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Govt, military ‘on same page’ regarding DG ISI’s appointment: PM


Govt, military on same page regarding DG ISIs appointment: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that the government and the military are “on the same page” on the matter of the appointment of the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), sources told Geo News.

His remarks came during a meeting of the federal cabinet during which the matter of the appointment  came up, the sources said.

According to the sources, the prime minister took the cabinet members into confidence over the issue.

They said that the premier told them that there have been attempts to give the matter the wrong spin on the media.

PM Imran Khan assured the cabinet that all the people concerned “are on the same page” and that the appointment will be finalised “amicably”.

‘Govt, military share ideal relationship’

Later in the day addressing a post-cabinet press briefing in Islamabad, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry confirmed that during the meeting, the issue of the appointment of the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI) was also discussed.

“A long meeting took place between PM Imran Khan and the army chief last night,” Chaudhry said, adding that the government shares “an ideal relationship with the military.”

“The Prime Minister Office will not take any step that will tarnish the reputation of the army and the sipah salar (army chief), and neither will the army or its chief take any step that will damage the civilian setup,” he said.

The information minister said the prime minister and the army chief “share a good working relationship”, and both sides are on the same page regarding the appointment of the DG ISI.

“Any appointments that we make are after consultation, and we always fulfil all legal requirements […] the new DG ISI’s appointment will also be made after fulfiling all legal critera,” he said.

‘Meeting between army chief, PM will put an end to speculations’

Meanwhile, Director News Geo News Rana Jawad said speculation was rife on social media after the prime minister did not issue a notification for the appointment of the DG ISI, which gave the impression that there were differences between the chief of army staff and prime minister’s office.

The senior journalist said the 90-minute meeting, which took between the prime minister and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, would now put an end to such speculations.

Jawad added that Chaudhry clarified that the matter would be resolved in the coming days.

The senior journalist said due to speculations, market indicators were dismal, the stock market was affected, and there was a lot of discussion on the matter in political circles.

He noted that the information minister addressed the speculations and termed them “false”, and that the prime minister would not take any step without consulting the military.

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UAE to stage real life Squid Game


UAE residents are in for a treat as Netflix’s hit show Squid Game has come to life. 

As per an announcement by the Dubai-based Korean Cultural Center, the games, which were featured in the bone-chilling drama series, will be staged in Abu Dhabi.

“To match up to the worldwide popularity of ‘Squid Game’, the Korean series on NETFLIX, Korean Cultural Center in the UAE has organized an event that you can also enjoy the games played in Squid Game,” KCC’s official website stated.

As per the website, 15 players, donning t-shirts featuring the show’s logo, will take part in a single session.

Games that are in the event are ‘red light green light’, ‘Dalgona candy’ challenge and paper flipping games ‘Marbles and Ddakji’.

This is an invite-only event for residents as selection is based on applications, who will receive an e-mail invite.

“Only invitees with a green pass can participate in the event,” the website stated.

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DG ISI’s appointment will be finalised amicably: PM Imran Khan


Prime Minister Imran Khan chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet. — PID/File

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday during which the matter of the appointment of the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also came up, sources told Geo News.

According to the sources, the prime minister took the cabinet members into confidence over the issue.

They said that the premier told them that there have been attempts to give the matter the wrong spin on the media.

PM Imran Khan assured the cabinet that all the people concerned “are on the same page” and that the appointment will be finalised “amicably”.

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Avenfield reference: NAB moves IHC seeking cancellation of bails of Maryam, Safdar


PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz (L) and retired Captain Muhammad Safdar. — Geo News/File
  • Maryam Nawaz considers NAB appearance a “political theater”, says NAB.
  • The PML-N leaders’ conduct puts pressure on witnesses against them, alleges NAB.
  • After each NAB appearance, Maryam “passes inflammatory remarks against high-ranked officials” and NAB, says petition.

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday moved the Islamabad High Court (LHC) seeking the cancellation of the post-arrest bails granted to PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Captain Muhammad Safdar in the Avenfield properties reference.

In its petition, the anti-graft watchdog said that Maryam and Safdar misused the concession of bail.

Maryam delivered “hate speeches” against NAB, the anti-graft watchdog argued. The suspects’ conduct caused pressure on the witnesses seeking to testify against them, NAB said, adding that its Lahore office was attacked during the PML-N leaders’ appearance before investigation officers.

“Maryam Nawaz considers every NAB appearance a political theater and converts the courtroom into a press club,” read the petition. She does not care about court decorum, NAB alleged.

After each NAB appearance, the PML-N leader “passes inflammatory remarks against high-ranked officials” and the anti-graft watchdog, the petition further stated.

An accountability court handed a seven years imprisonment sentence and £2 million fine to Maryam Nawaz in the Avenfield properties corruption reference on July 6, 2018.

The PML-N leader had also been disqualified for any public office by the accountability court, NAB said, and pleaded the court to cancel the bails granted to Maryam and Safdar on September 19, 2018.

IHC grants Maryam extension

On September 8, the Islamabad High Court gave Maryam an extension to hire a new lawyer before September 23 for her plea challenging the sentence awarded to her in the Avenfield reference.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kiyani, had been hearing pleas filed by Maryam and Safdar.

During the hearing that day, Maryam had maintained that her lawyer, Advocate Amjad Parvez, had excused himself from further representing her case due to an illness.

She had moved the court to grant her an extension to hire a new lawyer.

“I want to bring some facts to the fore by filing another plea,” Maryam said. “I don’t want to give off the impression that the case is being delayed,” she added.

At this, Justice Farooq remarked that Maryam had the right to hire a lawyer according to her will and file a petition, therefore, the court would not object to this.

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Suspects rush to seek relief after approval of NAB ordinance


National Accountability Bureau logo. — Twitter/File
  • Suspects are of the view that as NAB’s jurisdiction has ended, all cases should be disposed off.
  • The accused in the LNG reference have also sought removal of the case on the basis of the NAB Amendment Ordinance.
  • Last week, President Arif Alvi promulgated the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.

Suspects are now seeking relief and want cases against them dropped following the approval of the NAB Amendment Ordinance.

Several people approached accountability courts in Islamabad seeking termination of fraud and other NAB cases.

The suspects are of the view that as NAB’s jurisdiction has ended, all cases against them should be disposed off.

In addition, the suspects in the LNG reference have also sought removal of the cases on the basis of the NAB Amendment Ordinance.

The accountability court issued a notice to NAB, seeking a detailed reply from the bureau.

Chaudhry Aslam — the CEO of a private airline — has also requested that his name be removed from the reference as a private person.

Last week, President Arif Alvi promulgated the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, under which the NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal will continue to serve the post, until a new chairman is appointed and will also be eligible to be renamed as chairman.

Under the new ordinance, the president has the authority to establish as many accountability courts in the country as he deems fit.

Judges to the accountability courts will be appointed for a three-year term, the ordinance states.

The NAB law will not extend to matters pertaining to federal, provincial and local taxation after such matters were removed from under its purview.

Furthermore, decisions pertaining to the Council of Common Interests, (CCI), National Economic Council (NEC), National Finance Commission (NFC) and Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), besides those of Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP) will also no longer fall within NAB’s jurisdiction. 

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Firing on my house a conspiracy to harass Opposition: PML-N’s Khurram Dastgir


A file photo of PML-N leader Khurram Dastgir
  • PML-N MNA Khurram Dastgir addresses a press conference after unidentified suspects open fire on his Gujranwala house.
  • Says firing incident a conspiracy to harass the Opposition.
  • Calls it a failure of the Punjab government to enforce law and order.

GUJRANWALA: Unidentified suspects opened fire on the side gate of senior PML-N leader Khurram Dastgir’s house Sunday night, he revealed in a press conference on Tuesday.

He said the firing on his house was a conspiracy to “harass the Opposition”.

The PML-N lawmaker from Gujranwala said women and children were present inside the house when the incident took place. He lamented that no action was taken over the firing, despite the administration being informing about it.

Despite a request, a case was not registered, he said, sharing that it was registered only after media reports about the firing incident surfaced.

He called the firing incident a “failure of [the] Punjab government to enforce law and order” in the province.

“You could not find the kidnappers of the presiding officers in the Daska by-polls. At least find those who opened fire on my house,” Dastgir said.

He said this incident is another way to crush the Opposition. We are not hostile towards anyone in our politics, he said.

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the house of PML-N leader Khurram Dastgir Sunday, however, no casualties were reported in the firing.

An update on the incident had been given by the official Twitter account of PML-N Gujranwala the next day.

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Is Pakistan ready to give amnesty to the TTP?


A Reuters file photo showing Tehreek-e-Taliban militants.

Reconciliation cannot be done in isolation; it has to have a national consensus and acceptance of their crimes by those who are receiving amnesty. When it comes to talking about amnesty regarding groups in the TTP, you cannot just bury the past for political expediency. That is like playing with the emotions of the families who have suffered so much loss.

If an amnesty is to be thought about, the prime minister must first gauge the pulse of the public through parliament: are the people of Pakistan, especially the bereaved families of victims, ready to reconcile with those who butchered their loved ones? If not, then such a decision must not be thrust on the nation. If yes, then he must go through South Africa’s famous Truth and Reconciliation philosophy coined by Nelson Mandela.

These days people and countries try to emulate this philosophy – but the key element of this doctrine is that with every reconciliation there comes a burden of truth. For example, in South Africa’s ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ Nelson Mandela’s wife who had been his biggest support system during his days of incarceration accepted that she had aided and abetted in the murder of a white teenage boy; after this, Mandela with a heavy heart divorced her.

For such reconciliation, you need the support of parliament and consent of the nation. We have Khan, who doesn’t even shake hands with the opposition leaders. Ironically, while he is reluctant to reconcile with political parties carrying the public mandate of the same country he is ruling today, he seems quite eager to reconcile with militant groups. Such a reconciliation does not only require the endorsement of the PM; it also needs the acceptance by the people who are represented by parliament. Therefore, this serious issue must be put on the floor of parliament for debate before any decision is taken in haste.

However, in Naya Pakistan there are two sets of rules; mercy for those who toe the line with Khan and vendetta for those who stand against his incompetent and unpopular government.

Over the past many years, Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism with countless terror attacks on innocent civilians, political leaders like Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the ANP’s Haroon Bilour, Bashir Bilour, our frontline forces who fought with ultimate valour against terrorism and not to forget the deadliest APS school massacre where 149 innocent Pakistani citizens including 132 children were killed at the Army Public School, Peshawar. The students were kept hostage and forced to watch their teachers and principal being killed in front of them. It was barbaric and horrifying; and the survivors of the APS attack must still be living in that trauma.

This deadliest massacre shook the entire world. Later, in January 2015 the National Action Plan was established by the government of Pakistan as part of a crackdown against terrorists; the operation was carried out because the public sentiment was strong against those who had murdered innocent children. The APS attack was one of the many horrific incidents witnessed by Pakistan in the last few years; the wounds of these attacks are still fresh and won’t be easy for the nation to forget.

The question is: who has given the government the authority to forgive any individual or group without having a debate in parliament, a forum he has never taken seriously since the day he entered the power corridors. Will he again use his much favoured tool of ‘presidential ordinance’ to by-pass parliament in this regard? So far that’s how he has been trying to thrust his decisions, be it ‘open balloting’ in the Senate elections or the recent promulgation of a presidential ordinance for the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in elections.

There has been much public concern regarding an amnesty for TTP groups. First, who would take responsibility if the militant group were to breach the agreement? Second, who will be the guarantor? Third, would the families of martyrs be taken into confidence? This is a serious matter which needs a national consensus and thorough debate – not the whims and wishes of the prime minister as an individual.

The million-dollar question is: with a thin questionable majority in parliament, unpopularity in the public, and isolation from the international world – is the prime minister even eligible to offer an amnesty? Moreover, can we trust those who butchered our innocent students? Will they not repeat that terror again in future?

The nation’s will is more important than that of the PM; is the nation willing to give amnesty to such elements? These are some of the many questions that Prime Minister Imran Khan must answer to the nation in parliament before giving sweeping statements.

The writer is a columnist and social activist. He tweets @MustafaBaloch_

Originally published in

The News

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New financial model: PSL franchises to get over 95% share from central revenue pool


  • PCB and six other Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises have agreed on a new financial model for the league.
  • Under new financial model, PSL franchises will be entitled to 95% of the profit share from the central revenue pool of PSL 7. 
  • Franchises are required to pay an additional 25% to retain rights from 11th edition of PSL.

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the six Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises have agreed on a new financial model for the league.

Under the new financial model, the PSL franchises will be entitled to 95% of the profit share from the central revenue pool of PSL7, while they will get a 98% share of the profit from PSL5 and PSL6 because of COVID-19.

However, the franchises are required to pay an additional 25% to retain the rights from the 11th edition of the PSL. The PSL franchises wanted the clause to be removed, but the PCB refused the request.

As per the agreement between the PCB and the PSL, the dollar rate has been fixed at today’s rate of Rs171.

In a declaration, the PCB confirmed that all the franchises of the PSL have accepted the board’s offer presented in the governing council meeting held last month.

PSL franchises accept PCB’s new financial model

A day earlier, the PCB had announced that the six PSL franchises had accepted the offer for a new financial model, which was presented to them during last month’s Governing Council meeting in Lahore.

Some of the salient terms of the offer, which the six franchises had accepted, include a COVID-19 relief for PSL 5 and 6, an upward revision of the Central Pool of Revenue in favour of the franchises for PSL 7 to PSL 20, and locking of the dollar rate with prospective effect.

PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja had welcomed the resolution and said that longstanding matters between the PCB and the franchises were causing distraction and affecting the reputation of the brand.

“I am delighted that all matters have finally been resolved, which is a big step forward in building a stronger relationship with the franchise owners as we look forward to working with them to take the PSL to greater and unprecedented heights,” he had said.

The franchise owners, in a joint statement, had said: “PSL is very close to our hearts. Since 2016, we all have worked very hard to bring it to where it is today. The acceptance of the PCB offer is an indication of our commitment and resolve to making the PSL a bigger and better league that is participated by the best players, commercially supported by the elite companies, and watched live by the passionate cricket fans in Pakistan as well as globally.”

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Slow internet service in Pakistan: PTA says faulty cable has been repaired


A picture of the Asia-Europe double AE1 cable. Photo: File
  • “Work is underway to make the services fully functional,” says PTA. 
  • 25,000-km long cable had been damaged near Fujairah, UAE. 
  • Slow internet speed was reported in Pakistan yesterday. 

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said Tuesday that the fault in submarine cable near Fujairah, UAE, which had caused the internet speed in Pakistan to slow down, has been repaired.

The PTA announced that work is underway to restore internet services, that may have been slow or down for some users in the country.

“A submarine cable fault was reported yesterday near Fujairah, UAE due to which some users may have faced degradation in services. The faulty cable segment has been repaired and work is underway to make the services fully functional,” read its tweet. 

Slow internet speed was reported countrywide on Monday as a fault occurred in the 25,000-kilometres-long Asia-Europe double AE1 cable, Geo News had reported.

Sources in the telecom industry had said that a major 40-terabyte cable was ruptured near Fujairah which caused internet services to slow down.

Sources had said that it may take several days to repair the affected cable.

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Pakistan an economic outlier


A representational image. Photo: Reuters

The economic dysfunction that defines Pakistan is not normal for a country in this geographical location, with this size population, and this proportion of its population below the age of 25. The Pakistani boom and bust cycle is tightening. The booms are becoming shorter and smaller, the busts, deeper and longer.

Pakistan is an economic outlier. India and China have grown at phenomenal rates over the last two decades. So too have Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. So too have a dozen other countries in Asia and even the wider MENA region. Pakistan’s lack of growth makes it an exception to the rule.

There are a lot of technocratic answers to the question of why there is low or no growth here – but the most important one is hard for economists to deal with in any serious manner: national security.

There are broadly two camps, whether they realise it or not. And until these two camps have a more robust debate about the future of the country, the cycle of economic dysfunction will continue. 

The first group is Camp White Flag. Their core position, when stripped of all its verbiage is relatively simple (and though provocative, also powerful). Camp White Flag says you just cannot grow unless you have external validation of your national story. This external validation is shorthand for giving up strategic autonomy. If you wanted this validation from the Americans, they say (whether they realise it or not), then you should have liquidated the Haqqanis before 2020. Doesn’t matter what would have happened next. Just line up with and follow other countries’ strategic interests rather than your own.

If you want this validation from the Americans, you have to get on the same page with India – no matter how Hindutvadi it is. Sign up to whatever Hindu supremacists in India (whether Congress or BJP or worse) want, throw the Kashmiris under the bus, and the world can be your oyster. For proof, they point to Bangladesh, “Just look at how well Bangladesh is doing”. Camp White Flag is as patriotic and nationalist as any group, and it is not a lack of love for the motherland that they argue this position. It is a lack of other viable options.

The second group is the Camp Desert Fantasy. Their core position, when stripped of all its multilingual opening lines, and its evocative appeals to Turkish soaps operas and local fictions, is also relatively simple (and equally powerful). Camp Desert Fantasy says that growth is a secondary national objective. Security is first. And security cannot be outsourced – without compromising on national sovereignty. Since Pakistan cannot and must not allow anyone – not the Americans, not the Chinese and certainly not some bleeding heart, pro-feminist Pakistani liberals – to undermine the strategic autonomy of the country: any cost is a cost worth paying.

Camp Desert Fantasy is sustained by lots of old men that are used to playing golf once their kids go off to university in AUKUS countries – so the cost worth paying is not borne by them. It is borne by the poor and vulnerable of the country. It is a fantasy that the people of this country will continue paying the price for Pakistani strategic autonomy without eventually demanding that the system be turned over from overweight golfers that start cheating on the second hole to the stunted and malnutritioned lab grown mobs that are being groomed on a steady diet of Ertugrul and Faizabad spirits.

Camp Desert Fantasy, it goes without saying, is super patriotic. But it isn’t as stupid as Camp White Flag thinks it is. And Camp White Flag isn’t as hungry for foreign affection as Camp Desert Fantasy thinks it is. The gap between the two camps is the Valley of Death.

In the Valley of Death, Pakistan’s low or no growth economy has to sustain one of the world’s youngest populations, with a median age of 23, and monthly household incomes that, even when growing in absolute terms, are shrinking because the Pakistani rupee cannot keep up with the short-sightedness of Camp White Flag, nor the arrogance of Camp Desert Fantasy. This gap should remind us of the last Valley of Death a united Pakistan endured.

The mockery and contempt for Bengali Pakistanis from 1947 to 1971 helped cause the dismemberment and partition of Pakistan. The generic lack of understanding of Bangladesh from 1971 to today is equally toxic for Pakistan.

Here is a prediction that I am willing to make with almost zero qualification: Bangladesh’s so-called submission to Indian hegemony in the region is a temporary ruse that it uses to sustain a high growth economy that will catapult the fiscal capabilities of the Bangladeshi state into a stratosphere in which Bangladesh can reclaim strategic autonomy in relation to India’s genetic predisposition to occupation, interference, extremism and hegemony. Bangladeshi strategic autonomy is anchored, for Bangladeshi strategists, in a political and economic programme that prioritises the ability to make decisions that neither necessitate white flag submissions to foreign powers nor caving into the temptation to construct fallacies and fantasies about the realm of the possible.

When Bangladesh will make the switch is harder to predict, but the last people that should underestimate the intensity of Bangladeshi strategic autonomy are citizens of the country from whom Bangabhandu wrested that very autonomy – a Bangabhandu that was a more patriotic and intensely “Pakistani politician” in his youth than many of those he eventually fought against.

Both Pakistani camps are dead wrong about Bangladesh. The Bangladeshis have not signed away strategic autonomy. And the current tactic of Bangladeshi economic growth is a building block of Bangladeshi strategy.

Now for the good news. Pakistan is no Bangladesh. Its starting endowment, here, now, in 2021, is so powerful that it is an indispensable middle power – even whilst its leaders bicker over transfers and postings, cannot find and keep finance ministers or IGs for Punjab, cannot convince the IMF of its seriousness on fiscal issues, and cannot grow the economy without eventually choking it again. Even in these circumstances, Pakistan commands the attention and grudging (sometimes bemoaned, whiny, grudging) respect of global powers – large, middle and small.

Camp White Flag is right about at least one, very important thing: Pakistan cannot be free until it can pay its own bills. No amount of strategy or wordsmithing can alter this. Camp Desert Fantasy is right about at least one, very important thing: Pakistan cannot be free, indeed cannot be, if its sustenance is designed as a subset of India’s hegemony.

But whilst these seemingly competing polar positions are etched in stone, Pakistan’s options are not. The capability of the Pakistani state and the imagination of Pakistani strategists should not be shaped or restricted by the idiocy that is front and centre on a daily or weekly basis. It should be shaped by a coherent dynamic of give and take between Camp White Flag and Camp Desert Fantasy. In this middle ground, there is much pain. There is mockery (‘pick a side!’), there may be the stink of defeat (temporary tactical setbacks), and there will be the agony of ‘less’ for those that are used to ‘more’ (a dismantling of elite capture by expanding economic opportunity and social mobility).

Only a reforms-driven economic agenda can deliver the elusive sustained high growth that the military and civilian leadership claim they want for Pakistan. And only this high growth can offer Pakistan the long-term strategic autonomy, and ‘the self and sovereignty’ for which Pakistan was wrested, by Quaid-e-Azam, from the clutches of majoritarian right-wingers that today seek to paint South Asia and the Middle East in their saffron hues. To resist this will require putting away our white flags and snapping out of our fantasies. Reality is hard. Surviving it will be even harder.

The writer is an analyst and commentator.

Originally published in

The News

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