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Posts from — September 2017

Debt trap haunts Pakistan’s future: report in The News, Sept 29, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The debt trap is badly hurting Pakistan and its future but there is no serious discussion on the issue in the government, parliament or among the political parties to devise a unified strategy against this serious emerging threat to country’s security.

Latest figures show that Pakistan’s internal and external debt and liabilities added during the present tenure of the PML-N government are more than what the country had borrowed during the initial 60 years of its independence i.e. from 1947 to 2007. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) statistics show a phenomenal rise in the country’s debt and liabilities during the last 10 years.

During the five years of the last PPP government, the total debt added was almost Rs9,000 billion. The PML-N government during its a little over four-year tenure has added further an almost Rs9,000 billion to the country’s debt.

The SBP figures relating to the total public debts and liabilities by end June 2013 were Rs16,228 billion, which by now (Sept 2017) has risen to Rs25,0621 billion.

Pakistan’s total debt and liabilities were Rs6,691 billion in 2007. Like the present government, these figures saw an unprecedented rise during the last PPP regime as the total debts and liabilities of those five years were more than double the total of such amounts accumulated during the first 60 years of Pakistan’s independence.

Although, the international financial institutions and rating agencies during the present government’s tenure reflected positively about the economic gains of the country, the phenomenal increase in the total debts and liabilities is really alarming.

Many believe that the Pakistani political leadership need to sit together to devise a unified economic policy besides showing zero tolerance against corruption. Similarly to improve revenues and avoid the country’s dependence of foreign aid and loan, politicians and parliamentarians would have to pay their taxes honestly so that the people should also follow them in this respect.

According to media reports, a recent study of the World Bank claimed Pakistan suffers a loss of Rs3.2 trillion annually due to weak administration and non-compliant taxpayers.In 2015, The News broke a major scam of tax evasion involving hundreds of billions of rupees and whitening of black money worth trillions of rupees taking place every year with the government authorities facilitating the extremely undervalued sales and purchases of thousands of residential and commercial properties throughout the country every day.

While Pakistan direly needs to broaden its tax base by making the rich to pay the tax, the federal and provincial authorities concerned were found graciously allowing the sale and purchase of properties, both commercial and residential, on extremely undervalued rates to the benefit of tax evaders.

This is a generally accepted practice of all the provincial registration offices as well as the CDA, DHA and other housing societies. Most of these sales and purchases are based on official rates, also known as DC (Deputy Commissioner) rates, which are far lower than the actual market prices of these properties.

This shady affair deprives the government of actual CVT (Capital Value Tax) and withholding tax, which if calculated on original price, goes into hundreds of billions of rupees every year. Such dealings, which have the blessings of the federal and provincial authorities, give great opportunity to tax evaders and black money holders to whiten their money by investing more but showing much less in real estate.

Following The News stories in 2015, the present government moved to slightly increase the DC rate but the initiative has been compromised following protests from property dealers and due to non-cooperation among political parties.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/233309-Debt-trap-haunts-Pakistans-future

September 29, 2017   No Comments

Ex-president’s key officer was facilitator of model Ayyan: ASF

Report in the News, Sept 29, 2017
KARACHI: An Airport Security Force (ASF) official, while briefing the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, on Thursday said the former president’s key officer was the facilitator of model Ayyan Ali.

The committee rejected the briefing as the ASF official was not ready to reveal the name of the important officer. Officials from the ANF and ASF revealed that the key officer of former president raised hue and cry when model Ayyan Ali was arrested on charges of money laundering in 2015.

Briefing the National Assembly’s Standing Committee, a top official of ASF told the committee that security agencies often face hindrances in their work due to political pressure. He said a video of Ayyan is available which reveals an “important officer” from the previous government as her facilitator. The security agencies were told that the money was being sent to a mosque, he further revealed.

Ayyan was stopped at the Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport on March 14, 2015 before boarding a flight to Dubai. She was arrested on charges of money laundering after Customs officials recovered $506,000 from her luggage.

In November 2015, Ayyan pleaded guilty when she was indicted for attempting to smuggle more than half a million dollars in cash out of the country. Ayyan’s name was also put on the ECL which was finally removed in February this year by the interior ministry, after which she was able to fly out of the country.
https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/233306-Ex-presidents-key-officer-was-facilitator-of-model-Ayyan-ASF

September 29, 2017   No Comments

Interior ministry asks ECP not to register MML

by Zahid Gishkori in The News, Sept 29, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has recommended the federal government not to allow proscribed organizations to take part in active politics after getting negative feedback from Pakistani diplomatic missions abroad over participation of the Milli Muslim League (MML) in NA-120 by-polls in Lahore.

The diplomatic reactions received by many Pakistani missions in Middle East, Europe, the UK, the US and Canada led the MoFA to write to Ministry of Interior (MoI) advising to keep an eye on such organizations either proscribed by Pakistan or the United Nations Security Council through its resolutions.

“Recent political activities of the group [Milli Muslim League] have also been officially objected at diplomatic level—Ministry of Foreign Affairs has highlighted our international obligations and commitment to national action plan and recommended that Ministry of Interior should take up the matter of registration and activities of MML and its association with proscribed organizations with the Election Commission of Pakistan to avoid any negative consequences for Pakistan and therefore recommended that MML application for registration should not be supported for registration,” read the content of letter written by the ministry of interior to the ECP.

Officials familiar with this latest development told this correspondent: “The relevant institutions of the state are of the view that elements/personalities identified with the proscribed organizations may not be given a role in politics because it would be inappropriate and will have severe implications for Pakistan in the domestic as well as external context.”

“The Ministry of Interior has taken up the issue with security agencies. The reply of one agency is awaited; while the other agency has intimated that indulgence of proscribed/under observation organization in the political process with an aim to win legitimacy is a serious issue, thereby neutralizing the gains of the National Action Plan. Given the clamour, philosophy, outreach and modus operandi to operate, it is difficult to believe that the MML will tread its own path, completely at variance with its mother organization. In view of the above, the registration of MML is not supported,” reads the letter exclusively available with The News.

Further in its letter, the ministry asked the ECP not to register the MML as a political party. The party headed by Saifullah Khalid had applied for registration with the electoral body after which the ECP sought comments from the Interior Ministry through a letter written on August 24, 2017. Then again a reminder was also sent by the ECP on September 11 to the ministry of interior which sought help of two intelligence agencies — Inter Services Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau — and Foreign Office of Pakistan.

The MoFA in its response also quoted the letter of ECP written to Foreign Office as stating: “The same is also substantiated vide your letter date 24th August, wherein Mr Saifullah Khalid, President Milli Muslim League has claimed that the leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed — were ideologically affiliated with each other — (i.e. MML). There is evidence to substantiate that Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), the JuD and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) are affiliates and ideologically of the same hue. Lashkar-e-Tayyaba has been proscribed since 2002 whereas FIF and JUD placed under restrictions since January 2017 and later extended up to January 2018 under Anti Terrorism Act 1997. They have also attracted sanction under the United Nations Security Council Resolution No 1267 and dealt accordingly.”

But MML’s top leadership in is still hopeful that the ECP would consider registration of this new party claiming “they submitted all the required documents and party’s workers are truely patriotic.”

Officials dealing with this issue in the ECP told this correspondent that the polls body is going to take up this issue this week and mostly probably will follow recommendations of MoI, MOFA and a secret agency which opposed MML affliation with ECP. www.thenews.com.pk/print/233327-Interior-ministry-asks-ECP-not-to-register-MML

September 29, 2017   No Comments

More space: op-ed by Owen Bennett-Jones in Dawn. Sept 28, 2017

The writer is a British journalist and author of Pakistan: Eye of the Storm.
THE case for mainstreaming is attractive. Groups that have for decades relied on violence, the argument goes, could be persuaded to take a growing interest in the democratic process. By being allowed to participate in polls, violent jihadists might come to see that power does not come only through the barrel of a gun but also by winning public support in a democratic way. Slowly, they could be turned into more centrist Islamists committed to the parliamentary process.

The NA-120 by-election result encouraged those who hold these arguments. The Milli Muslim League won 5,822 votes. It was enough to keep the Jamaatud Dawa interested in the electoral process but not so much to worry those who fear violent jihadists winning power. Some supporters of mainstreaming say that even if violent jihadists win a few seats, in southern Punjab perhaps, there would be nothing to worry about. ‘Let them!’ the argument goes, ‘they still won’t have any real power?’

There was a time when Nawaz Sharif might have been expected to support these arguments. But his third removal from prime ministerial office seems to have edged him towards ever more liberal positions. He recently said in London that the participation of banned groups in NA-120 was a cause of concern for democratic forces. Supporters of mainstreaming contend that this amounts to nothing more than the PML-N trying to ensure that a competitor with the potential to split the party’s conservative vote bank doesn’t even get the chance to stand.

As for other political leaders Imran Khan says he supports mainstreaming “on balance”. But even if privately they oppose mainstreaming, in public politicians are unlikely to go much further than Sharif. History shows that civilian leaders are so afraid of the violent jihadis’ capacity to assassinate them, they tend towards a policy of appeasement.

As the NA-120 campaigning showed, violent jihadists have formidable organisational capacity. Few doubt that when it comes to running disciplined social media campaigns, their highly committed activists will do a more effective job than those in the traditional parties. But the main point of the opponents of mainstreaming is that violent jihadists should be forced to make a choice — support the parliamentary process or continue down the road of violence. Being allowed to hold a gun whilst simultaneously running in an election gives them an unfair advantage.

If the violent jihadists can use both violence and parliamentary tactics they will become stronger. Let’s suppose that at the height of its power 10 years ago, the TTP had been able to stand in elections. It would, no doubt, have intimidated the people in Swat into voting for them. How much more difficult would it then have been for the army to remove the violent jihadists from Swat? Elections confer legitimacy. Why on earth, critics of mainstreaming ask, allow violent jihadists in banned groups to become more legitimate? Just look, they say, at how others around the world have handled similar situations. In Northern Ireland, for example, the key sticking point in the peace process was the British and Irish governments’ insistence that the IRA disarm before it could participate in the political system. It took several years for agreement on that point to be achieved but, eventually, the IRA did decommission its weapons.

There are also pragmatic political considerations. The Israeli system has shown what can happen when religious extremists with a small number of seats hold the balance of power. Vital partners with the capacity to make or break ruling coalitions, they wield disproportionate influence and are able to force through policies which have very little public support.

Many liberals believe that senior military officers support mainstreaming. They fear that by allowing mainstreaming to happen, or even quietly encouraging it, the army is trying to build the case for backing the ‘good Taliban’. After all, it is much easier to argue that it is too difficult to confront the LeT and the SSP if they have an electoral base.

It has long been the case that many Pakistanis — military and civilian — have downplayed the fundamental contest between the violent jihadists and what Gen Musharraf used to call ‘the silent majority’. Even after the gruelling confrontation between the army and TTP made the nature and depth of that clash blindingly obvious, there is an unwillingness to face up to the fact that the violent jihadists are fundamentally opposed to the interests of most Pakistanis and are prepared to use force to impose their ideas on the rest of society. Mainstreaming, its critics argue, is the latest example of that disastrous ambivalence. https://www.dawn.com/news/1360521/more-space

September 29, 2017   No Comments

Revisiting extremism: op-ed by Anjum Altaf in Dawn, Sept 29, 2017

The writer is the former dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Lums.
COULD it be argued that there are good and bad extremists just as there are good and bad Muslims? If so, the proposal to identify extremists in universities might be misplaced.

Extremism has become conflated with violence and terrorism which is a partial interpretation. The dictionary defines extremism as “belief in and support for ideas that are very far from what most people consider correct or reasonable” which widens the scope for a more nuanced understanding.

Put that neutral definition together with the observation of Bertrand Russell that “the tyranny of the majority is a very real danger” and that “it is a mistake to suppose that the majority is necessarily right” and one can argue that almost all human progress has been due to ‘extremists’ who have challenged the moribund ideas of majorities. Think of Galileo.

It is possible, of course, that extremism could lead to poor judgement with negative consequences. Mr Jinnah’s position in Dhaka that Urdu would be the sole national language of Pakistan was arguably extremist and one that contributed to subsequent problems. However, no one would accuse Mr Jinnah of evil intentions. Mitigating errors of judgement calls for inclusive decision-making, not surveillance by intelligence agencies.

The example above should remind us that extremism is often not an individual attribute but is contextually determined — the position regarding Urdu could have been mainstream opinion in one part of the country but a fringe one in the other. Consider another example, the position on Creation where the mainstream view in Pakistan accords with the story of Adam and Eve. If a mainstream Pakistani migrated to Europe he would become there the holder of a relatively extreme position. Would it be warranted for European intelligence agencies to interrogate his ‘extremism’ when nothing else changed in his personality?

Increasing globalisation has exacerbated this problem of contextual extremism. In the West, beards and turbans have become symbols of extremism, while bikinis and bars are considered likewise in other parts of the world. The clash of civilisations reflects in part the harmless divergence among different mainstream opinions.

In the face of these arguments, many discussants concede the point that private views, however extreme, are not problematic per se. In their view the problem emerges when some individuals try to impose their extreme views on others. This suggests that the problem is not extremism of one’s views but intolerance of those of others.

This is a serious concern if true because the entire ethos of the educational system in Pakistan is built around bolstering the conviction that we are right and those who disagree with us are wrong. Every unsanctioned opinion is liable to severe punishment. The state also propagates the extremist sentiment that every citizen should be prepared to die for the nation and destroy its enemy.

An apocryphal story of a teenager apprehended crossing the border in 1965 to annihilate infidels is telling in this regard. Asked to identify the source of his extreme views he ascribed them all to watching PTV. Hannah Arendt had warned that such “commitment can easily carry you to a point where you no longer think”. Only a heavy dose of self-reflection of the type exemplified by Bulleh Shah and Kabir can reverse the trend towards mindlessness.

This lethal problem of intolerance cannot be solved by surveillance of students but by a renewed examination of state commitments and the realisation that many agents of the state are themselves extremely intolerant. It is ironic for a set of agents fostering intolerance to start combing campuses for the victims of their efforts.

A different perspective on extremism holds that it is worrisome only when it engenders violence. This prompts two reflections. First, that those holding extreme views rarely resort to mass violence in their individual capacity. Individuals act in politically motivated ways more when they are part of groups espousing violent aims — no surprise that violent actions are immediately claimed by groups like the militant Islamic State group or the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. Putting an end to such violence requires proscribing the groups and not pursuing individual extremists which is an impossible task with a huge margin for error. When a state leaves such groups alone allowing them to morph under various guises while claiming to ferret out individuals, it loses the claim to credibility.

Second, one must confront another conundrum obscured by the blanket castigation of violent extremism. Recall the phrase that characterised the 1964 US presidential campaign of Senator Goldwater: “Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice.” Clearly, Goldwater did not consider extremism to be an unambiguously negative phenomenon nor was he averse to violence if warranted by the situation. Many others would recall that both Begin and Mandela started as individuals with ‘extremist’ views, joined groups with ‘violent’ aims, and propagated ‘terrorism’. Yet, both went on to lead their countries and were honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize.

One can reconcile with such extremism only if the focus on groups with violent aims includes states that use violence to oppress their own or foreign citizens. It is hard to justify passivity against the depredations of such states — “Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue” was the second half of Goldwater’s pronouncement. The glaring case at present is the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Unless there are global mechanisms to prevent such state-sanctioned atrocities, non-state groups will cite the precedent of Begin and Mandela to resist and the world will be in no moral position to criticise their violent extremism.

The bottom line of this reflection is that intolerance not extremism is the major threat to society; that intolerance is the inevitable outcome of state-sponsored indoctrination in education; that this indoctrination can only be countered by a tradition of self-reflection that includes within its ambit one’s most cherished beliefs; that effectively restoring social harmony requires proscribing groups that espouse violent aims and these can include states themselves. The surveillance of individuals by the state, here or elsewhere, is the wrong prescription.https://www.dawn.com/news/1360648/revisiting-extremism

September 29, 2017   No Comments

Red Mosque’s Abdul Aziz active again

Report in The Nation, Sept 29th, 2017
ISLAMABAD – Despite public humiliation and periods of house arrest, the former leader of Red Mosque is inspiring a new generation of extremists with his old rhetoric – highlighting Islamabad’s ambivalent attempts to bring religious hardliners to heel.

Ten years after the military raid on his mosque made international headlines and shocked his country, Abdul Aziz remains influential, overseeing a network of seminaries as he calls for a “caliphate” to be established in Pakistan.

During his time at the helm of the Red Mosque, Aziz shot to prominence for his inflammatory sermons, advocating jihad against the West and a hardline interpretation of Islam.

He spread this message among his thousands of students, mostly poor children from rural areas who are educated for free at madrassas affiliated with the mosque, sparking accusations of brainwashing from critics. By 2007 things had reached a tipping point.

His armed followers had begun taking his message to the streets of the capital, vandalising CD and DVD stalls and kidnapping Chinese masseuses, with tensions quickly degenerating into murderous clashes.

When the regime of then-president Pervez Musharraf launched an assault on the mosque on July 10, 2007, the army found itself facing heavily armed jihadists.

The controversial operation was followed minute-by-minute on live television, with more than 100 people killed in the week-long effort to pacify the mosque and arrest its leaders.

The attack on the religious site sparked ferocious blowback from extremists across the country, marking the emergence of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP).

In the following years extremist violence increased dramatically, with thousands of Pakistanis killed, maimed, or forced to flee their homes as security deteriorated.

Aziz himself was arrested as he tried to flee the besieged mosque in a burqa, taken straight to a television studio and paraded in the garment – earning the nickname “Mullah Burqa”.

He faced two dozen indictments, including incitement to hatred, murder and kidnapping. But Aziz was released on bail in 2009.

“He was acquitted in all these cases, and the government has chosen not to file appeals,” said lawyer and civil rights activist Jibran Nasir. “There is no willingness for prosecution against him.”

Despite brief stints under house arrest, Aziz now appears to be galvanising the next generation with his fiery preaching – apparently without fear of repercussions.

“The curious thing is that the army has gone after the TTP but not Aziz,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a leading anti-extremist activist. “There’s sympathy for his cause that’s greater than the fear of being attacked again.”

Aziz is known to boast of his relations with well-known jihadists like Osama Bin Laden and has spoken sympathetically about the Islamic State group. He has also condoned high-profile extremist attacks, like the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

“The impunity enjoyed by Abdul Aziz and other radical clerics raises fear of the capital returning to a 2007-like situation,” said political commentator Zahid Hussain.

In 2014, a video of students from his madrassa voicing their support for IS did not earn him any condemnation. “There should be a caliphate in the world including in Pakistan,” said Aziz in a televised interview around that time.

Aziz “is tolerated… because it would be like touching a hornet’s nest”, explains former general Talat Masood.

Given the sensitivity of the population to religious questions, intervening “would risk attracting sympathies”.

Authorities, however, appear to be keeping him on a tight leash for now. Aziz is no longer welcome at the Red Mosque, which theoretically belongs to the state, and he has been placed on the Pakistan’s anti-terrorist list. A rally planned by his supporters to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Red Mosque siege was banned by the courts.

In recent months, the authorities have blocked roads surrounding the mosque to prevent Aziz from holding rallies and have taken measures to stop him from preaching on Friday, even remotely by phone.

The Red Mosque’s new imam Maulana Aamir Sadeeq, an affable 30-year-old, said it was time to “forget the past” and “the extreme positions” of a decade ago. “We must put a distance between terrorism and us,” said Sadeeq – who happens to be Aziz’s nephew.http://nation.com.pk/national/29-Sep-2017/red-mosque-s-abdul-aziz-active-again

September 29, 2017   No Comments

‘AQIS militant’ among five killed in Karachi encounter

by Imtiaz Ali in Dawn, September 29, 2017
KARACHI: Police on Thursday claimed to have killed five alleged militants, who were apparently planning to attack a Muharram procession using a remote-controlled vehicle, in an ‘encounter’ off the Superhighway.

Malir SSP Rao Anwar Ahmed Khan said the deceased had been “accomplices” of Saad Aziz, a co-accused in the Safoora bus carnage case, which had left over 45 members of the Shia Ismaili community, including 18 women, dead. The incident occurred two years ago when the bus the victims were travelling in came under attack near Anara Garden, a residential compound of the Ismaili community.

Thursday’s encounter took place behind Anara Garden off the Superhighway, according to officials.

The Malir SSP said they had acted on information provided by intelligence agencies and raided a suspected hideout near a cattle market within the jurisdiction of the Sachal police. He said when the police surrounded the residential compound, the ‘militants’ opened fire on them.
The five ‘militants’, said to be affiliated with various banned outfits, were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire, the SSP said.

The Malir police claimed to have seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition, including hand grenades and rocket launchers, from the militants’ hideout.

The police officer said that one of the deceased was identified as Mohammed Amir Sharif, “a wanted terrorist affiliated with the Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS)”.

SSP Anwar said: “Amir was a commander of the AQIS and had links with Egyptian militant Hamza Dhanrwai. He hailed from Faisalabad but was residing in Manzoor Colony in Karachi.” The alleged militant was an electrical engineer by profession and an “expert in drone technology”, he said, adding: “He was preparing a technology to control drones and hit targets for the AQIS.”

The SSP said the militants killed were planning terror attacks using drone technology. They had prepared a ‘remote-controlled car’ that could have been used to target Muharram processions in the metropolis, the officer claimed.

SSP Anwar told Dawn that Amir Sharif had also “prepared two missiles…He had also hit a drone, which had gone down in Miramshah.” He said they had also been involved in targeted killings of army officers and policemen as well as bank robberies.

The deceased militants had been aides to Saad Aziz, the SSP claimed.

Saad Aziz and four others were sentenced to death in 2016 by a military court for killing over 45 members of the Shia Ismaili community. Aziz, a graduate of the Institute of Business Administration, has filed an appeal against his conviction in the Sindh High Court, which is still pending.

“Further investigation is under way,” said SSP Anwar.

He said police were gathering information about the identity of other militants killed in the encounter. It would be shared with the media after verification, he said, adding that the militants killed had links with the AQIS, banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

“Militants of these three outfits are increasingly joining the global Islamic State group,” the officer claimed.https://www.dawn.com/news/1360710/aqis-militant-among-five-killed-in-karachi-encounter

September 29, 2017   No Comments

Turkish teachers seek colleague’s recovery: Report in Dawn, September 29th, 2017

QUETTA: Former teachers of Pak-Turk schools have expressed serious concern over the recent kidnapping of their colleague from Lahore, demanding that the Turkish family be recovered immediately.

Speaking at a press conference here on Thursday, educationists Osman and Navida Arslanhan said that the Turkish staff running the Pak-Turk institutions had been living in Pakistan under the UNHCR’s protection as asylum seekers since November 2016.

“We have been staying in Pakistan with asylum seeker certificates issued by the UNHCR,” said Mr Arslanhan, adding that the Turkish government had introduced legal cases against the educationists and they did not have valid Pakistani residence permits or visas to apply for a teaching post in another country.

They said that the abduction of the Turkish educationist along with his family was a very serious matter and the situation had created unrest among the Turkish staff who were not teaching anymore since the Turkish government registered cases against them.

“Throughout the 22 years of service, we have not been involved in any illegal or detrimental activity and we brought shame to neither Pakistan nor Turkey,” Mr Arslanhan said.

They said that with effect from the end of November 2016, Turkish educationists had to sever their ties with Pak-Turk educational institutions and were no longer allowed to work there.

They urged the government to trace their abducted colleague and his family immediately, while asking the authorities to ensure their safety till their asylum seeker certificates were valid. https://www.dawn.com/news/1360711/turkish-teachers-seek-colleagues-recovery

September 29, 2017   No Comments

Five JIT members not on witnesses list in case against Dar

by Malik Asad in Dawn, September 29th, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The prosecution of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has excluded members of the Joint Investigation Team — except JIT head Wajid Zia — from its list of 28 witnesses against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the assets reference.

It appears that the prosecution does not want to bring the representatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, NAB, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and State Bank of Pakistan into the witness box.

NAB had declared the JIT report an integral part of the reference filed against Mr Dar.

The JIT comprised Wajid Zia of the Federal Investigation Agency, Brigadier Kamran Khurshid of the MI, retired Brigadier Noman Saeed of the ISI, Irfan Naeem Mangi of NAB, Amer Aziz of the SBP and Bilal Rasool of the SECP.

Experts say NAB reluctant to bring officials of intelligence agencies to witness box

According to Amjad Pervez, counsel for Mr Dar, in case the prosecution did not bring all the six JIT members to the witness box, it could not use the JIT report even as a fact-finding report against the finance minister.

The legal experts said NAB did not want to bring the JIT members, especially the officials of spy agencies, into the witness box where they would be subject to ‘indiscriminate’ cross-examination by the defence counsel.

Sources privy to the development said that spy agencies were also not interested in inclusion of their senior officials in the list of prosecution witnesses.

The witnesses included Wajid Zia, Additional Director General of the FIA; Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan, Commissioner, Inland Revenue; Saeed Ahmed Khan, Deputy Director of the Election Commission of Pakistan; Wasif Hussain, Deputy Secretary, Cabinet Division; Qamar Zaman, Director, Ministry of Commerce; Sher Dil Khan, Director Budget, National Assembly; Shahid Aziz of the National Investment Trust; Mohammad Naeed, Excise and Taxation Officer; Tariq Javed of Al-Baraka Bank; Abdul Rahman Gondal of Allied Bank; Faisal Shahzad of Habib Metropolitan Bank; Masoodul Ghani of Habib Bank; Azeem Khan of Bank Al-Falah; Mirza Faizur Rehman of the Lahore Development Authority; Niaz Subhani of ETO Office; Ali Akbar Bhinder, Assistant Commissioner; Syed Qaboos Aziz of the National Database and Registration Authority; Inamul Haq of Al-Falah Cooperative Housing Society; Azhar Hussain, District Officer Industries; and Ishtiaq Ali of Bank Al-Falah.

The remaining witnesses — Shakeel Anjum Nagra, Umar Daraz Gondal, Zafar Iqbal Mufti, Adeel Akhtar, Zavar Manzoor, Iqbal Hassan, Obaid Simon and Nadir Abbasi — are from NAB.

In the reference against Mr Dar, NAB claims that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests / resources in his own name and / or in the name of his dependants of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million (approx)”.

The reference alleged that the asset was “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for”.

NAB, however, termed the reference “interim” since it was based on the “material collected by the JIT, FIA and NAB till date” and said that it reserved the right to file a supplementary reference.

According to the reference, it is yet to establish any role of the incumbent chief executive officer of the National Bank of Pakistan “in aiding and abetting the accused (Ishaq Dar) in the acquisition of the stated properties”.

The accountability court indicted Mr Dar on Sept 27.

The court will resume trial proceedings on Oct 4 when it will record the statements of two prosecution witnesses it has already summoned on Sept 27. https://www.dawn.com/news/1360697/five-jit-members-not-on-witnesses-list-in-case-against-dar

September 29, 2017   No Comments

PTI accuses Intelligence Bureau of spying on JIT

report in Dawn, September 29th, 2017
KARACHI: In a startling addition to the ambulance controversy in connection with the Panama Papers case, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Naeemul Haq on Thursday accused the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of spying on the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) during the interrogation of Hussain Nawaz, son of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Earlier in May, the arrival of an ambulance from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) while the investigation was under way fanned rumours on electronic and social media about some JIT member’s health. Some TV channels also ran unconfirmed stories that Mr Hussain Nawaz had got sick.

The ambulance was stopped at the gate but allowed to enter after it was clarified that it had been called by the FJA’s management.

Referring to the incident, Mr Haq told reporters on Thursday that the ambulance was sent with surveillance equipment to spy on the JIT.

“Confirmed: The ambulance sent to JIT during its interrogation of Sharif family was in fact an IB vehicle sent to monitor inside events,” the PTI leader tweeted on his official account [@naeemul_haque].

However, he did not disclose from where he got the information.

He claimed he had learned through reliable sources that the government intended to appoint IB chief Aftab Sultan as next chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

A few days ago, PTI chairman Imran Khan demanded the IB chief resign for visiting Nawaz Sharif in London. He alleged that Mr Sultan had visited London to offer “protocol” to the ousted prime minister and his family.

“IB head must resign immediately. What was he doing visiting a disqualified PM in London over 4 days at taxpayer expense?” he said in his first of the many tweets.
www.dawn.com/news/1360706/pti-accuses-intelligence-bureau-of-spying-on-jit

September 29, 2017   No Comments