The armed forces will only support the electoral process and have "no direct role in conduct of elections," Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a press conference on Tuesday in which he also invited people to come out and vote for "whatever leader, and whatever party they like".
Terming the third democratic transfer of power in Pakistan a continuity of the democratic process, the director general (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the armed forces will only support the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in its duties according to the code of conduct provided by the commission itself.
He pointedly recalled that this was not the first time that the forces were being deployed for election duty.
He said that in 1997, 192,000 troops had been delegated on duty to oversee 25,000 polling stations for what he termed a "full deployment". Then, in 2002, the army deployed less than 35,000 troops for 64,470 polling stations "because the ECP only tasked the Army with overall security". Likewise, in 2008, 39,000 troops were deployed even though the number of polling stations was much higher (64,100) because the troops were, again, only in charge of overall security.
He added that the 2013 elections had been difficult security-wise because of the ongoing war against militancy. Many politicians had received death threats and an Awami National Party (ANP) leader had even been killed. To counter the prevailing insecurity, 75,000 troops had been deployed for 70,185 polling stations, Gen Ghafoor recalled.
He said that in the 2018 elections, 105.95 million eligible voters will be able to exercise their right to vote at 85,307 polling stations, hosted inside 48,500 buildings as more than one station may exist in the same building. A total of 371,388 security forces officials will be deployed for election duty.
"Considering the situation on our borders, the civil armed forces and retired personnel are also being commissioned for the purpose," he said, adding that the total deployment includes 134,894 reservists (who have retired from forces within the past five years) and around 4,000 personnel each from Pakistan Air Force and Navy.
Gen Ghafoor explained that this time around, the ECP has entrusted the Army with six tasks:
Maintenance of overall security in the country.
Provision of security to printing presses.
Transportation of the material before election day.
Transportation of material from RO office to polling stations as well as security of polling staff on polling day.
Deployment on polling day inside and outside polling stations.
Securely transporting election material and polling staff back to Election Commission offices.
He clarified that the army will not take over any printing material during the entire process and that the ECP will have its officers present at all times, who the soldiers will only provide security to.
"The counting of ballots is the ECP's job," he added.
He said that on polling day, troops will be stationed both inside and outside the polling stations. Two security officials will be present inside and two outside 20,831 'sensitive' polling stations, he said, while deployment will be lower at non-sensitive polling stations.
The DG ISPR said that the army has, with the ECP, set up an Army Election Support Centre which will ensure coordination with the commission.
The troops, he said, will ensure that only polling staff, polling agents, voters and other authorised people can enter the stations.
"We have to help the ECP in a non-political, non-partisan manner," Gen Ghafoor said.
He said no unauthorised person would be allowed at the printing presses until the printing of election material is completed by July 21. He also said that the troops would accompany ECP officials during the transportation process only to protect material from falling into the hands of any unauthorised person. He added that the ECP will have complete support of the armed forces, and that military helicopters and airplanes may also be used for transportation if the need arises.
"If you see any irregularity on election day, please make a note and bring it to our notice," he said. "Report it to the ECP and report to us. Please leave the soldiers deployed to election duty alone. They are there to do a job and have been briefed accordingly."
"Go out and vote for whatever party and whatever leader you want to vote for," he continued. "Let's try to ensure that if the election turnout has been 40pc in the past, it is much higher this time around."
Responding to some tough questions on electoral engineering and the alleged role of the so-called establishment in subverting the democratic order, Gen Ghafoor noted that there had been no election in the country's history when political parties did not allege that some form of rigging had taken place.
"How is it possible to tell 106m people who to vote for?" he asked. "How is it possible that we secretly tell [around] 350,000 troops that 'you should do this'?"
In response to questions about people switching loyalties, he recalled that candidates switch parties before every election and that "there is nothing new about this".
He also disassociated the army from any role in the allotment of the 'Jeep' symbol to certain independent candidates, saying that it was the ECP which allots symbols to candidates.
"The jeep you are trying to paint as ours is not even our jeep," he remarked wryly, an apparent reference to the difference in the model of jeeps commissioned for army use and the one as it shows on the symbol.
He also said that a PML-N candidate from Multan — who had accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of pressuring him into switching parties but then backtracked saying it had, in fact, been the Agriculture department — has been investigated by the Agriculture Department for around two years for alleged misdoings during a past tenure there.
To another question, Gen Ghafoor also assured that the army was monitoring cyber threats, especially those coming from other countries.
A man who allegedly shot and killed a woman in Faisalabad on June 9 for refusing a marriage proposal was remanded into police custody for four days.
Bus hostess Mahwish Arshad was shot and killed by Umer Daraz, a security guard working for the same company as her, allegedly for repeatedly refusing his marriage proposal.
Police, in a first investigation report registered in the woman's father's name, said that Umer Daraz used to earlier work with 19-year-old Mahwish in a different travel company. According to the FIR, Umer Daraz pressured the bus hostess to marry him and the latter repeatedly refused the offer.
A video of Mahwish and Umer Daraz exchanging heated wordsin which the latter is seen forcefully gripping her wrists and trying to attack her during a bus ride made rounds on social media after the girl was shot and killed later that night.
In the video, Umer Daraz can be heard threatening Mahwish and saying, "You'll see what I would do when you get to the [bus] terminal."
A CCTV clip attached to the footage shows Mahwish climbing the steps of a building at what seems to be a deserted bus terminal when a man yanks her arm to turn her around.
Mahwish is seen trying to free herself from his clutches before she is shot and left bleeding at the steps.
According to the FIR, Mahwish's assailant fled the scene and she lost her life while undergoing treatment at a local hospital after she was shifted there.
The police arrested Umer Daraz on the night of the murder and claims that the suspect has confessed to committing the crime.
On Monday (today), police produced Umer Daraz before a district magistrate in Faisalabad and procured his four-day physical remand. The police had initially asked for a 10-day remand.
The nomination papers of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) Dr Farooq Sattar as well as All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) chief Pervez Musharraf were rejected on Tuesday by returning officers (ROs).
Meanwhile, nomination papers of PTI chief Imran Khan, PPP supremo Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and PML-N's Hamza Shahbaz and Maryam Nawaz following scrutiny have been accepted, DawnNewsTV reported.
The detailed orders are awaited as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) concludes the scrutiny of nomination papers today.
Dr Sattar had filed nomination papers to contest elections on NA-245 constituency in Karachi. The returning officer for NA-245, Ahsan Khan, rejected Sattar's nomination papers on the grounds that he is a declared absconder in two cases.
The official, in his decision, mentioned that Dr Sattar concealed the two cases and his status as an absconder. Dr Sattar has been declared an absconder in two cases pertaining to the violation of loudspeaker laws under Section 144.
Dr Sattar is among the nine MQM leaders who were booked in Nov 2015 under Section 144 of the Pakistan Penal Code for harassing commuters.
The cases had been registered at the Soldier Bazaar police station in connection with an MQM rally, which was held to register the protest against the arrest of MQM party workers as well as raids conducted by the Rangers at party offices.
Musharraf's nomination papers, filed from Chitral for NA-1, were rejected by RO Mohammad Khan.
Last week, the Supreme Court (SC) had withdrawn its conditional directive allowing former dictator Musharraf to file nomination papers after he failed to appear for a court hearing.
Earlier, the apex court had said that the former army chief's nomination papers would be received by the returning officer, but only be considered if Musharraf appeared in person at the SC Lahore registry.
Meanwhile, the RO for NA-247 in Karachi has summoned Musharraf to appear in person before 4pm today after his lawyers failed to appear for the scrutiny of his nomination papers.
The scrutiny of nomination papers to exclude ineligible candidates from the race started last Tuesday, a day after ROs completed the process of receiving nomination papers from prospective candidates.
According to the revised election schedule issued by the ECP on June 8, the last date for filing appeals against acceptance or rejection of nomination papers by the ROs is June 22. The last date for decision on the appeals by tribunals is June 27.
Revised lists of validly nominated candidates will be published on June 28 whereas the last date for withdrawal of candidature is June 29.
The final list of contesting candidates is expected to be published on June 30.
This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves.
Sabika Sheikh, a 17-year-old Pakistani scholar participating in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme in the US, was one of the 10 people killed when a teenage classmate armed with a shotgun and a revolver opened fire in the Santa Fe High School in Texas yesterday.
"We found out about the shooting from a local TV channel and tried, but failed to contact Sabika and her friends," said Sabika's father Abdul Aziz, while adding that they then contacted the YES programme coordinator, who confirmed the news of their daughter's death, "after a four to five hour delay."
According to her father, Sabika — the eldest among three sisters but younger than her brother — was due to return home on June 9. Her family had been counting the days till her return.
Hailing from Karachi, Sabika was described as a brilliant student by her father. She had completed her matriculation from Karachi Public School.
According to the Wall Street Journal, she was an honour roll student at the Santa Fe High School.
US Ambassador David Hale expressed regret at Sabika's death with the following message posted on the US Embassy Pakistan's Facebook page:
"This morning, I called the family of Sabika Sheikh and offered my deepest condolences. As an exchange student, Sabika was a youth ambassador, a bridge between our peoples and cultures. All of us at the US Mission in Pakistan are devastated by and mourn her loss. We will honour her memory."
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered his condolences in a statement Saturday, saying that “Sabika's death and that of the other victims is heartbreaking and will be mourned deeply both here in the United States, and in Pakistan.”
Aisha Farooqui, the consul general at the Pakistani consulate in Houston, said in an official statement that the US State Department had sent them official confirmation of Sabika's death in the Santa Fe shooting.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Sabika’s family and friends,” a tweet from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC quoted Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry as saying.
George Lapadat, an exchange student from Romania, who claims that Sabika was one of his friends, took to Facebook to express his grief at Sabika's death.
He said that Sabika "came to the US to learn, to experience, to share and to bring back to her country all the knowledge she acquired during her exchange."
"She was young, vibrant, happy and super-excited to go back to her country. She was going to return in a few days. She has done an amazing job being an ambassador of her country here," the Facebook post read.
Lapadat added: "When she left for this trip, she was supposed to be gone for 10 months... but now she is gone forever."
"And if this [the shooting] is not enough to prove that something is wrong and something needs to change, I don’t know what else would be," he concluded.
Megan Lysaght, manager of the YES programme, sent a letter to students in the program confirming that Sabika Sheikh was killed in the shooting.
“Please know that the YES program is devastated by this loss and we will remember Sabika and her families in our thoughts and prayers,” Lysaght wrote.
She said the program would be holding a moment of silence for Sabika, who is pictured beaming in a shirt that says “Texas” in a photo being shared on social media.
The Pakistan Association of Greater Houston said on Facebook that Sabika was due to go back home to Pakistan for Eidul-Fitr, “May Allah bless her soul and may she RIP,” the statement said.
Additional reporting by Muhammad Raza and Naveed Siddiqui.
چین کے صدر شی جن پنگ نے روسی ہم منصب ولادیمیر پیوٹن دنیا کی طاقتور ترین شخصیت کا اعزاز چھین لیا ہے جبکہ کئی برس بعد پہلی بار ایک پاکستانی شخصیت بھی اس فہرست کا حصہ بنی ہے۔
امریکی میگزین فوربس نے سال 2018 کی طاقتور ترین شخصیات کی فہرست جاری کی جس میں دنیا بھر سے 75 افراد کا انتخاب کیا گیا۔
آرمی چیف جنرل قمر جاوید باجوہ اس فہرست میں شامل واحد پاکستانی شخصیت ہیں جبکہ ٹاپ 10 میں بھی ایک مسلم رہنما موجود ہیں۔
پاکستانی آرمی چیف دنیا کے 68 ویں طاقتور ترین شخص قرار پائے جبکہ سعودی ولی عہد شہزادہ محمد بن سلمان 8 ویں اور بھارتی وزیراعظم نریندرا مودی 9 ویں نمبر پر رہے۔
امریکی جریدے نے آخری بار یہ فہرست 2016 میں جاری کی تھی جس میں مسلسل چوتھی بار ولادیمیر پیوٹن طاقتور شخص قرار پائے تھے تاہم اس بار یہ اعزاز چینی صدر کے نام رہا، جبکہ امریکی صدر ڈونلڈ ٹرمپ تیسرے، جرمن چانسلر اینجیلا مرکل چوتھے، دنیا کے امیر ترین شخص اور ایمازون کے بانی جیف بیزوز 5 ویں، پوپ فرانسس چھٹے، مائیکرو سافٹ کے بانی 7 ویں اور گوگل کے شریک بانی لیری پیج 10 ویں نمبر پر کھڑے ہیں۔
2016 کی فہرست میں ڈونلڈ ٹرمپ دنیا کے دوسرے طاقتور ترین شخص قرار پائے تھے جبکہ جرمن چانسلر تیسرے نمبر پر تھیں مگر چوتھے نمبر پر موجود چینی صدر چھلانگ لگا پر پہلی پوزیشن پر چلے گئے۔
فیس بک کے بانی مارک زکربرگ 13 ویں، ایرانی سپریم لیڈر آیت اللہ خامنہ ای 17 ویں نمبر پر ہیں۔
حیران کن طور پر سعودی فرمانروا جو گزشتہ فہرست میں 16 ویں نمبر پر تھے، اس بار فہرست سے ہی آﺅٹ ہوگئے ہی، جبکہ متحدہ عرب امارات کے صدر خلیفہ بن زاید النہیان 43 ویں اور ترک صدر رجب طیب اردگان 48 ویں نمبر پر رہے۔
واضح رہے کہ فہرست مرتب کرنے کے لیے منتخب کیے گئے افراد کے حوالے سے سب سے پہلے یہ دیکھا جاتا ہے کہ ان کا، آبادی کے کتنے حصے پر اثر و رسوخ قائم ہے۔
اس کے بعد یہ جانچ کی جاتی ہے کہ ان افراد میں سے ہر ایک کو، مالیاتی وسائل پر کتنا اور کس حد تک کنٹرول حاصل ہے۔
سربراہان مملکت کے حوالے سے ملک کی جی ڈی پی دیکھی جاتی ہے جبکہ کمپنی مالکان کے لیے ان کے اثاثوں اور ریونیو کا جائزہ لیا جاتا ہے۔
فہرست میں شامل کیے جانے والے افراد کے حوالے سے تیسرے نمبر پر اس بات کا تعین کیا جاتا ہے کہ انہیں کتنے شعبوں میں اثر و رسوخ حاصل ہے۔
چوتھے نمبر پر اس بات کا یقین کیا جاتا ہے کہ فہرست میں شامل افراد اپنی طاقت متحرک طور پر استعمال کر رہے ہیں یا نہیں۔
RAWALPINDI: There were slight problems with delivering baggage to passengers at the new Islamabad International Airport (IIA) which have now been resolved, according to a statement issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
No major incidents or disruptions were witnessed on the first day the airport started operation.
“This is ample proof that the [CAA] has rehearsed extensively before commencing its operations otherwise such giant projects do have a few problems in the beginning,” the statement says.
It goes on to say that all operations at the new airport are being monitored and that the few initial problems are being addressed on an emergency basis. All stakeholders, including the airlines, are coordinating to ensure smooth operations.
Airside operations, the most sensitive part of airport operations, are also going smoothly, it says.
The transition to the new airport was conducted without disturbance of the flight schedule and such transitions are generally achieved after closing down airports for a day or two, the statement says.
The new airport can seat 4,500 passengers in its lounges at a time and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology. It is the largest airport in the country and can serve nine million passengers and 150 metric ton cargo every year while its modular design enables expansion so it can serve 25 million passengers every year by 2025.
Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2018
LAHORE / NAROWAL: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal narrowly escaped an assassination attempt during a corner meeting in his constituency in Narowal on Sunday — an act that was condemned by prominent individuals, political parties and other institutions in the country, which is set to go to the polls in a few months’ time.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) retired Capt Arif Nawaz told Dawn that they had arrested a suspect, a 22-year-old man, from the spot in the Kanjroor town of the Shakargarh tehsil, who confessed to opening fire on the minister due to the Khatm-i-Nubuwat issue.
The IGP said they were also investigating involvement in the incident of any facilitators.
IGP says suspect has been arrested and is being interrogated
A couple of months ago, a shoe was hurled at Interior Minister Ahsan at a PML-N workers’ convention in Narowal, his hometown.
District Police Officer (DPO) Imran Kishwar told reporters the suspect — Abid Husain, a resident of nearby Verum village — had managed to slip into the corner meeting. He apparently carried a 30-bore weapon, which he pulled out and fired at the minister from a distance of some 15 yards. The incident happened moments after Mr Iqbal had finished his speech.
The police officer said the minister suffered a bullet wound in his right shoulder, whereas later reports said the bullet had landed in Mr Iqbal’s abdomen after grazing his arm.
He was rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital, Narowal. Witnesses and police said the minister was lucky in that the people standing around him overpowered the assailant before he could fire a second shot at his target.
The policemen then arrested the suspect, seized the weapon and shifted him to a police station.
The DHQ hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Muhammad Younus, said the bullet had fractured Mr Iqbal’s arm before hitting him in his abdomen area.
The minister was later airlifted to the Services Hospital, Lahore, to undergo surgery.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who was present at the airport when the helicopter carrying the patient landed there, said in a tweet that Mr Iqbal was in high spirits.
Police had increased security at the hospital and high-ups visited the medical facility to check the security arrangements.
Punjab Minister Zaeem Qadri told media personnel that doctors were conducting a procedure to take out the bullet from the minister’s abdomen. He said Mr Iqbal was conscious and talking to people around him.
State Minister for Interior Tallal Chaudhry confirmed the arrest and criticised a court order regarding reduction in security for prominent individuals.
Ahmed Iqbal, the minister’s son, urged the nation to pray for his father’s recovery.
The attack, along with condemnations, brought back fearful memories of the last general elections, in 2013. Violence and threats in the lead-up to the polls had then prevented many major political parties, including the PPP, ANP and MQM, from freely canvassing for votes.
The security situation would most probably be on top of the agenda for the meeting of the PML-N convened on Monday.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the attack. Mr Abbasi also issued directives to the Punjab IGP to submit a report on the incident.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the Punjab chief minister called the interior minister and inquired about his health.
Maryam Nawaz said in a tweet: “Shooter is only a vehicle. Those patronising them, those inciting them for political gains & those using them to settle scores real CULPRITS.”
Pakistan Peoples Party’s chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and PML-Q’s Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Pervaiz Elahi also condemned the attack. “We have to put a stop to such incidents,” said Mr Zardari.
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman expressed regrets at the incident and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah condemned it.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) also condemned the attack on the minister.
“Political differences notwithstanding, physical targeting of any politician is simply not acceptable. Sadly, intolerance and violence are becoming endemic in our society,” Shireen Mazari said in a tweet.
Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq demanded that the hidden elements behind the incident be uncovered.
Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the incident and sent his best wishes for Mr Iqbal’s early recovery.
Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2018