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War Against Terror
Last week joint committee to design TORs for investigation into allegations by Panama papers against family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for having off-shore companies was dissolved without reaching any consensus. Later Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) filed references in the Election Commission of Pakistan for prime minister’s disqualification. Besides the prime minister, the PPP has also sought disqualification of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and lawmakers Capt (Retd) Muhammad Safdar and Hamza Shahbaz. The PPP and the PTI have accused the prime minister, his close aides and his family members of hiding their assets while filing their nomination papers for the last general election and asked the ECP to disqualify the ruling party leaders.
However ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Malik has given a clean chit to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the disqualification references. Talking to media, Malik said the ECP received disqualification references against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but it could not take action on these references as long as the vacant posts of ECP members are not filled. The chief election commissioner has also written a letter to the prime minister to fill the vacant seats of the ECP members. The constitution binds the government to appoint ECP members within 45 days of retirement of the previous members.
Meanwhile according to media reports Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is still in London after open heart surgery, is expected to come back to country this month. Prime Minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz has been looking after state affairs in the absence of her father.
Following the murder of famous Sufi singer Amjad Sabri this month, rangers and law enforcement agencies have intensified their operation in Karachi. Army Chief Raheel Sharif also visited Karachi and while talking to media, said that the nexus of terrorists, sympathisers and financiers would be broken at all costs and the ongoing operation in the city would be taken to its logical conclusion.
During his visit to the Karachi Corps Headquarters, the army chief said that the ongoing operation has brought about a noticeable improvement in the law and order situation in the city. The director general of the Sindh Rangers also briefed the army chief in detail about the ongoing operation, the prevailing security situation in the city and the way forward. Army chief said that all assistance, intelligence and material combat support, would be provided to the Rangers to accomplish this mission.
Meanwhile, Pakistan last month had announced it had cleared the last militant stronghold in the northwestern tribal area. However, small intensity militant attacks continue to take place in parts as three policemen were killed and six civilians were wounded in separate attacks this week in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province.
Over in Balochistan four personnel of the Frontier Corps were killed as they came under attack by unidentified armed assailants this week. Police sources said that FC personnel were standing at a motor workshop to get their vehicle repaired when unknown armed men riding motorcycles came there and opened fire.
Pakistan has extended the deadline for voluntary repatriation of registered Afghan refugees until December 31 this year. The government has extended the deadline on the request of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi. According to media reports, Grandi asked the government during his visit to Pakistan last week to extend the stay of the Afghan refugees in the country for another three years. The government however told him that it could not host the Afghan refugees for another three years due to security and economic reasons. The Pakistani authorities said that Afghan refugees were involved in terrorist and criminal activities as well as smuggling.
Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at a media briefing last week that Pakistan was hosting more than three million Afghan refugees and some of them had become a security risk for the country as terrorists were using the refugee camps as safe havens.
Meanwhile efforts are underway to continue dialogues with India over various outstanding issues. Sartaj Aziz, adviser to the prime minister on national security and foreign affairs, said that India was avoiding dialogue with Pakistan because it would have to discuss all core issues, including Kashmir. After Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan in December last year, the Pakistani and Indian foreign secretaries were scheduled to meet to discuss modalities for the Bilateral Dialogue. However, the attack on an Indian Airforce base in Pathankot in January this year proved a big blow for any prospects of constructive dialogue between the neighbouring countries.
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