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Marriyum refuses to let Imran off the hook

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Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb took rival party chief Imran Khan to task on Monday over his ‘U-turn‘ on the ‘foreign conspiracy narrative’ wherein he accused the US of engineering his ouster from power by supporting the then opposition’s no-confidence motion in April this year.

In an interview with Financial Times, published a day ago, Imran had signalled a desire to work with Washington saying he wants to mend relations with the US despite accusing it of treating Pakistan as a “slave”.

The former premier had said he no longer “blamed” the US and wants a “dignified” relationship if re-elected.

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Read COAS appointment: Imran’s shifting scales

“As far as I’m concerned it’s over, it’s behind me,” he said of the alleged conspiracy, which both PM Shehbaz Sharif and the US deny. “The Pakistan I want to lead must have good relationships with everyone, especially the United States,” he had said.

Reacting to the statements issued by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that “the issue is not going to disappear by sweeping it under the rug; you will be held answerable for this.”

“Simply withdrawing from the statements that were used to spread chaos and lies without answering for them will not be enough,” she added, saying that his changed stance on the alleged ‘US conspiracy’ was now a “question mark for those who believed the liar, the foreign-funded instigator who played with the national interest”.

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“Just saying “it’s behind me and it’s over” after calling the parliament, the armed forces of Pakistan and institutions as traitors will wrap up the matter?” she retorted, adding that “no way Imran Khan, no way”.

Read more Imran compromises national interests for personal political gains: Marriyum

She also alleged that the PTI chief had “made constitutional institutions break the Constitution to cover up his lies”.

“After destroying the country, Imran Khan has withdrawn from the US conspiracy narrative,” the minister stressed, saying that Imran “thinks his supporters are insane and sheep”.

“Imran Khan has withdrawn from the ‘US conspiracy’, ‘imported government’ and ‘regime change’ narrative because it was never true to begin with,” she claimed.

“Today the true face of the so-called ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ [true freedom] has been unveiled,” she added. Marriuym also went on to say that the former prime minister had put “Pakistan’s foreign relations in grave danger” and “played a treacherous game with national interest” merely in “his lust for power”.

She questioned how the PTI chief could “just say that the US conspiracy matter was over after teaching lies to the entire nation” and “filing appeals in the Supreme Court”.

‘Mother of all U-Turns’

Meanwhile, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman termed the PTI chief’s statements to the foreign newspaper “mother of all U-Turns” and questioned “who is responsible for all damage caused to the country’s diplomatic ties by his false narrative?”

She also added that “the audio leak has clearly proven that Imran Khan fabricated a false narrative on the cipher issue and also planned to “play” on it.”

The senator also said that “this is not the case of 35 Puncture which could later be dismissed as a political statement. It was a matter of national security that Imran Khan will have to account for.”

“U-turn on this matter is not acceptable now,” she stressed.

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Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also took to Twitter to take a dig at the PTI chief saying “all that noise about foreign conspiracy and the imported government is now over”.

 

He further alleged that now Imran had “begun begging the US”.

PML-N leader Hina Parvez Butt, adding to the criticism said that Imran’s “drama of foreign conspiracy and imported government has fizzled out after surfacing of his purportedly leaked audios.”

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“He not only compromised on the national interest but also transgressed the Constitution,” she added.

“What ‘real freedom’ are PTI’s ‘real fraudsters’ looking for?’ she questioned in another tweet.

“There is still time,” she added, urging his supporters to “open your eyes, and recognise this fraud, who says one thing in the morning, another at noon and something else at night”.

On the other hand, senior journalist Hamid Mir while taking in all of Imran’s recent statements to foreign media, said that he believed Imran was “on damage control”. He interpreted the seemingly contradictory statements as being indicative of “him realising that the foreign conspiracy narrative that he had constructed is causing them a lot of damage”.

“Assuming they do form a majority government,” he said while speaking on local media, “how would that government work with the international community, with IMF, Wolrd Bank, with US and European Union?”

“I believe his main fight is in Pakistan, he has opened a lot of fronts in the country, he has named a lot of names in the armed forces of Pakistan, so as part of his long-term strategy he is trying to improve ties with the US,” he added.

The journalist also revealed that Imran’s representatives were “meeting with people” in not just the US but also the UK and Brussels for lobbying. However, Hamid Mir anticipated that taking his words back “will inevitably cause a lot of damage” too. “The people do not forget so easily,” he added.

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‘Words deliberately distorted’

Nonetheless, senior PTI leader Shireen Mazari claimed that Imran’s words were being “deliberately distorted”.

Taking a dig at journalists “writing for English papers” in Pakistan, she said that the media persons should “at least actually read and understand” what the PTI chief had stated in his interview. “All he is saying is it happened,” she clarified, “it is behind us and we are moving forward”.

PTI leader Hammad Azhar, sharing the picture of a headline carried by an English daily stated that, “Headline twisting & angling has taken extreme forms in Pakistan these days. Domestic arm-twisting, strong editorial prejudices and international aid flows to media outlets in Pakistan combine to create ridiculous headlines.”

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‘Lettergate’

Shortly before his impending ouster from the government, former prime minister Imran Khan waved a secret letter at his public rally in Islamabad on March 27, claiming that there was an international conspiracy to topple his government.

He termed the no-confidence motion against him a “huge foreign conspiracy against Pakistan” and soon after revealed that the US had sent the ‘threatening letter’, despite earlier claims that he could not reveal the interfering country’s name as the results would be detrimental for Pakistan.

Also read Audio leaks exposed Imran’s ‘conspiracy’: PM

Imran had said that the letter stated that Pakistan would face serious consequences if the no-confidence motion failed, adding that the language of the letter was extremely harsh and that the no-trust motion had been mentioned in it several times.

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It may be noted that in April, the National Security Committee (NSC) had concluded that no evidence of “foreign conspiracy” to topple Imran Khan’s government has been found. Welcoming the NSC’s statement, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter had maintained that the US had said “all along” that there was “absolutely no truth to those rumours”.





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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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