Pakistan Arrests Ex-Foreign Minister Qureshi Under Anti-Espionage Law

Pakistani authorities Saturday arrested Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a twice-former foreign minister and current opposition leader, on charges that he played a role in misusing official secret information for political gains.Qureshi, the acting head of the Pa…

Pakistani authorities Saturday arrested Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a twice-former foreign minister and current opposition leader, on charges that he played a role in misusing official secret information for political gains.

Qureshi, the acting head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI, the party of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, was taken into custody from his residence in Islamabad just hours after he addressed a news conference, condemning a police crackdown on his party workers.

Officials said Qureshi was detained in connection with an ongoing investigation into a March 7, 2022, Pakistani secret diplomatic cable, known internally as a cipher, which allegedly contained a threat from the United States to remove then-Prime Minister Khan from power.

The cipher allegedly documented a meeting between U.S. State Department officials and Islamabad's then-ambassador to the U.S., Asad Majeed Khan.

Last week, an American news outlet, The Intercept, published what it said was the cipher text for the first time, which Imran Khan has long held up as evidence of his claim that Washington engineered his defeat in a parliamentary no-confidence motion in April last year.

According to the Pakistani ambassador's purported cable, the State Department officials at the meeting encouraged him to tell Pakistan's powerful military that if Imran Khan were removed from office over his neutrality on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Islamabad could expect warmer relations with Washington.

Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency reported in its initial findings that Imran Khan, Qureshi, and their associates "are involved in (the) communication of information contained in (the) secret classified document" to the public at large and "in a manner prejudicial to the interests of state security."

No legal expert has questioned the legality of sharing the information.

The FIA investigation, conducted under the Official Secret Act, an anti-espionage law, alleged that the cipher "is still in the illegal possession/retention" of Imran Khan.

FILE - Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan talks with reporters regarding the current political situation and the ongoing cases against him at his residence, in Lahore, Pakistan, Aug. 3, 2023.

The former prime minister, currently jailed for three years after being convicted on graft charges, has long rejected the allegations of possessing the cipher or leaking any official secrets.

Khan, 70, maintains that cipher messages are written in a secret machine language and cannot be removed from a special cell established at the foreign ministry.

Former Pakistani diplomats back Khan's assertions that only a summary of the cipher is shared with the prime minister and a few other top officials, not the original cipher.

Before he was ousted from office, Khan had formally dispatched copies of the cipher summary to the country's chief justice, the military chief, and the house speaker, among others, asking them to order an investigation to determine who in Pakistan facilitated the alleged U.S. conspiracy to remove him from office.

Last week, U.S. State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller said it had privately and publicly conveyed objections to Pakistan over the previous year's visit to Russia by Khan but rejected allegations that Washington had played a role in his removal.

Miller added that even if the comments in the purported cable were accurate as reported, they show the United States is expressing concern about Khan's "policy choices" rather than expressing its "preference" on who the leadership of Pakistan ought to be.

"We expressed concern privately to the government of Pakistan as we expressed concerns publicly about the visit of then-Prime Minister Khan to Moscow on the very day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. We made that concern quite clear."

Khan blames his ouster on the powerful military and says it is behind scores of lawsuits launched against him since then. The lawsuits accuse him of crimes ranging from terrorism and corruption to sedition and, if proved would block him and his party from returning to power.

After his conviction on graft charges, the deposed prime minister is barred from contesting any election for five years. He denies any wrongdoing.

Khan's PTI won the last election in 2018, enabling the cricket-star-turned-politician to become prime minister for the first time until he was ousted in the no-confidence vote in April 2022.

His successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, dissolved the parliament and government earlier this month after completing their mandated terms. It allowed a caretaker government to take charge and oversee a general election meant to be held within 90 days, by November.

But the Pakistan Election Commission earlier in the week said it would announce an election date only after redrawing new constituencies nationwide in line with fresh census data. It said the process would be finalized by Dec. 14.

While speaking to reporters before his arrest Saturday, Qureshi rejected the commission's statement as an excuse to delay the elections.

"It will be unconstitutional if the 90 days deadline is breached. We have decided to file a plea with the Supreme Court to contest any attempt to delay the election," Qureshi said.

Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar is believed to be close to the military, fueling speculations his administration intends to stay in power for a more extended period.

Under the constitution, a caretaker setup in Pakistan is tasked only to oversee elections and manage day-to-day affairs until a new government is elected.

But critics note that a slew of hastily passed legislation just before Sharif dissolved the parliament has empowered Kakar's government to make policy decisions, particularly on economic matters.

Source: Voice of America

Sara Sharif murder inquiry: Searches continue for father of 10-year-old

Police in Pakistan say they are continuing to search for the father of a 10-year-old girl who was found dead in a house in Surrey.Sara Sharif’s body was found at her family home in Woking, in the early hours of 10 August.Surrey Police have confirmed th…

Police in Pakistan say they are continuing to search for the father of a 10-year-old girl who was found dead in a house in Surrey.

Sara Sharif's body was found at her family home in Woking, in the early hours of 10 August.

Surrey Police have confirmed they want to speak to Urfan Sharif, along with his partner and brother.

BBC News has been told two police teams in Jhelum, north Punjab in Pakistan, are looking for Mr Sharif.

Mr Nasir Mehmood Bajwa, in Jhelum, told the BBC that after police find Mr Sharif they are likely to take him into custody after receiving the go-ahead from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Islamabad.

Pakistan's foreign ministry and the FIA have not confirmed or shared any verbal or written orders on this case.

Mr Sharif, his partner Beinash Batool and his brother Faisal Malik all left the UK for Pakistan on 9 August, a day before Sara's body was discovered.

Surrey Police have said Mr Sharif, 41, made a 999 call from Pakistan shortly after landing in Islamabad with his partner, his brother and five children, aged between one and 13.

The call led officers to the house in Woking where they found the body of Sara who had sustained "multiple and extensive injuries", likely to have been caused over a sustained period of time.

BBC News spoke to a Woking travel agent who said he was contacted by Mr Sharif at about 22:00 BST on Tuesday 8 August, saying he wanted to book tickets to Pakistan as soon as possible.

He confirmed that eight one-way tickets - for Mr Sharif, his brother, his wife and five children - were used on a flight on 9 August that landed in Islamabad at about 05:30 local time, on Thursday 10 August.

When police discovered Sara's body at the house in Woking no-one else was there, detectives confirmed.

Det Supt Mark Chapman, from Surrey Police and Sussex Police Major Crime Team, said: "While the post-mortem has not provided us with an established cause of death at this time, the fact that we now know that Sara had suffered multiple and extensive injuries over a sustained and extended period has significantly changed the nature of our investigation, and we have widened the timescale of the focus of our inquiry."

Police are working with the Crown Prosecution Service, Interpol, the National Crime Agency and the Foreign Office to carry out their investigation and in liaising with Pakistani authorities.

There is no formal extradition treaty between the UK and Pakistan.

Source: BBC

Here’s Why Aaqib Javed Believes Babar is Better than Kohli

Former Pakistani fast bowler, Aaqib Javed, has responded to the much-debated topic of who the better batter is between Babar Azam and Virat Kohli.Comparing the modern-day batting greats, Aaqib Javed said that Virat Kohli is a brilliant batter but in p…

Former Pakistani fast bowler, Aaqib Javed, has responded to the much-debated topic of who the better batter is between Babar Azam and Virat Kohli.

Comparing the modern-day batting greats, Aaqib Javed said that Virat Kohli is a brilliant batter but in patches, while Babar Azam is consistent in scoring runs.

The former right-arm pacer further added that Virat Kohli scores highly in one season but fails to replicate it the following season due to a lack of consistency.

“If you compare Virat Kohli with Babar Azam, he has one outstanding season and then there is a decline. He is a brilliant player but in patches,” Aaqib Javed said.

Responding to a question regarding the match between Pakistan and India in the upcoming World Cup 2023, Aaqib said Pakistan has the best chance to defeat India.

Aaqib Javed went on to say that currently, the Men In Green have a good combination in all departments compared to the arch-rivals, and this has been witnessed in the recent past.

It is pertinent to mention that the neighboring countries will come face to face in the third game of the Asia Cup 2023 on September 2 in Sri Lanka.

The Babar Azam-led side will also play the Men in Blue in the upcoming World Cup 2023 on October 14 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Source: ProPakistani

Ramiz Raja Misses Out as Asia Cup 2023 Commentary Panel Unveiled

The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has announced the star-studded commentary panel for the upcoming much-awaited 50-over Asia Cup 2023, scheduled in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.Legendary cricketers Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Aamer Sohail, and Bazid Khan will …

The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has announced the star-studded commentary panel for the upcoming much-awaited 50-over Asia Cup 2023, scheduled in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Legendary cricketers Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Aamer Sohail, and Bazid Khan will represent Pakistan, while Australia’s Matthew Hayden will also share the commentary box.

Meanwhile, Ravi Shastri, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Sanjay Bangar, Piyush Chawla, Sanjay Manjrekar, Deep Dasgupta, Mohammad Kaif, Aditya Tare, and Rajat Bhatia will represent India.

Former cricketers Marvan Atapattu, Dominic Cork, and Andy Flower will also be part of the commentary panel to grace the 13-match 50-over Asia Cup.

However, much to the surprise of the fans, renowned cricketer-turned-commentator, Ramiz Raja and Indian cricket analyst, Harsha Bhogle will not be part of the commentary panel in the tournament.

Here is the full panel:

Wasim Akram Waqar Younis Aamer Sohail Bazid Khan Matthew Hayden

Andy Flower Dominic Cork Marvan Atapattu Ravi Shastri Gautam Gambhir

Harbhajan Singh Irfan Pathan Sanjay Bangar Piyush Chawla Sanjay Manjrekar

Deep Dasgupta Mohammad Kaif Aditya Tare Rajat Bhatia The marquee tournament will commence with the home side Pakistan taking on Nepal on 30 August at Multan Cricket Stadium with a grand opening ceremony.

The Babar Azam-led side will face arch-rivals India in the much-awaited encounter on 2 September at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

Source: ProPakistani

Rashid Latif Credits Babar and Sarfaraz for Pakistan Cricket’s Resurgence

Former wicket-keeper, Rashid Latif, has sparked a discussion within the cricketing community through his recent insights about the current Pakistan cricket team.Rashid Latif said that the lasting impact of the present players stems from their consiste…

Former wicket-keeper, Rashid Latif, has sparked a discussion within the cricketing community through his recent insights about the current Pakistan cricket team.

Rashid Latif said that the lasting impact of the present players stems from their consistent and unwavering credibility, which they bring to each and every match.

“Legacy of current players is their credibility. They may lose but everyone believes they will give their 100 percent effort for the national team,” Rashid Latif said.

Rashid holds the belief that two figures, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Babar Azam, stand at the forefront of this resolute spirit, greatly contributing to the evolution of the team.

Rashid said their leadership has helped new talents grow, and players like Shaheen Afridi, Fakhar Zaman, and Imam-ul-Haq have been performing well consistently.

Discussing the recent performances of the national team, he said that the current players have developed strong trust, which is a big achievement in Pakistani cricket.

The Green Shirts have showcased exceptional performances in the recent past, notably clinching the Champions Trophy in 2017 in England under the captaincy of Sarfaraz.

Pakistan reached the semi-finals in the T20 World Cup 2021 and played in the finals of the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup 2022 in UAE and Australia respectively.

Pakistan is currently ranked second in the ICC ODI rankings, and they could take the top spot by winning the upcoming three-match ODI series against Afghanistan.

Source: ProPakistani

[Opinion] The Great Shift: Pakistan and Prosperity

The world’s axis has shifted, a geological event that warrants worry – beckoning each global citizen to contribute towards the stability of the planet. Within that vein, I will take the liberty to deliberate on three significant changes in Pakistan th…

The world’s axis has shifted, a geological event that warrants worry – beckoning each global citizen to contribute towards the stability of the planet. Within that vein, I will take the liberty to deliberate on three significant changes in Pakistan that have brought in a much-needed shift – a formative approach to enable this country of 240 million people to move towards prosperity. My commitment and my passion for Pakistan have always compelled me to be objective and critical in my evaluation of what works for economic progress in both the national and regional contexts, and I speak from the same.

My articles and talks on the investment climate have covered the diverse landscape of opportunities in Pakistan and actions that need to be taken to explore viable options through Special Economic Zones (SEZs), FDI, the long-term framework of policies, competence, privatization, and facilitation of investors, meritocracy, and, above all, accountability. Investors need to see stability, investor-friendliness, and a safe environment to bring in the money; moreover, Pakistan needs to create that very essential element that we call trust.

The three significant changes that I will analyze here have come about as empowered initiatives for the development of trust in the country’s potential. All three have come silently and herald good times for Pakistan. How all three have a strong connection, and how I see that connection to be an empowering one for the country, is what I wish to deliberate on!

The first is the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and its role as one window of facilitation for investors. They have proactively galvanized dormant projects and have initiated many new ventures. They seem well-positioned to bring Pakistan back on the map as a strong potential hub for the Middle East and Chinese business interests. With SIFC leading the way, my faith in the long-term vision, continuity of projects, and one-window facilitation, seems to have been realized.

The second event is the recently held Pakistan Minerals Summit in Islamabad. Mining is part of the five areas of development on SIFC’s agenda and the Summit proved to be a great start to turning ‘Dust to Development.” The Summit focused on Reko Diq as it possesses almost $6 trillion worth of potential.

As Nutshell Conferences Group curated the entire event, I had a front seat to the glittering assemblage of Ministerial delegations, international experts, Pakistan’s corporate leadership, and above all, the executive leadership of the country representing the esteemed offices of the Prime Minister, Chief of the Army Staff, Cabinet Ministers, and technocrats.

SIFC’s vision is clear and fast-paced, however, I will share my two concerns; one for the civil elected leadership to become competent partners in the overall investment climate to ensure a progressive way forward for democracy, and the second for the downstream industries for minerals, so that we can look at a future where we may hold onto our gold dust and trade in finished products, for a bigger profit margin and stronger control of our resources.

Last, but not least, is the appointment of my very dear friend and brother, Senator Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, as the caretaker Prime Minister. He is well-educated, humble, and a true visionary, representing the golden sands of the largest province of Pakistan. He is one of the founding members of the CORPORATE PAKISTAN GROUP, and as such we have had detailed discussions on the economic and cultural strengths of Pakistan in general, and Balochistan specifically. With Senator Kakar at the helm of affairs as the interim Prime Minister, I hope to see Balochistan’s prospects get translated into expedited development via support for investors in Mining and Minerals.

Balochistan represents almost 44% of Pakistan’s land. As part of the rich Tethyan Metallogenic Belt (TMB), it literally holds gold in its dust. This rich mineral reserve stretches all the way to the North before entering China, endowing Pakistan with trillions of dollars worth of minerals. We have the world’s second-largest salt mines, fifth-largest copper and gold reserves, huge coal deposits, and vast crude oil reserves, yet our minerals sector’s performance has been underwhelming, with exports accounting for a mere 0.1% of global exports and 2.5% of Pakistan’s GDP.

The Pakistan Minerals Summit constitutes a consolidated step towards translating Pakistan’s mining potential into actionable strategies. It brings the much-awaited collaboration of Barrick (Barrick Gold Corporation) and the Saudi government with the Pakistan government. And with the caretaker Prime Minister Kakar in office, we can look at Balochistan becoming a major conduit for Pakistan’s success.

In discussions with Mark Bristow, Chief Executive Officer, Barrick, I could hear my sentiments being echoed. He shared a deep insight into the rich prospects of Balochistan, quoting Lewis Carol’s ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do’ as a wake-up call to realize our mining potential and the need for socio-political dynamics to synchronize with the development requirements of the mining industry.

As the Minister of State and Chairman Board of Investment, and later in my personal capacity, I had many meetings with the honorable Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). I am fortunate to count him as one of the most ardent friends of Pakistan. Time and again, I was honored to communicate his keen interest in partnership with Barrick in Reko Diq to all the stakeholders in Pakistan and played a strong role in the developing landscape of FDI. My team and I had put together a trajectory and were keen to see it happening.

Engineer Khalid bin Saleh Al-Mudaifer, Vice-Minister of Mining Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, KSA, was at the Pakistan Minerals Summit, representing the Saudi interest as collaborators for the Reko Diq mining project and I felt grateful to see the idea come to fruition. My wish to “move away from the loan and aid mindset and become partners” was finally seeing the light of day.

Jacques Van Tonder, Chief Development Officer, Rio Tinto, mirrored my gumption when he referred to his life in South Africa and mining dust being in his veins. He referred to the Oyu Tolgoi in the South Gobi region of Mongolia as one of the largest known copper and gold deposits in the world and compared Reko Diq as an equally powerful medium to change the prospects of Pakistan.

With good examples like that of Thar Coal (credit goes to the Sindh Government, Engro Corporation, and other investors, for this momentous task of public-private partnership for indigenization for progress), and the signed deal for the ARAMCO Project, we are witnessing how rising concerns over investments vs imports are spurring investments to help bring the world to sustainable dynamics. We are, as yet, not strongly positioned in this equation of transition, but we can be.

The shift has given me hope. Pakistan, in the last few months, faced the most critical of hours with default on the horizon and instability across the landscape. Devaluation was not just of the currency; it was of the morale of the nation. In times as trying as these, credit is due to the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Muneer, for his resilient commitment to support the economy through FDI and ensuring SIFC’s uninterrupted work for the same. His strategy to unfold the prosperity route seems to work perfectly in sync with the national goals of economic upturn and international objectives of a safer planet. Our russet gold reserves may just impact the investment climate of the green planet tomorrow.

As a finale to this piece, I would request the stakeholders to ensure that no repeat of judicial intervention happens as it did in the past by a former CJP, costing Pakistan billions of dollars. At the end of the day, money can be made again, but lost years of probable happiness and growth can never be compensated. The cost that Pakistan paid was worth more than its weight in any gold scattered in its dust.

The writer, Muhammad Azfar Ahsan, is a former Minister of State and Chairman Board of Investment. He can be reached at @MAzfarAhsan on X (Formerly Twitter).

Source: ProPakistani

Security forces kill two terrorists in Khyber District

Security forces have killed two terrorists in an Intelligence Based Operation in Bara area of Khyber District on Saturday.During conduct of operation, intense fire exchange took place between the security forces and terrorists.According to ISPR, the k…

Security forces have killed two terrorists in an Intelligence Based Operation in Bara area of Khyber District on Saturday.

During conduct of operation, intense fire exchange took place between the security forces and terrorists.

According to ISPR, the killed terrorists remained actively involved in terrorist activities against security forces as well as killing of innocent citizens.

Sanitization of the area is being carried out to eliminate any terrorists found in the area.

Locals of the area appreciated the operation and expressed their full support to eliminate the menace of terrorism.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Affectees of Jaranwala incident to be compensated: Ashrafi

Chairman Pakistan Ullema Council Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi says affected members of the Christian community will be compensated besides rehabilitation of churches and their houses.During a news conference with delegation of minorities’ leadership in…

Chairman Pakistan Ullema Council Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi says affected members of the Christian community will be compensated besides rehabilitation of churches and their houses.

During a news conference with delegation of minorities' leadership in Jaranwala on Saturday, he said that constitution of Pakistan safeguards rights of all the minorities.

He said that no one will be allowed to take law into his hands. Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi said that Jaranwala incident has deeply saddened the entire nation.

On the occasion. the leaders of Christian community called for the sanctity of religious places of worship of all faiths.

They urged all segments of the society to join hands in eradicating religious extremism.

Source: Radio Pakistan