Pakistan News

Google paid tribute on Saturday to late architect and activist Perween Rahman with a custom doodle on what would have been her 65th birthday. She was born on January 22, 1957 in Dhaka.

The doodle depicts the activist looking at Orangi Town, the place she dedicated her life to, from the window of her office.

After the war of 1971, Rahman and her family relocated to Karachi where she pursued a degree in architecture and did her post-graduate studies in housing, building and urban planning. She is known for her work in the goths [shanty towns] scattered across Karachi as part of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), an NGO working with underserved communities for the provision of basic amenities such as low cost sanitation, housing, health, education and credit for micro enterprise.

Rahman's dedication to help the 1.5 million residents of Karachi's Orangi Town led her to be appointed as the head of OPP's housing and sanitation programmes. With her taking the lead behind every project the NGO was able to partner with government to set up 650 private schools, 700 medical clinics and 40,000 small businesses. Rahman was conferred a posthumous Sitara-e-Shujaat for her work and dedication.

Actor Ahsan Khan shared the doodle on his Instagram Stories and recalled a 2021 film based on Rahman's life.

Rahman was murdered on March 13, 2013 in Orangi Town. On December 17, a Karachi Anti-Terrorism Court sentenced four men to life imprisonments for her murder.

Rahman's sister Aquila Ismail told Google, "We are deeply touched by this gesture from Google. It is life-affirming to see that Perween’s contribution to Pakistan, the values she stood for and her legacy are being celebrated today. May we all strive to be just in our actions and continue to find inspiration in life itself, like our beloved Perween."

Lahore High Court's (LHC) Justice Ayesha A. Malik was notified as a judge of the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Friday, officially becoming Pakistan's first-ever woman judge to be green lighted to sit on the apex court.

According to a notification issued by the law ministry, her appointment has been approved by President Arif Alvi and will come into effect as soon as she takes oath of office.

The notification, a copy of which is available with, said: "In exercise of powers conferred by clause (1) of article 177 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the president is pleased to appoint Mrs Ayesha A. Malik, a judge of the Lahore High Court, [...] as a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan with effect from the date she takes oath of her office."

The development comes two days after the Parlia­­mentary Committee on the Appointment of Superior Judiciary approved the appointment of Justice Malik as a judge of the SC.

For months, Justice Malik’s elevation to the SC was debated as many said it went against the principle of seniority since she is the fourth most senior judge of the LHC.

Those in favour of her elevation pointed out that seniority was not a requirement for appointment to the apex court according to the Constitution and that the country’s judicial history is full of instances of male judges from provincial high courts being elevated without consideration to seniority.

After the parliamentary committee approved her appointment, Senator Farooq H. Naek, who heads the body, had said the committee still believed in the principle of seniority for appointment of judges, but the approval for Justice Malik was given because it was the first time a woman was being elevated to the apex court.

"We have approved Justice Malik's name in national interest," the senator had said.

The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) had earlier this month approved Justice Malik for elevation to the apex court by a majority of five to four during a heated session that had lasted nearly three-and-a-half hours.

This was the second time that the JCP held a meeting to decide on Justice Malik's appointment. A lack of consensus during an extended meeting of the JCP on Sept 9 last year had forced the commission to defer a decision on her appointment.

During the JCP's Sep 9 meeting, four members of the commission had opposed the proposal to elevate her, while an equal number supported it.

Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, former judge Dost Mohammad Khan and a representative of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Akhtar Hussain, had opposed the idea whereas Chief Justice CJP Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Federal Law Minister Barrister Dr Farogh Naseem and Attorney General (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan had favoured Justice Malik.

At the time, the Supreme Court Bar Association President Abdul Latif Afridi had called a countrywide protest to express anger over disregard to the seniority principle in the appointment of judges to the apex court.

The same criticism was levelled this time as well, with the legal fraternity calling on the chief justice to postpone the JCP meeting. In case the meeting was not called off, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and all bar associations said they would boycott all court proceedings, from the superior judiciary to the lower courts.

While the JCP was holding its session, lawyers had arranged a protest and convention in a nearby office of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). They accused the judiciary of favouritism in the appointment of superior court judges and thus harming its image.

Through a resolution, the convention had asked the JCP to adhere to the seniority principle in appointments to the apex court from the provincial high courts until such time as fair, transparent and objective criteria for appointment of judges at all levels were framed in consultation with all stakeholders and appropriate amendments to the Judicial Commission Rules were made.

In a related development, LHC Bar Association President Maqsood Buttar had moved a petition before the Supreme Court earlier this month seeking directions that the JCP invite all relevant stakeholders; judges, senior lawyers and bar representatives, members of the parliamentary committee, the federal and provincial governments and civil society and structure the process of judicial appointments to the superior courts to make them more objective and transparent.

The petition also sought directions for the JCP to frame comprehensive and detailed rules/guidelines to structure both the process of and parameters for appointment.

The petition had also asked that until the criteria was developed, the JCP should stick to the seniority principle in the elevation of high court judges to the Supreme Court.

Justice Malik completed her early education from schools in Paris and New York and then completed her senior Cambridge from the Karachi Grammar School.

She studied law at the Pakistan College of Law in Lahore and went on to do her LLM from the Harvard Law School Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, where she was named a London H Gammon fellow 1998-1999.

From 2001 to the date of her elevation as a high court judge, she worked with the law firm of Rizvi, Isa, Afridi and Angell, first as a senior associate and then a partner in charge of the firm’s Lahore office.

Justice Malik has appeared as a pro-bono counsel for several NGOs working on poverty alleviation, microfinance and skills-training programmes.

She is also author of a number of publications and has taught banking law at University of the Punjab and mercantile law at the College of Accounting and Management Sciences Karachi.

Pakistan has revised up its economic growth rate for 2020-21 to 5.37 per cent from 3.9pc, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar said on Thursday.

"The growth in 2020-21 was 5.37pc," he said in a tweet, adding that the National Accounts Committee (NAC), a government body that reviews the economic indicators, had approved the revised estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

This is the second time the GDP rate for 2020-21 has been revised, from an initial 2.3pc set in the 2020 annual budget to 3.9pc later.

The statistics bureau also shifted its economy's baseline, which pushed the figure up further to 5.57pc, a statement from the planning ministry said.

With the new 2015-16 baseline, it said, total GDP has reached $346.76 billion with a per capita income of $1,666.

The economy recovered between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, its fiscal year. It's GDP contracted in the previous fiscal year due to the global impact of Covid-19 shutdowns.

For 2021-22, a target of 4.8pc has been set but policymakers are hopeful growth will cross five per cent.

Umar said the revised number showed the second-highest growth in the last 14 years. The higher growth was mainly due to strong industrial growth between April and June, he said.

With inflation at 12.3pc, surging food and energy prices have put Prime Minister Imran Khan under increasing pressure from the middle classes, his main base of support.

His government presented a mid-year budget earlier this month to end tax exemptions on a variety of sectors to raise $1.93bn for the current fiscal year under International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions.

The IMF has made further budgetary tightening a condition for the revival of a stalled $6bn funding programme before the next tranche could be approved in a board review set for January 28.

Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the National Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Policy on Wednesday, underlining the importance of supporting small businesses and startups and saying the country would see the benefits of this policy in days to come.

Addressing the policy's launching ceremony in Islamabad, the premier said the government was now directing its efforts towards facilitating the SME sector, which he said was ignored previously.

"We are giving it incentives ... and the importance that it was not given until now."

He highlighted that one of the most significant steps taken under the new policy was facilitating small businesses in taking loans from banks.

"The SME sector is the biggest source of employment and has a considerable share in wealth creation," he underscored, regretting that in Pakistan, the SME sector's contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) was not as much as it should be.

The prime minister identified difficulties faced by small businesses in getting loans and credits as one of the reasons behind it not contributing to the GDP to its full potential.

In this regard, he gave the example of Silicon Valley — the hub of startups and global technology companies in the US.

He said Silicon Valley, where ideas of young people were supported by means of making resources available to them, brought about a "revolution of technology" in the US.

"Venture capitalists backed ideas [there], they took a chance, and people as young as 25 tp 26 year old went on to become billionaires," he said.

The youth, he said, were more driven, passionate and "dream big". As one grows older, the premier added, "we take fewer risks ... and initiatives".

"Therefore, it is important that the government facilitate the youth [in getting] credit," Prime Minister Imran explained, also encouraging the private sector to make venture capital investments.

He also expressed pleasure over a "$500 million investment in Pakistani startups from outside the country".

Previously, he recalled, the investment in the sector from outside the country was negligible. "And this means that we are heading in the right direction."

As the prime minister again stressed the importance of investing in the youth, he went on to identify further reasons that hampered the progress of SMEs.

Besides difficulties in borrowing from banks and getting credit, high property prices was another problem they faced, he said.

"The land is so expensive in cities that it is difficult for them to buy property to establish a setup," the prime minister elaborated, adding that the government was now giving them land on lease as part of its efforts to facilitate them.

Yet another problem, he said, was red-tapeism.

To address this, "our government has decided that we will take action against any department found to be creating hurdles for an enterprise, [be it] associated with the agriculture, industrial or services [sector], that creates employment," he added. "We will take action against anyone creating hurdles for them."

Turning his attention to exports, he said, "We feel ashamed that countries like Singapore, which has a much smaller population than Pakistan, have surpassed us in terms of exports." Their exports to population ratio was much higher than that of Pakistan, he noted.

"So we have to focus on exports and we will give special preference to [entities] that export. All of the government's orientation will be towards wealth creation now and SMEs have a big role to play in this regard," the premier said.

Moreover, he continued, the government was also trying to reduce regulations for SMEs to further facilitate them. In this regard, he particularly spoke about the "NOC (no-objection certificate) regime", which hampered the progress of SMEs.

The prime minister said "inspections are also being streamlined. We will make complete use of information technology".

He added that "Pakistan will see in days to come how beneficial this policy launched today will be for the society."

The prime minister assured that he would preside over meetings to address any issues faced in the implementation of this policy.

Through this policy, he said, "we are giving an opportunity to Pakistanis to participate in the country's wealth creation."

On a separate note, he recounted the problems his government faced at the beginning of its tenure and credited it for "record exports, remittances and tax collections" despite these challenges.

Expressing the hope that the government would exceed the tax target of Rs8,000 billion he intended to achieve during the five-year tenure of his regime, Prime Minister Imran said work was being done with the help of the National Database and Registration Authority to develop a system for identifying persons and entities that didn't pay taxes.

"Yes the situation is not good," he acknowledged, identifying rising inflation as one of the factors behind it.

But inflation, he said, was not because of the government's decisions but because "imports increasing three time is bound to exert pressure on the rupee".

"And there has also been pressure due to rising prices of commodities in the international market," he said. "Despite this, you see wealth creation today," he said, adding that it was a result of decisions and reforms by his government.

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday rejected a request by the PTI to keep certain portions of a report by a scrutiny committee of the ECP confidential.

The scrutiny committee was formed in 2019 to audit foreign funding received by the PTI. The case began in 2014 when the party's founding member, Akbar S Babar, filed it.

A written order was issued by the ECP after Babar complained that certain portions of the report had not been provided to him.

"No document of the scrutiny committee is confidential," the ECP said in its order.

Babar triumphantly tweeted about the development, saying: "ECP ends secrecy in PTI foreign funding case."

He said that now "all documents, including 'eight volumes' acquired through State Bank of Pakistan" which were kept secret will now be shared with him.

The next date of hearing is set for February 1, he added.

PTI's counsel Anwar Mansoor had contended that there are certain flaws in the report which must be amended. "If we have been at fault anywhere, we will admit it," he had said.

Meanwhile, the ECP directed the scrutiny committees formed to probe foreign funding of the PPP and PML-N to submit a report in the next 10 days.

'PTI only party that attaches importance to transparent fund collection'

In response, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said that the PTI is the sole political party that attaches importance to transparency in the funds collection process.

Talking to the media, he said Akbar S Babar, "apparently on the payroll of the PML-N", had been fully exposed by the findings of the ECP scrutiny committee.

It was, in fact, a storm in a tea cup, as according to page 81 of the committee’s report, Babar "could not produce any document or evidence, which could be presented in any court of law", he said.

The minister said Babar used to claim that the PTI was being funded from India and Israel, but "he could not present any proof" in that regard.

Similarly, he said, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz "harped on the same allegation" outside the Election Commission of Pakistan many times, "but she faced embarrassment when it was proved wrong" in the scrutiny committee’s report.

The PTI runs its affairs in a transparent manner and the Opposition’s accusations about its funds collection process "proved false", he said.

Habib said that the PTI is a party which is "equally supported" by Pakistanis both at home and abroad.

He asked Babar to apologise to overseas Pakistanis for "hurting their sentiments" by levelling "baseless allegations".

The minister challenged Maryam and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to disclose details of their parties accounts.

"The PML-N should tell the nation who Bhoon Das and Shujat Azeem are and what amounts they had deposited in the party's accounts," he remarked.

Likewise, Bilawal should also divulge details about "an account of Rs350 million", he added.

Similarly, he said, Maulana Fazlur Rehman should also disclose as to "how he had received funding from Libya".

The minister requested the ECP to activate the scrutiny committee as soon as possible so that sources of funding of all other parties, including the PPP and the PML-N, are also scrutinised.

The ECP should resolve the issue as per the decision of the Supreme Court, he added.

He said there was a mention of Walton Cricket Ground in the report, but it was "nothing unusual" as a "friendly cricket match was played" between Pakistani nationals and the money was transferred "through a banking channel".

MURREE: In line with the recommendations of the probe committee formed to investigate the causes and lapses that led to the death of 22 tourists during the snowstorm in Murree, the municipal administration has launched a grand anti-encroachment operation at the hill station.

The operation is being carried out against the illegal construction creating obstacles to the flow of traffic, illegal shopping malls, and hotels where parking spaces have not been provided.

Currently, the anti-encroachment officials were razing and sealing illegal constrictions on Bhurban Road and Bansra Gali of the hill station.

The five-member committee formed by the Punjab government to probe the Murree tragedy has missed the deadline of Monday, January 17, to submit its findings of the incident, said sources.

Sources privy to the matter said that the committee has sought five more days to complete its probe as the deadline for submission of the report expired today.

“The officials of the concerned district and Punjab secretariat are not taking the issue seriously,” the sources said quoting the members of the probe committee.

The incomplete report could not be submitted to the government as the authorities have yet to submit their written statements.

Only a few officials from KP and Punjab have recorded their statements, the sources added.

A day earlier, the five-member committee had recommended sealing all illegal hotels, plazas, and construction sites at the hill station, according to well-placed sources.

Sources privacy to the matter said that the committee has also recommended sealing of all those hotels, shopping malls, and apartments where parking spaces have not been provided, Daily Jang had reported.

On Sunday, the sources had said that the probe committee had completed its investigation and had revealed that the incident occurred due to administrative negligence.

According to Geo News sources, after completing its investigation — which was based on interviews of victims and administrative officials — the probe committee had departed from the hill station to Lahore.

The inquiry committee was preparing a draft of the probe's findings, which will be presented to the Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar within two or three days, sources had said.

The probe had revealed that on the day of the incident, several snowploughs were parked at the same place which led to road blockages, the administrative staff was absent from duty, while a blizzard warning from the metrological department was blatantly neglected, according to sources.

FAISALABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif has sought a "deal" for four members of his family, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill claimed on Sunday.

Addressing a media conference in the city, Gill said to the Sharifs: "However much of a deal and leeway you had to be provided, you have been."

Further addressing the Sharifs, he said that it is "not as if you are out on a shopping trip, that you are seeking a deal".

Gill said that the Sharif family will never be given a deal. "You have Imran Khan standing in your way," he said. "He did not let go of them when he was in the Opposition, how will he let go of them now?" he added.

Speaking of the particulars of the so-called "deal", Gill claimed that it is sought for Nawaz, "his daughter", Shahbaz, and "his son". He went on to claim that the request is for the latter three individuals to be allowed to leave the country, whereas "Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will stay".

"We won't even give you a boiled potato, and here you are asking for a chicken burger deal," he remarked, adding: "The Sharif family is asking for a burger deal which also includes a toy."

Gill claimed that he met Nawaz thrice while he was hospitalised in Pakistan, and that the PML-N supremo "would plead to be let go".

The premier's aide said that the government seeks to bring back Nawaz, who is currently residing in London after travelling there to seek medical treatment in November 2019. He claimed that Nawaz is "being put on a plane and sent here" and that he will "go to jail when he arrives".

He added: "Soon you will see Shahbaz Sharif behind bars."

Gill said that now, politics in Pakistan will see a clean competition between one vote and another, instead of the use of dirty tactics.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry in a separate media briefing also spoke about the Sharif family, claiming that there is a "race" underway among four leading members.

"When the four big leaders went to meet 'someone', they said that 'Nawaz Sharif did not do right by the country, why don't you consider us?'," the minister claimed further.

The two PTI leaders, however, have not been the first to recently speak of "four Sharifs". On Friday, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that "all four members" of the Sharif family can consider themselves "subtracted" from Pakistan's politics.

Although the interior minister did not specify who exactly these four members are, he was likely referring to the four Sharifs who have remained active as politicians, namely, Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz, of which the first two were disqualified to hold public office in 2017.

Ahmed said: "They want that the hand of mercy that was placed on the head of Prime Minister Imran Khan be placed on their heads. That hand may well end up on their necks, but never their heads."

In response to Gill's remarks, PML-N's Talal Chaudhry said that it is Nawaz Sharif who will "never give any breathing room to this fake government".

"Look at where the country stands. Neither does the poor man have bread to eat, nor does our nation have any honour," Chaudhry said.

"The hand of mercy that was on your head, is now at the feet of Nawaz Sharif," the PML-N leader claimed.

Chaudhry went on to remark: "They can scarcely run the government and yet have the gall to spin such tales."

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