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Pakistan rescues 9 Indian crew members after ship capsize

The body was recovered and handed over to Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) authorities for further proceedings…reports Asian Lite News

The Pakistan Navy saved nine Indian crew members whose ship drowned in the Arabian Sea near Gwadar, the Director-General Public Relations (Navy) said in a statement on Thursday, as per media reports.

The incident took place on August 9 (Tuesday) when an Indian sailing vessel — ‘Jamna Sagar’ — sank with 10 crew members onboard, according to the statement, Geo News reported.

As the ship was sinking, the navy responded to a distress call and the Pakistan Maritime Information Centre requested a nearby merchant ship, MT Kruibeke, to provide necessary assistance to the stranded crew of the drowning sailing vessel.

“The merchant ship eventually recovered nine crew members and continued the voyage to its next port in Dubai and onward disembarked the crew,” the statement said.

At the same time, one Pakistan Navy ship, along with two helicopters, also reached the area and located the body of one crew member who was earlier missing at the time of the drowning of the sailing vessel, Geo News reported.

The body was recovered and handed over to Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) authorities for further proceedings.

India-Pak talks

Backchannel talks between Pakistan and India have met a dead end as both sides have struggled to agree on the moves that may pave the way for slow but gradual improvement in the relationship, a media report said citing an informed source.

“Talks have been going on but have reached a point where things aren’t moving anywhere,” The Express Tribune report quoted the source as saying.

There has been a desire from both sides to break the impasse but the issue is how to move forward from this point onwards, the source explained.

What has slowed down the process was the political uncertainty in Pakistan, The Express Tribune reported.

There was a glimmer of hope for a possible thaw in the relationship following the change of government in Pakistan in April.

What spurred the optimism was that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first leaders to congratulate his Pakistani counterpart Shehbaz Sharif when the latter assumed office in April.

The source said backchannel contacts that began during the PTI government’s tenure picked up pace in April after the change of government.

But despite “intense” backchannel diplomacy, the two sides were not willing to concede an inch on their respective issues.

Pakistan is keen that India must take steps with regards to Kashmir before any process of normalisation of ties begins. New Delhi, however, is more interested in Islamabad first exploring the option of resuming bilateral trade, The Express Tribune quoted the source as saying further.

The friction in the relationship prevented Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers from interacting with each other at the recent meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Tashkent.

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Anti-Imran purge gathers steam in Pakistan

The TTP had been running riot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bolstered by the presence of a large number of senior functionaries who were released from prison after the Taliban swept into power in Kabul on August 15 last year…reports Asian Lite News

In Pakistan, a frontline state on the gates of Central and West Asia, the stage is set for a massive purge that targets former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Over the years the former premier had developed powerful nodes of influence in the military, radical Islamist organisations, the media and within civilian state institutions as well as an influential section of the civil society.

Over the past few days, a focused effort seems to have been launched by a hybrid-combination of the top military brass, personally led by the Army Chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, and the new government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to weed out pro-Imran loyalists from the system.

On Monday, the first clear sign of the purge came when Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, known to be close to Khan, was removed as commander of the Peshawar based XI corps and shifted to Bahawalpur. This was Gen. Hameed’s second major transfer. He was earlier removed as the chief of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-a position that Khan wanted him to occupy. Gen. Hamid was moved to Peshawar. But he was still tasked with a major responsibility-of conducting a dialogue, through tribal intermediaries and the Afghan Taliban, with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or the Pakistan Taliban.

The TTP had been running riot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bolstered by the presence of a large number of senior functionaries who were released from prison after the Taliban swept into power in Kabul on August 15 last year.

Hameed’s transfer coincided with a massive IED blast that killed TTP’s top four leaders on Sunday, including top gun Maulvi Omar Khalid Khorasani. Seemingly, all bridges for the continuation of a dialogue have been burnt with the strike, and Gen. Hameed’s role in peace talks has been, in all likelihood, terminated.

Known for his hatred towards Christians, Khorasani was on the drone list of the Americans, who had already offered a $3 million dead or alive reward on his head.

After Hameed’s transfer the anti-Imran purge had been further energised. On Tuesday, Khan’s trusted Lieutenant Shahbaz Gill was arrested and charged with sedition. If the charges are proven, he could face the death penalty-a prospect that is bound to sow fear among Khan’s senior supporters belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party that the former premier heads.

The knives are out for Gill because he virtually called for a revolt within the army establishment during a discussion programme on the pro-Imran ARY television channel.

It can now be expected that the trail of Gill’s investigation will tighten the noose around Khan, making him the mastermind of the “seditious” remarks. “The comments were according to the script prepared under the supervision of PTI Chairperson Imran Khan which was carried forward by former information minister Fawad Chaudhry and Gill,” the interior minister Rana Sanaullah said, during a press conference.

The ongoing purge is likely to have at least three major consequences. First, the marginalisation of Khan and the PTI is likely to generate a power vacuum which can be expected to be filled by the anti-Khan camp-a process that could be capped with the arrival from London of the in-exile former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, underwritten by a pruned military that has been shaped by Gen. Bajwa.

Second, with a dominantly pro-west dispensation in power, US influence in Pakistan is bound to increase. The military is expected to back the shift, as Gen. Bajwa enjoys excellent ties with the West. In fact, Pak media reports suggest that on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s insistence, Gen. Bajwa called the US Deputy Secretary State Wendy Sherman, requesting her to facilitate the early release of the $1.2 billion first instalment of an IMF loan that a cash strapped Pakistan badly needs. Besides, three days before the terror kingpin Ayman Al Zawahiri was shredded by a hellfire missile in Kabul on July 31, Gen. Bajwa was on the phone with US Central Command Chief General Michael Erik Kurilla, leading to speculation that the Pak military had coordinated with the Americans the fatal drone strike.

Third, the purge is bad news for the Chinese whose CPEC projects are likely to suffer, especially as the IMF is likely to scrutinise the project details, pick holes in them, before parting with its loans. Already, News International website is reporting that the China-built Dasu hydropower project’s stage -1 with the capacity to generate 2160 MW hydel electricity has been delayed by three years, resulting in cost overrun of Rs 100 billion.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

ALSO READ-Imran’s top aide arrested on sedition charges

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Probe against Pakistani charities launched

In its verdict, the ECP observed the ‘unknown accounts’ and said that hiding accounts are a “violation of the Constitution”…reports Asian Lite News

Amid an ongoing probe into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s prohibited funding case agencies in the United Kingdom have started investigations into misuse of funds by Pakistan charity organizations into misuse of funds.

Sources privy to the matter said that the British agencies have started the investigation against Pakistani charities after UK’s Charity Commission and the National Crime Agency received complaints, according to local media reported. Both institutions are investigating the case.

According to local media, it has been alleged that funds collected in the name of charitable organizations have been sent to Pakistan but were used for political purposes.

Sources, cited in the media, further said that funds were collected in Britain in the name of a hospital and university established in Pakistan, which was later used for political purposes. British investigative agencies have been given the complaints with the evidence.

Along with the application, the detailed decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against PTI in the foreign funding case, a report published in the Financial Times, and details of accounts of the political parties have also been provided to the investigating agencies, the sources said.

Pakistan’s FIA has summoned 10 leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf including former National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, Mian Mahmood-ur-Rashid, former MPA Seema Zia and others to address questions during the probe.

The probe agency has also identified four employees of the PTI secretariat, whose personal and salary accounts were used for receiving foreign funding. The agency said funds were received in the bank accounts of Muhammad Arshad, Tahir Iqbal, Muhammad Rafique, and Nauman Afzal. In the statements, the PTI employees said that they used to give the money received in their accounts to PTI’s finance manager, according to a report in local Pakistan newspaper.

They said they would give signed blank cheques to the finance manager. According to the publication, the FIA came to know during the investigation that besides other accounts, foreign funding was also received in employees’ salary accounts.

FIA earlier constituted a six-member team to probe the case.

This investigation came a few days after the three-member Election Commission of Pakistan bench in a unanimous verdict ruled that the PTI received prohibited funding in the case pending since 2014, Geo News reported.

Akbar S Babar, the man who blew the lid off the scam involving the inflow of dubious foreign funds into Imran Khan’s political outfit Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) formally approached the FIA to initiate a probe against the PTI on Wednesday.

Babar told the FIA that the PTI’s financial board in 2011 illegally authorised four employees of the party’s central secretariat to collect donations in their personal accounts from within Pakistan and abroad.

In its verdict, the ECP observed the ‘unknown accounts’ and said that hiding accounts are a “violation of the Constitution”.

Moreover, it found that PTI Chairman and former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan submitted a false Nomination Form I.

The ECP decided to issue a show-cause notice to the PTI to explain why the commission should not seize the funds it received.

ALSO READ-Pakistani channel suspended in another curb on media freedom

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Imran to contest in 9 assembly seats

The announcement first came from PTI’s official Twitter account, and was later confirmed by the party’s Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry…reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief and ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday announced he will contest bypolls on all the nine vacant Assembly seats after the Election Commission of Pakistan released the schedule for bypolls on Friday.

The announcement first came from PTI’s official Twitter account, and was later confirmed by the party’s Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry while speaking at a press conference, the Dawn reported.

 According to the ARY News, in a meeting with journalists, Imran Khan said, “Elections would be held this year, government parties want to single him out….Would fight against the rulers at every platform.”

“The government alliance’s plans to disqualify him would never be completed,” he said, adding that appointing Sikandar Sultan Raja as the ECP chief was a major mistake.

The former premier added that two foreign countries offered him funding in the past but he refused. Leaders with popular support cannot be eradicated, he added.

Imran Khan’s announcement to contest the bypolls on all nine seats has startled many, with some commentators questioning if the PTI chairman could not find any other suitable candidate and the expenses to be incurred on the subsequent by-elections should Imran Khan win multiple seats and quits all but one.

According to the Dawn, a Representative of Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) of Pakistan, Mudassir Rizvi said that the Constitution provided for by-elections to be held within a certain time-frame after a seat fell vacant, as well as allowing a candidate to contest on multiple seats but retain just one, in case the nominee wins from multiple constituencies.

“That way our Constitution also allows state funds to be incurred on political ambitions of political leaders and parties. In just one constituency only, the kind of staff required, number of polling stations and booths set up, and at least a couple of thousand election staff involved, the expenses run into millions each time,” he added.

Election Commission of Pakistan on Friday announced that by-elections on nine National Assembly (NA) seats will be held on September 25.

The poll body announced the schedule for the constituencies of NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-45 Kurram, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib, as well asNA-237 Malir, NA-239 Korangi Karachi and NA-246 Karachi South.

The nine seats are among the 11 vacated after acceptance of resignations of PTI MNAs by the National Assembly speaker, and their de-notification, last week, following the removal of the party chief Imran Khan from the office of the Prime minister earlier this year.

The NA speaker had accepted the resignations of 11 PTI MNAs, including nine on general seats and two on reserved, under Article 64(1) of the Constitution of Pakistan.

On July 28, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted the resignations of the PTI Lawmakers three months after the en-mass resignation of the lawmakers on April 11 following the ouster of the former prime minister Imran Khan from the top office after the no-confidence motion moved by the joint opposition in the parliament against him succeeded.

The government accepted the resignations of 11 PTI MNAs including Shireen Mazari, Ali Muhammad Khan, Ijaz Shah, Farrukh Habib, Shandana Gulzar, Fazal Muhammad, Fakhar Zaman, Abdul Shakoor Shad, Jameel Ahmed and Akram Cheema, ARY News reported.

The confirmation of the acceptance of the resignations was issued by the NA Secretariat, which issued a list.

Notably, the PTI members after approval of the party’s leadership tendered their resignations from the National Assembly. PTI MNA Murad Saeed was the first PTI MNA who submitted his resignation to the National Assembly’s speaker, ARY News reported.

The then-Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Suri approved the resignations of the PTI MNAs. (ANI)

ALSO READ-Economic crisis could deepen if Imran wins

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Economic crisis could deepen if Imran wins

According to the Dawn, it was estimated that the national exchequer will have to bear the cost of millions of rupees in order to conduct bypolls again…reports Asian Lite News

The announcement by former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that he will contest elections on all nine Assembly seats has sparked furore and concerns across the nation as the already crippling economic situation of the country could be exacerbated if the PTI chief wins all the seats by any chance.

Following the Election Commission of Pakistan’s announcement to hold by polls in nine Assembly seats which fell vacant after the National Assembly Speaker accepted the resignation of 11 MNAs of PTI, Imran Khan announced his candidature in all nine seats.

 But it should be noted that if the PTI chief wins elections from all nine constituencies then he will have to choose one out of the nine, which will lead the Assembly to conduct the polls once again. The ensuing political instability and rising popularity of Imran Khan could have disastrous consequences for the country’s faltering economy.

According to the Dawn, it was estimated that the national exchequer will have to bear the cost of millions of rupees in order to conduct bypolls again.

The minimum expenditure incurred in an election in one constituency is around Rs 50-100 million, while in sensitive and far-flung areas the cost is approximately around Rs 100 million, sources said.

Sources added that in order to conduct elections in nine constituencies, it is estimated that Rs 500-900 million will be needed as expenses include printing and purchase of material used such as ballot papers, forms, bags, etc.

Moreover, the additional expenses are also incurred on security from rangers and police officials, deployment of army, training of election staff, IT equipment, and transport and fuel.

Consequently, if Khan wins the elections, in any case, bypolls will once again be held in all nine constituencies which will lead to an expenditure of nearly Rs 500-900 million.

This comes as a challenge for Pakistan as the country already is grappling under the economic crisis.

It is pertinent to note here that Imran Khan is already a member of the National Assembly as he won 2018 general elections from Mianwali.

In 2018, Khan contested from five constituencies and won all five. He managed to bag every single seat he contested on, which included, NA-53 Islamabad, NA-35 Bannu, NA-243 Karachi, NA-95 Mianwali, and NA-131 Lahore.

Ultimately, he had to vacant four seats and decided to retain the Mianwali constituency. (ANI)

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Saleh blames Pakistan for assassination plots

Afghanistan’s former Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Saturday blamed Pakistani agencies for being involved in at least two assassination plots against him.

Taking to Twitter he said that 60 plus people were killed in those complex attacks.

 “Well, Pakistani agencies were involved in at least two assassination plots against me. Tragically some 60-plus people were killed in those complex attacks,” tweeted Saleh.

He also targeted the Pakistan Army which has started to intensify cyber-terrorism by requesting Twitter to ban him from social media platforms.

“Now the GHQ hz started to intensify cyber terrorism too. The puppet Talib junta in Kabul hasn’t satisfied their ego yet,” tweeted Saleh.

The Afghan resistant leader shared a letter from Twitter that divulged a request from Pakistani law enforcement.

“Hello @AmrullahSaleh2, In the interest of transparency, we are writing to inform you that Twitter has received a request from Pakistani Law Enforcement regarding your Twitter account, @Amrullah5aleh2, that claims the following content violates the law(s) of Pakistan,” read the letter.

However, Twitter declined to take any action against Saleh on the reported content.

“As Twitter strongly believes in defending and respecting the voice of the users, it is our policy to notify our users if we receive a legal request from an authorized entity (such as law enforcement or a government agency) to remove content from their account. We provide notice whether or not the user lives in the country where the request originated,” added the letter.

The social media site suggested Saleh take legal counsel and challenge the request in court, by contacting relevant civil society organizations, voluntarily deleting the content (if applicable), or finding some other resolution.

“We understand that receiving this type of notice can be an unsettling experience. While Twitter is not able to provide legal advice, we want you to have an opportunity to evaluate the request and, if you wish, take appropriate action to protect your interests,” read the letter.

Back in June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report said Taliban security forces in northern Afghanistan’s Panjshir province have unlawfully detained and tortured residents accused of association with an opposition armed group.

Since mid-May 2022, fighting has escalated in the province as National Resistance Front (NRF) forces have attacked Taliban units and checkpoints. The Taliban have responded by deploying to the province thousands of fighters, who have carried out search operations targeting communities they allege are supporting the NRF.

During search operations in other provinces, Taliban forces have committed summary executions and enforced disappearances of captured fighters and other detainees, which are war crimes.

“Taliban forces in Panjshir province have quickly resorted to beating civilians in their response to fighting against the opposition National Resistance Front,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Taliban’s longstanding failure to punish those responsible for serious abuses in their ranks put more civilians at risk.”

Former detainees in early June reported that Taliban security forces detained about 80 residents in Panjshir’s Khenj district and beat them to compel them to provide information about the NRF, according to HRW. After several days, the

Taliban released 70, but have continued to hold 10 people whose relatives they accuse of being members of the group, a form of collective punishment.

Former detainees said the district jail held nearly 100 others who have alleged links to the NRF. None had access to their families or lawyers. Others have been held in informal detention facilities. (ANI)

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Pakistan’s FIA constitutes team to probe PTI funding case

Pakistan’s Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that PTI used overall 16 bank accounts that were not found on the records, reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) constituted a six-member team to probe into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI’s) prohibited funding case.

This investigation came a few days after the three-member Election Commission of Pakistan bench in a unanimous verdict ruled that the PTI received prohibited funding in the case pending since 2014, ARY News reported.

 Director Amna Baig will be leading the investigation team and four employees that were nominated in the ECP report were included in the initial investigation, according to sources.

The employees who recorded their initial testimonies to the FIA include Muhammad Rafique, Tahir Iqbal and Muhammad Arshad.

The concerned authorities have expanded the scope of the probe against PTI in the prohibited funding case. A five-member special monitoring team was formed by the intelligence agency.

The monitoring team will coordinate with the zonal inquiry team in Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi, Islamabad, Quetta and Faisalabad, reported ARY News.

On August 4, the Pakistan government decided to file a disqualification reference against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan after the verdict of the prohibited funding case and the federal cabinet accepted the recommendation.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Image: Twitter@ShkhRasheed)

Pakistan’s Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in her press conference that the PTI used overall 16 bank accounts that were not found on the records. She alleged that PTI used donations to the charity as party funds and an inquiry will be conducted into it.

“For the first time in Pakistan, a political party is declared a foreign-funded party. The accounts of the PTI secretariat employees were used for foreign funding,” she added.

Aurangzeb said that PTI was declared a ‘foreign-funded party’ in light of the ECP verdict, according to ARY News.

On August 2, The ECP in its unanimous verdict on the “prohibited funding” case, on Tuesday, said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had received the prohibited funds and issued a show-cause notice to PTI.

The Commission found that the donations were taken from 34 countries in fundraising. These included America, Australia, and the UAE, Geo News reported.

The ECP also said that the PTI had taken funds from an American businessman.

In its verdict, the ECP observed the ‘unknown accounts’ and said that hiding accounts are a “violation of the Constitution”.

Maryam Aurangzeb

Moreover, it found that PTI Chairman Imran Khan submitted a false Nomination Form I.

The ECP decided to issue a show-cause notice to the PTI to explain why the commission should not seize the funds it received.

According to the publication, the ECP, Monday, released the cause list for the case. The cause list showed that the verdict would be announced by a three-member bench led by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, who arrived early in the morning at the office. (ANI)

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310 killed, 300 injured as rains wreak havoc in Pakistan

Eight more people lost their lives in rain-related accidents in several areas of Pakistan’s Sindh and Balochistan province…reports Asian Lite News

Nearly 310 people have been killed and 295 others injured in separate rain-related incidents in Pakistan since June 14 as heavy downpours continued to lash the country, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said.

Eight more people lost their lives in rain-related accidents in several areas of Pakistan’s Sindh and Balochistan province.

A total of 175 women and children are among the deceased, the NDMA said in a situation report released on Sunday, adding that the rains have partially or fully damaged nearly 8,979 houses along with 48 bridges and several shops across the country, Xinhua news agency reported.

Most of the damages and casualties were reported from the country’s southwestern Balochistan province, where 100 people died and 57 others sustained injuries due to monsoon rains that triggered flash floods, followed by the southern Sindh province, which has reported 70 deaths and 27 injured people, according to the NDMA.

Almost 64 people were killed in the east Punjab province, 62 in the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and 14 people in other parts of the country, said the NDMA.

In Sindh’s Khairpur district, the tragedy befell a family as the roof collapsed during heavy rain, leaving a man and his two minor sons dead while his wife and two daughters suffered critical injuries, Dawn reported.

 In Karachi, five people died as several areas of the city remained inundated in sewage-laced rainwater for a third consecutive day.

Moreover, heavy rains caused flooding in Mirpurkhas, Larkana, Dadu, Qambar-Shahdadkot and other adjoining towns.

The NDMA added that rescue and relief activities are underway. The agency has been providing food packs, tents, kitchen sets, mosquito nets, hygiene kits, blankets and tarpaulins to victims of rains and floods across the country.

The recent spell of rains during the last 48 hours has caused urban flooding in some big cities of Pakistan.

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Setback to Imran as Hamza Shehbaz takes oath as Punjab CM

Hamza secured 179 votes against 176 votes received by Pervaiz Elahi, a joint candidate of PTI and PML

Hamza Shehbaz, son of Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, was administered the oath of office on Saturday after he won an election to retain his seat as the Chief Minister of Punjab province.

Clad in a black sherwani, Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman administered the oath at a ceremony held at the Governor’s House in Lahore.

Hamza secured 179 votes against 176 votes received by Pervaiz Elahi, a joint candidate of the former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), deputy speaker Dost Mazari announced late Friday night.

Elahi had received 186 votes, including 176 from PTI and 10 from the PML, but the deputy speaker excluded the 10 votes of the PML after its chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain wrote a letter to his party members not to vote for Elahi, Xinhua news agency reported.

This is the second time that Hamza beat Elahi in the contest for the Punjab Chief Minister.

The election was held on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan after the PTI filed a petition in the apex court saying that Hamza has lost the majority in the house.

Earlier on April 16, he was elected as the new Chief Minister of Punjab with 197 votes, including 25 dissidents of the PTI.

On May 20, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) de-seated 25 dissident members of the provincial assembly of the PTI for voting fpr Hamza in the election against the orders of the party leadership.

Later the ECP allocated five reserved seats to the PTI and announced by-elections on the remaining 20 seats on July 17.

The PTI won 15 seats while PML-N got four seats and an independent candidate also won the election.

PML member Basharat Raja objected to the deputy speaker’s decision to exclude votes, saying that it is against the constitution of the country because only a leader in the assembly can pass such orders to its members while Hussain is not the party leader in the house.

The PTI and PML both announced that they will go to the Supreme Court of the country to challenge the verdict made by the deputy speaker.

ALSO READ: Stage set for Modi-Shehbaz meeting

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Stage set for Modi-Shehbaz meeting

Diplomatic sources said that a chance meeting between Shehbaz and Modi couldn’t be ruled out since both would be in the same compound for two days….reports Asian Lite news

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Secretary General Zhang Ming is visiting Pakistan on Friday for three days and will invite Pak Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to participate in the SCO annual summit to be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 15-16, The News reported.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also attend the summit, which will provide an opportunity to the prime ministers of Pakistan and India to come face-to-face. It is for the first time in six years that the two prime ministers will be present under one roof and avail an opportunity to see each other, The News reported.

Highly-placed diplomatic sources told The News here on Thursday that a chance meeting between Shehbaz and Modi couldn’t be ruled out since both would be in the same compound for two days. “No structured meeting of the two has been tied up since India hasn’t requested the same yet. In case such a request is made, Pakistan’s response will be positive,” the sources said.

China, Pakistan, Russia, India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are full members of the group. The group’s new chair has already outlined its priorities and tasks. These include efforts to raise the potential and authority of the organisation, ensure peace and stability in the region, reduce poverty and ensure food security.

Putting together a plan for the development of intra-regional trade, which will include measures to eliminate trade barriers, align technical regulations and digitalise customs procedures, will also be on the table for discussions.

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