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Pakistan

Sharifs mull over Bajwa’s successor

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LONDON:

 

The political huddle in London could not choose Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s successor, it was learnt on Thursday.

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The meeting, however, decided that the government would not succumb to any pressure from any quarters regarding the new military chief, including PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif along with Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and others, who are in London in order to seek “guidance” from PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif on key issues and developments, primarily discussed the appointment of new army chief, in addition to analysing the recent statements from the military’s media wing, government’s strategy to deal with the PTI’s long march, among other things.

Meanwhile, the Sharif brothers reiterated that no concession – or face-saving as the elder Sharif put it the other day in a tweet – would be given to the PTI chief in connection with his demand for early elections or a date for the next elections by marching to the garrison and the capital city.

Sources privy to the development revealed that PML-N and the coalition leadership feel that Imran has exhausted all options but he could not get support from the powers that be, saying his desperation was evident through his recent statements.

A source revealed that the London huddle has, primarily, mulled over new army chief’s appointment but also deliberated on the PTI’s long march; when the elections suit the incumbent government; what are the areas where it is lacking; and when the PML-N supremo could return to Pakistan. “Above all, everything is banking on the army chief’s appointment, that’s the top agenda item,” the source said.

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In an interview to a media outlet, the defence minister also confirmed that he along with the prime minister were in London to seek guidance from the elder Sharif, saying the huddle could not finalise the name of new army chief during its meeting on Thursday but hoped that things in this regard would settle down soon.

Previously, Asif recalled that the summary for the new military chief was moved after November 18, saying there was still a week’s time left and hopefully things would timely and smoothly conclude in this regard.

Sources in the PML-N revealed that the government was clear in its mind that it wanted stable relations with the establishment, adding the plan was to achieve “reverse engineering” and to appoint a military chief, who does not force the government for early elections.

“Agreeing for the snap polls or giving a date for early elections would be tantamount to committing political suicide,” the source said.

Surprising as it may seem, the source said, neither the government nor the establishment can afford elections right now or anytime soon keeping the precarious economic situation and floods that have caused havoc in the country.

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“Things would not settle until the appointment of the new army chief,” the source admitted, saying the premier’s sudden departure to the UK was in line with the evolving situation, especially, after army chief began farewell meetings.

The PML-N sources said that the incumbent government was looking for a military chief, who would help keep things smooth with the establishment, continue the current momentum between the two sides and would not resort to force early elections on the government as, for the ruling alliance, a political death was acceptable in any shape, than a political compromise.

He said that the Sharifs and the top leadership of its allies are mindful that the fundamental relationship between the PTI chief and the establishment was not going to change anytime soon, especially, after the spy chief’s press conference and Imran’s allegations against a military officer in connection with the gun attack at a PTI rally in Wazirabad.

The PML-N sources said that the London huddle gauged that Imran’s accusations against the prime minister, interior minister and the military officer were “nothing more than a political stunt”.

The source said that “long or short march” is not going to change the government’s mind as they cannot afford elections right now after “burning their political capital”.

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No concession for PTI
 

The PML-N and its allies have decided that neither the government would give victory – even perceived victory – to the PTI regarding next general elections no matter wherever things go from here, saying confrontation suits the ruling alliance than making a compromise.

“Neither would the government agree for snap polls nor will it agree to give any date for early elections, no matter what route the PTI takes to exert pressure on the government; it’s final,” a source privy to the developments in London said.

The PML-N sources said that the party supremo’s tweet the other day barring PM Shehbaz from engaging in talks and giving face-saving to the PTI chief in connection with his long march was also endorsed in the meeting.

In the London meeting, the sources said, it was assessed once again that compromise on elections does not suit the ruling alliance, saying the government and its allies already had clarity on the political situation but, since, situation was evolving rapidly, the bigwigs had once gathered in London to discuss “tactical maneuvering”.

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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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