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Local govt polls in Karachi, Hyderabad to be held on Jan 15

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ISLAMABAD:

Local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions will be held on January 15, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced on Tuesday as it issued its detailed judgment on the matter.

The ECP issued a 10-page detailed decision and ordered the secretary interior and Sindh inspector general (IG) to make security arrangements for the elections.

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“These elections will be held under Article 220 of the Constitution,” it stated, adding that the “chief secretary and IG Sindh shall provide adequate security on polling day”.

“Security should also be provided to polling stations, electoral staff and returning officers,” the ECP stated, issuing instructions to also provide security for the delivery of election materials.

The electoral watchdog has also directed the interior ministry to provide security personnel to ensure safety, while simultaneously issuing directives to all concerned authorities of the commission to take the necessary steps for the elections.

Read Karachi DCs tell election commission all set for LG polls

The ECP’s verdict comes four days after the Sindh High Court (SHC) directed it to announce the date for local government elections in the two cities within 15 days, and to complete the election process within two months.

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“We would not go so far as to dictate the date…but would note that the ECP may notify the polling date, preferably within a period of 15 days from the date of this order,” the court said, adding that the polling process preferably conclude the overall exercise “in any event within a total period of 60 days.”

A two-member bench headed by Sindh Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Shaikh and comprising Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed disposed of the petitions filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) regarding the delays in the local bodies’ elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.

“Allegorically, much water has flowed since the advent of the floods, and it is questionable whether the continued preoccupation of law enforcement personnel in relief operations remains so emergent with the efflux of time as to constitute a valid cause for their being withheld from election duty,” read the 16-page verdict.

Last week, the chief election commissioner (CEC) had said that the election commission wanted to hold local body polls in Karachi at the earliest, however, the election commission had reserved its decision in this regard.

The election commission under article 220 can issue direct orders to hold polls but soon an appropriate decision will be announced. He suggested deploying personnel from Punjab for polls.

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JI’s Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, Waseem Akhtar of MQM, Administrator Karachi and PPP leader Murtaza Wahab and IG Sindh were present at the ECP on the occasion.

Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Mohammad Ramzan Malik said, “The federal government cannot provide security for the election for the time being. The civil armed forces cannot provide security services for the local government polls as the personnel are still busy in flood relief operations and maintaining peace and order, the secretary said.

PTI welcomes LG polls

Terming local body elections “the nursery of democracy”, PTI Sindh President Ali Zaidi hailed the decision.

Speaking to media outside the ECP, Zaidi said that “today the decision has come only after the matter was dragged around in courts”.

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“The first phase of the elections had looked like a battlefield,” he continued, “shots were fired, batons were charged”.

“Nobody’s candidate was being permitted to stand” in the first phase, he alleged, “finally the second phase is going to be held now on January 15”.

“All of the people’s problems are solved through municipal elections,” he added.

The delay

On November 18, the ECP had decided to put off local government elections in Karachi for a third time on Sindh’s request while it asked the Punjab government to legislate on the local bodies within a week or hold the polls based on the previous laws.

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The decision to postpone local body elections in Karachi was made in a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja.

The huddle reviewed the interior ministry’s letter in which it had expressed its inability to provide security personnel for the local government elections.

Read more CEC claims no govt in Punjab willing to conduct LG polls

The federal government had also asked the electoral body to decide about conducting local government elections in the port city after consulting with the Sindh government.

The meeting was attended by the police chief and chief secretary of Sindh and other relevant officials.

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Sindh had sought postponement of the LG polls for three months in seven districts of Karachi, scheduled to take place on October 23.

The second phase of the LG elections in Sindh was originally scheduled to take place on July 24.

However, it was put off twice due to unprecedented rains and the subsequent flooding.





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Pakistan

Imran’s right of defence struck out in defamation case

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ISLAMABAD:

Additional District Judge Lahore Chaudhry Muhammad Asif struck out the right of defence of former prime minister since concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff were not submitted on Thursday.

“This court has been left with no option except to strike out the right of defence of the defendant (Imran Khan) in this case due to non-submission of requisite replies by the defendant regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff. So, the right of defence of the defendant is hereby struck out in this case accordingly,” the order stated.

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The court asked the plaintiff to submit a list of witnesses on November 29.

It has been learned that the court has so far conducted 78 hearings of the case.

The order stated that the counsel for the defendant submitted an application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant was going to file a revised petition against the order of the court regarding the dismissal of concerned objections of the defendant.

Also read: ‘No objections’ to Imran’s helicopter landing at Parade Ground: GHQ

“From the perusal of record, it reveals that various reasonable opportunities have been provided to defendant to submit the requisite replies to concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff but the defendant has not done the needful,” it stated.

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“Vide previous order dated 17.11.2022, one more opportunity was granted to the defendant in this regard with the clarification that in case of submission of requisite replies from the defendant’s side regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff on the next date, the right of defence of the defendant shall be struck out. No lawful justification exits for the grant of further adjournment,” it added.

The court rejected the adjournment plea of Imran’s counsel.

According to details, the defamation suit states that Imran started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

Also read: President Alvi in Lahore to consult Imran over COAS appointment

​​​It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant widely circulated by media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety. The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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In his written statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him to stop pursuing the Panama Papers case.

Imran says that he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.





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Pakistan to send armed helicopter unit to UN peacekeeping mission

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UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan and Bangladesh will each be sending an armed helicopter unit to the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, which faces serious problems as several countries have withdrawn or announced plans to pull out their personnel, a UN spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said that India will supply a utility helicopter unit to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, and all three are expected to be deployed by March next year.

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“These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” the spokesman told reporters at the regular noon briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The UN continues to discuss with member states the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements” of withdrawals, he said.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA has 17,622 personnel helping the Malian government combat terrorists operating in the country.

MINUSMA is one of the deadliest operations having claimed the lives of 292 peacekeepers.

France completed its withdrawal earlier this year and it was followed by Egypt in August.

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Germany said that it was withdrawing its personnel, who numbered 595 in the latest UN roster, from MINUSMA by May next year.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Britain is also pulling out its 249 personnel.

Ivory Coast also said that it would discontinue the participation of its personnel, who numbered 898, in MINUSMA when the current deployment ends because of a separate dispute with the Mali government over the arrest of its soldiers who went there on a mission unconnected to the UN.

Despite the dangerous nature of the Minusma, Pakistani military doctors serving in Mopti, a town in the fifth administrative region of Mali. have continued to serve, earning praise for their work. They operate a state-of-the-art hospital staffed with 75 medical personnel, including 10 women and 65 men, according to the UN.

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The hospital operates 24 hours a day, every day, and they are always on alert. All specialities are covered, from pharmacy to gynaecology. However, its main purpose is to perform life-saving and urgent surgery when peacekeepers are injured, it was pointed out.





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Imran urges ‘all Pakistanis to participate’ in PTI long march

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Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistanis to participate in his party’s much-hyped long march on Saturday (Nov26) in what appears to be his final showdown with the incumbent government to force it to announce early election date.

“Dear Pakistanis, I want all of you to participate in our haqeeqi long march in Pindi at 1pm on Saturday,” he said in a short video statement.

Imran, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in April, said that only a nation which has justice in it will get real freedom. “When there is justice, there are rights. When there are rights, a nation is free. Only an independent nation is prosperous,” he went on to say.

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Read more: Interior ministry warns PTI of threats, urges postponing Pindi march

The former premier said that the nation will not stay silent until it gets real freedom. “I am coming for you despite my [health] condition and all of you need to come to Pindi for me,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Asad Umar presided over a meeting regarding the party’s preparation for the long march in Rawalpindi. Senior PTI leadership including Umar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, Ali Nawaz and others participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the overall preparations for the long march in Rawalpindi. The security plan, long march route and other significant matters came under discussion during the meeting.

The meeting was briefed that a caravan had left from Karachi for Rawalpindi whereas two others were ready to begin their journey to the garrison city from Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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A briefing was also given in the meeting regarding the accommodation of the participants.

Issues regarding the provision of all basic needs including food and accommodation to the participants of the march were also discussed in the meeting.

“The nation is fully united and eager to achieve real freedom,” Umar said, adding that the party would welcome caravans from all over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

“The captain [Imran Khan] will lead the ocean of people in Rawalpindi on November 26,” he further said.





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