Qatar open “Visa Facilitation Center” to facilitate Pakistani work force

Qatar open
Qatar has opened “Visa Facilitation Center” in Islamabad to facilitate Pakistani work force in getting visa.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Zulfikar Bukhari and Qatar’s Ambassador to Pakistan Saqar Bin Mubarak inaugurated the facilitation center.

Talking to media on the occasion, Zulfikar Bukhari said Qatar has promised one hundred thousand jobs for Pakistani workforce and the process in this regard has been started.

He said Pakistan is one of the eight countries to have a Qatari Visa Facilitation Center for swift processing of workers’ Visa.

He said the government is also in dialogue with Qatari officials to adjust the skilled labor force coming back from Saudi Arabia, in Qatar.

The Qatari ambassador on the occasion said that in the past, Visa process was handled by Qatar government but now applicants can get their Visas processed and approved through the Visa facilitation centre in Islamabad.

Shahbaz Sharif to Chair PAC Meeting Today

Shahbaz Sharif to Chair PAC Meeting Today
The first formal meeting of the Public Accounts Committee will be held today, Friday, at 3 pm at the Parliament House and opposition leader in NA Shahbaz Sharif, whose production orders have been issued, will preside over the huddle.

The PAC wing will brief the committee during Friday’s session while the Auditor General of Pakistan will brief the committee on Monday, whereas, the power ministry will brief the PAC on January 1.On the third day of the committee meeting, energy ministry will brief the committee as the agenda of the committee has already been sent to the concern ministries.

Production Orders Issued

The National Assembly Secretariat, following approval from NA Speaker Asad Qaiser, issued the production order for Leader of the Opposition in NA Shahbaz Sharif, thus enabling the PML-N president to chair the first meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).The production order has been issued for December 28, 31, and January 1. Meanwhile, the National Assembly Secretariat has also issued the agenda for the meetings.

According to the production order, being the PAC chairman, the presence of Shahbaz Sharif is mandatory for the meeting. Copies of the order have been issued to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, the NAB director general and other relevant authorities, including Kot Lakhpat jail’s officials.

Rao Anwar asks SC for removal of name from ECL

 Rao Anwar approached the Supreme Court, seeking removal of his name from the Exit Control List
Suspended senior officer of Sindh Police Rao Anwar Ahmed Khan on Thursday approached the Supreme Court, seeking removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) so that he could travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Umra.

SSP Rao Anwar, who received much media attention after becoming a prime suspect in the murder case of 27-year-old Naqeebullah Mahsud from South Waziristan, requested the apex court to order the trial court to regulate his movement abroad after removing his name from the ECL.

On March 21, Rao Anwar had surrendered himself to the Supreme Court which then ordered constituting a five-man JIT headed by Additional Inspector General of Sindh Police Aftab Pathan and putting his name on the ECL.

In his fresh application, Rao Anwar contends that putting the name of an accused on the ECL and curtaining his liberty is beyond the requirement of reasonable restrictions as regulation of movement of the accused person by the trial court does satisfy the requirement of reasonable restrictions without completely curtailing and abridging the fundamental rights of freedom of movement.

Conceding that he still awaits posting, Rao Anwar explains that he has more than three decades of unblemished service to his credit, adding that he has always performed his duties selflessly, devotedly and to the best of his abilities.

He says that he intends to perform Umra which is subject to removal of his name from the ECL and permission granted by the trial court.

Moreover, he needs to travel abroad to deal with his family issues, like engagement of daughters since they have now grown up.

The suspended SSP contends that he is required to travel abroad since he is bound to perform his moral and religious obligation for all such events.

He states that he has been regularly attending trial, the conclusion of which in near future is not possible since even the charge has not yet been framed.

The application also undertakes that Rao Anwar will keep on attending the trial regularly and his movement abroad will never cause any hindrance, delay or impediment in expeditious proceedings of trial or its timely conclusion.

He also contends that he will travel abroad as and when required subject to permission of the trial court.

Rao Anwar pleads that mere registration of an FIR or pending criminal trial is not a valid reason for placing his name on the ECL as freedom of movement is a fundamental right and cannot be curtailed or abridged on account of pendency of trial.

There are many high-profile criminal cases, the application highlights, like the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the May 12 carnage, the Ayan Ali case, etc, in which names of accused persons have not been placed on the ECL.

According to the application, registration of the FIR has no nexus with and is extraneous to the objects of the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance, 1981.

Rao Anwar says he enjoys tremendous goodwill and reputation among his contemporaries for his act of gallantry in busting criminal gangs, volunteering in operations against hardened criminals, members of banned outfits and militants and restoring peace and tranquillity in his area of responsibility.

But, he adds, on account of his proactive role against crime he has always remained on the hit list of criminals and has faced many assassination attempts.

Intelligence agencies have issued several threat alerts pre-empting fatal attempts on him, he contends in the application.

The application explains that the suspended SSP has been doing all this in the line of duty and without any personal benefit.

In recognition of his unprecedented services rendered for the benefit of public at large at the cost of his liberty and security, he has been issued appreciation letters, cash rewards and shields by his department, heads of other law enforcement agencies and the business community.

The application argues that Rao Anwar is entitled for equal protection of law and same treatment which is being meted out to other similarly placed accused persons as envisaged under Article 4 and 25 of the Constitution.

3 coal miners die, 2 rescued as mine collapses in Balochistan’s Dukki district

3 coal miners die, 2 rescued as mine collapses in Balochistan's Dukki district
At least three coal miners died while two others were rescued when a mine collapsed in Balochistan’s Dukki district on Thursday morning, District Police Officer (DPO) Sardar Hashim told media.

According to the DPO, the incident took place in the Chamlang area of the district. The police official said five miners were working thousands of feet deep inside a mine, when it suddenly collapsed.

A large number of coal miners reached the site of the incident and launched rescue efforts on their own to ensure the safe recovery of the trapped miners.

However, only two miners could be rescued alive from the collapsed mine. Bodies of the three deceased miners have also been recovered.

“There are almost no safety arrangements for life security of miners,” said Bakht Nawab, an official of the coal miners association in Balochistan.

The regulations framed under the Mines Act, 1923, stipulate a fairly extensive safety and labour welfare regime that must be enacted and observed at all mines.

Under this Act, the key position empowered to carry out and verify the implementation of the Act is that of the chief inspector and the inspectors appointed, pursuant to the 18th Amendment, by the provincial governments.

“Rules are mere in papers rather than in practice,” said Sultan Muhammad Khan, the central leader of Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PMCLF).

According to the PMCLF, casualties from accidents among labourers working in coal mines range from 100 to 200 every year.

Coal mining has historically been fraught with hazards, which are similar to those associated with the aftermath of natural disasters: suffocation, gas poisoning, roof collapse, rock burst, gas explosions and a plethora of lung diseases, including incurable diseases like coalworker’s pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung disease.

In the past eight years, more than 318 labourers working in coal mines have been killed in the course of their employment in Balochistan.

Just in the first eight months of this year, at least 50 miners have died in Balochistan and in August alone, 17 coal miners lost their lives in two separate incidents.

In one of these incidents, labourers were digging 300 feet deep in a coal mine owned by a local company in Bolan district, where they reportedly suffocated to death on account of lack of oxygen.

The other incident occurred due to an explosion in a coal mine in the Sanjdi area of Balochistan, claiming the lives of 15 labourers.

According to government sources, there are at least 20,000 labourers employed across Balochistan in 2,500 mines.

All 172 suspects in fake bank accounts case to be placed on ECL: Minister for information

All 172 suspects in fake bank accounts case to be placed on ECL: Minister for information
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday announced that the federal cabinet has decided to place on the exit control list (ECL) all 172 suspects named in a joint investigation team’s report in the fake bank accounts case.

“I was watching Asif Ali Zardari say that he does not take the JIT seriously,” recalled the minister. “Hopefully, he will take it seriously after today. In the upcoming days he will know the seriousness of this inquiry.

“This is not Purana Pakistan where the two big [players] make a deal. Now, each and every penny will be accounted for.”

Chaudhry explained that the decision was taken because “this money belongs to the people of Pakistan.”

The information minister, who was briefing the media following a cabinet meeting, also discussed the recent spate of killings in Karachi.

“The situation has deteriorated suddenly,” the minister said. “The death of Ali Raza Abidi shows that some gangs have become active again. Karachi’s peace is linked with Pakistan’s economy so we will never allow Karachi’s peace to be sabotaged like this again.”

“We have seen Altaf Hussain’s provocation and orders from England to commit murders here. His hate speech then went viral on social media. The UK authorities have not taken any action yet. The cabinet is concerned about this. These issues will be raised with the British government.

“There are South African gangs active in Karachi. It’s very important that these gangs are squeezed there where they are being operated from. The Foreign Office has been directed to take up this matter with the South African government as well.

Furthermore, Chaudhry said that the government has decided to extended till January 15 the deadline for imported mobile phones’ registration.

“After January 15, phones would still be registered but for the payment of 10 per cent of the phone’s custom duty,” he said.

The information minister said that the cabinet has approved the tabling of a constitutional amendment bill that would seek an extra reserved seat for women from Islamabad in both the National Assembly and Senate.

Chaudhry said that the prime minister also commended Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood for his part in the planned conversion of the PM House into a university.

“In the first phase, the the PM House’s name will be Darul Hikma,” he said, adding that the place will be used for research.

“In the long run we will convert it into a university.”

The information minister said that the regulatory duty on newsprint is being slashed to just one per cent, and hoped that the benefit of the measure would be felt by working journalists.

A summary to float bonds in Chinese market was also approved by the cabinet, Chaudhry said, adding that “it will be the the first time in the history of Pakistan that we will enter the Chinese market.”

He also confirmed that Farrukh Sabzwari has been appointed the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

Ready to face opponents in court and everywhere else: Former President

PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari addresses party supporters in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.
PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday vowed to fight his political opponents “in court and everywhere else” soon after it emerged that his name could be placed on the exit control list (ECL) in connection with the fake bank accounts case.

Shortly after Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced that the federal cabinet has decided to place on the ECL all 172 suspects named in a joint investigation team’s report in the fake bank accounts case, Zardari, who is named in the aforesaid JIT report, went on the offensive, saying: “Today, the thugs of the ladla have challenged us. We are not afraid of their tactics.

“As far as Bilawal [Bhutto] is concerned, he is mine and BB’s son: how can you scare him?” he asked.

Zardari, who made scarce mention of his slain wife in a speech meant to mark Benazir Bhutto’s 11th death anniversary in Garhi Khuda Bukhsh, criticised the incumbent PTI government and claimed that they pale in comparison to the performance of the PPP government.

“They did nothing in their 100 days,” he said, reminding the party supporters that he had ousted General Musharraf, “launched the Benazir [Income Support Programme] card” in his first 100 days.

“They will be unable to run the country despite foreign support by friendly countries,” he said.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, after paying homage to his late mother, echoed his father’s sentiments as he too promised to “fight the lies and controversies” against his family.

Bilawal wondered if Prime Minister Imran Khan is aware “how weak the federation’s foundations are right now”, warning that “a single spark can turn everything into a heap of ash.”

PIA aircraft collides with staircase at new airport Islamabad

PIA aircraft collides with staircase at new airport Islamabad
In yet another incident of inefficiency by the national carrier, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft in Islamabad collided with a passenger staircase while departing for Karachi on Thursday.

PIA’s Flight PK-373 was set to depart for Karachi when the aircraft collided with a passenger staircase while leaving the airport apron, damaging the wing of the aircraft.

According to PIA officials, the wing of the aircraft is being currently repaired and the flight will now depart for Karachi at 1:30 pm. Passengers have been shifted back to the passenger lounge.

Earlier in November, an aircraft of PIA skidded off the runway at the Panjgur airport. Everybody onboard remained unhurt.

A tyre of the plane, flying from Karachi to Panjgur, burst during landing. The pilot of PIA’s flight PK-517, however, remained in control of the aircraft and successfully brought it to a halt near the runway, according to sources.

A video clip, showing passengers disembarking from the aircraft through emergency stairs, went viral on the social media.

Such incidents involving the national flag carrier are not uncommon. In March 2013, tyres of a PIA plane burst while the aircraft made an emergency landing in Quetta. All passengers on board remained unharmed.

Court directs petrol pumps to not sell fuel to bikers without helmets

Court directs petrol pumps to not sell fuel to bikers without helmets
The Lahore High Court on Thursday directed that petrol pumps should not be allowed to sell fuel to motorcyclists not wearing safety helmets.

During the hearing, Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi ordered the authorities to follow the directions after lawyer Abdullah Malik requested the court to take action against those police officials, including traffic wardens for riding their bikes without helmets.

He further said, “The law is equal to all if citizens are being ticketed for not following rules, the same should be applied for officials on violating the same rules.”

Following this, he directed the authorities to seal the petrol pumps who fail to abide by the LHC orders.

Earlier, the judge had ordered the chief traffic police and police high ups to take departmental action against police officers and traffic wardens if they are found riding motorbikes without wearing a helmet as well as the side mirrors.

“No one is above the law, a judge of Lahore High Court had been ticketed through e-ticket system,” adding “if judges are paying the fine so why not others”, Justice Qureshi remarked.

He further appreciated the new e-ticket system launched by the LHC.

PM Lauds CM Buzdar For His Humane Gesture

PM Lauds CM Buzdar For His Humane Gesture
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who often takes pride in the selection of Usman Buzdar for the Punjab chief minister slot, took to Twitter on Thursday to share a picture of his meeting with a delegation of people from rural areas of the province.

Sharing the picture showing Mr Buzdar listening to issues of the people sitting beside him on a sofa, the prime minister wrote on his official Twitter handle: “This is Naya Pakistan. A picture is worth more than 1000 words.”

PM Khan had previously dubbed the Punjab chief minister the face of change. “He knows people live in the backward areas of Punjab. He is sympathetic towards the deprived common men. The real CM, the real Khadim e Aala is Usman Buzdar sitting next to me who lives simply and who feels for his people,” he said.
On Dec 26, the Punjab chief minister reiterated that the people hailing from remote areas of the province will be given their rights.

He said this while talking to different delegations of the people belonging to the rural areas of the province who called on him at his office in Lahore.

3 Dead, Two Injured as House Roof Collapses in Peshawar

3 Dead, Two Injured as House Roof Collapses in Peshawar
Three people of a family lost their lives while two got injured at a house in Din Bahar Colony of Peshawar City after the roof of the house collapsed.

Rescue 1122 Officials stated that five of a family were pulled out from the debris after the roof of a house in Din Bahar colony crumbled.

Among the three dead are three siblings; 10-years old boy Naseeb, 7-years old Naseer and 3-years old Hidayat, according to Rescue 1122.