Two held for harassment, fraud – 15 Feb 2023

RAWALPINDI:
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested a suspect for his alleged involvement in sexual harassment and seized three mobile phones from his possession besides rounding up another accused, who allegedly pocketed millions of rupees on the pretext of sending 11 innocent people abroad. Sources said, Muhammad Tauqeer is accused of recording indecent pictures and videos of a woman and harassing and blackmailing the woman and her family by sharing the objectionable content on social media. On receiving a complaint, the FIA team conducted a raid in Chakwal and arrested the accused. The sources said three mobile phones were recovered from the suspect which were sent for forensics.

On the other hand, the FIA’s Islamabad arrested an agent namely Chulam Abbas after his prearrest bail was cancelled. The accused allegedly pocketed Rs 1.5 million on the pretext of sending it people to Saudi Arabia for performing Umrah [pilgrimage] and later disappeared from the scene. OUR CORRESPONDENT

Read more

Young woman allegedly raped – 15 Feb 2023

LAHORE:

Two suspects were arrested for allegedly attempting to rape a 12-year-old boy in Ichra. The suspects had allegedly lured the boy into a secluded place and attempted to rape him. However, the boy cried for help. Hearing the boy’s cries, people alerted the police. A team reached the spot and arrested the suspects.

In another case reported in Nishter Colony, a 28-year-old woman was raped by a suspect. The suspect had allegedly promised the victim that he would marry her if she eloped with him. The suspect took the victim to Nisther Colony where he allegedly raped her. Police on complaint registered a case and were investigating the matter further. OUR CORRESPONDENT

Read more

Woman shot by husband – 15 Feb 2023

KHURRIANWALA:
A woman was shot and injured allegedly by her husband over forbidding him from harassing her daughter. The injured woman was shifted to hospital.
Safia, a resident of Mohammad Ali Road, told the police that her second husband Sajid had allegedly been advancing towards her daughter from her previous marriage. The woman said that when she told Sajid to behave, he shot and injured her with his accomplice Asif.
In another incident, an unidentified man shot and injured Saifullah at the Bypass Chowk. The victim was on way to his Dera within the limits of Sadar police station. OUR CORRESPONDENT

Read more

Man arrested in Kohat for assaulting boy – 15 Feb 2023

KOHAT: A boy was assaulted by a man in Parshai area of Gumbat tehsil at gunpoint here on Tuesday, the police said.

Gumbat SHO Fazal Mohammad said the victim, 9, told his parents that a local resident, namely Sajid Minhas, 35, took him to the fields and ordered him to remove clothes at gunpoint and then assaulted him.

He said the police had arrested the accused, who admitted to his crime.

SHO Fazal Mohammad said that the police had registered FIR against the man.

Meanwhile, a sepoy of Frontier Corps, Gul Raza, who had suffered injuries in a blast occurred in Miramshah, North Waziristan tribal district, two years ago, succumbed to his injuries in the Combined Military Hospital, Peshawar, on Tuesday. He belonged to Kachai area of Kohat.

Gul Raza initially remained in coma for six months, and was shifted to his house, but was repeatedly hospitalised after his condition deteriorated. He had again gone into coma.Correspondent

Read more

Laws in place to award punishment in blasphemy offences: minister – 15 Feb 2023

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada on Tuesday said the lynching of a man accused of blasphemy in Nankana Sahib was tragic and highly condemnable.

`No one should be allowed to take law into their hands. Blasphemy laws are framed for deterrence and punishment is rigorous in such offences but the misuse of these laws can only be averted by taking strict action under the law against the culprits,` Mr Pirzada said during a meeting with a parliamentarydelegation of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Freedom of Religion or Belief from the United Kingdom at Ministry of Human Rights.

The minister welcomed delegates and said Pakistan had strong, strategically significant and long-lasting relations with the UK.

He claimed that the police had taken into custody many people involved in this heinous crime and they would be punished by the courts after due course of action and proceedings.

In Pakistan, state institutions and forces were fully vigilant about human rights violations, he said, adding: `We are victims of cross-border terrorism and vicious propaganda.

In response to a question posed by one of the delegates on steps taken by the state for protection of minorities, the minister said that there was a strong constitutional and structural framework present in the country for the freedom andprotection of rights of minorities.

He expressed that it was a fact that whenever a visit of international monitory or human rights organisation was expected, an untoward incident happened where foreign spy agencies of hostile neighbours were mainly involved in propaganda to defame Pakistan.

Delegates were further apprised that the National Action Plan on Human Rights would introduce policy and legal reforms particularly for priority segments of society.

In his remarks, the minister reiterated his commitment towards safeguarding and uplif ting minority rights in the country. He said that international human rights watchdogs showed vigilance on every single tragic incident happening in Pakistan but were easily overloole ing persecution of religious minorities and atrocities of Indian forces in Illegally India Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Read more

Toddler’s name removed from FIR – 15 Feb 2023

KARACHI: In an attempt to evade legal consequences, the Docks police on Tuesday discharged a two-year-old boy from the list of suspects in the interim charge sheet filed in a case pertaining to alleged illegal withdrawal of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) funds.

Police had booked two-year-old Ramzan Shah along with his father and nine other relatives for allegedly illegally withdrawing money under the BISP in Clifton.

On the last date, Judicial Magistrate (West) Ghazanfar Abbas had expressed his displeasure with police after the family had produced the child in court pleading to grant him bail before arrest.

The magistrate had summoned the investigating officer to furnish an explanation for naming the toddler in the case and then showing him as an absconder. On Tuesday, the interim charge sheet was filed by it was not taken up since the magistrate was on leave.

Read more

Digital courts – 15 Feb 2023

All this can be drastically changed if only the honourable judges realise three elementary concepts

On 17 Dec 2022, the Supreme Court released data on the number of pending cases. For the first time the pending cases, starting with 54,964 at the beginning of 2022, had been reduced by 2,653 by the end of the year. Very appropriately, the drop was attributed to computerisation of records. The country as a whole has over 2.16 million pending cases which, at this rate, would require roughly 2000 years to resolve.

All this can be drastically changed if only the honourable judges realise three elementary concepts. First: much before actually dispensing justice, they ought to reduce the mountains of misery that litigants have to endure in the process of seeking relief. Second: the justice delivery processes can be revolutionised not by foreign funded $350 million ‘access to justice’ loans but by indigenously adopting modern technology and digitisation. And third: each and every process of a district, high or supreme court that involves creation, copying, checking, storage and transportation of thousands of documents and files each day can be entirely digitised and eliminated.

Beginning from e-filing, courts could adopt a step by step approach to digitisation of each process. The existing affidavit, identification, biometric verification, picture taking, stamping and fee payment process for each petitioner and lawyer can be replaced by digitally uploading the petition along with the CNIC, biometric and photo identity. This can be done as already being done for online passport renewal for Pakistani diaspora.

Imagine a lawyer wanting to obtain a certified copy of a case file or order. The existing procedure calls for making an application to the registrar of the concerned branch. The document or the file is searched and pulled out from a heap of other files, loaded on luggage trolleys and manually transported to the Copying Department, after due entries on exit and arrival registers. The concerned lawyer will track the file, arrive in Copying Department, receive a Challan, go to a bank for payment, bring back the bank receipt to the Copying Department, who will then perform the generous act of making a photocopy. Even a simple task of making a photocopy involves many days of completely avoidable runarounds. This entire process can be eliminated by computerising all court documents and records and having them available on a central database. Any lawyer or litigant requiring a copy should be able to log on to the court documents, undergo necessary checks and verification, electronically make payments and download the required documents in a matter of minutes, without leaving his home.

Typically after the affidavit verification process, a lawyer would bring the petition and the affidavits to the concerned Registrar (civil, suit, criminal, CP, etc), where they are checked for completeness against a 22-point checklist of possible objections. Once all objections are resolved, a case number is allocated. The file is now moved to another office for roster fixation and then to the concerned branch for sending to the court on the day of hearing. Imagine all these steps, activities and departments replaced by a computer system that could carry out the verification, interactive resolution of objections, allocation of case number, rostering, record keeping and presenting the documents before the court on the day of the hearing.

Likewise most other process could be completely stripped of all human interactions, thus minimising or eliminating effort, errors and possible bribes. No individuals should ever be required to visit any court premises, for taking or receiving any documents or money — may they relate to bail bonds, monthly maintenance allowance of a widow or fee for various court services and documents.

The technology and human resource for undertaking digitisation of court processes is already available in Pakistan. The tasks mentioned above can be accomplished in a relatively short time, setting the stage for moving on to virtual courts. After all why must a police officer, a bureaucrat or an expert witness take hours off work to give ‘five-minute’ worth of testimony? Are the honourable judges and the Bar Councils willing to break away from the colonial past and adopt modern digital methods to forever transform the judicial processes of Pakistan.

Read more

The politics of narratives – 15 Feb 2023

As millions of Pakistanis continue to bear the brunt of inflation and poverty, the political elite finds new narratives to fool the hapless people of the country. Both former prime minister Imran Khan and PML-N’s leader Maryam Nawaz believe that their political rhetoric can somehow help the 220 million people who are facing the challenges created by not only the policies of global and regional financial institutions but also the country’s ruling elite.

Khan seems determined to prove that he can help the country tackle the plethora of crises Pakistan currently faces, and blames politicians and institutions for all the wrongs in the country. Maryam asserts that everything could be fixed if Khan is put behind bars. Both leaders do not have any welfare programme that might lift more than the 80 million poor people out of poverty. And they do not seem to care about the threat of large-scale starvation; the poor are already facing acute food shortages. Both seem indifferent to the plight of the over 33 million people hit by catastrophic floods in 2022. The two leaders rarely talk about the displaced flood-affected people.

Maryam’s top priority lies in strengthening her position within the party by apparently sidelining the party’s senior leaders, besides extending support to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar whose flawed economic policies have pushed the country towards a financial meltdown. While Maryam loves criticizing Khan for the Toshakhana case and his helicopter rides’ expenses, she is silent on the swelling size of the federal cabinet that is stuffed with the relatives and friends of the Sharifs and other PDM leaders.

Maryam has every right to ask Imran Khan about his performance, and is justified in raising pertinent questions over the lack of amenities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) where the PTI ruled for more than eight years. But should she not raise questions over the performance of the PML-N in Punjab when her uncle was chief minister? Should she not wonder as to why a majority of the 25 million out-of-school children are from Punjab that remained under her family’s rule for a considerably long period? Should she not answer as to why PM Shehbaz Sharif failed in curbing the monstrous head of fanaticism that is causing incidents like the one that took place in Nankana Sahib over the weekend?

There could be hundreds of other questions for her. But since she may not have enough time to answer all of them, she must at least spare some time to reflect upon the performance of her family-led government. Punjab houses the highest number of poor in the country. Many of its cities do not have sewage treatment plants. Some urban centres in the province are also not equipped with industrial effluent treatment systems. But since a number of industrialists are affiliated with the PML-N, no one can compel them to install these plants. Punjab continues to be the hotbed of the rising religious bigotry while the largest number of crimes against women are also committed in the province.

While the PML-N demands constitutional rights for itself, it denies the same rights to workers, students and minorities. Millions of workers cannot form unions, especially in factories owned by those close to the PML-N. Brick kiln families present a picture of modern slavery; many brick kiln owners claim to be the supporters and local leaders of different political parties. Influential land grabbers from Islamabad to Lahore are also believed to be closely associated with these parties that are known for evicting poor people from slums in the name of anti-encroachment drives, including the PML-N.

Khan, who is known for his political somersaults, is also busy developing a new narrative. First, he accused the US of hatching conspiracies to oust him. Then, the blame somehow shifted to Zardari and Shehbaz and now he is accusing other personalities of orchestrating his removal. Khan thinks the country’s progress does not lie in coming up with a programme to address the existing challenges but in lambasting his political rivals. While he is quick at pointing out the ways he was shown the door, he does not say anything about ‘Project Imran’ that brought him to power.

Even after his ouster as prime minister, he had a chance to serve the people because his party still had governments in Punjab, KP, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. But he chose to plunge the country into political chaos. He regularly held rallies across the country peddling the false conspiracy narrative, refusing to come up with any concrete evidence to back up his claims. He could have improved the living conditions of people in the four regions, but instead he ran anti-government campaigns. His ally and chief minister of Punjab Pervaiz Elahi appeased the religious right by creating more hardships for minorities. The former CM of Punjab kept taking action against those who resisted the evictions of people to start the Ravi development project.

After miserably failing in achieving his target, Khan got the provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP dissolved. Before the dissolution, his party leaders went to the extent of writing to the IMF, warning it against granting loans to the country. This attitude flies in the face of his claims that he holds the country dear.

Khan talks about poverty and lack of human development. But he is yet to share the number of people who were lifted out of poverty during his tenure. Did the issue of stunted growth witness a downward spiral during his tenure? Were the homeless provided any decent housing? How many schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and basic health units were set up during his time? When he came to power, around 60 million lived in poverty. Now that number has gone up to over 80 million.

It is clear that both Maryam and Khan have no answers to the problems of the people. Both apparently belief that a narrative is enough, but the reality is different. The country owes a staggering debt of over $120 billion. A storm of merciless inflation will be unleashed in the next few weeks by the ruling elite, which may push millions below the poverty line. Extremism has been gripping the country for some time and the situation is likely to exacerbate. In the absence of coalition support fund and US drones, how would this battle be effective against militants?

With the rising cost of doing business, hundreds – or possibly thousands – of major and small businesses are likely to suffer creating more unemployment. Such a situation could plunge the country into a Tunisia-like situation where the death of one poor vendor by suicide inflamed the entire country, triggering the Arab Spring across the region and sending powerful rulers packing.

It is time our politicians came up with plans to address the grinding poverty and rising inflation. They must stop depending on attractive narratives that fail to resolve the existing crisis. The country needs concrete actions, not rhetorical narratives.

The writer is a freelance journalist who can be reached at: egalitarianism444@gmail.com

Read more

`Seditious` utterances – 15 Feb 2023

THE PDM government appears hell-bent on clubbing its opponents, particularly those belonging to the PTI, with the big stick of sedition. The latest political figure to face charges of making `seditious` utterances is former finance minister Shaukat Tarin. The FIA on Monday filed charges against Mr Tarin based on audio clips leaked in August in which the former minister is allegedly heard advising the then PTI finance ministers of KP and Punjab not to return surplus funds to the centre in order to sabotage talks with the IMF. Shaukat Tarin claims the clips have been `tampered` with. Other PTI figures who have recently faced the sword of sedition include Fawad Chaudhry, Shandana Gulzar, Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill.

The loose application of the sedition law, particularly to silence opponents, needs to stop. Mr Tarin`s comments if proved to be true were indeed highly inappropriate. He should have known better than to recommend undermining talks on such a sensitive issue, considering the fact he has served in government multiple times. However, bringing these indiscretions within the ambit of sedition is simply absurd. A parallel investigation also needs to take place probing who bugged the former minister`s phone. The fact that intelligence agencies, military and civilian, are listening in on private conversations is unsettling. Though it is true that, when in power, the PTI hounded its political adversaries by using the same unseemly tactics, the politics of vengeance and retribution must come to an end. All stakeholders need to step back and work towards bringing civility to politics. The rapid-fire filing of cases against opponents needs to be done away with, especially on such grave charges before the practice turns into an endless loop of revenge. Moreover, the sooner the sedition law is done away with, the better, as rather than containing anti-state activity, this odious legislation is used to keep critical voices in check by both civilian and military rulers.

Read more

Human traffickers gang busted, girl recovered – 14 Feb 2023

SHANGLA: The police have arrested a gang of human traffickers from Upper Kohistan district and recovered a girl, `abducted` from Alpuri here on Feb 4.

SSP investigations Agiq Hussain, in a statement issued here on Monday, said a resident of Lilownai area of Alpuri had registered a complaint with the Alpuri police station on Feb 5, stating that his young daughter had been `abducted` by a person from Upper Kohistan district.

The statement said the SSP had formed a team, which investigated the case and arrested the main accused, namely Hazrat Khalid from Kohistan, and recovered the `abducted` girl from him the other day.

The accused confessed the girl`s abduction, and said he had sold her for Rs150,000 to a man, namely Gul Rahman, also of Upper Kohistan. He also identified his other accomplices.

The police statement said Hazrat Khalid had per-suaded the girl to marry with him, and on the night of Feb 4, he took her away from her house in Lilownai.

The police said they had also arrested the other members of the gang, including Mohammad Raham, Mohammad Ayaz, Saifur Rehman, Fazal Haq and Gul Rehman, whom the girl was sold. They all belonged to Upper Kohistan.

The police said the girl told them that her `abductor` had links with a women trafficker group.

SECURITY: Malakand regional police officer Sajjad Khan visited the 11MW Karora hydropower project on Monday, and directed to improve the security at the site to thwart any untoward incident.

Shangla district police officer Muhammad Imran and others also accompanied the RPO.

RPO Sajjad Khan directed the project director Sarfaraz Khan to ensure elaborate security arrangements for the residences of Chinese engineers.

Read more