The overseas vote – 21 May 2022

SHOULD overseas Pakistanis have the right to vote in elections held in Pakistan? The question polarises Pakistanis like just about any other issue these days. To me, democracy should be about enfranchising, and not disenfranchising, the most number of people. Hence it would make sense for overseas Pakistanis to also have a say in the electoral process.

However, one must hasten to add, this is not the most pressing concern in terms of electoral reform. For instance, given that an identiñcation card is necessary to vote in Pakistan and large numbers of women, in particular, do not have an identification document, that should be a far more urgent concern to address.

Those who oppose the vote for overseas Pakistanis argue that expatriates do not have enough of a stake in the system to have a say in it. Asif Ali Zardari in a recent press conference mentioned that those overseas are insulated from the excruciating heat and inflationary pressures faced by local Pakistanis and hence may not exercise their voting rights suitably.

There is some truth in this assertion but couldn`t one make the same argument about those in Pakistan who have an air conditioner in every room and automatic generator backup that such loadshedding doesn`t really affect them? Should they too be disenfranchised? How valid is the argument against overseas Pakistanis not having an adequate stake in the system when the ruling party`s head, Nawaz Sharif, resides overseas himself? Not only has he been living in London for the last two and a half years, but recently the incumbent prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, and ministers belonging to his party travelled to London for instructions.

Tweeting good times from cooler climes, their disconnect with those they represent couldn`t have been more jarring.

Ironically, the party that seems most keen on the overseas vote, the PTI, is also the one that claims a foreign conspiracy was behind its ouster. How the PTI reconciles importing a national security adviser from the US, namely Moeed Yusuf, alongside now chief of staff to Imran Khan, Shehbaz Gill who never gave up his job at a US university and reportedly remains on their payroll yet cry `Amreeki saazish`, is something only gullible PTI voters can explain.

Nevertheless, as a proponent of the overseas vote, the PTIis conñdent thatits support in the Pakistani diaspora is unmatched and with their help it can come back with a two-thirds majority. This is nothing but wishful thinking on the part of the PTI. That a majority of overseas Pakistanis would vote for the PTI is mere speculation, as surely forevery loony dancing awkwardly outside Avenfield Apartments, accusing the Sharifs of loot and plunder, there are others abroad who feel Imran Khan has lost his marbles and cannot be trusted to run the affairs of state.

Moreover, the total number of overseas Pakistanis is less than 10 million, and that includes minors who are ineligible to vote.

Overseas Pakistanis therefore can neither make nor break an election. But so strong is PTPs self-belief in its fanciful rhetoric that the more established political parties have taken its word for it without putting the overseas vote to a test.

Most countries globally have given their overseas residents the right to vote, including those who have acquired citizenship of other countries. Americans who live in the UK and acquire British citizenship do not lose their right to vote in US elections due to their dual nationality. The reverse is also true for Britons or Europeans residing in the US who acquire American nationality. Some countries, like Germany, do impose arequirement whereby if a voter has not lived in Germany for more than 25 years, then s/ he loses the right to vote.

The UK had a similar 15-year requirement but has done away with it this year.

Curbing a citizen`sright to vote on the basis that s/he has been out of the country for a very long period of time may be acceptable but dual nationality, for those countries that allow it, cannot be a basis for distinction.

Unlike in India, which never allowed dual nationality, not only is dual nationality allowed under Pakistani law, but citizens are not forewarned that they would be giving up any rights by virtue of acquiring another nationality. Practically, it`s very common for Pakistanis with means to travel to the US to give birth so that their children acquire US nationality. Similarly, senior bureaucrats, military men and politicians have made investments in foreign countries to acquire residence permits and foreign nationalities.

Traf fic flows both ways and dual nationals have also returned to Pakistan to provide expertise as doctors, lawyers, academics and finance professionals. Yet despite strong overseas connections of nearly all who run affairs in Pakistan, the diaspora remains an easy target and stories offoreign conspiracies abound. • The writer is a lawyer who lives in London.

Twitter: @ayeshaijazkhan

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Karachi attacks: unrest, anguish and a dirty nexus – 21 May 2022

PAKISTAN`S largest city has been gripped by a wave of terrorist attacks, mainly targeting Chinese national and security officials.

In a span of just one month, the city witnessed three bombing incidents a suicide attack on Chinese teachers at the Universityof Karachi`s Confucius Institute, and bicycle and motorbike improvised explosive device (IED) blasts in the densely populated Saddar and Kharadar areas targeting Pakistan Coast Guards and police vehicles, respectively.

The attacks left six people dead, including three foreign faculty members, and more than two dozen injured, besides property damage.

The university and Saddar blasts were claimed by the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA), respectively.

However, no group has so far claimed responsibility for the Kharadar attack.

The BLA has also claimed responsibility for other terrorist incidents in the past, including armed attacks on the Chinese consulate in Clifton and the Pakistan Stock Exchange. However, this was the first timethe outfit used a female suicide bomber, signifying a change in Baloch rebels` strategy.

Similarly, the SRA has also been accused of launching terrorist attacks on the metropolis and other parts of the province. Law enforcers say the group has tried to create a rift on ethnic and linguistic bases through targeted killings in Sindh. It was, however, the first time it claimed responsibility for an IED attack on the coast guards.

After the attacks, law enforcers started combing different parts of Karachi. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed the police to ask shopkeepers and traders to be vigilant and install closed-circuit television (CCTV) to keep an eye on nearby areas, including parking lots.

However, observers see complex reasons behind the sub-nationalist militancy in Balochistan and Sindh and say tackling itrequires more than just administrative measures.

SRA-BLA nexus Muhammad Amir Rana, a security and political analyst who has extensively written on terrorism in Pakistan, says the SRA has a `formal alliance` with BLA and Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), a coalition of several Baloch militant outfits.

Therefore, after carrying out terrorist acts against security personnel or Chinese citizens, it tends to issue the same statement usually issued by the BLA or BRAS, says Mr Rana, who is also the director of Islamabadbased think tank Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).

He says the group recently carried out small cracker-like attacks on the Chinese inClifton and Defence areas of Karachi as they shared the objectives with Baloch militant groups.

However, he believes the SRA is not a big group like the BLA because it doesn`t have widespread support in Sindh. The SRA is `isolated in Sindh`, he says.

The annual report of PIPSfor 2021 also talks about growing links between Sindhi and Baloch militants.

`Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA) was the only Sindhi insurgent group that perpetrated terrorist violence in Sindh in 2021,` the report notes. Its main targets were security forces, Punjabi settlers and railway tracks.

The think tank says some reports also hinted at a growing operational nexus between Balochi and Sindhi nationalist insurgents, mainly the SRA`s growing links with Baloch groups like BLA andBRAS.

`Some major attacks in Karachi in recent past were attributed to this growing nexus,` it says.

For instance, Sindh police`s counterterrorism department claimed to have detained two SRA militants from Karachi on March 16, 2021 who were reportedly provided with weapons by the BLA to carry out attacks against security forces.

Police sources said the detained suspects, Sadiq and Mukhtiar, were involved in attacks on law enforcement and security officials, including the killing of a constable in Kandhkot.

A security of ficial, who wishes not to be named, says the BLA has also trained SRA members abroad to make bicycleand motorcycle-mounted IEDs, as the latter group mostly carried out previous attacks using grenades and small bombs.

The officer believes the upsurge in terrorist incidents in Karachi may be partly linked to political uncertainty and bad economic condition in the country, as hostile foreign agencies consider it the best time to create unrest.

External factors Dr Abdul Majeed Chandio, a professor of international relations and former Dean of Social Sciences at Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, believes the present upsurge in militancy in Sindh was partly motivated by `external factors`, as both India and US are not happy over the growing role of China in Pakistan, particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

He says terrorist attacks have increased after a change of government last month partly because the incumbent premier, Shehbaz Sharif, focused on further cementing ties with Beijing while the `external factors` wanted to contain China.

India doesn`t like CPEC, and that is precisely the reason why the United States and the European Union want to maintain ties with India despite differences over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the professor argues.

He says the situation in Sindh is different from Balochistan,where federal or nationalist parties hold a jalsa in a year. In contrast, Sindh sees frequent rallies where mainstream parties like the Pakistan Peoples Party and other nationalists highlight public issues.

For instance, several political parties and civil society organisations held a big rally in the province against alleged land grabbing by a business tycoon.

Militancy in Sindh may ultimately bring more harm, Prof Chandio says, insisting that enforced disappearances over the pretext of militant attacks in the province can aggravate the problem.

Radicalising Baloch women The first of the three recent attacks in Karachi a suicide bombing targeting Chinese nationals was shocking in the sense that the attacker was a woman. It later came to light that she was an educated mother of two young children, belonging to a well-established family and working as a schoolteacher in her native Turbat, Balochistan.

Malik Siraj Akbar, a Washingtonbased political analyst, says radicalelements in Balochistan have been able to fill the vacuum created due to the continued failure of moderate Baloch nationalist leaders and successive governments in Islamabad to work together to find a political solution to the Balochistan conflict.

On the radicalisation of Baloch women, he says, `The participation of women in the Baloch politics in its latest phase [starting from 2004] began with the rise of enforced disappearances in the province.

Mr Akbar recalls that `protests, petitions and hunger strike camps provided the Baloch women with new platforms to voice their grievances and learn more about the province`s politics`.

`There has been a constant rise in these sentiments mainly because populism attracts young people more than pragmatism, moderation and reconciliation,` he observes.

However, he agrees that such tactics using suicide bombers and women for terrorist attacks have created a rif t within Baloch society. `This policy has divided the Baloch society between those who justify it and those who renounce it and view it as immoral and counterproductive,` he says.

To tackle growing militancy, he suggests that the current government should take advantage of the supportit has from moderate Baloch nationalists and prioritise Balochistan`s pressing issues.

However, he insists that a sustainable political solution cannot be found unless all branches of the government, mainly the military and the judiciary, are on board.

`Every missed opportunity will only embolden the armed groups and provide them with an opportunity to recruit disillusioned young Baloch boys and girls for their cause,` he says.

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A dangerous path – 21 May 2022

We have already seen the intense polarization in the country and the hatred that appears to exist between the major parties. The fact that the formerly ruling PTI and its chief opponent the PML-N are simply not on talking terms does not augur well for democratic politics in the country

Democracy seeks a level of dialogue and discussion on various issues. We also question precisely what the political parties are doing. For the PTI, Imran Khan is delivering speech after speech which makes us feel less and less secure. His barely disguised attacks on parties and institutions to continue the narrative of the US conspiracy, are all terrifying. He has also threatened further warnings ahead.

Meanwhile, the PML-N considered it necessary to hold meetings in London rather than using services such as Zoom, Viber, WhatsApp. Instead, a party of at least 12 PML-N leaders had to be flown to the UK capital for discussions with the head of the party. We also do not know what has emerged from this discussion, and sometimes one is left to wonder if anyone is running the party at all, with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif proceeding at an extremely slow pace while the Punjab government remains in a situation where no one is sure what is to happen there in the future.

One of the chief dangers is that this level of dissent between the parties could lead to violence. We have already seen this happen in Sialkot where the local Christian community protested the holding of the PTI’s planned rally at the ground of a Christian school, which was apparently always used in the past for religious events and similar affairs.

Since then, the PTI has blamed Khawaja Asif for deliberately lighting the fires. But of course, the PTI could easily have put out the fire before it even became one, by simply seeking permission to hold the rally at the ground, and checking on the policy of the owners of the space.

We have also seen the kind of scuffles which took place in and outside the Punjab Assembly between MPAs and their supporters and in Islamabad, we have seen former NA deputy speaker Qasim Soori attacked at a restaurant. All this points to the severe divide and a new level of political hatred, which could become extremely dangerous in the future.

Imagine an election which takes place in this environment. In the first place, there could be fights and acrimony at many places where parties hold rallies and later at voting stations once we reach this point. The question of EVMs and the disagreement over them is even more likely to lead to disquiet. And then we have the possible post-election scenario. Is it likely that Imran Khan will accept a defeat if one is inflicted on him? He will instead point fingers as he has in the past. We cannot say for now if this would also be true of the PML-N and its allies.

The fact that the army has been dragged into controversial places where it would prefer not to go adds to the general sense of unease. This should not be happening and political leaders must learn that in the presence of a constitution, all parties need to remain within its sphere. The fact that the army wants an end to military intervention in matters of politics is a step that must be welcomed.

Without this landscape of calm and a willingness to accept the result of a fair election monitored by the Election Commission of Pakistan, things will become even more difficult. We should look at the example of Sri Lanka to look at the chaos into which we could fall.

The fact that surveys have shown that it is most often the age group between 18 and 30 that takes part in mob attacks gives out another sign of danger. We simply do not want clashes and violence, to destroy yet another election in the country and lead us into a still worse place than the one we already inhabit. It is the duty of all political leaders in all parties to ensure this – for the sake of the safety of the country and the people. After all, the security of Pakistan, as has been said again and again, is paramount – and security for the people should be the first step in this.

To enable this to happen, it is time for a dialogue within and outside parliament between the political parties to determine some code of conduct over how matters are to be conducted and what is acceptable and what is not. There are too many disturbing signs that we will run into more and more problems, with Imran Khan’s rhetoric becoming more and more disturbing as we go along the path he has chosen. We do not know what will happen at this dharna in Islamabad if it does indeed take place.

While Khan has said that the marchers will walk at night, we ask what will happen during the daytime when the scorching heat of the sun will affect many of those on the walk. But there can be little doubt that the rally will be a large one.

Other rallies staged by other parties will also be large. And while those parties have put aside differences to come together and ensured some kind of unity, it is quite clear that the PTI has no intention of joining them and will opt to follow its own conspiracy theories and its own agenda of anarchy.

The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor. She can be reached at:

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Women`s assets can`t be sold sans their consent, says SC – 21 May 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has held that depriving an illiterate `pardanashin` (covered) woman of a large proportion of her property without professional or independent advice, or without making her understand the deed, was not sustainable in law.

`The real point is that the disposition of property must be substantially understood,` the Supreme Court held in a judgement authored by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar.

Justice Mazhar was a member of a twojudge bench headed by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, which had taken up an appeal against an April 15, 2019 rejection by the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench of the concurrent ñndings of a Rawalpindi civil judge and the additional district and sessions judge.

The case involves a gift deed of properties inherited by Ms Zaibunnisa and Ms Hameeda Bibi, both illiterate and pardanashin, prepared fraudulently by their brother on a blank paper through misrepresentation.

The all-encompassing evidence recorded in the trial court, the judgement said, exemplifies that the women were not aware of the type of document they were going to sign so, taking advantage of their illiteracy, the brother managed the execution ofthe giftinhisfavour.

Nothing was brought on record to prove that any disinterested, neutral or nonaligned person read over the indenture of the gift to the illiterate and parda-nashin women, the verdict noted. Such documents severely and gravely jeopardise the interest of illiterate and parda-nashin women in favour of any person having a relationship of profuse confidence and faith with them; they require stringent testimony and authentication of execution with the assurance of independent and unprejudiced advice to such women with further confirmation and reassurance without any doubt that the description, repercussions and aftermath/end result of the transaction was fully explained and understood.

The burden of proof, the judgementsaid, will always rest upon the person who entreats to uphold the transaction entered into with the parda-nashin or illiterate woman to establish that the document was executed by her after mindfulness of the transaction, the judgement said. It added that it was imperative for the courts as an assiduous duty and obligation that while dealing with instances of any document executed by parda-nashin or illiterate woman, it ought to be satisfied with clear evidence that the document was, in fact, executed by her or by a duly constituted attorney appointed by her with full understanding and intelligence regarding the nature of the document.

`The parda-nashin women have been given protection in view of social conditions that include an imperfect knowledge of the world being virtually excluded from communion with the outside world,` it said, adding the rationale of this rule of wisdom and concentration was obviously to shield them from deception, duress and misrepresentation.

The verdict also cited a number of precedents from different jurisdictions to establish that it was for the person claiming the benefit of any such disposition to establish affirmatively that it was substantially understood by the woman and was really her free and intelligent act. It further said if she was illiterate, it must have been read over to her and if the terms were intricate they must have been adequately explained.

The onus to prove the transaction being legitimate and free from all suspicions and doubts surrounding it can only be proved if it was established that the woman was fully cognizant and aware of the nature of the transaction and probable consequences; that she had independent advice from a reliable source/person of trust to fully understand the nature of the transaction; that witnesses to the transaction were close relatives or fully acquainted with the woman and had no conflict of interest with her and that the sale consideration was duly paid and received by the woman in the same manner, besides the nature of transaction was explained to her in the language she understands fully and she was apprised of the contents of the deed/receipt.

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Prisoner ends life by jumping from Gilgit jail`s watchtower – 21 May 2022

GILGIT: An undertrial prisoner allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the watchtower of the Central Jail, Gilgit, the other day.

Police said the body was shifted to City Hospital, Gilgit, for postmortem.

Afterwards, it was handed over to family members.

They said Afraz Hussain, a resident of Danyor area of Gilgit, was jailed in April 2018 over a murder.

Later, relatives of the deceased staged a protest sit-in outside the Chief Minister`s House, carrying the body, and demanded an inquiry into the incident.

A brother of the deceased said it was clear jail authorities had failed to protect the prisoners` lives. He asked where the security guards were when his brother went out of his barrack and climbed the watchtower.

He said his brother had been unwell for last three months, adding he had been visiting the SSP`s office for over a month to seel( medical check-up of his sick brother. However, the jail authorities failed to provide medical care to him.

He suspected his brother might have committed suicide after being tortured by the jail officials.

Meanwhile, according to a notification issued by deputy superintendent of the central prison, seven officials have been suspended over negligence of duty.

On the directives of Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid, the home department has appointed the Gilgit district magistrate to investigate the incident.

TEACHER AWARDS: The regional government will introduce GilgitBaltistan Teacher Award initiative to encourage teachers to play their due role in improving enrolment in schools.

According to a press release issued on Friday, performance of teachers to be given awards would be assessed on the basis of their role in increasing students` enrolment, education of women and girls, disabled children and in imparting technical and vocational skills to students.

The innovations will further include need-based and student-specific curriculum, covering essentials like out-ofbox methods for promotion of education and critical thinking, employment of technology, promotion of local/ endangered languages and highlighting challenges faced by the society.

The government will honour three such teachers, who have demonstrated outstanding and unwavering resolve and commitment to their profession.


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Man shot dead, friend wounded in Larkana village – 21 May 2022

LARKANA: A man was killed and his friend was seriously wounded in an armed attack on them near Taggar railway crossing in Wada Aghani village of Larkana district on Friday.

Police and onlookers said that Wajid Mirani and Kamran Mirani, residents of the same village, were walking by the railway crossing when they were attacked. They were taken to the Chandka Medical College Hospital, where Wajid Mirani, 29, died during treatment.

The body was handed over to the heirs after a post-mortem examination.

Soon after the incident, the Mahota police arrested a suspect, Shahnawaz Mirbahar, and claimed to have seized the crime weapon from him. They said his alleged accomplices were still at large.

Wajid`s father, Ali Bakhsh, said his son along with Kamran was on his way to work on farmland when he was attacked. He said his opponents in a matrimonial dispute might have been behind the attack.

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Man accused of strangling wife to death – 21 May 2022

RAWALPINDI: A 25-year-old woman was strangled to death allegedly by her husband here on Friday.

Tayyaba, 27, a resident of Al-Noor Colony, complained to the Airport police that her father had died while her mother was a diabetic and hypertension patient.

She said her mother Gulshan Bibi called her husband Liaquat Ahmad on his mobile phone at lam and informed him that Mohammad Basharat, the husband of her sister Maryam, had left his two children at the house of her aunt (mother`s sister) at Koral Chowk.

She said Basharat instructed her aunt to keep his children in the house since he had allegedly strangled his wife to death.

And after telling her about the incident, he left the house in panic.

She said shortly afterwards, she along with her husband went to her sister`s house and found the door shut from outside.

She said as they opened the door, they found her sister lying dead on the ground with her dupatta wrapped around her neck.

She claimed that her brother-in-law Basharat had been torturing her sister over domestic issues.

She said Rescue 1122 shifted the body to the District Headquarters Hospital for postmortem.

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Two Spanish nationals killed over husbands` visa issue – 21 May 2022

GUJRAT: Two Spanish national sisters of Pakistani origin have been murdered by their paternal uncle in village Nathia of Gulliana police precincts for failing to take their husbands to Spain.

Arooj Abbas and Aneesa Abbas, aged between 21 and 23, were married to their cousins in Pakistan more than a year ago but they were unable to get their respective husbands visas to settle with them in Spain.

Their in-laws suspected that they had intentionally delayed the procedure for their husbands` visas.

Initial investigation, shared by police sources, suggested that both the sisters had not been happy with their marriages. Their family managed to bring them back to Pakistan a couple of days ago.

On Friday, both the sisters were found killed in their house. They were severely tortured before being shot dead.

Gujrat District Police Officer Ataur Rehman, Kharian DSP and others reached the spot whereas a team of forensic experts collected forensic evidence from the crime scene. The bodies were shifted to the hospital for autopsy.

Police said the women were killed by their paternal uncle who was also the father-in-law of one of them. However, nobody registered a case yet. The DPO said police had started conducting raids to arrest the suspects involved in the case.

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Two women, minor girl burnt in acid attack in Sahiwal – 21 May 2022

SAHIWAL: An unidentified man threw acid on a married woman, her seven-year-old daughter and her mother-in-law while they were sleeping in their courtyard at village Bhawani on Thursday night.

Bahadur Shah Police registered a case on the complaint of the motherin-law, Anwar Bibi.

According to the first information report, Anwar was living with her daughter-in-law, Abida Bibi, and her seven-year-old granddaughter, Taniya, in village Bhawani. Her son, Ghulam Abbas, worked in Karachi.

The women were asleep in the courtyard when Anwar heard screams and cries of her daughter-in-law and granddaughter. She saw a man had thrown acid on both of them. She also shouted and ran to save them when the man threw acid on her body also.

The attacker succeededin escaping from the house.

The locals shif ted the three burnt women to the Sahiwal Teaching Hospital.

The sources in the hospital told Dawn Abida and her minor daughter were shifted to Lahore because about 75pc of their bodies had been burnt.

District Police Officer Sadiq Baloch formed a special team, headed by SDPO Abdur Rehman Asim, to investigate the case and identify and arrest the unidentified assailant.Noor Shah SHO Rashid Subhani told Dawn by phone that police visited the victims` house and did forensic analysis of the crime scene.

Inspector General of Police Rao Sardar Ali took notice of the incident and directed the DPO to remain in contact with affected family and make efforts for the arrest of the culprit/s.

BODY FOUND: The body of a woman who had been missing from her home for the last five days was found in a public water tank at Jahaz Ground.

The residents of Jahaz Ground were constantly complaining to tube well operator of the metropolitan corporation that a stinking smell was coming from the water but he did not pay heed. When thestink became unbearable, the municipal staff went up to see in the water tank and found the body of a woman floating in it.

Rescue 1122 was called, its staff brought the body out of the tank and handed it over to the City police.

City SHO Mudassar Ghaffar told Dawn the body had been sent for postmortem to determine whether it was a suicide or murder case.

Later, the SHO confirmed the deceased woman`s identity.

He said the 35-year-old woman was a resident of Multan and married in Sahiwal. Her husband divorced her and she was living with her three children at Jahaz Ground.

A sister of the deceased woman was living in the city and she recognised her body.

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Police rescue man from captors – 21 May 2022

NAROWAL: The Sialkot police rescued a man from his captors on Friday.

The police said Muhammad Anwar, 55, of Kotli Syed Amir police, was kidnapped on April 21.

The kidnappers called from a foreign phone number to his f amily and demande d Rs50 million ransom.

Police teams using modern technology and professional skills traced the suspects and rescued Anwar from their custodyand arrested suspects Imran Azam, alias Mani, and Noor Zaman.

The third suspect, Zeeshan, alias Shani, was shot dead by the accomplices in a police encounter in the Gujranwala district.

The police confiscated the vehicle and weapons used in the crime.

The gang was also wanted in dozens of other serious cases.

The districtpoliceofficerhasannounced certificates of appreciation and cash for police of ficers and of ficials involved in the operation.

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