT graduates and engineers entered the market every year and mentioned his initiative of artificial intelligence to train the youth in network area, blockchain technology, cyber security and other modern fields.

He said under the initiative, the government wanted to train the graduates and undergraduates in this field. He said the developed countries like Japan were willing to even absorb 100,000 well-trained IT experts. He said as the need for IT graduates was growing tremendously, the HEC was striving to ensure availability of open source knowledge to all graduates in IT and other sectors.

He said Pakistan was moving towards a digital economy and enabling the people to communicate and exchange knowledge would improve economy in many ways. He said Pakistan had already achieved teledensity with around 176 million cell phone users in its total 220 million population. He said though the COVID had hurt the education sector it gave a boost to IT sector.

President Alvi said Pakistan was looking towards e-commerce, e-health, e-finance. He said Pakistan had been able to manage the COVID pandemic situation by ensuring a balance between the lives and livelihood. President Alvi said unlike other countries in the region, Pakistan allowed business activity to avert the hunger related deaths.

He said the ICT exports were growing by 30 percent annually since last five years and freelancing also witnessed 47pc growth. He said Pakistan stood at fourth in freelancing. He said the government has a plan to launch 5G technology in 2022 that would set a new chapter in ICT-based socio economic transformation of Pakistan. Regarding the freelancing revenue, Pakistan stood at 47 pc this year and fourth in freelance development, he added. This shows Pakistan was ready to service the world needing the freelancing software, he added.

The president said Pakistan had 60 percent of its 220 population between 15 to 29 age group and if trained in IT, they could serve the countries and companies in the world. He said HEC was doing tremendous work for promotion of IT education and digital communication by making 60,000 books and journals available online and establishing smart classrooms.

PM vows to develop Pakistan as welfare state in line with teachings of Holy Prophet (PBUH)

ISLAMABAD, February 2, 2021 (APP, LPP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday expressed his determination to develop Pakistan as a welfare state in line with the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him) and the principles of Riasat-e-Madina. “Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in his last sermon gave a charter for humanity. The principles given by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are now being followed by many countries of the world,” he said while responding to the questions of the general public in a live television program – “Aap ka Wazir Azam Awam kay Sath“ through telephone.

The prime minister said the Riasat-e-Madina gave the concept of a truly modern welfare state to the world by ensuring rule of law and care of the poor. He said the government was introducing a special subject about the Life of Holy Prophet (PBUH) – Seerat-e-Nabi (SAW) in the syllabus of 8th, 9th and 10th grades so that the youth had full knowledge and understanding about the life of Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the State of Madina that he created.

The Prime Minister said the countries which adopted and followed the principles of Riasat-e-Madina achieved progress and development. “Unfortunately, we did not follow those principles,” he remarked. He said that developing Pakistan on the principles of the State of Madina was a struggle and was not “like switching a button”. “Inshallah Pakistan is going to become a great nation” PM۔ “Inshallah Pakistan is going to become a great nation,” the Prime Minister said. The Prime Minister in his interaction on the telephone with the general public responded to their queries on a host of issues ranging from Risasat-e-Madina to everyday issues, confronting the people in their day to day lives.

The Blasphemy issue

Prime Minister Imran Khan to a question said regretfully the trend of blasphemy, which causes a lot of pain to Muslims across the world, began in the West, after a book written by Salman Rushdi in 1989. He said the practice was hurting the sentiments of the Muslims as the West continues with the practice under the garb of freedom of speech.

He said the West, unlike the Muslims, did not fully understand the religious sentiments of the Muslims and reverence they have towards their Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Prime Minister said he took up the matter at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United Nations General Assembly, along with Dr. Mahathir Mohammad and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to seek the support of the international bodies in an effort for concerted efforts to put a stop to such a negative trend. He said the whole Muslim world needs to raise a strong unanimous voice on the subject to make the Western world realize the gravity and seriousness of the issue.

National Reconciliation Ordinance

Prime Minister Imran Khan in response to a question on why he denies NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) to the opposition leaders, said; “Then we should open the jails. Why should those involved in petty crimes like stealing a motorbike or a buffalo be jailed?” Prime Minister Imran Khan said the NRO to the opposition would be like “committing treason to the country” to pardon the looters. He said the country was still repaying the loans the previous governments had taken a decade ago

He again referred to the State of Mdina and the golden principles put in place by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and said no country can achieve progress and development without following the rule of law. Any country that pursues; “might is right” could neither achieve any development nor prosper, he added. The Prime Minister said many nations that did not ensure rule of law faced destruction. “NROs lead a country to destruction,” he remarked.

He said Pakistan was one the most resource-rich nations but was lagging behind just because of the corruption of its previous leaders, who laundered money abroad. On the contrary, he said the countries with rule of law like Switzerland and Scandinavian countries were prospering despite having no huge resources except tourism.

He said the money laundering by leaders hit the country two-way – the money they laundered reduced the dollars in the country and also led to the depreciation of the local currency. He said the accountability of the leaders was more important than that of patwaris or SHOs. He said President Pervez Musharraf gave NRO to looters which multiplied the debt burden over the 10 years and today half of the collected revenue goes to pay a markup on the existing loans, he added.

First Shipment of Covid-19 vaccine

To a question, the prime minister said the first shipment of COVID vaccine had arrived that would be first administered to the frontline health workers and then the elderly people will get their dose. The government, he said, would try to cover the maximum population by end of this year, he added.

Imran Khan said the government was resolved to develop Gilgit Baltistan as a tourism hub as the area was double the size of Switzerland and was rich with far more natural beauty. He said Switzerland, being half of the Northern Areas was earning $80 billion US dollars, while Pakistan’s total exports were only $25 billion US dollars. He assured one called of construction of small hydropower projects and development of main roads to attract tourists to these far-off areas.


When a questioner drew attention towards the backwardness of the Turbat area of Balochistan, the prime minister pointed that previous political set-ups had damaged the area, as the money allocated for the uplift of the areas was never spent. He said the local government system was a solution to the problem of backward and neglected areas in Balochistan and elsewhere. He said the government had already announced the “biggest development package” for the uplift of Turbat and other districts of Sothern Balochistan.

He said the government had also decided to introduce 3G and 4G services for benefit of the population, particularly the students from Balochistan, for online education. “You will have to show a bit of patience. We are also developing merged tribal areas. We are lacking the resources needed for the development,” he said. He said the government would ensure that the revenue from the mineral resources of Balochistan was spent on the development and welfare of the local population.

Naya Pakistan Housing

Regarding the housing loans, the prime minister said house financing in Pakistan stood at 0.2% against 80% in the US, UK and Europe, 30% in Malaysia, and 10% in India. He said as the only bottleneck has been removed after approval of foreclosure law, the banks were now extending loans purely on merit without any political intervention. He said the government would also give subsidies on the construction of the first 100,000 houses making the beneficiaries use their money to pay installments, instead of the house rent.


The prime minister to a question said he fully realized the people’s difficulties owing to inflation, though it had come down comparing the time of government’s formation. The government, he said, had inherited record trade and current account deficits. However consequent to its prudent policies, the current account deficit had been balanced with a record increase in exports and remittances.

He said during the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government, the rupee had depreciated by 25.5% with the consumer price index (CPI) standing at 17%, while during 2018-19, the CPI was 7.3% despite rupee devaluation by 34.1%. The prime minister assured the nation that he was fully monitoring the inflation and the situation would hopefully improve with the betterment of the economy.

Foreign Funding Case

To a question on the foreign funding case, Imran Khan said the opposition leaders had got entangled in their own trap and asked the Election Commission to take the case to its logical end. He said the PTI was the only political party, which had done political fundraising through special sessions. The party could provide details of around 40,000 donors, he said, challenging the opposition parties to furnish the accounts of just 100 donors. He said Nawaz Sharif and Maulana Fazlur Rehman should also be probed whether they got funding from Osama Bin Laden and the Libyan government respectively.

Institutional Reforms

Asked about reforms in the Pakistan Cricket Board, he said the debt burden caused by massive political recruitment had annihilated the institutions like PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) and Steel Mills. He said establishing new institutions was easier than reforming the existing ones. Exemplifying the Punjab Police, the prime minister said the previous government had appointed 25,000 people out of merit, even those with criminal backgrounds.

He said cricket was on its way to its reform as regional cricket had already started in the country to promote the sport. He said the previous regimes did not make long-term planning rather they remained focused on their five-year terms just to inaugurate short-term projects and attract votes. The incumbent government was the first one to think about the future generations by executing long term projects.

He said during the current month he would launch a massive olive plantation to cope with domestic needs as well as reduce the import bill. Touching the gloomy affairs of PIA, the prime minister said the airline faced Rs 400 billion debt owing to massive recruitment and political intervention. However, the government was trying to ensure its deliverance from any political influence and make it a profitable entity.

He said the construction sector was on the boom and cement sales witnessed a record increase. The government incentivized the construction sector because it provided the most number of employment opportunities.

Health Insurance

About the universal health coverage, the prime minister said he felt proud of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s initiative of health insurance facility to the entire population. The KP government had set out on a journey of Riasat-e-Madina.
By year-end, the same facility would be introduced for the whole of Punjab, he added.

Senate Election

Asked about the Senate poll, the prime minister said previously the parliamentarians used to sell their votes against huge money. Anyone buying the Senate seat would ultimately make money, which would give way to corruption. He said the government would present a constitutional amendment in the Parliament for open balloting, which would also test the opposition parties whether they backed legislation to end the corrupt practice or not.

Broadsheet Scandal

Asked about the Broadsheet scandal, he said the firm hired by General Musharraf had dug out $100 million assets of Nawaz Sharif in London, but instead of retrieving the money, he (Musharraf) gave an NRO to the PM-N leader. The London court ruled in the firm’s favor asking the Pakistan government to pay the agreed 20pc of the assets’ value found by the firm. He said the purpose of Justice Azmat Saeed’s commission was to probe the assets of PPP leader Asif Zardari abroad as the justice had vast experience in the accountability system for having served as a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor.

LoC Violations

To a question, the prime minister said the government had been urging the United Nations to pressure India to stop violations at the Line of Control (LoC). The Kashmir issue, he said, had reached a point where the whole world was looking at it. On February 5, he would also address a gathering in Kotli to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day, he added.

Land Grabbing

As a questioner complained about the illegal occupation of his land by private housing in Islamabad’s rural area, the prime minister urged the people to report such cases on the Citizen Portal. “We have declared a war against the land mafia. We will go after them to the lowest level,” he resolved and hinted at a new civil procedure code to ensure the disposal of such cases within a year.

He said land mafias got strengthened for enjoying the patronage of political leaders and the poor people or overseas Pakistanis became their worst victims. Earlier Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz shared a video clip where the Prime Minister was heading to interact with the people on the telephone. The one and a half-hour-long program of the Prime Minister’s interaction was aired lived by all the news channels. The activity generated a lot of interest on social media with the hashtag getting on the top trends.

PM lays foundation stone of Rs 18 bln development projects in Sahiwal

SAHIWAL, Jan 30, 2021(APP, LPP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday laid the foundation of Rs 18 billion development projects for the provision of basic amenities, including clean water, sewerage, improved climate change and the construction of parks in Sahiwal. The projects, initiated under the Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Program, have the potential of fulfilling the needs of clear water and sewerage for the next 25 years.

The prime minister, who was on a day-long visit to the city of southern Punjab, laid the foundation stone for the construction of a world class cardiology and cardiac surgery block at the District Headquarters Hospital, Sahiwal. The construction of cardiology block will help provide the healthcare facilities of international standards to the local people in their area.

The prime minister inaugurated the Solid Waste Segregation, Treatment and Disposal project. He also laid the foundation of Solid Waste Management Academy. Imran Khan inaugurated “Sarayai Qutub” – a Langar Khana established near the shrine of Baba Fareeduddin Ganjshakar in Pakpattan.

Pakistan, AJK to continue raising voice for oppressed Kashmiris : AJK President

ISLAMBAD, Jan 30, 2021(APP, LPP): Azad Jammu and Kashmir, President, Sardar Masood Khan Friday said that Pakistan and the people of Kashmir, with the support of 10 million strong diaspora community, will continue to raise voice for the rights of oppressed people of Indian Illegally occupied Jammu Kashmir (IIOJK). “The ugly face of the BJP-ruled India stands exposed before the world as our narrative on India and Kashmir have echoed all over the world,” Masood said while addressing a seminar on the topic of “Kashmir back to international spotlight: What to do next?”

The seminar organized jointly by Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR) and the Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR) here in the federal metropolis. The seminar was also addressed by Chairman Parliamentary Kashmir Committee, Shehryar Afridi, PML-N senior leader, Raja Zafar ul Haq, Member National Assembly, Simmi Bukhari, Prof Zafara Nawaz Jaspal of Quaid- e- Azam University, Syed Muhammad Ali, Executive Director Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms, Ershad Mahmood, Chairman KIIR, Altaf Hussain Wani and other speakers.

Vowing to stand up for the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmiris (IOJK) the President said, “Kashmiris in IIOJK cannot be intimated by the Hindu fascist regime in India. They have been struggling for over 200 years and braving Indian tyranny for the past 73 years. They will relentlessly continue their struggle till they achieve their desired goal.”

The Indian government is planning to totally annihilate the Kashmiris but it is destined to fail in its ulterior designs, AJK President said and pledged to alert the international community about what is happening in the occupied territory. He thanked the British parliamentarians, All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group and Friends of Kashmir Groups established by various UK’s political parties like Labour Party, Conservative Party.

He also expressed his profound gratitude to the European Parliament and the US Congress for initiating debates and conducting hearings on the situation in Kashmir. The State President said that there is also greater awareness on the issue in the far-east and ASEAN parliaments. Diplomats through Foreign Office will continue to take the issue to diplomatic forums, engage the leadership of the UN, HRC and members of the General Assembly, he said.

Kashmiris offering unprecedented sacrifices with no example in history : AJK PM

MIRPUR (AJK): Jan 27, 2021(APP, LPP):Commenting on observance of Indian Republican Day as black day by Jammu Kashmir people inhibiting at either side of the LoC and rest of the world, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan said that Indian claim to be a big democracy was totally a fraud merely aimed at to hoodwink the international community of the true ugly picture of turbulent India.

He said India is a terrorist state with aggressive posture and expansionism designs where the minorities were totally unsaved. In a statement he said India had intensified the reign of terror for the last over seven decades to crush the indigenous peaceful freedom movement launched by the people of occupied Kashmir for attaining their fundamental right to self determination. The Prime Minister said Kashmiri people have been offering unprecedented sacrifices. He urged the United Nations to implement its agreed resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir for establishing durable and ever lasting peace in the region.

MNAs, MPAs from different regions of Pakistan call on PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD, Jan 27, 2021(APP, LPP): Members National Assembly (MNAs) from different regions and some Members Provincial Assembly Punjab call on Prime Minister Imran Khan here on Wednesday. MNA Ghaus Bakhsh Mehr, in the meeting with the Prime Minister, discussed in detail the measures taken for redressal of problems of the constituency and progress of the ongoing projects.

Minister for Planning Asad Umar and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs Malik Amir Dogar were also present in the meeting. MNAs elected from Karachi, in the meeting with the Prime Minister, discussed the measures taken to address problems of their respective constituencies and progress of the ongoing projects.

The MNAs who called on the prime minister included Muhammad Akram, Ramesh Kumar, Faheem Khan, Saifur Rehman, Muhammad Alamgir Khan, Abdul Shakoor Shad, Attaullah Khan, Syed Aftab Jahangir, Muhammad Aslam Khan and Engineer Muhmmad Najeeb Haroon. Minister for Planning Asad Umar and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs Malik Amir Dogar were also present in the meeting. Meanwhile, MNAs elected from Dera Ghazi Khan Division also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, Special Assistant to PM on Political Affairs Malik Amir Dogar, MNAs from Dera Ghazi Khan Amjad Farooq Khan Khosa, Sardar Muhmmad Khan Leghari, MNAs from Rajanpur Sardar Nasrullah Dareshak, Sardar Riaz Masood Khan Mazari, MNAs from Muzaffargarh Sahbbir Ali Qureshi, Amir Talal Gopang and MNAs from LayyahAbdul Majeed Khan Niazi and Khawja Sheeraz were present in the meeting.

Measures taken for the redressal of public issues and development matters were discussed in the meeting. In another meeting, MPAs from Punjab Malik Asad Ali Khokhar and Farooq Amanullah Dareshak discussed with the Prime Minister matters regarding redressal of problems faced by the people of their respective constituencies and development in the meeting.

Women Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) including Rukhsana Naveed, Shanila Ruth, Robina Jameel, Nusrat Waheed, Sajida Hassan, Andleeb Abbas, Javeria Zafar Aheer, Tashfeen Safdar and Kunwal Shozeb also called on the Prime Minister. Special Assistant to PM on Political Affairs Malik Amir Dogar was also present.

During the meeting, women MNAs presented proposals to the prime minister on various projects relating to education, health, climate change and public welfare. The prime minister appreciated the proposals and assured full cooperation for implementation of the projects. Meanwhile, current and former MNAs belonging to Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Sahiwal Divisions also met Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Those who called on the prime minister included MNAs Farrukh Altaf, Sadaqat Ali Abbasi, Rai Muhammad Murtaza Iqbal and former MNAs Hassan Nawaz and Sajid Nawaz. Measures taken to address public issues in the respective constituencies and development matters were discussed in the meeting.

Farmers’ protests overshadow India’s Republic Day parade

ISLAMABAD, Jan 26, 2021(APP, LPP): Thousands of farmers in tractor convoys on Tuesday burst through police barricades to take their protest against new farm laws to the heart of India’s capital as the nation marked Republic Day with a military parade. Angry farmers frustrated with the policies of the Narendra Modi government policies unleashed unprecedented chaos as they took over the Iconic Mughal-era Red Fort in the Old City. The farmers entered the forecourt of the fort, climbed its ramparts, and hoisted a religious flag on a mast outside.

One protester was killed while several others injured in the police baton charge. Pitched battles were reported by eyewitnesses and news channels at several locations across Delhi. Police had sealed most entrances to the city with containers and trucks and resorted to tear gas and batons as the farmers broke through. Some protesters reached a major intersection only 3km (1.8 miles) from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other government leaders watched tanks and troops parade past and fighter jets fly overhead, Al Jazeera reported.

Modi waved to crowds and sent out Twitter greetings for the national holiday without mentioning the farmers. He was driven back to his residence before any personal confrontation with the farmers, the biggest challenge his Hindu nationalist government has faced in its six years in power. Authorities had agreed to let the farmers stage a tractor rally as long as they waited for the official Republic Day parade to end.

Hundreds and thousands of farmers had been camping out in protest on the outskirts of the capital for over two months. They were joined by farmers from the northern states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Rajasthan, on the border over the past few days, to hold their own march coinciding with India’s Republic Day. But flag-waving protesters on at least four major arteries climbed over or just pushed aside the barricades and concrete blocks and pressed on into the city.

Tens of thousands of farmers have camped on the outskirts of the capital since November, protesting against new laws that deregulate produce markets. Union leaders say the laws will allow private Indian conglomerates to take over the agriculture sector – the bedrock of the economy – displacing the existent system of purchases by the government at guaranteed prices. Deep Sidhu has posted a live video on Facebook from the Red Fort Ramparts. Deep Sidhu was managing the election of BJP MP Sunny Deol in Gurdaspur in 2019.    It's clear who is behind the violence to discredit the peaceful #FarmersProtest.

National Convener of Congress Saral Patel said it had been exposed that who was behind the violence to disrupt the peaceful protest of farmers. Smaller farmer demonstrations were also held in other cities, including Mumbai and Bengaluru. So, is the BJP trying to fish in the farmers waters to defame the movement? Indian lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said, “So, is the BJP trying to fish in the farmers waters to defame the movement?” Law and order in Delhi is directly under the Home Ministry. This ministry has control of our intelligence agencies. How did it not know that the farmers protest was likely to turn violent?

India’s columnist and author Tavleen Shah on her Twitter account questioned the scenario of chaos in New Delhi with a hint that ‘how the intelligence agencies did not know that the farmers protest was likely to turn violent?’ Scenes of violent clashes of police with farmers went viral on several social media platforms, showing the farmers taking over sections of the Red Fort as the riot police make a quick retreat. According to the NDTV, in a late evening development Union Home minister Amit Shah held a high-level meeting which agreed to deploy additional paramilitary forces in Delhi. Punjab and Haryana have been placed under high alert.

The Internet has been suspended in parts of the National Capital Region including Delhi and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The violent clashes left 41 police personnel injured and were admitted to different hospitals in New Delhi. The Indian farmers, the majority from the minority Sikh community hoisted a flag at the Red Fort; which was claimed to be that of the separatist movement Khalistan. However the Indian media was at pains to explain that the flag hoisted was “Nishan Sahib” and not that of Khalistan. However the Sikh community believed that the flag atop the Red Fort was a symbolic victory over the fascist Narendra Modi government.

Flags hoisted at Red Fort by Indian farmers. The protest on agriculture reforms has rekindled the demand for a separate homeland for the Sikhs, who, like the Muslim minority, have been facing persecution by the Hindutva ideology, aggressively being pursued by the government of Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP. Sikhs are very humble and kind religious nation, but they always with treated backward in India, and it is their right to be free and separate from biased Hindu state. The only solution for us is to get our own country Khalistan

There was also a strong reaction from the internet users over the shutdown of broadband services in the capital New Delhi. The people took to the social media to vent their anger and said the “Modi government wants to silence dissent & commit acts of violence against the farmers.” Disturbing news from India today: the government has shut down the internet in Delhi. The Modi government wants to silence dissent & commit acts of violence against the farmers and other protesters. India leads the world in internet shutdowns.

At UN, PM proposes equitable COVID-19 vaccine supply

ISLAMABAD, Jan 25, 2021 (APP,LPP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday presented a five-point agenda to address the structural barriers in global prosperity, proposing equitable supply of COVID-19 vaccine to developing countries and suspension of debt repayments for most stressed countries until end of pandemic. The prime minister, in his keynote address at the fourth session of virtually held United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on Financing for Development (FfD) in Geneva, called for a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of COVID vaccine to developing countries.

“The coverage of the COVAX facility must be expanded. This would enable the developing countries to spend their precious resources on socio-economic development needs,” he said. Calling the pandemic an opportunity to address the structural barriers hampering global prosperity and development, he suggested the suspension of debt re-payments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic and restructuring of their public-sector debt under an agreed and inclusive multilateral framework. Moreover, the expansion of concessional financing through multilateral development banks was also essential, he emphasized.

Imran Khan called for a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of 500 billion dollars to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures. Reiterating his decades old stance of return of stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals, the prime minister viewed that the illicit financial outflows from developing nations caused more poverty in that world than any other factor. “Reportedly, a staggering amount of 7 trillion dollars is parked in “haven” destinations. And it is also reported that one trillion dollars annually leaves the developing countries for these “haven” destinations,” he told the meeting also addressed by prime minister of Barbados, vice president of Plurinational State of Bolivia, and second vice president of Government of Spain.

The fifth point of the proposed agenda was meeting the agreed target of mobilizing 100 billion dollars annually by developed countries for climate action in developing countries. Terming the economic malaise and recession “highly communicable” like the coronavirus, Prime Minister Khan said the global policy measures, along the his proposed lines were urgently needed to save lives, revive economies, and build back better. He thanked the UNCTAD Secretary-General for organizing the “extremely important” and said the world was grappling with a series of inter-linked and unprecedented public health and economic crises.

He said as the coronavirus did not discriminate between the rich and the poor, the most vulnerable people and countries had suffered the most. “Millions are likely to fall back into poverty,” Khan feared. He told the meeting that Pakistan’s efforts had been aimed at ensuring their protection from both COVID-related as well as hunger-related deaths. “Our strategy fortunately has worked well so far. But continuous efforts are needed to fully overcome the second wave of the virus. And also at the same time to maintain and stimulate economic growth,” the prime minister said.

He said the COVID-19 vaccines were now being administered in developed countries but seemed that it will take much longer time for the vaccine to fully cover the global South. He viewed that the sustainable development would remain elusive as long as the pandemic persisted. Developing countries are trapped between recovering from the pandemic and meeting their debt servicing obligations, he added. He said in April last year, he had called for a ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ for creating fiscal space and reviving economic growth for developing countries. “But I am afraid much more needs to be done on this account. Otherwise, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by the target date of 2030 will remain a daunting challenge,” he remarked.

PM, COAS, DG ISI discuss national security matters

ISLAMABAD, Jan 25, 2021 (APP): Matters pertaining to national security came under discussion at a high-level meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa here on Monday.

The discussion was held when the Army Chief and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid called on the Prime Minister, a statement issued by the PM Media Wing said.

GB Attracted 2 Mln Tourists Last Year After Peace Restoration: President Alvi

NALTAR, Jan 24, 2021(APP, LPP):President Dr Arif Alvi on Sunday said after restoration of peace in the area, the picturesque Gilgit Baltistan attracted around two million local and foreign tourists last year. Addressing the concluding ceremony of Winter Sports Competitions held at Naltar Valley, the president said the government was taking measures to launch international flights from Gilgit Airport, rehabilitation of road infrastructure and improvement of telecommunication systems in the area.

The sports competitions were held jointly by Winter Sports Federation of Pakistan and Pakistan Air Force (PAF). The president viewed that more the facilities would be extended to tourists, the more the area would make progress. He said terrorism had been eliminated owing to the cooperation between public and Pakistan Army which was now opening up tourism opportunities in the country.

Lauding the PAF for holding the sports competitions, he said the steps taken by the organization for promotion of skiing in Naltar since 1950s were coming to fruition. Later, the president also distributed medals, trophies and prizes among players.

Govt To Unveil Special Package for Farmers Soon: PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD, Jan 24, 2021 (APP):The Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday said that the government would announce a special package for the farmers “very soon” as a sub-committee of the cabinet was formulating proposals on the subject. The PM in a meeting with the Members of National Assembly from South Punjab, Dir and Swat, said the previous governments ignored South Punjab region and discriminated with the people in provision of education, health and employment opportunities.

The meeting which focused on South Punjab Secretariat and farmers’ special package, was attended by Special Assistant to PM on Political Affairs Malik Amir Dogar and MNAs Aurangzeb Khan Khichi and Nur Muhammad Khan Bhabha. The Prime Minister said that the purpose of establishing South Punjab Secretariat was to give special focus on development of the South Punjab districts.

Aurangzeb Khichi put forward a proposal for establishment of a cadet college in Vehari. During the meeting with MNAs Salim Rehman and Bashir Khan, PM was briefed on the provision of employment opportunities to the locals during the construction of dams in Dir. Moreover, the Prime Minister was also apprised of the public issues and efforts for their resolution, besides progress on education and health projects in Swat. MNA Salim Rehman briefed the prime minister on the promotion of tourism in Swat which was also casting positive impacts on people’s lives.

SKMT Karachi Will Be Country’s Most Modern Medical Facility: PM

ISLAMABAD, Jan 23, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) cancer hospital in Karachi would turn out to be one of the most modern medical facility of the country. This will InshaAllah be the biggest SKMT hospital and the most modern in Pakistan”. In a tweet the Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that the construction work on SKMT Karachi was going on full pace.

‘Work on SKMT Karachi basement (is) proceeding at a good pace after a slowdown during the COVID crisis,” he tweeted. Imran Khan also shared a few photographs of the construction work. “This will InshaAllah be the biggest SKMT hospital and the most modern in Pakistan,” he said.

Ulema’s Role Vital in Promoting Social Harmony: PM

ISLAMABAD, Jan 22, 2021(APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday terming unity and solidarity among Muslim Ummah need of the hour said the role of Ulema was vital in promoting harmony by discouraging extremism and sectarianism. Talking to a delegation of Ulema (religious scholars), the Prime Minister said their united efforts could help counter the nefarious conspiracies aimed at creating rift among Muslims all over the world.

The delegation included Pir Muhammad Amin Al Hasnat Shah, Pir Charaguddin Shah, Dr Qibla Ayaz, Pir Naqib-ur-Rehman, Maulana Abdul Khubair Azad, Pir Habib Irfani, Sahibzada Muhammad Hamid Raza, Syed Ziaullah Bukhari, Pir Sultan Ahmad Ali Haq Bahu, Allama Muhammad Hussain Akbar, Mufti Abu Bakar Mohyuddin, Maulana Muhammad Adil Attari, Maulana Muhammad Tayyab Qureshi, Mufti Fazal Jameel Rizvi, Maulana Hamid ul Haq, Pir Shamsul Amin, Pir Habibullah Shah, Muhammad Qasim Qasmi, Sahibzada Muhammad Akram Shah and Pir Makhdoom Abbas Bengali.

Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noor ul Haq Qadri was also present. The Prime Minister said Ulema could play a significant role in making the country a true Islamic welfare state. Imran Khan said he would hold series of meetings with Ulema and seek guidance from them on issues facing the country.

About his efforts in highlighting the problems faced by the Muslim world, he mentioned that a voice against Islamophobia was raised at several international fora. The Ulema paid tribute to Prime Minister Imran Khan for his firm stance against the blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him) and Islamophobia in the West at the platform of the United Nations.

They said the Prime Minister effectively conveyed the sentiments of the people of Pakistan and the entire Muslim Ummah. On issue of recognition of Israel, the Ulema lauded the Prime Minister for taking a clear and unequivocal stand. The delegation appreciated the Prime Minister’s vision and efforts to make Pakistan in line with the Islamic welfare State of Madinah.

They assured the Prime Minister full support in making Pakistan a true Islamic welfare state. The Ulema mentioned that minorities enjoyed full protection in the country following the Prime Minister’s efforts for their safety and restoration of their religious sites. They lauded the Prime Minister’s prudent strategy in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s efforts to manage worshippers at mosques in the most efficient manner.

The delegation said the Prime Minister highlighted the Kashmir issue in an effective manner at the United Nations, adding that Imran Khan was a true leader of the Islamic world. The Ulema also praised the efforts of the government in improving the madrassa system in the country particularly in the implementation of educational curriculum as per modern requirements.

PM Announces Launch of Long-Awaited 3G & 4G Internet Services in S. Waziristan 

WANA, Jan 20, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday announced launch of high-speed 3G and 4G internet in South Waziristan to bring technological development of the remote tribal districts. Addressing a gathering of tribal notables at cheque distribution ceremony under Kamyab Jawan Programme, the Prime Minister said launch of high-speed internet was in line with bringing development in South Waziristan, an area that had long suffered the brunt of terrorism. The Prime Minister mentioned that internet access in south Waziristan was previously denied due to security situation with the major apprehension that technology could be used by miscreants backed by India.

However, he said, after consultations with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI Chief Lt.Gen. Faiz Hameed on security clearance, it was decided to launch the services to facilitate the residents particularly students as most of the educational institutions had started online classes. Imran Khan said the vision of his government was to uplift the underprivileged areas of S.Waziristan and provide best opportunities to the local population in areas of education, health and employment. He regretted that tribal areas suffered immensely due to militancy in the past and said it was the time to compensate them by offering them facilities in all areas of life. He termed the youth as “biggest asset” of the country and stressed that technical education would help them gain capabilities to meet the challenges of contemporary world.

For the uplift of tribal youth, he said, employment opportunities would be provided to them for their mainstreaming in national development. He said more funds would be diverted for S.Waziristan under Kamyab Jawan Programme, aimed at ensuring self-reliance of youth. Imran Khan acknowledged tremendous sacrifice of the tribal people for the soil, dating back to their resistance during British Raj and fighting for the freedom of Kashmiris in 1947. He paid tribute to locals for supporting him in materializing the difficult task of merger of tribal areas with Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, adding that the time would prove that it was the “best decision”.

The Prime Minister said the government would soon open educational facilities in South Waziristan including universities and technical institutes. He assured that demands of local population would be met and their problems be resolved on priority. He directed Governor Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and the Chief Minister to hold consultations with tribal elders in sorting out the demands relating to sub-division of districts. He also asked the Chief Minister to ensure the problems related to construction of dams to overcome shortage of water. “The government will continue to take steps for your uplift, no matter whom you voted in elections,” he told the gathering, vowing to extend support to them in all areas.

He said poor students would be given scholarships and financial assistance to complete their education under the Ehsaas social welfare programme. The Prime Minister said the government was going to bring “olive revolution” in South Waziristan, a terrain best suited for cultivation of the crop. He said the olive project would boost local production and generate revenue for locals. He said the road infrastructure in tribal areas would be upgraded to lessen distances among far-flung districts. The Prime Minister announced that every household in S.Waziristan would be provided health insurance of free medical treatment up to Rs 0.7 million. To tribal elders, he assured that the tradition of respect would be ensured with their inclusion in main decision body of jirga.

Earlier, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the second phase of Cadet College Wana in South Waziristan. Under the project, the Cadet College will get two new hostels, teachers’ accommodation, clean water supply, a mosque and a multi-purpose hall. The expansion of Cadet College Wana will not only benefit the local students, but also belonging to other parts of S.Waziristan. In addition, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for widening and repair of Tanai Gul Kuch Road. The road will ensure better transportation facilities to the adjoining population.  

President for Enhanced Trade, Defence Ties with Friendly Countries

ISLAMABAD, Jan 19, 2021(APP, LPP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday called for enhanced trade, investment, defence and cultural cooperation with all friendly countries for the benefit of people. He made these remarks while talking to residents ambassadors-designates of Korea, Nepal, Belarus and non-residents ambassadors-designates of Ireland, Kosovo, Mali and Sierra Leone, who made separate calls on him, here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.

The president said Pakistan was home to some of the world’s most revered Buddhist sites and expressed hope that tourists from friendly countries would visit the country. Earlier, the resident ambassadors-designate Suh Sangpyo (Korea), Tapas Adhikari (Nepal) and Andrei Metelitsa (Belarus), and non-resident ambassadors-designate Sonya McGuinness (Ireland), Ilir Dugolli (Kosovo), Dianguinadit Yaya Doucoure (Mali) and Alie Badara Kamara (Sierra Leone) presented their credentials to President Dr Arif Alvi here at a ceremony.

The president congratulated the newly-appointed ambassadors and expressed the hope that they would play their role in promoting commercial and cultural relations with Pakistan. Talking to the envoys separately, Dr Arif Alvi said Pakistan’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index had improved tremendously and foreign investors needed to take advantage of investment friendly environment of the country.

He added that Pakistan wanted to strengthen bilateral ties with friendly countries in all dimensions. He also briefed the envoys about the atrocities and gross Human Rights violations being committed by India against the innocent people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). He urged the international community to play its rightful role to stop India from committing such blatant violations of International Law.

AJK to follow NCOC instructions about opening of educational institutions

MUZAFFARABAD, Jan 15, 2021(APP): A high level meeting was held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan here Thursday to review the latest situation of coronavirus pandemic and opening of educational institutions in the region. The meeting was briefed about the latest situation of coronavirus pandemic while various proposals were discussed in connection with the opening of educational institutions.

The meeting decided to present the proposals in the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) meeting on behalf of the Azad Kashmir government. The meeting decided that the decisions of the NCOC in connection with the opening of educational institutions will be fully implemented in Azad Kashmir. The meeting was attended by the Health Minister Dr. Najeeb Naqi, Minister for education Barrister Iftikhar Gillani, Minister for Higher Education Col Rted Waqar Ahmed Noor , Chief Secretary and secretaries to the government.

PM for pacing up measures, removing all hurdles to ensure improved governance

ISLAMABAD, Jan 14, 2021(APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday stressed for further pacing up the implementation of measures for improved governance in the country by removing any types of hurdles coming in the way. He said administrative reforms should be implemented in stipulated time to provide relief to the masses. Since there was no discrimination of rich and poor in the welfare state and reformation was impossible without strengthening the system of reward and punishment, legal action against the corrupt elements should be ensured, he added.

The prime minister was presiding over a high level meeting here regarding Governance Action Matrix, which was attended by the federal and provincial officers concerned. Imran Khan was briefed in detail about the measures taken for bringing about improvement in administrative matters. He was told that the steps for providing relief to the people, registration and redressal of complaints, holding of Khuli Kachehris (open courts), resolution of problems relating to Mehakma Mall (department of land and revenue) on priority basis, establishment of one-window operation and facilitation of the people in government departments, have been practically implemented.

The prime minister was told that the process of large scale implementation of measures to ensure improvement in governance in Punjab has been started, with steps to boost its pace. He was also informed about the timely redressal of complaints in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, coordination with the administration of merged districts, strict monitoring of the prices of daily use items and the resultant significant reduction in flour price in the province.

Instead of investment, Modi’s black laws brought 0.5m troops to IIOJK: President

ISLAMABAD, Jan 13 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Wednesday said that 500,000 soldiers came into the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), instead of the so-called investment as claimed by Narendra Modi while imposing black laws. “PM Modi said when imposing black laws in IIOJ & Kashmir that investment will flood in. No money arrived but 500K soldiers came, filling the streets,” the president said on Twitter.

Sharing The New York Times report on IIOJK situation, the president said besides the streets filled by the troops, the internet, television and telephone services had been closed down in the territory.Moreover, he said the internet speed had been slowed down to discourage videos from going out and those who vented anger were charged with terrorism.

In an article published in The New York Times said Emily Schmall wrote from Srinagar, “Once a hub for both Western and Indian tourists, Kashmir has been reeling for more than a year. First, India brought in security forces to clamp down on the region. Then the coronavirus struck.”

PM stresses transforming Pak-Turkish ties into robust economic partnership

ISLAMABAD, Jan 13, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday while reaffirming the exceptional nature of Pakistan-Turkey political relationship, stressed the importance of transforming it into a robust economic partnership. The bilateral ties were discussed here in a meeting between the prime minister and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who called him, a PM Office press release said.

During the meeting, they discussed Pakistan-Turkey bilateral relations and regional and international issues. The two sides reaffirmed their shared resolve to further upgrade trade, investment, defence, educational and cultural cooperation. The prime minister thanked Turkey for its steadfast support on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and highlighted the detrimental Indian actions posing a threat to peace and security.

In the regional context, the prime minister underscored the importance Pakistan attached to a peaceful solution of the conflict in Afghanistan. In this regard, he highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to Afghan peace process and the imperative for all Afghan stakeholders to work for bringing down violence leading to ceasefire and securing an inclusive and broad-based political settlement.

Imran Khan emphasized the importance of working to combat Islamophobia and promote better understanding of the reverence Muslims have for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It was agreed to maintain high-level exchanges and further build Pakistan-Turkey strategic relationship to the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples.

Pakistan, Turkey & Azerbaijan to hold 2nd trilateral meeting on Jan 13, 2021

ISLAMABAD, Jan 12, 2021(APP):The Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan will hold their second Trilateral Meeting on Wednesday in Islamabad, the Foreign Office said Tuesday. The three sides will exchange views on global and regional issues including new and emerging threats to regional peace and security, address challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic, environment and climate change and to achieve economic development targets.

“The three Foreign Ministers would also explore possibilities of deepening trilateral cooperation in all areas of common interest, including peace and security, trade and investment, science and technology, education and cultural cooperation,” the Foreign Office said. Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey enjoy close fraternal relations based on common faith, values, culture and history; deeply embedded in mutual trust and understanding. The first round of Trilateral Meeting was held in Baku in November 2017.

India’s evil designs about Kashmir to never materialize: AJK President

MIRPUR (AJK) Jan 12, 2021(APP): Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan unequivocally stated on Tuesday that India’s dream of turning the territory of Jammu and Kashmir into Hindu Rashtra would never materialize as the Kashmiri people are determined to continue their struggle for freedom and the right of self-determination till the last drop of their blood.

He made these remarks while addressing – as a keynote speaker – a webinar on “Marginalization of Kashmiris in the Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir by Indian Government”, organized by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), AJK President office said. Other speakers at the event included former Senator Javed Jabbar, Chairperson Pakistan Peace and Culture Organisation Mishaal Hussain Malik and AVM (R) Shahzad Chaudhry. Acting President IPRI, Brig. (R) Raashid Wali Janjua hosted the event.

“Despite India’s policy of irredentism, Kashmiris have vowed to continue their struggle for freedom and self-determination by giving their blood to keep the flame of liberty burning. I say with conviction that the truth will prevail, evil will be crushed, and the Indian criminals will be brought to justice”, Khan affirmed. He said that the whole population of occupied Jammu and Kashmir has been under the siege of the Indian Army since August 5 last year, and the occupation troops are ruthlessly engaged in crimes like the ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri people, which are not only crimes against humanity but the war crimes as well.

Sardar Masood Khan said that the BJP-RSS regime is taking systematic steps in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) to alter its demography, its geography, its statehood, and the rights of the people of Kashmir recognized by international law. “Jammu and Kashmir, as we knew it and as recognised by the UN is disappearing before our very eyes”, he warned. He elaborated that last year on August 5, after the invasion and forcibly annexing the occupied territory with its federation, it arbitrarily and in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions divided the occupied state into two parts and designated them as federal territories.

The President said that later last year, another sinister plan was implemented to ruthlessly take Kashmir away from Kashmiris, where more than 2 million Hindus from India have been illicitly settled inside the occupied territory. The AJK President also informed his audience of how legal businesses of Kashmiri Muslims are being delegitimized under illegal edicts and their land is being commandeered for settlements and Hindu enterprises. “Any part of the sovereign territory of Kashmiris is fair game for confiscation”, said the State President.

Speaking of the imposition of a counterfeit political class on Kashmiris, the President said that with ongoing gerrymandering, Muslims are being reduced to a minority even in the constituencies where they have been in majority. “Holding of the recent farcical local elections, the cycle for the total disenfranchisement and dispossession of Kashmiris is being completed”, he informed. President AJK said that crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes – all indictable offences under international law.

He added that the campaign is not just about the marginalization of Kashmiris, but their total annihilation and what is happening in the IOJK is genocide as defined in Article 2 of the 1948 Genocide Convention. “Scores of young men are being killed in fake encounters. Nobody knows the fate of more than 13,000 young boys rounded up in 2019 and put into concentration camps. Our top Kashmiris leadership is either in the most infamous jails in India or are imprisoned in their houses”, he said.

Masood Khan urged the participants of the webinar to issue a communiqué demanding the release of our leaders – Asiya Andrabi, Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, Ashraf Sehrai, and Musrat Alam Bhatt; and remove restrictions on Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq. Sardar Masood once again called to change the Kashmir movement into an international civil rights movement, to move with energy and ingenuity to reverse the vicious brutalization of the Kashmiris and block India’s path of fascism and its Hindutva doctrine.

“We are trying to break the silence of the international community in the UN, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, European Parliament, other national parliaments, and multilateral forums.”, he concluded.

Top civil, military brass discuss national security

ISLAMABAD, Jan 11, 2021(APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa Monday expressed their resolve to bring the perpetrators of unfortunate Mach incident to justice. The resolve was reiterated during the army chief’s call on the prime minister. During their meeting, they discussed the national security situation, the PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

“The unfortunate Mach, Balochistan incident was highly condemned. It was resolved that the perpetrators would be brought to justice,” the press release said. Director General Inter Services Intelligence Lt Gen Faiz Hamid was also present in the meeting.The continuous human rights violations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) and the frequent ceasefire violations over the Line of Control also came under discussion.

Gradual- Restoration efforts underway after major power breakdown hits Pakistan

KARACHI، Jan 10, 2021: Restoration efforts carried on well into Sunday morning after almost all cities and towns across Pakistan plunged into darkness late Saturday night following a major technical fault that caused the frequency in the entire distribution system to drop from 50 to 0. Tweeting from the ministry's official Twitter handle, spoksperson for the the Ministry of Energy said that according to initial reports, the Guddu power plant developed a fault at 11:41pm on Saturday night.

Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan along with Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz said the exact reason for the fault had still not been ascertained owing to the fog surrounding the Guddu power plant. However, he said efforts were underway to ascertain the cause. The minister informed that the power plant's safety systems started shutting off automatically soon after it developed a fault. "There are three 5 KV circuits at the Guddu power plant," Khan informed.

According to the energy minister, Prime Minister Imran Khan had been informed of the entire situation, and that he had directed for the electricity supply to be restored at the earliest. In a bid to keep people updated, Khan posted updates from his Twitter account throughout the night. The Ministry of Energy also posted regular updates from its Twitter handle. It's last tweet listed the names of Sukkur Electric Supply Company's grids that had so far been energised.

The National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) informed that a high-level committee to investigate the national power breakdown had been formed. The committee has been formed by the managing director of the NTDC. In a statement released on Saturday night, the NTDC stated that teams were working to ascertain reasons behind the sudden fall in frequency of the national distribution system. Residents in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad among other major cities faced a complete blackout with hastags #blackout, #electricity and #poweroutage trending on Twitter.

According to the power division spokesperson, efforts were afoot to start Tarbela unit so that the electricity distribution system can be restored in phases. The power division spokesperson also appealed to the masses to remain patient. “All teams have reached their respective stations… Federal Minister for Power, Petroleum and Natural Resources Omar Ayub is himself supervising the restoration work,” he stated. “People will be kept updated.” Ayub also took to Twitter to share the same details with public saying the nationwide outage was caused after the frequency in the national power distribution system suddenly fell from 50 to zero.

Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz also shared details on the micro-blogging website. He said the power breakdown was caused by a technical fault in the NTDC system which is being restored," he tweeted. Technical fault in NTDC system. System is being restored۔ PM’s aide Shahbaz Gill also said the energy minister and his entire team were working to restore the transmission, adding that people would be kept updated on the situation.

Guddu power plant developed a fault at 11:41pm on Saturday night, the Ministry of Energy tweeted from its official handle. The technical fault in which frequency fell from 50 to zero in less than a second led to the country’s main high transmission lines to trip. The units of Tarbela and Warsak power house have been started for sequential restoration of power, it added. “Once the initial frequency is restored, the maintenance work will speed up.”

Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto met Machh tragedy victims In Quetta today

QUETTA, Jan 7, 2021: PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz along with other leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has arrived in Quetta to pay their visit to the Machh incident victims today. The incident took place last week when  11 colliers were killed and four others seriously injured after armed men opened fire at them at the Machh coalfield in Balochistan's Bolan district.

The PML-N confirmed Maryam Nawaz is on visit of Quetta with other senior leaders of the party whereas Bilawal is accompanied by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to the Quetta visit. Meanwhile, a delegation of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) will also leave Islamabad for Quetta today to show solidarity with the Hazara community. The delegation will convey Maulana Fazlur Rehman's condolence message to the Hazara community members. A day earlier, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal had visited the protest camp of the Hazara families and urged them to bury the slain coal miners. He had appealed to let go of the condition that they will only do so if Prime Minister Imran Khan visits them.

Bilawal Bhutto’s arrival in Quetta was delayed as he had to offload the plane after some technical default. Earlier, sharing the update on Twitter, the PPP leader said that he has been making other arrangements and is trying his level best to reach Quetta with CM Sindh & Former PM Gillani. “Have been trying to reach Quetta with CM Sindh & Former PM Gillani. We’ve had to offload as the plane's engine would not start. Trying to make other arrangements,” Bilawal said in a tweet.

He also stressed that Prime Minister Imran Khan must accept the demands of the victims of terrorism protesting along with their death for the fifth consecutive day now. Members of the Hazara community have staged a continuous sit-in in Quetta in freezing temperatures to demand justice for the slain coal miners who were gunned down in Machh for the fifth consecutive day. The bodies of the deceased have been kept where the community is staging its demonstration, on the Quetta-Sibi highway (Western Bypass), near Hazara Town. Due to the presence of the protesters, the area is completely blocked off to traffic.

Please Bury Your Loved Ones : PM Pleads Hazara Mourners

ISLAMABAD, Jan 6, 2021: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday assured the Hazara community that he was cognizant of their sufferings and demands and requested them to bury the bodies of the slain coal miners. “I share your pain and have come to you before also to stand with you in your time of suffering,” he said adding that we will come again very soon to offer prayers and condole with all the families personally.

“I will never betray my people's trust. Please bury your loved ones so their souls find peace,” he urged the community. Members of the Hazara community have blockaded a highway in Quetta with the bodies of slain coal miners since Sunday demanding that they will not withdraw until Prime Minister Imran Khan meets them and the killers are brought to justice.

Islamic State militants slit the throats of 11 miners in a residential compound near a mine site in Balochistan on Sunday, filming the entire incident and later posting it online. Thousands of Hazaras have since staged a protest, arranging the coffins across a highway in the provincial capital.

In a series of tweets, the premier assured that the government was taking steps to prevent such attacks in the future. Without mentioning a country, the premier further stated that the government was well aware that Pakistan’s “neighbour was instigating this sectarian terrorism”.

Cabinet Approves Purchase of COVID-19 Vaccine to Save Human Lives

ISLAMABAD, Jan 5, 2021(APP): The Federal Cabinet Tuesday accorded approval to the Ministry of Health, to purchase the COVID-19 vaccine on an emergency basis to save precious human lives. The cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan was briefed by Special Assistant on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan about the current situation of coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The cabinet offered Fateha and prayed for the souls of laborers martyred in Machh, Balochistan incident, Osama Satti, who was killed in police firing in Islamabad, and for the martyrs of Pakistan Armed Forces. The meeting approved the appointment of the Chairman Board of Directors (BOD) of Pakistan Expo Centers Private Limited.

It also approved the constitution of a special committee to adjudicate on the appeals made under Clause 21 of the Trade Organizations Act 2013. The committee would be able to exercise its authority after the completion of amendments in the relevant laws. The meeting also accorded approval for the appointment of members of the Press Council of Pakistan.

The cabinet, in order to improve the quality of exports in the fisheries sector, approved the constitution of the Inspection Committee, which would perform duties of inspection of the Fish Processing Plants to be established in the country. The Inspection Committee comprised representatives of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, and Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association.

The cabinet accepted the resignation of Dr Rana Abdul Jabbar as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB) and approved the constitution of a selection committee for the appointment of the new CEO. The Managing Director of the Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) would look after the AEDB till the appointment of a new CEO. The cabinet endorsed the decisions taken by the Cabinet Committee for Legal Cases in its meeting held on December 31, 2020.

India Behind Mach Terror Incident: Bushra Rind

ISLAMABAD, Jan 4, 2021 (APP):Baluchistan Parliamentary Secretary for Information Bushra Rind Monday said that India is behind the terror incident and involved in the killing of 11 coal miners in Mach area of Baluchistan. While holding a press conference here at the National Press Club, she said “All our sympathies are with the Hazara community and especially with the bereaved families of coal miners of Mach incident”.

Condemning the attack, she said that anti-national elements wanted to vitiate the law and order situation in the province. The investigation of the Mach terrorist incident is underway on the directives of Chief Minister Jam Kamal and the evil elements will be brought to justice. India and other anti-Pakistan elements wanted to sabotage China Pakistan Economic Corridor through such terrorist activities, she added.

Talking about Pakistan democratic Moment (PDM), she said they wanted chaos in the country as the nation has rejected their narrative. PDM is causing the spread of the corona virus among the public. Rind said that Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) and other parties have hollowed out the roots of the country. The role of the nationalist parties in Baluchistan is also very disappointing, she added.

The Baluchistan government under the leadership of Chief Minister Jam Kamal is taking revolutionary steps in the province for development and promotion of tourism in the province. “Our government has taken steps to promote tourism in Balochistan. We have made historic strides in agriculture, health, education and other areas. A date processing plant has been set up in Balochistan” she told.

For the first time, the Baluchistan Awami Endowment Fund has been set up to award financial support to needy patients in the province. Around 22 dams were being constructed to promote agriculture, she said adding that work has resumed on the Kirthar Canal. The present government is paying special attention to the development of the coastal belt.
For promotion of coastal tourism, she said the government is constructing hotels, restaurants and ensuring the provision of other facilities in the shores of Gwadar.

We tried to release funds to the local government for strengthening of the local bodies system. She further said that the Baluchistan Awami Party has given most of the funds and initiated development projects in the constituencies of the opposition parties. Talking about the case of Karima Baloch, she said that unjustified allegations were made against the state in the case of Karima Baloch. The report of Canadian police said that Karima Baloch’s death was natural.

PM Condemns 11 Miners’ killing in Balochistan; Orders Immediate Arrest of killers

ISLAMABAD, Jan 03, 2021(APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday condemned the killing of 11 coal miners in Mach area of Balochistan, calling it “yet another cowardly inhumane act of terrorism”.Eleven mines were killed after armed militants kidnapped them and took them to a nearby area before opening fire at close range, according to police.

The prime minister, in a tweet, directed the Frontier Corps to use all resources to apprehend the killers and bring them to justice.“The families of the victims will not be left abandoned by the government,” he said.

Year 2021 to Bring About Good Time for Pakistan: PM

ISLAMABAD, Jan 1, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday while reiterating his government’s resolve to uplift people’s living standard and improve justice system, hoped that new year 2021 will bring about good time for Pakistan.

The prime minister, in his first interview of new year with a private television channel (Dunya News), said all the reshuffle in federal and provincial cabinets and bureaucracy would become irrelevant before a question whether Imran Khan improved people’s lives after five years.

“You get a mandate for five years. I will not commit to not change my team. I am captain and always kept changing the team. I have to win the match. I have to make Pakistan win.,” the prime minister said.He said his goal was to make a common man recognizes uplift in his living standard, justice system and steering them out of poverty after five years.

Calling him a prime minister of common man, not elite class, he said the first two years were very tough.“These were the most difficult years of my life. I have very good feeling. Insha Allah, my instinct is saying that 2021 will bring about a very good time for Pakistan,” the prime minister remarked.

Govt Striving to Create Equitable Opportunities for Growth: President

ISLAMABAD, Dec 30, 2020 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Wednesday said that the government was striving to create equitable opportunities for growth and development in the country.The president, in a meeting with a delegation of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), said the business atmosphere had improved in the country due to the reforms and prudent policies being pursued by the government.

Entrepreneurs Organization, is a global non-profit organization and a high-quality support network of over 14,000 like-minded leaders across 61 countries. It helps entrepreneurs achieve their full potential through the power of life-enhancing connections, shared experiences and collaborative learning.The president told the delegation that owing to government’s pro-business policies and facilitations, Pakistan’s global ranking in ease of doing business had improved by 28 points.

He urged the EO to play its role for boosting Pakistan’s exports and its access to global markets.The president called for adopting the strategy to cope with the changing scenarios and trends in the global markets to make the country achieve economic benefits.He also called for efforts for welfare of deprived and less-privileged segments of the society particularly the differently-abled persons. He also advised the business community to take steps for employment of the disabled people.

PM “Saddened” Over Martyrdom of Seven Soldiers in Balochistan Attack

ISLAMABAD, Dec 27,2020 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday expressed sadness over the martyrdom of seven soldiers in a terrorist attack at FC check post in Harnai area of Balochistan on Saturday night.“Saddened to hear of 7 brave soldiers martyrdom as a result of terrorist attack on FC post in Harnai Balochistan late last night,” the prime minister said on Twitter.

While condoling the loss of lives, the prime minister sympathised with the bereaved families and prayed for strength to them to bear the loss.“Our nation stands with our courageous soldiers who face attacks from Indian backed terrorists,” the prime minister remarked.According to an ISPR statement, the terrorists fire raid on a post of Frontier Corps Balochistan in Sharig, Harnai, Balochistan late Saturday night. During the intense exchange of fire, seven brave soldiers martyred while repulsing raiding terrorists.

PM Urges Nation to Pay Homage to Great Quaid By Following His Footsteps in All Walks of Life

ISLAMABAD, Dec 24 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan while paying rich tribute to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah for his role in the creation of Pakistan has urged the nation to pay a befitting homage to “our great Quaid” by following his footsteps in all walks of lives.“Let us live the Quaid’s ideals of Unity, Faith and Discipline with a renewed national spirit so that we make this country rise above all seen and unseen challenges,” he said in a message on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the founder of nation.

The Prime Minister said, “On this eventful day when Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born, a proud nation was destined to come into being.“I feel blessed to have opened my eyes in a free environment bestowed upon us by God through his chosen personality who was none other but our beloved Quaid,” he added.The Prime Minister said that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had a vision for the Muslims of the subcontinent which got translated in the shape of Pakistan.

“Therefore, there is no other pleasure more real to us as a nation than the commemoration of his birthday. As a prime representative of whole nation, I owe immense gratitude, love and devotion towards my beloved leader Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” he added.The Prime Minister said that in the modern history of mankind, there were a few people who garnered such a wide popularity as our Quaid did.“His determination to carve a nation out of chaos and relentless deprivation was miraculous and insuperable against all odds and challenges”, he added..

The Prime Minister said that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had a firm faith in God and His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which guided him through a long journey comprising of ordeals, deceptions and dejections but culminating in grandeur, décor and eternity.“He is a role model not merely for us but for Muslims of whole world because of the universal vision he instilled in the creation of Pakistan.With the adorable actions which spoke louder than words, he became an actual prototype of honesty and righteousness,” he added.

The Prime Minister said, “We trace not a single discourse by our beloved Quaid on the innumerable sacrifices he made for the cause of his nascent nation rather it is only through his actions that we learn of all those grieving losses he personally went through.”“Together, let us beseech Allah that He grants us strength to realize our destiny of becoming the strongest nation on earth as rightly visualized by our Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” he maintained.

President Urges Children to Follow Quaid’s Principles to Make Pakistan Rise

ISLAMABAD, Dec 25, 2020 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Friday urged the children of Pakistan to excel in every field of knowledge and skills by adhering to the principles of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and make the country rise.“Great countries are built by strong and disciplined nations, who are committed to grow in every sphere of life with hard work, commitment and sincerity of purpose,” the President told a gathering of children at an event marking the Quaid’s birth anniversary.

The programme titled ‘Quaid and children’ was part of the special celebrations for the Quaid Day, held every year at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. The President called upon the children to study the life of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on how selflessly he struggled hard for the creation of Pakistan. He said only a person with such impeccable character and strong will could achieve this tough goal, which everyone believed as impossible.

The President urged upon the parents and teachers to help build strong character of the young generation right from their earlier age as they would turn out to be the next leaders of this country. He said Pakistan had been handed over to the future generations by the Quaid as a “trust”, and now it was their duty to make the country strong and prosperous.President Alvi said no one should have any doubt about Pakistan which, he said was “destined to rise”.

He mentioned the rapid progress in sciences the world over and the way it was breaking all barriers in the world of technology, with latest innovations and developments. He termed as vital the study of sciences for the progress of any country in contemporary age. He said Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had a belief that the Pakistani nation would build their country which would earn respect and admiration in the comity of nations.

President Dr Arif Alvi also urged the children to strictly follow the life and teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), as only by following the greatest leader of all times. He recalled the address of the Quaid of 11 August 1947, wherein he promised that the minorities would be fully able to pursue their religions freely without any fear or persecution and the State would ensure the sanctity of places of worships- mosques, temples, churches , etc.

He said Pakistan was created on democratic principles and on the basis of a kind of referendum where the people demonstrated their democratic right to choose their separate homeland. The President asked the children to follow in letter and spirit the guiding principles of faith, unity and discipline. He said the Quaid-e-Azam believed in justice for all and always stood for the oppressed and those who were weak and were being exploited.

He also briefly touched upon the history of creation of Pakistan and told the children about different facets of the long struggle that culminated in the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of sub-continent. He also spoke about the decline of Muslims and attributed it to lack of unity, knowledge and will to excel. He said it was time that the young children learn lessons from history and set their targets high so that the Muslim Ummah could rise again to its zenith.The children sang national songs and performed tableaus depicting the struggle for the creation of Pakistan.

PM For Enhanced Forestation, Promoting Production of Olives, Avocado, Fruits, Vegetables

ISLAMABAD, Dec 21, 2020 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday stressed for enhanced forestation in the county to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and promoting the production of exportable agriculture-related products such as honey, olives, avocado, and other fruits and vegetables for wealth creation.

With the depleting forest cover, and increasing air and water pollutions, Pakistan had become the fifth country in the world being affected by the climate change, he said while addressing the launching ceremony of ‘Billion Tree Honey’ Initiative here. The initiative – part of the Prime Minister’s vision of a Clean and Green Pakistan, is aimed at promoting tree plantation to support production of honey in the country under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP).

The prime minister said with 70% depletion in the country’s forest cover due to negligence of previous regimes, one of the big challenges faced by his government was to reverse the situation through various measures such as the initiative of 10 billion tree tsunami programme. He said contrary to the past regimes which did not think about humans and coming generations but for the next elections, the present government was fulfilling its obligations of putting the country back on the right track of clean environment.

Imran Khan said for the first time in the country’s history the previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa launched and successfully achieved the billion tree plantation programme, a fact also recognized by international institutions, including the World Bank. He said the initiatives like “Billion Tree Honey” would help protect the forests as the local people, including bee-keepers, would take ownership of the area and not let anyone to cut trees due to their financial interests.

Such initiatives supported by the government, he added, would also help promote the culture of enhanced tree plantation for the benefit of people and country alike, and create employment opportunities. He said the country’s known forests in Kundian (Mianwali District) and Changa Manga (Kasur District) had been devastated due to ill planning and leasing of lands to the people on political grounds in the past.

The prime minister since Pakistan was bestowed by Allah Almighty with diverse climatic zones due to mountains, plains, coastal lines, there was a need to tap that natural potential by promoting tree plantation and production of variety of fruits and vegetables to enhance exports. He said for example the areas of Sulaiman Range, at the right bank of Indus River, was best for planting of precious olive trees, which could help check the country’s annual US$ 3 billion edible oil import.

Similarly, the prime minister said fruits like avocado and others could be produced for export. He, however, added that in order to achieve enhanced exports of fruits and vegetables, particularly in the Middle East, required the quality control and effective branding and marketing of the products. Imran Khan said as Pakistan was the second youngest population in the world, the promotion of value addition in agriculture and other products would help check poverty, create employment opportunities and strengthen economy.

He lauded the efforts of Ministry of Climate Change for taking various measures and initiatives towards a clean and green Pakistan. Earlier, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul and Special Assistant to the PM on Climate Change, in their remarks, highlighted various aspects of the “Billion Tree Honey” Initiative. About 10,000 beekeepers are using 300,000 colonies for producing 7,500 metric tons of honey annually.

The potential can be enhanced to produce 70,000 metric tons of honey from the same harvest by using modern bee keeping gears, training on the latest techniques, standardization / certification of the product and intensive marketing. It is anticipated that marketing of 70,000 metric tons of honey will generate an income of about Rs. 35-43 billion in the national economy and provide about 87,000 green jobs.
Plantation of trees, including Kao, Phulai, Ber, Kikar and other bee flora is being encouraged under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP).

PM Dares PDM On Immediate Resignations; Says Majority of Members Not to Resign

ISLAMABAD, Dec 18 (APP):: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday while daring the opposition parties on immediate resignations, predicted that majority of their members of National and provincial assemblies would not tender resignations. “I invite them to resign today instead of tomorrow. I am predicting that majority of them [members of assemblies] will not resign,” Imran Khan said in an interview with a private television channel (Samaa News).

The prime minister further said he was waiting rather praying for their resignations. “If they resign, it will be better for Pakistan,” he remarked. Imran Khan said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) could do whatever it wanted, as the government was ready for everything. “Whatever they do, they will make their own loss like they did at the Minar-e-Pakistan,” he remarked.

The prime minister described the PDM’s December 13 public meeting a “flop show” and said the people of Lahore did not come out and most of the participants comprised students of religious seminaries or those attracted by the offers of ‘Naan and Biryani’. “They were claiming to gather a sea of people at the Minar-e-Pakistan,” Imran Khan remarked and offered to facilitate the PDM in their planned sit-in in Islamabad. “But they will not be able to achieve their objective,” he added.

The prime minister also dared the PDM to stage even a week-long sit-in the Federal Capital, saying after holding a 126 days sit-in in Islamabad he had become a “Dharna Specialist”. “If they sustain even a week-long sit-in, he will start thinking of resignation,” he said in response to a question. About the Senate elections, the prime minister said the polls could be held 30 days prior to the expiry of tenure of the present members.

As far as the procedure of open ballot or show of hands was concerned, he said, the government would approach the Supreme Court for interpretation of the relevant clauses of law. He said as it was a well known fact that the people indulged in corruption through use of money in the Senate elections, the government’s intention was to check such malpractices in election of Upper House of Parliament. “If a member of Senate is elected through corruption, how and what he will contribute in the legislation process?” he remarked.

To a question, the prime minister categorically rejected the reports of his cabinet member’s visit to Tel Aviv as “totally incorrect” and “fake news” and said it was part of India’s disinformation campaign recently exposed by EU DisinfoLab. “It is totally incorrect. When we have a policy that we will not recognize Israel, why a minister will go there? And what he will do there? It is fake news,” he added.

The prime minister said a full-fledged campaign was being run and the European Union DisinfoLab had recently exposed the whole Indian network. Some Pakistani nationals were also involved in the network [of disinformation] and were feeding them from here, he added. “Uproar is going on in the country [by the opposition parties] for the last two years.., the voices of all is bad,” the prime minister remarked and questioned “Did no good thing happened [during this period?”

He lamented that nobody [from the opposition side] was telling that the country’s economy had come on a takeoff position. “If the stock exchange is moving upward, it shows the confidence of investors and businessmen,” he said and again questioned, “Can anybody take the stock market up by force?” Prime Minister Imran Khan said the governments of Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz took the country’s debt from Rs 6,000 billion in 2008 to Rs 30,000 billion in 2018.

To a question about the PDM’s movement, he said ‘big thieves’ had come together to protect their interests and seek an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) which he would never give. The prime minister said the opposition parties blackmailed the government on the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) legislation by proposing amendments in 34 out of 38 clauses of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law, which if adopted, was tantamount to bury the NAB institution.

He said if he gave the NRO to the opposition, it would be bad for the country’s future. “And, if do so, how I will face Allah Almighty?,” he remarked. To a question, the prime minister said it was not his government which instituted the cases against Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, rather they themselves had made cases against each other during their respective regimes. About the PDM’s ultimatum of January 31 for his resignation, Imran Khan said they were threatening the man, who had come into power after 22 years of struggle and had not inherited the leadership.

The prime minister said he had predicted in his first address to the nation in 2018 that the opposition parties would get united to protect their corruption and seek the NRO. “They have not come together for democracy or interests of the country, but are staging dramas for their personal interests,” he remarked. Imran Khan said the PDM was appealing to the army to dislodge a democratically elected government, which was against the Constitution.

To a question, he said the institution of military was part of the government and always helped the civil institutions in hard times, including the fight against COVId-19, locust attack, polio immunization campaign, flooding etc. The prime minister said since Nawaz Sharif was a product of the Establishment and had always come into power through their support, he was perturbed over why he was not being supported now. To a question, he said he was very happy over the current excellent civil-military relations and had no problem with the army.

About Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan, Imran Khan remarked that it was a very sad story as he (Nawaz) travelled to London on medical grounds by showing his medical reports of serious ailment. He, however, added that the government was looking ways and means to bring Nawaz Sharif back to Pakistan either through extradition or deportation. The prime minister, in response to a question, said the PDM had the support of anti-Pakistan people and forces like Hussain Haqqani, who were trying to destabilize the country.

He said the narrative of Nawaz Sharif was highlighted by Indian media. “Why Nawaz Sharif is popular in India? He has become a hero in India,” he remarked. Imran Khan said for the last 73 years any government in India had not been so anti-Muslim or anti-Pakistan than the current regime led by Narendra Modi, who fully tried to get Pakistan in the black list of FATF. The prime minister said just like every household, the country also had to face fiscal deficit when it was under debt burden and had lower revenue generation than the expenses.

Pakistan had not been generating sufficient revenue for having the lowest tax-to-GDP ratio making the government short of money to improve hospitals and living conditions of the people, he added. Imran Khan said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government inherited record fiscal and current account deficits, which he could not rectify by just switching a button.

“You have to reduce expenses. This surely brings difficulties when you come out of bankruptcy. There is no magic stick to correct it all,” he remarked. However, he said the economic turnaround made by Pakistan despite the COVID-19 pandemic was a miracle. To a question, the prime minister said the country faced inflation just because of lower dollar inflow, which devalued the rupee, and increased oil and power prices.

He said the solution was the wealth creation for which the government was facilitating the industrial sector. Despite all odds, the industry in Faisalabad and Sialkot was running on full capacity and even facing shortage of labour. The construction industry in the country was witnessing a boom with record surge in cement sale which would ultimately create jobs for the people, he added. To a question, he clarified that it was mainly the private sector that created jobs, as the government could give only a few.

He said through unnecessary recruitment, the previous governments made the institutions face loss like Pakistan International Airlines facing Rs 400 billion and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) Rs 350 billion loss. Everywhere in the world, the employees of the loss-making entities were laid off, but those being sacked from the PSM were being given a golden handshake, he added. The sacked employees, he said, would get a chance of re-employment, once any investor took over the mills and revived its operations.

He said the government had reduced the PM Office’s expenses by 70% and the Pakistan Army had also frozen its expenses despite challenging circumstances. Consequent to two-year efforts, the country had finally achieved primary balance as remittances and exports were also on the rise. The prime minister assured that in near future, Pakistan would make swift progress as the government was executing mega development projects like two major Mohmand and Diamer Bhasha dams after 50 years and would develop two new cities of Ravi Urban Front and Bundal Island to create jobs as well as bringing foreign exchange.

Appreciating the government’s anti-poverty Ehsaas Programme as the best and internationally recognized scheme, the prime minister said the government was focusing on agriculture, construction and textile industries for jobs creations. Moreover, following the Chinese anti-poverty model, the people were being given easy loans and women were getting cattle under the Ehsaas to enhance their earning. Asked about the accountability process and the opposition’s criticism, the prime minister said the people, who had ruled the country for three decades, could not be equalized with the ones with just two years in government.

He said though being a fair and transparent personality, he was never afraid of free media, but the media too should not compare the opposition leaders having corrupt and criminal backgrounds with the new entrants. An independent media was in the government’s favour to point out its mistakes for rectification, he added. Imran Khan said he had nothing to do with the NAB investigation into cases against Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari, registered by themselves against each other. All what his government had done was to make the institutions independent, he added.

As regards the petrol price issue report, he said a three-member committee had been formed and action would be taken against the one found guilty. Calling the PDM as Pakistan Anti-Democratic Movement, the prime minister questioned its chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman about the source of his properties worth billions while having no business. Asked about Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, he said the foreign policy of any country depended on its economic condition.

“If you have to beg everywhere… and your country is facing deficit, keep in mind, you will not have an independent foreign policy,” he commented. To a question, the prime minister opined that the first choice of any US administration would be the establishment of peace in Afghanistan, of which Pakistan would be the second most beneficiary. Pakistan would also use its influence on Taliban for reduction in violence for the success of the peace talks, he added.

Rubbishing the opposition’s criticism of losing Kashmir to India, the prime minister said contrarily, it had been made an international issue for the first time after 50 years and was also discussed thrice by the United Nations Security Council. Nawaz Sharif as prime minister had not mentioned Kashmir, who used to hold no meeting with Hurriyat leaders while being in India, invite Modi on family events and even instructed the then foreign secretary not to criticize India, he added. He said currently Kashmir was far more relevant than ever and Pakistan’s positive image had also been revived internationally.

Asked as to why he unfollowed people on his Twitter account, he said it was different to be a politician and a prime minister, and he was recommended to do so, having nothing to do with any conspiracy. The prime minister said he was trying his best to change the public mindset for developing Pakistan as an independent nation which was not achievable until they paid taxes. “We will have to decide we have not to live this way. We will have to pay taxes. The country’s 70pc tax is paid by only 30,000 people. What others are doing,” he questioned.

He said after five-year term, it would be the people to decide whether to re-elect the PTI based on any change in their living condition and level of fulfilling the commitments made by him. He said by 2023, the most important achievements of his government would be the worldwide recognition of Ehsaas Programme, the country’s industrialization, execution of long term projects like the dams and new cities, and environmental protection.

Maryam Nawaz Urges Participants to Wear Masks During Lahore Jalsa

LAHORE, Dec 13, 2020:: PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz on Sunday urged the participants of Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) rally to abide by the coronavirus safety guidelines as responsible citizens. Taking her request to Twitter, the PML-N leader asked the participants to wear masks to ensure their own safety and the well-being of their loved ones during what she called would be a "historic jalsa".

"Dear All, as responsible citizens, please remember to wear a mask for your own safety and that of your dear ones, at all times, before, during and after what is going to Insha’Allah a historic jalsa," Maryam said in a tweet. The Opposition is expecting a big turnout at the rally while the government has asked the PDM to shun the politics of agitation for a while as the coronavirus situation is worsening day-by-day.

The health experts had also warned that large public gatherings would deteriorate the health crisis. The opposition parties, under the banner of PDM, will put up their last power show in Lahore today. A large stage has been established on the steps of Minar-e-Pakistan for the leadership while chairs are being set up on the ground at the forefront. 

Generators have been hooked up and light installed for the rally beside the all-important sound system. Despite the cold weather, workers of Opposition parties have started arriving at the ground, carrying flags, chanting slogans, warming up the atmosphere. The organisers, however, have asked the supporters to reach the venue at 2 pm.

PDM Lahore Jalsa: All Set for Power Show at Lahore’s Minar-E-Pakistan

LAHORE, Dec 13, 2020:: The preparations for the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s Lahore jalsa, hosted by the PML-N, are complete at the Minar-e-Pakistan ground. Even though the organisers of the jalsa had asked the attendees to reach the venue at 2 pm, dozens of supports already started gathering there early on despite the cold weather, enthusiastically chanting slogans, carrying flags, and warming up the atmosphere. A large stage has been set up on the steps of Minar-e-Pakistan for the leaders while chairs have been set up on the ground at the forefront. Generators have been hooked up and lights have been installed for the rally beside the all-important sound system.

Meanwhile, PML-N leaders Marriyum Aurangzeb and Attaullah Tarar, along with other members, inspected the arrangements. Sources said that the bomb-disposal squad has also examined the venue and have greenlighted it as safe. The PML-N will also host a lunch for the PDM leaders today at the residence of Ayaz Sadiq where all PDM leaders will gather before departing for Minar-e-Pakistan.  Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto and other senior leaders of the 11-party Opposition alliance have been invited for at the residence of Ayaz Sadiq.

Maryam Nawaz, along with Pervez Rasheed, Mohammad Zubair, Musadik Malik, has reached Sadiq's house. She was joined by National Party's Dr Abdul Malik Baloch and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Speaking to journalists before the departure, she said that the Opposition, along with the masses, will soon "topple the government." "We are aware of the problems of the people of Lahore," she said. "You all should get out of your house for the sake of the country and help us oust this government."

The senior leadership of the PDM has been warned of a possible "terrorist activity" today. Lahore police have sent letters to PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam Nawaz and lawmakers Khawaja Saad Rafique and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. "TTP terrorists are coordinating to carry out a terrorist activity on 13 December, 2020. Although details regarding the place of terrorist activity and likely targets is not available, the date (13 December 2020) appears to be significant as a huge public gathering is expected at Minar-e-Pakistan," read the letter.

It states that after the terrorists failed in their attempt in Peshawar, "they are planning to shift their operatives, required material and logistics towards another place (most likely Lahore)". The letter warns that information available suggests that hostile intelligence agencies along with Afghanistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have planned to carry out terrorist activities in Punjab particularly in Lahore. A meeting was held on December 8 on the Western border to "upsurge (sic) terrorist activities in Pakistan", according to the letter.

These hostile intelligence agencies "may also carry out assassinations of senior political personalities associated with PDM" to create instability in the country, it further warns "Besides other targets, political and religious personalities or high profile figures of minorities in Punjab Province are on their priority list," the letter adds. CM Buzdar asks Opposition to postpone rally due to the pandemic. 'Those involved in the jalsa will be prosecuted per law'. Ahead of the jalsa, Chief Minister of Punjab Usman Buzdar said that politicians, who had been involved in corrupt practices for the last 40 years, now have the audacity to gather at the sacred site of Minar-e-Pakistan and chant anti-corruption slogans. 

"Through the jalsa innocent people are being exposed to the coronavirus," he said, adding that the government will prosecute those involved in the jalsa according to the law," he wrote on Twitter. The Punjab government has not permitted the PDM to hold the rally in Lahore citing terror threat and the second wave COVID-19 pandemic. However, no action has been taken by the provincial government to stop the rally participants. No containers have been set up on the roads, and no other obstruction has been put in place. Meanwhile, government spokespersons said the law will come into force if the coronavirus standard operation procedures (SOPs) or the law are violated.

PM Stresses on Exploring Country’s Huge Untapped Potential of Tourism

ISLAMABAD, Dec 12, 2020(APP):: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said with Pakistan having the most beautiful and undiscovered tourist sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern Areas, there was a need to explore and promote the huge untapped tourism potential, including mountain tourism, skiing etc. Switzerland, which was just half of KP in term of area, was earning $80 billion per annum through skiing alone, whereas Pakistan’s annual exports were around $ 25 billion, he added.

The prime minister was addressing the launching and partnership signing ceremony of ‘Travel Responsibility for Experiencing Eco Tourism (TREK)’ here between the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, World Bank and Nestle Pakistan. TREK initiative includes collaboration for awareness campaigns on responsible tourism, waste collection, management and recycling activities. The initiative is aimed at promoting Eco Tourism whereby environmental protection of tourism sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be ensured.

Imran Khan, while congratulating KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan for taking lead, said the promotion of tourism especially eco-tourism would not only help the country achieve enhanced economic development but would create more employment opportunities for local population. He said unfortunately the country’s tourist sites, including those of Naran and Nathiagali, were damaged due to unplanned tourism and constructions.

The prime minister, however, believed that the TREK initiative, under byelaws for environmental protection, would help protect the beautiful tourist sites like Kumrat Valley, which, he feared, would also be devastated due to unplanned tourism and constructions. The installation of a cable car at Kumrat Valley would not only add to the beauty of area but would also help attract more tourists, he added. Imran Khan said unlike Pakistan, where permanent concrete structures were built at beautiful tourist locations, moveable structures were made at various tourist resorts in the world, including Kenya Safari Park to protect the environment.

The prime minister said the initiatives like TREK would also encourage the local people to take care of the tourist areas in terms of cleanliness and protection of natural beauty from pollution. He referred to the government’s initiative of protecting the wildlife habitat, including ibex in Chitral, and said due to the government’s efforts the preservation of ibex had been ensured for the protection of wildlife habitat as well as for the benefit of local community.

The prime minister said owing to the government’s policy of promoting tourism, there was a historic increase in tourism, especially local tourism and a large number of people were seen rushing to the KP and Norther Areas in summer and winter seasons alike. He said mobile phones were contributing a lot in promoting tourism in the country, as tourists often used the social media, including Facebook to post their pictures at beautiful scenic and tourist sites. The prime minister while constructing roads, hotels or any other buildings in the country’s tourist sites and areas, the protection of environment should be specially taken care of.

Rs 17 Billion Development Package to Change Fate of Sialkot: PM

SIALKOT, Dec 9, 2020(APP)::  Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday said that the mega development package worth Rs 17 billion encompassing water supply, sewerage system, solid waste schemes and parks would change the fate of Sialkot city. Addressing a ceremony for distribution of cheques of business loans under Kamyab Jawan Program here, the prime minister congratulated Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar for launching development works city by city after thorough review of their needs.

The prime minister who also launched the first phase of the public welfare projects of the package including the groundbreaking of sewage system and water supply schemes costing Rs 9.5 billion, recreational park valuing Rs 300 million and latest machinery for solid waste management worth Rs 600 million. The projects have been announced under Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Program (PICIIP).

As per details, the projects comprise replacement of 260-kilometer stretch of water pipelines, installation of 15 new tubewells, seven filtration plants, five overhead reservoirs to be completed by 2022. The project would have the capacity to supply clean drinking water to around 322,000 people till 2044.

The prime minister said the people expected a lot from new government and it was also easy for them to dole out public money extravagantly just to win public applause. But, the chief minister’s decision of launching need-based development scheme after proper review and planning was laudable. He said the cities’ unplanned growth always created troubles for governments to provide amenities like water supply and sewerage.

In order to address the issue, the government had decided to design master plans of the cities to contain the haphazard growth which otherwise would eat up green areas to beget food insecurity for future generations. He said the civic amenities like water supply and sewerage systems were essential to prevent water borne diseases and infections particularly among children.

He congratulated the Sialkot’s business community for launching a private airline after establishing the first private airport in the city. The prime minister also performed ground breaking of Rs 14 billion project of Sialkot University of Applied Engineering and Technology in what he said would be applauded by the future generations.

He said due to the efforts by Dr Attaur Rehman, a university had already been made operational in Haripur and he was also making efforts for collaboration of the newly announced university with world’s renowned universities in Austria, Italy and China. The prime minister, who earlier distributed cheques among the beneficiaries, believed that the nations always progressed on the basis of higher education and technical education institutions.

He said despite minimal support and previous government’s anti-industrialization policies, the Sialkot’s business community always acted vibrantly and made the city a hub of exports. Contrary to the past, he said, the current government was fully backing the industrialists and also agreed to their demand for provision of 1000 acre land to develop an industrial estate for convergence of the scattered industrial units.

The prime minister said it would also make it easier for the government to provide amenities to the industries besides addressing the difficulties faced by the people by the industries operating in residential areas.  The proposed industrial estate would especially accommodate the SMEs which created most of the jobs. He also assured that the government would further enhance the volume of loans for the sector.

He especially appreciated the Bank of Punjab for supporting the government’s pro-poor initiatives of Kamyab Jawan Program as well as Naya Pakistan Housing Program. He also announced establishment of a laborers colony in Sialkot under Naya Pakistan Housing Program to provide them house on easy installments. Special Assistant to PM Usman Dar told the gathering that the government had allocated Rs 100 billion for Kamyab Jawan Program.

He said despite creating most of the jobs, the SME sector had access to only 6 to 7pc of finance; however under the Program, the SME sector would grow by getting easy loans. He hoped that industries operating in Sialkot, Gujranwala, Gujrat and others would help boost exports taking advantage of the program. The SAPM congratulated those who qualified for the loans and encouraged others to work harder to meet purely apolitical and merit-based criteria.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said after execution of Rs 17 billion development package, Sialkot would emerge as a developed city with improved infrastructure and facilities. He said the summary for the technical university had been approved and project would start soon after the release of funds. He hoped that the Sialkot Ring Road and 500-bed hospital would be completed soon and that during his next visit, the prime minister would also break ground for 500-bed mother and child hospital.

The chief minister said during COVID-19, the Punjab government gave Rs 56 billion package to traders and the cabinet also approved five cement plants in the recent meeting. Following the prime minister’s vision, he said the whole of Punjab would be extended health insurance facility by 2021.

By-Polls to Be Held on Vacant Seats if Opposition Lawmakers Resign: PM Imran

ISLAMABAD, Dec 9, 2020:: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that he will hold elections on vacant seats if opposition lawmakers resigned from National Assembly. Talking to journalists in Islamabad, the prime minister reiterated that he would not give any (National Reconciliation Ordinance) NRO-like concession to corrupt opposition leaders and will hold by-elections on seats vacated by opposition lawmakers.

PM Imran Khan said that he will betray the country if he grants NRO to corrupt opposition leaders.”I will leave my post but will never betray the country by granting an NRO to opposition leaders.” The premier once again ruled out a complete lockdown in the country in view of rising Covid-19 infections in the second coronavirus wave.  PM Khan said: “Pakistan cannot afford a second lockdown as it will destroy our economy completely.”

Continuing his tirade against opposition parties, he said they are spreading the coronavirus by holding rallies. They are resorting to public meetings in order to hide their corruption, the prime minister maintained. “Opposition is playing with the lives of people by holding rallies amid Covid second wave. The government can sit and talk with the opposition on every issue apart from the NRO matter. They [Opposition] will end their protest movement today if I accept their illegal demands,” said the prime minister.

Responding to a question, Imran Khan further said that the opposition wants a confrontation with the government, adding that government will not create any hurdles in way of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders, but warned strict action against violators of Covid-19 SOPs. Speaking over local bodies election, PM Khan said that his government will hold LG polls after senate elections in March. “Local government polls were delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic, but govt will hold it after Senate election in March next year,” added the prime minister.

Replying to another question, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that there was no pressure on him to recognize Israel, adding that Pakistan has good relations with UAE and Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed regret over the delay in bringing reforms in all national institutions.

PDM Leaders Meet Today to Devise Strategy Against Government

ISLAMABAD, December 08, 2020:: The leadership of the 11-party opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has met in Islamabad today (Tuesday) to devise strategy for second phase of anti-government movement. According to details, the session was chaired by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief and PDM head Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Qaumi Watan Party head Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao attended the meeting. Political leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Sherry Rehman, and Professor Sajid among others also participated in the session.

Sources told that important decisions were likely to be taken for the second phase of the anti-government movement during today’s meeting. 


Maryam Says PDM to Make 'Big Decisions', Asks Workers to Not Fall Under 'Pressure'

LAHORE, Dec 7, 2020 (Layalpur Post):: PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz addresses a social media workers convention in Lahore, on December 6, 2020. PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz addressed a social media workers convention in Lahore on Sunday during which she said Pakistan Democratic Movement is due to make big decisions on December 8 and urged party workers to not fall under any "pressure". She said after December 8, it will be a "do or die situation".

Speaking to provincial and national assembly members, she said: "If we call for resignations from the assemblies, you must be willing to stand by us. Do not fall under any pressure." She further said that whoever "falls under pressure and goes against the party" will have to deal with the people, who will surround their homes. Maryam said said the party workers must embrace any cases registered against them by the government. She said the people must know "how fearful the government is" of the Opposition and that "the most that the government can do" is register cases.

"You must take these charge sheets, string them together and wear them proudly like a garland," she told party workers, as she lamented that as many as "3,000 first information reports (FIRs)" are filed after every rally held by the Opposition. Maryam's remarks, hinting at resignations from assemblies or possibly a long march, came ahead of a meeting between alliance members on December 8, 2020. "The people of Pakistan have won this war. Victory only remains to be declared in the rally on the 13th," she said.

A rally has been planned by the Pakistan Democratic Movement at Lahore's Minar-e-Pakistan monument on December 13. Although Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the 11-party Opposition alliance will not be prevented from holding the rally, he vowed that cases will be registered against all organisers and facilitators of the rally as large gatherings are a violation of coronavirus safety protocols.

Taking aim at the government, she said that with a single roti (piece of bread) costing Rs30, a family of 8-10 people have no hope of making ends meet. She said PM Imran Khan used to claim that the "green passport will be respected across the world" but now flights from Pakistan have been banned. "Is there anyone who can ask him what became of the claims he made?" she inquired. Speaking of the delay in LNG procurement, which ultimately led to high gas prices, she said "the prime minister's friends who run his kitchen were benefited".

"People hardly have any supply of gas in their homes, but they get unbelievably high bills," she followed by saying, adding that owing to the government's "mismanagement", a loss of Rs122bn had been incurred. She dared the "fake and cowardly" prime minister to come and mingle with the people for two minutes.

The PML-N vice president said that Pakistan's GDP has turned negative, "hundreds of thousands" have become unemployed, medicines are prohibitively expensive, the "wheel of progress has begun to spin in the opposite direction", European countries have banned Pakistani flights, people have been robbed of wheat, sugar, flour, but no one is bothered, and there is no legal action, "all because he is viewed as taabedaar (servile)". "We must now call Imran Khan by his new name — Taabedaar Khan," she said.

Maryam spoke at length about how the party's popularity and reach has been propelled by the social media teams and thanked them for their dedication. "Thanks to our social media team, Nawaz Sharif's voice has reached across the country today," Maryam said, as she paid tribute to teams from across the provinces, taking name after name in recognition of their "hard work". She thanked social media workers for "continuing to carry forward Nawaz Sharif's narrative".

Earlier in the day, PTI's Senator Faisal Javed Khan had termed talk of resignations "a joke". He said that he does not believe there will be any resignations, but even if there are the government welcomes them. "By-elections will be held for whichever seats they resign from and PTI will win a heavy majority," he added. "You can try as hard as you like to get an NRO. There will be no deal," Javed told the Opposition.

Pakistan Rejects India’s Misleading Assertions in Kulbhushan Case

ISLAMABAD, Dec 5, 2020 (APP):: Pakistan on Friday categorically rejected the assertions made by Indian Ministry of External Affairs regarding legal proceedings as “incorrect and misleading” in case of Indian Naval Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. “It is evident that by casting aspersions on the Indian High Commission’s own legal Counsel, the Indian government is looking for an escape from the legal proceedings in Commander Jadhav case,” Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.

He reminded the Indian government that in pursuance of the judgment of International Court of Justice (ICJ), Pakistan had twice invited the Indian High Commission to meet with Commander Jadhav and appoint a lawyer on his behalf to commence the proceedings to review and reconsider his conviction. However, he said during the course of diplomatic exchanges, the Indian High Commission refused to instruct a lawyer itself, as in their view this would amount to a waiver of India’s sovereign immunity.

As a result, the government of Pakistan was constrained to initiate proceedings for appointment of a state counsel for Commander Jadhav, he added.To show the discrepancy in the Indian position, the Attorney-General for Pakistan, during the course of proceedings cited the case of Muhammad Ismail an Indian national currently in custody in Pakistan where the Indian High Commission had instructed Noon as its lawyer.

“Contrary to the false statement by the MEA, no attempt was made to link the cases of Commander Jadhav with another Indian prisoner Ismail. The two cases are and remain entirely distinct. Reference to the case of Mr. Ismail was only for purpose of showing the discrepancy and inconsistency in the Indian position,” the spokesperson remarked.

He reiterated that in line with the ICJ’s judgment, Pakistan had already provided consular access to the Indian High Commission twice and had taken all necessary steps for effective review and reconsideration in the case. The offer of a third consular access is still there, he added. He again urged the Indian side to desist from the use of its usual diversionary and dilatory tactics and instead take practical steps so that legal proceedings could be duly concluded and full effect could be given to the judgment of ICJ.

Nawaz as PM Or Otherwise is Not Against Military: Ishaq Dar

LONDON, Dec 02, 2020:: Former finance minister Ishaq Dar has defended his party leader Nawaz Sharif’s criticism of senior officials of the Pakistan Army, saying he is not an “anti-military” politician. “I think there seems to be confusion,” Dar said, when the host of BBC’s Hardtalk programme asked him about Sharif’s criticism of the military establishment.

“Mr Nawaz Sharif as prime minister or otherwise is not anti-military,” he said. “He blames certain individuals and as I said the buck you know stops at the top.” Dar, who has been declared an absconder by Pakistani courts in corruption cases, has been in London for almost three years on account of his medical treatment.

Sharif, his close friend and the party leader, has twice been jailed by the Pakistani courts. But he was allowed to go to London in November 2019 on medical grounds. He hasn’t returned to Pakistan since. The former three-time prime minister has been criticizing top military officials at public rallies after Pakistani opposition parties formed an alliance — the Pakistan Democratic Movement — against the government in September 2020.

The PDM, an eleven-party alliance, has held several rallies in Pakistan with Sharif among the key speakers at some events. At one such rally, he had directly held Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI DG Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed responsible for bringing Prime Minister Imran Khan to power. Dar also believes that Sharif was ousted from power because he was fighting for “supremacy of democracy” and “supremacy of parliament”.

“We must be fair to analyze things,” he told BBC’s Stephen Sackur. “The election was stolen. “It started off from Dawn Leaks. Mr Sharif has been struggling for the supremacy of democracy, for supremacy of parliament and I have been struggling for fiscal discipline and transparency,” Dar said, questioning, “Is it wrong?” The former minister said he expects the UK to support the PML-N campaign for “holding democratic values”.

“I mean the UK has been holding democracy and the democratic values,” Dar said. “We would think that you would be supporting us.” To support his point that the 2018 elections were rigged, Dar gave the example of Pakistan Interior Minister Ijaz Shah’s recent interview. He quoted Shah as saying that Sharif would have become the prime minister for the fourth time if he had not had issues with the deep state.

Corruption allegations: The former finance minister said the National Accountability Bureau has lost its credibility a long time ago because “it is an institution which is used against political opponents”. “In Pakistan over a period of 73 years, the corruption rhetoric has been used in the last few dictatorships and the current one isn’t different because this regime in known to be under a covert coup or a judicial martial law,” he added.

When asked how many properties does he or his family own, Dar said he had only one property in Pakistan and his sons have a villa. “It’s all declared in my tax returns,” he said. “I have my main residence in Pakistan which has been taken over by you know this regime.” The minister, however, said the villa is owned by his sons and they are independent. “My sons just have one villa which is owned by them. They are in business for last 17 years,” he said.

“They are adults. They are married…17 years they are in business so they are independent of me.” Dar denied fleeing Pakistan in order to get away from corruption cases against him. He said his lawyers appear before the courts in Pakistan and he is in the UK for medical treatment because he has a cervical issue. The minister claimed that NAB was being used against him because “Mr. Sharif was fighting for civil supremacy and I have always been fighting for the financial and fiscal discipline and transparency”.

‘PML-N leaders can’t speak truth even if they want to: Shibli Faraz, the minister for information in PM Khan’s government, said the top leaders of the PML-N can’t speak the truth even if they want to. “I haven’t seen the program and I don’t need to see the program because I know what question was asked and what the answer would be,” Faraz said, while commenting on Dar’s interview. “Who told him to go to a show such as HARDtalk and insult himself?”

President Confers Nishan-E-Imtiaz (Mly) on Chinese Defence Minister

ISLAMABAD, December 01, 2020:: President Dr. Arif Alvi on Tuesday conferred Nishan-e-Imtiaz (military) on China’s Minister of National Defence General Wei Fenghe at a special investiture ceremony held here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. The President decorated the Chinese official with the award in recognition to his illustrious services for strengthening defence relations between Pakistan and China.

Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf, services chiefs, and senior military officials of Pakistan and China attended the ceremony. “General Wei Fenghe is a sincere and close friend of Pakistan. He has played a prominent role in promoting and further strengthening defence relations between the Armed Forces of Pakistan and China,” said a citation read on the occasion.

With a distinguished career, General Wei Fenghe graduated from People’s Liberation Army National Defence University, China and was commissioned in People’s Liberation Army in December 1970. During his outstanding military career, he served as Chief of Staff, People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Force and Deputy Chief of General Staff of People’s Liberation Army and Commanded People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Force and People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force.

In 2012, he became a Member of the Central Military Commission and later appointed Member of Leading Party Member’s Group of the State Council. Later, General Wei Fenghe called on President Arif Alvi and discussed issues pertaining to the military cooperation between Pakistan and China.

PM Imran Khan Okays Names for GB CM, Cabinet Members

ISLAMABAD, Nov 28, 2020:: Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved the nomination of Advocate Khalid Khursheed as the next Chief Minister of the Gilgit Baltistan region. The name was finalized after Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur and PTI leader Saifullah Niazi met with the prime minister on Friday, where the three also discussed the names of the cabinet members of the next government in the Gilgit Baltistan.

Besides nominating Advocate Khalid Khursheed as the chief minister, the meeting also named Fateh Ullah Khan for the portfolio of Planning and development and information. The meeting headed by the Prime Minister Imran Khan also finalized names for other cabinet members including Saleem for works ministry, Raja Zakria for wildlife department, Azam Khan for education Gulber Khan for health and Shams ul Haq Loan for food department.

Besides this, Mushtaq Hussain would get the portfolio of Water and Power while Haji Abdul Hameed and Raja Nasir Abbas would be given the portfolios of agriculture and tourism respectively. The prime minister also lauded Ali Amin Gandapur for his performance during the elections for Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday clinched both speaker and deputy speaker seats in the Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA).

According to the details, PTI’s Syed Amjad Ali Zaidi was elected as Speaker of Gilgit Baltistan Assembly.  He secured 18 votes while the joint opposition’s candidate Ghulam Muhammad got only 8 votes. Later, out-going Speaker Fida Muhammad Nashad administered the oath to the newly elected speaker. Meanwhile, PTI’s Nazir Ahmed was elected as Deputy Speaker of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly today. He secured 22 votes while the joint opposition’s nominated candidate received only nine votes.

President Proposes ‘Trade Triangle’ of Pakistan, China & ASEAN for Win-Win Prosperity

ISLAMABAD, Nov 28, 2020(APP):: President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday proposed establishing a ‘trade triangle’ among Pakistan, China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to maximize the quantum of intra-regional business opportunities. In his virtual address to the 17th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) held in China’s Nanning city, the President said Pakistan’s stable macro-economic policies and ease of doing business offered an attractive market to both China and the ASEAN countries for trade cooperation in diverse areas.

The four-day CAEXPO themed ‘Building the Belt and Road, Strengthening Digital Economy Cooperation’ kicked off in the capital of South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Friday. The expo hosted 11 high-level forums, over 160 trade promotion activities and 229 booths for participants from 22 countries including Pakistan. President Alvi said despite the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan’s economy strengthened and its online businesses grew due to implementation of far-reaching economic reforms.

The President mentioned that Pakistan greatly learned from the experiences of China in establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and invited the investors from ASEAN and China to explore Pakistan’s business potential. “We encourage the ASEAN countries and the Chinese businessmen to invest in SEZs as Pakistan’s macro-economic policies have changed tremendously with an improved state of ease of doing business,” he said.

Dr Alvi said Pakistan was making great progress after moving on from the original course of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, i.e. energy and infrastructure, to other areas of cooperation including agriculture, industries and socio-economic reforms. He mentioned that the second phase of Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and China Pak was in place since January this year, while Pakistan had a sectoral dialogue partnership with ASEAN with increased mutual cooperation.

“We want to do a feasibility where Pakistan, China and ASEAN trade triangle can come up as well as feasibility into a Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and ASEAN,” he said, stressing that such intra-regional arrangement could lead to prosperity. On exports to ASEAN and China, he said, textiles, food produce including meat and vegetables, surgical goods, minerals and Information Technology could be the prospective areas. Also, Pakistan produced best sports goods with its footballs used in several FIFA world cups, he added.

President Alvi recalled that China recently signed the world’s largest trade agreement – Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership – with a number of countries and emerged as a reliable trading partner and economic hub. On Pakistan-China relationship, he said the trusted bond was based on a friendship which was “deeper than oceans and higher than skies”.

He said CPEC had done wonders by turning Pakistan into an economic and strategic hub that provided an easy and fast route for transportation of goods from China and Central Asia to the sea. President Alvi lauded the 14 enterprises from Pakistan participating in CAEXPO and expressed confidence that the activity would support an increased trade activity among Pakistan, China and the ASEAN countries.

“This expo symbolically shows that China, beyond COVID-19, has provided leadership to the world in the area of trade,” he said. The CAEXPO being held at Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Centre has been co-sponsored by China’s Ministry of Commerce and its counterparts in the 10 ASEAN member states as well as the ASEAN Secretariat.

Pakistan is participating in the 17th CAEXPO as a Special Partner for the first time and is making full spectrum representation through country pavilion, commercial display booths and an exclusive trade and investment conference on the sidelines. President Alvi’s video speech was released together with speeches of Chinese President Xi Jinping and ASEAN leaders including the Presidents of Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines and Prime Ministers of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

PM Seeks Proposals from Industrialists to Launch Corporate Farming at Larger Scale

ISLAMABAD, Nov 28, 2020 (APP):: To launch corporate farming at larger scale, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday sought proposals from industrialists for modernizing the agriculture sector and enhancing production of various crops. The national development and prosperity was linked with the development of business community, he said while talking to a delegation of leading industrialists and businessmen here.

The prime minister said it was the government’s responsibility to facilitate the promotion of industries and trade activities. The government had included the proposals of industrialists in policy-making, which had started producing good results, he added. Imran Khan directed the authorities concerned to resolve the issues faced by the industrialists regarding export of their products.

The delegation included Azam Farooq (Cherat Cement), Bashir Ali Muhamamd (Gul Ahmed), Muhammad Ali Taba (Lucky Cement), Saqib Shirazi (Honda Atlas), Fawad Mukhtar (Fatima Fertilizer), Arif Habib (Arif Habib Group Ltd) and Hussain Dawood (Engro Corporation). Federal Minister Hammad Azhar, advisers to the PM Abdul Razak Dawood, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Dr Ishrat Hussain, and senior officials also attended the meeting.

The delegation thanked the prime minister for patronizing the trade activities in the country that yielded positive results. They said the high level of foreign exchange reserves reflected the country’s economic stability and the surplus current account was a welcome sign. The businessmen said the demand of cement was the highest in the country’s history due to the promotion of construction activities, which had generated immense employment opportunities during the pandemic.

They expressed satisfaction over the availability of the government’s economic team for guidance. They also expressed confidence in the government’s policies, and presented proposals for further improvement of the economy.

Prime Minister's Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19): 26 November 2020

LONDON, Nov 27 2020:: We now have reason to hope that by Spring, community testing and vaccines will combine to end this era of restrictions. But to get there we must first navigate a hard winter when the burden on our NHS is heaviest and the cold weather favours the virus. The data already suggests national measures in England have slowed - and in some places reversed - the growth of new cases.

As more data comes in, we hope and expect to see those trends continue. Together we have prevented our NHS from being overwhelmed,but those dangers have not gone away. If we ease off now, we risk losing control of this virus all over again, casting aside our hard won gains, and forcing us back into a New Year national lockdown with all the damage that would mean.

The tough measures in our Winter Plan are the best way to avoid this outcome. All our friends around the world are grappling with the same question of how to keep people safe without retreating into a winter of hibernation. In Italy there is a nightly curfew, in Germany, hospitality will remain closed until 20th December, and in France, until 20 January.

Across the whole of the UK, measures remain in place to control the virus. Under our Winter Plan, England will return to a tiered system of local restrictions. Our decisions on which area enters which tier are based on public health advice according to five indicators:cases across all ages, especially the over 60s, the rate by which cases are rising or falling the percentage of those tested in a local population who have Covid and the pressure on the NHS. We are publishing data packs setting out the reasons behind decisions in each area. To find out how this affects you, log on to gov.uk where all the information is available.

I’m sorry to confirm that, from Wednesday, most of England will be in the top two tiers with the toughest measures. I know this will bring a great deal of heartache and frustration, especially for our vital hospitality sector, our pubs, our restaurants, our hotels, in so many ways the soul of our communities - which continue to bear a disproportionate share of the burden.

I really wish it were otherwise, but if we are to keep schools open – as we must - then our options in bearing down on the disease are necessarily limited. What we will do is continue taking every possible step to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK. These tougher tiers strike a balance – they are sufficient to continue driving the virus downwards but it’s important to recognise they are less intrusive than the current national measures. In all tiers, shops, gyms and the leisure sector, hairdressers, other forms of personal care, places of worship will reopen.

You will no longer be instructed to stay at home, though you should continue to work from home if you can. The rule of 6 will once again apply in public outdoor spaces and organised outdoor sport can begin again. But there is no doubt that the restrictions in all tiers are tough – and I am sorry about that. While the data is beginning to improve, the virus is still prevalent, and the faster we drive it down the faster we can lift restrictions.

And that is exactly what these new tiers are designed to achieve. While the previous tiers slowed the spread of the virus, they were never quite enough to cut the R below 1 and keep it there, so areas did not escape whatever level they were placed in. Our new approach is designed to reduce R below 1, opening a path for areas to move down the scale, as soon as the situation improves.

And crucially, we now have the means to accelerate that moment of escape with rapid community testing, allowing anyone carrying the disease - including those without symptoms – to isolate thereby reducing the R. And the truth is that at least one in three people with Covid have no symptoms at all and may be spreading the disease without even knowing that they’ve got it.

The only way to identify them and protect everyone is through mass testing. Liverpool shows what can be achieved. In Liverpool, in the space of two and a half weeks, over 240,000 tests have been conducted and together with the effect of national restrictions, this has helped to reduce the number of cases in Liverpool City Region by more than two thirds.

So having previously been in tier 3, Liverpool City Region and Warrington will now be in tier 2. This is a success story which we want other parts of the country to replicate so we will work with local government, public health leaders and our fantastic Armed Forces, to offer community testing to tier 3 areas as quickly as possible, opening the way for them to follow Liverpool’s example.

Testing on this scale is untried, but in due course, if it works, where people test negative, it may also be possible for families and communities to be released from certain restrictions even if their home area stays in tier 3. The allocation of tiers will be reviewed every fourteen days, starting on 16 December. So your tier is not your destiny. Every area has the means of escape.

And I have no doubt that together we can get through this Winter,suppress the virus until vaccines come to our aid, and then reclaim our lives and all the things that we love.

PM PK Directs Provision of Alternatives for Karachi Anti-Encroachment Affectees

ISLAMABAD, Nov 27, 2020:: Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a Karachi Transformation Plan session on Thursday to go over more than 100 projects for port city transformation that will cost about Rs1.1 trillion. The projects for transformation have been divided in three phases in terms of their completion as the PM said that at this point it has become inevitable to find permanent solutions for city’s grievances.

The session for Karachi uplift was attended by Cheif of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa as well while federal cabinet members including Shaikh Rasheed, Asad Umar, Faisal Vawda anf Hafeez Shaikh participated. The huddle was briefed with the developments so far into the transformation projects while the damage assessment due to recent monsoon rains was also tabled. The huddle was told that encroachments on nullahs were the primary reason of choking in rainwater drainages.

PM Khan said before razing down the encroachments, the authorities must relocate the residents in those areas. Furthermore, the committee to oversee K4 line has been tasked to formulate recommendations for an increased capacity and more benefit in the project. On the other hand, the PM has directed planning ministry to constitute a technical committee for the Karachi Uplift projects.

Pakistan Calls on Int’l Community to Take Cognizance of Crimes Against Women In IIOJK

ISLAMABAD, Nov 25, 2020 (APP):: Pakistan on Wednesday called on the international community, including the United Nations human rights mechanisms and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to take cognizance of the crimes against women in the IIOJK and hold India accountable for its failure to uphold its international obligations.

“India’s use of rape as a weapon of war in the world’s most militarized zone has been extensively documented by the UN human rights machinery, global media and independent civil society organizations,” the Foreign Office said in a press release issued on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

“This day should serve as a solemn reminder of the need to address the systematic violence against women in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). For several decades, India has employed rape, torture, degrading treatment and killings of Kashmiri women as instruments of its state terrorism in the occupied territory,” the FO said.

“Since 1990s, dignity and lives of at least 11,000 women have been violated by Indian occupation forces. Hundreds of cases of violence remain unreported due to fear of reprisals. The level and form of state-sanctioned violence against Kashmiri women has reached new heights since India’s illegal actions of August 5, 2019 in IIOJK,” it added.

The FO pointed out that the Kashmiri women in the occupied territory were living in a constant state of siege and surveillance. Body searches, ill-treatment and molestation of young women during fake “cordon-and-search operations” were being used with complete impunity by the Indian occupation forces.

It said the two Kashmir reports by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2018 and 2019) had recorded in detail the sexual violence against women in the IIOJK and the wide-scale abuse of their basic human rights. “These reports have, inter alia, deplored lack of justice for the victims as a key human rights concern and called for repeal of all draconian laws,” it added.

“On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Pakistan reaffirms its resolve to empower women and end violence against them,” the Foreign Office maintained. It pointed out that steady progress has been made in Pakistan through legislative, policy and institutional measures to promote and protect the rights of women and girls, in particular to address the issues of violence against women, domestic abuse, harassment, and the protection of social and property rights.

“Pakistan’s National Action Plan on Human Rights has ‘protection of women’ as one of its key priority areas. Women Protection Centres and a 24-hour Helpline (1099) have been established to provide free legal advice, redressal and referral mechanism,” it added.

Amid Sharp COVID Spike, Govt Won’t Allow Opposition Gatherings to Risk Lives: PM

LAHORE, Nov 25, 2020 (APP):: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday said amid the sharp surge in COVID-19 cases with 50 plus deaths during the last 24 hours, the government would not allow the opposition to hold any public gathering to risk the people’s lives and aggravate the situation.

“Over 50 deaths have been reported during the last 24 hours. This has surged from eight, nine to 50 just in two weeks. They are risking the people’s lives. It will not help them. How so many gatherings they hold they will not get any NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance),” the prime minister said while talking to the media here during his daylong visit.

He said considering the COVID-19 surge, the government had also called off its own public gatherings until the downturn of coronavirus curve. Even the Islamabad High Court had also ruled against the public gatherings just because the virus spread fast with the people coming in close proximity, the prime minister added.

Accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and provincial cabinet members, Imran Khan said the pressure was increasing on health facilities and the government was also concerned about the COVID threat to doctors, nurses and other health workers particularly in the cities.

He also urged the nation not to give up precautions to keep up the success the country had achieved during the first wave. Contrary to the neighbouring countries like India, there were fewer deaths in Pakistan, with the economy back on track within minimum possible time. Pakistan’s economy was progressing at better pace in the Sub-continent with increased exports, well performing industries and appreciating currency, he remarked.

“But I fear, our hospitals will come under pressure and economy will suffer too, if we did not adhere to the precautions,” he said and appealed to the people to keep observing anti-COVID standard operating procedures (SOPs) as they did at mosques, markets and factories. He urged the Ulema and other opinion makers to take the responsibility of saving the nation form the deadly disease by pursuing the people to follow the SOPs .

The prime minister said the government had decided not to close down factories and businesses in order to avert the hunger related deaths while protecting the people from the virus. He, however, strictly advised the factory owners, shopkeepers and others to ensure observance of the SOPs, particularly wearing the face masks, which, he said, was the easiest tool to contain the pathogen.

Imran Khan said currently, Pakistan’s exports were better than those of India and Bangladesh. Faisalabad’s textile industry was running at full capacity and even fell short of the labor, he added. The prime minister, in response to a question about the recognition of Israel, said Pakistan did not face any international pressure on the issue and still stood at the position taken by the Founder of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1948.

It may be mentioned here that the Quaid-e-Azam had stated in 1948 that Pakistan would never recognize Israel until Palestinians were given their right of a just settlement. Speaking on the country’s foreign policy, Imran Khan said owing to the present government’s successful foreign policy initiatives, being appreciated at the world level, Pakistan’s acceptance had significantly increased internationally.

He in that respect also referred to the country’s historic successful diplomatic initiatives such as exposing India at the world level, positive role in the Afghan peace process, and improved relations with Afghanistan. The prime minister said Pakistan, which was asked to “do more” in the past, was now being appreciated by the world, including the United States for its positive role for achieving peace in the region, including Afghanistan.

Pakistan enjoyed goods relations with Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he added. To another question, Imran Khan described the overseas Pakistanis as the country’s assets and hoped that they would invest in the two mega development projects of Ravi City, Lahore and Bundle Island, Karachi. He said the government had launched a crackdown against land grabbers in Lahore, which had the backing of some political parties in the past. “You will soon hear the cries of Qabza Mafia in Lahore,” he remarked.

The prime minister said the government would soon take a big action against land grabbers and land encroachers in Lahore. To a question about price-hike, he explained how mafias and cartels had manipulated the situation to make money out of the shortage and low produce of the commodities, particularly wheat, caused by untimely rains and bad weather over the last two years due to climate change.

He, however, mentioned that owing to the government’s effective measures including the import of sugar and wheat, prices of the two vital commodities (wheat and sugar) had witnessed decline. About the country’s economic situation, the prime minister said with all major economic indicators showing positive trends, Pakistan’s economy was growing fast in the Sub-continent and was on the right path.

He said the current account deficit, which was at US $ 20 billion when the present government came into power, had been recorded in surplus for the first time in 17 years. Similarly, he said, as the country’s exports were rising, the government had also curbed the huge trade deficit of US $ 40 billion. To a question, Imran Khan said the Ravi Urban Development and Bundal Islanad were two crucial projects to stop the haphazard spread of Lahore and Karachi respectively.

The cities like Lahore would face severe problems of water, sewerage and pollution if the government did not establish new ones, he added. He said Lahore had spread one-and-half times in just 20 years with fast depleting water table, and 70pc green cover vanished. Even if the government did not execute the Ravi Urban projects, the Lahore city would touch that project area but in a haphazard way without any planning and further polluting the River Ravi, he added.

The prime minister said the major objective was to protect Karachi and Lahore as the said projects would go vertical. He said if the cities continued growing with the current pace, the green cover would reduce to bring food insecurity. Water treatment plants would be set up for water storage, which would also help recharge the ground water, besides stopping the flow of sewage water into the river, he added.

He said the Bundal Island would be developed as modern city to protect mangroves forest, treat the sewerage water and protect Karachi from ill-planned growth. Besides the development, both the projects would also bring in the foreign exchange as the overseas Pakistanis were eying to invest in them, which would also beget job opportunities, he added.

Imran Munir of the Ravi Urban Development Authority told the media that barrages would be developed for retaining the water to help recharge water table and protect Lahore against floods. An eco-city would be developed for forestation over the leftover forest land, besides developing a sewage treatment plant to clean water as well as benefit the surrounding population, he added.

Technical Fault at Sialkot Airport Causes International Flights to Reroute

SIALKOT, Nov 25, 2020:: After a reported fault in runway edge lights of Sialkot airport on Wednesday the oncoming flights scheduled to land here have been rerouted to Lahore Airport. The international flights including one en route to Sialkot from Muscat, MS-301, has been detoured to land on Lahore airport as well. Another flight of Pakistan International Airlines PK-9244 arriving from Dammam, too, was rerouted today to Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Internation Airport.

The reason behind both the detours was reported to be the technical fault of runway lights, ARY News learned from sources who added that both these flights will return for Sialkot as soon as the lights have been restored. Separately, federal aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said Tuesday the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan will satisfactorily compensate PIA employees being laid off voluntarily.

Federal Minister Ghulam Sarwar said while PIA requires only seven thousand employees to operate, it employs over 14,000 currently due to the politically influenced recruitments in the past by ruling parties. He said out of 14,000 currently employed, half will have to be let go of via Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) and those will be compensated.

No Tolerance for Crimes Against Children, Women in Civilized Society: PM

ISLAMABAD, Nov 24, 2020 (APP):: The prime minister was chairing a meeting of the Federal Cabinet which considered a number of important agenda items, PM Office Media Wing in a press release said. The cabinet, in principle, approved Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance 2020 and Pakistan Penal Code (Amended) Ordinance 2020.

Minister of Law and Justice Faroogh Nasim apprised the meeting about the relevant laws regarding appointment of members of parliament in the board of directors of government entities. The cabinet decided to seek guidance from the Supreme Court of Pakistan in that regard. For the promotion of technology, the cabinet in principle approved establishment of Special Technology Zones Authority. Initially, the zones would be established in Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore and Haripur.

The cabinet also approved such zones for Karachi and Quetta. The prime minister observed that Pakistan enjoyed huge potential in information technology (IT), which should be utilized. He said the IT was a step towards progress in the modern times and directed for setting up 50 technological zones throughout the country. The cabinet also ratified the decisions taken during meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms held on October 29 and November 12 respectively.

A progress report with regard to the vacancies of chief executive officers (CEOs) and managing directors in different government institutions was also submitted. The prime minister directed earlier completion of the process. The cabinet also approved appointment of director general of National Archives under Clause 3(2) of the National Archives Act.

The Economic Affairs Division apprised the cabinet that G-20 countries had deferred payments on loans worth 1.7 to 2 billion dollars given to the country during the period from May to December this year. The decision to defer payment of these loans and facility was taken in view of the coronavirus pandemic, which would remain effective till June 2021.

The cabinet granted its approval to the Secretary Economic Affairs Division for signing of agreements over rescheduling of these loans with 16 countries of G-20. The cabinet also granted approval to the Ministry of Commerce to issue a no-objection certificate (NOC) for payments to different international channels with respect to sports transmission on the Pakistan Television.

It also directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to run effective campaign for public awareness about the coronavirus pandemic in accordance with the direction of Lahore High Court on a petition. The cabinet approved appointments of managing director and board of governors of National Book Foundation. It also accorded its approval for referring of the amendments issue of Civil Aviation Rules 1991 to the Cabinet Committee on law.

The cabinet ratified decisions taken by its Economic Coordination Committee during its meeting on November 16 and those of the Cabinet Committee on Energy during its meeting on November 19. Minister for planning Asad Umar briefed the meeting about the important economic indicators.

PM Taking All Possible Steps to Check Spread of Coronavirus, Protect Lives of Common People

ISLAMABAD, Nov 23, 2020 (APP):: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed to take all possible steps to check the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the country and protect the lives of common people. He also directed to summon the meeting of National Coordination Committee on COVID0-19 for consultation and taking various decisions in that regard. The prime minister was presiding over a high level meeting to review the overall situation of coronavirus in the country.

Besides federal ministers Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Shafqat Mehmood, Hammad Azhar, Senator Shbili Faraz, Ejaz Shah and Asad Umar, the meeting was attended by special assistants Sania Nishtar and Dr Faisal Sultan, Advisor to PM Abdul Razzak Dawood and Minister of State Ali Muhammad Khan. The prime minister said Pakistan had been successful in tackling the first wave of coronavirus due to its effective strategy and timely decisions, which was also recognized by the world.

Now during the second wave as well they should not at all abandon seriousness, balance and precautions, he added. The meeting was told about the decisions taken in the meeting of National Command and Control Center (NCOC). The prime minister was briefed in detail about various aspects of COVID-19 pandemic, including its spread in the country, loss of previous lives and the capacity of hospitals.

PDM To Be Responsible If Govt Compelled to Go for Complete Lockdown: PM

ISLAMABAD, Nov 22, 2020 (APP):: Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday said the PDM would be responsible for consequences if they continued with their public gatherings despite COVID-19 spike, and the government was forced to go for a lockdown. “In (Pakistan), the PDM by continuing with jalsas (public gatherings) is deliberately endangering lives & livelihoods (because) if cases continue to rise at the rate we are seeing, we will be compelled to go into complete lockdown & PDM will be responsible for consequences,” the prime minister said on Twitter.

He said Pakistan’s second COVID-19 spike data was of concern showing 200 percent each increase of patients on ventilators in Peshawar and Multan during last 15 days, Karachi 148%, Lahore 114%, Islamabad 65%.  The capacity of ventilators utilization had touched 70 percent in Multan and Islamabad, he added. The prime minister said across the world there was a second spike and complete lockdowns in most countries. 

“I do not want to take measures like a lockdown that will start hurting our economy which at the moment is showing signs of a robust recovery,” he remarked. However, he said the opposition was callously destroying people’s lives and livelihoods in their desperation to get an NRO. “Let me make it clear: they can hold a million jalsas but will not get any NRO,” he categorically said. He viewed that unfortunately, the opposition’s only goal was NRO at whatever cost to the lives of people and the country’s economy.

Ravi City, Bundle Island Projects to Have Positive Impact on Economy, People’s Lives: PM

ISLAMABAD, Nov 20, 2020 (APP)::Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the mega urban development projects of Ravi City, Lahore and Bundle Island, Karachi would bring in positive impact on the country’s economy and the lives of common man. The two mega projects, besides promoting the local industries, would also help create job opportunities in the country, he added.

The prime minister expressed these views while presiding over a meeting here of the working groups of Pakistan Island Development Authority (PIDA) and Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA). He said Pakistan’s coastal-line was not only appropriate for tourism and urban development of international standards, but also had the potential of creating numerous investment opportunities.

The prime minister further said that the Ravi City project, besides reducing the pressure of urban population in the big city of Lahore, would introduce new dimensions of urban planning in the country. During the meeting, which was attended by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Punjab Chief Secretary Jawad Rafiq Malik through video-link, the prime minister was briefed about the progress made so far on the two projects.

The prime minister was told that the urban centers at Ravi City and Bundle Island would be constructed for the first time in the country’s history in line with the principles of a green city. The Ravi Urban Development Authority chairman told the meeting that the survey of 18600 acres of land for the construction had been completed, which did not require any evacuation or dislocation of the local residents.

He said Ravi City project, besides providing the residential facilities of international standards to the people, would prove to be a model in the region to follow due to the availability of basic amenities like sewerage, underground water tanks, safety and environmental protection. It may be mentioned here that instead of taking loans, the two projects are being development on the basis of public private partnership for which international institutions and investors are taking keen interest.

The Pakistan Island Development Authority chairman apprised the prime minister of the interest being taken by various international companies in the master planning and environmental study of the Island development.

Pakistan Condemns Extra-Judicial Killing of 4 More Innocent Kashmiris in IIOJK

ISLAMABAD, Nov 19, 2020 (APP):Pakistan on Thursday strongly condemned the extra-judicial killing of four more innocent Kashmiris in a fake encounter outside the city of Jammu by the occupation forces in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). “Pakistan calls for immediate and transparent judicial inquiry, under international scrutiny, into the extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris including these four”, Foreign Office said in a statement issued here.

The statement pointed out that in the last one year alone, Indian occupation forces had martyred more than three hundred (300) innocent Kashmiris, including women and children, in fake encounters and so-called “cordon and search” operations in complete violation of the fundamental precepts of international humanitarian law.

“The toxic ‘Hindutva’ ideology, preached and practiced by the RSS-BJP mix, has resulted in the systematic targeting of Kashmiri youth through extra-judicial killings, torture in custody, enforced disappearances and incarcerations under the cover of draconian laws such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA),” it added.

“We also urge the international community to take immediate cognizance of the rampant state terrorism being perpetrated in IIOJK and hold India accountable for its serious crimes against humanity,” the statement stressed.

India must eschew the use of state-terrorism as an instrument of state policy, end its egregious violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people, and take concrete steps towards the resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute as per the Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, it added.

Probe Report Holds ‘PIA Engineers’ Responsible for Havelian Plane Crash

KARACHI, Nov 19, 2020:: The Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of Pakistan tasked to probe into the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash near Havilian in 2016 has released its inquiry report and held PIA engineers responsible for the crash. A fractured turbine blade triggered a “complicated” sequence of failures that culminated in the fatal Havelian PIA crash in 2016, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of Pakistan has said in a report.

“The dislodging / fracture of PT-1 blade of No 1 Engine occurred after omission from the EMM (Non-Compliance of SB-21878) by PIA Engineering during an unscheduled maintenance performed on the engine in November 2016, in which the PT-1 blades had fulfilled the criteria for replacement, but were not replaced,” according to a report.

The report said that in February 2017, PIA Engineering reviewed the life of the old design PT-1 blades. “PIA Engineering decided to change the soft life as a hard life of 10,000 hrs irrespective of the conditions given in the maintenance manual (an action overboard towards safe side).” PIA’s PK-661, crashed while travelling from Chitral to Islamabad on December 7, 2016. All 48 passengers and crew aboard, including religious scholar and former singer Junaid Jamshed, died in the crash.

The report said that most probably, the PT-1 blade had fractured during the previous flight (Peshawar to Chitral). The summarized sequence of the technical failures was as follows: Before the accident flight,Engine Power Turbine Stage 1 (PT-1) Blade fractured/dislodged causing imbalanced rotation of PT shaft,OSG pin fractured and Probable contamination (external from the engine) in PVM.

It is pertinent to mention here that PM Imran in May 2020 had ordered to make public all reports on fatal plane crashes that happened in past. PM Khan had chaired the meeting regarding PIA Karachi plane crash and had ordered to public Junaid Jamshed plane crash report.

PM Pushes Industrialists to Invest Freely, Assuring Govt’s Full Backing, Facilitation

FAISALABAD, Nov 18, 2020 (APP):: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday urged the businessmen and exporters to invest freely in the country with no worry for any policy shift or bottlenecks as the government was fully focused at reviving industrialization through maximum facilitation.

“Invest more on exports without worry. The government will resolve all of your issues. You should not be afraid of any policy shift to affect your investment. Our job is your facilitation, which will lead to creation of wealth and jobs,” the prime minister said while addressing here a gathering of exporters and industrialists.

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also attended the ceremony, besides a limited number of businessmen, exporters and industrialists owing to anti-COIVD19 precautions.

The prime minister said it was pleasing that the industries and power looms were running at full capacity which even created shortage of textile labour. He asked the Punjab government to promote skill training of the youth to enhance value-added textile workforce. He said if Faisalabad, once known as Pakistan’s Manchester, kept up its current pace of industrial development, it would even leave Manchester behind.

The prime minister recalled that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government inherited a record debt burden, $20 billion current account deficit, $40 billion trade deficit, devalued currency, and the reserves at the lowest ebb.The country was even short of money to make international payments but the government successfully passed through the difficult phase courtesy the timely support by the friendly states saving it from default, he added.

The prime minister said since 1960s, Pakistan’s industrial model institutions like hospitals and universities used to be idolized but it took a downturn following the then government’s policy of nationalization. Instead of introducing nationalization, the government should have done legislation to channelize into the national economy the money which had been accumulated within few families, he added.

He said through similar policies, China steered around 700 million people out of poverty, but contrarily, the nationalization in Pakistan impeded the growth. He said after nationalization, even money making was considered a taboo which instead should have been encouraged, if through legal means and not through cartelization or profiteering.

“Our full focus is to take Pakistan to industrialization and enhance exports. The government will facilitate and bring ease of doing business. We are fully striving to attract people to invest and create jobs. This will happen through ease of doing business,” the prime minister said.

He told the gathering that the automation of Federal Board of Revenue was also in process to reduce human intervention. The prime minister said the government’s policy of providing incentives to exporters was paying dividends as exports were on surge. He said contrary to the world, Pakistan maintained balance between lives and livelihood during the COVID-19 which kept people from poverty and economy from default.

He also appreciated his economic team including Hammad Azhar, NCOC and others for helping the government formulate policies to incentivize business and industries besides containing the pathogen. He said even the World Health Organization (WHO) also lauded Pakistan for successfully navigating during COVID-19. However, he advised the people not to give up wearing mask as the second wave had hit the country again, to ebb away pressure from economy as well as hospitals.

As requested by the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), the prime minister assured to uplift the city’s infrastructure. He said despite being the opposition led province, the government also announced a mega development package for Karachi. He said the government was toeing the policy of industrialization and all the relevant policies would be formulated after consultation with the stakeholders.

He said following the government’s business friendly policies and packages, the industrial and construction sectors were showing improvement. As pointed out from audience, the prime minister agreed to the idea of establishing a high court bench in Faisalabad for ease of the litigants. He said the government was coming up with a local government system to run the major cities on the model of world’s biggest cities like London, New York, Paris and Mumbai which directly elected their mayors and also generated revenue through own tax collection.

Similarly, he said currently, being an industrialist and mega city, Faisalabad had to depend on funds from Punjab government which would be done away with under the new system. In his address, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar announced Rs 13 billion development package for infrastructural uplift of Faisalabad which he said would be included in the annual development program.

He told the audience that the provincial government provided Rs 26 billion tax relief to the industrial sector during COVID-19. The provincial government had also issued NOC for five more cement factories and 16 more to be issued by December which manifested the growth of construction industry, he added.

The chief minister said in order to improve law and order situation in the province, the government handed over 600 police vehicles to the police stations and also approved 10,000 posts for recruitment. Industries Minister Hammad Azhar said the textile industry and power looms had made a turnaround within two years of the PTI government to create jobs under PM’s vision of 10 million jobs.

He said unlike its predecessor, the incumbent government was spending nothing to artificially uplift the local currency rather it had opted for free floating. Moreover, he said 21 of 28 points given by FATF had been implemented and rest would be fulfilled soon. The government had made Rs 248 billion tax refunds to the businessmen, he added.

FCCI President Engineer Ehtisham Javed said the government’ textile policy was paying dividends in form of increased production and exports. He hoped that Faisalabad would again regain get its lost identity Pakistan’s Manchester. He also thanked the prime minister for his prudent and pro-poor policies during the COVID-19 which helped both the people as well as the businesses.

Govt to Introduce E-Voting in General Polls, Open Ballot in Senate

ISLAMABAD, (APP):: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday said the government had decided to introduce electronic voting in general election and also move a bill in parliament to amend the current mode of secret ballot in Senate polls to show of hands, in a bid to ensure fair and transparent polls.

Talking to media after his meeting with the Electoral Reforms Committee, the Prime Minister said the bill aimed at discouraging ‘vote selling’ in the upcoming Senate elections in March. Imran Khan said the constitutional amendment required two-third majority for the passage of bill, adding that “it would reveal which political party would side or oppose corrupt practices”.

He said the move was unprecedented on part of a sitting government and recalled that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 2018 had shown door to 20 of its lawmakers on evidence of selling their votes. On electronic voting, he said, consultations with Election Commission were underway to devise a system in collaboration with the data provided by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

Besides ensuring transparency, he said, the computerized system would also benefit the nine million Pakistanis living abroad to help them conveniently poll their votes online. The Prime Minister thanked the people of Gilgit Baltistan for reposing confidence in PTI during the recent election and lauded the big turnout even from far-flung areas despite tough weather conditions.

He said that the government would take every possible step to bring development in GB. He said his government stood by its pledge to grant provisional provincial status to GB to end their sense of deprivation, as per the longstanding demand of locals. Imran Khan said the people of GB would be kept updated about step-by-step phases leading towards the formulation of their province.

He dismissed the allegations of Opposition parties of rigging in the GB polls and stressed the need for a spirit among political parties to accept defeat. He recalled that the purpose behind PTI’s demand to open four constituencies after 2013 general election and the 126-day sit-in was to set in place a system of transparent and free polls in future.

Even as skipper of cricket team, Khan said, he always campaigned for neutral umpires in the matches. The Prime Minister expressed confidence that with implementation of electoral reforms, the country would witness a norm among political parties to have faith in polling process and accept the results.

Petitioners Find Punjab’s Two-Finger Test Ban Notification Vague, Lacking

LAHORE, Nov 14, 2020:: The Punjab government’s notification banning the two-finger test for rape and sexual violence survivors is “hastily prepared, vague and deficient in material respects”. The government submitted a list of guidelines for female medico-legal officers handling rape or sexual violence cases to the Lahore High Court on November 13. Judge Ayesha A Malik is hearing two separate petitions filed against the ‘two-finger test’ and other virginity testing practices.

The notification was issued by the Punjab Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department and outlined the way to conduct examinations of rape or sexual violence survivors, including separate procedures for girls, virgins and non-virgins. However, the petitioners in the case say it isn’t enough. They called the guidelines “hastily prepared, with inadequate input, are vague, and are deficient in material respects, including with respect to providing adequate guidance to medico-legal officers in the appropriate manner of conducting the medico–legal examinations”.

When the Punjab government was asked in court whom it had consulted to prepare the guidelines, it was vague in its answer and only said a meeting was held with “the relevant secretaries” in attendance, according to the petitioners’ lawyer. The petitioners said that while the guidelines inform MLOs about the need for consent from the survivors, they do not have adequate safeguards regarding securing consent and “continue to place an undue emphases on the status of the victim’s virginity, character and past sexual conduct, which has no legal relevance whatsoever to the question of whether an assault/incident of raped occurred”.

And while the notification bans the use of the two-finger test specifically, it does not ban or seek to discontinue all unwarranted invasive practices, noted the petitioners. One such practice is the hymen check, which the government has mentioned in its notification.

The notification urges MLOs not to use the terms “habituation to sex, easy virtue or loose morals” yet it still requires that the “report submitted to the court/police should be brief, concise, precise and without any ambiguity stating about recent or old loss of virginity as well as occurrence of recent sexual intercourse per-vaginum etc.”

The petitioners are in the process of placing their observations regarding the notified guidelines before the court. The judge has reserved her verdict in the case.

A group of women had moved the Lahore High Court on March 12, 2020. PML-N MPA Shaista Pervez Malik also filed a separate petition. In Pakistan, virginity tests are conducted on rape survivors to check if they have had sexual intercourse prior to the assault. The assumption is that a woman must be a virgin for her to be raped, said lawyer Maliha Zia Lari, one of the petitioners in the case. Such tests are an inaccurate way of testing for rape and they violate a woman’s space and dignity, she added.

The petition argues that it has now “conclusively established that these so-called ‘tests’ have no scientific or medical basis.” They are an “extreme invasion of women’s privacy and bodily integrity as well as a source of re-traumatisation.” There is “no place for these outdated practices under the Constitution,” says the petition. The petition has asked for such tests to be declared illegal and discontinue phrases such as “habituated to sex”, “easy virtue” and “loose morals” while referring to women in medical reports.Virginity tests are commonly performed on rape survivors in Pakistan. There are two ways in which they are conducted for:

Inspection of the hymen: The hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening of the vagina. This test assumes that only the hymen of women who have engaged in sexual activity is torn. There are, however, a number of reasons why a woman hymen could’ve been torn such physical activity, horse riding, and working in the fields, among others.

Two-finger test: One or more fingers are inserted inside the vagina to assess the size of the vaginal opening to check penetrability. This test assumes that if the vagina admits two or more fingers then the woman is likely to have been sexually active. “The premise of the tests is flawed because of the underlying assumption that only the overt use of force can result in a lack of consent to a sexual encounter and [women] who have suffered as a result of covert use of force should be presumed to have consented,” the petition states.

The World Health Organisation has clearly said that there is no medical basis for such tests, says the petition. “Neither the size of the vaginal opening, nor the ease with which the fingers can be admitted, or the state of the hymen are medically sound indications of prior sexual activity,” it adds. Such tests are banned in India and Bangladesh.

In Pakistan, the ways through which the authorities get the consent of rape survivors for these tests is questionable, says the petition. The survivors are “either completely unaware or not informed in enough detail with sufficient sensitivity,” it says. They are not informed that they have the right to refuse to consent to these tests. They don’t realise that they have “consented to the disclosure of the results of these tests to third parties”.

“Instead of punishing violence against women, the reliance of the justice system on such tests actually results in a far more insidious form of violence upon women inflicted by the State itself,” the petition adds. The Ministry of Human Rights had told the court on October 14 that the two-finger test is a violation of the constitutional rights of the people of Pakistan

“Pakistan is a signatory to the UN Convention of the Elimination against Discrimination against Women Rights and is committed to upholding and protecting the rights of women including their right to dignity and life,” the ministry said in its reply.The ministry agreed that the “TFT is a violation of the constitutional right to dignity of women guaranteed by Article 14 and right to be protected from discrimination, and considers it to be a form of violence on women as stated by Guidelines for the Medico-legal Care for Victims of Sexual Violence issued by the World Health Organization.”

The ministry also said it does not support the use of phrases such as “habitual to sexual act” or “woman of easy virtue” while referring to women in medical reports.

JUI (F) Spokesman Removed from Post Over Opposing Nawaz Sharif’s Narrative

QUETTA, Nov 12, 2020:: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Wednesday removed party spokesman Hafiz Hussain Ahmed over opposing the narrative of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif. The JUI-F has appointed Aslam Ghauri as the acting spokesman of the party besides also issuing a show-cause notice to Hafiz Hussain Ahmed over his remarks against Nawaz Sharif’s narrative.

According to sources, the decision to remove Hafiz Hussain Ahmed was taken during the meeting of the top consultative body of the JUI-F, Majlis-e-Shura, where an inquiry committee under Maulana Abdul Qayyum was also formed to probe into the matter. Hafiz Hussain distanced himself from the narrative of the PML-N leader during the Quetta rally as the JUI-F at that time termed the remarks of their party spokesman as a personal comment.

The sources said that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who headed the Majlis-e-Shura meeting, also briefed the party regarding the decisions taken by the PDM. Although Hafiz Hussain Ahmed is the first one to openly oppose the narrative of the PML-N leader from the JUI-F and sent packing, there are many top leaders within PML-N who had opposed the narative and shared the same fate.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Balochistan chief Abdul Qadir Baloch on November 01 announced to part ways with the party citing rhetoric against Pakistan Army from the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). “The only reason I have decided to part ways with the PML-N is its narrative against Pakistan Army,” he said while terming the act as unacceptable for him. Later another top party leader, Sanaullah Zehri also announced resignation from the PML-N over a similar reason.

Covid-19 Second Wave: PM ImranAide Says Time Has Come for Tough Decisions

ISLAMABAD, Nov 12, 2020:: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said the number of COVID-19 cases have surged in Pakistan during the recent few weeks and time has come to take tough decisions. While talking in ARY News program ‘powerplay’ Dr Faisal Sultan has expressed concerns over the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country and said that time has come to take more strict decisions in order to tackle the outbreak.

“People are not taking pandemic seriously due to which positive cases are increasing rapidly,” he said, adding that marriage halls and restaurants were becoming main sources for the spread of Covid-19. Underscoring the neglect from the masses, SAPM on health said the people need to be more careful about the situation and play an active role in the fight against the pandemic.

Speaking on the vaccine, the special assistant said that Prime Minister has approved funds to purchase the possible vaccines of COVID-19 in advance. The Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination had written a letter to PM Imran Khan to seek permission for advance booking of coronavirus vaccines. It is pertinent to mention here that the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) today discussed and recommended ban on big public gatherings in the country in view of the soaring rate of COVID-19 positive cases in the second wave of the disease.

A review meeting of the NCOC, chaired by federal minister Asad Umar, discussed spike in novel coronavirus positive cases and recommended ban on large public gatherings in the country as a precautionary measure. The NCOC session also recommended tightening of precautionary measures in the high risk areas.

The federal and provincial officials briefed the meeting that the rate of positive cases continuously rising in the educational institutions. The novel coronavirus rate has three-fold increased, the NCOC session was informed. The NCOC session also recommended for early winter vacations in schools to halt rapid spread of the pandemic. The meeting recommended immediate closure of shrines, cinema halls and theatres across the country.

CCI Agrees on Launch of Rs 350 Bln Project To Tackle Malnutrition, Stunting Growth

ISLAMABAD, Nov 11 (APP):: The Council of Common Interests, while taking serious note of the critical issue of malnutrition and stunted growth among the children, Wednesday unanimously agreed upon launching of a development project “Tackling Malnutrition Induced Stunting in Pakistan” at a total cost of approximately Rs 350 billion and duration of five years (FY 2020-25).

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the 43rd meeting of CCI, which was attended by the chief ministers of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. It was agreed that 50 % cost i.e. approx Rs 175 billion would be provided by the Federal Government and equal distribution to be made by the provincial governments for five years, a press release issued by the PM Media Wing said. The project would target 30% of the country’s total population, including 15 million women of reproductive age group and 3.9 million children under the age of 2 years through nutrition interventions.

It was agreed that the Federal Government would provide for nutrition supplementary commodities, capacity building of new & existing healthcare workers, and research & monitoring while the provinces would contribute towards implementation through involvement of existing Lady Health Workers (LHWs, Community Health Workers, target population identification, programme management, institutional arrangement, evaluation and data sharing.

The CCI considered the request of KP Government for one-time permission to swap / substitute arrangement of one exploration block with another prospective block within the province. It accorded the one-time approval for the swap with the condition that commitments accruing out of previous award of block should be completed and the Petroleum Division should incorporate a time limit for such swap so that future requests were catered for.

The CCI also reviewed implementation status of previous decisions. Keeping in view the importance of developing a consensus on the energy issues, it was decided that the next meeting of CCI be called in the first month of next year to finalize issues related to the costs of electricity, gas & fuel; and to resolve water related matters.

The prime minister emphasized that the energy issues carried a national impact and it was necessary that a consensus was developed among the provinces where a win-win result was achieved for the benefit of the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan Hails Cessation of Hostilities in Nagorno Karabagh Region

ISLAMABAD, Nov 11, 2020:: Pakistan on Tuesday hailed the recent announcement of cessation of hostilities by the relevant parties, Azerbaijan and Armenia, in the Nagorno Karabagh dispute, as said by the Foreign Office spokesman. According to the Foreign Office Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, Pakistan has consistently supported the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh dispute in accordance with international law and the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

“We welcome the recent announcement of cessation of hostilities by the relevant parties,” he said. The spokesman said that the trilateral agreement facilitated by the Russian Federation offers a renewed opportunity for establishing peace in the South Caucasus region. “We congratulate the government and brotherly people of Azerbaijan on the liberation of their territories,” he said adding that they hoped that this will lead to an era of stability and prosperity in the region and will pave way for the return of internally displaced persons to their ancestral lands.

It is pertinent to mention here that Azerbaijan said Sunday its forces had captured the key town of Shusha from Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh. The capture of Shusha was a major victory for Azerbaijan six weeks after new fighting erupted over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave that broke away from Azerbaijan’s control in the 1990s.

The fortress town sits on cliffs around 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Nagorno-Karabakh’s largest city Stepanakert and on the main road through the region to the territory of Armenia, which backs the separatists. Turkey is a key ally of Azerbaijan and on Sunday Erdogan congratulated Baku after its claim of retaking Shusha, saying it was “a sign that the liberation of the rest of the occupied territories is near”.

PM To Participate in SCO Heads of State Council Video Conference Today

ISLAMABAD, Nov 10, 2020:: Prime Minister Imran Khan will participate in the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) meeting, being held in video conference format on Tuesday. According to the foreign office, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited PM Imran Khan to attend the summit of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Vladimir Putin would chair the meeting while leaders from all 8 SCO Member States and 4 Observer States will attend, besides the UN Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of SCO. The SCO-CHS is the highest forum of SCO. It adopts documents and decisions that provide policy guidelines for determining priorities and major areas of activities of the Organization.

The 20th SCO-CHS will adopt 16 documents including Moscow Declaration reflecting member states’ stance on important regional and international issues. Besides Pakistan, SCO’s current membership comprises China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. SCO’s major objectives include promoting mutual confidence and good-neighborly relations among member states, strengthening regional peace, security and stability, and creating a framework for effective cooperation in political, cultural, trade and economy, science and technology, education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and other fields.

SCO is an important forum for further enriching our deep rooted historical and cultural links with member states, providing these ties a sound economic foundation, and promoting Pakistan as a regional trade and transit corridor. Since becoming a member in 2017, Pakistan has been actively contributing to the promotion SCO’s multi-sectoral agenda through participation in various SCO mechanisms.

Trump Will Lose Special Twitter Protections in January

WASHINGTON, Nov 9, 2020:: US President Donald Trump will be subject to the same Twitter Inc rules as any other user when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, the social media company confirmed this week. Twitter places “public interest” notices on some rule-breaking tweets from “world leaders” that would otherwise be removed. Such tweets from political candidates and elected or government officials are instead hidden by a warning and Twitter takes actions to restrict their reach.

But the company said this treatment does not apply to former office holders. “This policy framework applies to current world leaders and candidates for office, and not private citizens when they no longer hold these positions,” a Twitter spokesman said in a statement. It has added multiple warnings and labels to tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account, including many since Tuesday’s election that made unfounded allegations of voting fraud.

It first hid one of his tweets behind a “public interest” label in May when the president violated the company’s policy against glorifying violence. Under Facebook Inc’s policies, it appears that after Biden takes office in January, Trump’s posts would also no longer be exempt from review by Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partners. Facebook’s online policy says it defines politicians, whose posts are exempt from fact-checking, as candidates running for office, current office holders and many of their cabinet appointees, along with political parties and their leaders.

It says “former candidates for office or former officials continue to be covered by our third-party fact-checking programme.” Facebook did not reply to Reuters questions about how it would treat Trump’s account. Biden’s victory on Saturday in Pennsylvania put the Democratic presidential candidate over the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes needed to clinch the presidency. Republican Trump has not conceded and has vowed to challenge the outcome in court.

Strict Penalties Imposed in Oman Over Use of Animals for Entertainment Shows

MUSCAT, Nov 9, 2020:: Authorities in Oman have announced penalties to be imposed on those using animals to perform at artistic or entertainment shows such as at wrestling arenas and circuses. According to a Times of Oman report,  the Ministry of Agricultural, Fisheries and Water Resources, has issued regulations for the animal welfare law.

The actions barred under the new order included exposing animals to neglect, malnutrition and not giving them adequate rest; using cruelty while preparing the animal for slaughter; exhaustion of animals at work, for racing without regard for their age and health; use of animals for an act contrary to their nature by making them perform in artistic and entertainment shows such as wrestling arenas and circuses.

Further shedding light on the new regulations, the order sought a ban on giving animals a growth stimulant, or any unauthorized feed additives, seizing animals or transporting them by unprepared means, display or trade of any sick or injured animals, and getting rid of sick animals in a merciless way, such as using slow death methods.

It further banned lifting or pulling animals unable to walk in a painful way that harms them, exercising any form of abuse, including sexual abuse of animals. The decision also includes the duties of the employer, the specifications of animal housing facilities, the specifications of employees acting in a judicial capacity, the standards for using animals for scientific purposes, and the correct methods for disposing of animal carcasses.

Spontaneous Celebrations Erupt Across US After Biden’s Victory

NEW YORK, Sat. Nov 07, 2020 (APP):Celebrations broke out across US cities with people dancing in the streets, motorists honking their horns and cheers filling the air as Joe Biden is named the next president of the United States on Saturday. Biden was called the next president at 11.25 a.m. ( 9:25 pm PST) Saturday by television networks and the Associated Press, while Donald Trump played golf.

CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the AP and USA Today all made the call and Fox News followed suit 10 minutes later as votes in Philadelphia pushed his margin in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania over the edge. This took him to 273 electoral votes – over the 270 needed to win the White House race. Kamala Devi Harris, his running mate, becomes the first female vice president and the first black and Asian-American vice president in history.

Most Muslim-Americans, including Pakistanis, who have been under pressure since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, voted for Biden, according to reports. There are more than 3.45 million Muslims living in the US, which has a population of over 328 million. Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign and time in office, President Donald Trump has made Islamophobic comments that alienated Muslim voters.

At a 2015 campaign rally, Trump told a supporter he would look into the country’s “Muslim problem”. Later that year, he made promises to implement a database or “watchlist” to track Muslims in the U.S., and issued a statement calling for the shutdown of Muslim immigration to the U.S. He also falsely claimed he watched thousands of Muslims cheering as the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11. During a debate, he said “Islam hates us.”

In New York City, cheers of celebration, clapping and car horns filled the air seconds after Biden’s victory was called. Cheers could be heard all across Manhattan as walkers in Central Park stopped and threw their arms in the air in celebration. Many people flocked to their balconies to join in the celebrations in the streets below.

Footage on social media revealed the moment many New Yorkers learned Biden would become the 46th president of the United States. Over in Philadelphia – where the latest votes to be counted pushed Biden to victory – people cried and embraced in the streets outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Some Biden supporters danced in the streets as they couldn’t contain their emotion over the victory for the Democrat. People in Washington choked back tears of relief and hugged each other.

Outside the White House on Saturday afternoon, the resident made themselves heard. Cars honked nonstop as drivers stuck their head out windows and waved Biden flags. Cyclists cheered as they sailed past, lifting fists in the air. Along a nearby street where protesters had so many times marched against the outgoing President, a young Black woman stuck her head above the sunroof of her car, yelling: “FINALLY!”

Parents waved small American flags and held their children on their shoulders, and even a recycling truck blared its horn as scores of vehicles headed south on Connecticut Avenue toward the White House. People flocked toward the White House on foot and by car, honking their horns, sticking solidarity fists out their windows and congratulating strangers on the street.

They carried Biden-Harris signs, Black Lives Matter signs, American flags — the mood one of a party inside a sigh of relief. The Trump hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue NW became a scene of beeping horns, middle finger waves and many expletive-laced goodbyes.

Biden Defeats Trump To Win White House, US Media Projects; Imran Khan Greets

NEW YORK, Nov 07 (APP) Former Vice President Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States, narrowly emerging victorious from a hotly-contested White House campaign that stretched days past election night, as vote tallies in several battleground states were slowed by an unprecedented surge in postal ballots, according to US media projections.

He will address the nation tonight, an official told CNN.

With this victory, Kamala Devi Harris, a senator and former prosecutor born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, became the first Black person and first person of Asian descent to become vice president in US 244-year history.

Biden, who has visited Pakistan both as a senator and vice-president, edged out President Donald Trump after one term in the office. In the days since voting ended, Trump has claimed a premature victory and accused Democrats were trying to steal the election. The Trump campaign is still contesting the process in several states, and said in a statement Friday: “This election is not over.”

US Election 2020 Results Updated 2250 hrs PST

Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the President-elect Joe Biden and said he looked forward to working with him to end illegal tax havens, and stealing of national wealth by corrupt leaders.

“We will continue to work with the US for peace in Afghanistan and in the region,” Imran Khan said in a tweet.

Congratulations @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris. Look forward to President Elect Biden’s Global Summit on Democracy & working with him to end illegal tax havens & stealth of nation’s wealth by corrupt ldrs. We will also continue to work with US for peace in Afghanistan & in the region

— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 7, 2020

Biden campaigned on the promise to restore political normalcy and a spirit of national unity to confront raging health and economic crises, after four years of tumult in the White House.

Despite Trump’s rhetoric, Biden’s team projected confidence as ballots were tabulated, knowing that large chunks of the vote still to be counted were in diverse Democratic strongholds like Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia.

The Associated Press, an American news agency, was first to call the race for Biden on Saturday when it said that Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes put him over the 270-vote threshold needed to win the Electoral College.


The Associated Press declares Joe Biden the winner of a grueling campaign for the American presidency. He will lead a polarized nation through a historic collision of health, economic and social crises. #APracecall pic.twitter.com/lInwqjX3PB

— The Associated Press (@AP) November 7, 2020

Biden was born in Pennsylvania and launched his campaign with rallies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. He spent Election Day visiting his childhood home in Scranton and then rallying supporters in Philadelphia.

President Urges UN’s Role to Implement Security Council’s Resolutions on Kashmir

ISLAMABAD, November 2, 2020 (APP): President Dr. Arif Alvi on Monday called upon the United Nations to take steps to implement the resolutions of UN Security Council Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir. In a meeting with UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan Julien Harneis here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, he said core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir was on the agenda of the UN for over seven decades.

President Alvi said Pakistan had always pursued peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues with India, including the Jammu and Kashmir issue. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to multilateralism and the principles and purpose of the UN Charter. He said Pakistan had launched several programmes to realize the Sustainable Development Goals. He also apprised Julien Harneis of the measures taken by Pakistan against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic as well as the financial support provided by the government to the deserving families under Ehsaas Programme.

The President reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to bring minorities into the mainstream and protect their rights, to which Julien Harneis lauded Pakistan for being tolerant to minorities. Dr Alvi lauded the efforts of the United Nations in supporting government in reducing hunger. He also appreciated the role of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) for extensively documenting gross Human Rights violations being committed by India in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

Elimination of Class-Based Division in Education Sector, Foremost Priority of Govt: PM

ISLAMABAD, November 2, 2020 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that elimination of the prevailing class-based division in the country’s education sector was foremost priority of the present government. Uniform education system was not only the need of modern era but was also a basic right of every child, he added. The prime minister expressed these views while presiding over a meeting here regarding the uniform curriculum.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Federal Education and Professional Education Shafqat Mehmood, Punjab Provincial Minister for Education Murad Ras, Punjab Provincial Minister for Higher Education Yasir Humayun, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Provincial Minister for Education Shehram Tarkai, Parliamentary Secretary for Federal Ministry of Education Mohtarma Wajiha Ikram and senior officers. The prime minister said the new generation should be fully aware of the life and Sunnah of Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) because “Hazrat Muhammad is the only role model for us and His Sunah is the beacon of light for us”.

He stressed that National Education Policy besides bringing improvement in the quality of education would also empower all segments of the society and provide equal opportunities. The prime minister, however, added that the success of that system depended on the selection of teaching staff and their capacity building. He said that the new policy would make getting quality education in Pakistan possible, while the uniform education system would be a role model for other countries of the region to follow.

Federal Minister Shafqat Mehmood told the meeting that the introduction of a uniform curriculum at national level was aimed at prompting the analytical and creative capabilities of the students. Besides promoting curricular education and Pakistanisms, the new system was also aimed at equipping the students with golden principles like truthfulness, fairness, tolerance, respect, mutual harmony, awareness about environment, democracy, human rights, sustainable development and self-defence.

The meeting stressed the need of character building of students should be given special importance in the uniform education system. The meeting was informed that the new curriculum had been formulated in view of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and it would be implemented in all the public and private schools as well as religious seminaries across the country. “Promotion of Islamic teachings, Islamiat would be taught as a separate subject in the curriculum from 1st to 12th grade. For the subject Students belonging to minorities, a separate subject namely religious education had been introduced, which would be taught from Class One,” the meeting was told.

The meeting also discussed that the focus of uniform curricular education was to equip the students with the requirements of current era and in that regard the process of consultation with all stakeholders had been completed. The prime minister was also briefed about the Federal Directorate of Education as well as the upgradation of educational institutions.

PM Imran, Erdogan Express Concerns Over Rising Islamophobia in Europe

ISLAMABAD, Nov 1, 2020:: Prime Minister Imran Khan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday held a telephonic conversation. During the telephonic conversation, PM Imran Khan expressed his heartfelt grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in the earthquake in Turkey. Pakistan stood with the Turkish nation in this difficult time, the prime minister said and extended all-out help and cooperation to Ankara.

Both the leaders expressed serious concerns over rising Islamophobia in Europe. Earlier today, Prime Minister Imran Khan had extended condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the people of Turkey over the loss of precious lives in an earthquake in Izmir city. He tweeted: “We stand with the Turkish nation, offering every help we can give. We can never forget the way Turkey stood with us when the devastating earthquake hit Pak & AJK in 2005.”

Nineteen people had been killed in Turkey and Greece after a strong earthquake struck the Aegean Sea on Friday, bringing buildings crashing down and setting off tidal waves which slammed into coastal areas and islands.

Johnson Locks Down England As UK COVID-19 Cases Pass 1 Million

LONDON, November 1, 2020:: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service. The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.

Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2, 2020. In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.

“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance. The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay. Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.

Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas. Johnson was criticised by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalised in early April.

The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations. So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths – defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.

The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally

Pakistan Expects Even-Handed Treatment from US for Kashmir Resolution: Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD, Oct 31, 2020 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said Pakistan expects from the United States an “even-handed treatment with respect to India”, especially on the Kashmir dispute. “The region is a hot-spot, it could flare up at any time. That’s why we expect the U.S., as the strongest country in the world, to be even handed, whoever becomes president,” the prime minister said in an interview with Der Spiegel’s Susanne Koelbl in Islamabad. On the upcoming U.S. election and prospects of winning, the Prime Minister said though Joe Biden was in front in the opinion polls, but Donald Trump was very unpredictable because unlike normal politicians, “he plays by his own rules”.

Asked with whom he would prefer to work with, Imran Khan said, “What we really want from the U.S. is an even-handed treatment with respect to India, especially with the dispute in Kashmir.”  Khan said being a politician in Pakistan who formed his own party the biggest in over 22 years, he also had to do a lot of out-of-the-box-thinking including relying on social media and then attracting the youth to rallies. He said the U.S. thinks India will contain China, which is a “completely flawed premise”.

“India is a threat to its neighbors, to China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and to us. It has the most extremist, racist government on the subcontinent. It is a fascist state, inspired by the Nazis in the 1920s and ’30s,” he said. India is a threat to its neighbors, to China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and to us. Imran Khan said Indian Narendra Modi´s party openly admired Hitler, adding that the “Nazis wanted to get rid of the Jews, while the RSS wanted to rid India of the Muslims”. To a question if Washington had forced Pakistan into a misguided war in neighboring Afghanistan, he said “Pakistan had nothing to do with the terror attacks on 9/11 as Al-Qaida was in Afghanistan.”

“After 9/11, we should not have allowed our army to become involved in the war. I opposed it from day one. The U.S. put pressure on us, and the military dictator Pervez Musharraf succumbed to that pressure,” he said. He said from day one, his government had been fostering dialogue to resume peace in Afghanistan. He mentioned that Pakistan lost 70,000 people in this conflict, and the tribal areas adjacent to the Afghan border were devastated in the last 15 years. He said Pakistan had no “favorites” in Afghanistan and added that “Our only interest is that the future government in Kabul does not allow India to operate from there against Pakistan.”

To a question if new law would make it impossible for journalists to report on the army, he said there will be another way of dealing with the security forces – not through the media, but through the government. “I will speak to the army chief if I think there’s something wrong…. But this should not be done in public. When soldiers are risking their lives, you cannot demoralize them in public,” he said. On Pakistan’s successful strategy during coronavirus pandemic, he said with smart lockdown, the government did not stop agriculture sector and quickly reopened the construction sector, because that’s what employed the most people in the urban areas.

India and Iran, he said, restricted people to their homes in poor areas with complete lockdown imposed. He said around 180,000 to 200,000 people in the country were getting tested every week and mentioned that the national coordination team had a very clear composite picture of the epidemic. From peak numbers in June, he said, the country saw a steady decline in cases, positivity and deaths across the country until late August and expressed hope to survive the second wave. On Pakistan’s offer for mediation on Middle East situation, he said soon after assuming power, he had offered Saudi Arabia and Iran to mediate in Yemen.

“But you can´t force anybody to agree on peace talks if they don´t want to,” he said. On United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan having established relations with Israel, he said every country had its own foreign policy, however said “unless there’s a just settlement, we cannot recognize Israel”. The Prime Minister said countries did not become poor because of a lack of resources, but due to corruption among the leadership. “As we know from the Panama Papers, the same is true for Pakistani politicians. Millions of dollars went into properties in the most expensive areas in London, siphoned off from this country,” he said.

“They want to blackmail me into getting them off the corruption cases. But there’s no way I will ever relent,” he said. Asked if he took advice from his wife Bushra Bibi on political issues, he said, “She has great wisdom. I discuss everything with her, also problems I face in government, dealing with complex situations.” “She is my soulmate. She is my companion. I would not have survived without her,” he said.  

Indian Threats Against AJK, Pakistan Cannot Be Overlooked: Masood

MUZAFFARABAD, Oct 31,2020 (APP): President Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Sardar Masood Khan on Friday said latest threats from India to fight a war inside Pakistan and Azad Kashmir should be considered as warning it comes from the Indian prime minister, defence minister and the national security adviser. Addressing a conference on Kashmir organized by Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith Pakistan in Lahore, he said India had been acquiring weapons and war arsenal from all over the world.

He said stockpiling of these weapons warrant us to remain alive to India’s nefarious designs and prepare ourselves to respond to the looming dangers. According to a release issued by his office here, the President said existing global order which had been siding with the powerful instead of the weak had become ineffective as the big powers are either silent over brutalities as well as crimes against humanity being perpetrated in occupied Kashmir.

In this situation, they themselves would have to awaken and also have to awaken the whole Muslim community. He warned that on the one hand, the enemy intended to crush us through its military might and on the other hand, creating a wedge in our rank and file to weaken our strength.
“The small conferences and the lip service would never resolve the Kashmir issue,” he said adding that they would have to launch an effective campaign across the world to capture the attention of the United Nations, and to compel the influential world powers to break their silence.

Sardar Masood Khan stressed the need for mobilizing over ten million Pakistani and Kashmiri expatriates to further accelerate our efforts around the world in the changed situation. Kashmir has now become a humanitarian issue, and the big powers can be persuaded to play their role in resolving this human crisis. “Spread the voice of the oppressed people of Occupied Kashmir to nook and corner of the world and its echo should be heard in Paris, New York, London, Brussels, Geneva, Vienna, Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur,” Khan emphasized.

He maintained that they have a model of the Vietnam War and the anti-racism movement in South Africa, where pressure from the people forced the United States to end the war in Vietnam and the pro-apartheid regime to abolish racism in South Africa. About Eid Miladun Nabi, the state president said the Great Prophet Hazrat Mohammad is the most sacred personality in this world, and they could not tolerate his insult.
He was the benefactor of not only the Muslims but the whole of mankind. The blasphemy in France had hurt our sentiments. However, it is a matter of great satisfaction that the whole Muslim world had shown strong reaction over it.

He said a forceful campaign to boycott French products is going on from Tokyo to Washington. Similar campaign is required against India also because India is killing Kashmiri Muslims for being followers of the Great Prophet. The conference was also addressed among others by the Chief of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith Prof. Sajid Mir, Allama Ibtisam Ilahi Zaheer, Allama Moatasim Alahi Zaheer and Syed Attiqur Rehamn Shah besides Secretary-General Jamiat Ahle Hadith Azad Kashmir Daniyal Shahab Madni and Hafiz Farooq Rahimi.

PM Imran Khan to visit Gilgit Baltistan on Sunday: sources

ISLAMABAD, Oct 30, 2020:: Prime Minister Imran Khan would visit Gilgit Baltistan on Sunday to attend the National Day celebrations of the region,  reported quoting sources. According to sources, Imran Khan would also address a ceremony during his visit to be attended by the Governor Gilgit Baltistan and interim chief minister of the region. It is pertinent to mention here that the election schedule for the Gilgit Baltistan region was announced in September this year.

The caretaker chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Mir Afzal Khan, announced that the elections for the legislative assembly will be organised on November 15. Caretaker CM Mir Afzal Khan said in a statement that all preparations for the organisation of polls for GB Legislative Assembly were completed and the authorities will ensure measures to hold a transparent election.

He said that security forces will be deployed during the polls, whereas, army troops will also be summoned if required.

PM Imran Khan Shares His Thoughts on US Presidential Election 2020

ISLAMABAD, Oct 30, 2020:: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that Pakistan wanted the future leadership of the United States- to be elected after upcoming elections on November 03- to maintain a balance in ties between India and Pakistan. He said this while responding to a query on the next United States (US) President during an interview with the German news website, Spiegel.

When asked as to who would be the next US president, the prime minister said that the Democrat candidate, Joe Biden, seems to be leading in the public surveys, however, Donald Trump is a non-traditional politician and could pull an unpredictable thing to win the election. We hope that the US would adopt a balanced policy on Kashmir, he said adding that whosoever wins the US polls, should treat both the countries equally as there is already a conflict in the region that could flare up at any moment.

Imran Khan said that the United States was only giving importance to India due to its issues with China. “However, such US attitude is full of blunders,” he predicted saying that India is a threat to its neighbouring countries including China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This is for the first time that such a racist government led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ruling in South Asia, he said while terming India as a fascist state, inspired by the Nazi ideology.

He said that the ruling BJP in India has openly lauded Hitler and wanted to eliminate Muslims from India in a similar fashion as Nazis did with Jews. Further speaking on the peace in Afghanistan, the prime minister said that there are no favourites for Pakistan in the neighbouring country as a ruler. “We only want Kabul administration to halt anti-Pakistan activity from their soil,” he said.

Imran Khan once again reiterated Pakistan’s long-standing stance on normalizing ties with Israel and said that it could not happen unless the Palestine issue is resolved.

Coronavirus: Czech Republic Has Its Third Health Minister in Just Six Weeks

BRNO, October 29, 2020:: The Czech Republic has its third health minister in just six weeks as the country grapples with a worsening coronavirus outbreak. Jan Blatný replaces Roman Prymula, who was photographed leaving a restaurant that should have been closed under his own COVID-19 restrictions. Prymula denied any wrongdoing, saying he went through the restaurant to a private space for a meeting, but offered his resignation to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

The new health minister was formerly the deputy director of the University Hospital in Brno the second largest Czech city but has no political experience. Blatný's appointment was announced on Twitter by Jiri Ovcacek, spokesman for Czech President Milos Zeman. The Czech Republic is one of the worst affected EU countries for the number of new deaths and infections per 100,000 inhabitants. A total of 297,013 confirmed cases have been registered in the country, including more than half that figure in the last two weeks.

Prymula was appointed in September to lead the country's response to the health crisis, just as the number of infections began to soar. In a press release, the Czech Prime Minister thanked his former health chief and said Blatný's main task is to "stabilise the current epidemiological situation and ensure the capacity of hospitals". "The main task is to protect people over 65 and the sick in nursing homes, social care, etc," said Babiš, who also stated that the government had ordered two million antigen tests.

Moreover, the Czech parliament has approved a government plan to allow up to 300 military medical personnel from NATO and EU countries to help with the coronavirus. The first group of 28 medical staff is expected from the US National Guard. Blatný has also emphasised the need to change the perception of the pandemic in Czech society. "Let us please turn the feeling of fear into respect together," he said in a press release. "Fear paralyses us, and what's even worse, it divides, if we change that into respect, we can gain strength."

Blatný also pledged that any decisions taken by the ministry of health will be based on coherent data and expert opinion. The new health minister also faces challenges in improving the Czech Republic medical education industry, to keep young doctors from moving abroad.

Poland's Abortion Ban: President Andrzej Duda Appears to Backtrack After A Week of Protests

WARSA, October 29, 2020:: Poland's president, Andrzej Duda, appears to have broken ranks with the government and backed demonstrators protesting over tighter abortion laws. A recent ruling by the country's constitutional court banned virtually all abortions, sparking a week of protests. Duda said on Thursday he thinks women should have the right to abortion in some cases. “It cannot be that the law requires this kind of heroism from a woman,” he said in an interview with radio RMF FM. The president said he still favours outlawing abortion in cases of fetuses with non-lethal congenital defects.

"Abortion is the thing that was deeply polarising to society over the last five years," Malgorzata Szuleka, a lawyer at Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Warsaw, told Euronews. "The current governing majority which is represented also by Andrzej Duda took several attempts to restrict the abortion law. "It's important to say Poland has one of the most restricted access to abortion across all the European countries.

"The latest decision taken by the constitutional tribunal was some sort of a bypass of the parliament because every time the government and parliament tried to restrict abortion they were confronted with massive social protests."

French PM Details New Restrictions as Country Heads Back into Lockdown

PARIS, October 30, 2020:: French people will only be allowed to leave their homes for food shopping, medical appointments, pressing family reasons and to commute to work when the job cannot be done from home, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday ahead of a new Covid-19 lockdown starting at midnight. France goes into its second nationwide lockdown this year from Friday, amid a surge in Covid-19 cases that has threatened to overwhelm French hospitals.

The nationwide lockdown will be enforced initially until December 1, though health experts have warned a longer clampdown may be necessary. Detailing the new restrictions, Castex said people will be allowed outside for just one hour of exercise per day and no further than one kilometre from their homes. For every outing, they will have to carry a document justifying their presence outside or risk a fine of 135 euros. Travel within France, including to holiday homes, will be prohibited, though borders with EU countries will remain open, the prime minister said. Visits to friends or family are also banned.

Earlier in the day, France’s lower house of parliament approved the new measures by a vote of 399 to 27 following a debate that was paused to maintain a minute’s silence for the victims of a deadly knife attack at a church in the southern city of Nice. Under the new rules, French schools will require all students aged six and over to wear face masks in class, Castex said. Until now masks were mandatory only for students 11 and older, but Castex told lawmakers in parliament that new efforts were needed "to protect all our children, teachers and parents."

Business allowed to remain open include garages, food shops, launderettes, opticians and newspaper vendors. Hotels will be allowed to maintain a reduced activity for work-related trips. Places of worship will remain open, but no ceremonies will be allowed, the prime minister added. Speaking after the prime minister, Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne said working from home will be mandatory except when it is technically impossible.

The new measures echo the eight-week lockdown that France enforced in the spring, though the government is hoping to cushion the blow for some sectors of the economy by leaving schools open. "The economy must not stop, nor collapse," French President Emmanuel Macron said in an address to the nation on Wednesday announcing the new lockdown. Macron has pledged additional financial relief for businesses, acknowledging that many were hoping to stay open ahead of the crucial holiday season that now seems jeopardised.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said measures to support French companies would cost 15 billion euros per month of lockdown. Macron sends France back to lockdown as cases spiral out of control. In his address on Wednesday, Macron stressed that, "the virus is spreading across France at a speed that even the most pessimistic did not predict." He said the lockdown might start to ease once Covid-19 infections fall back to about 5,000 per day from around 40,000 per day at present.

But the government's scientific adviser, Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, has warned that the lockdown may have to extend beyond December 1. Speaking on France Inter radio, Delfraissy said the goal of bringing infections down to 5,000 a day was unlikely to be achieved by the end of November, 2020. "By December 1, we will not be at 5,000 contaminations per day. I can tell you that straight away today. We will need more time," said Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the French government on the pandemic.

"The scenario is rather to have this lockdown period of one month, to look at the different types of markers and then to exit this containment through, by example, a curfew that could continue through December, possibly covering also Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and to end it only in early January", he said. France on Thursday reported 235 new virus deaths over the past 24 hours, and more than 47,000 new positive tests.

President Alvi Pays Glowing Tribute to Coronavirus Heroes

LAHORE, Oct 28, 2020:: President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday paid glowing tribute to those who played great role and rendered services during the Coronavirus pandemic in the country. Speaking at the inauguration of ‘Corona Wall of Heroes’ in Lahore, President Arif Alvi said that the government and people of Pakistan bravely faced the challenge of coronavirus.

Appreciating the government for giving a well-planned response to the pandemic, the president also lauded the financial assistance provided by philanthropists and the business community to the needy people. Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Governor Chaudhary Muhammad Sarwar, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and other provincial ministers were also present on occasion.

Earlier on June 4, Prime Minister Imran Khan had lauded the services of doctors and paramedics at the forefront of the country’s fight against the novel coronavirus. Speaking to a delegation of Insaf Doctors Forum at the PM Office, he had said the entire nation paid tribute to health professionals struggling to turn the tide against the pathogen that has so far infected more than 80,000 people and killed over 1,770.

PM Imran Reaffirms Pakistan’s Unwavering Support to Kashmiri Peoples

ISLAMABAD, Oct 27, 2020 :: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday reiterated that Pakistan will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Kashmiri people and extend all possible support to them until they realize their legitimate right to self-determination. In his message on the “Kashmir Black Day”, PM Imran said, “We are observing this day to condemn Indian illegal occupation and to reiterate our unwavering support to the Kashmiri people.”

He maintained that the black day represents a dark chapter in the human history when, 73 years ago, Indian forces landed in Srinagar to forcibly occupy the territory and subjugate the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir by India represents an international dispute, the solution of which is firmly anchored in the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions in accordance with the UN charter, the prime minister added.

PM Imran said that despite unabated Indian atrocities for more than seven decades posing an existential threat, India was unable to break the will of the Kashmiri people. “International community bears witness that Indian state-terrorism, extra-judicial killing of innocent Kashmiris, restrictions in freedom of speech, fake encounters, cordon-and-search operations, custodial torture and deaths, enforced disappearances, incarceration of Kashmiri leadership and youth, use of pellet guns, destruction and burning of houses to inflict ‘collective punishment’ on the Kashmiris communities and other methods of subjugation have failed to shake the resolve of the Kashmiris people in their just struggle for the inalienable right to self-determination.”

He said that India’s unilateral actions, military siege and communication blockade accompanied by illegal measures to bring about demographic change in occupied Kashmir since 5th August 2019, expose yet another dimension of RSS-inspired ‘Hindutva’ ideology. The dangerous mix of extremist ideology (Hindutva) and hegemonic designs (Akhand Bharat) is imperiling regional peace and stability, he added. The international legitimacy of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is enshrined in the UNSC resolutions, which are binding, he said and added that It was a collective responsibility of all member states to ensure compliance by India of its international obligations.

The prime minister urged the international community to take practical steps to stop India from using state-terrorism as a tool to destabilize the region and to work for peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people. This was the only way durable peace and stability can be ensured in South Asia, he concluded. Pakistanis and Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and rest of the world, are observing black day today to condemn Indian illegal occupation on Jammu and Kashmir.

Quality Education Lays Foundation for Tolerant, Progressive Society: PM Imran   

MIANWALI, Oct 25, 2020:: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that quality education lays the foundation for a tolerant and progressive society. Addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of Namal Knowledge City phase-1 in Mianwali, PM Imran stressed upon availability of affordable and quality higher education opportunities for the talented youth of Pakistan.

“I want that this institute becomes an internationally renowned center of excellence,” he added. The prime minister paid special tribute and expressed deep gratitude for the commitments made by donors worth millions of dollars. Earlier today, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that people should have a little bit of patience to see Pakistan emerge as a powerful country in the comity of nations.

Speaking at an event at Isa Khel Cadet College in Mianwali, he had emphasised the need for promoting knowledge economy to put the country on the path of progress and prosperity. Prime Minister Khan had maintained the government was trying to develop backward areas and ensured that they would be provided with all basic amenities of life, including access to quality healthcare and education.

Palace Dwellers Can’t Know Peoples Woes: PM

ISLAMABAD, Oct 25، 2020: Indirectly hitting out at his political opponents particularly former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the people who live in palaces and who go to London for medical checkups could not understand the woes of the common man. “I have seen the living conditions of the people of Mianwali [his native city]. I faithfully believe that unless a person knows how people live in backward areas, he will not be able to help them out,” Imran said while addressing a public gathering at his hometown amid warning of a second wave of Covid-19.

“Those who spend their lives in big palaces in Lahore and become chief ministers; the ones who get themselves medically examined in London; whose children are in London; how would they realize how people are living in these [backward] areas,” he added. Imran was indirectly referring to the PML-N leaders – Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shehbaz Sharif – both of which have served as the chief minister of the country’s most populous province. Convicted former prime minister Nawaz has been in London since November 2019 after he got bail in a corruption case and later a rare permission to fly to London to get medical treatment. Both sons of Nawaz – declared proclaimed offenders by courts – are also in London.

The PM said this was the reason why he chose Usman Buzdar as the chief minister of Punjab. “I chose Buzdar because of the reason that only a man who understands the difficulties of the poor people would be able to solve their problems,” he added. Admitting that many have been questioning his choice for the top position in the province, the prime minister said Buzdar belongs to Dera Ghazi Khan, which is the most backward district of Punjab. Imran said DG Khan was even more backward than Mianwali but several other districts of the province were facing similar issues. “Nations do not prosper if all the money is spent on two, three cities. No nation progresses like that.”

He reiterated that Pakistan will one day emerge as a strong country in the comity of nations and the dream of Naya Pakistan will come true. “I urge people to show some patience. Pakistan will emerge as a powerful country of the world.” Separately, addressing the ground breaking ceremony of the Namal Knowledge City Phase-1 in Isa Khel, he said investment in human capital and promotion of the knowledge economy are key to development. He assured the marginalized population residing in remote areas that the government will protect the rights of the weaker sections and make sure that no one is exploited.

Imran expressed deep gratitude for the commitments made by donors worth millions of dollars. He laid stress on the availability of affordable and quality higher education opportunities for the talented youth of Pakistan. He said good education lays the foundation for a tolerant and progressive society. According to the official statement released after the event, more than 10,000 students from deprived areas would benefit from the Knowledge City after completion of the first phase-1 and the project would be environment friendly and a state-of-the-art green structure. He said he aims at making this institute an internationally renowned centre of excellence.

The premier also inaugurated a new hostel block at the Cadet College Isa Khel. He also laid the foundation stone of a clean water supply project for the area, especially for the Khattak belt. The total cost of the clean water supply project is Rs3.2 billion, of which 80 per cent will be provided by the federal government and 20 per cent by the Punjab government. The project will supply 3.4 million gallons of water per day to 87 villages and 151 settlements with a population of about 2.5 million. The project will be powered by solar energy and upon completion will be able to store water for up to 3 months for dry season use.

Imran said the government was focusing on providing basic health and education facilities to the people of remote areas. He said a new system is being evolved to ensure the presence of doctors in the hospitals of far-flung areas. He said the government is keen to transform the police into such a dynamic force that protects the weak segments of society. He directed the Punjab Inspector General of Police to ensure that the common man is treated fairly at the police stations. Before his address, Imran was given a detailed briefing about the Rs19 billion Mianwali development package that would be utilized for road infrastructures, resumption of 46 water supply projects and reconstruction of tehsil hospitals in Piplan and Kalabagh.

He was also briefed on the progress of children’s hospital, addition of 400 classrooms in existing schools, construction of 77 dilapidated school buildings and projects of Mianwali University. Imran said special attention should be paid to the education facilities for girls and women. Later, Imran took an aerial view of the clean water supply project for Isa Khel Tehsil and adjoining tehsils. He had started Saturday’s campaign by administering polio drops and also planted saplings.

All Set for PDM’s Third Power Show in Quetta

I consider it a sin holding talks with a puppet government, which has no legitimacy: Maryam Nawaz

QUETTA، Oct 25، 2020: The 11-party opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), is all set to hold its third power show at Ayub Stadium, Quetta on Sunday (today) amid heightened security measures over credible reports of a possible terror attack. The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) warned that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in connivance with HIAs have planned to carry out large-scale terrorist activities in Quetta, targeting political and religious leadership.

The Balochistan government had appealed to the PDM leadership to defer their rally in the wake of the security alert. However, the opposition leaders paid no heed to the warning and started gathering in Quetta on Saturday. PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz reached Quetta at around 12:30pm by airplane, while JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also the central president of the PDM, arrived in the city by road in the shape of a caravan through Khuzdar. PPP Balochistan spokesperson Hayat Achakzai told The Express Tribune that Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari might not be able to make it to the public gathering as he is in Gilgit-Baltistan busy electioneering for the upcoming polls on November 15. However, he said, if Bilawal cannot make it to the venue, he will address the rally through video link.

PML-N Balochistan President Gen (retd) Qadir Baloch said that party supreme leader Nawaz Sharif will address the public gathering through video link. A PML-N social media team has reached Quetta to broadcast the speech. All preparations, including security measures and provision of sanitisers and face masks, for the third PDM rally have been completed. The PDM has started decorating the ground for the rally. A control room has been set up at the Deputy Commissioner's Office to monitor the security arrangements in the wake of a possible terror attack. The Balochistan Home Department has placed a ban on pillion riding for 24 hours in Quetta.

More than 4,000 security personnel have been deployed by the Balochistan government, including police, Frontier Corps and Balochistan Constabulary. Other leaders who arrived included JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, PML-N's Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Capt (retd) Safdar, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Nihal Hashmi, PPP Senior Vice Chairman and former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Awami National Party Central Vice President Amir Haider Khan Hoti and General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Balochistan National Party chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal and National Party Central President Dr Abdul Malik Baloch have reached Quetta. Further, the Balochistan government detained Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement leader MNA Mohsin Dawar when he arrived at the Quetta airport due to a three-month ban on him for delivering anti-government speeches, which will end on October 29. Home Minister Ziaullah Langove confirmed the development.

Maryam, while interacting with media persons at a local hotel on Saturday, ruled out any chance of negotiation with the PTI government, saying: “I consider it a sin holding talks with a puppet government, which has no legitimacy.” She said that the incumbent government would fall through democratic ways. Addressing JUI-F workers at a local madrassa, Fazl said, “It is the responsibility of the government to provide security for the Quetta gathering. If they cannot provide security, they should go home.” Fazl called the government “illegitimate”, “fake” and “incompetent”.

Uplift of Industrial Sector to Accelerate Economic Activity, Create Jobs, Wealth: PM

ISLAMABAD, Oct 23، 2020 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday while reiterating the promotion of industrial sector as his government’s priority, said it would not only accelerate the economic activity but would also lead to creation of jobs and wealth. In a meeting with a delegation of renowned exporters, he assured them that the government would mull over all of the proposals they put forward to him during the meeting for their maximum ease and facilitation.

Federal ministers Hammad Azhar, Syed Ali Zaidi, Faisal Vawda, advisors Abdul Razzak Dawood, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Dr Ishrat Hussain, Specials Assistant to the Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bukhari, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, State Bank of Pakistan Governor Raza Baqir, Federal Board of Revenue chairman and senior officers attended the meeting. The delegation comprised representatives of Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce, Pakistan Business Council, automobiles sector, tanners association, hosiery, fisheries, garments, pharmaceutical, steel, textiles and other industries.

The delegation members appreciated the government’s measures and efforts to boost the exports and spoke high of the prime minister and his economic team. They conveyed to the prime minister that the government’s pro-business policies had revived the business community’s confidence to stimulate the business activity. They also mentioned remarkable increase in the exports, export orders and domestic sale of cement, steel and automobiles. The delegation members also put forward multiple proposals to enhance country’s exports and exploit the potential.

President Suggests Surplus Import, Stocking of Eatables to Contain Inflation

ISLAMABAD, Oct 23 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday suggested the government to ensure sufficient import and stocking of eatables to reduce inflation by closing doors to mafias, who always took advantage of demand-supply gap. President Alvi, in an interview with a private television channel (Roze News), said it was essential to control the prices of flour, sugar and other food items for being daily use items for everyone. He said the shortage of any commodity always created room for the mafias, which exploited the situation. However, the government could control the shortage of eatables by enhancing their agriculture produce or through import, he added.

Lauding the government’s achievements against COVID-19 and on economic front, he said unfortunately, both the achievements were not made part of any political discussion contrary to other countries like the United States where even the presidential debate revolved around the pandemic. Referring to his recent meeting with the Board of Governors of National School of Public Policy, the president urged the bureaucracy to be responsive for meeting the public expectations. About the ongoing month-long awareness drive in October on the breast cancer, he said the early detection of the disease would avert deaths.

Similarly, he said, the country could have witnessed huge casualties if it had not achieved success against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he said the credit for remarkable success went to the coordination and better data sharing among the national institutions, financial support by the government to avoid hunger-related deaths and discipline showed by the people. He advised the people to continue pursuing the anti-COVID precautions to avert the overcrowding at hospitals and deaths. He said after the month-long awareness on breast cancer, First Lady Samina Alvi would focus her efforts for the rights of disabled people, particularly the job opportunities for them.

He said population control was another area of his interest which could be managed through two-year breastfeeding, which would not only delay the pregnancy but also protect the child from stunted growth. The president said the prime minister boldly faced the pressure of blanket lockdown in the country because he feared that any such step would cause hunger-related deaths even more than the COVID itself. Rather, he said the government announced incentive-laden relief package for the construction industry to keep up the economic activity. The construction package would help engage both the skilled and non-skilled labour to provide them livelihood.

He said under the new initiative, the government had passed new laws to engage the private commercial banks to provide housing loan to the low-income group for fulfilling their dream of having own shelter. He said the recent auction of commercial plots in Islamabad was also due to the investors’ confidence in the country’s future economic outlook. He said consequent to the government’s prudent economic policies, the country’s current account deficit had been reduced from $18 billion to $2 billion.

To a question, the president appreciated the contribution of Pakistan Army in the national development particularly its tremendous achievement of purging the country of terrorism, which no other country could do. He also recalled the army’s support to revive peace in Karachi, besides its contribution during the floods. He said during his recent visit, leader of Hizb-e-Islami of Afghanistan Gulbadin Hekmatyar lauded the hosting of millions of Afghan refugees by Pakistan as historic gesture contrary to the Western countries which were unwilling even to host a few hundred refugees.

Asked about the recent controversy in Karachi following the arrest of PML-N leader Safdar Awan, the president said the matters involved politics and should have been handled in a better way. However, he said, the parties concerned must await the findings of the inquiry ordered by the army chief. The president said Pakistan was emerging as a great nation that would revive the moral standards in a world where the money was the driving force.

PM Stresses Maximum Facilitation for Poor in Getting Bank Loans, Taking Care of Their Self-Respect

ISLAMABAD, Oct 23 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday stressed for providing all kinds of facilitation to the poor people in getting bank loans and particularly taking care of their self-respect. He expressed these views while presiding over the weekly meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Housing, Construction and Development here. The State Bank of Pakistan governor briefed the meeting about the provision of loans to the poor and middle class segments of the society on easy installments. Heads of the National Bank of Pakistan, Allied Bank Limited, Meezan Bank, Bank Al-Habib, Habib Bank and Bank of Punjab apprised the prime minister of the provision of loans under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme.

The meeting was told that with the setting up of special desks at their respective branches, the process of getting loans had been made very easy. The private banks would provide loans both under the Islamic and conventional banking. The heads of banks assured their full support and cooperation to the government in the promotion of construction sector and facilitating the poor segments of the society for the construction of their own houses. They lauded the prime minister and the government’s economic team for taking measures for the business community, including the banks keeping in view the situation of COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting was told that technology was being used to make the process of providing loans in short time as it would help verify the applicants’ documents early and speedily. The prime minister was told that more private banks would also start providing loans. The Punjab chief secretary told the meeting that an online portal had been established for the constructors and builders. The portal had so far received 6,994 applications and 54 percent of those had been approved.

The meeting was told that in order to avoid delay in the approval process, the institutions concerned had also been linked with the online portal. With the provision of a time-line for the approval of applications, the applicant also remained updated about his/her case through the mobile application. The prime minister urged all the provinces to fully utilize the online portal so that the process of approvals could be made early and transparent.

PM Expresses ‘Deep Grief’ Over Tragic Deaths in Jalalabad Stampede

ISLAMABAD, October 22, 2020 (APP) Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed deep grief over tragic deaths and casualties in a stampede in Jalalabad of Afghans wanting to get Pakistani visas. In a tweet tonight, he said condoled the victim's families and prayed for early recovery of the injured. At least 15, including women, got dead in stampede that occurred after thousands of Afghan nationals gathered to secure visa near Pakistani consulate in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad city on Wednesday.

According to the media details, the stampede occurred in a stadium in the city where an estimated 3,000 Afghans had congregated on the open ground outside the consulate, waiting to collect tokens needed to apply for a visa. Tens of thousands of Afghans every year travel to neighboring Pakistan to secure medical treatment, education and jobs.Last week, Pakistani consulate had resumed issuing visas after a seven-month closure due to COVID-19 pandemic.

President Urges Opposition Parties to Desist from Attacking State Institutions

ISLAMABAD, Oct 21 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday urged the Pakistan Democratic Movement – the alliance of opposition parties – to desist from criticizing or attacking the state institutions, as it would benefit the country’s enemies. “Criticizing the government or its policies is the democratic right of the opposition parties, but I urge them to exercise care while talking about the state institutions,” he said in an interview with a private television channel (Roze TV). The president said the Indian media was giving extra coverage to the ongoing political activities in Pakistan.

It was the right of the opposition to express reservations about the government, if any, but the political issues should be taken up at political levels, he remarked. President Alvi recalled the protest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after the 2013 general election and said the party before going for public protest, had taken up the matter of its demand for opening of four constituencies in the Parliament and courts, and also presented the evidence of rigging. The opposition parties should also present the evidence of rigging in the election, he said, adding Prime Minister Imran Khan had offered them to open any constituency/constituencies for probing their claims.

The president said the state institutions had not any role in the elections, as they were called by the government to assist the civil administration in maintenance of law and order, and security as the polling exercise involved the mobility of millions of voters on a single day.  He said as far as the 2018 general election was concerned, various independent surveys and opinion polls, including the Gallup Polls, had predicted the victory of PTI. Recognizing the importance of free, fair and transparent elections in a democratic system, the president, however, recalled that when he was a member of the Elections Reforms Committee, he had proposed improvement in the voting system through various modern means, including the introduction of electronic voting.

He further said it was after the Panama Papers case verdict by the Supreme Court that the then government and now the opposition started attacking the institutions, first the courts and then the army. To a question about the private discussions on introducing the presidential form of government in Pakistan, President Alvi said when it came to the issues of governance or tackling corruption, “it is not the system which matters but the leadership”. About the fears of second wave of coronavirus in the country, the president said the number of new corona cases in Pakistan was touching over 700 per day with some deaths and advised the people to continue to adopting the COVID-10 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to protect themselves.

With the second spike of COVID-19 in various countries, including the Europe, and deaths being reported, there was a need to adopt extra protective measures in Pakistan as well, he stressed. The president recalled how Pakistan remained successful in the fight against COVID-19 during the previous months, a fact also recognized by various international institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO). The people should continue to take protective measures, including the use of face masks, hand-washing and social distancing, he added.

He also urged the participants of the opposition’s political rallies to use face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus. President Alvi said the nations, which developed the institutions, always succeeded, and the institutions in Pakistan were on the course of development. It was the coordination among the institutions and provinces that brought about success to Pakistan in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

He said contrary to India, Pakistan successfully averted the severity of economic distress consequent to the prudent decisions taken by the government and timely support to the construction industry to save the people from unemployment. He said due to the very reasons, Pakistan’s stock market was on a surge, which showed the investors’ confidence in the government’s policies. The president emphasized that the continuity of policies was inevitable for national development, which must go on regardless of any change in the government.

Referring to the remarks of former US treasury secretary and renowned economist Lawrence ‘Larry’ Summers that the United States could have saved around $10 trillion if it had handled COVID-19 like Pakistan, the president said the success was achieved due to coordination and better data sharing among the national institutions and implementation by the federating units with a bit change. He, however, said, the incidents like the political sloganeering at the Quaid’s Mausoleum by PML-N’s Safdar Awan in fact diverted the government’s attention from real issues.

To a question about his special focus on health and IT subjects, he said he had not a ministerial role, and he rather discussed and coordinated the mattes with relevant ministries. Like being head of the Task Force on Information Technology (IT), the president said, he chaired meetings on IT issues as he had done on the day (today) to discuss the idea of electronic voting for overseas Pakistanis.He viewed that the excellence in health and education sectors could steer the country out of poverty.

Imran Khan Vows to Put Nawaz Back in Jail with Ordinary Prisoners

ISLAMABAD, Oct 18, 2020 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Saturday while strongly reacting to the offensive language used by Nawaz Sharif against the military leadership, said he would ensure that Nawaz was brought back from his London hideout and placed with common prisoners, and not the VVIP jail, he was in. “Now I will do my best to bring you back and put you in common prison, not a VVIP one. Those who loot few hundreds of thousand rupees stay in common prison but those who laundered billions and their children live in apartments, worth billions, stay in a VVIP jail. Come back and see where I will put you,” the prime minister said in his address to the Tiger Force Convention here.

Nawaz Sharif who was convicted by an accountability court in Dec 2018 and sentenced seven year jail-term in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference and also fined Rs1.5 billion and US $25 million. A disqualification of 10 years from holding any public office was part of the sentences. However, he was provided a fully furnished room with a television, air conditioner and Describing Friday’s public gathering of 11-member opposition coalition – Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in Gujranwala a “circus” the prime minister also requested the courts and National Accountability Bureau to conclude corruption cases against Sharif Family and Asif Zardari without any delay as the people were yearning to get back their looted money.

He assured both the institutions of fullest logistics support to dispose of the said cases and also announced that he would be activating all the institutions under him to arrest the looters. “I know whose game he is playing … He is trying to create rift between government and the army”. He said Nawaz Sharif’s verbal attack against Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Lt General Faiz Hameed were in fact an attempt to get cheap popularity in the Indian and Israeli lobbies.

“I understand whose game he is playing. I have full intelligence (reports). For me it makes no difference who is the army chief now just because I have not laundered money … He is trying to create rift between government and the army,” the prime minister said in an aggressive tone. Deputy Speaker National Assembly Qasim Suri, Special Assistant to PM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar, SAPM on Overseas Pakistan Zulfiqar Bukhari, SAPM Shahbaz Gill, senior party leadership attended the mega event attended by thousands of the volunteers from across the country.

 “So far, the opposition has seen just one Imran Khan. This is Naya Imran Khan after yesterday’s speech by a ‘jackal’. Now they will see a different Imran Khan,” he said while announcing that no more production orders would be issued for the detained opposition leaders on corruption charges to attend the parliament session until they satisfied the courts. Terming Nawaz Sharif’s words “an attack on Pakistan Army, not General Bajwa” the prime minister said the military had fully supported the government during COVID-19 pandemic, after Karachi rains, in defence and foreign policies and by slashing its annual budget considering country’s tough financial conditions.

He told the volunteers that Nawaz Sharif first become a minister through the patronage of General (Retd) Jilani and chief minister by “polishing the boots of General Ziaul Haq”. He said the PML-N leader also received millions of rupees from Mehran Bank to contest elections against the PPP. But he said unfortunately, the country’s courts always supported him. Even it was Nawaz Sharif who jailed Asif Ali Zardari twice and it was Zardari who filed Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against him, not Gen Bajwa. He said after his speech, Nawaz Sharif got huge applause in Indian media as it was Narendra Modi using similar language against Pakistan and Pakistan Army.

“These are the people who can even put the country up for sale just to protect their corruption money. Money is their god”

“These are the people who can even put the country up for sale just to protect their corruption money. Money is their god,” the prime minister said as the volunteers chanted Imran – Imran and anti-opposition slogans with a predominant chant of “diesel” a term usually referred to JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He said India also knew well that the same Nawaz Sharif started his political career under former military generals’ patronage, got attacked Supreme Court, bought judges to get favoring verdicts, and influenced others to victimize the then opposition.

The prime minister who earlier also launched a web portal for registration of Tiger Force volunteers and help them report hoarding and overpricing complaints through their mobile phone, said Nawaz Sharif maligned judiciary after the Panama case verdict against him. “Was Panama case filed by General Bajwa? Who was at fault then? He (Nawaz Sharif) is lying shamelessly, even his brother, sons and daughter,” the prime minister said.

He said Nawaz was maligning the army at time when over 20 army personnel have been martyred in past few days. A visibly charged Khan repeatedly calling the former premier a “jackal” for having escaped to avoid corruption cases. He is maligning the army, when over 20 of their personnel have been martyred in past few days. He told the audience that some 11 years ago, he had forecast that the corrupt opposition partied would get united whenever they would fall in grip for their corruption.

However, he avoided to comment on the speeches by Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto calling them “kids”, though he said both were brought up on the corruption money of their respective fathers. Just to focus more on Nawaz Sharif’s anti-military remarks, the prime minister also opted to utter nothing more against Fazlur Rehman except calling him 12th man in the 11-member team. Showing on screen the gloomy face of Nawaz Sharif while being in Pakistan and aggressive during Friday’s virtual address from London, he reiterated that Nawaz was allowed to go abroad after he portrayed himself as a critical patient.

The prime minister also quoted three books written by foreign authors mentioning tales of corruption by both Sharif and Zardari families. “What they have done to their country is what Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq had done to their people,” he remarked. “What they have done to their country is what Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq had done to their people”. Recalling the controversy of opening of four-rigged constituencies after 2013 polls, the prime minister said after 2018 elections, he had assured the opposition to open any constituency where they suspected rigging.

He said the government had collected evidences of Rs 2.5 billion of public money spent by PML-N during the election contested by now late Kulsoom Nawaz and electioneered by Maryam Nawaz. The prime minister thanked the Tiger Force volunteers for their contributions during COVID-19, in health and environment sectors. Khan repeatedly directed the volunteers not to interfere in city administration’s working. He apprised them that their role was limited to just reporting the hoarding and overpricing through the exclusive web portal that would prompt action by the district administration.

Recalling tremendous public support, he got for building cancer hospital, he said the public support could do wonders and that the great nations like Pakistanis, always stood to support the country in any difficult situation. He said the Tiger Force’s cooperation would help curb inflation and hoarding besides assisting the government in its 10 Billion Trees Tsunami to mitigate effects of climate change. He told the audience that the country got reduced wheat crop consequent to damaging untimely rains during last two years; however the government had already made imported the commodity to make up the deficiency.

Calling hoarding a “scourge” the prime minister said the government had devised a plan to curb the monopoly of sugar mill owners who so far used to announce sugar prices on their own. In his address, SAPM Usman Dar lauded the prime minister’s vision to launch Tiger Force initiative which had remarkably assisted the government in ration scheme, Ehsaas registration, in hospitals as well as for tree plantation. He asked the district administration to respect the volunteers as they offered their services for national development without any financial benefit.

He also condemned the opposition for criticizing the Tiger Force and said rather it was an ideological force for public and national service. The SAPM said the government allocated Rs 100 billion for Kamyab Jawan Program to provide Rs 100,000 to 25 million for business. The youths were being given loans only on personal guarantee for start-ups, he added. He said the government spent Rs 10 billion to train the youth skillfully in computing, artificial intelligence and software development. The SAPM said the Tiger Force portal would bring digital governance and make youth part of the government’s decision making. The documentary films on Tiger Force’s services, theme song and on the career and struggle of Imran Khan were also played.

PM Opens Pakistan’s First Local Cardiac Stent Manufacturing Facility At NUST

ISLAMABAD, Oct 16 (APP): As a ground-breaking initiative in Pakistan’s medical device industry, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday inaugurated the first facility in the country that will locally manufacture cardiac stents. The facility – ‘N-ovative Health Technologies‘ at National University of Science and Technology (NUST) has started mass production of cardiac stents and angioplasty balloon catheters for general public at affordable prices.

The Prime Minister said with a large number of heart patients in the country, the step was significant in provision of medical treatment with an exponential price difference besides facilitating the financially weaker sections of society. He expressed satisfaction over NUST setting a precedent of an academia-industry linkup, which he said, was extremely important in exploring the benefits of knowledge and innovation in true spirit.

He said excelling in field of science and technology could be no difficult for a country which developed its nuclear capabilities, however the “fracture mindset” was the main reason behind such lagging. “We, as nation, need to set ahead clear goals with all institutions and government departments working in unison for their achievement,” he said.

PM Vows to Expose Indian Human Rights Violations in IIOJK at UNHRC 

ISLAMABAD, Oct 14 (APP): On Pakistan’s re-election to UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for three years, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said Pakistan would continue to expose human rights violations, committed by India in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). “Pakistan will continue to expose human rights violations committed with impunity by the Indian occupation forces in IIOJK,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

Imran Khan said, “We remain committed to upholding human rights for all, prioritizing advancement of tolerance & constructive engagement.” I am pleased with Pakistan’s re-election to UN Human Rights Council for another 3-yr term. We remain committed to upholding human rights for all, prioritizing advancement of tolerance & constructive engagement. We stand resolute against Islamophobia & in support of mutual respect

I commend the role of the Foreign Office and Pakistan’s Missions abroad in yet another diplomatic achievement, enhancing Pakistan’s profile and recognition on the international stage. He expressed the commitment to stand resolute against Islamophobia and in support of mutual respect. “Pakistan will continue efforts towards consensus building and ensuring HRC’s work is guided by principles of universality, impartiality, dialogue & cooperation,” he said.

He commended the role of the Foreign Office and Pakistan’s missions abroad in yet another diplomatic achievement, enhancing Pakistan’s profile and recognition on the international stage.

President Rejects PIMS Representation Against Wafaqi Mohtasib’s Decision

ISLAMABAD, Oct 14 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday rejected an instant representation of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) against an order of Wafaqi Mohtasib regarding violation of transparency and merit in appointment of a Draftsman (BS-14). The President ordered two reports, pertaining to an internal inquiry into the case of appointment and also on the structure of interview process at PIMS, required to be submitted to Wafaqi Mohtasib within 45 days.

The candidate Asim Hanif, who had applied for the post of Draftsman against the vacancies advertised by PIMS, topped the list while obtaining 63 marks in written examination, but was not selected finally after the Interview Committee awarded him six (06) marks out of 30. Feeling aggrieved, the candidate had approached the learned Wafaqi Mohtasib and the hearing of the case was held on September 30,2020 with Dr. Minhaj us Siraj, Joint Executive Director along with Jameel Shirazi, Deputyy Director appearing on behalf of PIMS, while Asim Hanif appeared in-person.

The perusal of record revealed that the educational qualification of candidate Asim Hanif was B-Tech (Hons) along with Diploma of Associate Engineer. On the other hand, the selected candidate, who was a matriculate with a Diploma of Associate Engineer, got 48 marks in written examination while 25 out of 30 marks were awarded to her by the Interview Committee.

The Wafaqi Mohtasib, in its earlier order, had held that “During hearing it was revealed that the complainant has been put on disadvantage position by pulling him down in the merit given him only 6 marks in Interview, although he had topped in the initial screening test. The selected candidate scored 15% less marks from the complainant, but, was pulled up, given her maximum marks in the interview.”

The order of the Wafaqi Mohtasib was issued in light of an Office Memorandum of Establishment Division that emphasized upon ensuring transparency and merit while making appointments. The order added: “Both candidates possessed same qualification/experience/diplomas. In guidelines provided by the Establishment Division in its Office Memorandum No.F.53/1/2008-SP dated 16th January, 2015.

The interview marks, however, are divided objectively and not subjectively, based on relevant, knowledge, experience and other communication skills.
In this case, the guidelines have been violated, and maladministration has been observed in bringing a candidate from bottom to top and pulling the top most candidate (complainant) at merit position No.2, awarding him only 6 out of 30 marks.”

The Wafaqi Mohtasib in view of the maladministration established against PIMS accepted the complaint of Asim Hanif and declared the interview process done as “null and void”. Also, it directed constitution of Interview Committee afresh with different composition. It emphasized that interview process is not meant to exclude the meritorious candidates and select the candidates of lesser merit amounting to abuse of the process.

“Such an assessment of a candidate by the Interview Committee is totally unfair and biased constituting maladministration as a candidate scoring the highest marks in the written examination cannot be so incompetent to get even the passing marks in the interview. Article 2(2) of the Establishment of the Office of the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Order I983 defines maladministration to include a decision which is unreasonable, unjust, biased or discriminatory. The learned Wafaqi Mohtasib has found it a matter of maladministration and quashed the interview process and directed that the Interview Committee be constituted afresh for interviews,” it said.

PM Imran Khan Taking for All Measures to Check Prices of Essential Items; Strict Action Against Hoarders, Profiteers

ISLAMABAD, Oct 13 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday called for taking all possible administrative measures to check the prices of basic essential goods and commodities, and ensure strict action against the hoarders and profiteers. He was presiding over a high-level meeting here regarding the prices and availability of basic essential commodities, particularly wheat and sugar.

Federal ministers Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Senator Shibli Faraz, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Syed Fakhar Imam and Ali Ameen Gandapur, advisors Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Abdul Razzak Dawood and Dr Ishrat Hussain, special assistants Dr Shehbaz Gill, Muhammad Usman Dar and Dr Waqar Masood, State Bank Governor Dr Reza Baqir and senior government officials attended the meeting.

Punjab Food Minister Abdul Aleem Khan and Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal, and provincial chief secretaries joined the meeting through video link. The prime minister, on the occasion, also approved the proposed administrative measures to check the prices of essential items. During the first part of meeting, besides the details of availability of wheat in the country as well as the prices of wheat and flour in different provinces, the schedule of wheat import by the public and private sectors to meet the future requirements was also presented.

The detailed schedule of tenders at public level and government-to-government import of the wheat was also presented during the meeting. The meeting was presented a report based on the information of Tiger Force and independent sources about the prices of wheat and wheat flour in different parts of the country. It was briefed in detail about the administrative measures being taken to check hoarding and ensuring to keep the prices of wheat at appropriate levels.

The meeting was briefed about the new administrative measures, including the introduction of comprehensive system regarding the credible estimates of demand and supply of basic essential items, steps to check the difference of prices at the levels of wholesale dealers and retailers, elimination of market exploitation, hoarding, smuggling and speculation along with further strengthening and making the monitoring system more effective.

It was apprised of the situation of release of wheat by the Punjab government on daily basis. It was told that the Sindh government would start releasing of wheat from October 16. The meeting decided that the Punjab government would further enhance its daily basis release of wheat so as to ensure its ample supply. During the second part of the meeting, the participants were briefed about the availability of sugar, its import and prices. The meeting was told that as compared to the current prices, the imported sugar would be available to the masses at lower rates.

The meeting was told that in Punjab, the sugarcane crushing season would start from November 10. The available stocks, import of sugar and the early start of crushing season would not only help augment the availability of sugar in the market but would also reduce the prices.

President Alvi for Enhanced Pak-Nigerian Trade, Defence Cooperation

(October 10, 2020)

ISLAMABAD (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Friday stressed the need for increased cooperation between Pakistan and Nigeria in the areas of trade, economy and defence besides promoting high level contacts. In a meeting with outgoing Nigerian High Commissioner, Major Gen (R) Ashimiyu A Olaniyi, who made a farewell call on him, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, the president said Pakistan attached great importance to its ties with Nigeria, a President House press release said.

He said Pakistan desired to further strengthen and diversify the existing bilateral relations to the mutual benefit of the two countries. The president said both the countries needed to promote high level contacts and visits which would further cement bilateral relations.

Highlighting the atrocities by India security forces against the Muslims of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), he urged the international community to play its role for peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute and protection of the Muslim minority in India.

The meeting expressed satisfaction over the current level of cooperation and emphasized the need to further strengthen defence, trade and political relations. The president appreciated the efforts made by the outgoing high commissioner for enhancing bilateral relations between Pakistan and Nigeria.

AJK Government Inks Integrated Uplift Plan for Construction of Commercial Complexes

(October 10, 2020)

MIRPUR (AJK) (APP):Azad Jammu & Kashmir Prime Minister, Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan Friday said that his government had launched a phased comprehensive development plan for construction of commercial complexes and renovation of the mausoleums of the saints and religious divines throughout Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Addressing the budget session of the Aquaf Department in the State’s capital town, he directed the officials of the Aquaf Department to extend modern facilities to the devotees and pilgrims visiting the mausoleums from various parts of the country.

The prime minister urged the concerned officials to start immediately the construction work of Sain Saheli Sarkar complex and expedite the remaining work of Kharri Sharif complex within the specified time. He appreciated the steps taken by the Aquaf Departments for extending maximum facilities to the devotees coming from all over Azad Jammu and Kashmir and fulfilled their obligations for which the departments was established.

He assured that the government would cooperate with the Aquaf department to meet the expenditure of pension of the employees and other related issues and added that the department should manage its expenditure within the specified income and control the deficit. The meeting also approved the construction of Auaf Complex ,Sheli Sarkar and Kharri Sharif complex.

Minister for Aquaf Raja Abdul Qayyum Khan said on his occasion that the Aquaf department had imposed strict financial discipline meeting the expenditures of the department from its own resources. He said besides hosting the devotees the department was also taking measures to project the Islamic values and teachings of Saints and Religious divines effectively.

Jobless Politicians’ Get United on One-Point Agenda of Defending Corruption: PM Imran

(October 9, 2020)

ISLAMABAD (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the one-point agenda of all “jobless politicians” giving a call for public gatherings against the government was to cover up their corruption by not conforming to the rule of law. “Sitting in London and asking the people to take to streets is meant to show that the rulers, who had looted the country for 30 years, are above law,” he said while addressing a seminar of All Pakistan Insaf Lawyers Forum (ILF) here at the Convention Centre.

The prime minister, while terming the rule of law the basis of a civilized society, said the ruling elite class had caused irreparable losses to the national economy through plunder and corruption during their tenures. Those leaders, he said, were now maligning the government, the army and the judiciary, in order to get relief in the form of an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance).

“Do as many Jalsas (public gatherings) as you want, but remember that in case of violating law, you will be put in an ordinary and not a VIP jail,” he warned the politicians, who had gathered at a platform to save their corruption. The prime minister said the “coalition of dacoits” was opposing the government as it was heading towards making the country financially strong and stable.

He said the opposition parties made every tactic to get the country blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as they pressured the government to carry out 34 amendments in the National Accountability Bureau law. The prime minister said the cabinet had given a nod for allowing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief to get medical treatment abroad in view of number of diseases as claimed. However by denying to return to the country, Nawaz Sharif was proving that he belonged to a “special class that could not be questioned”.

He said likening Nawaz Sharif with Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini by a PML-N spokesman was quite ridiculous. “Khomeini was loved by his people. He led a simple life and owned a small house when passed away. How can he (Khomeini) be compared with a person who has made property worth billions, from one factory to 30, and had the Panama property in her daughter’s name,” he added. Imran Khan said Nawaz Sharif did not present a single document to prove his money trail (for purchasing the property), while he, being a former cricket, showed all purchase contracts of his London flat bought some 40 years ago.

“In fact, they feel no shame in looting the money from public exchequer belonging to the poor people of this country,” he said, stressing that Pakistan could prosper in the absence of rule of law, where rulers considered themselves above law and indulged in corruption. He referred to an international report saying that around $1,000 billion were annually drained from the poor to rich countries through corruption and exploitation by the elite.

Imran Khan said Nawaz Sharif was in fact promoting the agenda of India by maligning the Pakistan Army, ignoring the situation of countries like Libya, Somalia and Yemen faced in the absence of a strong military. “I don’t have any problem with the army because it supports our manifesto and has effectively assisted the government during the situation like COVID-19 and Karachi rains,” he said.

Referring to Nawaz Sharif’s statement that the then Inter-Services Intelligence chief had demanded resignation from him, he said, “If this is so, why he remained silent. This is because that he knew of his involvement in corruption.” The prime minister mentioned that Pakistan was at the tipping point after two difficult years of dealing with economy nearing the verge of collapse. He said the country witnessed success in areas particularly overcoming the challenge of COVID-19 and unprecedented rise of sale of cement in last month showing growing economic activity.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the rule of law was the basic principle of State of Madina, and the lawyers should follow such values during their professional duties and become future leaders by pursuing politics. He announced that health cards would be introduced for medical treatment of lawyers and they would also be accommodated in the Naya Pakistan Housing Project, aimed at providing low cost houses. ILF Chairman Barrister Syed Ali Zafar said the lawyers had always stood by democracy and justice following the principles as championed by Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, also a renowned lawyer of his time.

He said the government of Imran Khan was aware of the importance of people in a democracy and thus was following a people-centric approach in governance. He said winning a war against terror by the Pakistani people was a ‘striking example of a resilient and brave nation that never compromised on its integrity and sovereignty. Stressing the importance of social justice and equity for all, Barrister Zafar mentioned the government’s priorities in health and education with the recent strategy to tackle COVID-19 and the upcoming programme of universities to promote scientific education.

He called upon the lawyers’ fraternity to be responsible in “putting their own house in order to reform the judiciary” and adopt the principles of professionalism. Advocate General Ahmed Awais spoke about the rule of law as the hallmark of State of Madina that needed to be replicated for a revolution in the society.

LHC Acquits Convict in Blasphemy Case

(October 6, 2020)

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench, headed by Justice Syed Shehbaz Ali Rizvi, has acquitted a man who had been handed down death sentence on blasphemy charges in March 2014. The convict, Sawan Masih, had filed an appeal against the death sentence given by the trial court. The appellant raised several objections on the police investigation and prosecution.

Masih told the court that police had registered the case 35 hours after the alleged occurrence, alleging that it showed mala fide intent in the case. There were contradictions in the story of the FIR and the one narrated by the complainant before the trial court, he contended. The appellant further said that the blasphemy charges were fabricated by elements who wanted to occupy the land of Joseph Colony. He asked the court to set aside his conviction and order his acquittal.

The division bench, after hearing arguments from both sides, acquitted the convict and declared that the prosecution had failed to establish involvement of the convict in blasphemy.

NAB Harming Country’s Governance System: IHC

(October 6, 2020)

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has noted that the country’s prime graft buster the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is playing a dangerous game to ruin the governance system in the country. “[In this case] NAB has nominated people it should never have declared accused. [Due to NAB action] respected people face humiliation in society. “NAB is playing with the governance system in a destructive manner. NAB should know every action that it takes affects governance in the country,” said IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday.

CJ Minallah was heading a division bench hearing NAB’s appeals against acquittal of two accused including Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affair Dr Babar Awan in Nandipur case. The bench was also hearing the appeal of another former law secretary Masood Chishti against an accountability court’s decision to dismiss his application for acquittal in the same case. Islamabad Accountability Court-II former judge Arshad Malik on June 25, 2019 acquitted Dr Awan and former secretary law Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani in the Nandipur power plant corruption reference.

Dr Babar Awan, who was the law minister during the last PPP’s government, was accused of delaying his opinion on a summary of the Ministry of Water and Power on the power project, a delay which, NAB had claimed, caused a loss of over Rs27 billion to the national exchequer. The $329 million Nandipur power project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee in December 2007. Subsequently, a contract was signed on January 28, 2008 between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation, China.

Two consortiums, Coface for 68.967m euros and Sinosure for $150.151m, were set up for financing the project. The Water and Power Ministry sought legal opinion from the Ministry of Law in accordance with the schedule of the agreement in July 2009 but the opinion didn’t come through despite reminders. NAB on July 4 moved the IHC against the order, contending that the accountability court acquitted the PM’s aide and the former secretary without giving NAB an opportunity to present evidence and even before conclusion of the trial. It requested the IHC to set aside the trial court’s order.

During hearing of the appeals on Monday, counsel for another former secretary law Masood Chishti – who had replaced Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani – told the bench that NAB accused in the reference that due to his client’s alleged delay in giving legal opinion on the power project the project cost escalated. In his remarks, the CJ asked as to what was the reason for seeking clearance of the contract with Chinese company from the Ministry of Law when the law division had already cleared the agreement.

“This doesn’t appear to be a legal case. Why was the state embarrassed by filing a reference when no crime was committed?” the judge asked. The court also asked the NAB prosecutor to show a document which could prove that the law secretary committed a violation of the law. The judge noted that NAB is mandated to curb corruption but it is interfering in procedural matters.

“If the secretary law had given his opinion, you would have held him accountable for doing that. That is why governance in the country is not working out. The governance system won’t work if you keep interfering. In this atmosphere, no bureaucrat is ready to give his opinion on any matter,” he added. The IHC bench later reserved its judgment on the NAB appeals against acquittal of Dr Babar Awan and Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani. It also reserved judgment on the appeal filed by Masood Chisti.

PM Advises Face Mask Use to Avert 2nd Coronavirus Wave in Winter

(October 5, 2020)

ISLAMABAD (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday advised the countrymen to wear face masks in public to avert the feared second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in winter. On Twitter, the prime minister said compared to some other states, Allah had been kind to Pakistan by sparing it from worst effects of the pandemic.

Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI has urged the nation not to abandon the use of face masks and adherence to SOPs in order to prevent the emergence of a second wave of the COVID-19 virus. “There is a fear, onset of winter could result in 2nd wave. I urge everyone to wear face masks in public to avoid a spike,” the prime minister said.

He also instructed all offices and educational institutions to ensure every one wore face mask. The prime minister’s statement came amidst a slightly surge in coronavirus cases in the country. During last one month, over 16,000 people were infected by the virus. As of Sunday, Pakistan has so far registered 314,616 COVID-19 cases out of which 298,968 had been recovered, 9,135 were still active while 6,513 victims succumbed to the disease.

President to Visit Kuwait on Monday to Offer Condolences

(October 5, 2020)

ISLAMABAD (APP): President Dr. Arif Alvi on Monday will undertake a visit to the State of Kuwait to offer condolences over the sad demise of the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The president will meet new Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and convey the profound sympathies and condolences of the leadership, Government and people of Pakistan, Foreign office spokesperson said in a press release on Sunday.

“Pakistan and Kuwait are bound by a close fraternal relationship. Under the leadership of the late Amir, bilateral cooperation acquired a new level. Late Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was a sincere and trusted friend of Pakistan. He made an invaluable contribution to bringing the two countries and peoples closer. His efforts in the bilateral context and for regional peace and stability will be long remembered,” it added.

Human Rights Declining in Modi’s India, Says US Scholar Citing Abuses in Kashmir (October 4, 2020)

NEW YORK (APP): An Indian-American academician has brushed aside India’s reasons for its recent tough action against Amnesty International, saying “ample evidence” existed that the government was in fact irritated by the international human rights body’s unfavourable reports on the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir, the recent New Delhi riots and the legislation adversely affecting Muslims.

On Sept. 29, Amnesty said it was forced to shut down its operations in India and lay off all staff after the Indian government froze its bank accounts. The watchdog body said that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had targeted it for years in response to its work exposing human rights violations in India. “Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government appear intent on squelching any independent scrutiny of India’s human rights problems,” Sumit Ganguly, a political science professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, wrote in an opinion piece in ‘Foreign Policy’, a prestigious US magazine.

“Images of Amnesty International closing its Indian offices may be shocking, but this is hardly the first time an Indian administration, faced with similar criticisms, reacted with hostility,” Prof. Ganguly wrote under the headline: The Death of Human Rights in India?
“For example,” he said, “at the height of the Kashmir insurgency in 1990, Narasimha Rao, then prime minister, was surely irritated by criticism of the Indian security forces’ harsh counterinsurgency tactics. Still, his actual efforts to limit the work of foreign human rights organizations in India was minimal.

“On the contrary, stung with repeated allegations of rampant human rights violations in Kashmir, his (Rao’s) government created the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to examine the charges. Initially dismissed as a public relations move, over time, the NHRC became more autonomous and powerful. “As he is faced with criticisms of his own, it is hard to imagine Modi setting up such a watchdog. Instead, he’s decided to bully Amnesty International.” Prof. Ganguly wrote, “After New Delhi froze all its bank assets, the organization chose to suspend its activities in India. This was the fifth time it felt compelled to discontinue its operations in the country. The last time, before now, was in 2009, when its applications to be allowed to accept funds from abroad were repeatedly denied and it faced budget shortfalls.

“The global human rights organization has again come under pressure from the current government. In October 2018, one of India’s national anti-corruption organizations, the Enforcement Directorate, accused Amnesty of violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and seized some of its bank accounts… “For now,” Prof. Ganguly wrote, “the Modi government’s intolerance of foreign institutions that question it is growing. “Unless a groundswell of opposition emerges from India’s increasingly beleaguered civil society, there’s little hope that Modi’s human rights record will improve.

“That’s especially true given that the Indian judiciary, long known for its independence, is increasingly submissive to Modi, too. If there is one small sign of hope, it is that the NHRC has issued a formal note to the home ministry asking it to clarify its grounds for freezing the financial assets of Amnesty International. Whether its elicits a meaningful response is doubtful.” “At best,” he added, “if it (NHRC) persists with its inquiries it could put the government on notice that even a quasi-governmental body finds its actions questionable. And so, the Modi government may still continue to use its expansive and largely unfettered executive powers to shoot any messenger who dares bring it unwelcome news.”

Meanwhile, the escalating violence along the Line-of-Control in the disputed Kashmir region was highlighted in a detailed report in Newsweek, a leading American magazine. “India and Pakistan’s deadly border fight has continued to rage on, threatening to destabilize South Asia as U.N. peacekeepers struggle to keep up with mounting casualties along the disputed boundary, while only able to operate on one side,” the widely-circulated weekly said. In a statement that Newsweek said was sent to it, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry charged India with some 2,387 ceasefire violations this year.

Islamabad also charged New Delhi with “the deplorable targeting of innocent civilians” linking them to the humanitarian situation in India-occupied Kashmir, which has been in an effective state of lockdown since last August, when a constitutional change removed its autonomy.” The statement also urged India to allow the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to operate on its side of the Line of Control. New Delhi has refused UNMOGIP’s mandate. But UNMOGIP, Newsweek said, presses on despite a challenging political and security environment.
“The Mission investigates alleged ceasefire violations complaints in a timely fashion within the constraints of a difficult operating terrain,” a U.N. Peacekeeping spokesperson told Newsweek.

”Only Pakistan has continued to lodge alleged ceasefire violation complaints with the Mission over the past years,” the spokesperson said. “India has maintained that UNMOGIP’s mandate has lapsed since the signing of the Simla Agreement in 1972.” India’s cooperation with UNMOGIP was further urged in a letter sent earlier this month by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to the U.N. Security Council, the report pointed out. The letter noted that the U.N. peacekeeping force’s mandate to monitor and enforce ceasefires along the Line of Control “is being severely constrained by the limited number of UN observers and India’s non-cooperation with UNMOGIP.”

“India has flooded the share of Kashmir it controls with troops and paramilitary forces in a bid to assert order against an insurgency it ties to Pakistan, but Pakistani officials and rights group have raised concerns about a worsening humanitarian situation there,” the magazine noted. FM Qureshi’s letter came ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s virtual address last week to the U.N. General Assembly, in which, for a second year in a row, the Pakistani leader spoke at length about India’s abuses in Kashmir and warned of potential war should the U.N. Security Council not step to in to “prevent a disastrous conflict” by implementing its resolutions.

But in his speech, the report pointed out that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not bring up the issue of Kashmir, eliciting a reaction from Pakistan Permanent Representative to the U.N. Munir Akram, saying that that Modi was “silent on international issues and divorced from the reality of an intolerant, divided, brutal and economically failing India, locked in disputes with all its neighbours.”

553 New Coronavirus Cases Reported in Pakistan; Eight Deaths in Past 24 Hrs

(October 3, 2020)

ISLAMABAD (APP): The total active COVID-19 cases in Pakistan on Friday were recorded 8,884 as 553 more people tested positive for the deadly virus during the last 24 hours. Eight corona patients, who were under treatment in hospital died on Friday, according to the latest update issued by the National command and Operation Center (NCOC). No COVID affected person was on ventilator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Balochistan, while 104 ventilators elsewhere in Pakistan, out of 1,912 allocated for COVID-19 patients, were occupied.

Some 35,071 tests were conducted across the country on Friday, including 12,990 in Sindh, 12,765 in Punjab, 3,946 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 3,550 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 974 in Balochistan, 378 in Gilgit Baltistan (GB), and 468 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Around 298,593 people have recovered from the disease so far across Pakistan making it a significant count with over 90 percent recovery ratio of the affected patients.

Since the pandemic outbreak, a total of 313,984 cases were detected so far, including AJK 2,776, Balochistan 15,323, GB 3,816, ICT 16,713, KP 37,908, Punjab 99,665 and Sindh 137,783. About 6,507 deaths were recorded in country since the eruption of the contagion, including 2,517 in Sindh among five of them in hospital on Friday, 2,238 in Punjab one of them died in hospital on Friday, 1,260 in KP, 183 in ICT one of them in hospital on Friday, 146 in Balochistan, 88 in GB and 75 in AJK one of them in hospital on Friday.

A total of 3,615,244 corona tests have been conducted so far, while 735 hospitals are equipped with COVID facilities. Some 717 corona patients were admitted in hospitals across the country.

President for Developing Centralized National Database on All Diseases

(October 2, 2020)

ISLAMABAD (APP): President Dr. Arif Alvi on Friday emphasized the need for developing a centralized national database on all diseases. He said that Pakistan currently lacked a comprehensive centralized database on health issues and he highlighted the need to make integrated data available which would help the government to effectively combat the diseases.

The President made these remarks while chairing a meeting regarding data collection on Breast Cancer in Pakistan, a press release issued by the President’s Media Office here said.Special Assistant to PM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC), Dr. Faisal Sultan, and MD Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, Aon Abbas Buppi also attended the meeting.

The President said that Pakistan had the highest prevalence of breast cancer, as compared to other South Asian countries, and he underscored the need to raise awareness among the people about the disease.

President Arif Alvi Sees No Threat to Democracy; Says Govt to Complete Its Mandated Term

(October 2, 2020)

ISLAMABAD (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday said there was no threat to the government or democracy, and he was confident that the present democratic set-up would complete its mandated term. “I don’t see any threat to the government or democracy in the country. I am confident that the present government will complete its term like the two previous regimes,” he said when asked to comment on the current political situation in the country in an interview with a private television channel (Ary News).

The president, in response to a question about the opposition’s complaints about the government, said the opposition’s complaints were not a matter of concern, however, “talking about the country’s institutions in such a way and criticizing them is unfortunate.” “Because it is my country and these are our institutions. And degrading our institutions is unfair,” he remarked. The president further said there should not be any efforts to malign the state institutions. When asked as what role he could play in engaging the opposition parties, President Alvi said he could not interfere in the political matters of government and opposition, but in the national and federal issues such as health etc.

To a question about legislative business, he said the ordinances issued by the present government were far less in number than the ones issued by the previous Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim league-Nawaz regimes. He maintained that the Constitution provided the government with a space to issue ordinances for essential legislative requirements for six months. The president, however, was confident that the government’s legislative business in the parliament would get boost after the Senate elections in March next.

To another question, he said all the institutions in the country were against corruption. “Even all the political parties on-paper are against corruption,” he added. The president appreciated the judiciary for their efforts against corruption. “I salute the judiciary for their efforts to eliminate corruption,” he remarked. About corruption and accountability, President Alvi said though the accused in some criminal cases were considered innocent until proven guilty, but in financial crimes like “assets beyond means” the situation was different and the accused have to prove their innocence.

He in that respect also referred to the laws of various countries, including the “Unexplained Wealth Order” of the United Kingdom, and similar legislation in the Switzerland that bound the accused to prove his innocence. The president said the Islamic laws also required the accused to prove his innocence in financial matters. Accountability was the part of any government, he added. To a question, he, however, added that there should be an across the board accountability. To a question, the president said he was highly satisfied over the government’s performance, citing the reduced inflation, successful turnaround of COIV-19, besides ensuring economic activity even despite the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the stock exchange index had reflected the businessmen and investors’ confidence in the government’s economic policies. He lauded the discipline and cooperation by the people, media and Ulema during the COVID-19, but also advised the masses not to give up the precautions. Asked about the government’s decisions to bring PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif back, he said he had gone abroad on medical grounds citing the platelets issue. However, he said he did not know whether he remained admitted in any hospital abroad or not, and urged the opposition leader to face the court case and fulfill the commitments made with the courts.

He said the maligning of national institutions by any Pakistani sitting abroad would appease the enemy country like India. He recalled that the British government delayed action against MQM leader Altaf Hussain after the government complained against his anti-Pakistan statements and involvement in killings in Karachi. The president urged the media to highlight the positive image and developments in Pakistan like the success against COVID-19 and economic growth. About the ban by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on airing Nawaz Sharif’s speeches on local television channels, the president said it was a subject to be decided by the government.

Commenting on the ongoing debate regarding Gilgit-Baltistan, he said the issue must not be seen through political prism rather all the political parties must show unity to resolve the matter at the earliest. The president, who also wore pink ribbon as well as the host anchor as part of the month-long awareness drive on breast cancer, called for the media’s role to teach men and women to self-examine their chest by palpating their breasts on monthly basis. He said contrary to 98 percent survival rate in the world, it stood between 40 to 50 percent in Pakistan which could be improved through early diagnosis.

Citing the Islamic teachings as well as medical research, the president said the breast cancer could also be prevented through breast feeding the babies, which could also address the issue of children’s stunted growth. Asked to comment on the proposals for chemical castration or death sentence for the rapists, President Alvi said the chemical castration alone was not a solution. It was not a one-time procedure rather required life-long administration of medicines to the culprits. The issue needed a long term solution, which should be worked out by both the Parliament as well as the Council of Islamic Ideology.

About the Federal Government’s Rs 1,100 billion development package for Karachi, he hoped that it would help resolve the development issues like completion of K-4, Karachi Circular Railway, water supply, garbage collection and sewage projects. He, however, urged both the PPP and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf not to compromise Karachi’s development amidst political differences rather show unity for betterment of its people. 

PM Imran Khan Wishes Trump, Melania Speedy Recovery From COVID-19

(October 2, 2020)

ISLAMABAD (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday wished U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump speedy recovery from COVID-19. The Prime Minister expressed his good wishes in a twitter post as President Trump and Melania Trump were tested positive for the coronavirus. Earlier, President Trump tweeted early Friday that “Tonight, @FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”

Presidential physician Sean Conley in a memo released by the White House said, “The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.” “The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions. Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments,” Conley added.

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