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Nawaz sharif

Lahore – The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday accepted an intra-court petition seeking trial of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under Article 6 of constitution for hearing.

A division bench headed by Justice Aminudin Khan today heard the intra-court petition filed by Iqtidar Haider and announced its reserved decision to declare the petition maintainable.

The petitioner has claimed that defying the merit, PM Nawaz had appointed his daughter Maryam Nawaz as chairperson of Youth Loan Scheme which was a blatant violation of the Constitution and pleaded the court to conduct his trial under Article 6.

The bench had reserved its decision on the maintainability of petition on Thursday.

The court issued notices to the respondents – the federal government, foreign ministry, Director General Immigration, Inspector General Punjab and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – for May 20 and adjourned hearing of case.

Maryam had stepped down as chairperson of scheme in November last year, days before LHC was due to announce its decision on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition challenging her appointment.

Following her resignation, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Leila Khan was appointed as new chairperson the scheme by PM Nawaz.

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Peshawar – The security forces arrested a key commander of outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from a suburban area of Bannu on Friday.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the security forces conducted an intelligence-based raid in Sarai Naurang area today and arrested TTP commander Rasool Khan, who was involved in several terrorist activities in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The security forces also recovered a huge cache of weapons and ammunition, 100 National Identity Cards (CNICs) and three fake passports from his possession, ISPR said.

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Nabeel Gabol

Islamabad – The National Assembly (NA) Speaker on Thursday accepted the resignation of former Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) MNA Nabeel Gabol.

According to NA Secretariat, Gabo’s resignation was presented before NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq yesterday which he accepted.

Gabol was elected MNA on MQM ticket from Karachi’s NA-246 constituency during May 2013’s General Elections and had tendered his resignation last Tuesday citing “personal reasons”.

Gabol had also announced to quit MQM, saying he was ‘misfit’ in the party. He had left Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) after nearly two decades just a couple of months before elections to join MQM.

Speaking to media yesterday, Gabol said he has not yet made a decision to join any political party.

NA Speaker has sent a copy of his resignation to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which will issue a notification and announce schedule of by-election in the constituency.

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Lahore/Islamabad – The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has won all 11 seats of Punjab and two of Islamabad in the Senate election today.

According to unofficial and unconfirmed results, Raja Zaharul Haq has emerged victorious on technocrat seat in Punjab by bagging 157 votes while Professor Sajid Meer has won the cleric seat with 149 votes.

Begum Najma Hameed and Ayesha Raza have won women seats by bagging 157 and 146 votes respectively.

On the general seats in Punjab, Pervez Rashid bagged 44 votes, General (r) Abdul Qayyum 43, Saleem Zia and Ghous Khan Niazi 42 while Mushahidullah, Syed Nehal Hashmi and Chaudhry Tanvir secured 41 votes apiece.

Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Raheela Magasi have won the election on two federation seats.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has congratulated the newly-elected senators and expressed hope that they will play their role in development of the country.

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national assemlby

Islamabad– A presidential ordinance promulgated by federal government yesterday night with regard to Senate polls was challenged by six members of parliament from Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) in Islamabad High Court (IHC) today.

The court has admitted the petition for hearing and issued notices to the respondents – the federation, president of Pakistan and law ministry, seeking reply in one week.

A two-member bench comprised of Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamir Farooq took up the petitions against presidential order.

The counsel of petitioners contended that the federal government showed discriminatory attitude towards FATA members by changing voting method through presidential order on the eve of election.

In a late night move, the government had annulled the presidential order promulgated during former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s regime in 2002, which authorized FATA members to cast four votes and issued a new presidential ordinance under which they can case only one vote.

FATA MPAs divided into two groups over the ordinance. While five members backed it, six others approached IHC against it.

The petitioners said that the presidential order is a blatant defiance of constitution of Pakistan hence its notification should be suspended so the polling can take place under previous method.

The court, however, disagreed with the petitioners and observed that how it can suspend a notification which it hasn’t seen.

The petitioners maintained that the government also did not take Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) also into confidence over the ordinance.

ECP has temporarily halted polling for FATA seats following the admittance of petition in IHC and sought assistance from law ministry.

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Supreme court

Islamabad – Rejecting the schedule of local government elections in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and cantonment areas submitted by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Supreme Court has ordered to hold the polls across the country by September this year and submit a new schedule in a day.

A three-member bench of apex court headed by Justice Jawad S Khawaja resumed the hearing of case on Wednesday.

The Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) presented Salman Aslam Butt presented schedule of LG elections drafted by ECP, which proposed that the polls will be held in in cantonment boards on May 16, and in K-P in June, in Punjab on February 20, 2016 and in Sindh on March 20, 2016.

The court expressed dissatisfaction over the schedule of Punjab and Sindh and asserted that LB polls should be held in both provinces no later than September this year.

AGP told court that the registration of around four millions new voters in Punjab and Sindh is yet to be done for which around 45 days are required while four months are needed for the delimitation of constituencies.

The bench remarked that what ECP was doing from last five years, suggesting the preparations for new LB elections should’ve got underway the day the term of previous local governments had expired.

The court observed that ECP’s inability to make arrangements for new LB polls mean it has not complied with its constitutional duty.

Earlier the day, when the hearing begun court directed AGP and ECP Acting Secretary Sher Afgan to submit the schedule of LG polls before 8pm.

AGP told court that an ordinance for amendments in Cantonment Act will be issued within 48 hours. The bench remarked that the how this would be done in just 48 hours when couldn’t be done in seventeen years.

When the bench reassembled at 8:00pm, ECP secretary said that the voter lists are being updated and this process will take at least 35 days while delimitation of constituencies will also take some months.

Justice Khawaja remarked that during the 23 hearings of case, the government has given just assurances to the court but has not taken any practical steps.

The bench said that the supremacy of constitution and law will be ensured at all costs and the government shouldn’t have any misconception that the court will give more time in this case.

The court ordered the poll supervisory body to submit new schedule by 8:00 pm on Thursday and adjourned the hearing of case.

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Lahore – Accepting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s petition, the election tribunal comprising Justice Kazim Ali Malik has ordered National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to verify voters’ thumb impressions in NA-122 Lahore consistency.

Announcing the already reserved decision on PTI chief’s plea on Wednesday, Judge Kazim directed NADRA to verify voters’ thump impressions on ballot papers and other polling record and submit a report within 30 days.

The tribunal had reserved its decision on February 27 after counsels of Imran Khan and Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadqi completed their arguments.

During the last hearing, Imran Khan’s counsel Anees Hashmi had filed an application in the tribunal seeking voters’ thumb impression through NADRA, contending that the ink used in the polls was substandard.

NA Speaker’s Counsel Asjad Saeed had opposed the application and termed it as a ‘delaying tactic’ by PTI chief.

The tribunal today also announced reserved decision on alleged rigging in PP-147, which fell under NA-122 in the general elections, and ordered NADRA to verify voters’ thumb impressions in Punjab Assembly’s constituency and submit its report within one month.

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Pakistani, INdian forigen secretaries

Islamabad – Pakistan and India have agreed to increase mutual cooperation and resolve all the outstanding issues including Kashmir through dialogue.

The agreement came in the meeting between Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who arrived in Islamabad yesterday on two-day official visit.

The two secretaries held meeting at the foreign office in what was the first senior-level diplomatic interaction between the nuclear-armed rivals in more nearly two years.

They agreed to ease down tensions at Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary and resumption of complete dialogue.

Addressing a press-conference following the meeting, Pakistan’s foreign secretary said they’ve discussed all major issues including LoC ceasefire, Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and water were discussed in the meeting with his Indian counterpart. He said they’ve raised the issues of India’s alleged involvement in insurgency in Balochistan and FATA and 2007s Samjhauta Express terrorist attack with Jaishankar.

Chaudhary said both countries realize the importance of dialogue, however no timeframe could be given in this regard. Pakistan can conquer terrorism in collaboration with India.

He said the two sides have agreed to make SAARC more effective and increasing interaction at public level. He said next year’s SARCC conference will be hosted by Pakistan.

Speaking to journalists separately, Indian foreign secretary said that talks were held in ‘constructive and positive’ atmosphere. He said that agreed to work together to find common grounds and reduce the differences.

Jaishankar said he has conveyed India’s concern over slow progress on the trial of 2008 Mumbai attacks suspects and ‘cross-border terrorism’. He said ensuing peace and tranquility at the boundaries was vital for regional stability and emphasized the need of making the available channels more effective to maintain the ceasefire.

Indian foreign secretary also called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and delivered a letter of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to him.

According to an official statement issued by PM House, the premier said that Islamabad wants to establish good neighborly and cooperative relations with India. PM also emphasized on the resolution of their all outstanding issues through dialogue and said it is important for both countries’ leaderships to raise up to expectations of their people.

The Indian foreign secretary also calledon Advisor on Sartaj Aziz and his special aide Tariq Fatmi.

Earlier, Chaudhary, senior officials of the Foreign Ministry as well as Indian High Commission welcomed Jaishankar on his arrival in Islamabad.

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LB Elections

Islamabad – The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday issued a new of guidelines for members of National and provincial assemblies for Senate elections, which will be held on March 5.

According to a notification issued by the electoral body, the Senate elections will be held through secret ballot in line with article 226 of Constitution of Pakistan.

ECP announced the decision after political parties failed to evolve consensus on bringing a 22nd constitutional amendment to curb horse-trading in the Senate polls.

ECP has barred the lawmakers from bringing mobile phones or any other device which can be used for taking pictures. The electoral body has warned of stringent action against any lawmaker who will breach the new Rules of Regulations and made clear that no leniency will be shown in this regard.

Polling for Senate elections will be held at National Assembly and four provincial assemblies on Thursday. The candidates can withdraw from the election by 12:00 PM on Wednesday.

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Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

Islamabad – Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday on two-day visit.

Senior officials of the Foreign Ministry a well as Indian High Commission welcomed Jaishankar on his arrival.

Jaishankar will hold meeting with Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry at the Foreign Office today and discuss bilateral relations and regional issues. He will also hold meetings with other Pakistani high-ups.

According to a statement issued by foreign office, the issues of Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen will be also discussed during the meeting between two foreign secretaries.

Foreign office said that Pakistan will raise the issues of Indian Border Security Force’s (BSF) violations of Working Boundary and Line of Control, India’s support for miscreant elements in Balochistan and its alleged involvement in terrorism in Pakistan with Jaishankar.

Sources said the Indian foreign secretary will also meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit.

The last formal round of talks between Pakistan and India was held India in September 2012. The next session of talks was scheduled to be held in January following year but couldn’t be held because of tensions along LoC.

The nuclear-armed rivals had agreed to revive the secretary level talks after PM Nawaz visited New Delhi to attend his counterpart Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in May last year.

The foreign secretaries of two countries were supposed to meet in August last year but India again cancelled the round of talks after Pakistan High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit met with Kashmiri Hurriayat leaders.

Last month, Indian PM Modi had telephoned PM Nawaz expressed aspiration to resume peace talks at secretary level.