Mumtaz Zahra Baloch appointed fourth FO spokeswoman – 12 Nov 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) Friday announced its fourth spokeswoman in the male-dominated ministry, who would be assisted by a woman diplomat as deputy spokeswoman.

The next announcement by the FO shortly will be about the new foreign secretary, whose name has been finalised. Ambassador Mumtaz Zahra Baloch has been appointed as the spokeswoman, replacing Asim Iftikhar Ahmed, who has been appointed Pakistan’s ambassador to France.

The post of a deputy spokeswoman has been created for Ms Saima Sayed, while a third woman diplomat, Sidrah Aslam, will be a director at the spokeswoman’s office. Pakistan’s Foreign Office has always boasted of outstanding women diplomats and today the minister of state is also a woman. Ms Hina Rabbani Khar has played a major role in encouraging women diplomats working at the ministry and the change seen today to strike a balance has also been credited to her.

The ministry’s first woman spokeswoman was Ambassador Tasneem Aslam in 2005, and she was followed by one of Pakistan’s outstanding diplomats, Ambassador Tehmina Janjua in 2011, who later rose to become the first female foreign secretary. The third FO spokeswoman was Ms Aisha Farooqi, who was appointed in 2019.

According to a statement from the Foreign Office, Ambassador Mumtaz Baloch is a career diplomat and walks in with an impressive resume and currently serving as additional secretary Asia & Pacific.

She has previously served as ambassador of Pakistan to the Republic of Korea (2020-2021), Minister/Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Pakistan in Beijing (2015-2020), Counsel for Political Affairs at the Embassy of Pakistan, Washington, DC (2006-2011) and as Second Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations, Geneva (1999-2002). Her deputy, Saima Sayed, is also a career diplomat, currently serving as director general Strategic Communications.

Read more

Educational institute violating law: CCP – 12 Nov 2022

ISLAMABAD: An enquiry conducted by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has found an online educational institute acting, prima facie, in violation of Section 10 of the Competition Act 2010 for allegedly spreading false information.

According to a statement issued by the CCP on Friday, it took notice of certain claims that the educational institute, having dozens of branches across Pakistan, was giving advertisements in newspapers and posting claims on their website in violation of Section 10 of the Act.

The three major claims that called for the CCP attention were: teachers can earn Rs 80,000 to Rs 250,000 per month, an education programme worth Rs 3.75 billion is endorsed by the Cambridge Global and that there are eminent educationists and technologists on our board of directors.

Taking notice under Section 37 (1), the CCP conducted the enquiry to see whether these claims violated Section 10. Regarding the first claim, the enquiry stated that the institute in its newspaper advertisement announced a special package under which teachers could earn Rs 80,000 to Rs 250,000 per month, with a disclaimer published on the bottom left corner of the advertisement, stating: “Terms and conditions apply, for details, visit website.” The enquiry found that the disclaimer was not quite clear and noticeable to readers. The terms and conditions were not available on the website to provide full disclosure of material information that might be required by a potential consumer for taking a well-informed decision, whereas the respondent also failed to substantiate the claim through evidence that teachers could earn Rs 80,000 to 250,000 per month.

Regarding the second claim, the enquiry found that the Cambridge Global was a dormant company in the UK, thus the sole purpose of claiming collaboration with the Cambridge Global by it aimed at securing credibility for the programme based on falsehood. The enquiry termed the claim not only false but also misleading. Moreover, the project size of Rs 3.75 billion was also calculated in a misleading manner and was not supported by evidence.

The enquiry found the third claim of having eminent educationists and technologists on their board of directors to be misleading as it was not substantiated by facts. The enquiry concluded that the institute was, prima facie, violating Section 10 of the Act through the distribution of false information to the general public, especially to potential teachers. It was noted that the institute used marketing tactics to make profits through deceptive, false and misleading claims, particularly during the pandemic when schools were frequently closed and teaching staff was being laid off. Based on its findings, the enquiry recommended issuing a show-cause notice to it for violating the Act.

Read more

‘Saudi Arabia a true friend’ – 12 Nov 2022

LAHORE: The visit of Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman is a proof that Pak-Saudi relations are strong, more pleasant than ever, and twenty two million people of Pakistan welcome their honorable guest from the bottom of their hearts.

Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been bound from the beginning in strong religious, defense, economic and economic ties that are time tested, and relation of Islam is stronger than all the relationships in the world. This was stated by Chairman of Pakistan Islamic Council and Principal of Jamia Saeedia Salafiya, Dr Hafiz Masood Azhar in a statement on Friday.

Read more

Young and jobless – 12 Nov 2022

Unemployment is a major social problem in Pakistan, especially for young people. Despite completing their education, many fresh graduates are unable to secure a job no matter how hard they try. Many become disheartened and fall into a life of crime or drug abuse.

The government has to take steps to reduce the youth unemployment rate. Training and technical institutes should be set up where students can acquire in-demand skills.

Saira Niaz


Read more

Unsustainable politics – 12 Nov 2022

Some loose ends seem to be on the verge of being tied, as Pakistan moves towards a finale of the largely unfounded and wishful thinking inspired speculations involving the month of November. As a London huddle by the prime minister and his party’s de-facto head Nawaz Sharif makes some important decisions regarding the future not just of the PDM but perhaps also of an agitating Imran Khan’s next steps – placing the constitution above all other considerations – there is hope that the recent political paralysis the country has been put through will gradually ease as the month nears its end. That hope, however, hinges on the expectation that Imran and his party do not propel politics any other way given the announcement to be made this month. Things still seem uneasy as the former prime minister continues his near-daily media appearances on national and international TV and the PTI resumes its rather long march to Islamabad and Rawalpindi, even if it comes in the form of baby steps. The question still unanswered is: what will the PTI do once it reaches Islamabad? There has been no clear declaration of intention although the party has said it will not return before it gets a date for fresh elections. Many political observers have been of the view that the long march is less about demanding early elections and more about creating uncertainty and placing pressure on the government and others regarding the November appointment.

For the past few months now, Pakistan’s politics has been compared to the 1990s – a time when the PML-N and the PPP would leave no stone unturned to go after each other’s government, often turning to the only force that had the power to help them in that. However, what we have been witnessing since April this year is way beyond the 1990s: a 21st century political meltdown. Partly known as the parties of the ‘boomer’ generations, the PML-N and PPP may in many ways still be stuck in the 90s but the PTI has mastered the art of social media and technology like no other political party in Pakistan. The party knows that in a post-truth world, the only thing that matters is perception. And that is one currency they have learnt to trade in with perfection. This is why even despite the loss of the ‘foreign conspiracy’ narrative post Imran and others’ audio leaks, all the party has had to do is offer another narrative. This time it has gone for the most controversial subject: non-political interventions in Pakistan. Ironically, they have done this all the while indulging in closed-door negotiations.

All else aside, there is right now an opportunity for all political parties to focus on issues that matter the most so that elections can take place next year. These include electoral reforms, local governments, a charter of economy and a new political framework. It is time to bury the hatchet, call it a new day and move forward. In a country where too much is decided behind drawn curtains, it is perhaps finally time for a new politics because a return to the politics of post-April 2022 will just not be sustainable for the country’s survival.

Read more

Battagram gets first woman DPO – 12 Nov 2022

BATTAGRAM: Battagram got the first-ever woman district police officer here on Friday.

Sonia Shamroz, who earlier served as district police officer, Lower Chitral, was posted to Battagram.

Ms Shamroz, after taking charge of her office, visited the Battagram Police Lines, where a contingent of police gave her salute. Later, she visited the martyred monument and offered prayers.

During her meeting with DSPs, traffic in-charges and SHOs, Ms Shamroz asked them to dispense their duties without any fear and pressure.

She said that she was very clear about accountability within the force, adding officials delivering goods would receive appreciation and the negligent ones would face music.

She said that she would try her best to make the district crime-free, vowing to go after drug peddlers, timber mafia and other law breakers. She claimed that peaceful, drug and crime-free society was the need of the hour.

Meanwhile, the people welcomed the woman police officer’s posting to Battagram, and said she would have to show her mettle in effectively curbing the menace of drug peddling. They said often drug peddlers got bail from courts soon after their arrests due to poor investigation. They said they expected her to rein in the influential timber mafia, and provide protection to small wood traders.

They said the police were also unable to arrest the proclaimed offenders, who had ‘backing’ of political circles.

Read more

‘Hard policing’ to eliminate crimes: CM – 12 Nov 2022

Calls for increasing number, scope of forensic labs

Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has ordered undertaking prompt measures to control the crime rate in Lahore at all costs and sought a report in this regard within two weeks.

CM vowed that “hard policing” would be carried out to eliminate crime across the province.

The chief minister expressed these views while presiding over a meeting at his office in which former Federal Minister Moonis Elahi and Adviser on Home Omar Sarfraz Cheema were also present.

The CM remarked that dutiful and diligent officers are always remembered in good words. It was decided during the meeting to extend the forensic lab and its scope.

Pervaiz Elahi directed the authorities to establish forensic labs in Multan and Rawalpindi adding that the DFID officials have given their assurance for extending the forensic lab and for its betterment. It was decided during the meeting to re-determine the functions of the Dolphin Police.

The CM also sought a report about the Dolphin Police within two weeks and directed the authorities to revamp the force for better performance.

It was decided during the meeting to set up eight new police stations in Lahore. The CM directed the officers to fulfil the shortage of police personnel in the police stations of Punjab including Lahore subsequently.

The CM expressed the resolve to cater for the needs of the police force to provide a peaceful environment to the people adding that a significant decrease in the crime rate occurred in the past due to efficient performance and commendable deliverance of duties by the patrolling police.

He denounced that the crime rate increased owing to the inactivation of the patrolling police during Shehbaz Sharif’s tenure and it enhanced unrest. He also acknowledged that traffic wardens and the patrolling police displayed an exemplary performance but unfortunately they were being subjected to political prejudice.

Principal Secretary to CM Muhammad Khan Bhatti, ACS (Home) Asadullah Khan, Caretaker IGP Kanwar Shahrukh, Lahore CCPO and other police officers attended the meeting.

Earlier, Ibtisam Hasan, who grabbed the accused who shot at PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the long march in Wazirabad, met the chief minister at his office. The CM praised the bravery of Ibtisam Hasan and gave him a cheque for Rs2.5 million.

The CM said Hasan was the hero of the nation.

“The nation salutes the courage of Ibtisam Hasan,” he added. “You have achieved a great feat by catching the suspect and we are proud of a brave young man like you. Your timely action saved a major accident,” he further said.

Meanwhile, Pervaiz Elahi chaired a meeting at his office to review the upgradation of the Wazirabad Institute of Cardiology (WIC).

The CM directed to hire services of expert doctors from abroad along with the establishment of a department for the treatment of children suffering from congenital heart disease.

“Complicated operations for children suffering from heart diseases will also be performed so that they may not have to go to India for treatment,” he said.

He also approved a transport facility, adding that a hostel and residences should also be built for doctors. Similarly, the latest cardiology and urology departments would also be established in Gujranwala Teaching Hospital and Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Hospital, respectively. Similarly, more dialysis machines would also be given to Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Hospital.

The CM further directed the development of the best waiting area for the attendees and said that more and more trees should be planted on the hospital premises. “It’s sanguine that a majestic mosque has been built with the support of philanthropists,” he concluded.

Read more

Couple killed over ‘love marriage’ – 12 Nov 2022

The police suspected that the deceased woman’s family was allegedly killed them in the name of honour

A couple was killed by unidentiifed assailants in Haripur on Friday.

Police said that the killers escaped after dumping their bodies in a drain. They added that the young couple from Shangla tied the knot without their parents’ permission.

Police said that Riaz Abdul Hasan and his wife Sabina Bibi contracted the marriage of their own choice and moved to Haripur and were living in a rented house.

They added that the couple was hanged to death.

The bodies were shifted to Kot Najeebullah Hospital for fulfilling medico-legal formalities.

The police suspected that the deceased woman’s family was allegedly killed them in the name of honour.

Police have registered a case against unknown people and started an investigation.

Meanwhile, Additional Session Judge Mansehra on Friday awarded eight years imprisonment to the convicted Lal Khan in an attempted murder case.

Two years ago in Nogazi area, Lal Khan shot a woman over a minor dispute.

The victim sustained critical injuries and was shifted to a hospital. City police had arrested accused Lal Khan.

Read more

Police use water cannon on doctors, paramedics – 12 Nov 2022

The protestors started their march towards the Chief Minister House, as a result of which the traffic flow

Police used water cannon and baton charge to disperse the protest camp of Grand Health Alliance outside the Sindh Secretariat. Policewomen in particular used excess force on protesting nurses.

The protestors had warned that if the Sindh Health Department did not issue the notification for the restoration of health risk allowances, service structure and time scale by 12 noon on Friday, then they will march towards Chief Minister’s House.

Afternoon, the protestors started their march towards the Chief Minister House, as a result of which the traffic flow was severely affected on the road opposite the Sindh Secretariat.

Soon, huge contingents of police, women police and women police commandos rolled in with batons and a water cannon.

The cops besides drenching the protestors, beat them severely and hauled away some doctor and paramedics in police mobiles, only to release them after about 15 minutes.

Police confined hundreds of protestors in front of DJ Science College and SM Arts College stopping them from marching towards the Red Zone.

The doctors and paramedics are boycotting OPDs of government hospitals of the city since last one month.

Read more

Minister faces resistance to abolish ‘free electricity’ – 12 Nov 2022

Khurram benefit is according to job agreement

Power Minister Khurram Dastgir on Friday said the ministry was struggling to withdraw benefits such as free electricity units to the employees of government-owned power sector entities and added the ministry needed support to do so amid a strong reaction from employees.

The minister explained that the supply of free-of-cost electricity to the employees of power distribution companies was according to their job agreement, adding they were entitled to this facility.

He was responding to a question raised by PPP MNA Nasiba Channa, who questioned the free electricity being supplied to retired employees of Wapda, in the National Assembly.

“Should the benefits given to the employees according to the contract be withdrawn?” he asked and pointed out that there has been a strong reaction from the employees when the ministry sought to do this before.

Widows of employees also get these benefits, he added. However, the minister hinted at the possibility this facility can be withdrawn with the support of public representatives.

Khurram Dastgir also said that the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) will have its own transformer repair workshop by June 2023.

The ministry has issued directions in this regard and the work has been started, said the minister responding to a question raised by MNA Salahuddin.

The minister said that HESCO during the fiscal year 2020-21 spent 98.722 million on repair maintenance of transformers and during 2021-22 spent 175.899 million rupees while repairing 841 transformers.

He informed that he visited Hyderabad on the direction of the prime minister and spent five days during the early time of floods in Sindh and was shocked to know about the issues regarding the repair of transformers in Hyderabad.

He told the house that HESCO had made an agreement for the repair of transformers with three private companies and these companies following the guidelines of PPMS about repair and maintenance perform their job.

Unfortunately, in some of the areas people collect funds for the repair and maintenance of transformers in this region and get them repaired through private vendors without following guidelines, he told the house.

He said his ministry has issued clear directions to HESCO to establish their own repair workshop before 30th June 2023.

About low voltage, the minister said that his ministry has already issued directions to make earthing of all transformers across the country along with balancing all three phases of the transformer for ensuring the provision of full voltage to the consumers.

He said employees of distribution companies do not provide earth to the transformer and balance the load of three phases due to which the transformer fails to provide full voltage.

Pakistani prisoners in China

Meanwhile, according to a report presented in the house by the ministry of foreign affairs, there were currently 236 Pakistanis imprisoned in China, including 3 women.

Out of these, 121 Pakistanis are serving their term in Beijing, 12 in Shanghai and 13 in Chengdu, along with 90 others in other places.

It said that the agreement between Pakistan and China on the transfer of convicted persons came into force in October 2020 while the application for the transfer of the first batch of 21 Pakistanis under the agreement was submitted to the Chinese Ministry of Justice in March 2022.

The Pakistani mission is in touch with the Chinese authorities to approve the transfer of the first batch, it added.

Meanwhile, in a written reply to the National Assembly, it was told that 397 people were recruited in the Election Commission of Pakistan from 2018 to 2021.

In 2018, 18 people were recruited and in 2019, the then-PTI-led federal government gave jobs to 188 people. Similarly, 55 people were given jobs in the commission in 2020 while 136 were recruited in 2021.

Read more