Police crack blind murder case

HARIPUR: The police claimed to have traced the blind murder and arrested the main accused involved in the killing of woman, whose body was found in Hattar, with her throat slit, several weeks ago.

According to the police, the deceased, identified as Sidra Shaheen, 22, was the daughter of Maskeen and the wife of Shahzad. She lived in Hattar. Shahzad reported the incident to the police, resulting in the registration of an FIR at the Hattar police station under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The primary suspect, Nouman, who is the victim’s brother and resides in Hattar, has been arrested. Nouman has confessed to the murder and the alleged murder weapon, a knife, has been recovered from his possession. The motive behind the murder is still under investigation as local police continue to gather information on this case. OUR CORRESPONDENT

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Three of family shot dead in Kohat over old enmity

KOHAT: Three members of a family including a woman were killed and one person was injured in Sheri Mela area of Junglekhel here on Monday over an old enmity, police and witnesses said.

The accused managed to escape after the armed attack, which created panic in the area and people in the street rushed to their homes to avoid harm.

The victim`s family nominated Irfan, Adnan, and Ikram sons of Umer Farooq in the FIR.

The killers had earlier gunned down four people of the same family two years back.

The victims included Sarfraz, Mohib and Farhat Bibi, while Nauman was injured from the attackers` side. The victims had no automatic weapons while their rivals were armed with Kalashnikovs.

The victims were returning from the courts after hearing in an old case when the attacker waiting for them came out on motorcycles and opened fire, killing three people.

Meanwhile, the woman who lost her son, daughter, and a nephew in the attack said that a jirga was being arranged to end the enmity but the rival party cheated us. She alleged that the police were hand in glove with the killers.

Later, the family members of the victims set on fire the house of the killers and put the dead bodies on the main bypass road demanding immediate arrest of the killers, who had earlier killed four members of the same family two years back.

The SP operations, Zahid Khan, reached the spot and started negotiations with the protesters to end their protest and open the road to traffic.

The Rescue 1122 also responded swiftly and put out the fire and shifted the bodies and injured person to the KDA hospital for autopsy and treatment.

An elder of the area said that it was a classic example of justice delayed because had the people who had killed four people two years back been awarded punishment, they would not have dared to kill three more.

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Addict stabs wife to death

KARACHI: A 25-yearold woman was stabbed to death near Afghan Camp onMonday.

Gulshan-i-Maymar SHO Shahid Taj said the woman, Amina, was killed by her husband, Meer Zaman, in FareedGoth off Northern Bypass.

The SHO said the suspect had been arrested.

He was a drug addict who killed his wife when she refused to give him money, the officer added. The body was shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for medico-legal formalities.

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Bodies of missing woman, son found in well at Nazimabad home

KARACHI: Police on Monday arrested a domestic help on charges of killing a woman and her son in Nazimabad.

Bodies of 58-year-old Shaista Jamal, and her 27-year-old son, Hadi Jamal, were found from a well inside their home in Mujahid Colony, Nazimabad-4.

The police said the victims had gone missing for the past few days and an FIR regarding their disappearance was lodged on Sept 18.

The bodies were shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital to fulfill medico-legal formalities.

A police spokesperson said that Noor Shafa, daughter of the deceased woman, had lodged a missing report, stating that two cars were also missing from the home.

With the help of technology, the police detained one employee, Faisal. Initially, there were discrepancies between his statement before the police and the technical information.

During further interrogation, the held suspect emerged suspicious. Later, on a lead provided by him the police arrested another suspect, Waheed. It emerged during the investigation that Faisal, along with Waheed and another accomplice, had entered the home to commit a robbery.

`Since Faisal was the victims` employee, he along with his two accomplices strangled the woman and her son with the help of a rope for fear of being identified and threw their bodies in the well inside the residence, which was covered by them,` the spokesperson said.

After the murder, the three suspects took away their two cars. The police said efforts were underway to arrest the third suspect.

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`Missing` anchor Imran Riaz back home after four months

LAHORE: Anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan, who `went missing` over four months ago, finally returned home `safely` on Monday morning.

Punjab police IG Usman Anwar and Sialkot DPO Hassan Iqbal confirmed that the missing anchorperson was back home.

However, his mysterious disappearance and surprise appearance has shocked many, leaving questions as to where he was during the time that he had been `missing`.

Talking to Dawn, DPO Iqbal said Sialkot police received a call that the anchorperson was present in Civil Hospital. The SHO concerned rushed to the site and informed his senior officers about Imran Riaz`s presence. Later, police transported him safely to his residence in Lahore.

He said Imran Riaz had been taken into the custody on May 11 under 16 MPO from the premises of Sialkot airport when he was about to leave Pakistan for Muscat, two days after PTI activists turned violent following the arrest of party chairman Imran Khan.

The anchorperson was off-loaded by airline.

He said action was initiated against him over his Twitter account and social media profile and his `statements` regarding the PTI agitations.

The DPO said the anchorperson was sent to the Sialkot jail. Meanwhile, the anchorperson submitted a request to the Sialkot deputy commissioner asking him to withdraw the detention order and submitting an undertaking that he would respect the laws. The DC withdrew the detention order next day and Imran Riaz was released.

The DPO said it was on record that the anchorperson himself sat in the car that had reached there to receive him and nobody was aware of his next destination. Footage also surfaced later, Mr Iqbal said, adding that Imran Riaz was handed over to his father early on Monday.

In a post on `X` on Monday morning, the Sialkot police said, `Journalist/anchor Mr Imran Riaz Khan has been safely recovered. He is now with his family.

Later, Imran Riaz`s lawyer Mian Ali Ashfaq confirmed the development. In a post on `X`, he said: `By God`s special blessing, grace, and mercy, I have brought back my prince. It took a lot of time due to the mountain of dif ficulties, the last limit of understanding of the matter, a weak judiciary, and the current ineffective public constitution and legal helplessness.

In another post, Mr Ashfaq shared a photo with Imran Riaz, the latter`s first since his disappearance show-ing him in poor health condition.

Lawyer Khadija Siddiqi termed the development a positive sign.

`Latest modus operandi of brazenly silencing voices of dissent seems to have failed miserably! Citizens of Pakistan must not be antagonised by our own state!` she said in her post on `X`.

Imran Riaz`s father Mohammad Riaz lodged a case against his abduction against unknown persons on May 16, invoking Section 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Separately, he had also moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) for his son`s safe recovery.

During a May 19 hearing of the case, he became teary-eyed in the LHC, pleading for mercy as the whereabouts of his son remained unknown.

The next day, LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti ordered the police to recover and present the anchorperson by May 22.

On that date, the LHC had directed the ministries of interior and defence to `discharge their constitutional duties to effect the recovery` of the anchorpersonafter IG Usman Anwar revealed that there wasno trace ofthejournalist at any police department across the country.

The LHC was subsequently informed that both the InterServices Intelligence and the Military Intelligence had said the anchorperson was not in their custody.

On May 26, the high court had directed `all agencies` to worl( together to ñnd the anchorperson and produce him before the court by May 30.

When that date arrived, IG Anwar informed the LHC that phone numbers that had been traced back to Afghanistan were involved in the case.

During the June 6 hearing, the anchorperson`s lawyer had contended that their patience was `wearing thin` even as the Punjab government had informed the high courtthateffortstoñndthejournalist were underway.

On Sept 20, the LHC chief justice had given the Punjab police chief a `last opportunity` to recover Imran Riaz by Sept 26.

During the hearing, the chief justice had stated that his patience was `running out`.

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How IMF policies undermine rights

Rashida, 40, works as a domestic worker in three houses in Lahore. She told Human Rights Watch that her 11-year-old son, Arif, wants to know where he can post a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He wants to tell them that even though both his parents each work three jobs, they must ration food supplies and keep the fan off even in 40 C temperatures due to high electricity bills. They are among the millions of Pakistanis forced to make these choices, between food and books, electricity and medicine, dignity and debt.

The deepening economic crisis in Pakistan has historical and structural reasons. However, the recent spike in inflation, increase in electricity and fuel prices, and currency depreciation comes as a result of a $3 billion deal between the IMF and Pakistan in July 2022. It requires the government to end energy and fuel subsidies, increase taxes, and move to a market-based exchange rate.

Both the IMF and the Pakistani government have human rights obligations to pursue economic recovery measures that protect and advance rights in the short and long term, yet the deal puts the burden of recovery on people who are already struggling the most.

On Friday, September 22, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva sent a message to the “people of Pakistan” in a tweet that asked to “please collect more taxes from the wealthy and please protect the poor people of Pakistan.” The government should heed her request, but so should the IMF.

Pakistan is a stark example of IMF conditions that risk undermining people’s economic, social, and cultural rights, but it’s far from the only one. A new report from Human Rights Watch on recent IMF loans around the world found that the vast majority are conditioned on austerity policies that reduce government spending or increase regressive taxes in ways likely to harm human rights. By conditioning its loans on policies that have a long track record of exacerbating poverty and inequality, the IMF is violating its own commitment to respond to the current economic crisis in ways that address deep-seated inequality and build more inclusive economies.

Austerity measures reducing government spending or increasing regressive taxes have a well-documented history of undermining rights. The United Nations Human Rights Council in 2019 adopted guiding principles to ensure that economic recovery measures further “the benefit of the whole population, instead of only a few”. The principles prohibit governments from pursuing austerity unless they meet strict criteria, including avoiding, or if absolutely necessary, limiting and mitigating, any negative effect on rights.

The IMF’s internal research indicates that these policies are not effective in achieving its primary objective: to reduce debt. The IMF’s World Economic Outlook, published in April, observed that fiscal consolidations – a term usually linked to austerity programs – “do not reduce debt ratios, on average”.

Human Rights Watch’s analysis of IMF programs approved to 38 countries since March 2020 finds that over half contain or reduce spending on public wages, compromising governments’ ability to deliver quality public services that are guaranteed as rights. Over half impose value-added taxes, an indirect tax that tends to be regressive and exacerbate inequalities since the rate is the same for people regardless of income.

And over half remove or reduce consumption-based fuel or electricity subsidies or develop plans to do so without adequately investing in social security or other compensatory measures or in clean sources of energy. Fossil fuel subsidies place enormous economic burdens on governments, but they also artificially reduce the costs of fossil fuel production and use, driving fossil fuel dependence at a time when governments should be transitioning to renewable energy to address the climate crisis. At the same time, removing subsidies without adequately investing in social security often means that price increases disproportionately affect those on low incomes.

To mitigate the impacts of these programs, many IMF programs rely on small improvements to cash transfer programs. In Pakistan, increased spending on the Benazir Income Support Program, a government cash transfer program that targets women living in extreme poverty. The program was initiated in 2008 to mitigate the impact of then-record levels of food and fuel inflation, and continues to be Pakistan’s largest social safety net program.

BISP is an important initiative assisting millions of households, and it needs to be expanded significantly to move toward universal social protection that would provide benefits to a broader range of people who have heightened risks of income insecurity, such as children, older people, and people with disabilities. Research has shown that these types of programs are far more effective than those with eligibility-based on socioeconomic status.

A 47-year-old rickshaw driver in Lahore told us, “I can either get medicine (insulin) for my diabetes or pay for my daughter to go to school or keep the lights on at my house. I can do only one of the three. The IMF should come and see how I am managing my life.”

Social security is a human right enshrined in various treaties ratified by Pakistan, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The right to social security plays an important role in realizing a range of other rights, including the rights to education, food, healthcare, and housing. The IMF needs to change course and put people’s economic and social rights at the front and center of their programs.

Saroop Ijaz is the senior counsel, Asia and Sarah Saadoun is a senior economic justice researcher, both at Human Rights Watch.

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Carbon markets

AS COP28, the annual global climate conference, approaches, the demand for carbon offsets has surged, particularly from this year`s host, the United Arab Emirates, and its neighbour Saudi Arabia.

With relatively small populations but with large emissions-intensive industries, such as those producing oil and gas, petrochemicals and fertilisers, both nations are among the top 10 globally in terms of per capita emissions (2021), and are gearing up to decarbonise their respective economies.

Private entities or governments can use voluntary carbon markets (VCM), where they trade carbon offset credits representing the avoidance or removal of greenhouse gas emissions, to mitigate any greenhouse gases they generate. The UAE recently updated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) the GHG reduction commitment to the United Nations Framework on the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) increasing its emissions reduction target from 23.5 per cent to 31pc by 2030.

Saudi Arabia is also investing in the green economic transition through the Middle East Green Initiative and significant purchases of carbon offsets from voluntary markets, signing agreements with African governments to protect and preserve large tracts offorests. These dense forests serve as natural carbon sinks, which absorb GHGs such as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert them into biomass through the process known as photosynthesis.

Nature-based solutions both reduce and remove harmful emissions from the atmosphere, either through the protection of forested landscapes to prevent deforestation, or the restoration of degraded ecosystems to enhance GHG removal from the atmosphere. Each metric tonne of carbon dioxide or equivalent emissions reduced or removed is equal to one carbon offset. These carbon offsets can be traded in internationalVCMs.

Owing to a combination of factors, it is easier and cheaper to reduce and remove GHGs in some locations than in others.

These include a country`s existing emissions profile, the availability of feasible, low-cost solutions to reduce or remove atmospheric GHG emissions, the availability of significant natural resources and access to cheap labour. However, in the absence of a robust carbon market policy, Pakistan will lose out on a critical source of international climate finance that could have provided a vital boost to its ailing economy.

Nature-based carbon sequestration projects can generate revenue over many years. Governments and project developers can earn revenue by establishingnature-based carbon offset projects either through avoiding deforestation, or through reforestation and restoration of degraded land. Typically, such projects have low capital costs and additional environmental and social co-benefits through job creation, enhanced environmental quality, etc.

The Paris Agreement allows private entities to offset their emissions using carbon offset credits purchased from the VCMs.

However, to avoid double-counting, these cannot count towards the NDCs of the country generating these offsets. Private entities need an undertaking from the national government that it will make `corresponding adjustments` in its NDC targets by excluding those private carbon credits. To make corresponding adjustments, a government needs a carbon market policy to regulate the trade of carbon credits so that NDC commitments are not compromised.

The absence of a carbon markets policy increases investor risk, as there are no clear guidelines for potential carbon offset project developers to invest in Pakistan.There is a lack of clarity regarding revenue distribution from carbon offset projects between the federal and provincial governments. The Delta Blue Carbon Project, a mangrove restoration project in Sindh, has beengenerating revenues from carbon offsets since 2015. The Sindh Forest Department, one ofthe project developers, sought a noobjection certificate from the federal climate change ministry to continue selling the carbon offsets generated from the project in international VCMs. However, the ministry tried to convince the Sindh government to allow the carbon offsets to count towards Pakistan`s NDCs to the UNFCCC. In addition, these carbon offsets cannot be sold to entities within Pakistan, as there is no national carbon market policy to govern such transactions.

Jordan has successfully developed a robust institutional and regulatory framework to participate in international carbon markets backed by digital infrastructure to transparently track and transact GHG emission reductions. Pakistan can develop similar infrastructure to encourage the development of high-quality carbon offset projects which can generate essential funds and protect the country`s vast nature reserves for its future generations. • The wn~ter is a climate finance and sustainability expert.

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Free and fair?

IS it possible to hold `free and fair` elections with a widely popular political leader facing disqualification by the courts? Should such an election be morally acceptable? And can a government formed through such an election ever make a legitimate claim on the public`s mandate? In a country as full of internal contradictions as Pakistan, there are no easy answers to these questions. Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar recently made a statement suggesting that `free and fair` elections are possible even if former prime minister Imran Khan and other PTI leaders are not allowed to participate. He argued that all politicians who violate the law must pay for their transgressions. In technical terms, he is correct, and if Pakistan were a country where institutions abided by the law, no one would disagree, since the continuity of the democratic process can never be dependent on the legal status of a handful of its leaders. However, we are clearly not such a country, and, therefore, the PM`s position needs greater debate.

In recent months, the state has applied overwhelming force against Mr Khan, his party, its loyalist leaders, their supporters, and even some supporters` families. From refusing to obey release orders, to outright disappearing people; from breaking into suspects` homes, to kidnapping their family members to forcing them to surrender the authorities have ridden roughshod over fundamental rights and legal norms in their effort to cut the PTI to size. Even the ECP has repeatedly violated the Constitution to deny the party the advantage of having public opinion on its side. This excessive action against the PTI has placed it at a considerable disadvantage compared to other parties. It is therefore disingenuous, given this context, to suggest that the freeness and fairness of any eventual polling exercise should be considered without regard to all that has preceded it.

The lesson that the establishment should have learnt by now from the suppression of the PPP in the Zia era, and PMLN`s persecution in the Musharraf and Bajwa eras, is that thwarting the public will by artificial means only creates long-term instability in return for short-lived gains. Banning parties, disqualifying key leaders, forcing politicians to switch allegiances, restricting candidates from campaigning, and queering the pitch in other ways just to secure an electoral outcome that is favourable to a handful of powerful individuals has caused demonstrable and lasting harm to Pakistan`s political structure. One should, therefore, reasonably expect that removing Mr Khan from the political equation now will do as much good as removing Nawaz Sharif did for the country in 201718. Pakistan`s precarious present condition should be warning enough against repeating these failed past experiments. If this cycle is not broken, we will be doomed to repeat it.

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