RAWALPINDI: The dead body of an 8-year-old missing girl who went missing from Choki Mohalla area in the jurisdiction of Ratta Amral police station was found after eight days. Police said that the little girl went missing on December 19, 2022 and was found yesterday by the garbage pickers who saw her body under the Ratta Bridge inside the drain and informed the police. Sources revealed that her body was taken to the hospital to perform a post-mortem after which she was handed over to her heirs. Her father named Atif Maseeh said that he had filed a complaint at the police station when he could not find her daughter. OUR CORRESPONDENT
LAHORE: A woman whose child was delivered still-born allegedly kidnapped an infant born at Social Security Hospital Lahore and admitted her at another hospital against her name. This was revealed during investigation of a case registered at Sabazar Police station. Muhammad Ameer, a resident of Kasur, lodged an FIR at Sabzazar police station that his newly born baby was kidnapped by an unidentified woman. The suspect reportedly befriended the newborn’s mother and on the pretext of helping her, abducted the child when she handed him over to play. OUR CORRESPONDENT
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday handed over custody of two children to their Polish mothers and directed their Pakistanifather to surrender passports of the minors to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
IHC Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani resumed hearing on the petitions filed by the Polish women, Isa Nowa, and Johana Mohammad, seeking custody of their children from their Pakistani father SaleemMohammad.
The officials from the Polish embassy also appeared before the court.
Saleem Mohammad produced the permission that enabled him to bring his children to Pakistan.
He told the court that he brought the children to Pakistan in August 2021 with the consent of their mothers, adding that his relations with his former wives became strained because they used to take the children to thechurch. He said he was running a food chain in Poland and financially helped both women.
Mohammad said he got Polish nationality in 2012 and told the court that he could rescind the foreign nationality for the sake of his children.
Justice Kayani remarked that the petitioner could educate his children in Poland to which Mohammad told the court that it would not be easy as the mosque was at a distance of about 300km from his home. The counsel for his former wife, Isa Nowa, told the court that Saleem Mohammad had a son named Mohammad Ahmed with Isa and a daughter, Sadia, with Johana Mohammad.
The court inquired if the women wanted to discuss anything with their former husband, but both refused to talk to him. The court handed over custody of the minors to their mothers and allowed them to keep the children in the embassy and produce them before the court on Wednesday (today).
According to the counsel for the Polish women, Saleem Mohammad had brought his son and daughter to Pakistan from Poland on a two-week visit.
However, he cancelled his return tickets and did not take the children back to Poland on the pretext of travel restriction due to Covid-19.
He again bought tickets after 25 days and informed their mothers about his return. Both women kept waiting at the airport but Mohammad switched off his mobile phone, he added. Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: An assistant registrar working in the Pakistan Nursing Council (PNC) was booked by the capital police on the complaint of his female colleague, accusing him of harassment, police said on Tuesday.
The case was registered with Banigala police station under sections 354 and 509 of Pakistan Penal Code.
According to the FIR, the suspect is basically an employee of the Sindh government and was working in the PNC on deputation, whereas the complainant was also a federal government employee in Polyclinic and was on deputation at the council.
According to the FIR, the assistant registrar was accused of f avouring registration of a fake nursing college in Hyderabad and an inquiry in this regard had been initiated against him.
The complainant said she was assigned the task to work as a PNC representative in the inquiry committee, as she was already working on an assignment to unearth fake nursing institutes and colleges.
The FIR said the FIA office in Hyderabad was also investigating a fake college case, adding that the suspect started to adopt an objectionable attitude towards her and later got her repatriated to her parent department through political influence.
Minister of National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel then heard her in person and cancelled her repatriation order, the FIR said, adding that he spoke many a time against her character and conduct.
In October, the assistant registrar came to her office and shouted at her in the presence of her junior colleagues and hurled threats at her.
She said whenever she tried to inquire the reason behind his hostile behaviour, rather than adopting a polite attitude, he would misbehave with her.
He also called her husband and threatened him of dire consequences if she did not agree to work on his agenda, the FIR said, adding that he asked her to resign from the PNC otherwise she would face a big loss.
In the FIR, the woman said she had informed her highups as well as the council members about his intimidating attitude but to no avail. She warned that he would be responsible for any mishap she and her family faced.
When contacted the police said the case had been registered andinvestigationwasin progress.Staf f Reporter
KARACHI: A young man was shot dead by police after a chase as he allegedly refused to stop his motorbike during snap-checking and tried to speed away in Gulistan-i-Jauhar on Tuesday, of ficials and hospital sources said.
The manner with which two policemen of Shaheen Force shot the man twice not on any road but inside an apartment complex cast doubts over their side of story and put a big question mark over their training.
The incident sparked a public outcry on social media that prompted Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to take notice of it.
DIG-East Muquddus Haider told Dawn that an inquiry conducted by senior police officers proved that the `policemen killed an innocent person`.
He added that three policemen were arrestedon charges of killing the citizen. An FIR under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code was being registered against them.
Earlier, SSP-East Syed Abdul Rahim Shirazi told Dawn that three policemen of Shaheen Force, which was recently formed to counter street criminals in the city, were arrested for shooting to death 26-year-old Amir Hussain.
In their initial statement, the held policemen said they signalled the motorcyclist to stop during snap-checking. He did not stop upon which they chased him, started firing that led to his death, the SSP said.
The victim is said to be a son of an official of the Sindh excise department.
His relatives told the media that the policemen chased Amir and shot him on the stairs of Noman Avenue, a multi-storey apartment complex, in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Block-20. He suf fered critical bullet wounds and was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival.
Police Surgeon Summaiya Syed said that the man suffered two firearm injuries in the chest and foot.
She said both bullets stuck in the body and were retrieved by doctors during a post-mortem examination. The same had been handed over to police for further investigation, she said.Meanwhile, Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and directed the Karachi police chief to submit a detailed report about the incident.
Robbers shoot man over resistance A citizen was shot and wounded by two armed robbers when he put up resistance in North Karachi, police said on Tuesday.
The Sir Syed police said Shakir Aziz, 45, was intercepted by the robbers near Mohammed Shah Graveyard, held him at gunpoint and demanded cell phone and cash. As he offered resistance, they shot him and tried to escape.
However, area people gathered there and managed to overpower one of the robbers and gave him severe beating. However, police managed to save him f rom the wrath of the people.
He was shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, a suspected robber was shot and wounded in an alleged encounter in Sohrab Goth on Tuesday evening.
Police said that the encounter took place between policemen and robbers at Aligarh Society where after an exchange of firing, suspect Fayaz Khalig was arrested in injured condition while his accomplice fled. The police seized a pistol from him. The injured was shif ted to the ASH.
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has declared the grant of judicial powers to the provincial anti-harassment ombudsperson for deciding women`s property issues unconstitutional and asked the government for `appropriate` legislation on the matter.
Justice Syed Arshad Ali of a single-member bench ruled that theEnforcement of Women`s Property Rights Act, 2019, was meant to allow the executive limb of the state to conduct a parallel judicial proceeding.
`This, in my humble view, is an excessive delegation of power and would offend the principle of trichotomy of power, which is one of the fundamental value of our constitution where under all the three organs of the State namely the legislature, the executive and the judiciary are required to perform their functions and exercise their powers within the allotted sphere,` it declared.
The bench issued the order while accepting an appeal by Ms Palak Shehnaz and others against the June 18, 2021, orders of the ombudsperson to `attach and seal` the entire disputed property until the disposal of the main complaint.
Ghulam MohiuddinMalik was the lawyer for appellants.
The order was issued on a complaint of Ms Khushnood and two other people under Section 4 of the KP Enforcement of Women`s Property Rights Act.The bench discussed in detail dif ferent provisions of the KP Enforcement of Women`s Property Rights Act and the question whether when courts were established under Article 175 of the Constitution, parallel adversarial functions, which the courts exclusively enjoyed, could be conferred upon any limb of the state other than judiciary and whether the office of the ombudsperson fell within the judicial limb of the state.
`Our constitution is founded on the theory of trichotomy of powers between three limbs/ organs of the state, namely the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. It delineates functions of each of the organs,` the bench observed.
The court observed that adversarial functions of the court on any authority would then obviously offend the basic theory of trichotomy.
The court also discussed different offices of ombudsmen established under different laws including that of the federal ombudsman (wafagi mohtasib), federal tax ombudsman, banking mohtasib, insurance ombudsman, etc.
and their respective powers.
Referring to dif ferent judgments of the superior courts, the bench ruled that the office of an ombudsman fell in the executive limb of the state though he performed his functions as quasi-judicial and could record evidence, investigate a matter and functioned as a watchdog on government institutions.
It added that it was high time that the issue where a woman was deprived of her property more particularly in inheritance, the provincial government should pass an appropriate legislation to safeguard the women rights but within the sphere of theConstitution.
The bench observed that it was conscious of the fact that in the present legal dispensation and in theabsence of appropriate legislation, the women were normally deprived of their share provided in the Sharia in their inherited property.
It ordered the sharing of its judgement with the law and justice department for appropriate action.
While referring to different provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure regarding mode of attachment of immovable properties, the bench observed that Rule 54 of the CPC`s Order 21 did not allow in any way the court to take actual possession of the disputed property and despite issuance of attachment order it remained within the possession of defendants.
It added that ordering sealing of any property by the ombudsperson was not backed by any law and any order for attachment of immovable property should be implemented and interpreted in the manner provided in the said rule.
The court declared the impugned order of the ombudsperson, allowing the sealing of the disputed property, as without jurisdiction and setit aside.
However, the order of attachment, the bench ruled, of the disputed property should remain in the field.
It ruled that there was an apparent disparity between sections 4 and 7 of the Act, which had an inherent defect.
The bench declared that Section 4 provided that a woman, who was deprived of her ownership or possession of the property, might file a complaint to the ombudsman if no proceedings in a court of law were pending regarding the property.
It added that Section 7 empowered the ombudsman to entertain a complaint in respect of any dispute relating to a property right of a woman despite the pendency of claim before the competent court of law.
NAROWAL: A Sialkot court sentenced an influential person to death on three counts in a 2008 murder case of three transgender persons.
Ghulam Haider, a resident of Naya Adalat Garha in Sialkot, had submitted an application to the police on Nov 5, 2008, that unidentified armed men had shot and killed his transgender son, Mazhar Hussain alias Jura, along with two friends, identified as Aamir Shahzad and Abdul Jabbar alias Jhara.
The Ugoki police had registered a first information report of the murder against unidentified persons.
The police investigated the blind murder and found Ahmed Bilal Cheema responsible for shooting dead the three transgender persons over an argument.
However, the suspect fled to the US in January 2009.
According to police sources, Cheema is the son of former provincial minister Ajmal Cheema and nephew of former Sialkot district nazim Muhammad Akmal Cheema.
When the suspect voluntarily returned to Pakistan in July this year, the Sialkot police arrested him at the airport.
They completed the investigation report and submitted it in court along with the evidence.
On Dec 24, Sialkot District and Sessions Judge Jazila Aslam sentenced Cheema to death on three counts and ordered payment of compensation worth Rs500,000 to the relatives of each of the victims. The court ordered the accused to be imprisoned for another six months in case of non-payment of the compensation amount.
Another year of Lahore’s worsening air pollution crisis
Much like the year before, Lahore’s populace will go into a new year barely being able to see or breathe during the winters owing to the city’s air pollution woes. This year too, like the year before and the one before that, Lahore consistently featured on the most polluted cities in the world list given its Air Quality Index (AQI) readings which crossed 400 US AQI on some days – classified as hazardous air.
On other days, when the AQI readings for the city dwindled between 150 US AQI and 200 US AQI residents were lucky to have just unhealthy air instead of hazardous air. Ever since the arrival of winter, environmental experts and residents alike have been voicing their displeasure on social media and other forums over the government’s false promises vis a vis tackling air pollution.
However, it seems that the social media campaigns have fallen on deaf ears as mega polluters like industrial units and vehicles continue to pollute the air with impunity. “According to various reports, over the past 20 years, transportation has been the primary source of pollution as vehicle exhaust is responsible for 50% of pollution.
Then there are polluters like diesel and coal-fired power generating units. The government has failed to curb these polluters,” remarked Ahmad Rafay Alam, an environmental law expert based in Lahore. Alam further said that the government’s only course of action every smog season is to ban brick kilns and burning crop residues “but nothing actually transpires from these bans.” It is pertinent to mention that every time the city’s AQI index reading crosses 200 US AQI, which is almost a daily occurrence for Lahore, the fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) concentration, goes well above the recommended World Health Organisation’s (WHO) air quality guidelines.
For instance, a recent reading of Lahore’s AQI stood at 230 US AQI, which translates into a PM 2.5 concentration 36 times higher than the WHO’s guideline values. The readings are troubling because a higher PM 2.5 concentration not only reduces visibility and causes the air to appear hazy but are also a threat for human health. Director of the provincial Environment Protection Agency, Naseem Rehman, when quizzed about the city’s hazardous air, said that the department had taken many initiatives to curb pollution levels this year.
“Even before the smog season started, we began scheduling meetings with representatives of brick kiln owners and industrialists to convince them to put in place improved pollution control systems,” Rehman explained, adding that interestfree loans were also offered so that such environmental friendly systems could be implemented.
“Furthermore, the provincial industries department has allocated Rs 10 to 12 million for the emission control system installation programme.” The EPA Director claimed that this time around the intensity of the smog and the air pollution levels were much lower as compared to the previous year because of the department’s timely actions. “Our special anti-smog squads have been working all year and their efforts have borne fruit,” said Rehman. However, Alam, the environmental lawyer, disagrees.
“The anti-smog squad exists because the government wants to appease the courts. The squad has failed to take action against any major factory or plant. Therefore, it only looks good on paper,” Alam opined while talking to The Express Tribune.
Sexual abuse of children and minors is becoming a rampant problem across Pakistan, but the way it has surged in Karachi should be alarming for the city police. Over 200 cases of minor sexual abuse have been reported in one year till the last week of 2022; this number does not include other cases which went unreported. According to reports, the most vulnerable age group is from five to 11, followed by 12 to 17 years. That means minors and children from five to 17 years of age constitute nearly two-thirds of the total abuse cases in Karachi. The most disturbing part of this story is that cases of minor girls’ murder after rape have seen a worrisome increase in Karachi during 2022. Just in the last quarter of the year a sudden upsurge has been witnessed with at least six cases of murder after rape have shaken the city recently. Three of them took place quite recently in December alone. These official statistics from the Karachi police reveal that in eight of the 216 reported cases of sexual abuse in the city, the victims were infants and not even five years old.
As many as 40 of the victims were between six and 10, whereas 38 were over 15 and below 18 years of age. Though the police have been able to arrest the suspects in nearly all minor abuse-related cases, it is alarming that in most cases close relatives and neighbours were the main accused as the perpetrators of such heinous crimes. A majority of victims became targets of sexual abuse within the confines of their homes. The police appear to be helpless in such situations where the home itself is not a safe place for the child. When close relatives are involved in such crimes in the house the police can get only involved after the crime has been committed. In many such cases the police could not get timely information of these cases and the investigation got delayed as forensic evidence became hard to gather after any such delay in reporting.
The malaise is of a much broader scale and cannot be contained by investigation and prosecution alone. There are at least two more fronts – in addition to law enforcement – that need attention here: awareness and education. Awareness among parents about not blindly trusting even their close relatives can play a significant role. Breach of trust is way too common now and no excuse should be acceptable when parents themselves leave their children and minors in the custody of male relatives. Education for children must include lessons on how to protect their bodies and not allow inappropriate touch even by close relatives. There appears to be a cultural breakdown in society which it needs to tackle upfront. Research shows that before abuse and rape there is a usually a long trail of inappropriate touch that the child does not report or does not understand. Awareness and education with cutting-edge investigation and prosecution methods may make a difference, otherwise the situation looks bleak for our children.
Imagine a situation where texts do not have to go through any kind of scrutiny and where all sorts of conspiracy theories can reach people within minutes. We have, unfortunately, arrived at our dystopian destination – thanks to social networking sites. I am certain that people working on this communication system could not have imagined that the technology would someday become a beacon of misinformation.
Pakistan has always had a problem of misinformation, but it was during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic that the issue became more pronounced. From ministers’ half-baked theories about the virus and the discovery of the unproven benefits of the sana makki herb to videos showing how the vaccines were a cover to insert chips inside humans, we did not leave any opportunity to prove how we are a bunch of highly educated, stupid people.
And while such examples are both shocking and humorous, they only garner a few eye-rolls and face-palms. But there have been certain cases where misinformation – and its deliberate spread – resulted in dangerous consequences including attacks on federal ministers. Last year (2021), right after the Aurat March, people on social media started sharing videos from the event, with fabricated subtitles that ended up putting the lives of the organizers in danger. These videos were widely shared on Twitter and Facebook – even retweeted by some well-known journalists.
We saw a similar campaign a few months ago regarding the Transgender Person Act 2018. A JI senator claimed that many people were using the law to get their gender changed. His tweet created a storm on social media, with everyone jumping on the bandwagon to proudly display their hate against the marginalized community. The level of misinformation was so intense that some members of the khawajasira community held a protest to condemn the act. And while everything the transgender community had been saying was neglected, the protest got quite an audience on social media. On Facebook alone, it got around 400,000 views within a couple of months.
Social media heavily relies on algorithms to improve user experience. And this specific tool is quite lethal when it comes to amplifying fake news and misinformation. Social media sites carefully analyze users’ history and bring up posts on their timelines which they think users may like. People more prone to believing in conspiracy theories and news stories with no credible sources are more likely to find similar articles on their timelines.
And since there is no one in such an echo chamber to challenge their beliefs, they cannot help but consume information that is compatible with their beliefs. The problem gets more intensified when such tactics are skilfully used by political parties to get more people on their side. In 2018, a photo from the JFK airport was circulated on social media with the caption that the then prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, had to go through a strict body check. And even though it was proved that the photo was not Abbasi’s, it was used by several troll accounts for political point scoring.
Pakistanis on Twitter know well about a star PTI supporter, who slipped into oblivion soon after the PTI rose to power. The young impassioned man is famous for creating fake accounts of known Pakistani personalities, including that of Dr AQ Khan. He appeared in an Al Jazeera documentary released in 2020. In the documentary, his wife shares in glee how her fake tweets were picked up by Indian news media and adds “if you repeat a lie over and over again, people start believing it to be the truth.”
But what do people get out of these fake trends and misinformation? Not only are such trends a great political strategy, they also provide a lucrative business model to many people interested in making quick bucks. For social media companies, a high engagement rate is crucial for their growth. For businesses, more money through clicks, likes, and other impressions is the main objective.
Six years ago, the world witnessed the rise of Donald Trump to power in shock. Many political observers refused to believe that Trump could become the most powerful man of the world – now that we have seen many Trump-like personalities all around us, it’s not that hard to believe this. And so began the search for the truth. From Russian bots to the role of Facebook, everything was analyzed to make sense of the election upset. Of course, people were not willing to believe that all strategies used to create the Obama brand could be used to make the MAGA slogan a reality.
But the research did uncover some interesting aspects of the economy of misinformation. A small Macedonian city turned out to be home to over a hundred pro-Trump websites. For people working from there, sensational and fake blog posts were the quickest way to make money through automated advertising engines. Over the years, the keyword ‘Trump’ became more valuable, making people ample amounts of profits.
When such profit-making strategies start penetrating platforms, it gets hard to fight against the deadly consequences so created. Some political leaders rely on the propaganda machine to keep their support base intact. And one trick they use is to discredit credible organizations that can identify between the real and fake. Political parties –especially the PTI – have used this trick with much success, particularly against media houses. Such statements are mostly political – and don’t end up in the courts. But they do build a biased approach among people making them not pay attention to any information – regardless of how genuine it is – that goes against their beliefs.
Pakistanis are trapped in this vicious cycle of misinformation and fake news, and there is no escape from it any time soon. While we happily pray for an increase in our knowledge, little attention is paid to the source of information and whether it is beneficial. We continue to live a life of ignorance.
The writer is an assistant editor at The News. She tweets @manie_sid and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org