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Pakistan

Minister faces resistance to abolish ‘free electricity’

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ISLAMABAD:

Power Minister Khurram Dastgir on Friday said the ministry was struggling to withdraw benefits such as free electricity units to the employees of government-owned power sector entities and added the ministry needed support to do so amid a strong reaction from employees.

The minister explained that the supply of free-of-cost electricity to the employees of power distribution companies was according to their job agreement, adding they were entitled to this facility.

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He was responding to a question raised by PPP MNA Nasiba Channa, who questioned the free electricity being supplied to retired employees of Wapda, in the National Assembly.

“Should the benefits given to the employees according to the contract be withdrawn?” he asked and pointed out that there has been a strong reaction from the employees when the ministry sought to do this before.

Widows of employees also get these benefits, he added. However, the minister hinted at the possibility this facility can be withdrawn with the support of public representatives.

Khurram Dastgir also said that the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) will have its own transformer repair workshop by June 2023.

The ministry has issued directions in this regard and the work has been started, said the minister responding to a question raised by MNA Salahuddin.

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The minister said that HESCO during the fiscal year 2020-21 spent 98.722 million on repair maintenance of transformers and during 2021-22 spent 175.899 million rupees while repairing 841 transformers.

He informed that he visited Hyderabad on the direction of the prime minister and spent five days during the early time of floods in Sindh and was shocked to know about the issues regarding the repair of transformers in Hyderabad.

He told the house that HESCO had made an agreement for the repair of transformers with three private companies and these companies following the guidelines of PPMS about repair and maintenance perform their job.

Unfortunately, in some of the areas people collect funds for the repair and maintenance of transformers in this region and get them repaired through private vendors without following guidelines, he told the house.

He said his ministry has issued clear directions to HESCO to establish their own repair workshop before 30th June 2023.

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About low voltage, the minister said that his ministry has already issued directions to make earthing of all transformers across the country along with balancing all three phases of the transformer for ensuring the provision of full voltage to the consumers.

He said employees of distribution companies do not provide earth to the transformer and balance the load of three phases due to which the transformer fails to provide full voltage.

Pakistani prisoners in China

Meanwhile, according to a report presented in the house by the ministry of foreign affairs, there were currently 236 Pakistanis imprisoned in China, including 3 women.

Out of these, 121 Pakistanis are serving their term in Beijing, 12 in Shanghai and 13 in Chengdu, along with 90 others in other places.

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It said that the agreement between Pakistan and China on the transfer of convicted persons came into force in October 2020 while the application for the transfer of the first batch of 21 Pakistanis under the agreement was submitted to the Chinese Ministry of Justice in March 2022.

The Pakistani mission is in touch with the Chinese authorities to approve the transfer of the first batch, it added.

Meanwhile, in a written reply to the National Assembly, it was told that 397 people were recruited in the Election Commission of Pakistan from 2018 to 2021.

In 2018, 18 people were recruited and in 2019, the then-PTI-led federal government gave jobs to 188 people. Similarly, 55 people were given jobs in the commission in 2020 while 136 were recruited in 2021.





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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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