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PAC admonishes officials over irregularities2017/11/08
Samina Nazli

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) with Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah in chair on Tuesday gave tough time to relevant officials over irregularities and mal governance by CAA and PIA. 
Apart from expressing annoyance over previous irregularities Shah of the PPP questioned logic and prudent reasoning about ill-planned projects. 
"What was the logic in getting aircraft on lease while five of Pakistan International Airline's existing planes remained grounded," Shah asked. 
Secretary Aviation who is also the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Board replied the question by saying, "a Boeing 777 had been grounded due to the unavailability of its engine. He assured the Committee in the same length of breath that the CAA has acquired the engine and the plane would begin operations by the end of the month.
He further explained his department was targeting to make operation another grounded A-320 by mid next month as soon as its engine replacement is acquired.
Shafqat Mehmood of the PTA expressed dissatisfaction over constantly delaying construction of the new Islamabad airport and various scams surfacing around project. "Who is responsible for these delays and scams has anyone been punished for," he asked. 
Officials of the CAA briefed the Committee that the new Islamabad Airport was a green-field project and lack of prior experience or expertise had caused a variety of problems. They assured to make it operational as early as a Metro Bus route and a baggage handling system was ready. According to the officials, the Metro Bus route to the new airport was targeted to be operational by December 25, 2017. Shah, the Chairman of the Committee was not happy with the construction of the metro route to the new airport. "Will the passengers come to the airport in metro buses or in cars?" he asked.
Taking up another issue, the account committee asked for an inquiry report on irregularities in the construction of a dam in the outskirts of Islamabad. Audit officials had informed the Committee that the Rs 660 million contract of the dam construction was given to a party which was not qualified in the pre-qualification process. Thus, the committee required a report in three months after investigation by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Another PPP member to the Committee Senator Sherry Rehman asked updates on a billion rupees' losses incurred by closure of PIA's 'Premier' service. Officials said Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was probing the matter. 
She was upset over outsourcing of the parking lots contracts at the airports and consequent layoffs. Secretary Aviation, however, assured the committee no employee would lose job and the outsourcing was an international standard practice.
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Pakistani diplomat in Afg shot dead2017/11/07
Monitoring Desk

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani diplomat was shot dead by gunmen near his residence in eastern Afghanistan on Monday evening.
Rana Nayyar Iqbal, an employee at the Pakistan Consulate General in the Jalalabad city of Nangarhar province, was gunned down by unidentified men near his house at 6pm, a security official told said ...

Pakistan, UK agree to work together for peace in region2017/11/07
ISLAMABAD: National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua says Pakistan and Afghanistan need to resume and strengthen political, diplomatic, military and intelligence cooperation at all levels.
He was talking to British High Commissioner Thomas Drew, in Islamabad on Monday.
He conveyed a strong commitment of Pakistan to continue to make efforts for sustainable peace in Afghanistan through a political settlement.
Besides security and stability of the region, the recent developments in Pak-Afghan relations in the backdrop of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) visit to Kabul came under discussion. 
The High Commissioner briefed the NSA on his recent visit to Afghanistan and the feedback from Afghan leadership which was quite optimistic despite some terrorist attacks. He suggested building further confidence in Pak-Afghan relationship following COAS visit to consolidate peace there and ultimately in the whole region. 
Talking to the envoy, NSA reiterated that Pakistan and Afghanistan needed to resume and strengthen political, diplomatic, and military and intelligence cooperation at all levels. NSA conveyed a strong commitment of Pakistan to continue to make efforts for sustainable peace in Afghanistan through a political settlement. 
He underlined that Pakistan will not be distracted in this process. "All we need is the positivity and confidence of Afghan government and the US. It is by way of understanding that Pakistan wants to cooperate" he added. 
Thomas Drew said that UK is keen to play a constructive role for the stability of the region and to facilitate Pak-Afghan peace process. 
Both sides agreed to work together for the shared objective of peace in the region. - NNI
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Khan vows to form foreign policy in national interest2017/11/07
ATTOCK: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan assured that foreign policy in the 'new Pakistan' will be made in the best interest of the nation, adding that a country in debt cannot be free to make policies for external affairs.
Addressing to a PTI rally in Attock on Monday, the PTI chief told that his party will not come under external pressure. He promised to improve the situation of environment in the country by growing trees like in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He outlined the priorities of PTI if the party comes to power in next elections. 
Imran Khan talked about the rising poverty, unemployment, and insufficient facilities in the public hospitals. "In the Western world, the weak are employed by suitable policies … Pakistan has 100 million people under poverty line," he said, stressing that only the rich thrive in existing policies.
On corruption in the country, he criticised the ruling PML-N government and Sharif family for evading accountability and creating rift between institutions. PTI chief also questioned how PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar multiplied their assets despite humble origins.
Calling out Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, he refuted to his statement that corruption isn't a major issue in the country. He gave the example of the thriving China where extreme punishments are issued to corrupt politicians and other men in power. He added, "In no country, a corrupt and convicted man is allowed by law to head political party." 
It is worth mentioning that Imran Khan has challenged "Election Reforms Act 2017" in the Supreme Court today stating that amendments are contradictory to the constitution. The move comes one month after PML-N appointed ex-PM Nawaz Sharif as party president.
Imran Khan demanded the supporters to protest against the corrupt politicians including the Sharif family to save the future of the country. "Our judiciary has stood up and gave verdict on merit … Pakistan Army's two officials in (Panama case) JIT on merit," he added. He asked for support if the ruling party kept criticising the institution and anti-graft body NAB is weakened by reforming laws. 
He congratulated Major Tahir Sadiq on joining PTI and said he will be happy with his decision in future. Imran Khan said that the PTI workers have already expressed their love for Maj. Tahir during the Attock rally. Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has said that only honest people will join his party's leadership.
Addressing a public meeting in Attock, Khan said that a man is loved if he serves the people. He added that there is no place for a self-centered person in PTI. He called former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari selfish persons.
The PTI chairman went on to say that Zardari used to sell cinema tickets in black. "The people have understood the difference between corruption and poverty," he said. He claimed that Khawaja Asif had told Sharif that people will forget everything. He said that people votes according to a party's manifesto.
He said that laws were made to protect the family of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. "The Sharif family used to get verdicts in their favor by threatening the judiciary," he said.
The PTI Chairman said that he will prove that Pakistan can progress at a rapid rate if he gets the opportunity.
He added that the military officials working in the joint investigation team, probing the allegations against Sharif family in Panama Papers Case, also worked on merit. "They don't like the military which is standing with the country and its democratic system," Khan said.
He added that people come into politics for their interests and their actions are always remembered.
Khan said that they have to make Pakistan stand on its feet. He added, "We will never bow down in front of anyone for loans and debts". "Those who are giving you loans are taking away your freedom," Khan said. He added that Pakistan can get cheaper gas from Iran as compared to Qatar.
The Tehreek-e-Insaf said that the system of tyranny can never prevail.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Monday approached the Supreme Court, challenging the Electoral Reforms Act 2017.
The PTI chief filed a petition through his counsel, assailing the controversial law, a clause of which allows a person ineligible to be Member of Parliament to head a political party.
The petition states the top court disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case and subsequently he had to relinquish his party position in compliance with the election laws.
However, it argues, the ruling party bulldozed through the National Assembly the Electoral Reforms Act 2017, also known as Election Act, with an amendment in the election laws to accommodate Sharif as the PML-N chief.
The amendment is in contrast to the constitution as a person who is disqualified to be Member of Parliament cannot hold a position in a political party, the petition further argues.
The PTI chief has submitted in the petition that since the amendment is in contravention of the Political Parties Order 2002 and Article 175 and 204 of the constitution, it should be set aside. He has pleaded to the court to declare clause 9, 10 and 203 of the Act as unlawful.
Over half a dozen constitutional petitions including the one filed in Supreme Court by Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed, have been in the apex court and high courts against the election law, which paved the way for Nawaz Sharif to head his party. - NNI
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Speakers from Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Afg to attend moot in Islamabad: Ayaz2017/11/07
ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has called for greater interaction and people-to-people contact with Russia. He stressed the need for new synergies of parliamentary and economic cooperation between Pakistan and Russia. 
He was talking to the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs of the Russian Federation Leonid Slutsky, who called on the Speaker in Speaker's House on Monday ...

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