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Shujaat defends COAS’ phone call to Sherman

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ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) founder Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Monday termed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s “intervention” in the country’s economic affairs a “failure of politicians” asking “why was there a need for the army chief to interfere”.

Amid frequent calls for army to stay neutral in the country’s affairs, the PML-Q senior leader’s statement about army chief’s interference has come on the heels of reports that he made a phone call to US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and, reportedly, asked the White House to help Islamabad secure an early dispersal of $1.2 billion in funds under an IMF loan programme.

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The PML-Q leader urged all the politicians to get on the same page and give a message of unity to the world, regretting that currently they had been busy in levelling allegations against each other.

Shujaat was addressing a news conference at his residence in the federal capital to counter allegations levelled by his party members against his sons and the political affairs happening in Punjab.

He was flanked by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Tariq Bashir Cheema, his son Federal Minister for Board of Investment and Special Initiatives Chaudhry Salik Hussain, among others.

The press conference of Shujaat, who has also served as prime minister for a brief period, was crucial as he asserted that he was still the party head.

Recently, PML-Q central working committee had announced that Shujaat had been removed from the position of party chief after he wrote a letter and directed the PML-Q lawmakers to vote for PML-N candidate in Punjab’s chief minister’s election.

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Cheema incorporated that it was impossible to remove Shujaat from the position of party head as he was the founder and had been running it for the last 22 years.

The former premier said that attempts were being made to defame his sons, adding that those who had levelled allegations against his family had “no standing”.

He said his sons had taken all the decisions after consulting him and that he was proud of them.

He denied his brother Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain’s allegations that his sons sought dollars from former president and PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari. “Wajahat had promised to give a public apology on Eid day but he didn’t come,” he maintained.

Read Army chief steps in to shore up hard cash

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He termed his meeting with Zardari before the Punjab CM elections a “routine matter”. He said they used to meet the PPP co-chairperson and others when Punjab CM Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi was being made the deputy prime minister.

Shujaat said it was the politicians’ failure that the COAS had to intervene in the country’s economic affairs and questioned “why was there a need for the army chief to interfere”.

At one point, Cheema said that “Zardari Sahib is a man of commitment and man of word”.

Shujaat revealed that he and Cheema went to meet PTI chairman Imran Khan where the ex-premier spoke to them against Moonis’ alleged involvement in corruption scandals and offered to make Salik a minister.

“I told Imran that the PML-Q had already decided to make Moonis a minister and that is what he (Imran) should do.”

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Speaking about the split in the Chaudhries of Gujrat, Cheema said an attempt was made to create rifts in the party and hoped that better sense would prevail in the coming days.

Shujaat in his typical style said that everything was fine and would remain fine, adding that “all one needed was to climb a few stairs up or down to make things smooth”.

On newly-elected Punjab CM and his support for PTI, Shujaat urged Elahi to act wisely and stop making a “mockery” of the family and invited him to “return to his residence”.

Cheema added Elahi was aware that portfolios mean nothing for them, saying PML-Q would not support Imran even if PTI announces to make Elahi chief minister forever.

To a question if Shujaat would take action against his party leaders for not obeying his instructions during Punjab CM elections, Cheema said the party was still waiting for the detailed judgment of the Supreme Court, which paved the way for Elahi to become Punjab’s CM.

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Without mincing any words, Cheema maintained that he was never willing to serve Imran and repeatedly told his party leadership that he wanted to quit because the PTI chairman was a “liar” and an “incompetent person”.



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Punjab

Crow stuck in kite strings saved on LHC premises

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LAHORE:

Rescue officials on Thursday rescued a crow that was entangled in kite strings on the premises of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The bird’s distress was noticed by litigants and lawyers and also by other crows, who were cawing loudly and circling the tree. Rescue 1122 was then called to rescue the bird. 

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Arriving promptly, the rescue team, despite its effort was unable to reach the trapped crow and another vehicle with a ladder bucket was summoned. 

Two rescue officials then managed to reach the crow. The officials gave the bird medical aid and water before untying and setting it free. The effort took around two hours during which the 1122 personnel, who were perceived to be a threat, also had to deal with other crows circling the tree. 

Speaking to The Express Tribune, rescue staff said that “all life is precious, whether it belongs to humans or animals”. They added that they were fulfilling what they believed was their obligation.

Unlike people, animals cannot call for help and thus, the rescuers said, they were happy to be able to help the bird.



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Relative of Gill’s driver remanded to police, wife sent to jail

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ISLAMABAD:

A district and sessions court in Islamabad granted on Thursday the Islamabad police’s request for physical remand of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shahbaz Gill’s driver’s brother-in-law, while sending the driver’s wife to jail.

The court announced its judgment shortly after reserving it after hearing the accused’s counsel’s arguments.

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Following the court announcing its judgment, the counsel for the wife filed a post-arrest bail petition, on which the court later issued notices. Judicial Magistrate Salman Badar has summoned the police and prosecutor tomorrow, asking for the wife to kept in jail tonight.

Earlier this week, Gill was arrested on charges of sedition and inciting the public against state institutions.

Read Court grants police two-day physical remand of Shahbaz Gill

Following Gill’s arrest, the ICT police raided his driver’s home and maintained that the driver’s family had protested in a government car.

During court proceedings today, the accused’s counsel Faisal Chaudhry said that the incident took place at 9pm last night and claimed there was “video evidence proving that the police entered [the driver’s house] without a warrant”.

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The lawyer also claimed that the police had vandalized the accused’s home and also beaten them.

“We were to file a petition for habeas corpus today but the police released the news to the media,” said the advocate as he argued that “considering the role the woman played in the case posits her to be discharged” since “all but one provision in the suit are bailable offenses”.

During the proceedings, the accused’s 10-month old daughter began crying and was prevented from meeting her mother upon which Civil Judge Salman Badr ordered the girl to be brought to her in the courtroom.

When the judge asked the woman if she wanted to say something, she stated that “the police broke the door and entered [the house], we only came to know [of the incident] when the police had reached our bedroom. Our privacy was not even considered”.

“More than 20 police officers entered the bedroom and tortured us,” added Nauman.

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“The police entered without a warrant and violated the sanctity of the home,” argued the lawyer.

Advocate Chaudhry was snubbed by the judge for “mentioning Shahbaz Gill’s arrest in another case” and directed to “restrict the arguments to the present case”.

Raid on Gill’s driver’s house ‘legal’

Earlier today the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police stated that the raid conducted on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shahbaz Gill’s driver’s house was ‘legal’.

In a tweet, the Islamabad police stated that they were collecting “all evidence” related to the case.

“Wherever legal action is required, the police will do its job,” they said, adding that the scope of this particular case could be extended to other provinces beyond Islamabad.

According to the police, legal action will be taken against those who were found to be “concealing evidence or erasing evidence”.

Advising people to not pay attention to fake news, they claimed that action will also be taken against those spreading “false news and incitement” among the people.

“Islamabad Capital Police will ensure the enforcement of the law,” it maintained.

Gill’s arrest

The federal government confirmed on Tuesday that it had arrested PTI leader Shahbaz Gill for sedition and inciting the public against state institutions.

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Addressing a press conference following the arrest, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah along with Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Gill was arrested by the Islamabad Police after lodging an FIR.

He said a “conspiratorial role” of a private TV channel has also come to the fore, adding that Shahbaz Gill, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry and the channel’s administration played the role on the instruction of Imran Khan.

The minister furthered that negative propaganda was spread against the martyrs of the army helicopter crash on social media.

Read more Imran sees conspiracy to pit PTI against army

“An attempt was made to incite mutiny and sedition in the Pakistan Army ranks and files. This whole conspiracy is being investigated and the conspiratorial characters are being determined,” he added.

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PTI distances itself

Despite earlier chagrin over the “abduction” of Gill, the PTI appeared to be distancing itself from Shahbaz Gill’s remarks made on the private TV channel.

Talking to Javed Chaudhry on Express News, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said on Wednesday that Gill’s narrative was “not the party’s stance” and added that “every person has their own opinion”.

He, however, still insisted that “Shahbaz Gill should be forgiven after withdrawing his statement”.



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Crackdown on smoke-emitting units expedited

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RAWALPINDI:

The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has expedited a crackdown on smoke-emitting brick kilns, stone crushing units, industrial units and vehicles to prevent smog in the forthcoming winter.

Officials said that the agency has so far sealed a total of 66 brick kilns, 11 stone crushing units and five smoke-emitting industrial units besides seizing 35 obnoxious fume-emitting vehicles.

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The agency has so far registered cases against 79 brick kilns and 10 industrial units for emitting smoke.

A total of Rs900,000 in fines was imposed on owners of smoke-emitting brick kilns, Rs150,000 on smoke-emitting industries, Rs100,000 on stone-crushing units and Rs150,000 on smoke-emitting vehicles.

Punjab Ministry of Environment Secretary Dr Naeem Rauf said that smog is likely to exacerbate in winter and the ongoing drive aimed to take prevent pollution. “We will seal all units, brick kilns and vehicles emitting obnoxious smoke before the onset of winter. The district administration will also take strict action against those who burn crops and garbage,” he said adding that the burning of crop residue, waste and garbage has already been banned.

The official said that a circular has been issued to deputy directors of all 36 districts of Punjab to take strict action against brick kilns using old technology. He said that no brick kiln that did not install the environmental-friendly zigzag technology will not be allowed to operate. “Raiding teams have also been formed for checking them. Only zigzag technology kilns are allowed to manufacture bricks,” he said.

According to the EPA, 1,225 brick kilns have been checked so far and of them, 66 were sealed while cases had been registered against 79 for not having zigzag technology.

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Officials said that so far eleven stone crushing units have been shut down across the Rawalpindi division. They said that the crackdown on polluting units will continue daily.

The Regional Transport Authority secretary has also issued notices to owners to stop plying smoke-emitting vehicles.

The government has also ordered that all kilns be converted to ‘zigzag’ technology, a design change that makes more efficient use of fuel.

An internal zigzag structure in kilns, combined with the use of an air blower, can cut the consumption of coal, slash emissions substantially and improve the quality of bricks produced, officials said.

Traditional kiln owners, however, were demanding a shutdown of no more than a month and insisting on government help to make the design change.

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Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2022.



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