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Pakistan

Premier asks ministry to name COAS hopefuls

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ISLAMABAD:

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday said the process to appoint the new army chief had kicked off as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formally wrote a letter to the Ministry of Defence seeking a summary for the potential candidates.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, the defence minister hinted at the formal announcement of the key appointment within the next three days.

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“The process will complete in two to three days. The excitement will end, after which we will deal with Imran Khan,” the defence minister said.

He, earlier in a tweet, said the process had started and would be completed soon after fulfilling all the constitutional requirements.

Separately, in a television interview, Asif said the prime minister had written a letter to the defence ministry to send the summary and dossiers of eligible lieutenant generals for the posts of chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the army chief.

He said the announcement of the new army chief would be made by November 26, the same day when PTI Chairman and former premier Imran Khan is scheduled to stage a protest in Rawalpindi as part of his campaign to seek early elections.

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Asif said the defence ministry had confirmed receiving the letter from the premier while the GHQ had also been kept in the loop.

Read Process to appoint COAS to begin on Nov 18: Asif

There were reports earlier that the summary was already received by the Prime Minister’s Office containing names of five eligible candidates. The government, however, denied such a development.

Later the defence minister blamed the media for airing stories on the appointment of new army chief without verifying from the relevant authorities.

He said unnecessary hype and hysteria was being created over the process. Appointment rife with speculations

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On Sunday, a senior government official had dismissed speculations that there had been any civil-military deadlock over the key appointment.

“You will see the clear picture will emerge by Monday evening regarding the process of appointment,” the high-ranking official told The Express Tribune while requesting anonymity.

The new army chief will take charge on November 29 as the incumbent General Qamar Javed Bajwa would doff his uniform the same day after completing six years in office.

There has been extraordinary interest in the appointment of his successor as many believe PTI chairman’s long march is linked to the change of command in the army.

Read More Govt hints at naming new COAS next week

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Imran has asked his supporters to gather in Rawalpindi on November 26, two days before General Bajwa hands over the baton to the new army chief.

There have been speculations that the government and the army may have locked horns over the new appointment. One conjecture is that the army is not agreeing to the nominee of the government for the top slot.

However, a top government official had rubbished those claims. “There are no differences between the civil and military leadership on the issue. Everything is on track.”

There have also been questions about the seniority list. Rumours have it that a certain candidate may not be part of the summary since his retirement is due before the army chief’s retirement.

But the government figure dismissed such claims, saying he would be very much part of the summary and considered for the top slot.

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As per the seniority list, Lt General Asim Munir, Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt General Azhar Abbas, Lt General Numan Mahmud and Lt General Faiz Hameed are in contention for the job of chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the army chief.

The current army chief’s tenure will end on November 29 while the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff committee will relinquish his duties on November 27.





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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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